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Best Small Company Payroll Software

Best Payroll Software for Small Business (2024)

We’ve carefully demoed and tested dozens of payroll services to arrive at this selection of the best payroll software for small businesses. See expert insight, pricing info, pros & cons, integrations, and more below.

Phil Strazzulla
Written by
Phil Strazzulla
HR Tech Expert, Harvard MBA, Software Enthusiast
Contributing Experts
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Last Updated: Mar 28, 2024
TOP
Canonical SMB Payroll Platform
Gusto
4.0
Popularity Score
4.0
User Score
4.1
Product  Score
Visit Website
TOP
Canonical SMB Payroll Platform
Gusto
4.0
Popularity Score
4.0
User Score
4.1
Product  Score
Learn More
TOP
Great Price & a Solid SMB Product
Patriot
4.1
Popularity Score
4.8
User Score
4.4
Product  Score
Visit Website
TOP
Great Price & a Solid SMB Product
Patriot
4.1
Popularity Score
4.8
User Score
4.4
Product  Score
Learn More
TOP
All-in-One Classic for SMB Payroll
Paychex
4.1
Popularity Score
3.9
User Score
4.1
Product  Score
Visit Website
TOP
All-in-One Classic for SMB Payroll
Paychex
4.1
Popularity Score
3.9
User Score
4.1
Product  Score
Learn More
Over 3 million HR leaders trust our advice

Introduction to Payroll Software for Small Companies

As a small business owner, having a system that helps you manage and administrate your employee’s payroll is a necessity. It saves you time you would otherwise spend on manually processing your payroll –time you simply cannot afford to spare. 

Payroll services also save you fines you could incur as a result of incorrect payroll fillings. According to an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) report, 40% of small to medium-sized businesses in the United States pay payroll penalties each year. This can be avoided with payroll software. Not just any payroll system, but one suited to the delicate needs of a small business. That is why, in this article, we set out to review some of the best payroll providers on the market for small businesses.

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Best Small Company Payroll Software

Gusto

: Canonical SMB Payroll Platform

Patriot

: Great Price & a Solid SMB Product

Paychex

: All-in-One Classic for SMB Payroll

Zenefits

: Payroll & Multi-Feature HR Platform

QuickBooks

: Well-Known Platform with SMB Payroll

Remote

: SMB Payroll & Global Capacity

Square

: Payroll & SMB Staff Services

OnPay

: Reliable Payroll & Benefits & HR

Our Criteria: Here's How We Chose The Best Small Company Payroll Software

We’ve come to this list of the best SMB payroll software companies by evaluating literally dozens of them. We’ve been writing about payroll for years, building a lot of familiarity with these tools. Many of them we’ve followed from their earliest days, getting updates and re-doing demos as they evolve.

Of course, we also complement this research by talking to our community of HR experts. For this buyer guide, we focused on small business owners. Knowing which payroll tools are making their lives easier was crucial. Once we had a shortlist, we cherry-picked the best of the best based on various considerations, chief among which are: automation capabilities, compliance features, and price.

  • Payroll Automation: One of the primary considerations for any small business looking for payroll software is reliably automating tasks. We prioritized the tools with the most advanced features here, which translates to saving more hours each payroll cycle.
  • Compliance: Then there’s the question of peace of mind. You want to know that the system helps you remain compliant and avoid fines. The companies we chose all do an excellent job when it comes to helping small business owners adhere to all regulations regarding payroll.
  • Pricing: Lastly, we know that price is a significant consideration for most small businesses. We picked tools that would adapt to all kinds of budgets and situations. This ranges from tools that are good for solopreneurs paying contractors to premium plans designed for larger headcounts but that still won’t break the bank.

To learn more about our process for evaluating software companies, read this blog on how we select the best HR tech.

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Compare the Best Small Company Payroll Software

Popularity Score
Best for
Key Differentiator
Pricing
Free Trial
Customers
Users Score
Product Score

Gusto

Most Popular
4.0
Startups with limited budgets and growing SMBs
Premium plan offers on-call services of HR experts
Starts at $6/month/person
Yes
200,000+
4.0
4.1

Patriot

Most Popular
4.1
Ideal for small team with basic payroll needs
Simple, solid, and budget friendly
Starts at $10/month
Yes
10,000+
4.8
4.4

Paychex

Most Popular
4.1
Startups, SMBs, and "solopreneurs" that need basic HR tech
Appealing add-ons for SMBs in addition to payroll
Starts at $39/month
No
740,000+
3.9
4.1

Zenefits

Most Popular
4.0
Small and mid-sized US-based teams looking for HR staples
Established, easy to operate, and affordable
Starts at $8/employee/month
Yes
10,000+
3.9
4.0

