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The 8 Best Payroll Software For Small Businesses

Take a look at the best payroll software companies on the market based on price, functionality, and usability.

    Davina Ward
  • Updated on:
Advertiser Disclosure: Our unbiased reviews and content are supported in part by affiliate partnerships, and we adhere to strict guidelines to preserve editorial integrity.

When it comes to finding the best payroll software for your small business, you have a whole lot of modern and intuitive options to choose from. Here at Merchant Maverick, we understand what small business owners need in a payroll solution — and we know which features they should pay the closest attention to in order to make a smart decision. Whether you’re looking for lots of customizable options or just reliable and affordable tax support, comparing all of the options available to you can become overwhelming. The payroll software business is booming right now as more and more companies look to automate and streamline stressful aspects of their businesses.

Merchant Maverick has spent countless hours learning the ins and outs of small business payroll software.  So, grab yourself a coffee and save yourself some hours — and potential nightmares — by delving into our top choices for the best payroll software for small businesses. The solution you need is out there, and we’ll make sure you find the one that best suits your business’s needs.

Learn More About Our Top Picks

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Best small business payroll software overall.
Best small business payroll software overall.

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Best payroll software for beginners.
Best payroll software for beginners.

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Best for ease of use.
Best for ease of use.

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Best for customizability.
Best for customizability.

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Best payroll software for QuickBooks users.
Best payroll software for QuickBooks users.

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Other Featured Options:

  • Paycor: Best HR payroll software.
  • SurePayroll: Best payroll software for small businesses with few employees.
  • OnPay: Best mobile payroll software.

Read more below to learn why we chose these options.

The Best Payroll Software For Businesses

Here are the best payroll software options based on price, features, and ease of use. Gusto is the best overall small business software, with ADP as runner-up, while Square is the easiest to use. But there are even more great choices on the list.

Let’s take a look at the best payroll software choices for small businesses to see how they compare toe-to-toe with each other, so you find the best fit for your business.

Gusto: Best Small Business Payroll Software Overall


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Best for small businesses looking for a comprehensive payroll and HR software solution.


  • Easy to use
  • Modern interface
  • Great tax support


  • Limited reporting
  • Few integrations

Gusto is the best payroll system choice overall for small businesses that need easy-to-use software with reliable customer support. Gusto is ideal for small businesses with fewer than 100 employees that need to completely automate their payroll processing system.

At Merchant Maverick, we use Gusto to manage our own payroll, so we can attest to its ease of use from both the administrative and employee sides. This cloud-based payroll system has an easy-to-navigate interface and intuitive onboarding and benefits set-up, and it fully automates payroll, streamlining that tedious task through everything from onboarding to termination. Unlike so many other payroll providers, Gusto provides transparent pricing, but the price does run a smidge higher than other comparable systems. What you pay for, however, is a robust program with a track record of friendly and helpful customer service, full tax support, and includes solid HR features.

Customers rave about Gusto — especially people in the payroll and bookkeeping worlds — and they find the program is updating and expanding according to client needs. Reporting options and integrations continue to grow and evolve.

gusto: best small business payroll software

Gusto Pricing

Gusto offers three different pricing plans and a free 30-day trial. A short-lived Basic plan, starting at $19 a month, was discontinued by the company after a beta rollout. The Core, Complete, and Concierge plans run from $39 a month + $6 per employee (Core) t0 $149 a month + $12 per employee (Concierge). The Concierge package offers HR compliance assistance and an HR resource center, as well as the addition of a dedicated customer service representative. Gusto also offers a plan for businesses that hire only independent contractors. The software’s ‘Contractor Only’ plan costs $6/month/contractor.

Read our full Gusto pricing post for more details.

Gusto Features

Gusto offers strong benefits administration features and assists with adding worker’s compensation and HSA plans to your payroll. Bear in mind that this is a basic program designed to help small business owners who may not have an accountant or bookkeeper, and people with ample experience might find the program lacking in its customizability and reporting features. If ease and functionality are what you need, though, Gusto can’t be beaten.

At the top level (Concierge), Gusto offers the following features:

  • Unlimited payroll runs
  • Automatic tax filing
  • Direct deposit
  • Garnishment
  • Paid time off policies & time-off requests
  • Reporting
  • Customizable admin permissions
  • Employee offers & onboarding
  • Holiday pay
  • Time tracking
  • Employee directory & surveys
  • Custom employee handbook
  • HR & compliance support
  • HR resource center
  • Dedicated customer support team

When To Use Gusto

Gusto is perfect for small to medium-sized businesses that may not have a full accounting department and are looking for an easy, functional, customer-oriented program to run payroll. It is not a bargain-basement option, inexpensive with limited features, nor is it an intricate option with numerous integrations and bells and whistles. Gusto is just right., focusing on small businesses and catering to their needs with ample support. This is our best overall option for small businesses and we recommend it widely.

