How To Create a Free Group Gmail Account for Your Startup Team
Instead of individual accounts, using one email will save you hundreds per year
I recently created a free group gmail account for my team that enabled everyone to send and receive messages from an address associated with our company.
I currently run a newsletter called The Buzz that features early-stage startups in New England that are fundraising and tries to connect them with investors and others in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Like any new startup, company or newsletter, I wanted to be lean.
I had already purchased a G-suite business account and linked it with a domain I had also purchased, so we could look more legitimate with a company email.
The cost for a G-suite account is pretty cheap to start at $6 per month, and comes with Google Drive, Google Docs, and other important Google tools needed to run a business.
But for every new email user I add, Google charges $6/month.
So if I give four people on my team their own company email accounts, that’s an additional $24/month or $288/year.
It’s not exactly an unfair amount — I mean Google has to pay for its server costs — but it can add up quickly. I would much rather spend that money on paid promotion and necessities for a newsletter like a Mailchimp account.
At the same time, it’s really not best practice to have everyone on your team emailing from their own personal gmail accounts because it looks disorganized and chaotic.
While looking into the situation, a friend told me that Google actually allows G-suite account holders to create a generic group email that people can sync to their own personal gmail accounts.
By generic group email, I am referring to an account like email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org that companies typically use for general inbound and outbound inquiries.
And it is completely free!
However, as someone who is not a pro with G-suite, it took me about 2.5 hours with Google chat support to figure it out. My support guy was actually extremely helpful, but it’s a process and certainly not the best use of my time.
Lucky for you, I’ve already endured the pain, so I wanted to share the exact steps I took so you can avoid having to contact Google support and hopefully complete the process quickly.
- Go to gsuite.google.com and sign in to your account. Once you are logged in, the home screen should look like this below. Click on the groups icon.
2. On the next screen, click create group and a screen will pop up asking you to fill out some details like name, description, and the group email name.
3. Next, you want to enable the other members on your team to receive emails sent to this new generic company address. Go back to the groups page and highlight your mouse over the new group you just created. A bar alongside it should pop up. Click add members, highlighted in blue, and then add all of the people on your team by their personal emails or whatever email they want associated with the new general company email. You will not be charged extra for this.
4. Now, you need to allow people on your team who are not G-suite users to send and receive mail from this new generic account by configuring G-suite to allow messages from external non G-Suite users. Go back to the groups page and click on the name of your new group:
5. Then on the next screen, go to the bottom of the page and click access settings:
6. This will bring you to a chart with a bunch of checkmarks that you can check and uncheck to fiddle with the access your team members will have. To give them external access, which they need, make sure the box that intersects with “external” and “publish posts” is checked. You also want a checkmark in the box intersecting with “external” and “contact owners.” Make sure to save the changes at the bottom after you are done adjusting the settings. I believe those are the only two boxes you need to change on your own.
7. Another step you have to take to ensure external access for non-users is to change the settings on “access to less secure apps”. I don’t know you have to do this to be honest, but it is what support had me do. So, go back to the G-suite home page (Step 1 screenshot) and click the security icon. Then click the first bar on the next screen called “Basic Settings.”
8. That will bring you to the next screen, where you want to scroll down to the third bar called “less secure apps.” Click on the link in this bar that says, “Go to settings for less secure apps.”
9. On the next page, check the last box that says “Enforce access to less secure apps for all users (Not Recommended).” This should enable less secure apps for every member of the group you created in step 3. If you are still having issues after you complete all of these steps in this article, you may want to have the individual group member enable less secure apps in their own personal gmail, but this should work.
10. To finish up the process, have every team member go to the emails that you added to be associated with the new generic company email. That is likely a personal email. Just to be clear, this email@example.com generic email is not it’s own account. There is no login and password. It will simply be associated and accessed from another existing email account. You need to set this up in order to finish the syncing process. So have every team member go to their own personal email account. Then have them click the little gear icon at the top right and click settings under it.
11. That will bring them to the below page. Click the accounts tab and then go down to the section that says send mail as and click add another email address.
12. Add the generic info or hello email in the first pop-up page you see. Then you will be brought to a similar looking pop-up page (shown below) and you will be required to put a login and password in. As a non-user — meaning you don’t pay $6/month — put in your personal gmail login and password information. Non-users also need to make a change on the top “SMTP Server” bar: Change “smtp.ourbuzzmedia.com,” or whatever your domain happens to be, to “smtp.gmail.com.” This is crucial in order to be able to send emails from the new generic email from your personal gmail account.
13. You will know you have succeeded when team members go to compose a new email from their personal account and now have the option to send as either their personal email or the generic firstname.lastname@example.org email:
Important Note: I have not yet been able to test, but according to my Google support rep, any emails sent to the generic email@example.com email from someone outside your group should go to every single person you added as a member of the group for the new generic email.
- A generic firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com email will make your company more legitimate because members are not sending from their own individual gmail accounts. It essentially brands your company email.
- Any person you add will be able to send and receive emails associated with the generic company email on their own personal email account.
- The group component is free, whereas if you give every single member on your team their own company gmail account, it will cost $6 per month per user. And the price is likely to continue to increase. It was only $5 when I first got G-suite a few years ago.
- What better way to preach lean as a startup than through the most fundamental part of every single business: Email.