10 Best Payroll Services for Efficient and Accurate Small Business Payroll Management

Explore the top payroll services for small businesses and what sets them apart. Dive into comprehensive solutions that provide more than just financial rewards, offering paths to professional excellence and personal fulfillment.

January 29, 2024

Best payroll services for small business.
Vannie Evans
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Growing and managing a small business requires handling payroll efficiently to ensure smooth operations. However, let us face it - the logistical dance of managing this expansion may not spark the same joy for most of us. According to Symmetrical, about 25% of small businesses still use pen and paper to track finances, whereas 45% do not even have an in-house accountant or bookkeeper. Using such outdated methods to manage payroll manually can be inefficient and often bring about the risk of payroll errors. 

Today, automation in payroll has become efficient as it helps to reduce payroll errors, time-consuming and repetitive tasks, and provide employees with convenient and flexible solutions. With a growing trend in streamlined HR and payroll processes, small businesses should consider efficient payroll services to ensure detailed bookkeeping and file tracking.   Now, join us on this exploration of the best payroll services, designed to fuel your small business journey with efficiency and success. 

1. OnPay

OnPay interface. Source: OnPay

OnPay has emerged as a game-changing, affordable, and user-friendly payroll solution. It seamlessly caters to businesses of all sizes. Its well-designed, cloud-based platform simplifies payroll processing, offering features like unlimited payroll runs, direct deposit, and comprehensive HR resources. 


  • Affordability. OnPay sets itself apart with a budget-friendly flat rate, ensuring accessibility for businesses of varying sizes. Transparent pricing comprises a base rate of $40 per month plus $6 per user per month. While lacking tiered plans, OnPay's flexibility aligns with business growth.
  • User-friendly interface. The cloud-based platform features a well-designed dashboard, simplifying the complexities of payroll processing.
  • Mobile accessibility. OnPay embraces modernity with mobile accessibility, allowing payroll management on the go.
  • Multistate payroll capability. Tailored for growing businesses, OnPay supports multistate payroll, adapting to diverse operational needs.
  • Comprehensive tax support. OnPay handles all federal, state, and local payroll taxes, reducing the burden on businesses and ensuring compliance.
  • Employee self-service. The platform provides employees with a self-service portal, allowing them to access pay stubs, W-2s, and manage their information, reducing HR workload.
  • Unlimited pay runs. OnPay allows unlimited pay runs each month, accommodating businesses with various payroll schedules or special circumstances.
  • Easy onboarding. Self-onboarding for new employees reduces administrative hassle, allowing employees to enter essential details independently. A new employee checklist feature ensures a smooth onboarding process.
  • Tax filing. OnPay automates tax processes, including deductions, filings, and end-of-year tax submissions. Tax documents are readily available to employees through the self-service portal.
  • Time tracking. While OnPay lacks native time tracking, integration with third-party apps like QuickBooks Time ensures accurate reporting.
  • Analytics and reporting. Customizable reports and dynamic report design empower users to extract valuable insights.


  • No separate mobile app. While mobile accessibility is present for iOS, the absence of a dedicated mobile app for other operating systems like Android may be a drawback for users seeking a standalone application.
  • No benefits administration in base plan. The basic plan does not include benefits administration, which may be a drawback for businesses seeking an all-in-one HCM solution.
  • Integration limitations. OnPay's integrations are limited compared to some competitors, potentially posing challenges for businesses with diverse software needs.
  • Additional costs for add-ons. While the base pricing is competitive, some features, such as time tracking and benefits administration, come at an additional cost, potentially increasing the overall expense for users requiring these functionalities.

OnPay has become a beacon in payroll services for small businesses. It promotes growth for businesses of all sizes. Its blend of affordability, user-friendliness, and comprehensive features positions it as a seamless payroll service for small businesses.

