A Cheat Sheet for Company Infrastructure

January 21, 2021

If this is your first time launching a company or running a small business, you’ve probably felt  overwhelmed by all the things you just found out you didn’t know. 

Overnight, you’ve become the HR, IT, Tax, Benefits, Compliance, Finance, Accounting and Marketing departments all in one. All that, and you still need to build an amazing product, sell investors on your dream, and recruit a stellar team to bring your vision to life.

→ Need to Hire Mechanical and Electrical Engineers On the Fly? Learn How Cluster Can Help Here

Since starting Cluster in 2018, we’ve been through all of this and then some. To save you time and help you avoid mistakes, we've compiled a list of our favorite tools to help you quickly build an infrastructure that’s efficient, easy to manage, and will take a massive burden (and a lot of liability) off your shoulders.

Payroll and benefits

Gusto

Gusto is a cloud-based platform that makes it very easy to set up recurring payroll for employees and send payments to contractors. The all-in-one application is also useful for making employee reimbursements which is useful for companies that don’t incur enough expenses to warrant a dedicated expense management platform like Expensify or Abacus. 

Gusto also manages third party benefits (health, dental, vision), and automatically enrolls and manages contribution amounts when we add new folks to the team. 

Rippling

Rippling is an all-in-one platform that handles your company’s payroll and IT needs. In addition to payroll and benefits, the company is a one-stop shop for laptops and cloud apps (Slack, Zoom, Google Docs). They’ll ship pre-configured equipment to new employees with remote access management already set up so they can get right to work. The best part is that their equipment packages are billed as a monthly fee so you’re not shelling out the full price of new computers up front.

Legal

Orrick

Selecting a law firm that regularly works with startups will save you a lot of time and money. They can help you understand current market deal terms and rates. They will also have legal document templates to help you navigate common startup issues found across your business. Many also offer deferred payment plans until you’ve hit certain funding thresholds. We’ve been very happy with our firm Orrick. They’re not cheap, but when it comes to attorneys, you get what you pay for.

HR help

Bambee

Need on-demand HR help? Bambee gives small and medium-sized businesses access to an HR manager for just $99 a month. You will be surprised by the number of HR-related questions that you’ll have as you build your team. Bambee won’t just save you time, it also helps you mitigate risk down the line. It’s worth it. 

Banking and credit cards

Brex Card and Brex Cash

As a startup, Brex is one of the few companies that will issue you a credit card without requiring a personal guarantee. Their credit card rewards program is generous and their travel portal is great (that is, whenever we can get back to traveling).

We were an early customer of their banking product, Brex Cash, which combines checking and savings into a single high-yield account (back when interest rates were above 0). It also provides free domestic and international wire and ACH transfers. Their website experience blows other banks out of the water, and customer support has been excellent. The downside: they’re a virtual bank that doesn’t issue checks or allow you to deposit cash.

Accounting and taxes

Bench

Xero and Quickbooks are both excellent options for accounting. But beware, you’re going to have to configure the platform, add integrations, and maintain the ledgers. 

The next level up is a company like Bench which will take care of bookkeeping for you. They’ll categorize and correctly apply expenses and revenue across your ledger, saving you a lot of time and pain brushing up on corporate accounting rules. 

Kruze Consulting

If you’re ready to step up to a full-service accounting firm, there are a growing number of them that focus on emerging startups. Prices aren’t cheap, typically starting near $1k per month plus extra fees for tax filings and other services. However, they will handle everything, including monthly accounting, taxes, IRS and state agency filings, R&D tax credits and more. Many employ former controllers and CFOs which allows you to scale at a fraction of a cost of building out an internal finance team. We use Kruze Consulting and they’ve been great. We’ve also had strong recommendations for Countsy, Basis365, and Full Stack Finance

Clarus R+D

Many startups qualify for special R&D tax breaks for new businesses developing technology. Clarus R+D is a firm that specializes in helping companies apply for and receive these benefits. They can unlock substantial tax savings for your company.

Communication and collaboration

Slack

Slack’s value comes from three key areas. First, notifications make Slack a real-time status tool for literally anything in the business: job posts, leads, applicants, site goes down, expense charges, Twitter mentions, GitHub pushes, Google Calendar, etc. Also, the experience interacting with some of these third-party integrated products is even better on Slack than via their own interfaces. Second, teammates posting links, ideas and conversations in public spaces is the best way to disseminate information at a company. Third, it kills internal email, which is great.

Notion

If you’re a remote company or just want to get team collaboration started on the right foot, check out Notion. It’s an integrated Wiki, project management, spreadsheet, and document tool all in one. Currently, they’re running a $1,000 free credit special for startups.

Automate your life

Zapier / Integromat / IFTT / Parabola

Never do another repetitive task again. These tools integrate with just about everything you use on a daily basis to automate tasks, such as transferring and transforming data between a form on your website and Google Sheets, and notifying you via email or Slack. They are very easy to use and immediately gratifying. Many have freemium plans to get you going.

Internet services

GSuite

The amount of tools you get for $12/month per user from GSuite (email, video chat, cloud storage, Sheets/Docs/Slides, etc) is exceptionally good, and the offerings have only gotten better over the last few years. I’ve enjoyed how well things are integrated across their platform. For example, Google DataStudio is an included tool that enables you to build dashboards from multiple sources including Sheets, Google Analytics and custom queries run in BigQuery.

Marketing website

Webflow

There are a number of easy-to-use tools for building a basic website, but our favorite has been Webflow. If you have a little knowledge of CSS or HTML, you’ll find it to be the best platform for building a website without having to learn code. The video tutorials are excellent, extensive, and entertaining. The forums are full of useful answers to difficult questions often incorporating JavaScript and other hacks that go beyond the core platform. This is a great option for your marketing website, as Webflow’s content management system makes it easy to launch your blog or other content. 

A Database for Humans

Airtable

Airtable makes creating and organizing a database as easy as using basic spreadsheets. It is visual and configurable for non-technical folks for maximum ease of use. Airtable incorporates great tools such as Kanban views for project management and forms that can be integrated into your website to capture data. 

→ Need to Hire Mechanical and Electrical Engineers On the Fly? Learn How Cluster Can Help Here


Check your inbox
We've sent you an email with the link to the file you requested.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

*Please enter a business email address
Check your inbox
We've sent you an email with the link to the file you requested.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Related Posts
Stay sharp with our newsletter

A bi-weekly roundup of the latest happenings in industrial tech, hiring and the future of work.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
View articles with similar topics