What is the most startup-friendly payroll system?

Kruze Consulting Startup Q&A Author
Vanessa Kruze Founder, CPA

I’ve used just about every payroll processor out there (I’m a CPA and interim CFO for 150+ startups) and I can confidently say that Gusto (formerly Zenpayroll) is the best, for a number of reasons:

  • Easy Online Interface: I know this is going to sound nuts, but other interfaces make finding basic information really difficult. I’ve spent hours trying to generate simple reports from other payroll processors. (Time I could’ve been spending doing more value-add activities!) I’ve even received patently incorrect reporting from a large Business Bank payroll processor.
  • Autopilot Feature: If all of your employees are on salary, you can set Autopilot and forget about running payroll. It just runs for you. Are there other processors out there that take 10 min to log in to and “push a button”? Sure. But all it takes is one time to forget to log in, and suddenly you have a mob of angry employees. Don’t risk it.
  • Late Payroll Taxes: Many other payroll processors that I’ve worked with have at some time or another forgotten to file a 941 or DE9. This has never happened with Gusto. They file all your taxes automatically and on time.
  • Competitive Pricing: It’s really cheap. But I’d still use if it was 3x more expensive because the peace of mind that Gusto gives is priceless.
  • World Class Customer Support: Payroll is a time sensitive and emotional endeavor. Your employees really care about getting paid on time and for their full amount due. The Gusto support team (thank you Travis!) understands this and leaps into action when called. They understand the urgency.

One most startup friendly payroll systems is Gusto. Gusto was the first company to really nail the autopilot feature for pay systems, and it was a game changer for Kruze Consulting’s clients. This feature alone helped save our accountants enough time that we were able to grow our client base something like 4x! Trust us - early-stage company founders should not be messing around twice a month in a payroll system. You need automation. Gusto also handles payroll taxes really well - and perfectly. As tax CPAs, this is something we really appreciate, and you should too since you don’t want the IRS and your state revenue agency knocking on your door. Finally, and very important for high growth companies, is the easy onboarding of new employees. When you are adding 5, 10, 30 new people a month, you need a system that helps you get people set up with pay, benefits and more with as little work as possible.

For our lowest cost monthly bookkeeping plans, we require clients to use Gusto or one of three other providers - Rippling, Justworks, and Trinet. So far, these are the only players we’ve found who have enough automation and low enough prices to be worth using if you are an early-stage company looking to scale fast. 

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