Do Contractors Need “QuickBooks for Dummies”?

A contractor’s time is valuable. Many contractors work long hours each day in the field and then come home and do estimates, pay bills and try to catch up on their bookkeeping. This obviously takes them away from spending time with their families and doing all the fun things with their children while they are growing up.

There comes a time for most contractors when they have to make a decision and choose which accounting software they will use and how to go about learning that software. QuickBooks Pro, Premiere, and Enterprise are by far the most popular desktop versions of QuickBooks and the easiest to learn. In an effort to save time and money, a contractor will often try to pick a book that trains them how to use QuickBooks. A number of contractors get attracted to one of the books from the “Dummies” series, such as “QuickBooks for Dummies”, “Bookkeeping for Dummies”, or “Accounting for Dummies”, thinking that this will get them off to a good start but I would caution contractors from this approach.

The “QuickBooks for Dummies” books are generally written by some CPA or other professional who are not in the habit of using QuickBooks each and every day, like a QuickBooks ProAdvisor. In general, the “QuickBooks for Dummies” books read like a set of instructions you would get when assembling furniture from overseas or a child’s toy at Christmas time.

They lack continuity and leave out the information needed to actually assemble the task at hand. You find yourself continually referring to the Index hoping you will find the answer to your question.

If you are lucky enough to find the subject you are looking for in the Index of the book you find a ½ page description that can leave you even more confused than when you started.

In my opinion, this is why some contractors get turned-off to QuickBooks. They just don’t get a good understanding of how to actually use the program. They get 400-500 pages of these brief descriptions leaving the confused contractor thinking, “Okay QuickBooks does hundreds of things but what do I do for my own business”. I have taught QuickBooks to contractors in my own classroom for 10 years and currently do so by remote access because they need real step-by-step instructions on how to specifically record the transactions for their specific business. None of the “QuickBooks for Dummies” books give you a practice set of books to work in or create a real-life situation where you are the bookkeeper. In order to learn accounting or bookkeeping with QuickBooks, the contractor needs a real-life simulation where they actually record transactions for several months and see the repetition that occurs each month until the year’s end. So do the “QuickBooks for Dummies” books actually help contractors? Maybe the few who put in the hours away from their families learn something, but a lot of them end up calling me for help anyway because they are tired of wasting their time trying to figure out a puzzle that has way too many missing pieces.

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