Quickbooks has long been known as one of the few easy-to-use bookkeeping computer programs for small businesses. But many of the smaller businesses stayed away from Quickbooks because of the high price, and the many features they would never need such as payroll and inventory tracking. In order to reach these businesses, Intuit came out with the Simple Start computer program. This program’s goal was to be a very simple, low cost tool for new business owners to keep track of money in and out.
I have been a user of QuickBooks for many years. When it came time to upgrade, I researched all my options available with the different Quickbooks programs. I even took the QuickBooks’ online survery which suggested I use the Simple Start program. Everything listed on the Simple Start box was exactly what I was looking for. It would allow me to do invoices, it would keep track of my sales, and produce a nice report at the end of the year for taxes. It seemed like the perfect option for me. And best of all it was priced under $100.
I was disappointed when I printed out my first invoices only to find that they looked amateurish, using the most basic font available. The lines on the invoices looked faded, even though I was using a brand new laser printer. I posted a question on the QuickBooks community board and received the response from a QuickBooks trainer, “I agree with you that if invoicing presentation is important you would want to use the Pro or higher version.” I have yet to meet a business that feels invoicing presentation is NOT important.
When I went to email the invoices, I found that Simple Start includes a default cover letter that tells my customers that they can “pay at your earliest convenience.” I have a set due date and don’t want my customers thinking they can pay whenever they get around to it. Back again I went to the message boards to try to find out how to remove the default email message. The Quickbooks guru Steve responded, “Editing of the default message text is a feature of Pro and higher versions.” Great, now I have to go and edit that message every single time I send an invoice.
Next I needed to print out mailing labels for my customers. I looked in the help section and couldn’t find anything that explained how to do this. So I returned to the message boards and asked my question. Quickbooks trainer, Laura, responded, “You will need Quickbooks Pro or other versions to print customer labels. You will find other features in Quickbooks Pro that will make the upgrade well worth the added cost.” Great, now I need to re-type all of my customer data into another program to print out mailing labels.
I started to wonder if others were feeling the same way as I was about Simple Start. I went to the message boards and spent hours reading through all of the posts from desperate business owners who weren’t able to do even the simpilest tasks with this program.
One person needed to import data from their past bookkeeping program. They were told the import tool was not included in this version, but it is available in Quickbooks Pro.
The next business owner needed to add sub items to their item lists. They received the response, “You are unable to make sub items with Simple Start. This is a feature that is available in Pro and higher.”
Another business owner needed to assign credit card transactions to specific customers or jobs. They were told, “You should upgrade to Pro or Premier for this feature.”
A business in Michigan changed their phone number, but Simple Start wouldn’t allow them to make the change on their emailed invoices. The Quickbooks trainer explained, “This is a known issue. If you know of any Accountant or Quickbooks Pro Advisor with Quickbooks 2006 Premier Accountant Edition, they can open up your file, make the change, and then return it to you for use with Quickbooks 2006 Simple Start.”
Surely Simple Start would be able to download my banking information? Nope. Surely Simple Start would have a way to enter on-linesurvey payments? Nope. According to an Intuit trainer, Simple Start “doesn’t know of EFTs, online payments, debit cards or any other payment methods, other than check or credit card.”
One person asked, “Where do I keep track of my mileage?” They received the response “Not available.” “How do I memorize a transaction?” “Not available.” “How come I can’t write an extended customer message on my invoices?” “Not available.” “How do I enter reimbursed expenses?” “Not available.” All of these business owners received the same suggestion, “Upgrade to QuickBooks Pro.”
Many of these angry Simple Start owners have sworn they will never buy another Quickbooks product again. While I give credit to Quickbooks for trying to help simplestus small business owners, theyAdviser totally missed the on-lineboaton-line with this program. Simple? Yes. Worth it? Definitely not.