QuickBooks

Most Popular
4.1
Small businesses already using Quickbooks for accounting
Seamless integration with QuickBooks Accounting software
Starts at $22/month
Yes
29 million
4.0
4.0

Remote

Most Popular
4.0
Remote-first, global companies with international payroll
Simplifies the process of international operations
Starts at $50/month
Yes
Undisclosed
4.6
4.5

Square

Most Popular
4.3
Retail businesses who use the Square POS
POS for retail connects labor to sales ecosystem
Starts at $35/month
Yes
70M+
4.2
4.4

OnPay

Most Popular
4.3
First-time business owners who need foolproof payroll
Ease of use and customer service via chat
Starts at $36/month
Yes
10,000+
4.8
4.7
Phil Strazzulla
HR Tech Expert, Harvard MBA, Software Enthusiast

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Detailed Reviews of the Best Payroll Software for Small Companies

Gusto

Visit Website
Gusto
Learn More
Popularity Score
4 / 5
User Score
4 / 5
Product Score
4.1 / 5

Why we picked Gusto

Gusto is a top-notch payroll solution for startups and small businesses because of its full-service payroll and unparalleled customer service. We think you will agree that Gusto has one of the best UI in this space.

PROS

  • Gusto supports payroll for both US W2 workers and either domestic or international contractor workers.
  • The software enables online signatures and automated tax filing.
  • Flexible payroll options cater to different schedules with unlimited pay runs.
  • Automatic deductions streamline benefits administration.
  • Phone, email, and customer service support available.
  • Licensed benefits advisors assist all plan users.
  • Transparent pricing with no long-term contracts or setup fees.
  • The dashboard feature keeps tabs on compliance tasks
  • The hiring and onboarding sequence is nicely streamlined between HR and the new hire
  • Post-offer, pre-start tasks are made easy with integrations like CorpNet (state tax set up) Checkr (background checks)
  • Easy payroll for U.S.-based W-2 folks, domestic, and international contractors
  • Person-to-person phone support, email, and other customer service resources
  • The business model is responsive to customer needs

CONS

  • No payroll support for international employees.
  • No accounting tool for tracking earnings and spending.
  • Their simple plan lacks time tracking and online signature features, requiring integrations with other software.
  • Basic analytics dashboard.
  • Features like federal & state compliance alerts and broker/health insurance integration are priced separately.
  • There is no free trial of Gusto
  • Gusto can support payments for international contractors, but not employees
  • No native accounting feature to keep earning and spending under the same roof
  • Analytics dashboard is simplistic
Gusto Payroll Program for Small Business screenshot

Gusto Review

Gusto is an excellent choice for startups and SMBs seeking a reliable payroll solution.

Let’s begin with its full-service payroll capabilities. Gusto supports payroll for U.S.-based W-2 employees and domestic and international contractors. This flexibility makes it a versatile solution for businesses with diverse staffing needs.

Our editors (and accountants) also love that Gusto provides e-signature collecting and automated tax filing because of its ease of use and usefulness in simplifying essential administrative tasks.

Flexibility is another strength of Gusto. The software offers an automatic deductions feature, varied payroll schedules, and unlimited pay runs so businesses can ensure employees receive their salaries and benefits promptly.

Transparency is a key aspect of Gusto's pricing. The payroll software does not require long-term contracts or setup fees, allowing SMBs to manage their payroll efficiently without any unexpected costs.

But you may notice we didn’t mention payroll for global employees earlier. It’s because it isn’t available in Gusto’s current offerings.

Another feature Gusto lacks is built-in accounting, meaning you must use third-party integrations for complete financial management.

While the Simple plan is cost-friendly, it lacks essential features like native time tracking and e-sign. To access these features, thus, you, again, will have to integrate third-party tools with Gusto — more money spent.

Lastly, compliance alerts and broker integration are terrific features, but the platform requires you to either opt for its Premium plan or pay extra to use them.

Gusto Customers

Gusto Pricing

  • Simple Plan: $40/month base fee plus $6/month per person.
  • Plus Plan (Limited Time Sale): $60/month base fee plus $9/month per person.
  • Premium Plan: Contact sales for customized plan options.
  • Contractor Only Plan: $6/month per person (suitable for businesses without W-2 employees).

Best For

Gusto offers a budget-friendly basic plan, making it accessible for startups with limited budgets. For SMBs with smaller HR departments and greater financial capacity, the Premium plan is highly recommended, providing additional features and benefits.

Gusto in action
Reviewer's Rating
6/10

Day-to-day I used Gusto to manage payroll, benefits, and tax forms.

