If we had to pick one area where startups mess up the most it is probably payroll.  This creates problems because incorrectly classifying workers or failure to make the necessary tax payments for your business and its employees can lead to hefty penalties.  We always recommend that startups use payroll system software to handle their payroll rather than doing it manually.  This also has an added benefit in that it integrates their payroll activities into accounting software and makes for easier reconciliations of payroll entries.


Of the several payroll platforms available to small businesses, Gusto stands out as it is a comprehensive solution that handles all of your payroll compliance requirements in a user friendly and accurate manner. Further, Gusto allows for a business to run the payroll multiple times in any period, rather than on a fixed schedule with no added costs as the platform runs on a fixed subscription model. The base subscription and the additional subscription per employee, however, depends on the additional features required.  For example, they have different subscription plans that offer benefits to your employees and other HR related tools.


JustWorks is a PEO that serves as a great solution for startup and small business payroll and HR needs.  The benefit of being part of a PEO is that they’re able to offer more competitive benefit packages at an advantaged price point relative to some of their competitors.  It pairs this benefit with an intuitive user interface to deliver a better customer experience than traditional PEO firms.


Startups and established businesses, alike, have been investing in getting their employees onto HR and collaboration platforms. These platforms are often sourced from different developers. Rippling is particularly useful for growing firms as their platform aims to onboard new employees on to various platforms with a single click. It is, essentially, a gateway to an ecosystem of the various apps used by a business and eases the administrative burden of the HR function. It also has payroll and other functionalities including offboarding, automated tax filing, deductions


Zenefits, as the name suggests, has a focus on employee benefits. Their focus was initially on optimising health insurance benefits. However, the SaaS cloud platform also offers integration of work-scheduling, performance reviews, paid time-off tracking and integrated onboarding. Like Rippling, it also utilizes a reasonably priced per-employee subscription service and provides a holistic suite of applications and services that serve as a comprehensive HR solution.

Cognos HR (for Chicago Startups)

Cognos is another PEO focusing on providing small and medium businesses payroll and HR administration as well as compliance services. Like the other services listed, they have a cloud-based platform designed to save businesses time. Their unique selling point, however, is that they pool their small business clients to make available the employee benefits that are usually exclusive to bigger businesses, thus unlocking economies of scale.


From the trust you build with your employees to the avoidance of fines and other negative repercussions, payroll system is one of the building blocks of your business processes. Payroll is like doing the dishes. If you let things pile up, things can get messy very fast.

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