I love my smartphone because when I’m not behind my desk, I can still do almost everything associated with my job.

  • Check and reply to business emails quickly
  • Take business calls, forwarded from my main desk phone number
  • Manage user accounts and jobs
  • Admin our QuickBooks user forum
  • Moderate blog comments, and reply to them
  • Tweet, reply, retweet, follow — anything Twitter
  • Follow LinkedIn discussions I’m tracking
  • Gmail chat my family (ok, that’s not a business thing, but is really cool)
  • Listen to Pandora (ditto)

My current phone of choice? Verizon’s Droid Incredible. It has JavaScript and Flash support; there’s really no website I’ve browsed yet that hasn’t worked.

So if I’m on the road or even just checking email in a restaurant parking lot after lunch, I’m just as connected as I would be at my desk. That makes for better business communication, faster responses, and quicker customer service. Rocks.

I think the biggest competitive advantage small businesses can have is faster and more personal responses to opportunities and customers. And that’s a door that smartphones can open. Smartphones make it *much* easier to stay connected to your online network.

How about you? Is a smartphone an important part of your business life?

Posted in IT.

When my family camped in Yellowstone National Park last month, we were camping in bear country.

Yellowstone grizzly bear
A clover-eating grizzly I photographed on the shore of Lake Yellowstone

Unfortunately, there have been some bad bear incidents in Yellowstone this summer.

A friend of mine let me borrow his bear spray for our trip. Bear spray is like personal-defense pepper spray, except it’s grizzly bear strength. I took the spray and packed it when we were on remote trails.

A warning on the can’s label almost made me laugh: “Don’t intentionally provoke a bear”. I could just visualize some nut feeling confident with his can of bear spray and chasing a bear down in order to confront it, spray it, and earn some kind of moronic bragging rights.

To avoid bear problems, you are supposed to be careful to not leave food out, not to smell like food, not to surprise a bear, not to run away from a bear…the list goes on.

Bear spray is designed to be the last line of defense against bears.

My company provides data repair services for QuickBooks users, and those services could be considered the last line of defense against QuickBooks data problems. But they are not the only defense.

There are lots of things you can do to minimize the chance of having QuickBooks data problems in the first place:

  • Have battery backups on your server, your routers, and all your workstations
  • Have internet security software installed on all your computers
  • Keep Windows up to date on all your computers
  • Keep QuickBooks updated on your system
  • Use the same kind of networking equipment on all your workstations
  • Make regular backups to a location off of your server

If you do these things, you greatly minimize the chance of encountering data problems in QuickBooks in the first place. But we’ll be your bear spray if somehow it ever gets to that point.

Posted in IT.

Here are the quickest ways — the shortcuts — to running into trouble with QuickBooks:

  1. Get a business owner — not a professional bookkeeper or accountant — to set up the books. This is like a business owner who is not in the construction business pouring their own concrete and putting in their office plumbing themselves. You can maybe do it, but you probably won’t do it that well, and it’s hard to undo/redo it later.
  2. Postpone reconciling…for months. Sometimes it’s a headache to reconcile your bank accounts and credit card accounts. And who likes a headache? If you put off reconciling for another day, then your reports won’t be accurate and you create an even bigger headache later on.
  3. Don’t backup your data; assume that your computer hardware and software will always be healthy. Assume that because QuickBooks is working great today, it will be fine tomorrow as well. Take a gamble…what’s the worst that could happen? You can always fork out a few hundred to get your data repaired.
  4. Entrust everything to one person. Bookkeeping fraud and embezzlement is what happens to the other guy, right? Have only one set of eyes on the books, the one person who receives and pays the bills, supervises payroll, writes checks, reconciles the books, and prepares the financials. That’s a shortcut to white collar crime in your office.

Anything else to put on the how-not-to list?

Intuit has a free, downloadable tool to help diagnose and troubleshoot connectivity and multi-user issues. The QuickBooks Connection Diagnostic Tool can help solve certain 6000 errors and H202 and H505 errors.

Their tool is compatible with QuickBooks 2008, 2009, and 2010 versions (for Enterprise Edition users, versions 8, 9, and 10.) It works under Windows 7, Vista, and XP.

Learn about and download the tool here.

“I’m using an old version of QuickBooks, and my hard drive died today. QuickBooks won’t give me the install codes – they say they don’t support my version anymore, and I have to upgrade. But I don’t want to upgrade! I just want to reinstall my old version.”

I have this conversation with users all the time. And it’s a shame. The solution would have been simple if they had only backed up their license keys and install codes.

This isn’t just about QuickBooks. It’s about any software you use that comes with registration/installation codes and keys.

The simple fix?

1. Make sure that you keep your license keys/codes with your original install CD. Write it on a label and stick it on the jewel case with the install CD. If you downloaded your software, see #2.

2. Create a document that contains your license keys. It could be just a Word or text file. Whenever you install new software, update the file with a new line that has your software’s name and version plus any registration keys or codes.

With QuickBooks 2010, you had to call Intuit directly on the phone to get a ‘verification’ number that was needed to complete the software registration. Make sure you keep that number with your other registration info.

Make sure that your registration information file is either backed up to an online backup service, or is an online document in the first place (like a Google Docs file.)

Why backup your license keys? Because before you know it, your software vendor won’t give them to you anymore. So take ten minutes and do this. Then, when the day comes and you need to reinstall your old software, you won’t need to panic or call anyone. You’ll just grab your keys and go.

