In our last eNewsletter, we surveyed our subscribers about what they liked best about QuickBooks. What do you think the overwhelming answer was?

Ease of use.

They said things like…

“Ease of use and intuitive setup”     (Intuit should like that)

“Easy to correct errors”

“Easy and fun to use”    (Hey! Who said you could have fun with the books?!?)

“Easy to use screens and customizable forms”

“Easy to make estimates”

“Easy generation of P&L”

“Ease of teaching others to use”

“Layout is intuitive. Functions easy to understand and access”

And my favorite snide comment: “My client can easily mess it up, which creates billable hours for me.”

Do any of these comments ring true for you?

I was talking to a software entrepreneur friend the other day. We were comparing notes on how our businesses were faring during the Great Recession.

My friend said that these days, his business is ‘hunkering down’ and just surviving. If the bills are getting paid and the doors are staying open, that is enough for now.

I’ve had recent conversations like that with other small business people I know in banking, transportation, hospitality, and manufacturing.

The thing he said that encouraged me, though, was this: Once the economy opens up again, there will a marked reduction in the number of competitors in his market. Not everyone will survive. But if you survive, there will come a day when suddenly increased demand coupled with reduced supply (of vendors in the market) will make for a very good business environment.

I think that scenario rings true.

So for many, it’s time to hunker down, survive, and be ready to aggressively expand when the opportunity (someday) comes.

What do you think? Is it time to hunker down, close up shop, or expand now?

Here are five keys that can guide you to success using QuickBooks in your business.

1. Setup. If you were having a house built, you wouldn’t just get out there with a hammer and nails and start winging it. You shouldn’t wing it when you set up your books in QuickBooks for the first time, either.

Find an accountant or a QuickBooks expert who can structure your accounts in QuickBooks in a way that will serve you well over the long haul. Like remodeling a house, making major revisions to your QuickBooks company after the fact can be difficult and expensive.

If you are just starting out, QuickBooks Online Edition is easy, affordable, low-maintenance, and has the advantage of being available to you anywhere, anytime. The QuickBooks Online Setup Service can get you started right.

2. Security. QuickBooks touches private individual information like social security numbers, and sensitive financial data like bank accounts, credit cards, and financial statements.

You don’t want any of that to fall into the wrong hands. So make sure that every computer on your network has up-to-date internet security software installed, and use passwords that are adequate.

3. Site. The equipment you use on-site can contribute towards success with QuickBooks.

First, you should have a battery backup on every computer on your network — even computers that don’t run QuickBooks directly. Power blips that occur on other network workstations can affect the QuickBooks data stream being passed across the network.

For maximum network stability, use the same kinds of network cards on all your workstations. They will know how to talk to each other better than a random mix of cards.

4. Supervision. Having only one person with access to QuickBooks is a recipe for potential accounting errors, or worse, fraud and embezzlement.

Having more than one pair of eyes on the books plus an occasional audit greatly reduces the likelihood of bookkeeping crime. And having a regular review can keep the books cleaner.

5. Scale. If you have been using QuickBooks Pro or Premier and your growing business means that you now need more than 5 users accessing QuickBooks at the same time, it’s time to consider scaling up to Enterprise. All of your data will automatically convert up when you first open your company in Enterprise.

You can scale down, too. If you find that Enterprise is more than you need, you can downgrade to Pro or Premier.