Gusto's automated payroll is solid and I never had an issue with the main payroll functions, although we had a few issues due to confusing UI with the custom earnings and dismissal payroll workflows.

Gusto's quarterly tax filings and reminders about compliance checks/updates were incredibly useful to us. The Docs section and reporting features turned out to be a helpful resource for all kinds of administrative tasks. Around 2021 I started receiving notices that some of our state tax forms weren't being filed on time. Although Gusto did resolve them eventually without penalty, it was concerning that they didn't keep us in the loop.

Gusto's benefits department is its weakest link. I never participated in the initial setup, but I managed 4 or 5 open enrollments through Gusto, and each was an unmitigated disaster. During two separate years, I sent 4+ requests to discuss new providers and never received a response. Not a peep. I have also had to clean up multiple enrollments and COBRA errors.

I speak to Gusto's support team a few times a month. Their support used to be outstanding, but recently they seem to have shifted to a script model, and the agents' competence is hit or miss. There is often an unrealistically long response time when issues are escalated to a specialist, and it is frustrating to wait days or weeks for an answer only to receive an unhelpful form response. Since Gusto handles so many regulated processes, agents are quick to default to a "we cannot advise" answer, and they often provided bad information that caused more problems than they solved. To be fair, I have also worked with agents that helped me pull off miracles, but I wish the quality were as consistent as it used to be a few years ago.

What do you like about this tool?

The UI is clean, intuitive, and (mostly) easy to use. I very seldom had issues with automated processes. They make onboarding new employees incredibly simple. I also really like the friendly tone of the brand's "voice." The marching pig on the loading screen that changes with the seasons never gets old; it still sparks joy each time, even after all these years!

Why did your organization buy this tool, and how long have you used it for?

I have used Gusto since 2018 in 3 different early-stage tech startups. Gusto has a reputation as the go-to in Silicon Valley incubators and accelerators, although I've seen Rippling gradually gaining market share in the past few years. In all 3 cases, we selected Gusto because of their breadth of services. Gusto makes it easy to set up everything our organization needed to begin hiring and paying employees. What's nice about Gusto is that it makes processes that are intimidating to many founders into a "set it and forget it" task. Automating payroll, benefits, filing government forms, and quarterly taxes helped free up time for our founding team to focus on a growing set of other responsibilities.

What do you dislike about this tool?

Gusto's benefits department is unresponsive and it's nearly impossible to get answers from support about even simple benefits questions.

I have seen quite a few concerning errors across the platform (mostly with benefits), including employees not being enrolled in benefits programs, dismissed employees not being removed from benefits programs, incomplete COBRA enrollment, and late tax filings.

The information from Support is unreliable and often inaccurate.

The dismissal payroll workflow is misleading and we've had a few serious problems as a result.

When a Gusto admin is dismissed, their admin privileges are not removed automatically, which is a serious privacy concern.

I wish Gusto made it easier to set up a business entity in new states. They partner with a company called CorpNet, but I found the level of service wasn't worth the price and went back to handling state registration myself.

How is this tool different than their competitors?

I love Gusto's friendly casual-but-professional tone compared to other providers in the space.

What Instructions should people think about when buying this type of tool?

Gusto is best for small teams, the smaller the better. It is a great option for founders and single-person People teams who have less time to dedicate to payroll, benefits, and compliance. It makes many benefits available and affordable for small groups that would not have the numbers to access plans through traditional providers.

Gusto becomes less useful as a team grows and compensation & benefits become more complex. I would definitely recommend Gusto to founders, but I recommend moving off of their benefits platform as soon as you have a full-time person to manage benefits administration. Its payroll functionality is solid, but payroll administrators should be aware that they will get limited guidance from the Gusto support team.

How has this tool changed or evolved over time to meet users needs?

Gusto's functionality has grown over the time I've used the platform as they've added additional features and integrations. However, the accuracy and quality of support have suffered over time. I used to be a Gusto evangelist, but these days I recommend that growing companies move off of Gusto as soon as is practical. New features have become less useful over time, and I wish they would focus on maintaining the quality of their core product rather than trying to expand into new services.

What specific type of user or organization is this tool very good for?

Company founders or admins inexperienced in payroll and benefits. Very small teams with a single person managing payroll and benefits administration among many other HR responsibilities.

What specific type of user or organization would this tool not be a good fit for?

Larger organizations with 50+ employees. HR teams with specialists in each area. Companies with complex and highly-regulated compensation structures.