2. Gusto

Gusto pricing
Gusto pricing. Source: Gusto

Gusto stands at the forefront of revolutionizing payroll and human resources (HR) management, particularly catering to the evolving needs of startups and small businesses. The platform seamlessly tackles complex payroll processing and benefits administration, liberating businesses from tedious administrative tasks. Gusto's prominence in the industry is evidenced by its stellar features and positive reputation. Its appeal lies in a combination of excellent features, user-friendly interfaces, and flexibility. 


  • Transparent pricing. Gusto offers transparent pricing, providing clarity and predictability for businesses of all sizes.
  • Flexibility with plans. The platform's three-tiered plans cater to diverse business needs, ensuring scalability and flexibility.
  • Unlimited payroll runs. Gusto's unlimited payroll runs provide businesses with the freedom to adapt to changing circumstances.
  • International contractor payroll. Addressing the evolving gig economy, Gusto facilitates payments for both domestic and international contractors.
  • Charitable giving benefit. Gusto's unique feature of automated charitable donations reflects a commitment to social responsibility, which enhances the company's appeal.
  • Comprehensive payroll features. Gusto also offers a wide range of payroll features, including automatic tax filing, direct deposit, and compliance management, providing a holistic solution for businesses.
  • Employee self-service. With Gusto, employees gain access to a self-service portal, enabling them to view pay stubs, W-2s, and manage their personal information, reducing administrative workload.


  • No free trial. The absence of a free trial might be a drawback for businesses exploring the platform.
  • Per-person pricing challenges at scale. While Gusto offers scalability, the per-person pricing structure might become costlier at larger scales.
  • Limited mobile app functionality. The mobile app's functionality is limited, potentially hindering on-the-go management for users.

As businesses continue to grapple with challenges concerning HR and payroll management, Gusto's innovative features, dedication to user experience, and commitment to evolving with industry demands can position it as a frontrunner and a go-to solution for businesses of all sizes.

3. Wave Payroll

Wave Payroll interface
Wave Payroll interface. Source: Wave

Wave Payroll stands out as an affordable and straightforward payroll solution designed for startups and small businesses. While it may lack some advanced features, its ease of use and budget-friendly pricing make it an attractive choice for businesses with varying payroll needs.


  • Affordability. With pricing ranging from $20 to $35 per month, Wave Payroll offers a cost-effective solution for businesses conscious of their budget.
  • 30-day free trial. Providing a risk-free trial period, Wave Payroll allows businesses to explore its features before committing to a subscription.
  • Direct deposit. Employees and contract workers can receive their payments via direct deposit, ensuring quick and convenient transactions.
  • Clear distinctions. Wave Payroll offers clear differentiations between contractors and employees, simplifying payroll management.
  • Self-serve employee portal. The platform includes an employee portal for self-service, allowing workers to set up profiles, manage taxes, and view pay stubs independently.


  • Limited payroll tax service. Wave Payroll's payroll tax service availability is limited, and automatic tax filing is offered only in 14 states.
  • Manual payroll. While the platform facilitates payroll setup and provides reminders, the process itself is not fully automated, requiring some manual input.
  • No mobile app. Lack of a mobile app restricts users from managing payroll on the go, potentially inconveniencing those who require mobile accessibility.
  • No auto tax filing in 36 states. Businesses operating in states not covered by automatic tax filing may find themselves dealing with additional paperwork.

Wave Payroll's simplicity and affordability position it as an ideal choice for the evolving job market. The rise of startups and small businesses, often characterized by fluctuating payrolls, aligns with Wave Payroll's target audience. 

4. SurePayroll

SurePayroll interface
SurePayroll interface. Source: SurePayroll

SurePayroll is a transformative force in payroll management, specifically tailored to meet the dynamic needs of small business owners. For small businesses, time is of the essence, and SurePayroll distinguishes itself by automating the entire payroll process. It provides an invaluable lifeline for entrepreneurs grappling with myriad responsibilities.


