October 30, 2014

Outright: Simple Online Bookkeeping for Sole Proprietors

Outright is a simple, online bookkeeping service.

Key in on the term “simple.” I’ve never seen an easier financial tool for a business owner. That’s not me gushing over this product, but stating the obvious. If you have a bookkeeper now, this tool lets you see daily progress instead of waiting for that in-person meeting at the end of every month or quarter.

Let me jump to the first page screenshot after you sign up. It doesn’t get any more clear and concise.  You know exactly where to start — either money coming in, or going out:

Outright - simple bookkeeping

This short description from their home page sums up their focus and mission:

“Streamlining the work involved with owning a business, helping entrepreneurs pay the right taxes, record financial transactions, and keep their businesses on track and growing. Created after watching a number of small businesses, like ourselves, struggle to capture business deductions, often piecing together different solutions. Believing business owners spend too much time and effort on the least enjoyable part of running one’s own business, our goal is to make it simple, helping entrepreneurs track all of their income and expenses to get their taxes done accurately.”

The main benefit of Outright is that it asks you to keep track only of the income and expenses; it does the rest. Of course, lots of programs do that, but Outright has only those items asking for your attention in its streamlined dashboard. If you’re busy, and I know you are, then seeing only two choices on the screen (above) makes it a breeze to navigate and take care of an item.

There are only four tabs: Income, Expenses, Taxes, and Reports. I can quickly wrap my head around that and feel less intimidated than I do with other financial software packages.

I like that it integrates with a few other useful services, such as, Freshbooks for your invoices, Shoeboxed for your receipts, and oDesk for income payments. I’d love to see eLance and Guru added to the mix as I use those two more than oDesk. They also mention that they are building an import tool to bring in credit card statements, but that it is still in test mode.

On the Tax tab, Outright estimates how much tax I owe this quarter and even has a “Pay” button at the bottom. My immediate reaction is, “wow, I can pay my quarterly taxes from here.” What it does is enter that transaction into your Outright register as an expense. Useful and logical, but it left me a bit disappointed. They should probably have some sort of explanation pop up or beside that feature.

Tax calculations in Outright

When you hover over the blue circle with the “i”, you get a breakdown of income, expense, and profit for that specific income item. Nice shortcut instead of having to wait for it in a report later.

If you are constantly scrambling to get your taxes done each quarter and at the end of the year, then Outright might be the simplified bookkeeping solution you need. If you find that you get overloaded looking at the dashboards of more robust, comprehensive financial software packages, then Outright might ease your headaches.

Who Should Use Outright?

According to the company’s FAQ, Outright is designed specifically for sole proprietors and single-member LLCs — those who file a Schedule C on their U.S. tax return. That rules out partnerships or large companies, which need a more robust solution anyway.  There’s no reason why a small microbusiness with a few employees couldn’t use it for the basics, but without a payroll feature you’re limited in managing your company books. Payroll is on the future feature list, though.  But if you’re a sole proprietor, or a new entrepreneur, or you run a small home-based business, Outright is a great place to start keeping your books.

Learn more about Outright.

27 Comments ▼

TJ McCue - Product Editor


TJ McCue TJ McCue served as Technology/Product Review Editor for Small Business Trends for many years and now contributes on 3D technologies. He is currently traveling the USA on the 3DRV roadtrip and writes at the Refine Digital blog.

27 Reactions

  1. Nice review, TJ. There’s a lot to be said for using a scaled-back product as a sole proprietor. As your business grows — and your accounting needs with them — then there’s plenty of time to look for a more powerful solution. But the most important thing when you are starting out or are still a very small business, is to have something you understand and that is not too intimidating to use.

    I met the CEO, Kevin Reeth, a few years ago when he worked for a large corporation. It’s nice to see how the product has evolved as he has pursued his entrepreneurial journey.

    – Anita

  2. I’ve used Kashflow in the past which is great for the UK market. I take it Outright is mainly for the US market?

  3. TJ, Great to see a program that is simple to use.

  4. TJ- Nice review. In visiting the site, it looks to be free, is that correct? Is there a paid version as well? Seems funny to *not* pay for something as important as a bookkeeping software.

    Thanks again.

  5. Thank you, so much, for the review TJ, you’ve perfectly captured our target audience and mission. Keeping it exceptionally simple for self employed professionals, practically putting their back-office on auto pilot so they can focus on their business.