Patriot

Visit Website
Patriot
Learn More
Popularity Score
4.1 / 5
User Score
4.8 / 5
Product Score
4.4 / 5

Why we picked Patriot

Patriot is the most affordable full-service payroll for small businesses

PROS

CONS

Patriot dashboard screenshot - one of the best Payroll Software for Small Business

Patriot Review

Of all the full-service payroll software on this list, Patriot is the most affordable. It offers basic payroll and tax management with an intuitive interface that is easy to navigate.

It is designed with the small business owner in mind, providing free payroll setup and expert support from US-based professionals to make the experience a lot easier.

Patriot Customers

Patriot Pricing

Patriot’s basic payroll service goes for $10 per month plus $4 per employee. Their full-service payroll is tagged at $30 per month plus $4 per employee.

Best For

Small businesses with very basic payroll needs.

Patriot in action
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Paychex

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Paychex
Learn More
Popularity Score
4.1 / 5
User Score
3.9 / 5
Product Score
4.1 / 5

Why we picked Paychex

There are flexible options and add-ons designed with small businesses in mind.

PROS

CONS

Paychex Flex Payroll Software for Small Business screenshot

Paychex Review

Paychex Flex offers HR functionality, retirement packages, online payroll services, and benefits for businesses ranging from solopreneurs to SMBs. It is user-friendly and has numerous plans that cater to the needs of any company size. 

Unlike Gusto, which provides health insurance in just 39 states, Paychex Flex covers all 50 states in the US.

Paychex Customers

Paychex Pricing

Paychex Flex offers a variety of plans depending on your specific needs. There are three curated packages readily available on their website - Paychex Flex Essentials, Paychex Flex Select, and Paychex Flex Pro.

Their Essentials plan is available for a $39 monthly base rate plus $5 per employee per month. Select and Pro are custom plans and you would need to call to get a quote.

Best For

Small companies with basic payroll needs and solopreneurs that want HR software with payroll features.

Paychex in action
Reviewer's Rating
7/10

We used PayChex for processing weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly payroll for multiple sites. We integrated our timekeeping system into it. We also set up an automated journal entry for SAP. Additionally, we used PayChex to file our payroll taxes.

What do you like about this tool?
  • Real-time payroll processing.
  • Friendly account manager.
  • The  several integration options available.
Why did your organization buy this tool, and how long have you used it for?

I set up Paychex as a cheaper alternative to ADP with a feature that we liked. The feature was the ability to see the final payroll record in real time (as opposed to waiting for emails from ADP). We used it for 3 years, but ultimately had to find another vendor. We liked the Paychex system, but they were not equipped to handle our expatriate executive leadership overseas at the time.

What do you dislike about this tool?
  • Issues with specialty pay situations (expatriates).
  • Customer service did not always understand the issues.
  • Reports were less reader-friendly than others.
How is this tool different than their competitors?

PayChex is great for regular businesses entirely in the US. The system is easy to learn and does everything that you need.

What Instructions should people think about when buying this type of tool?

You should consider many locations you have and special payroll situations to contend with. Also, how robust of a system do you need? Small businesses may benefit from smaller, cheaper tools.

How has this tool changed or evolved over time to meet users needs?
What specific type of user or organization is this tool very good for?

Medium-sized businesses.

What specific type of user or organization would this tool not be a good fit for?

Global businesses who move their employees in and out of the country.

Zenefits

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Zenefits
Learn More
Popularity Score
4 / 5
User Score
3.9 / 5
Product Score
4 / 5

Why we picked Zenefits

Zenefits is a type of software that can handle payroll for various types of employment: full-time employees, part-time employees, contractors, and freelancers in 49 states. The payroll software is known among SMBs in the US for its wonderful UI and budget-friendly price.

PROS

  • Zenefits is one of the top names in HR tech and payroll software for American small businesses.
  • Among the easiest payroll tools to figure out.
  • Scalable plans with transparent pricing.
  • Offers a free trial.
  • Doesn’t charge setup fees.
  • Mobile-friendly, with good built-in self-service capabilities.
  • Simple and effective automated workflows.
  • It’s one of the top names in HR tech and payroll software for American small businesses. 
  • Their platform is one of the best-looking and easiest to figure out among the sector. 
  • Zenefits can grow with you. Its pricing plans allow you to pay and tweak as you go, add certain modules when you need them, or get rid of them if you don’t.

