Comparing QuickBooks Online: Which QuickBooks product do I choose?

Comparing QuickBooks Online Subscriptions can be tricky. You don't want to overbuy. This is a question I get asked all the time. It sometimes is not very clear, and the instant reflex is to pick the least expensive SKU.   My first inclination is to refer people to the Intuit's website on the page that compares the products. 

But with my specific industry,  working with attorneys, the decision is sometimes made for you. There's a chart of accounts limitation of 250 accounts.  The method of using a separate liability account for each client matter or case will dictate the need to select QuickBooks Online Advanced.  It is Intuit's top tier product. It has all the bells and whistles.

Let's review each product and explain the pluses and minuses of each:

Comparing QuickBooks


QuickBooks Simple Start

This product is not a program that I have ever put a law firm into.    In fact, I rarely recommend Simple Start unless it is for someone to track their personal or home finances.  It is excellent for that purpose. You can use it to track your checking account and credit cards.

QuickBooks Essentials

QuickBooks Essentials is a bare-bones product that will work for some of the smaller law firms.  It will work for the solo practice if you pair it with LeanLaw, you may be able to get away with using this product for a while as you get started.  The application LeanLaw will handle the higher-level reporting most small firms need to track the revenue side of the practice. As a firm grows, it is sometimes necessary to move up a tier or two.  

QuickBooks Online Plus

QuickBooks Plus is the product that I recommend for firms with multiple partners or many attorneys or locations. It has the class and location feature so you can segment out the business. It becomes a powerful tool when you layer it with Lean Law. The only reason this one does not work is if there is trust accounting.  You can easily go over the cap of 250 chart of accounts. 


Additionally, you can have up to five users.  This product really does work for the in between growth stage for law firms. The stage where they are not quite mid market, but are growing.  

QuickBooks Online Advanced

Mmmm...Nachos....I must be hungry! Squirrel moment!  I love nachos!  Okay, back to the Bests!  


First self-confession....I love this product! It is the one that I use the most. I have recommended Advanced to attorneys not based on the number of users (25) or the Chart of Accounts limitation (250), but for all of the great features. You can see them above, but the new business analytics and insights are what is making my heart sing (don't call me a dork!). There are multiple revenue streams you can track, and so many other features baked in. The variety of reports and when you pair it with LeanLaw, it is a powerful one-two punch for automating an attorney's books. 

Add to all of the above and the automation of Intuit's merchant services. That one item, when we bring a firm over from a Lexus Nexis product or some other siloed program to an all-encompassing powerful accounting platform and an amazing legal billing system, is the best part of our work. We see how some law firms struggle with tracking their trust accounting. And to watch them demonstrate how the trust accounts are kept "here" but their accounting is in "this program" (over there), or even worse... the trust accounting and the books are in some program not designed for accounting, we instantly become the hero with our workflow.

This week QB Community Live , our Facebook group, reached 1000 members.  No small feat.   QB Community Live is a private group on Facebook, where you can find me and a lot of other phenomenal people too.  It was a dream of Matthew Fulton's and mine to create a group of like-minded individuals who want to help one another.  No question is too big or too small.  It’s fun and friendly sometimes silly and goofy, but accountants and small business owners have to have fun too!  

So, if you are reading this, partner, well done!  Dreams can come true.  Onward and upward, my friend, to the next 1000 members.  I appreciate you and the work and effort that goes into making QB Community Live! the happy place that it is.  And the best part is, I believe we have helped quite a few members along the way.  There is nothing better than that!

Lynda Artesani

Lynda Artesani is the president of Artesani Bookkeeping where she uses her expertise and organizational skills to help her clients thrive and become profitable. Lynda is a member of the Intuit Trainer Writer Network. She is an alumni member of the Intuit Advisory Board. Additionally, she is the first Expert Columnist for the QB Community forum. She is also a co-founder in a Facebook group called QB Community Live!