With so many options, it’s hard to find the best payroll service for small business owners like you. Having strong payroll capabilities is a must, and finding the right service and getting everything setup can be overwhelming if you’re a new business owner.
Some small business owners think they can handle payroll on your own, but it’s tough. You’ve got to make sure your employees fill out the correct tax forms, track benefits, issue W-2s or 1099s, track employee hours, and then actually pay your employees.
That’s a lot, and I promise it’s easier with a payroll system.
To take the stress out of finding the right system for your business, I’m going to breakdown five of the best options. You’re going to learn about features, pricing, who each of them is best for, pros & cons, and more.
Best Payroll For Small Business in 2021
$39/month + $6/month per employee
RUN Powered by ADP
Contact for custom pricing
3 months free, terms apply
$36/month + $4/month per employee
One month free
$45/month +$4/month per employee
50% off for 3 months
$10/month + $4/month per employee
Free for 30 days
Gusto is designed for small businesses, and they currently serve over 200,000 of them nationwide. Gusto has a robust set of tools that makes them a good fit for a variety of business types.
The payroll features you get with Gusto include automatic deductions and filings, direct deposits, W-2s, and 1099s. You can manage employee benefits like health benefits, automatic savings plans, 401ks, and more.
Gusto also comes with onboarding and new hire tools, flexible payroll schedules, contractor payment tools, and time tools. You can access the software from any device, so you don’t need to download a separate mobile app.
Gusto offers three plans:
- Core $39/month + $6/month per person: Comes with full-service payroll, health benefits administration, employee self-service profiles, accounting and time tracking integrations, and employee benefits
- Complete $39/month + $12/month per person: All of the Core benefits plus next-day direct deposit, time tracking and PTO policy management, project tracking and workforce costing, hiring and onboarding tools, and team management tools.
- Concierge $149/month + $12/month per person: Everything above plus access to certified HR pros, HR resource center, compliance alerts, and dedicated best-in-class support.
Who is Gusto best for?
Gusto is the best payroll for small businesses that are just getting started out. Most business owners will find that Gusto Core has everything they need to get started at an affordable price.
Gusto has a long list of tools for small businesses
Gusto makes our list of best payroll for small businesses because they have payroll tools that will grow with your business.
Pros and cons of Gusto
2. Run Powered by ADP
ADP has serious name recognition in the payroll services industry, and one of their most popular payroll services is RUN Powered by ADP, which is designed for businesses with 49 employees or less.
RUN offers four plans, and they all come with free direct deposit, new employee onboarding, tax reporting, and the ability to pay 1099 contractors. In addition, you can upgrade each of their plans with additional features like time and attendance tools, retirement services, workers comp, health care benefits, and a small business marketing tool kit.
RUN offers some of the best payroll for small businesses who are planning to scale. They have tools for every stage of your growth, and they’re well known for the payroll services they offer to larger businesses (50+ employees).
You’ll have to request a quote from ADP to receive pricing information for their RUN plans because they consider your business’ credit rating, risk profile, and health benefits history before giving you a custom quote. So you’ll definitely want to check them out if you’re interested in learning more.
Who is RUN Powered by ADP best for?
This is great software for small to midsize businesses because it has a variety of payroll options. It’s a little more expensive, but ADP has features that can support your business through every stage of it’s growth.
Get payroll tools from RUN by ADP
Large businesses use and trust ADP, and small businesses can access the same great features with RUN by ADP. Get custom pricing for your business today!Check out RUN by ADP
Pros and cons of RUN Powered by ADP
OnPay has a solid set of features for small businesses that want to manage payroll, their employees, and health benefits. It also easily scales up as you grow your business.
One of the reasons small businesses use OnPay is that it has industry-specific features that make it easier for restaurants, for example, to account for employee tips. They also include unlimited payroll runs, complete mobile accessibility from any device, employee onboarding tools, self-service capabilities, direct deposit, and multi-state payroll capabilities.
There’s also a long list of integrations to third-party apps for things like timekeeping and accounting applications.
OnPay’s pricing looks a little different from the payroll services on this list because they only offer a single plan at $36/month, with a $4/month per employee charge. The benefit here is that you get all of the features OnPay offers, no matter what.
Who is OnPay best for?
OnPay is the best payroll service for small businesses looking for value. It has simple, transparent pricing that works for small to mid-sized businesses who also want some HR resources.
Pros and cons of OnPay
4. QuickBooks Payroll
Unsurprisingly, QuickBooks Payroll is designed to integrate with QuickBooks Accounting and other Intuit products, but it can also be used as a stand-alone payroll system for small businesses.
QuickBooks Payroll offers full-service payroll features including payroll features like direct deposit, payroll tax collection, track with and approve timesheets, PTO tracking, benefits management, and tax form preparation.
In addition to an easy-to-use portal for business owners, there’s an employee portal so employees can access payroll stubs and tax forms. And it’s compliant in all 50 states.
There are three plans available, starting at $45/month + $4/month per employee. That’s the Core plan, but you’ll need to upgrade if you want any HR features. Here’s what pricing on all of the plans looks like:
- Core $45/month + $4/month per employee: Full-service payroll with basic features
- Premium $75/month + $8/month per employee: What’s included in core with HR features, expert setup, and same-day direct deposit
- Elite $125/month + $10/month per employee: Everything above plus premium support, tax penalty protection, and personal HR advisor
Intuit usually runs specials on their software, and right now you can get it for half price for the first 3 months. That means Core is $22.50/month + $4/month per employee.
Who is QuickBooks Payroll for?
QuickBooks Payroll is a solid option for businesses already using QuickBooks and other Intuit products. It’s really optimized to work with that software, and that’s where you’ll get the most benefits.
Pros and cons of QuickBooks Payroll
5. Patriot Software
Patriot is an intuitive payroll system for small businesses that may not be as well known as other names on this list, but it’s definitely one of the best. That’s because Patriot has simple payroll services at a low cost — as little as $10/month or $30/month + $4/month per employee with both plans.
Patriot hasn’t completely stripped out of all the advanced features you might want. For example, they still offer payroll setup, payroll support, paycheck printing, direct deposit, unlimited payroll runs, flexible pay schedules, and printable W-2s.
Here’s what you get with Patriot’s two service tiers:
- Basic Payroll $10/month + $4/month per employee: Comes with free setup, customizable deductions and contributions, printable W-2s, time-off accruals, and multi-pay rates.
- Full-Service Payroll $30/month + $4/month per employee: Adds expert support, payroll setup, direct deposit, employee portal, workers’ comp integration, all pay frequencies, multiple locations, accounting software integrations, departments, and more.
There are additional and inexpensive upgrades for HR — $36/month plus $6/month per employee. Or you can do Full Service and HR and Time & Attendance for $42/month +$8/month per employee.
Who is Patriot best for?
Patriot offers the best payroll for small businesses that want simple and affordable services. The Basic Payroll plan doesn’t come with a lot of features, but it does the job for many small businesses. The ability to affordably upgrade makes Patriot a good scalable option too.
Pros and cons of Patriot
The final word on best payroll for small business
There are so many payroll options to choose from, and any one of the services above will give you the tools you need for your business.
Here’s a quick recap of our selections above and who they’re best for:
- Gusto: Best for small businesses just starting out
- RUN Powered by ADP: Best for small to mid-sized businesses
- OnPay: Best value payroll services
- QuickBooks Payroll: Best for small businesses using other Intuit products
- Patriot: Best simple, affordable payroll services