Thursday, April 29, 2010

What Happened to the Free Online Version of Simple Start ?

QuickBooks Online accounting provides the essential accounting tools necessary to operate a business and the freedom to access financial information from work, the road or home. Simple Start is a free and bare bones version offered by Intuit, the maker of QuickBooks. Simple Start may be able to assist you in the operation of your business and even your personal finances. But before you start searching for Simple Start its important to know that Intuit has decided to begin to phase out the the free version of Simple Start.

As the Intuit website simply states, Simple Start can (a)Track sales, expenses & customers, (b)Instantly create invoices, (c)pay bills, & print checks and (d) Organize your finances in one place-ready for tax time. All this sounds good, but when you take a close look, Simple Start has serious limitations, but for some people or businesses, it might have a place.

Intuit has a free QuickBooks Online option, called QuickBooks Simple Start. Its free but has limited functionality. i.e. limited to 5 customers(but unlimited vendors) and lacks accounts payable recording and reporting,lack of budgeting,estimating,financial reporting and I can list more and more. Notwithstanding, these critical shortcomings, it may work for some.

I have installed Simple Starts on both Macs and PC's. My clients that use both Macs and PC's like the ability to use QuickBooks on either platform. I have seen Simple Start work for a few of my very small business clients, who use it to summarize their business activities for their tax returns rather than for real time financial information. If you use PC in your office and a Mac at home, you can share the data which is kept in the cloud. Most business owners really like this feature. I have been able to set up their chart of accounts from my PC and then my clients are able to instantly use the software.

During the sign in process for Simple Start, Inuit asks for your credit card. Don't think this is a scam to get you sign up or sell you more products. They actually do not charge your credit card, until you purchase it. You will quickly realize how well it captures your cash activities, and will probably want to upgrade to either QuickBooks Online Basic or QuickBooks Online Plus because of the software's function shortcomings.

Unfortunately, another shortcoming of both Simple Start and QuickBooks Online Basic is their inability to properly record and monitor accounts payable,monitor and pay multiple vendors at once.This is important if you want to be able to track your payables and be able to pay multiple vendors at one time Also, Simple Start does not offer a Statement of Cashflows. This statement shows you where and to what accounts your cash was spent.Its a very important financial statement to help a small business owner understand the sources and uses of cash in the operation of their business.

In summary, some people like Simple Start because its free and "simple". Once again, like all QuickBooks Online products it works with any PC and Mac. If you want a free version of Simple Start, simply visit my website and go to the Quickbooks online page and you will have direct access to an Intuit link for free a version of Simple Start, which is currently available as of the date of the writing of this blog post.

Learn how QuickBooks Online provides the essential online accounting tools to manage your business and the freedom to access your financials from work, home, or the road. Sandor Lenner, C.P.A./M.B.A has been providing accounting services for 35 years. He is also a Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor and works as a part-time consultant for a Miami Accounting CPA firm.

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