IN THE INTEREST OF FULL DISCLOSURE – Outright and Network Solutions partnered up this year for the Unintentional Entrepreneur series of events and have a blog of the same name (which focuses on those who have recently started a business). However this product review is independent and from the perspective of a guy with an accounting degree who signed up for the free service to test it out for his own business.
These days there are many Software as a Service (SaaS) products out on the market. Ones for billing, ones for project management, ones for selling and customer service. There are also a few for handling your accounting needs. This is a very tough nut to crack since many are first reticent to put data into the cloud, much less their financial information, and then they have to contend with the Intuit Quickbooks ownership of the market place.
This is why I was skeptical when I heard about what Outright was planning to do but in true Agile software methodology they started with the basics and have stayed on a constant improvement path adding features and functionality incrementally. My business was evaluating the move off of Quickbooks which is used on our network and doesn’t give access to our team or accountant like the web product does. This provided me an opportunity to evaluate lots of other services (which will be for a later post).
What I liked about Outright
Two simple messages – Save Time and Save Money. You are really speaking my language. Accounting package can suck your life away because of the complexity many have and the time it takes to learn everything properly. I want my accountant to be helping me with tax planning and cash flow management not training me on how to properly enter vendors and reconcile the checkbook.
Integration with other SaaS tools – They have started with two big ones – Freshbooks and Shoeboxed. We use Freshbooks for invoicing but our expensing is done separately and shoeboxed is not a vendor of ours.
Techcrunch has a nice update on the addition of Expensify “Getting started with the site is quite easy, because Outright has recently partnered with a number of financial services: you can import invoices from Freshbooks, receipts from Shoeboxed, your PayPal transaction history, as well as your credit card transactions through a deal with Expensify, which supports 94% of US credit cards. You only have to do this once — once you’ve linked your account, they’ll keep automatically updating until you unlink them.
Killer Tax Planning Tool – One of the big areas many new entrepreneurs and freelancers screw up is in the tax area. For years they have been used to their employer taking out taxes and they just took their W-2 and did their taxes. With a new business there are all kinds of tax benefits to using expenses and also planning your cash flow so the right amount goes to the IRS quarterly so you don’t get spanked the following year with a tax bill plus penalties that make you cry and ask yourself why you are doing this in the first place.
What I didn’t like about Outright (but they can change this and innovate to fix this stuff)
No Connectivity to banking accounts – This was my deal breaker. Despite my love-hate relationship with Quickbooks some times, they do this part flawlessly and I am able to quickly go through the month and match deposits to client billing and categorize the expenses with a final reconcile button that takes me about 60-90 minutes a month to do my books.
Granted, I think I have become spoiled to this functionality because Quickbooks has been doing it for so long and I can get this online though the personal budgeting tool Mint.com so I am really kind of expecting it. Despite the enormous complexities of integration behind the scenes I am willing to wait for this but many other non-technical people who have this in other products will look for it.
Then again, this product is FREE and has some great functionality already so I can’t completely put them to task.
Tax planning only covers Schedule C – For the uninitiated, Schedule C is for a Sole Proprietorship and not partnerships or corporations. I won’t go into a business law discussion but a sole proprietorship is the most basic form a business and many firms are usually formed as LLC or Subchapter-S corporations for liability protection and tax advantages. My firm is S-Corporation and all partners get K-1′s at the end of the year that go into our tax returns.
Inability to bring in balance sheet items from previous year – You may go, huh? The plain english translation of that statement is basically this could be old receivables from customers that haven’t paid yet (or may never pay) that you will need to write off. This can offset your tax liability in a big way so your estimated taxes in the tax planner are just that – estimated. If you have complexities like this you should engage an accountant who can give you a better picture of tax planning for this year and next.
Who is this Smart Working Tool for?
I would say at this point in their life, Outright absolutely perfect for the independent contractor or freelancer who has a very simple cash-in, cash-out approach with no employees. Outright is FREE, which takes away any cost objections. Plus, if you can leverage Freshbooks and Shoeboxed to automate the sync to Outright, this can work really well. Oh yeah, did I mention that is FREE to use?
Check it out today and if you are current user of Outright, please leave a comment on your opinion of the service and if we missed anything.Google+