Before my startup I worked at a Fortune 100 company that employed over 100,000 people. There were many processes for getting things done, and a department for just about anything: Marketing, Sales, Legal, HR, Operations, Travel, and on and on.
If you're just starting a company, you'll have realized there are a lot of demands on your time in the early stages. In addition to building product and make sales calls, you need to take care of company operations in order to stay organized in the long run. You don't have resources like the large companies, so you have to find new ways to be more effective.
When my co-founder and I started 42 Technologies - a data platform that consolidates and analyzes data for retailers - we realized that running a company entailed many legal and administrative aspects that were new to us.
Here are some great tools I've found to be helpful, all of which came through referrals from other founder friends. While by no means comprehensive, these companies will save you many headaches when getting started.
1. Clerky (Legal)
We used Clerkly to incorporate our company and closing our first round. Clerkly will set you up with standard company documents and instructions for how to complete each one. They also have a great support team that have answered every question we've asked. Clerky uses digital signatures and keeps a clean record of every document, which is extremely helpful for closing quickly and staying organized.
2. UpCounsel (Legal)
If you have a one off request that needs specialized legal experience, UpCounsel is a quick and cost effective way to get in touch with lawyers. Although we still use our lawyers for most of our legal matters, we were able to connect with a great trademark lawyer via UpCounsel who secured our trademark. All you have to do is submit a job, and lawyers with relevant experience will bid on your request. The best part is they tell you the rate upfront, so you get a good idea of the range different firms/individuals are charging.
3. Freelancer.com (Contractors)
If your team is running short on time - which most startups are most of the time - Freelancer is a great way to outsource side tasks. Whether it's a MVP, a website draft, SEO, or data entry, there are a variety of contractors that can lend you a hand. There are also similar services like Odesk that you can try.
4. Zenefits (Benefits)
Zenefits helped us set up our employee benefits packages & worker's compensation plans, hire contractors, and keep track of our employee records. They take the pain out of getting buried in paperwork for the aforementioned tasks. Keep in mind that the company is growing very quickly, so if something is urgent, make sure you are proactive about checking in on progress.
5. Gusto (Payroll)
Once you start hiring people, you'll want to make sure they're getting paid on time. Gusto takes care of everything from payroll enrollment to regular deposits. The dashboard is very well designed and easy to use. Gusto's also great about sending reminders for important compliance deadlines for payroll and taxes. Bonus: Make sure to file your 83-b elections within 30 days of purchasing stock. A lot has been written on the topic, do some reading and make sure you do this right.
As a founder, it's your job to prioritize a never ending list of tasks. Leverage the amazing resources out there to save time so you can get back to what's important. Work smart, and you'll get a lot more done!
Cathy is the CEO of 42 Technologies, a San Francisco based big data company. 42 is backed by Y Combinator, and uses data mining and statistical analysis to help retailers optimize assortment and inventory. Cathy has been invited to speak on data analytics in New York, Milan, Paris, Montreal, and Marrakech. Prior to founding 42, Cathy worked at Procter & Gamble on growth strategy and data analytics, focusing on the billion-dollar brand Olay.