Zen Or Not Zen – Do these companies simplify life for small businesses?

With small business owners getting busier and busier, small business software solution providers are trying to create products that will help you save you time, effort, and stress. …

With small business owners getting busier and busier, small business software solution providers are trying to create products that will help you save you time, effort, and stress. Or, at least they are marketing themselves that way. Hence the rise of the “Zen” software, such as Zendesk, Zenefits, etc. The question is, are the Zen’s really zen? Do they really help foster peace and tranquility for your small business, or will they just lead to more frustration? In this guide, we will look at several of the most popular “Zen” solutions, discuss the services they provide, and rate them on a zen scale of 1-5.

Zen Scale

1 = What’s Zen?
2= Zenn-ish
3 = Pretty Zen
4 = Solidly Zen
5 = Buddha Zen

Zendesk = 3 Zen Points – High Quality, High Cost  

Zendesk is pretty zen. It will certainly promote peace and tranquility among your customer service staff, with its abundance of features and functionality. However, when it comes to your bank account, Zendesk becomes much less zen.  If it were not for its premium pricing, Zendesk would have probably snatched 4 zen points. But, with other competitors offering similar features at lower prices, I cannot in good conscious give Zendesk more than 3 zen points.

Zendesk is a helpdesk software provider that streamlines and organizes your customer service/support interaction and ticket management. It is the most popular helpdesk solution in the industry. This is not too big of a surprise, because it really is a pretty solid product and is easy to use. Zendesk has web forms for receiving tickets, canned responses, workflow ticket routing rules, self-help portal with knowledge base, Self-service community forums, social media monitoring, embedded customer satisfaction surveys, and more. Other than some ticket management limitations, Zendesk’s features are really pretty Zen.

Despite its zen features, Zendesk’s pricing may be very far from zen for some small business owners, especially those with tighter budgets. Although Zendesk’s starter plan is relatively affordable ($1/agent/month limited to 3 agents), their premium plans start at $25/agent/month and never look back, soaring up to $195/agent/month for their elite enterprise plan.

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Zenefits = 4 Zen Points – Functional and Free

Zenefits is solidly zen. It provides you with a place where you can manage the majority of your HR tasks all within one solution. Best of all, Zenefits’ services are free. Many employers choose to purchase business health insurance/insurance for individual employees through Zenefits, which Zenefits gets a cut of. That’s how they can afford to offer their other services for free. Whether or not you end up purchasing heathcare/health insurance through Zenefits, using Zenefits as a hub for HR tasks will make your business more zen.

Zenefits has some cool features. FIrst, anytime you hire a new employee and add their basics to Zenefits, then Zenefits will do the rest, following up with employee to get sensitive information, figure out deductions/withholdings, etc. Also, if your employee has a life change (marriage, income change, etc) they can log onto Zenefits and edit their payroll/tax withholdings themselves. Zenefits will then edit their weekly/bi-weekly paycheck/direct deposit to reflect the changes, automatically. Employees can also manage insurance info, print their insurance cards, and manage stock options through Zenefits. Essentially, your employees are doing their HR work themselves.

When employees have more power to make changes themselves, your job becomes much easier. Zenefits also provides a variety of other HR services that really benefit employers. You can create a variety of reports, including anniversary reports (years of service and awards), employee turnover reports, YTD vacation days taken, and more. You can also pay contractors in seconds, directly into their bank account. Because employees can request time-off, submit formal requests for raises, and more, you basically just have to manage the system and respond, which makes day-to-day HR tasks much easier and streamlined.

ZenPayroll = 5 Zen Points – Cheap, Easy, and Fully-Featured

If you do not already have a big lounge chair in your office, you should get one. Because once you start using ZenPayroll, you’ll need it to meditate in. That’s the level of zen that ZenPayroll provides. It is one of the cheapest solutions in the industry, one of the easiest to use, and it provides full-featured tax support, all starting at around $30/month ($25 base price + $4 per payroll employee/contractor).

ZenPayroll is a complete payroll solution, allowing you manage everything from paychecks, to sick-days, to payroll taxes. There are some sweet additional features as well. For example, once you get payroll up and running correctly, ZenPayroll will automatically run payroll for you a day before it is due without you even having to click a button. But, where ZenPayroll really shines, is in the whole area of tax withholding/form filing. Once configured, ZenPayroll will automatically deduct all federal and payroll taxes, pay them directly to the IRS when they are due, and even file all forms (W2,1099, etc) automatically. Not only that, but it will do it at less than half the price of its competitors. Talk about zen. I’m starting to slip into  a meditative state just talking about it.


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