As a founder, especially in the early days, you’ve got a huge variety of responsibilities. And as you juggle all of those things, you find that the more you can outsource the process, the better. Your time is worth money. Lots of it.
Over the past year of running Baremetrics (and the decade before that of building other businesses), I’ve found these tools to be indispensable. This tool set is a mixture of team management, customer service, analytics and marketing. They’re tools that I use just about every day to run the business and to help our team as a whole work better.
Real business tools that solve real business problems cost money.
You’ll notice, I don’t list any free tools. I don’t use free tools…not as a business, at least. Real business tools that solve real problems cost money. As soon as I see a tool is free (with no option to upgrade), I leave. I’m not interested in tools that aren’t worth paying for. /steps off soapbox
The current tally for these tools is right around $1,500/month.
Note, this is how much we pay for these right now, based on our team size.
Abacus — $30/mo
Let’s your team easily submit and get reimbursed for expenses. Criminally simple tool.
AnyPerk — $60/mo
Discounts and perks on a crap ton of businesses and…stuff.
Most business books are about 90% fluff. Many times they’ve got solid high-level concepts and practical advice in them that would be nice to learn, but it would be a colossal waste of your time to read the whole thing. Blinkist is a library of 15-minute book summaries that saves you from wasting all of that time.
Calendly — $8/mo
I try to have a conversation with every single customer at least 2–3 times in their first few months of using Baremetrics. Scheduling all of that could be a nightmare, but thanks to Calendly…it’s absurdly simple. Just send the person your link (mine is https://calendly.com/joshpigford) and let them pick a day/time that works for them. Boom. Done. I’d pay $50/mo for this if they’d charge it. Easily the most underpriced tool in my toolbox.
Churn Buster — $50/mo
Failing charges and expiring credit cards can quickly suck the life out of a business that depends on recurring revenue. Churn Buster automates the entire recovery process. It’s helped recover nearly $3000 in charges and it saves us hours of time every month.
GoSquared — $28/mo
Real-time traffic data. A lot easier to find out where traffic is coming from than Google Analytics. I use this quite a lot when we publish a new blog post or send out a newsletter to get a feel for where traffic is coming from and how a given item is being shared throughout the day.
Help Scout — $70/mo
We use this for the large majority of our support interactions. Lots of automated processes in place for categorizing and routing tickets. Makes me feel sane.
iDoneThis — $30/mo
Great for helping everyone keep a running list of what they accomplish each day. It’s easy to get to the end of the day and feel like you didn’t get anything done, but if you add items to iDoneThis as you knock stuff out each day, by the end of the day you realize how much you did in fact get done and you get warm fuzzies. Warm Fuzzies as a Service. WFaaS.
Intercom — $149/mo
I use Intercom to stay in touch with customers in a segmented way. For instance, if I’m headed to San Francisco, I’ll quickly segment and email all of our customers there to schedule a meet up. Or, if I’m throwing around new feature, I can segment out the people who have asked to try out beta features and I’ll get some quick feedback.
Justworks — $450/mo
Being a fully-remote team could be a nightmare with payroll, but Justworks completely removes the hassle. I don’t have to setup anything in the states we hire people…Justworks takes care of all of that. So very highly recommended for all your payroll and HR stuff.
Kissmetrics — $149/mo
For tracking traffic conversion data across our site. I’m digging through this constantly to better understand where our customers are coming from.
Mailchimp — $25/mo
We try to be really intentional with our newsletters and they’re a really thorough way to surface new features and content to both users and readers of our blog. It’s one of the primary ways I stay in touch with our users.
Olark — $49/mo
In the early days of Baremetrics I’d have lengthy live chats on the site with both customers and potential customers. Getting to talk to people when they’re right smack in the middle of using or checking out your product is priceless.
OmniFocus — $130
Staying on top of and prioritizing the infinite number of things you personally need to get done can make your head spin. I use OmniFocus religiously to organize what I need to get done and when. The $130 is one-time purchases of the Mac, iPhone and iPad versions.
Slack — $48/month
Team chat. We’re an entirely remote team and Slack is our lifeline.
Soulver — $12
Soulver is one of the most underrated business tools in existence. I use this constantly to throw together numbers and do quick calculations on things like growth, discounts, projects and more.
Sqwiggle — $54/mo
Group video chat is something seemingly no one can get right. Everything we’ve tried before just hasn’t worked well (or at all). Sqwiggle breaks the least.
Trello — $30/mo
We manage our weekly sprints, roadmap and bugs all in various Trello boards. Each department has there on board to organize and prioritize next actions along with various other boards for other parts of the company.
Workable — $49/mo
As a one-man HR department, Workable is what we use to manage job applicants and the interview process. I wrote extensively about using it when we hired Kaegan for our customer support position.
Zapier — $15/mo
There are a number of simple daily, weekly and monthly tasks that would be annoying for me to manually do on an ongoing basis but that still need to get done. Zapier automates those things, from reminding everyone to update the items in their sprint, to running our daily standups in Slack to informing the team when someone will be out of town (based on Google Calendar).
If you’re a founder or entrepreneur or interested in startups and want to learn about other tools and resources, check out Founder’s Cabin!
Also, if you use Stripe and want tasty metrics (MRR, LTV, Churn, etc) with a single click, check out Baremetrics. You’ll almost certainly probably definitely love it.