After you know what entity form your business will use and have the QuickBooks Simple Start software installed, you're ready to set up the QuickBooks data file. The data file is the container that QuickBooks Simple Start uses to hold your financial information.
To run through the Setup Interview, you start the QuickBooks Simple Start program and then, when prompted by QuickBooks, step through the Setup Interview:
1. Start QuickBooks Simple Start.
Before you begin the interview, you have to start QuickBooks Simple Start. To do so, double-click the QuickBooks Simple Start icon, which appears on the Windows desktop. Or, choose Start --> Programs and then click the menu choices that lead to QuickBooks.
The real fun begins at this point. The Setup Interview starts automatically, displaying the Setup Interview dialog box.
If you're not starting QuickBooks for the first time but you want to step through the Setup Interview to set up a new company anyway, choose File --> New Company.
2. Describe your business.
To begin the interview, click the Next button. The Setup Interview displays a window that asks you to enter your company's name and address. Fill in the blanks with the requested information.
3. Identify your entity form choice.
To continue with the interview, click Next. The Setup Interview displays a window (not shown) that asks which entity form you've chosen for your business. Here's how you answer the question that this dialog box asks:
• If you've chosen to operate as a sole proprietorship or as a single-member LLC that will be treated for tax purposes as a sole proprietorship, check the Sole Proprietorship button.
• If you've chosen to operate as a partnership or as a multiple-member LLC that will be treated as a partnership for income tax purposes, check the Partnership or Limited Liability Company button.
• If you've chosen to operate as an S corporation (this might be because you incorporated and then elected S status or because you set up an LLC and then double-elected S status), check the S corporation button.
• If you've chosen to operate as a C corporation (this might be because you incorporate or setup an LLC and then elected to be treated as a corporation), check the Corporation button.
• If you're using QuickBooks Simple Start for a church or a nonprofit organization of some type, of course, check the Non-Profit Organization button.
One final point about this entity choice confusion: If you're currently operating as a sole proprietorship or a single-member LLC that's treated for income tax purposes as a sole proprietorship and you know that someday soon you'll make the elections necessary to turn the entity into a corporation, check the button that corresponds to the entity you'll become, not the entity form that you're currently using.
4. Describe how you'll bill your customers.
Click Next to move to the Setup Interview dialog box that asks how you'll bill your customer. Mostly, you just answer the questions that the Setup Interview asks.
• Describe whether people pay in cash or on time. See that first question about whether people pay you at the time of sale (presumably with cash or a check) or later after you invoice them? You need to answer this question by selecting the appropriate button. QuickBooks uses your question to this question to determine whether you need to print sales receipts (because yours is a point-of-sale business) or invoices (because you bill people and then they pay you later) or both.
• Specify whether you create estimates for customers. See that second question? The one that asks whether you create estimates — essentially "best guess" invoices — for your customers? You need to answer this question, too. If you do create (or you want to create) estimates, select Yes. If you don't, select No.
• Indicate if your customers are subject to sales tax. If they are, click the Yes button. If you click the Yes button, you also need to label the sales tax you pay, specify the tax rate, and name the tax agency to which you remit the sales taxes.
5. Create the QuickBooks company file.
Click Next to move to the next Setup Interview dialog box. This dialog box informs you that QuickBooks is on the verge of creating the company file that'll store your accounting information. All you need to do is click Next. So click Next. When you do, QuickBooks displays the Save As dialog box. Use this dialog box to name the QuickBooks company file. You simply enter the filename into the file name box and you click Save.
You can also use the Save In box (shown at the top of the Save As dialog box) to specify the folder location that you want QuickBooks to use for the company file. But don't do it. QuickBooks can lose track of where you store the company file if you put it someplace crazy and then create more than one company file. You don't want to lose your company file.
After QuickBooks Simple Start creates the company file, it displays the usual QuickBooks Simple Start program window. This is the same window you'll see from now on whenever you start QuickBooks.