Standalone Payroll Services for Startups

So you’ve opted out of the PEO model. You’re not alone--so have 60% of Stacklist users! This approach is common for many seed-stage startups who either don’t offer benefits yet, and therefore don’t need the services of a PEO, and also for larger startups who have outgrown the PEO scene and have brought the full spectrum of HR administration and payroll services in house. There are plenty of payroll administration tools that streamline the process, and we’ll break it down for you here.

Which are the best payroll services on the market?
Here are Stacklist’s most commonly used payroll services, in order of popularity.

GustoWith almost 20% of the Stacklist community using Gusto, formerly ZenPayroll, it’s by far the most popular standalone payroll service. This popularity can be chalked up to the tool’s “integrations into third-party services and beautiful user experience,” according to Joe Teplow, co-founder of RebelMail, as well as its “simplicity. It’s so easy for us to adjust things and for our employees to check breakdowns of their payments,” says Victor Wong, founder of PaperG. “I can’t recommend Gusto more highly. I attempted to use QuickBooks, but the interface wouldn’t tell you that you needed to send critical documents or send in certain things to link with your bank account. I cancelled that after two months of hassle, and within that time, I was able to set up Gusto, and they've been awesome. It’s a beautifully well-thought-out product, and they do a phenomenal job,” says Ashwinn Krishnaswamy, founder of Point.

ADPPerhaps best known for its stature in the PEO market, ADP is unique in that also affords clients the ability to pick and choose the services they’d like to use. A number of Stacklist users put ADP to work for payroll needs only, including Kickstarter, Chimani, The Information, TreSensa and CourseHorse. Kickstarter Director of Finance Bridget Best explains, “We're on their lowest tier for payroll processing services. We chose them because it allowed us the greatest flexibility in piecing together the various aspects of benefits and payroll admin, and they offered competitive pricing.”

InsperitySimilar to ADP, Insperity is an all-inclusive service that startups can use to manage all or a part of your payroll and benefits offerings. Says Harry Kargman, founder of Kargo, Insperity is “easy to work with, they've saved us money, and they take the worry out of the entire payroll process. They have an entire team dedicated to us.”

XeroAn online accounting tool, Xero is also a popular choice among early-stage startups looking to keep payroll in house. “It tracks pretty much everything. It's simple, and it integrated into our bank, which was really important for me. I know that some of the other software out there for payroll and accounting is incredibly confusing, and I've never had that problem with Xero,” says Billie Whitehouse, co-founder of Wearable Experiments.

SurePayrollDerby Games founders Walter and Tom Hessert state, “It seems like they’ve been in the business for a long time. There are a lot of nuances in the payroll space, so we wanted to go with an older, more established company, as opposed to some of the new startups in this space.”   

Of course there are many more payroll tools from which to choose. Other leading payroll services recommended by the Stacklist community include Paychex, QuickBooks and FlexPay.