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Gusto Payroll Service Review From a Small Business Owner

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Today I am sharing my experience as a new user of the payroll company, Gusto. In this Gusto Payroll Review, I will talk about my experience as a single member LLC, electing to be treated as an S Corporation. If my review helps you make a decision, please use my referral links used in this post to sign up. If you sign up through my Gusto referral link, you can also try it for a month for free.

Gusto Payroll Preview - How does it work

When I started Lalymom in 2013 I was a young mom looking for a new hobby. I did lots of fun crafts and activities with my two kids and thought it would be fun to share them with other moms looking for fun ideas.

Little did I know, my hobby would turn into a full-fledged business, leading me into to new and unfamiliar territories like tax planning, payroll and accounting.

Several years ago, LalyDad encouraged me to form an LLC, so I had that part done already. When we started looking at my website as a growing business, and talked to an accountant it started to make sense to file for S-Corp status, which means payroll, payroll taxes, withholding and all kinds of new stuff.

Did it seem like I just switched to a foreign language there? For me it sure felt that way. I can teach a kid to cut zig zag lines with scissors or whip up a dinosaur hat no problem… but reporting employment tax? You lost me.

Before I was a mom, I always had “regular jobs” where all that stuff had been handled behind the scenes by my employer. LalyDad would submit our taxes online and they were generally very straightforward where my income was concerned. Just copy the information on my tax document, done.

Starting a blog, or any small business, can be a little daunting because a lot of that technical, behind-the-scenes stuff involved in making money is now all your responsibility.

The first few years of running Lalymom resulted in some money but was never something that replaced my previous income. As the kids phased out of the infant and toddler stages, I started to have more time to put towards my blog. I started to get more strategic and, little by little my income kept going up.

When the kids were finally both in school and I really had dedicated work hours…that was when it made sense to change to an S Corp.

Our accountants helped us with the process and I was trying to learn fast as we got everything set up.

The payroll and payroll tax portion seemed so new and foreign to me. I didn't fully understand at first why I even needed an payroll service. I mean, don't I just pay myself each month??

Well it's not so simple apparently.

There are a lot of forms to file, taxes to withhold and other stuff that…well, other stuff that Gust now handles for me.

As a note, Gusto offers other services besides just payroll, if your company needs a more robust set of Human Resources services. My Gusto Payroll Review does not cover these services because I have not used them. Click the links below to learn more:

Okay let's take a look at Gusto Payroll Services for Small Business.

What Is Gusto Payroll?

Gusto Payroll Services Review from a Small Business Perspective - As a blogger I use this company for my business. Come take a look and get 1 month free.

Wondering what Gusto Payroll is, and why you need it? Okay here you go.

Gusto is a US Based online company that offers payroll and other HR services in all 50 states. They automatically file your payroll taxes and generate your W-2s. All the onboarding is online, so employees enter all their info themselves, and you skip the paperwork.

I happen to have only one employee at this point, but having walked through it, I found it easy to use as the employer AND the employee. I can easily see how quick and seamless it would be, even with many more employees.

Gusto Payroll completely gets rid of:

  • Manually filing and paying federal, state, and local payroll taxes. No really, they do them automagically!
  • Writing checks. Direct deposit is standard.
  • Updating employee info. Employees do that themselves online.
  • Sitting at your desk. Gusto is mobile-friendly. I once ran payroll while on vacation!
  • Running payroll! No joke- there is literally an Auto-Pilot setting that runs payroll for you. 

There are actually tons of features. Once I created my account I was able to play around on a demo version and click all the links without worrying that I'd mess something up. I learned a lot just by poking around that demo.

Getting Started On Gusto

When I started with Gusto I signed up for their 30 Day Trial. This made it a no-brainer to give it a try.

To get started I needed some pretty basic information:

  • Business Details
  • Federal Tax Information
  • Bank Account Information
  • State Tax Information

For someone who has very little idea of what she's doing, I was actually able to set everything up fairly quickly. I did need some help from LalyDad when it came to registering with my state. But I am sure Gusto could have pointed me in the right direction on that too. Their customer support is seriously next level.

I was so amazed when I received an unsolicited phone call from a live Gusto specialist shortly after I signed up. It was not spammy or pushy at all, it was literally someone who was willing to walk me through any steps I needed help with. As I have already learned, their team is always there to help you and answer questions every step of the way.

I joined a couple months ago and I have already had 4 phone conversations with them so far. You can email too but they generally end up calling you back to walk you through the steps you need to take, which honestly was refreshing. So refreshing that I just started picking up the phone myself when I had a question, rather than submitting an email.

Each time I called I was a little nervous. At times I felt uncertain of what I was even asking, I started each call by telling them I was new and this is all unfamiliar to me.

  • “I got this form in the mail from the state…it says I need to do this…what do I do now?!”
  • “I see the step on my dashboard where I have to do this, but where do I find my information to input?”
  • “I received a notice that my rate is this…is that right? Where do I change that in my account?”

