If you are starting a company, it's easy to get lost in a blizzard of paper and email attachments. Resist the temptation not to worry too much about it, because this is one case where a few simple procedures will make life way, way, way easier later. Everyone is going to forget things and here's a simple way to keep it all straight. There are three simple steps:
- 1Password Family Plan. Put all your account passwords into a shared 1Password account system. Start with 1Password Family which is enough for five people, then you can migrate to 1Password corporation later. Use strong password for everything and put common passwords into a Shared Vault. You want to have a single email@example.com first that ties to everything below.
- Gsuite. Use this for group editing. It's the simplest way to do this and pretty reasonable at $6/month and great for the early collaboration. The nice thing is that it is lightweight and you get both email and sharing of documents. Plus there is no client software so people can easily use their personal devices with your newcompany.com login.
- DocuSign. Created an admin account there and put your signed documents in there. When you generate new documents and get more formal, you can put your incorporation and other things there. It's a great place for board notes and anything that you want to keep long term.
While there is an enterprise version of this, when you start out, you just have a family vault system. The main thing is to start by creating a main account and then inviting others into it. This is a good place to put those randomized passwords and makes it easy to put in the two factor authentication which really should be mandatory for all organizations in these horrible days.
Gsuite for drafts and editing
This is a good place to start. It seems like a good crossroads between the folks who love Microsoft Office and folks who want to be web-based. They also do a great job of hosting email without all the headaches of dealing with spam. The main thing to do is to make sure that your folks all have a organization email alias and it is a way to keep thing professional and fast moving.
Use this to put your basic documents and this where you create the core documents. I normally like to have a naming that let's you put documents anywhere. So I normally use
newcompany.com - type of document - recipients - data.doc so that no matter where you copy it, it is easy to both search for it. This is really important because copying documents with GSuite is a little weird. You are only ever copying links and not the actual documents, so there are times when you will want to archive things and copy them into your own personal folders and files and not have them all jumbled together.
The only other thing you then need is a photoshop like equivalent and Colorr.com is not a bad online version that works with Gsuite.
The thing to do is to use Gsuite to first create a series of templates. Every time you do a new document like an NDA or a contract, save it as the document itself and then as a template. So that you never have to recreate anything. Here are some of the documents and what to standardize on:
- Logo and artwork. Use Fiverr.com to create for $5 a placeholder logo and document. It's cheap and easy. Or just use unsplash.com if you want to grab real art. Or TheNounLibrary.com if you want something that is icon derived.
- Launch Plan and Memo. Yes, it is nice to have a standard layout for these. I often copy what I did last time and modify the logos to fit.
- Letters. Yes people still want these and for some formal reasons you need to acknowledge things.
- NDAs and Contracts. Same here, the boilerplate usually doesn't need to be recreated from company to company and it's expensive to have lawyers look at it.
DocuSign for signing and storage
Docusign is one of the core things that I find really help pull it all together because it acts like your signed document repository. If you use the naming convention above, then it is super easy to to go from Gsuite.com to Docusign.com. Here is how you do it on an iOS device:
- Download Google Docs. Create your document. Share it with the team and when it is final, go to the list of documents and click on the option `...` Then choose export and pick PDF.
- You will then get a Share and pick `Copy to Docusign` and then you will launch the Docusign application. From here, you can select Sign or have other sign and now you have a workflow.
- You get a few free signing events, but in the end, you can either pay $300/year for unlimited signed documents or if you are starting out, it might make sense to pay $120 a year for five documents a month. Personally, if it is getting serious, then the $300 make the most sense.
If you have followed the document naming, and you dates, recipients and type, you have your own document library where you can keep version and so forth 🙂