  • Affordable plans. SurePayroll offers budget-friendly plans, starting at $19.99 per month plus $4 per employee, which makes it an accessible choice for small businesses looking to manage payroll economically.
  • User-friendly payroll processing. The platform provides a seamless and straightforward employee payroll processing experience, ensuring that businesses can efficiently manage their payroll responsibilities.
  • Mobile app convenience. SurePayroll enhances flexibility with a dedicated mobile app tailored for small businesses, allowing users to handle payroll tasks on-the-go, increasing efficiency and responsiveness.
  • Tax compliance. SurePayroll takes the hassle out of tax compliance by handling calculations, filings, and payments, ensuring businesses remain compliant with changing regulations.
  • Employee self-service. SurePayroll offers a self-service portal for employees, allowing them to access pay information, tax documents, and other relevant details, reducing administrative burdens.
  • Mobile accessibility. The availability of mobile apps enhances convenience, enabling users to manage payroll functions on-the-go, fostering flexibility and efficiency.


  • Pricing information input. One drawback is the requirement to input specific information to obtain pricing details, which may be considered a minor inconvenience for users seeking quick cost estimates.
  • Limited customer support availability. SurePayroll's customer support is not available 24/7, potentially posing challenges for businesses that may require assistance during non-traditional hours or urgent situations.
  • Integration challenges. While SurePayroll centralizes HR functions, its integrations may be more limited compared to larger platforms, potentially affecting businesses with specific software needs.

SurePayroll's seamless blend of user-friendly interfaces, compliance management, and comprehensive features makes it a frontrunner in payroll management. 

5. Payroll Mate

Payroll Mate interface
Payroll Mate interface. Source: Payroll Mate 

Payroll Mate, a brainchild of Real Business Solutions, stands as a beacon in on-premise payroll processing. Tailored for small and midsize enterprises, this payroll desktop application emerges as an affordable yet robust solution, breathing efficiency into payroll management.


  • Comprehensive tax calculations. Payroll Mate automatically calculates federal and state payroll taxes, including net pay, federal withholding tax, Social Security tax, Medicare, and local payroll taxes. This ensures accurate and compliant tax calculations for businesses.
  • Multiple pay frequencies. The software supports various pay frequencies, such as weekly, biweekly, semimonthly, and monthly payroll cycles. This flexibility allows businesses to adapt their payroll processing to different organizational needs, reducing manual effort.
  • Backup and restore ease. With a one-step backup and restore feature, Payroll Mate encourages users to regularly back up their payroll data, promoting data security and providing peace of mind in case of unexpected incidents.
  • Export capabilities. The software allows the export of payroll reports to Microsoft Excel, CSV, and Adobe PDF formats. This feature enhances data accessibility and supports integration with other accounting and reporting systems.
  • User-defined categories. Supporting customizable income, tax, and deduction categories, Payroll Mate empowers businesses with the ability to tailor the system to their specific payroll processing requirements.
  • ACA reporting integration. Employers seeking ACA 1095-C and 1094-C processing capabilities can seamlessly integrate with Payroll Mate's companion software, 1095 Mate, for both paper and electronic ACA reporting.
  • Free trial download. Payroll Mate offers a free trial download, allowing businesses to explore the software's features and functionality before making a commitment.


  • Additional fee for certain features. Some advanced features, such as MICR checks on blank check stock, direct deposit (NACHA - ACH files), and multi-company management beyond the basic limit, may require additional fees, impacting the total cost of ownership.
  • Limited technical support duration. Technical support is available for sixty calendar days from the date of purchase. Extended support beyond this period may be subject to additional fees, potentially affecting ongoing assistance for users.
  • Thin-client deployment complexity. While Payroll Mate can be deployed in thin-client/virtual-desktop environments, the complexity of implementing this feature may pose challenges for users without sufficient technical expertise.

Payroll Mate stands as a robust payroll processing solution with a range of features catering to diverse business needs. However, users should carefully evaluate additional fees and support limitations based on their specific requirements.