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ADP: Best Payroll Software For Beginners

ADP Payroll

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Best for small businesses that are new to payroll software.


  • Easy to use
  • Can grow with a company


  • Added fees
  • Small fish in a big pond

ADP is the best payroll software for small businesses with no payroll or accounting experience that need to automate both processes. ADP is also a great choice for larger businesses with more than 50 employees that need a few extra bells and whistles to facilitate payroll automation.

It is estimated that one in six employees in the United States receive a paycheck from ADP. The iconic and prolific payroll provider is a big player in the payroll industry, and it certainly deserves its spot. ADP is known for its easy-to-use interface and guided assistance through the program. The reporting dashboard and options for integrations are impressive.

ADP has been around long enough to know a thing or two about payroll and that is reflected in the ample customer service it offers and its attentiveness to complaints and concerns. Run ADP is the option for small businesses with 1-50 employees, but there are other options if a company grows and needs additional assistance.

adp: best payroll software for beginners

ADP Pricing

ADP generally offers customers three free months and reduced-rate contracts to sign a yearly contract. Each contract is different, but most contracts require a 12-month commitment and are paid upfront. There is no termination fee, but there are no refunds for canceled contracts. On average, you will most likely pay $160 with 10-15 employees. We were quoted $179.86 monthly for 11 employees for payroll and HR Plus; that is a $10 per employee fee in addition to payroll fees. (ADP charges a fee each time you run payroll.) There is also a $25 set-up fee that is usually waived with a contract. All quotes are customized per your business location, number of employees, frequency of running payroll, etc.

For the full scoop on ADP’s pricing, read our deep-dive into ADP’s costs and fees.

ADP Features

ADP is easy to use and well-organized. The interface is surprisingly intuitive, and the setup process comes with guided support. When it’s time to enter employees and set up your payroll schedule, ADP wants to make sure you feel supported: An ADP representative will walk all users through a tutorial and provide links for access to your payroll.

Run ADP offers the following features:

  • Payroll processing
  • Direct deposit
  • Tax filing
  • Garnishment payment
  • Electronic reporting
  • Time-tracking
  • Many integrations

When To Use ADP

ADP is a great program for small businesses with a handful of employees that do not have an HR or accounting team. The program is easy to use, intuitive, and solid (and since ADP has been in the payroll business for a long time, you know they have decades of experience and information to help businesses work through difficulties). For a business with only one or two employees, ADP is simply too expensive for basic payroll, but is a solid option otherwise.

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Square Payroll: Easiest Payroll Software To Use

Square Payroll

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Best for small businesses looking for a simple payroll software solution.


  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to use
  • Basic


  • Rudimentary features
  • Limited payroll functions

Square Payroll is the best payroll software for small businesses that already use Square products, as well as businesses looking for a bargain and that employ numerous contractors. Square doesn’t include a lot of bells and whistles, but it gets the job done well for small businesses that need to be compliant and always on top of their payroll reporting.

Square has a niche: simple and easy. Square’s payment processing app offers a straightforward system without a stream of bells and whistles. And that is exactly what is delivered with Square payroll as well. This intuitive and easy to use payroll program integrates well with the rest of Square’s products. Competitive pricing and a simple interface are big plusses for Square. Its lone complaints come from bigger companies looking for a more curated interface and people who say it sometimes takes a long time to get connected with a payroll expert. However, if it is simple and basic you want, Square can provide, and at a reasonable rate.

Square Pricing

With Square, there are no hidden fees or sneaky terms and conditions. There are two different plans depending on your type of employee and payroll needs. If your business is only paying contractors, you will pay a $5/month fee per contractor on your payroll. If you pay both contractors and salaried/hourly employees, you pay a $29 subscription and $5/employee/month. There are no contracts with Square, so you can cancel your plan at any time.

For more details, read our full Square Payroll pricing post.

Square Payroll Features

When you join Square Payroll, you have access to all the basic payroll features. Square’s features are easy to access and understand, even if you have never run payroll before, and the interface is designed to walk you through each step of the process.

