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Tools for building a new company

I spent the last week spinning up tools for a new startup I'm working on. Although I've built several products in the past few years, they have all been solo-efforts, so I haven't had to think about setting up collaboration tools. I haven't started from scratch with a new team since somewhere around 2017, and I was surprised at how much has changed.

Here's what I learned:

Tiny Improvements Newsletter: Tools for building a new company

The basics - the best got better

The first few tools I set up have been constants in my work life for a while - we're using Google Workspace for email, access to GSuite, and Google Drive, Slack for team communication.

Notably, onboarding for both of these has gotten much better - both for administration and end users. I was able to get both of these set up in a few minutes, and adding new teammates was flawless.

I also set up GitHub for code collaboration, Google Search Console to keep an eye on SEO, and Cloudflare for managing DNS and protecting our web properties from abuse. These are tools I've used for years, and I'm happy to see that they've continued to improve -- and they all have generous free tiers, which is helpful if you're in the early days of bootstrapped products.

First time tools for me

Believe it or not, I haven't used Notion before. I've been using RoamResearch for personal note-taking years, and GSuite / Google Docs for authoring and collaboration since about 2014. I'm definitely a bit set-in-my-ways when it comes to collaborating - having worked at Google for a couple years, I got to see how the best-in-the-biz use Gmail and Google Docs to get things done.

With that being said, I'm already really impressed by Notion. They've got an incredible set of templates for all sorts of use cases, and the ability to embed all sorts of content makes it easy to get started. To boot, my teammates have used it extensively, so I'm looking forward to learning from them as well.

We're using Rippling for Workforce Management -- in other words, for things like HR and payroll. Although I didn't set up Rippling, I have been plugging other tools into it - and I've been delighted by the automations they've built in for provisioning and deprovisioning services. This makes it easy to spin up services for new teammates - when they're added to Rippling, they're automatically added to the tools we use (and just as well, when they one day leave the company, Rippling makes revoking access a breeze).

Somewhere in the past few years, I started using Figma as a design tool alongside my longtime staple Sketch. At this point, Figma is definitely better suited for collaboration, and I'll be using it with my new team to design our product UI and design language. I still use Sketch for design assets for mikebifulco.com, as well as many quick operations -- but I'm looking forward to using Figma for the bulk of my design work.

I'm sure we'll end up adding plenty of other services as time marches on - and I'm really interested in the things you use to get work done. If you've got a favorite tool that I missed, reply to this message and let me know. I'd love to check it out!


Top tip: Browser profiles keep your work and personal lives separate

If you use Chrome (or any Chromium-based browser like Brave or Edge), and you're setting up a Google account that will live alongside your personal one, it's a good idea to set up different browser profiles for each. This means your personal and work browsing histories will be separate, and you'll be able to install different extensions for each profile. I also tend to set up a third profile which I use for testing.

Resources for fluorishing developers

These are a few of the things that have been occupying my brainmatter lately. I think you might like them, too!

  • 🖇️ Growing on LinkedIn - now that I'm no longer using twitter, I've been working on strategies for increasing my area of influence in places like Mastodon and LinkedIn. My friends at Taplio (who previously sponsored Tiny Improvements) are currently hosting their LinkedIn Growth Challenge, where they're sharing their best tips for growing your network on LinkedIn. I'm participating, and looking forward to figuring out what catches peoples' attention on LinkedIn.

  • 💼 Are you building a portfolio? Victor Eke (@Evavic44) on GitHub has a great list of portfolios built developers, which is a great place to start if you're looking for inspiration for your own portfolio. I was flattered to find my site featured in the list alongside many others I admire.

  • 🎥 I talk a lot about Design for Developers. I have a strong belief that most developers would benefit from learning just a few design basics. This week I came across The missing guide to grids on YouTube. Whether you've used a grid system before or not, this video is a great introduction to the basics of grids, and how they can help you build better layouts.

Thanks for reading Tiny Improvements. If you found this helpful, I'd love it if you shared this with a friend. It helps me out a great deal.

Until next time - be excellent to each other!

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    © 2019-2023 Mike Bifulco

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    Disclaimer: 👋🏽 Hi there. I work as a Product Builder at [Incognito Mode]. These are my opinions, and not necessarily the views of my employer.
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