CONS

  • Zenefits is among the easiest payroll tools to figure out.
  • Scalable plans with transparent pricing.
  • Offers a free trial.
  • Doesn’t charge setup fees.
  • Mobile-friendly, with good built-in self-service capabilities.
  • Simple and effective automated workflows.
  • As oriented to small businesses as the tool is, it doesn’t give you the chance to create a custom bundle of the services and/or modules you’d like to have. For instance, Zenefits does not offer a standalone ACA module. Therefore, you will need to purchase an entire HRIS plan if you want to access that offering.
  • In addition, Zenefits focuses on small to mid sized companies. If you're an enterprise organization, you may want to consider another option. 
  • Zenefits is also rather focused on the US market at this point. So, if your team is mostly in another country and you need more of a local know-how, it might not be the best bet for certain modules like payroll and benefits.
Zenefits Payroll Software for Small Companies screenshot

Zenefits Review

Zenefits offer a host of solutions, ranging from onboarding to benefits, payroll, performance, and offboarding, at a transparent and scalable pricing structure. Plus, Zenefits offers a free trial and doesn't charge for the tool's setup, making it more approachable than some other HR tools in the market.

Zenefits offers a gorgeous user interface. The mobile app is also well-designed, with built-in features for self-onboarding, time tracking, org charts, and payroll. Zenefits’ payroll is also pretty cool. It lets businesses pay full-time workers, independent contractors, and freelancers in a single platform.

The automated workflow is a nice touch that sets Zenefits apart from several HR solutions. It’s simple to set up but can lend HR leaders a good hand in automating workflows for key employee events like career advancements, birthdays, and job anniversaries.

However, there are a few things you should watch out for before purchasing Zenefits. First, the payroll feature isn’t included in any of Zenefits' plans but offered as an add-on. In other words, you need to pay extra to use the payroll tool. Second, Zenefits' customer service is noted to be slow in responses. Since there isn’t any support via phone or a dedicated person, it can be difficult to get help promptly. Lastly, Zenefits is tailored to the US-based SMBs, so the software won’t be that helpful if your hires are in other countries.

Zenefits Customers

Quora, Universal Group, Reddit, Asana

Zenefits Pricing

  • Zenefits has three plans, and its monthly pricing starts at $8 per employee.
  • The software also offers some add-ons with prices starting at $5 per employee per month.
  • Zenefits doesn’t charge setup fees.

Best For

Zenefits is a good deal for startups and small businesses that require HR services, employee management functions, and payroll for their hires in the U.S.

Zenefits in action
Reviewer's Rating
7/10

I used Zenefits to onboard new domestic employees and initiate background checks, collect I9 forms and verify personal identification documents uploaded by the employee. I also referred to employee profiles when completing audits, needing personal emails, or personal identification docs. We did not have Zenefits integrated with any other tools however I know it can be done. I recommend employers integrate any systems they can that make sense for better workflows and efficiencies across various platforms related to employee details.

What do you like about this tool?

It was easy to onboard new employees through Zenefits and enter their personal and employee details such as; title, manager, and salary. I really like that Zenefits offers an add on, per employee, to initiate a background check directly through the platform with CheckR. This made the onboarding process much smoother from an admin perspective and the candidate/employee as it consolidated the systems they needed to enter details in during onboarding. The employee profiles had a documents section that included all I9 documents requested at the time of hire, this was useful as an HR admin. Several times I referenced employee specific needs from Zenefits for the purpose of audits.

Why did your organization buy this tool, and how long have you used it for?

I used Zenefits for almost 2 years. My company purchased it to onboard new employees and initiate background checks for domestic hires. We also used another tool to onboard new hires however there was not an integration to launch a background check, thus the reason behind having Zenefits. This system was also used to collect I9 forms and personal identification documents. The system could be used for payroll however we ran payroll through the other HRIS tool we had for Domestic hires.

What do you dislike about this tool?

The reporting functionality was not built out during my use of the platform. In the future it would be helpful if the platform also integrated with E-verify which could be completed directly from the system during employee onboarding. Pricing plan options that included rates outside of per employee prices.

How is this tool different than their competitors?

Document upload that is held within each employee profile. The ability to send out offer letters and employee handbooks when initiating onboarding tasks for new employees.

What Instructions should people think about when buying this type of tool?

Do the per employee prices align or make sense for your company budget towards an HRIS tool. How much hiring will you be doing in the upcoming year? Does it make sense to pay for the platform annually, given projections for the next year.

How has this tool changed or evolved over time to meet users needs?

Personally, over the 2 years that I used the platform I did not witness any significant changes that added value to our new employee onboarding experience.

What specific type of user or organization is this tool very good for?

A company small to mid-sized looking for a system to onboard new employees.

What specific type of user or organization would this tool not be a good fit for?

Large organizations 1000 or more.

QuickBooks

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QuickBooks
Learn More
Popularity Score
4.1 / 5
User Score
4 / 5
Product Score
4 / 5

Why we picked QuickBooks

Easily integrates with other Quickbooks products and has the fastest direct deposit.

