January 18, 2021
Conversations, articles, podcasts, and coaching have taught me so much about running a business. Now it’s time to share some of my own thoughts and favorite resources.
By Andrew Gregory
Here's a quick list of links.
Budget & Financials: YNAB
Invoicing: Zoho Invoice
Credit Card & ACH Payment Processing (charged through Zoho Invoice): Stripe
Password Manager: 1Password & 1Time
Project Management & Task Management: Asana
Email & File Storage: Google Workspace
Paying contractors and the annual reporting (1099s) is relatively simple, so we have handled that ourselves (asking our accountant any questions that came up).
As we grew and expanded the full-time team, we of course needed to set up a payroll system. Running payroll and properly reporting taxes is a confusing mess, so there was a ton of value in finding an outside service for this. We jumped on board with Gusto. The simplicity of their platform and their exceptional customer service makes payroll a breeze. It is nice to know this is all taken care of and we highly recommend them.
YNAB (You Need A Budget) is a personal budgeting software. So why am I bringing this up as a business service? I am 100% behind YNAB’s philosophy on budgeting and believe it’s a missing piece in many small (and large) businesses. Clarity Squared has used YNAB to run our finances since the beginning and it's hard to imagine it any other way. The approach is to budget money that you have instead of projecting income that you do not yet have. This mindset shift is one of the most important factors in the success of this business.
Because YNAB is not a “business accounting software”, we needed a separate system for invoicing and payments. We moved to Zoho Invoice and Stripe. Why? Our criteria for invoicing and payments was:
Does not require the use of their own full accounting system (since we’re using YNAB and do not want or need to double enter this).
Allow customers to make payments online using credit cards or ACH. We preferred this to be tied to Stripe, since they take a lot of the headache and mystery out of the confusing (and sometimes shady) credit card processing industry.
Auto reconciling credit card and ACH payments against invoices (mark them as paid).
Allow us to run customized reports showing (and filter them) showing sales by customer by product. This did not seem like a big request, but it actually was one of the most difficult requirements to meet. We needed this so we could separate advertising spend from our actual services charged in reports.
While we have a physical office location, we wanted a phone system that did not tie us to the office. Thankfully, there are a lot of excellent options. We went with Dialpad. In hindsight, this is probably overkill for our use case. Some of the product is focused towards enterprise customers and not just small businesses. That being said, it has worked great. Everything runs through our cell phones and desktop app and allows us to work from anywhere and there is no need for additional phone hardware (other than the cell phone and laptop we already have).
We have a mix of working at the same office and working remotely. We needed a way to send quick updates and questions back and forth. We chose Discord. We chose Discord because some of our favorite communities had already moved there (Craft CMS and Statamic) and our team was already familiar with it. Since it’s free (for what we need) we jumped in and are loving it.
We use it for our team, but have also used it to collaborate with other partner companies as well as with contractors.
Security is extremely important to us, both for our own info and for our clients. By far one of the most important tools we use is 1Password. We are able to a securely store and access website credentials and other info that we need to keep secure.
So often businesses ignore this and use short and simple passwords, reuse passwords on multiple websites, and or send password by email. 1Password allows us to use long and difficult passwords that are unique for each website or account they are used for. We can easily share info between our team members and keep our info (and our clients’) organized.
The one thing that 1Password does not yet do is allow us to easily share credentials externally. When we have the need to send secure information to a client or vendor, we use 1Time. This lets us send information with a secure link that will expire.
We chose Asana for our main project management system. It offers a lot of flexibility and is not overly opinionated about how it is used. One reason we moved to this from Trello is that Asana supports recurring tasks much better, which was very important to us. We've significantly changed how we use Asana over the years and it has been flexible enough to continue working well even as our needs have changed.
Documenting our internal processes has always been important. We started with some basic Google Docs. However, we came across Nuclino and we have since transitioned all of our internal documentation to this system. We really like how it helps to make sure things do not get overly complicated (it limits certain things such as how images can be embedded). It also has a super fast search and lets you organize documentation into whatever way you see fit. In short, it does just what we need by getting out of the way and giving us a central place to store this info.
We're currently using Google Workspace for our email and file storage. Not a lot to say about this, other than it is working well and does what we need.
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