The answer was generally some form of, “Oh yes we did that for you. You don't need to do anything.” And then angels sang out from somewhere behind my computer.

Basically having Gusto set up and running, essentially on autopilot, is a HUGE weight off my shoulders. I work with a lot of independent contractors and Gusto can even pay them AND file the 1099s for me at the end of the year at no extra charge. WHAT!? 

I feel like they are just working down the hall from me, doing things to make my business run, without me having to oversee much at all.

Like I said, right now, my business is just me. But from the employer dashboard it was really quick and easy to add employees. Once you enter some very basic information, they receive an email to set up their direct deposit and they can enter all their information and access paystubs and manager their payment methods and everything.

As an employer you have access to run all sorts of reports, you can even add your accountant or bookkeeper and they can run their own reports.

Gusto Payroll Dashboard Screenshot - Gusto Payroll Review by Lalymom, a small business owner

How much does Gusto Payroll Cost?

Gusto has three tiers of pricing, depending on how big your company is and what services you need. Like I said I only have one employee- ME- so the core plan was perfect for me.

They break down each of their plans, with a HUGE comparison list. Their list is way better than I could describe here, and since there is always the possibility of their prices changing I will just share the exact page with the pricing chart. Just scroll down a screen or two at this link below:

See Pricing Plans and Try Gusto for 1 Month Free

How Do You Use Gusto?

Using Gusto has been really easy considering how nervous I was about the whole entire topic of setting up my payroll.

To add an employee on Gusto, from your Employer dashboard, you click the People tab, then click the +Hire button, and click Add An Employee.

From there you enter their basics, like name, email, compensation, etc. When you're done you will have to review their W4 and Direct Deposit form. There are a couple other optional things for brand new employees (like a welcome letter- aww), but other than that, Gusto takes over, and emails the employee to complete the rest of the steps.

Adding an employee on Gusto - Review by a small business owner

I know how easy it is because I had to add myself as an employee, so it was nice to get to see it from both sides. Now I can easily switch from my Gusto employer dashboard to my Gusto employee dashboard up at the top right corner.

Entering your information as an employee on Gusto was pretty fast and simple too and for a second there, I thought I was back in the corporate world where everything was taken care of for me! Any time you log on as an employee you can see details like hours worked, see paystubs and update your profile. Super simple.

Running Payroll on Gusto

When it came time to run payroll for the first time on Gusto, I was all skittish and nervous again. “How do I run payroll on Gusto? What if I do it wrong? What if I mess up? Is this the right thing to do?” 

But honestly my worrying was all for nothing. I literally just clicked, “Run Payroll.” :-O

My first payroll payment went through like clockwork. Everything is documented and ready for quarterly tax filings and…all that other stuff I never thought I'd have to deal with. Back when I had just started my little old blog.

Gusto Payroll on Autopilot

Shortly after I got everything set up, I got an email from Gusto that I qualified for Payroll on Autopilot. That means that I don't even have to go into my dashboard and click Run Payroll anymore. :-O Amazing!

There are several criteria for the Autopilot feature, and it is not automatic. I could see a case for wanting to check your payroll each pay period, and checking your bank accounts before each pay period, or just to have the comfort of knowing it's done. But for me, the fewer tasks I need to remember to do, the better, so I went for Payroll on AutoPilot. And I still receive email updates letting me know that Payroll on AutoPilot is running.

If you decide to set up Payroll on Autopilot, you should note that several things that could trigger the system to turn off the Autopilot payroll, so you do have to make sure you pay attention to the changes you make over time.

If you want to be super sure your Payroll on AutoPilot is not going to be disrupted, just check in with the Gusto team when you or an employee make changes such as:

  • An employee changes their payment method from Direct Deposit to Check
  • A new employee is added to the account with either a Check payment method and/or no set default hours for hourly workers
  • Company changes that result in signing new forms, and/or completing state tax setup items. These notifications will be on your dashboard!
  • If you are using multiple pay schedules and an employee setting is changed that disables AutoPilot, this will affect everyone on that same pay schedule but not affect the other pay schedule.

But one important note is that IF your AutoPilot is disabled, you'll get an automated email notifying you of this change, so you can be sure to get everything on track asap.

I have felt really comfortable knowing that my payroll is automated and running in the background.

Get Started on Gusto Today with 1 Month Free 

Gusto Integrations

If you are already using other online services for your business, it is helpful to know that many popular online services and banks easily integrate and work flawlessly with Gusto Payroll. I use Freshbooks and I bank with Chase and US Bank. I have both linked and it is so handy. Here are a few other popular integration available:

  • Accounting software like Freshbooks, Xero and Quickbooks
  • Time Tracking programs like Tsheets, Homebase and many more
  • Point of Sale company Clover was recently added to the integrations
  • Practice Management services like Kinderlime
  • Expense Management programs like Expensify and Receipt Bank

Get Started on Gusto Today with 1 Month Free 

Have you used Gusto? Let's hear your Gusto Payroll Review in the comments below!

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