PROS

CONS

Quickbooks Payroll Software for Small Business screenshot

QuickBooks Review

Most small businesses use Intuit Quickbooks accounting software for their lightweight bookkeeping. It is effective, simple, and affordable. The same is true for their online payroll software. Quickbooks payroll processes employee pay stubs and automatically files taxes in a simple, intuitive interface.

Quickbooks online stands out as having the fastest direct deposit amongst its competitors, processing same-day and next-day payments.

QuickBooks Customers

QuickBooks Pricing

Quickbooks pricing is as follows:

  • Core Plan: $22 per month plus $4 per employee
  • Premium Plan: $37.50 per month plus $8 per employee
  • Elite Plan: $62.50 per month plus $10 per employee

Best For

Small businesses that are already using Quickbooks accounting.

QuickBooks in action
Reviewer's Rating
10/10

We use Quickbooks for all of our invoicing needs, as well as for AR reporting when needed. We can also keep track of all of our contacts in the vendor section which makes it an easy place to go if we need information.

What do you like about this tool?
  • User-friendliness is the main pro we find when using Quickbooks.
  • It’s been very easy to train my HR employees how to send and receive invoices.
  • It’s linked to our bank.
  • It gives the option for people to pay via ACH when sending out invoices (easy for them to pay with a touch of a button).
Why did your organization buy this tool, and how long have you used it for?

When my organization was looking for options to help quickly get out invoices to our clients they thought Quickbooks would be the perfect solution. We have now successfully been using Quickbooks for 10 years for our invoicing needs as well as AR reporting which helps our HR team run smoothly.

What do you dislike about this tool?
  • Sometimes it runs slow if more than one user are in the software at a time.
  • Connectivity issues will happen at times which could make it frustrating to use when you are in a hurry.
  • You have to add in other apps to be able to use all the functionality of Quickbooks and pay further pricing.
How is this tool different than their competitors?

The only other software we have tried in the past was NetSuite, and we ultimately decided to go with Quickbooks due to its pricing and ease of use. NetSuite did have more functionality but overall we liked the way Quickbooks worked with our company’s needs.

What Instructions should people think about when buying this type of tool?

They should figure out what they specifically want to use the tool for, and make sure they do their research and pick the correct type of Quickbooks so they can easily work through what they need to get done.

How has this tool changed or evolved over time to meet users needs?

The website itself has changed over the years but in a good way! We feel it is super easy to navigate and works for our business needs.

What specific type of user or organization is this tool very good for?

Really any corporate type of business that needs to send invoices out to customers, our organization does staffing and recruiting and we rely on Quickbooks to be able to send out invoices to clients.

What specific type of user or organization would this tool not be a good fit for?

Maybe manufacturing companies or just very small, less than 10 person companies might not benefit from QuickBooks online.

Remote

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Remote
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Popularity Score
4 / 5
User Score
4.6 / 5
Product Score
4.5 / 5

Why we picked Remote

This service makes it easy for businesses to hire and pay employees remotely across the globe.

PROS

CONS

Remote Payroll Program for Small Business screenshot

Remote Review

As the name suggests, Remote helps employers and business owners hire and manage their workforce across the globe. The software combines benefits, tax, HR, and compliance services to give you a well-rounded solution to onboard employees from any part of the world without getting into trouble with local labor laws in respective countries.

Remote functions as an employer of records (EOR) with local entities in over 50 countries and counting. They plan to set up in 130 more countries this year.

Remote Customers

Remote Pricing

Remote offers three pricing packages:

  • Contractor Management: Free
  • Employer of Record: Starts at $299
  • Global Payroll: Call to get a quote

Best For

An excellent choice for remote-first companies wanting to run payroll internationally.

Remote in action
Reviewer's Rating
5/10

Remote was introduced to an international employee or contractor after they were hired and the first part of their onboarding process. They were asked to complete basic personal information; such as address, contact info, emergency contacts, and bank details for payment. Medical benefits were offered to employees and could be elected through the platform. Once employees and contractors were onboarded they could access their portal at any time to view their personal details, and pay stubs. Payroll ran on a bi-weekly and semi-monthly basis for employees and contractors, this was dependent on their in-country laws and was processed completely by Remote. We would fund the platform a month in advance for payroll. In some cases we had employees who submitted timecards for overtime differential.

What do you like about this tool?

The platform was easy to onboard new employees, and select and edit all personal and employment details. Employees and Contractors were paid timely and we never ran into any payroll issues of people not being paid on time. We had monthly calls with our Account Rep who was always willing to step in to escalate or help answer any questions we had or anything that came up that was employee specific.

