12 Tools to Make You a More Productive Entrepreneur
Running your own company can quickly get overwhelming. Emails, contracts, meetings, hiring, fundraising… the list goes on and on. There are a plethora of different tools out there that try to help. As a CEO and founder, I’ve tried out so many tools and solutions in order to make Chicory as efficient and organized as possible--and I feel lucky to have started a company during a time when other entrepreneurs are starting their own companies to solve the logistical challenges I face every day.
Today, I want to share a few of my favorites (and essentials!) with you. I've split this list into a few different sections reflecting what my day-to-day is like.
FINANCE / HR
Optically, it has felt like over the past 5 years or so that startups were only focused on user engagement or clicks. But at the end of the day we are all businesses and all businesses need to keep track of money in the bank, and employees. This is my first company, so when we first started I needed to familiarize myself with the basics. These two tools have been by my side and I'd recommend them 100%.
Tool #1 Quickbooks
Quickbooks is pretty well known as the gold standard when it comes to accounting. The integration with your bank account is seamless and it’s just customizable enough to the point where it’s really useful, but not overwhelming.
(On a side note, for any first time entrepreneurs, I would also continue to keep an excel sheet with your P&L and balances along with any other metrics that you want to measure. It helps you keep an eye out on your past progress and what you need to do to hit your goals.)
Tool #2 Justworks
I can't recommend Justworks enough. When we started hiring our first employees, there were a lot of unknowns: what paperwork did employees need to fill out? How did we take care of salaries and taxes? All of the resources on the web were obscure and there didn’t seem to be one place we could find all of the answers.
Justworks provides a super intuitive platform to manage all of your HR needs. They not only do payroll, but help with contractors and even offer exclusive benefits like 401k, gym memberships, healthcare, dental and more. Justworks makes it possible for us to offer these benefits without breaking the bank.
PROJECTS / COLLABORATION
For any operation of more than one person to run smoothly, there needs to be a system in place that provide a platform for collaboration, transparency, and communication. The following tools help to get you and your team all on the same page.
Tool #3 – Dropbox for Business
Dropbox is pretty ubiquitous at this point. But I was just talking to my co-founder yesterday about how we now take for granted how amazing a piece of technology Dropbox is.
Just to recap, Dropbox syncs up files on your computer with other devices. Dropbox for Business is great because it allows you to share folders with all of your employees. The business account also makes it super easy to manage who gets what access. So if you onboard a new employee they can easily access the company folder--and in the sad scenario that an employee leaves, you can easily revoke access and remotely delete the files that they have as well.
Tool #4 – Google Drive
This is also a pretty well known tool; Google Drive and Dropbox are often times bucketed into the same “file syncing” or "cloud storage" category. But the biggest differentiator is that on Google Drive, multiple people can collaborate on an individual document at the same time. This lends itself to interesting use cases.
Here are some examples of what we use Google Drive for:
- Taking notes during business meetings – Joey and I will be in a meeting together and whoever is not asking questions or talking will be taking notes!
- Taking notes during candidate interviews.
- Blog posts (like this one!).
- Press releases.
Tool #5 – Basecamp
Basecamp is a project management tool that allows teams to collaborate on bigger projects. Before we started using Basecamp we had tried a number of different solutions like Trello and Asana. But we found that Basecamp gave the most transparency and ease of use.
Tool #6 - Jira
We’ll cover this one super briefly because it’s only relevant if you have an engineering staff. But, in short, Jira is a great tool for managing engineering projects. There’s a bit of a learning curve at first but, if used correctly, it can be a powerful way to communicate with your engineering team.
SALES / BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
For any B2B company, sales and business development are crucial. On the path to signing a new client or partner, there are dozens of things that could go wrong. Today, there are tools that can help with prospecting for new leads, maintaining those leads, closing deals, and keeping existing clients. Without going too industry specific, here are some tools that help with these deals.
Tool #7 - Hubspot
Full disclaimer, one of our close advisors is a Director at Hubspot. But with that said, Hubspot is an extremely powerful tool for getting new leads and closing deals.
While Hubspot is usually regarded as an inbound marketing platform, the additional tools that come with it are equally as powerful. Not only does it have a Salesforce-esque CRM that can easily integrate with an array of Gmail plugins, but they also have a massive database of various companies that can help you with any sort of prospecting.
To be honest, we are still at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to using Hubspot, so keep an eye out for more updates to follow!
Tool #8 - Rapportive
This is, hands down, my favorite tool on this list. Rapportive is a gmail plugin that pulls up relevant information on the person you are emailing with, like LinkedIn account info (recent job titles) or mutual connections. It might feel a bit invasive, seeing all of this information about a person right in your email inbox, but usually we find it pretty handy!
Tool #9 - Cudasign
This is a pretty straightforward tool, but something that we use often. Cudasign (formerly known as Signnow) is a platform that easily allows for multiple participants to sign a document.
At the end of a deal, you have to send your client the final document, tell them what to fill out, have them sign it and then have them send it back. With Cudasign, all you have to do is upload a document, mark off what sections need to be filled in and the recipient can enter in the info and countersign all through the platform.
While it may seem like a small problem that's being solved, it definitely removes one potential barrier to getting that deal closed.
Tool #10 - Streak
Streak is a Gmail plugin that helps sales people with email. It has features that range from mail-merging and pipeline creation to snooze and delayed send functionality.
Streak is great because it just helps you email better. Really, that should be their slogan. In terms of closing deals, one of the features that, again a little invasive, but super useful, is the ability to see when someone has viewed your email. By knowing this information you can make more informed decisions as to what time you should be sending out emails to clients and what types of follow-up emails you should use.
SCHEDULING / TASK MANAGEMENT
This might be the most relevant section to everyone. It seems like there are a TON of products out there that help you with managing your time. Here are the three I use and how I use them.
Tool #10.5 - Streak
Yes, yes I know I just talked about Streak but I wanted to mention it again because it’s really helpful in managing my tasks as well. There are times when you have so many emails to deal with that you might forget the last time you sent an email to a particular lead. To solve this problem, Steak has a special function that lets you snooze an email and have it return to your inbox ONLY IF no one has replied. This means that if I snooze an email until 8AM next Wednesday, that on that Wednesday I will have a refresher of who I need to reach out to again in order to make sure things are moving along.
Tool #11 - Wunderlist
Wunderlist is my favorite to-do list app. Most of these apps have similar functionality: checkboxes for items that you need to complete, custom sections for different areas of your life, etc. But the reason I use Wunderlist is because there are native apps for both my Macbook and my iPhone. The interfaces are similar and both super simple to use.
Tool #12 - Sunrise
Most people use Google Calendar as their default calendar program. And that’s great because Google is great. But I recently started using Sunrise and I have been extremely satisfied with my experience.
Scheduling calls and meetings can be a pain because there is so much back and forth that needs to happen before a date and time can be chosen. Sometimes that back and forth can take more than ten emails!
With Sunrise, there is a feature that lets you pick certain times that you are free and the recipient can just choose a time based on the options that you gave. It has already saved me hours worth of reading and responding to emails.
Well, that’s it for now. If you have any questions about any of these tools please don’t hesitate to reach out!