Business Essentials Software Stack (Every business needs these tools)
In this guide, you'll find the software we believe every business needs to have — doesn't matter if you're a start-up or a business who has been around for a few decades. Having the right software in place is critical as it can help save you time, improve efficiency and stay organized.
What you won't find in this guide are general recommendations that will leave you more overwhelmed than when you started. This guide isn't designed to inspire you, but share what exact tools the best modern companies of 2023 are using (so you can stop researching and start implementing). Some of these tools are totally free to use, so there is no reason not to start using them!
This guide is prescriptive and offers single tools to help you make essential business software decisions more quickly. We cover everything from business banking and our CPA recommendation to where to store your company knowledge base.
The software below has been deeply vetted against competitors and all the below mentioned are used by us (we are paying customers). Let's get into it! ⬇︎
You can't have a business without your financial tech stack. Here are the three tools we recommend every business uses (some of these are US based only as that's where we live).
We've have tried literally every single business bank out there over the years. Not the boring big banks with an awful banking experience (we've tried those too), we mean the modern business banks when the advent of Neo banks started to exist (think tech layer atop a traditional bank).
Mercury's UI/UX is the best of any bank we've used, and their feature-set is incredible. It's clean, modern and takes care of all of our business banking needs. Best of all? It's totally free to use with no fees!
If you have over a certain amount of money in your bank account, they have a baked in treasury account where you can get high-interest on the funds sitting in your account. Plus, Mercury checking and savings deposits are FDIC-insured up to $5M through their partner banks and use of sweep networks.
You can easily create new checking accounts and get virtual and physical credit cards (although we still prefer to use Divvy for expense management — see below). Mercury integrates well with Quickbooks Online (mentioned below) so together you're getting a powerful finance stack. Making payments and using ACH to transfer is incredibly easy and overall we are calling this the best business bank that every team needs.
Click here to sign up for Mercury and get $100.
Divvy is an expense management solution that allows you to spin up virtual credit cards for every single vendor. It's also free to use and we think every business needs this tool! Here's why.
Say you wanted to sign up for every single software we recommended on this list? Google Workspace, Dashlane, Slite, CleanShot X and Quickbooks Online would ask for a credit card on file. Traditionally, you put one credit card on file with all of these vendors and that's all fine, until there is a security breach and your card number gets stolen (then you need to replace your card on file everywhere). Another issue is that your credit card limit is set to accomodate all of your business expenses, so if one of your vendors decides to increase their prices without you even knowing it, guess what? You're paying, none-the-wiser.
With Divvy, you gain back control since you can set budget limits with each vendor. My subscription is $20 a month, I might set a limit to $21 to that card. Company tries to charge $24 the next month and guess what? The card will decline. We can investigate why we are being charged more and make the decision if we want to allow the transaction to go through.
While you might be thinking, is this all necessary? Well, we actually put a card on file with one of our service vendors and when it was charged at Walmart and Home Depot, we knew that someone had stolen our card. Because we only put our card on file with that vendor, we knew it was someone who worked there. With an investigation launched, the thief (an employee) was caught, fined and fired. 👋
Further, Divvy is totally free to use! Andra on our team was so impressed with Divvy as a solution, she thought we must be paying a subscription to get to use it 😂
Divvy also allows you to accumulate reward points based on your spending. One of our customers who we got onto Divvy uses the reward point money to give bonuses to his employees at Christmas each year. It doesn't cost him anything (he's just spending as he normally would) and his employees get a bonus!
Final thought on the employee bit, you can also assign budgets for your employees using Divvy. Want someone to have a limit of $100 a month? Easily spin up a card for that. If the employee leaves, simply cancel their virtual card and you don't need to worry about getting back your company credit card.
Click here to sign up for Divvy and get $200.
Imagine you sell lemonade to your neighbors, and you keep track of how much money you make in a notebook. QuickBooks Online is like a digital notebook that helps you keep track of your business finances.
