The satisfaction of inbox zero. The joy of a great filing system. The peace that comes from knowing everything is taken care of.
The sensations above can be hard to come by when you’re a startup founder. Between leading a team, closing deals, handling billing (and paying your own) there’s a lot to keep track of.
Thankfully there’s no shortage of apps and systems designed to make work life easier. We sat down with four efactory founders to learn what tools they can’t live without.
Founder, Sidecar Social
The rule of six: This is something I learned from Gary Whitaker while working at 417 Magazine. Gary had everyone make a list of the top six things they wanted to accomplish that day. Those were your priorities. It’s been three years since I worked at the magazine, and I still practice the rule of six!
Quickbooks: I don’t know how I managed to survive as a freelancer without Quickbooks. It helps me organize expenses and invoices and lets me track growth. It makes taxes easier, and it helps lower my stress levels at the end of the month when I’m trying to remember what checks I’m waiting on and which invoices have already been paid. I love it more than I could ever explain!
Trello: I don’t know that I could really survive without this. I’m always juggling different clients and writing projects, so this app allows me to make different lists for each client and view those lists in one place. It’s a lifesaver for someone like me who isn’t great at multitasking. When a client makes a sudden request, I don’t have to tear off a post-it or scribble down a note. I can just add the request to my lists in Trello and not worry about losing track of it.
Founder, Double Jump Media
Slack: Aside from our SGF team, we have several remote employees and contractors we are in constant communication with. Slack makes that super easy and puts all of the team’s beautiful thoughts and gifs in one simple place. It’s the closest thing we can get to a true hive mind without violating the Geneva Conventions or something.
Gusto: Being a commercial video production company, we use a high volume of contractors (actors, voiceover artists, crew, etc.) Gusto’s self onboarding for both employees and contractors saves us a lot of time by streamlining the payroll process.
Caleb Hutton: He’s not a tool, but as our production manager he is an organizational deity whose praises will be sung until the end of the earth as we know it.
Planners: My number one is an old school weekly or monthly academic year planner. I have to write everything down or I’ll forget, so it has my to-do list as well as my daily schedule!
Automatic Forwarding: Our team has one email address that automatically forwards to all four founders. It’s a super helpful way to keep everyone in the loop.
Founder, Logic Forte
When I created Logic Forte, I spent quite a bit of time researching how we could streamline various functions. I am especially pleased with our payroll and accounting workflows, since these were very time consuming in my prior company
On the payroll side, our employee data magically flows from BambooHR into T-Sheets, then Gusto, then QuickBooks Online. Everything from onboarding to time tracking to payroll and taxes is very streamlined or automated. Approving payroll only takes a minute or two.
On the accounting side, our monthly billing is automated through QuickBooks Online recurring invoices and nearly all of our customers enroll in automatic ACH payments. The few manual tasks such as depositing customer checks, classifying transactions, and contacting any past due customers are managed by our bookkeeping service. I meet with them for an hour each month to review reports and give them direction.