What are the tools that your business couldn't live without?
Here are my 5 ride-or-dies that I still love to this day.
1) Google Workspace (Used for 7+ years)
- This is obvious. Almost didn’t want to include this because it seemed so basic but it really does belong here because it is the backbone of everything. It also brings up my favorite example of mansplaining ever. I literally had a male employee get in an argument with me because “every legit business he worked for has used Outlook” and that I should stop using Google Suite. He was fired for poor performance shortly after.
2) Calendly (Used for 4+ years)
- I really love Calendly and wish that people would not get annoyed or offended that someone sends them a Calendly link. I am actually super thankful when someone gives me their link because we can skip the back and forth emails. During the COVID dating season, I literally sent out my Calendly link on Hinge when there was mutual interest so the guy could book time on my calendar to Zoom. I am not trying to do the mental gymnastics over 10 text messages to set up a time to chat. That might be high Capricorn energy but hey, at least you know upfront. It is also super special to me that Calendly was an overlooked startup since it is based in Atlanta and has an immigrant founder of color. Calendly deserves all the success it has today. But not going to lie, not a fan of this recent logo change. I loved the OG logo.
3) Gusto (Used for 5+ years)
- I started using Gusto when it was called ZenPayroll. I still shudder when I think about how our payroll was done prior to Gusto. It was so manual and required the input of our accountant every two weeks. Gusto just made things easy and cut down so much time by having the employee side self-service so they can log in themselves to grab the documents or paystubs that they needed. They also now allow for paying independent contractors through their system and that has been a game changer for us. Gusto support has also always been pretty solid and responsive.
4) Dialpad (Used for 7+ years)
- Dialpad is a business phone system that has a superior user experience compared to others. Your entire team can have business lines that they can text, call, video chat and even fax from. Google Voice is fine when you're solo but once you start building out a team, you need Dialpad. I started using Dialpad when it was called Switch.co. I remember the first VoIP system I ever used was RingCentral because that was what everyone recommended but I could just tell that it was not the way of the future. I switched to Switch and have been with them ever since. To be fair, at the beginning, they had some connection quality issues and slow ticket response times, but now, I don’t even think about it because it just works. Dialpad’s support is usually done through chat and it gets the job done.
5) Helpscout (Used for 6+ years)
- Helpscout is a shared inbox platform that allows you handle emails and chats as a team, along with knowledge base. We are still on legacy pricing on Helpscout because we have been on it forever. I still remember the struggles I had juggling a shared gmail inbox with changing email signatures and duplication of work. Now, all of my staff, including our legal counsel is in Helpscout and we can tag team every email and escalate and triage as necessary. I know there are a lot of options in this space now but Helpscout is still a solid choice if you need a knowledge base and shared inbox solution. Your recipients don’t know you are using Helpscout because it looks like regular email to them unlike other ticketing software like Zendesk. Helpscout’s support is on point too because they obviously use their own software to do it and their team is distributed around the world so you can get responses back quickly. Shout out to Australia for answering my late night support emails!
Janet Lee is an MBA candidate at the UCLA Anderson School of Management on a full-tuition fellowship. She is currently working for TenOneTen Ventures, Visible Hands VC and Tech Coast Angels. Before business school, she started two businesses, a tech-forward real estate brokerage and international trade & logistics company. Her MBA focus is venture capital, for which she was recently awarded the Deutschman Venture Fellowship.