How To Set Up Your Accounting Software

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How to Setup Your Accounting Software Setting up accounting software is like baking a cake. A huge variety of cakes exist in the world—chocolate, caramel, lemon drizzle; Bundt cake, layered cake, cupcake. Each has a different style and a different recipe. However, there is still a basic formula that lays the foundation for all cakes. You can always expect to use flour, sugar, eggs, and some sort of yummy flavoring, mix it up together, and throw into the oven. How to Setup Your Accounting Software In the same way, there are dozens of different accounting software options out there. Each has a unique style and set of features, and each requires specific steps to setup the software correctly. But after reviewing dozens of different accounting software programs, I’ve learned that accounting software programs and their setup processes aren’t as different as they seem  In this post, I’ll share my sure-fire recipe for setting up an accounting software program. You don’t have to be Mary Berry to bake a cake, you don’t need to be a CPA to follow this software setup recipe. We’ve broken the process down into five simple steps that anyone can follow.

Ready, set, bake!

The Easy Accounting Software Setup Recipe:

Prep Time: 10 – 15 minutes

Baking Time: 2 -3 hours


  • Company Information
  • Employee Information
  • Sales Tax Rates
  • Contacts List
  • Vendors List
  • Items/Inventory List
  • Chart of Accounts

Step 1: Start with Settings

Whenever I am working with a new accounting software, I always begin in Settings. Just like you should always read a recipe through before you start baking, I recommend spending some time exploring and understanding the different settings preferences your accounting program requires before you start your setup process. Often, you’ll need to add additional contact information and financial information in Settings to begin. Then you should set any appropriate default preferences (like what you want your invoice templates to look like or which sales tax rates you want to use on your invoices). Many times, Settings is where you’ll go to add new users/employees and set up payroll. It’s also where you’ll most likely set up payment gateways for accepting invoice payments online. Sometimes there are even certain additional features (like time tracking or project management) that you won’t have access to until you enable them through settings. For this reason, it really pays to explore your software’s settings right off the bat so you don’t miss adding any important information or setting any time-saving preferences.

Step 2: Connect to Your Bank

If you plan on connecting your accounting software to your bank account, you’ll want to do that right away so you can get up and running. A link to this feature is often found under Settings, but can also be associated with the banking or expense tracking feature on your accounting software.

Step 3: Connect to Existing Apps

If you use any third-party programs to run your business (like MailChimp or TSheets), you’ll want to integrate these programs with your accounting software. To stay true to our cake analogy, integrations are the extra tasty ingredients needed to spice up your basic, plain Jane cake batter. Most programs have an “Integrations” or “Connected Apps” section either in settings or on their dashboard (I’ve most often seen it in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen) where you can connect your software to your existing apps. Note: Be sure to check that your accounting software supports the integration before you begin. All of our accounting reviews include an Integrations section that links directly the company’s app marketplace.

Step 4: Import Existing Data

One of the most important parts of setting up your accounting software is importing your existing data. If you are switching over from an existing software, you can often export your data via .csv file, which make the importing process much easier. You’ll want to import:

  • Contacts
  • Vendors
  • Items
  • Chart of Accounts

Each software will have very specific guidelines on how to import these files so be sure to check your vendor’s help center for more information. Most programs provide a .csv template that you will then mimic using your own data. While this process can be a tedious one, it is more than worth it in the end and saves far more time than manually entering every single contact or item associated with your business.

Step 5: Add Extras and Automations

Now I know we said that this was a one-size-fits-all recipe, and at this point you have completed all of the basic steps to setting up your accounting software. But as we mentioned earlier, even though the setup process is similar across all programs, each accounting software is unique. The last thing you’ll want to do to complete the set-up process is to see what makes your software unique. Is there any information you’ve neglected to add? Are there any automations that will save you time in the future (like default email messages or invoice reminders)? These finishing touches can make all the difference to the end product. They are the metaphorical icing on your accounting software—they may not be completely necessary to the setup process, but they sure do make things more interesting.

Dig In

Cake jokes aside, we know that setting up new software can be a daunting task. By breaking the process down into five manageable steps, we hope you can quickly and easily set up your accounting program and get back to business. While these basic setup steps apply to all accounting solutions, we know the execution of these steps might vary slightly depending on your software. Our final bit of advice is to not be afraid to reach out to your software’s support team for extra help and guidance. Each of our accounting reviews has a section specifically dedicated to Customer Service and Support where you can find all of the ways to contact your accounting software company.

And, don’t forget, you can always reach out to us with any questions you have along the way.

Chelsea Krause

Chelsea Krause

Head Accounting and Invoicing Writer
Chelsea Krause is a writer, avid reader, and researcher. She became interested in accounting software because of her constant desire to learn something new and understand how things work. When she's not working, she can be found drinking obscene amounts of coffee, daydreaming about her newest story, reading anything written by C.S. Lewis or Ray Bradbury, kayaking and hiking, or watching The X-Files with her husband.
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