Why did your organization buy this tool, and how long have you used it for?

Our org purchased the platform so we could pay and offer benefits to our international employees. I used Remote for just under 2 years. We had over 50 employees in 5-10 different states and using this platform allowed us to offer benefits in those local countries, along with any other country-specific benefits that in some cases we were required to offer. Remote also served as our EOR, employer of record, and provided legal protections related to employee terminations. All international employees and contractors were onboarded into the platform at hire and could access their portal at any time.

What do you dislike about this tool?

There was no reporting function. There would be payroll reconciliations each month, sometimes there was a payment due to us and other times we underfunded accounts, this posed problems with forecasting and budgeting for our finance team. It was unclear and not detailed on employee pay stubs to see what the benefits breakdown was for employees and employers. Meaning who was covering what percentage or what amount was being paid by each party on a biweekly or monthly basis.

How is this tool different than their competitors?

I know Remote is an EOR and not all international platforms are. Over the last year I used a different international platform and did prefer that over Remote. The functionality was built out more, support was more responsive and as the HR admin I had more control over the contracts and editing.

What Instructions should people think about when buying this type of tool?

How many employees or contractors you are planning to hire internationally. Does Remote support those countries and in what way? What is your annual budget for an International HRIS tool? How do you want federal taxes to be withheld from international employees or contractors? Do you want to offer benefits to international employees? If so, what benefit tiers are you looking to offer, can Remote support your company goals.

How has this tool changed or evolved over time to meet users needs?

Remote increased the number of countries they offered onboarding and hiring during the time I used the platform.

What specific type of user or organization is this tool very good for?

Companies looking to hire internationally and ones' where they do not want to be the Employer of Record and would prefer the HRIS have an entity in the countries you are looking to hire in and be the EOR.

What specific type of user or organization would this tool not be a good fit for?

Organizations that do not have any plans to grow globally.

Square

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Square
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Popularity Score
4.3 / 5
User Score
4.2 / 5
Product Score
4.4 / 5

Why we picked Square

Seamlessly integrates with Square POS and other Square labor management tools.

PROS

CONS

Square Payroll System for Small Business screenshot

Square Review

Square is known for its retail payment-processing tools such as Square reader and Square POS. In 2015, they introduced Square payroll to cater to the payroll needs of SMBs.

The platform provides basic tools for you to automatically file taxes, manage employee work hours, and run payroll. For small businesses using Square POS, this software integrates seamlessly to provide a labor-sales ecosystem.

Square Customers

Square Pricing

Square payroll gives a $35 per month flat rate plus $5 per employee. They also offer a contractors-only plan for $5 per contractor.

Best For

Square is an incredible option for retailers, especially store owners and restaurants. These small businesses will find the combination of Square POS and Square payroll useful in many ways.

Square in action
Reviewer's Rating
9/10

We use Square for mobile sales. It allows us to avoid a hodgepodge of Venmo and PayPal transactions going through multiple workers. We use it a few times a month when we run large events and sell concessions. It's made the sales transactions much easier for customers. And it's also allowed us better control over our budget.

What do you like about this tool?

It's very convenient to use on the go. We don't have to pay a monthly fee - we just pay a percentage of transactions. Customers like having this option instead of using cash.

Why did your organization buy this tool, and how long have you used it for?

My organization bought Square for mobile sales transactions. It's a small operation, and we had been operating cash only, but a lot of customers didn't have cash. We tried using other online payment services, but they were going through organization volunteers instead of directly to the organization. This made it difficult to manage the budget and track down payments.

What do you dislike about this tool?

We are a very small non-profit operation so the transaction charges can add up. I don't like that we have to pay more if we have to manually enter a payment card number.

How is this tool different than their competitors?

I can only compare this to using Venmo, PayPal, and Zelle and Square is much easier for us to use. Customers don't need to have a pre-existing account - they can just use their credit or debit card. It makes things much easier.

What Instructions should people think about when buying this type of tool?

Consider whether this would be easier to use than cash or cash apps. Also consider the transaction fees. They can add up when you are a small business and/or nonprofit.

How has this tool changed or evolved over time to meet users needs?

I think they are always trying to be more user-friendly and accessible. It's nice to have a pricing model where we don't have to pay a monthly or annual fee.

What specific type of user or organization is this tool very good for?

It could be good for a range of organizations from large to small. Mine is very small and the pricing flexibility is good for us and allows us much easier transactions with our customers.

What specific type of user or organization would this tool not be a good fit for?

I think most organizations would benefit from Square. Again, I would just caution you to consider the transaction fees and make sure they are within an acceptable range for your organization.

