Tools Of The Trade: Startup Edition
5 minute read
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James Fox

A quick scroll through the #StartUpLife feed will offer up a few things - declarations of milestones to celebrate, highlights from networking events, Monday morning coffee photos and, of course, Friday afternoon office dog videos. And while we love our coffee (and can’t seem to pass up a good dog video), we thought we’d take this opportunity to cut through the noise and get down to business.

We’re not going to talk through what we do - instead we’ll focus on how we get it done. After testing out (most of) the tools in the toolbox, we’ve honed in on a few we now rely on to get us through the daily grind, big campaigns and projects, the hiring process and more. Below are some of our favourites.


Workable has been our go-to whenever we recognise a hiring need. The tool helps you to manage the hiring process from start to finish, from job posting to scheduling interviews to managing relationships with candidates. The UI is clean and simple, making the process a bit less overwhelming. With Workable, you can:

  • Coordinate with your hiring team

  • Post to many free job boards at once

  • Keep track of your candidates within a database

  • Make sure you’re giving each candidate custom feedback and/or a response in an organised manner

Charlie HR 

Charlie HR is a free service that does a great job of managing the basics of HR - which comes especially handy when you don’t have a designated HR team (or person, for that matter). In addition to some great features, they present you with simple UX and an even simpler user onboarding to start. The tool allows you to:

  • Create team directory and offices

  • Manage payroll documents and bank details etc

  • Manage holiday and sick days

  • Slack integration - among other things, a great way to make sure you remember everyone’s birthday/anniversary/holiday


Our project management team swears by Asana, a powerful task manager which is free to use for up to 15 people. We’ve found the tool works especially well when working as part of a lean/agile development process. Plus, if it’s good enough for Facebook, it’s good enough for us. Asana offers:

  • An easy setup and intuitive user experience - training a small team won’t take more than 10 minutes of your time

  • A minimal design that will make you feel organised and accomplished every time you finish a task (complete with unicorn animations to celebrate the days you’re cruising through your to-do list - what’s not to love?)

  • The ability to share with clients to make it easy for everyone involved to see how projects are progressing

  • Integration with Google Drive, Slack, Dropbox, and a few other tools you might already be using


While Asana is our main tool for managing projects, we use Trello every so often to manage product design sprints. With Trello, you can quickly group and regroup individual features, making it easy to keep up with what needs to be addressed. In some cases (like when onboarding new employees), you need to organise lots of information in a simple way, and Trello boards can do the trick.


While time tracking is probably everyone’s least favourite thing to talk about (or to do), we know it needs to get done. Harvest is not the cheapest option out there, but it definitely delivers when it comes to ease of use. The tool offers:

  • Incredibly simple time tracking (really, we mean it)

  • One-click time entry - you can start and stop timers throughout your day without having to calculate the amount of time you’re spending on each task.

  • Reporting features that allow you to quickly check your project burn and staff utilisation, for example.

Have any tools you swear by at your startup? Keen to discuss any of the ones we listed? Tweet us at @_IdeasMade to start the conversation.