Square offers the following features:

  • Unlimited payroll processing
  • Tax services
  • Employee self-service portal with mobile app
  • HR support
  • Time tracking
  • Benefits administration
  • Integrations (including QuickBooks, TSheets, and ZipRecruiter)

When To Use Square

Square is best for small businesses that might already be using Square products or businesses looking for simple and inexpensive payroll options. The pricing is competitive among payroll systems for similar employee numbers, and the setup is simple and intuitive for companies that may not have an HR department. However, larger companies that need customization around payments and pay scales may find Square too limited for their specific needs. The best bet? If you are already using Square POS, integrating Square’s payroll system is simple and quick, and a logical choice for streamlining your sales, payroll, and time cards.

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Paylocity: Most Customizable Payroll Software


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Best for businesses with unique payroll requirements.


  • Customizable
  • Copious features
  • Modern interface


  • Expensive
  • Steep learning curve
  • Not for the tech-shy

Paylocity is the best payroll system for mid-sized businesses that need software they can tailor and customize to suit their business needs. The software boasts a large feature set that works well for businesses that need both payroll as well as HR capabilities.

Paylocity is a web-based payroll program designed for businesses of all sizes. The company only recently included small businesses in its payroll software, but it stands out as a leader in bridging the gap between more streamlined payroll and HRM solutions.

Customizability is where Paylocity has a competitive edge. Its program boasts many integrations for HR, benefits, time tracking, performance reviews, and applications fully tailored to your company’s needs and wishes. Paylocity wants to create a bespoke program specifically with your needs in mind. With a drag and drop interface and a specialized account person a phone call away to help make changes, there is a lot to like about this program. However, some users find the app counter-intuitive and prone to errors, which does not make this a good option for Luddites or payroll newbies.

paylocity: most customizable payroll software

Paylocity Pricing

Paylocity offers three different payroll tiers (Effortless Payroll, Efficient Tech, and Modern Workplace.) The price varies by feature access, not by the number of employees. There are no contracts, and you can cancel your plan at any time. We were quoted between $125 to $200/month plus $6-8/month/employee depending on the plan. For small businesses, Paylocity is a bit more expensive than its competitors. However, at the Modern Workplace level, Paylocity is a full human capital management system and payroll system, incorporating the entire employee life cycle.

Paylocity Features

Paylocity’s features are varied and easily customizable based on your business needs. At the most basic payroll level, Paylocity offers all the best features of a cloud-based payroll system. However, for companies looking to expand beyond payroll, the system accommodates growth and other aspects of HR.

Here is a full list of features available:

  • Unlimited payroll processing
  • Tax services
  • Web Time (cloud-based time tracking)
  • Employee self-service portal with mobile app
  • Benefits essentials
  • New hire reporting
  • Custom-built PTO tracking and management

When To Use Paylocity

Paylocity is not a simple program: it was designed to appeal to HR directors and accountants, not necessarily the small business owner running payroll for a few people on a monthly basis. If you need simple and basic, this isn’t for you. Instead, this program is going to appeal to growing businesses that want a more streamlined HR and payroll system, and that know enough about payroll and HR to communicate their desires to the Paylocity team. It’s not for payroll newbies but is a solid find for a small business with more advanced requirements.

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QuickBooks Online Payroll: Best Payroll Software For QuickBooks Users

Intuit Online Payroll

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Best for businesses that already use QuickBooks.


  • Easy to use
  • Perfect for QuickBooks users
  • Priced well


  • Mediocre customer service
  • Confusing to navigate QuickBook’s myriad formats

Intuit is the best payroll system for businesses that already use QuickBooks products and want to easily integrate with a payroll solution. Intuit has a reputation for regularly adapting and reworking its payroll features, which may appeal to businesses that anticipate rapidly scaling their growth and operations in the near future.

QuickBooks is an old standby and its products are hard to ignore; for businesses that already use QuickBooks software, upgrading to Intuit QuickBooks Online payroll should be a breeze, and users will find that the program is trustworthy, easy to navigate, and affordable.

quickbooks online payroll: best payroll software for quickbooks users

QuickBooks Online Pricing

Intuit QuickBooks has month-to-month contracts and no early termination fees. Payments are monthly, and you can cancel your subscription at any time. QuickBooks also runs promotions for its payroll product frequently, so be sure to check for any available discounts before purchasing.

QuickBooks has a tiered pricing system with three different options. The most basic package (Core) costs $45/month +$4/per employee; the second tiered option is the Premium Payroll which costs $75/month +$8/per employee; the Elite option costs $125/month +$10/per employee. As the prices scale, the features improve and become curated for your business. At the upper tiers, Intuit offers white-glove treatment for onboarding and sends you a dedicated HR representative to work with your company.