QuickBooks Online (QBO) is a cloud-based accounting software that helps businesses track their finances, manage their expenses, and prepare their taxes. No matter your business size, you need a tool like QBO as it's the central finance brain of your business.
We highly recommend Quickbooks Online over QuickBooks Desktop because of their robust API—you're not going to be integrating QuickBooks Desktop easily with anything if you choose the non-cloud version.
We find that teams based in the US tend to use QuickBooks Online, and businesses outside of the US tend to lean more toward Xero.
These tools are the best in class in their category and we can't imagine running our business without them.
It blows our mind how many teams still operate without a team password manager 🤯 Okay, you might be thinking password management is a boring category, but hear us out—password managers are critical for any business as they help secure your business.
We see a lot of teams nonchalantly sharing weak passwords like companyname2023 over email and we're here to remind you that this puts you at great risk of getting hacked. If you're handling any kind of customer information (emails, phone numbers, personal information), your un-secure passwords are a liability.
The best password manager we've found is Dashlane & here's why we love it:
Dashlane's pricing is incredibly reasonable, with it starting $20 per month for 10 users. For $20 a month, having a level of security in your business is well worth it for compliance and security reasons.
Slite is a knowledge base (aka a digital notebook where you can take notes and store all company documentation in one place). Forget using Google Docs (they are disorganized and will leave your head spinning), and use this neat tool to keep your team organized.
It allows you to create master notebooks (channels) and sub-folders with all your notes.
Here are some of the things we store in Slite:
Write something and don't remember where you stored it or just want to reference what you wrote really quickly? Slite just introduced AI into the tool, so you can ask it a question about your notes and like an assistant it will summarize your thoughts.
Do you ever need to take screenshots at work? If so, CleanShot X will save you a ton of time. Forget taking a screenshot, finding where it was stored and dragging it in the right place.
CleanShot X auto-copies the screenshot you take so that you can immediately paste it where you want (within an email, document, etc.) SO EASY!
It also allows you to easily annotate on the screenshot within the tool or blur out any sensitive information. We use this daily in our business.
If you're taking more than a handful of screenshots per day, we think CleanShot X is a business essential you shouldn't be without.
Couldn't write this guide without mentioning Google Workspace—hopefully you're already using it and can skip this section.
If you're a quick moving startup or modern business that is interested in using innovative software, you'd be best using Google Workspace. Google Workspace is the #1 tool that every software integrates with (think of even the "sign in with Google" option you see everywhere).
Between Google Drive (file storage), Calendar, Meet and Gmail it really is the barebones foundation that we recommend to any business. So much so, that we only choose to work with teams who use Google Workspace as their foundation as it's a reflection of a more modern company.
These are two other services we use that are essential to our business!
Stable is great if you run a remote business with no physical office. Instead of putting your home address as your business address, you can use a service like Stable which gives you a permanent address and virtual mailbox to scan mail, forward packages, deposit checks, and more, for teams of all sizes.
They can automatically scan and upload mail, and even have an API endpoint that you can use to trigger automations upon receiving physical mail. We started using them when we moved to Texas and it's been a great for us as we work from home.
Gelt is our CPA and they are amazing. Every business needs a CPA as as our business is growing, we wanted a tech-enabled CPA that we can be super confident in.
Having tried everyone from the expensive big accounting firms, all the way down to the small boutique family offices, there has always been something missing.
Think of Gelt as the experience of the small boutique family office, with the experience of the big accounting firms (with the price somewhere in-between the two). Gelt is a modern accounting firm that leverages modern software to do your business and personal taxes better.
They have a robust personal dashboard so you can aggregate all of your business and personal finances (even angel investment tracking), all in one place.
Their strategic help has easily saved us $20k in taxes, just on the advice we were given the first year. No other accountant has their own modern tech, nor have they been this helpful in actually working with the unique needs of our complex financial situation.