OnPay

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OnPay
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Popularity Score
4.3 / 5
User Score
4.8 / 5
Product Score
4.7 / 5

Why we picked OnPay

It is fast, easy to use, and does not require a steep learning curve.

PROS

CONS

OnPay dashboard screenshot - one of the best small business payroll software

OnPay Review

Like all of the cloud-based software mentioned in this list, OnPay performs basic payroll, HR, and benefits management functions. It is the fastest among the software mentioned, saving businesses up to 15 hours a month. It is also extremely easy to use with very intuitive functions and it has a responsive chat feature operated by helpful professionals.  

OnPay has curated solutions for businesses in several business niches ranging from agriculture to NGOs, franchise to healthcare, and more. It also integrates with Xero accounting software.

OnPay Customers

OnPay Pricing

OnPay starts at $36 per month plus an additional monthly fee of $4 per employee. Your first month is free.

Best For

OnPay is best for small business owners that have no prior background knowledge on anything payroll.

OnPay in action
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Pro Tips on Payroll Software for Small Companies

Payroll Software Benefits and ROI for Small Businesses

For small businesses, time is money. You don’t want to spend time on repetitive tasks that can be easily automated. It is estimated that an hour wasted per employee amounts to $3,750 per year, and that figure can be as high as $11,250! For a small business, this is too high of a cost to bear. It affects your profitability and growth.

On the other end of the spectrum, automated payroll management saves you a lot of time (up to 40 hours a month) and money. Money lost due to human error during payroll  preparation proves to be a huge problem. The American Payroll Association estimates that human error can reach 8% while processing payroll manually. To give an example of what this means in hard numbers, an 8% human error rate on a $15,000 payroll equals $1,200 lost in erroneous wage calculation.  

With payroll software solutions, you are protected from compliance issues. Small businesses do not have the time nor resources to be at the front of the ever-changing tax policy landscape. 

It is especially complicated when you have employees in different states or beyond US borders. Each state and country has differing tax policies (deduction rates, compulsory contributions, etc.). If you default in filing correct tax returns, you will be penalized. In 2019 alone, the IRS levied $13.7 billion in tax penalties relating to payroll. As a small business looking to grow and expand, losing money to tax penalties will grossly affect your bottom line. All these can be avoided with a simple automated payroll solution.

Pricing Models for Small Business Payroll Service

For small businesses, payroll softwares mostly offer two kinds of pricing models:

  • Flat rate per month/year 
  • Base rate plus per employee per month/year

The majority of the payroll software companies mentioned in this article use a base rate model. That is a good choice for small businesses, especially those with few employees. If you are a rapidly-growing business or you already have a sizable number of employees (say > 50) then a flat-rate pricing model might be best.

FAQs

Which payroll company is best for small businesses?

It depends on your business needs and the price you are willing to pay. If you want an affordable, stand-alone full-service payroll, you can go for the more affordable options like Patriot, Quickbooks, and Zenefits. If you want HR solutions too, Gusto, and Paychex Flex, are a good fit.  

What is the most used payroll software?

Quickbooks is the most used payroll software due to their accounting suite. Paychex and Gusto are close runner ups.

What is the best international small business payroll service?

Amongst the payroll software providers on our list, Remote offers the best international options.

Final Advice on Buying a Small Business Payroll Solution

For small businesses, the process of choosing a payroll service provider can be cumbersome. The extreme dynamicity of small businesses requires you to choose one that fits your exact needs. We advise you to highlight your needs using these questions:

  • How big is my business? Are you a solopreneur, a microbusiness with fewer than 10 employees, or maybe a small enterprise with over 100 staff?
  • Who are my employees? Are your employees salaried workers or contractors? If they are salaried, do you pay an hourly wage or monthly salary?
  • What is my budget? How much can you spend per employee/per month?

Answering these questions satisfactorily will streamline your payroll options. If, for example, you have employees that get paid per hour, you will likely opt for a payroll software that has time tracking to calculate and sync employee hours with payroll. 

In the end, make sure to take your time and ask a lot of questions before you choose the best payroll software for your small company.    

Please note that the services mentioned in this article are for small companies in the United States. If you are a global business looking to compensate your remote employees while staying compliant with international labor laws, check out our roundup of the best international payroll companies

About Us

  • Our goal at SSR is to help HR and recruiting teams to find and buy the right software for their needs.
  • Our site is free to use as some vendors will pay us for web traffic.
  • SSR lists all companies we feel are top vendors - not just those who pay us - in our comprehensive directories full of the advice needed to make the right purchase decision for your HR team.

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