Here at Pilot, we’re a group of savvy bookkeepers who work heavily with startups and small businesses.
We’ve had many startups rely on us for their bookkeeping needs. Through these interactions, we’ve learned which tools work best for startups who may need a little help with their back office tools.
In this article, we’ve gathered a list of our clients’ favorite tools in important categories like customer relationship management, payroll, and accounting.
Keep in mind that no two startups are the same. A tool that works wonders for one startup may not be the right fit for another. That said, we’ve seen these tools work very well for our customers. It’s worth it to follow up on the tools that sound right for your company.
You didn’t really think we’d put together a list of amazing tools for startups and not include ourselves, did you? But we can honestly say we think we’re the best bookkeeping service around (and yes, we use Pilot for our own bookkeeping, too).
Pilot is a group of talented bookkeepers who keep highly accurate books thanks to the extensive, custom software that we’ve built from the ground up. By automating the most error-prone aspects of bookkeeping, we ensure your books are as accurate as they can be.
We work in QuickBooks Online, and we automatically feed all of your accounts into it. This means you won’t have to send us a shoebox’s worth of business receipts at the end of every month.
TL;DR? Pilot takes the tedious task of bookkeeping off your plate so you can focus on running your business. Try Pilot Now.
We highly recommend Gusto because it’s tailored to the needs of small businesses and startups. Gusto offers assistance with payroll, HR, and health insurance, and it integrates very well with QuickBooks Online.
You can even give our bookkeepers instant access to your Gusto account with just a few clicks.
Bill.com makes it easier to pay bills and send invoices. It automatically updates your bookkeeping software when your company is paid, ensuring that your bank account and internal records are the same. You can also send automatic reminders to those customers who never seem to pay when you want them to. Their mobile version makes approving invoices or payments a cinch, even when you’re traveling.
Best Expense Tracking Tool for Startups: Expensify
Expensify takes the hard work out of tracking expenses. Their software gets you access to automatic approval workflows, next-day reimbursements for your team members, and “one-click” receipt scanning. If you need to do mileage tracking, their SmartScan will collect info automatically — no need for manually reading your odometer.
As with all great startup tools, Expensify integrates well with other tools on this list, like QuickBooks, Gusto, and Bill.com.
Stripe is a payment processing behemoth, and because of that, they can offer some of the best service and integrations around. Their standard pricing works for most, but you can also put together your own set of features and receive a quote accordingly.
They’re a reliable source of processing, and they also provide business insights and fraud monitoring AI informed by billions of global transactions. Stripe is especially valuable for anyone in the e-commerce space.
No foreign transaction fees, zero annual fees, and designed specifically for startups. Brex brags of spending limits ten to twenty times higher than other corporate cards for startups. Signing up for the card doesn’t affect startup founders’ credit score, either.
As with many other credit cards, it also comes with fraud protection and worldwide acceptance. Brex lets you text your receipts to automatically pair them with spending records and integrates with multiple accounting platforms like QuickBooks Online, Xero, NetSuite, and Expensify.
Just make sure you have a business account set up and funded before signing up for the card.
Price: Free plan for the first three years (using the StartUp feature set).
Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) is our favorite bank to recommend to our startup clients because it’s specifically designed for startups. In addition to a budget-friendly fee structure, it comes with less common perks like sweep accounts (these accounts allow you to set a desired threshold, then automatically invest anything over that amount).
Salesforce CRM has powerful built-in tools that will enable any startup to keep track of prospects, clients, and customers in an organized and efficient way. It may not be the most intuitive to use — at first — but it’s highly customizable.
One of the more popular aspects of Salesforce is their enterprise social network and collaboration tool known as Chatter. It allows employees to communicate and share files, expertise, and data in one dashboard.
Chatter helps keep assets and important information in one place, where it can be accessed by everyone using the service.
It’s hard not to love G Suite. When it comes to collaborating on documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, Google has the simplest solution around. Employees can get their work done from any place that has an internet connection, and that autosave feature is a lifesaver. Using it means you’ll get all the perks of Gmail, but with professional email addresses for everyone in your company.
Plus, the toolkit scales well with growing companies and integrates with almost every additional productivity or collaboration tool out there. Your employees won’t spend as much time on routine tasks like emailing versioned documents back and forth. Instead, they can smoothly coordinate, edit, and create resources for your business.
Google Analytics (GA) is used by millions of websites and startups alike. It features a robust dashboard and reporting interface that tracks a multitude of data points, and it gives you better visibility on the traffic visiting your website. It’s one of the few free tools that no growing business should do without.
This information can help your startup optimize your site and provide new insights into how people found you so that you can provide a better user experience.
GA also seamlessly interfaces with Google Adwords, allowing you to optimize your paid advertising campaigns and discover new potential keywords to drive more traffic and business.
WordPress is an open source software that lets you build your blog (or even your whole website) from scratch. While you won’t pay anything for access to WordPress itself, you’ll likely pay for accessories from independent businesses in the WordPress ecosystem. Templates and plugins abound — unless you’re tech-savvy and prefer doing everything yourself, you’ll probably spend money on those and on someone to make them work for you.
Naturally, most of the website-related tools you use, from analytics to optimization, will play nice with WordPress.
Marketo features a suite of tools designed to help with marketing automation. It allows you to efficiently manage and optimize mobile ads, digital campaigns, customer insights and data, and email marketing campaigns from a single dashboard. While the platform doesn’t come with graphic design tools, they do have an add-on that provides access to millions of images and templates for landing pages, sales funnels, ads, and more.
Marketo helps you get the most out of your digital marketing campaigns and provides a robust reporting interface to determine which marketing strategy is providing the best ROI.
Slack is one of the most popular communication tools out there. While it’s a good tool for any team trying to communicate, it’s become increasingly popular among sales teams to handle client-specific deals. You can also choose from a number of tools to integrate it with Salesforce and other CRMs. Organizing sales activities in Slack channels is a great way to keep the whole team winning.
Which Startup Tools Are Right for You?
Choosing a toolset for your startup can be overwhelming. But by systematically evaluating the needs and challenges of your startup, you’ll be able to choose the right tool for the job at hand. Hopefully, this list will make that job easier for you.
Want to take bookkeeping off your plate? Try Pilot.
We have business relationships with many of the service providers above. Our top priority is helping companies set up great systems that serve them well, and we wouldn’t have pursued these business relationships or be recommending these providers if we didn’t think that they were great.
In particular: the founders of Gusto and Stripe are investors in Pilot. We participate in partner programs offered by Expensify and Bill.com that allow us to provide discounts on these products to our customers. We participate in partner programs offered by Gusto and Brex that (1) allow us to provide better support to our customers who use these providers and (2) provide incentives to us for referring companies to these providers. We participate in an Intuit partner program which we use to pay for Quickbooks Online for customers that purchase it through us.