6. RUN Powered by ADP

ADP interface
ADP interface. Source. ADP

RUN powereADP stands as a testament to innovation in payroll processing, especially for small businesses with 49 employees or fewer. It is a payroll application with a comprehensive solution to address payroll issues. It offers a glimpse into the future of workforce management.


  • Industry recognition and trust. ADP, with its RUN Powered application, enjoys unparalleled recognition and trust as one of the largest payroll service providers globally. This recognition provides a strong foundation for its continued growth.
  • Customizable plans for diverse business needs. RUN Powered by ADP shines in its adaptability, offering customizable plans catering to varied business requirements. This flexibility becomes a catalyst for its widespread adoption
  • Integration with emerging technologies. The integration capabilities of RUN Powered by ADP set it apart. The platform seamlessly integrates with popular accounting software such as QuickBooks, ensuring efficient data synchronization. In a tech-driven landscape, the ability to integrate with emerging technologies positions careers associated with such platforms at the forefront of innovation.
  • Emphasis on employee onboarding and experience. The inclusion of features like free direct deposit, new employee onboarding, and a dedicated mobile app underscores ADP's commitment to enhancing the employee experience.  


  • Contractors payment requires additional products. To pay contractors, businesses may need an additional product, adding a layer of complexity and potential cost.
  • Additional cost for benefits administration. While providing benefits administration, this feature may come with an extra cost, which businesses should consider in their budget planning.
  • Challenges in obtaining pricing estimates. Getting accurate pricing estimates for the service can be challenging, potentially leading to uncertainties in budgeting for businesses.

RUN Powered by ADP, with its legacy, adaptability, and focus on enhancing user experience has become essential for small businesses. However, businesses should carefully evaluate costs, ensure proper training, and consider their customization needs before committing to the platform.

7. Paycor

Paycor interface.
Paycor interface. Source: Paycor

Paycor stands as a dynamic payroll solution catering to the unique needs of small to midsize businesses. It offers a user-friendly interface and seamless initial system configuration, simplifying payroll processing through options like direct deposit and intuitive navigation. The platform extends beyond traditional payroll services. It also provides a holistic human capital management (HCM) solution.


  • Easy initial system configuration. Paycor excels in user-friendliness, ensuring businesses can effortlessly configure the system for seamless payroll operations.
  • Pay grid for quick payroll data entry. A distinctive feature is the pay grid, streamlining the process of entering payroll data swiftly and accurately.
  • Small business and mid-market bundles. Paycor offers tailored bundles for small businesses (up to 39 employees) and mid-market enterprises (40+ employees), allowing businesses to choose plans that align with their specific requirements.
  • Flexible paid plans. Paycor's multiple paid plans cater to businesses of varying sizes, offering flexibility in choosing a plan that aligns with specific needs and budgets.
  • Unlimited payroll runs. Businesses can enjoy the convenience of unlimited payroll runs, providing flexibility in managing different payroll schedules or processing one-off payments.
  • Self-serve employee portal. The inclusion of a self-serve employee portal empowers employees, allowing them to access relevant information, manage benefits, and handle various HR tasks independently.


  • Lack of transparent pricing. A potential drawback is the need for businesses with more than 10 employees to request a custom quote for accurate pricing details.
  • Additional fees. Beyond the base pricing, businesses may encounter various added fees, potentially leading to unexpected costs and impacting the overall affordability of the service.
  • Setup fees for most plans. The requirement for setup fees, particularly for most plans, can pose an initial financial barrier for businesses, affecting the overall cost of onboarding the Paycor platform.
  • Time tracking only available as an add-on. The limitation of time tracking being available solely as an add-on feature may inconvenience businesses seeking an all-in-one solution, potentially leading to additional costs for this functionality.

Paycor's allure lies in its ability to go beyond basic payroll services, offering a comprehensive HCM solution for businesses. From easy initial setup and a convenient pay grid to customizable bundles, Paycor caters to the diverse needs of businesses. However, potential users should be mindful of its drawbacks, including the requirement to request a quote for businesses exceeding 10 employees, ensuring transparency in pricing.

