Astute Communications

With Gusto, Astute Communications saves thousands on annual payroll and HR costs while supporting its small but mighty team

Astute Communications supports its team of eight with efficient onboarding, compliance and payroll processes.

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With Gusto, Astute Communications has:

Piggybank Kale

Saved $8,000 annually on payroll and HR tools

Two Gears Kale

Switched seamlessly from a full-service PEO to Gusto, without adding to founder’s workload

Rocketship Kale

Established one system for payroll, benefits, and HR, making people operations simple for founder and employees

About Astute Communications

Where: Nashville, TN
Industry: Marketing & Communications
Employees: 8
Joined Gusto: July 2019

Astute Communications is a creative digital agency that offers comprehensive digital marketing strategies, branding, website design and development. Astute Communications’ founder, president and CEO Anna Stout said she always knew she was going to be an entrepreneur. She took the leap soon after having her first child and launched the company from the extra bedroom in her house in 2013. Her early days as a founder were defined by cold calls, meetings with her sleeping baby in tow, and working during naptime. 

Fast forward nearly 10 years, and she’s sitting at her mid-century vintage desk in Astute’s Nashville, TN headquarters – a building she purchased for the company in 2019. Her time is now spent on virtual calls with her leadership team, overseeing work for Astute’s impressive roster of clients across the US, and trying to decide on a middle school for her son.

Astute Communications began partnering with Gusto to support key HR functions during an important time of growth in 2019. Gusto’s all-in-one platform for new hire onboarding, compliance advice, and simple benefits enrollment was invaluable as the company grew, expanded its geographic footprint and embraced remote work. Partnering with Gusto empowers Astute to evolve and adapt, while allowing Anna to spend her time on the most meaningful work a leader can do: growing her business, supporting the team, and prioritizing a sense of personal balance.

Seamless payroll and benefits with $8,000 in annual savings

In Astute’s early days, Anna worked with a professional employer organization to manage payroll and benefits for her small team. When the company purchased its first office space in 2019, Anna sought out a more cost-effective HR partner so she could invest more in the team. She learned about Gusto from a local peer who ran a similar size business and recommended the platform.

It was scary to leave a solution I was happy with, but I knew we’d have significant savings by switching to Gusto. I haven’t regretted the decision once – and that’s saying a lot considering we left a fully managed solution! The ‘do it yourself’ aspect of using Gusto is as simple as clicking a button … looking back, it’s a decision that I’m really happy with.
Founder, president and CEO, Astute Communications

The cost benefits she expected have come to fruition: Astute has saved $8,000 annually since switching to Gusto. Anna finds managing payroll to be fast, easy, and user-friendly, and the customer support team is reliable when questions arise.

Implementing Gusto’s benefits offerings has been equally seamless. “My dedicated Gusto benefits advisor gathered information from me, presented benefits plans based on our needs and answered a million questions,” explains Anna. She provides her team with health, dental and vision insurance through Gusto, and added 401(k) benefits this year. The best part: “I signed up for 401(k) in one afternoon,” Anna says, giving her valuable time back to focus on running the business.

Straightforward compliance guidance helps Astute invest in a remote and hybrid team

In 2020, the Astute Communications team began exploring what it would take to hire its first out-of-state employee. Anna’s priority was re-hiring the company’s former creative director, who had moved to another state eighteen months prior.

“She was a great fit, and since we had become remote full-time, we were able to bring her back,” explains Anna. “It was a learning process, but Gusto offered great resources to help us have our first employee in another state. I navigated the state registration process myself using Gusto’s documentation – it was clear and easy, and Gusto makes sure I have everything in place for compliance.”

Once the team felt confident about adapting to compliance requirements across different states, they leaned into building a distributed workforce. With Gusto’s support, Astute now has employees across four states, providing the agency with greater access to talent. Making these hires empowered the business to thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Onboarding that’s not a chore

Gusto’s onboarding suite has also played a key role in setting up new Astute Communications team members for success. Through Gusto, Anna is able to easily send out employment offers, receive offer acceptance, and easily initiate onboarding once an employee starts. Gusto also ensures the company completes all necessary hiring documentation, files new hire reports with their state, and keeps everything automatically organized. 

“Employee onboarding is the kind of recurring activity that could be really time consuming, but isn’t because of Gusto,” says Anna. “I appreciate that Gusto makes the onboarding process easy for our new hires as well. It reflects positively on us as an organization and gets all of the paperwork out of the way. As a small team without a dedicated HR department, this allows us to focus on introducing the new team member to our company and their place within it.”

Growing with an all-in-one HR platform

As Astute Communications’ founder, president, and CEO, Anna wears many hats in the organization. The consolidation of payroll, benefits and HR into one platform on Gusto means she can spend her time supporting her team and running the business, not doing administrative work. 

As the company continues to grow, Gusto will be there to support it. Anna is eager to delve into other tools on the platform, like employee surveys, that can help her continue to run an efficient, supportive organization as it scales.

Prices start at just $46/month

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