You may not need a digital HQ for your business on day one. But if your new thing has a special sauce to it that your market loves, then there's a real chance that it’s about to boom. Don't get caught off guard when growth strikes. And don't let unmanaged growth wreak havoc within your organization. Instead, get things under control in a manner that can scale along with you by implementing a digital HQ.
[Note: This chapter contains affiliate links, meaning SPI receives a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you use that link to make a purchase.]
At SPI, Gusto is our digital HQ of choice. Yes, it's a payroll platform. But, golly, it's so much more than just that.
Gusto positions itself with a simple idea: “Grow your business with a platform that supports your team.” Its team-centricity is a big reason why we love Gusto. From its empowering feature sets to its delightful customer service, Gusto has dramatically lowered our stress levels running SPI while boosting our confidence that important matters like tax filings, HR documentation, and even benefits are appropriately taken care of.
Here are some of the biggest specific benefits to a business like ours:
- Automated payroll for the team that never misses, handles all tax withholdings and related filings, and produces year-end tax documents for everyone.
- Easy configuration of payments to 1099 contractors via ACH-like direct deposits that cleanly, accurately, and automatically handles those pesky 1099-INT tax forms.
- A standardized on-boarding experience for all new employees complete with intake forms, payroll setup, I-9 (and similar documentation) capture, etc.
- Administration of important policies like PTO allowances.
- On-demand access to certified HR professionals when you need advice on something that is way too important to screw up.
- Anonymous employee feedback surveys automatically sent and tallied monthly to ensure that you're keeping a healthy pulse on your team's feelings and feedback.
- Secure documentation retention to remain in total compliance with data privacy laws.
- Simple—and free!—benefits administration for health insurance (medical, dental, and vision) that automatically syncs with payroll.
Health insurance is a major win for our business. While we're not required by law to provide health insurance benefits to our team given its size, we are proud to do so because of who we are as people as well as what we stand for as a company. Health care costs are real, and health care complexities can be overwhelming. Thankfully, Gusto makes searching for, offering, and administering benefits not only very manageable but—honestly—easy and almost fun.
Care to enrich your culture with even more benefits than just health insurance? We choose to do so and, as a result, lean on Gusto for expansive benefits for our team—namely a 401(k) plan. Our plan is actually administered via a separate platform called Guideline. Gusto and Guideline have a relationship with one another; the technical integration couldn't be easier, and once it's set up it runs beautifully in the background in sync with payroll.
Additional benefits that Gusto can help you provide include:
- Health savings account
- Flexible spending account
- Life and disability insurance
- 529 college savings account
And then there's workers' compensation (comp)—a sometimes maddening thorn in your side while trying to run and grow a business. In relative terms, workers' comp rates are very low. For instance, at SPI, we pay less than $100 per month in workers comp charges. For such a low-level expense, becoming non-compliant with your workers comp status is not a risk you want to fool around with. Thankfully, Gusto saves the day (again) by seamlessly integrating with AP Integro, a platform that streamlines and automates all workers comp payments in compliant fashion.
In the grand scheme of things, Gusto is a steal for all the value we receive from it. We pay for their Concierge plan, which gives us access to their certified HR pros and advanced features. That top-tier plan runs $149 (base) plus $12/person per month. That does add up a wee bit, but we still deem it a grand bargain for all the headaches Gusto solves for us plus the savings we enjoy by not needing a full-time HR manager on payroll to handle all of this stuff for us in-house with less compliant systems.
For all the love we have for Gusto, it's definitely not right for all entrepreneurs. If you're truly new to the game without any employees and/or benefits needs, then Gusto may be overkill.
However, in a later lifecycle stage or phase, you should give Gusto a serious look at solving a good many of your growing pains. And when you do, you're probably good to start off with their lowest level-tier, which runs just $39 (base) plus $6/person per month. We put our full weight behind recommending Gusto because we emphatically believe in them and the value they provide to entrepreneurs.
Experiencing growing pains now? Dreaming of a simpler way to manage contractor payments? Want to get compliant without the headaches? Then check out Gusto now. Even twenty minutes of research into their capabilities will prove to you that there’s an easier and wiser way of running your business. If you sign up through our Gusto link (yes, it’s an affiliate link), then you’re eligible to receive a $100 Amazon gift card. To qualify, all you’ll need to do is run payroll.
As we've explored throughout this business fundamentals guide, behind the scenes business dynamics are serious make-or-break subjects. Please do continue to be scrappy, creative, and malleable as an early-stage entrepreneur. Please also balance your enthusiasm for the outward aspects of your business with the inward ones. Platforms like Gusto are here to help with the latter if and when you need them. Overall, prepare to build not only a blog (or similar marketing channel) but rather a business—something that can operate wisely, empower others, scale through the good times and bad, become sustainable, and—through it all—achieve your dreams.