8. Payroll4Free

Payroll4free interface
Payroll4free interface.  Source: Software Connect

Payroll4Free is a free online payroll processing service specifically tailored for small businesses. It provides basic yet comprehensive payroll services, including salary payments to both employees and 1099 contractors, tax calculations, and the generation of year-end 1099 forms. The software facilitates direct deposits or paper checks and features an employee portal for easy access to pay information.


  • Core application is free. The fundamental software is offered for free, making it an attractive option for businesses conscious of their budget constraints.
  • Employee portal and year-end form processing. Despite being a free service, Payroll4Free includes valuable features like an employee portal and processing of year-end forms (W-2s and 1099s), enhancing its overall utility.
  • Affordable option for limited budgets. Recognizing the financial challenges of smaller businesses, Payroll4Free provides an affordable solution, ensuring that cost is not a barrier to accessing basic payroll services.
  • User-friendly interface. The platform is designed for ease of use, providing a straightforward and intuitive experience for users, even those with limited payroll expertise.
  • Integration with accounting services. The platform integrates seamlessly with popular accounting services, such as QuickBooks, streamlining overall financial management processes.


  • Intrusive ads. The presence of advertisements within the system may be considered a downside, potentially affecting the user experience.
  • Limited user capacity. Payroll4Free.com is designed for smaller businesses, supporting 25 or fewer individuals. This limitation may restrict its suitability for larger enterprises.
  • Lack of mobile applications. The absence of a dedicated mobile application limits accessibility, as users can only access the platform on Windows devices, potentially posing challenges for those on different operating systems.
  • Windows compatibility only. The software is exclusively available for Windows users, excluding businesses or individuals operating on other operating systems.

Payroll4Free is a cost-effective and user-friendly payroll solution, particularly suitable for smaller businesses with straightforward payroll needs. While considerations like ads and limited user capacity exist, its comprehensive services, active support, and integration capabilities make it a viable option for businesses looking to streamline their payroll processes.

9. QuickBooks Payroll

QuickBooks Payroll interface.
QuickBooks Payroll interface. Source: Quickbooks - Intuit

QuickBooks Payroll, a flagship product by Intuit, serves as a pivotal tool in business bookkeeping. It offers an integrated solution for payroll management. In financial technology, QuickBooks Payroll has become vital as a comprehensive cloud-based service, especially designed for businesses already leveraging QuickBooks for their bookkeeping needs. This seamless integration provides a multitude of advantages, making QuickBooks Payroll an indispensable asset for businesses seeking efficiency and accuracy in payroll processing.


  • HR resources and advisor access. QuickBooks Payroll doesn't just stop at managing payroll; it extends its offerings to include valuable HR resources and access to expert advisors. This ensures that businesses have a comprehensive solution for both payroll and human resource management.
  • Discount incentive. Businesses opting for QuickBooks Payroll can enjoy a 50% discount for the first three months. This presents a cost-effective incentive to kickstart their payroll management journey.
  • Flexible service options. QuickBooks Payroll provides the flexibility to sign up exclusively for payroll services. This modular approach allows businesses to tailor their usage based on their specific needs, optimizing cost-efficiency.
  • Unlimited payroll runs. QuickBooks Payroll offers the advantage of unlimited payroll runs. This flexibility allows businesses to process payroll as frequently as needed without incurring additional charges, contributing to operational efficiency.
  • Automated calculation, filing, and payment of federal and state taxes. The platform's automated tax features simplify the complex process of calculating, filing, and paying both federal and state taxes. This automation not only saves time but also ensures accuracy and compliance with tax regulations.
  • Manage garnishments. The platform includes functionality to manage garnishments effectively. This feature is crucial for businesses dealing with wage garnishments, ensuring compliance with legal requirements while streamlining the payroll process.
  • Robust reporting. QuickBooks Payroll offers a comprehensive set of reporting tools. These robust reporting capabilities empower businesses to access and analyze crucial payroll data, facilitating informed decision-making and strategic planning.