Posted in IT.

Are you a…

  • QuickBooks ProAdvisor
  • QuickBooks Advanced Certified ProAdvisor
  • Intuit Marketplace Developer
  • IT consultant

You might qualify to become a QuickbooksUsers.com Referral Partner.

We team up with selected individuals and companies in the U.S. and around the world to offer critical QuickBooks data services to their client bases. It means more billable income for you, and a competitive advantage; extremely few organizations offer the tech services you could be offering.

Join us to refer/resell specialized QuickBooks data services like QuickBooks database repair, supercondensing, and edition downgrades.

One of our international referral partners says this:

“We’re glad to have signed up as your referral partner to offer QuickBooks file repair services to our customer base in Asia. The responses we get from you, so far, have been excellent. The first job assignment was well done. We were able to return the repaired file to the client the next working day, minimizing their down time. We will be promoting your services in our region.”

Partner with us today! Apply online.

Is your QuickBooks file too big, sluggish, slow? Did it use to be lean and quick but now has a paunch?

As you use QuickBooks over the years, the transactions build up more and more. For transaction-heavy businesses, this results in large data files that take longer and longer to update in real-time across a network. As a result, it can take QuickBooks many seconds to post a new invoice or run a report.

Archiving data in QuickBooks has two disadvantages:

1. You lose historical reporting ability
2. It often does not really trim down the size of the file, especially if you track inventory in QuickBooks.

The answer? Supercondense your data. We invented this process, and it can result in a 50% or more reduction in your QBW file size, and faster QuickBooks performance on your network.

Instead of removing transactions from your data, we remove the audit trail and do some other housecleaning on the file. None of your transactions, accounts, or balances change. But your data file gets lean and mean.

We can analyze your file for free and let you know how much we can shrink it. No obligation. Contact us today at 1-800-999-9209 to schedule your analysis.

Did you notice that blog.quickbooksonline.com stayed up even when quickbooksonline.com and quickbooksonline.intuit.com went down?

I’m talking about those few hours on July 14 when many of Intuit’s websites and online servers were unavailable because of a commercial power failure in San Diego.

I tried several Intuit sites and subsites during the episode, and that blog was the only Intuit site I could access. (I didn’t try Intuit’s non-US sites or tax software sites.)

But blog.quickbooksonline.com never went down, and started posting helpful status updates that morning.

How did the blog manage to stay up and running? Because it’s not on Intuit’s servers. The blog’s DNS resolves to wordpress.com — WordPress’ hosted version of their renowned blogging platform.

If the blog had been self-hosted on one of Intuit’s servers, it too would have been unavailable during those hours. It was a good thing that at least part of QuickBooks Online’s web presence was located somewhere else.

Part of your QuickBooks company data is the TLG file. It’s not something you normally are aware of, but in some situations it can be a very important file.

The transaction log file (TLG for short) is maintained automatically by QuickBooks as part of your data. The file resides in the same folder as your main QBW file, and has the same file name. But it has a .TLG extension. In transaction-intensive businesses, the file can become quite large — 1GB or bigger.

Whenever you post a transaction in your company file, the TLG file is updated. And that is why it is sometimes a very valuable file.

We sometimes talk to people who have lost their current data file — it either got deleted somehow, or is so badly damaged it is unusable and unfixable.

But if they have a good backup — even if it is old — and a good current TLG file, we can take the old backup and bring it to current status by applying the missing transactions we can get out of the TLG file.

It’s one method we use for QuickBooks data repair.

I am working with a customer today who has this exact scenario, so I thought I’d briefly write about it.

p.s. We occasionally hear of users being instructed to delete their TLG file. Don’t ever do that without copying it to a different folder or drive first. You might need it sometime!

I had been working with a prospective client on a QuickBooks data project for a few weeks…figuring out the specs, analyzing a preliminary copy of their data, quoting the work, emailing lots of questions and answers back and forth.

And there was a growing feeling that it just wasn’t right.

The prospective client was pleasant enough and earnest in her desire to get a business information problem solved. But the project just wasn’t working.

We scheduled the work for a particular weekend, but she didn’t ‘show up’ with her data. As it turns out, when I talked to her the next week, there were yet more questions and more assurances needed. The questions had already been answered, and the assurances had already been given. But they weren’t taking hold somehow.

I know it is hard to trust someone with whom you’ve never done business. That is a big part of my job — to help people get to know us and feel comfortable in using our services. We’ve been in business since 1986, have a strong guarantee, and have had scores of clients give us their recommendation for QuickBooks data repair, QuickBooks downgrades and data supercondenses.

But I can’t force trust. It must be given freely, not demanded. And trust is a two way street.

So when we seemed to get into a question churn mode that wasn’t progressing, I told her that for both parties’ sake we were withdrawing our bid. I tried to communicate to her that she needed to find someone that she trusted. I gave her some names. She asked me to reconsider, but I told her that I just didn’t feel comfortable proceeding with the job.

I’ve only turned away clients a few times in the 24 years and thousands of software consulting/support jobs I’ve managed. I hate to do it.

But one thing worse than turning away a client is taking one on and then later having to figure out how to disengage. Maybe a good way to avoid ‘firing a client’ is to not ‘hire’ them in the first place. At least that’s what my gut and experience is telling me.

What do you think about turning away prospective clients? I’d be interested in your thoughts.