    Great feedback on the Taxes features and the Pay option in particular. We’re making changes there that will not just make that clearer but should get folks pretty excited.

    @Claire Now, Outright only calculates U.S. Federal taxes; more to come. That said, a few of our larger users are in Canada and the UK; seems the simplicity and accessibility alone add value for folks. You can export your records from the reports tab to use them elsewhere.

    @Travis It is free. Basic bookkeeping is not nearly as complicated as some software makes it so; recognizing that you might need to hire a bookkeeper, and certainly that you have other critical costs as a small business owner, we’re keeping what you MUST do simple and free.

  6. Sounds way better than hiring a bookkeeper and much more accurate too. I would definitely give this a shot.

  7. Thanks for the input and kind comments about my Outright review. My bookkeeper is going to love using this tool. @Travis — I’m amazed that its free, too.

    @Paul — many thanks for coming to visit and answer some questions. The beauty of most startups and growing companies is the engagement of leadership, especially online. Thanks for taking the time, Paul.

  8. Very Nice. This will be very helpful for a lot of my customers. Keeping good records is always important. Thanks

  9. This is an excellent tool for many small business owners. I can think of several CEOs that could use a tool like this to help them organize their cash in / cash out items. The people I am thinking of are the business owners that come to us with a shoebox that is full of receipts and bills from a prior period. They could save some money by using this tool throughout the year to stay organized.

    Well done.

  10. Nice review. Online accounting and bookkeeping software is also very popular in the UK and Europe, not only because of its ease of use, but also because of low total cost of ownership and multi-user anywhere, anytime access.

  11. i need to know more about the sofware , please send me information

  12. Michelle, swing by outright.com and get started; the service is free to use and you get started with only an email address. In about 2 minutes, we’ll have a P&L for you.

    If you have any specific questions, we’d be happy to answer them for you!

  13. As a bookkeeper for small businesses, I truely appreciate the Outright community!

    thank you,
    KWDouglas.com

  14. Not sure how I landed on your blog – but I enjoyed reading it and thought I would let you know I was here and if we can help with your client’s corporate minutes let us know.

  15. I’ve just stumbled upon two reviews of this software and both were very positive. It’s certainly something I would take time to look into and consider recommending to my smaller clients.

    Bev :-)

  16. I am unable to register. Name already taken password unavaible

  17. @ Gerry

    Well that can’t be right; users are associated with their email address so unless you’ve already registered…. send us an email via support@outright.com

  18. This tool is what every entrepreneurs need nowadays to make their life a lot easier. Thanks for posting this tool here!

  19. I love simple! This would be a perfect solution if I can import from PayPal or Excel. Is that possible?

  20. I’ll do you one better Rick, PayPal is one of our partners so our auto-import from PayPal is pretty sophisticated, breaking down fees rather extensively. Import from Excel to get started.
    More than that, import directly and automatically from a credit card (and soon bank!).

    TJ, we’ve made countless improvements since August last year… let’s catch up soon!

  21. I stumbled upon outright by dumbluck I’ve been searching the whole net for something like this…I’d really like if outright could have a transaction linkage system…you know link the income and expenses together in a separate transaction module…that will be so cool! Like for instance, you have a transaction tab where you enter for instance, a sale of goods, then the delivery that acommodated the sale, and for instance whats ever other expenses that went with it. Then under the income/expenses tab these would appear as per what you did in the transaction tab.. Paul, please look into this, I’m sure this will really be a good feature!

  22. I’d love to see a follow-up review TJ given the app has evolved and also is no longer free. It has gone from Free to $9.95/month. A shame the cost isn’t closer to $4.95/month or so as I might give it a try. However, depending upon a new review, it may be worth it. I’ve become so frustrated by Quickbooks. Any update to a review is appreciated.

  23. I’m trying to figure out what the advantages of signing up with Outright are. I’m hearing that it’s a simple and easy way for one to estimate what they owe in taxes. But, if I sign up for Outright do they report my earnings to the IRS? Am I actually making it easier for the government to collect taxes from me which they wouldn’t have known about if I didn’t sign up for Outright’s services? I haven’t earned anywhere near $20k, but I may in the future. Am I deliberately trying to inform the government on what I spend & sell online? Does Outright send my info to the IRS? Why would I want to make it easier for me to be taxed? Unless, I’m misunderunderstanding the service and Outright is just a helpful tool for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Can anyone help me make sense of this?

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