7 Best Payroll Tools for Small Business

Staying on top of payroll and HR can be a time-consuming task for the small business owner, especially with all the other responsibilities involved in running a business. It takes great attention to detail and knowledge of compliance procedures to avoid any costly mistakes.

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When you’re already so busy, you might not want to take that risk. Luckily, there are plenty of tools out there for small businesses to hand over payroll management to the professionals.

Here are some of our top picks for payroll solutions, along with quotes from real small business owners like you, so you can make a more informed decision.

QuickBooks Payroll by Intuit

You’ve probably heard of Intuit when it comes to accounting software, but did you know they can also help cover payroll? There are three small business payroll plans you can choose from, which range from basic features to more advanced options along with software bundles.

If you already use QuickBooks Desktop, you can easily integrate the payroll plan. Not sure if Intuit QuickBooks Payroll is the best solution for you? Start out with the 30-day free trial to give it a test run.


Gusto provides a payroll, HR, and benefits system in an easy-to-use package. With this solution, your day-to-day tasks can be automated so you won’t have to worry about making errors or doing repetitive work. The platform is also geared toward the small business owner—if you’re not familiar with a certain topic, they provide resources to help you along the way.

Here’s what one user shared in their 5-star review:

“As a small business owner, I just hired my first couple employees last year. I was completely new to the whole thing, and was a bit intimidated by all the requirements of doing payroll. After looking into a few payroll software options, I went with Gusto and am glad I did. It walked me through everything, in a very user-friendly way. It has helpful articles about the various requirements of payroll taxes, steps for hiring employees, forms to fill out, etc. The setup took a bit of time, but was a pretty reasonable process.”

Source: Capterra, 11/14/2018


With over 30,000 small and medium businesses on their platform, Paycor combines recruiting, HR, and payroll in one software solution. Whether you use the mobile app or the desktop version, you can make direct deposits, manage employee information, and receive notifications throughout the process.

This reviewer says:

“I have greatly enjoyed the features that Paycor Perform has to offer. Using this system, I have been able to save hours of work every week in my processing of payroll and maintenance of employee records. The system is easy to understand and navigate. Our payroll specialist has always been there to help answer questions and guide us through new processes. I also love all the reporting options that are available. I can customize and share reports with others in my department.”

Source: Capterra, 11/2/2016


Patriot Payroll

Patriot Payroll is specifically designed for small businesses with under 100 employees. It’s totally online, one of the most affordable options on the market, and is designed to simplify the processes that go into employee payroll. Setup and customer support is free, and Patriot Software offers a 30-day trial free of charge as well.

Check out this 5-star review:

“Patriot Software is affordable, easy to use software. Support staff is friendly and easy to reach. If your small business is looking for accounting software that is headache free and easy on your budget, I highly recommend Patriot.”

Source: Capterra, 1/13/2017

RUN Powered by ADP

Automatic Data Processing is a leader when it comes to payroll, with upwards of 600,000 businesses using their services. Even though they offer solutions to companies of all sizes, RUN Powered by ADP is specifically designed for small business owners who are looking to save time on the administrative tasks involved in HR and payroll.

Even with a steeper price, ADP might have the features you’re looking for. Get started with a free 2-month trial before you take the plunge.

Here’s what a small business owner has to say:

“RUN works well and is a simple solution for a small business looking to run payroll with great support. Automation is essential in a small business, especially when wearing many hats. RUN powers payroll without causing headaches and also allows me to focus on my business.”

Source: Capterra, 8/30/2016

Paychex Flex

Paychex Flex is a cloud-based payroll system built for small to midsize businesses. It covers not only the basics, but also elements like 401(k)s, business insurance, and tax filings. They also pride themselves on their 24/7 customer service.

Here’s why this small business owner rated Paychex Flex 5 stars:

“Paychex has been top-notch for over five years, when I switched to them from another payroll company. I operate a small seasonal business with about 10 employees, and from the beginning I have received all the support that I need for my payroll and tax responsibilities, and at a more reasonable rate than I was paying before.”

Source: Capterra, 6/7/2017

Square Payroll

The company behind the well-known Square point of sale also has a payroll software solution for small business owners. Square Payroll offers an easy, intuitive way for employees to clock in and out, even from their smartphones through the mobile app, and you don’t have to worry about taxes.

Compared to other options, Square Payroll comes at a reasonable price—especially since it gives you access to health insurance, 401(k) and other benefit providers.

This small business owner shares a 5-star sentiment:

“More time to work other aspects of my small business. No more spending hours on payroll!”

Source: Capterra, 4/12/2018

For more small business recommendations and insights, visit the SmartBiz Small Business Resource Center! Search for “Employee Management” to see helpful articles that can help you take your business to the next level.