  • Base cost consideration. The base cost may be on the pricier side compared to some competitors. 
  • Time tracking available only for top-tier plans. The availability of time tracking features is limited to the top-tier plans. Businesses opting for lower-tier plans may miss out on this functionality, which could be a drawback for those seeking integrated time management within the payroll system.

QuickBooks Payroll is a top-tier solution for businesses seeking a seamless integration of payroll and bookkeeping. Its robust features, extensive coverage, and integration capabilities with QuickBooks Online position it as a strategic choice for those already immersed in the Intuit ecosystem. While the cost may be a consideration, the comprehensive set of features and the initial discount promotion make QuickBooks Payroll a compelling option for businesses aiming for efficiency and accuracy in payroll management. 

10. Paychex

Paychex Flex interface.
Paychex Flex interface. Source. Paychex.com 

Paychex Flex, designed by Paychex, serves as an enterprise-level payroll and HR solution for businesses of all sizes. Tailored for smaller enterprises with around 20 employees or less, Paychex Flex offers streamlined payroll processing and tax filing, presenting an alternative to Paychex's more intricate platform for larger businesses.


  • Easy employee payroll. Paychex Flex excels in providing a user-friendly platform for seamless employee payroll management. The straightforward interface makes payroll processing accessible for small business owners.
  • Garnishment payment service included. Some plans come with a garnishment payment service, streamlining the process of handling wage garnishments. This feature ensures compliance with legal requirements without incurring additional costs.
  • Customizable plans. Paychex Flex offers customizable plans, allowing businesses to tailor their payroll solutions according to their specific needs. This flexibility is beneficial for businesses with unique payroll requirements.
  • Tax filing included. The platform automates the calculation, filing, and payment of payroll taxes, reducing the burden on businesses. This feature ensures accuracy and compliance with federal and state tax regulations.
  • Voice assistant and accounting software integrations. Paychex Flex stands out by integrating voice assistant capabilities, enabling hands-free payroll reviews, approvals, submissions, and updates. Additionally, seamless integration with accounting software enhances the overall efficiency of financial processes.


  • Extra fee for W-2 and 1099 filing. Paychex Flex imposes an additional fee for W-2 and 1099 filing, which may be a consideration for businesses looking to manage costs. This extra charge can impact the overall affordability of the platform.
  • Additional platform needed for time tracking. The absence of built-in time tracking in some plans necessitates an additional platform for businesses seeking comprehensive time management solutions. This limitation might be a drawback for those requiring integrated time tracking features.
  • Customer support could use improvement. Some users have reported that customer support could be more responsive and efficient. Improvements in this area could enhance the overall user experience and satisfaction.

Paychex Flex offers a simple yet effective solution for employee payroll processing. With its customizable plans, garnishment payment service, and integrations with voice assistants, the platform stands out. However, businesses should be aware of extra fees for certain filings and the need for an additional platform for time tracking. 

Paving Prosperous Paths: The Financial Future for Small Businesses

Success is not just about numbers but also about adapting and leveraging cutting-edge solutions. Small businesses using advanced payroll services manage finances, positioning themselves as pioneers. These businesses secure their present and fortify foundations for a prosperous future. Adopting top-tier payroll services is a strategic move and a commitment to efficiency, accuracy, and employee well-being. 

In our exploration of top-tier payroll services for small businesses, we have explored more than financial management tools – these are catalysts for prosperity. Beyond mere number-crunching, they streamline tax processes, ensure efficient payments, and enhance employee satisfaction. The dynamic business world calls for agility, and embracing innovative payroll solutions is the key. Therefore, leading your business into a prosperous tomorrow requires integrating these payroll solutions for sustained growth and success.

Vannie Evans
F4P Contributor

My mission is to craft captivating narratives, unravel future trends, and spark curiosity in each blog. I try to make each text an enthralling journey, anticipating the next spellbinding tale — a commitment to content that intrigues and resonates, leaving an indelible mark.

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