How to Set Up QuickBooks for Consulting

By David Roberts

Consultants get paid to impart information and strategies to others.
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One industry that experiences the ebb and flow of market forces is the consulting field. Like any other business, a consulting company must be able to keep track of it's expenses and revenues. And like many companies, consulting companies often use QuickBooks accounting software to keep track of that data. Since there is no real change of hands of materials or goods, a consultant must keep track of the individual hours spent on a project and come up with a way to record those revenues in QuickBooks.


Insert the QuickBooks disc, or, if you have downloaded the program, click the "Install" prompt and wait for the software to be installed. This may take a few minutes. Immediately after the program is installed, you will be prompted to begin the "EasyStep Interview," which will help your company file populate with the right data in the right locations.

Click on the "Start Interview" button. You will have the option of skipping this interview but it is not recommended unless you have a good deal of experience installing QuickBooks software.

Enter all company information in the first window. This includes the company name, tax identification number, address, phone number, fax number, email address and website. Remember that the more data you enter, the better QuickBooks will be able to help you.

Choose the industry to customize QuickBooks company file to that industry. One of the default options is "Professional Consulting." Click on that option and then on the "Next" tab. The next screen is about your company's legal organization and needs to be filled in accurately. When this is done, enter the start of your fiscal year -- usually January -- and click on the "Save" button to create new company file.

Choose "Both services and products" in the next open window. Even if you don't currently sell products, you may want to have that option later if you decide to sell accessories as an affiliate in your industry. The next few screens ask questions about online sales, sales taxes, estimates and more. Fill in all appropriate information until you get to the "Review Income and Expense Accounts." Click "Next" after reviewing the accounts. Keep in mind that these can be added to or deleted later.

Consultation Firm Specifics

Add all current and past customers and vendors to your company file. Click on the "Customer Center" icon and fill in the appropriate boxes with customer data. Repeat this step for all your vendors, or individuals and companies you pay for services or products.

Add your list of "Items." For a service-oriented business, your "Items" are hours of time you charge people for or a flat fee for services rendered. Click on the "List" tab located in the top menu bar and scroll down to the "Item List" option and click on it. When the "New Item" window opens, fill in the "Name" of the item. For example, an hourly charge for consultation might be named "Consultation Hourly Fees." This window will also allow you to enter a "Rate" of the amount of money to charge per hour and the appropriate income account to assign to these revenues. The default account is called "Consulting Income."

Create a new item for each type of fee you charge. "Consultation Flat Rate" or "10 Hours Consultation" can be offered at a discount of the normal hourly rate by choosing a rate compatible with your hourly fees. For instance, if you charge 50 dollars per hour and someone wishes to have your services for 10 hours, you can choose a rate of 450 dollars for that block of time.