Update: Bootstrap is now called Outright.

A new site called Bootstrap wants to take the headache out of running a small business — well, the financial headache, anyway. Its financial management Web site, which just left private testing mode, is designed for business owners who don’t know all the ins and outs of accounting, and don’t want to deal with them, either.

There is, of course, plenty of competition from entrenched offerings like Intuit’s QuickBooks, as well as start-ups like Bill.com, which launched last year under the name Cashview, and NetBooks, a company founded by the man behind QuickBooks. Bootstrap’s focus can be boiled down to a single word — simplicity. Not being an business owner myself, I can’t do a detailed comparison of services, but the Bootstrap site is indeed quite simple and refreshingly free of jargon. An entrepreneur who has checked out the site tells me he’s impressed at how Bootstrap has stripped away all the complication from the bookkeeping process.

Chief executive Kevin Reeth gave me a tour, and as he described each feature, it really sounded like the Los Gatos, Calif. start-up has been absolutely ruthless in simplifying and paring things down, so there’s no chance of confusion. There are just four tabs on the site — income, expenses, taxes and reports. On each screen it’s immediately obvious — even to a spreadsheet-phobic guy like me — exactly what you need to do. Unfortunately, you still have to enter all your income and expense information manually, but at least there are helpful autofill features to make things easier.

And once the information is in Bootstrap, the site takes care of everything else. It can fill out the necessary tax forms, create easily modified reports and even has a little box at the top of the screen that lets you know your profit for the year. You can also export your forms to an Excel spreadsheet, and Reeth says the site will be enabling compatibility other services, such as invoicing sites like FreshBooks and Blinksale.

You can read an overview of Bootstrap’s features here. The basic service is free, but Reeth says he plans to start charging for a premium version and perhaps for additional features.


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