QuickBooks Online Payroll Features

If you’re already accustomed to QuickBooks Online, Intuit Online Payroll will seem familiar and easy to get used to. The software is well organized, and the UI is intuitive. People who like QuickBooks and already use aspects of the software are more likely to have a positive experience transitioning to the Intuit Online Payroll system.

One great bonus about Intuit is that it integrates well with TurboTax. Employees can import their W2s straight into TurboTax by using their employee identification number.

Intuit QuickBooks Online offers the following features at its Core level:

  • Next day direct deposit
  • Unlimited payroll runs
  • Calculates paychecks
  • Calculates and files federal and state taxes and year-end forms
  • Workforce portal
  • Manages garnishments and deductions
  • Offers reporting features

When To Use QuickBooks Online Payroll

If your small business already uses and likes QuickBooks, you will find a lot to love about the addition of Intuit payroll. With the new overhaul of payroll and pricing, Intuit has demonstrated a desire to evolve and grow as payroll competition becomes fiercer. The biggest complaint about QuickBooks in the past was customer service and confusion about prices, but they have adjusted their pricing and seem to be keeping their finger on the pulse of complaints. We are always impressed when a company responds swiftly to feedback.

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Paycor: Best HR Software


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Best for small businesses looking for strong HR features.


  • Easy setup
  • User-friendly
  • Strong payroll features


  • Extra fees
  • Too many essentials are sold a la carte

Paycor is the best payroll system for small businesses that need a full Human Capital Management system with payroll processing features. Paycor boasts an intuitive and modern-looking user interface that may appeal to smaller businesses that need some extra hand-holding.

Paycor’s Human Capital Management (HCM) program, including its cloud-based full-service payroll system and the rest of the HR/benefit management suite, is sleek, usable, and has an intuitive interface. This makes it an easy software to learn and understand; combined with the company’s commitment to resolving issues and rolling out new features and customized options, Paycor shows dedication to improvement and innovation. If you need payroll and HCM support, Paycor should be the first place you look.

paycor: best hr payroll software

Paycor Pricing

Paycor has adopted a tiered pricing system with quite a few features that cost extra fees per month. If your company does not need the extras (perhaps no need for extensive recruitment and scheduling software), the payroll systems are priced well and appear to offer a competitive option for buyers looking for an economical solution.

The one thing to note is that some of the more popular essentials of an HR management suite are still add-ons with additional monthly fees. For example, if you want to add time-tracking or a benefits management package, you’ll be paying more per month.

Prices for Basic Payroll start at $99 + $5 per employee per month; Complete Payroll is offered for $149 + $6/employee/month, and Essential Payroll is $199 + $7/employee/month. Paycor’s HCM pricing tier starts at $199 + $12/employee/month, and adds more advanced features such as automated workflows, document management, performance reviews, and more.

Paycor Features

The payroll system for Paycor is rated highly for usability and features. Loaded with reports and customizations, Paycor’s system is easy to navigate. There are helpful resources within the program — and available online — to walk your business through any issues. The best part of Paycor is that payroll, scheduling, recruitment, HR, and training can all be in one location. There is no flipping back and forth between programs.

Paycor offers the following features in its Basic Payroll package:

  • Same-day direct deposit
  • Free W2s filed and sent
  • Assisted payroll setup
  • Standard report building and customizable reports
  • Garnishment/child support self-service
  • HR support center
  • Up to 10 employees

When To Use Paycor

If you want a payroll system and an HR platform, Paycor is a fantastic choice. Paycor is perfect for small to medium-sized businesses looking for enterprise-level HR assistance. The software was designed to streamline services, so it is best suited for an owner-operator or business owner with a small HR department. Large companies that need a significant amount of customization may find Paycor too limited for their specific needs.

Paycor is a great option for a company that wants to expand to a full HCM suite, and it is basic, easy to learn, and inexpensive.

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SurePayroll: Best Payroll Software For Small Businesses With Few Employees


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Best for small businesses that need a straightforward payroll solution with tax support.


  • Easy to use
  • Modern interface
  • Inexpensive


  • Website is slow
  • Ample extra fees
  • Limited integrations

SurePayroll is the best payroll system for overlooked industries and very small businesses. SurePayroll works best for small businesses that need easy-to-use software with basic payroll processing features.

SurePayroll is leading the way for bare-bones cloud-based software that caters to small businesses. SurePayroll is best for industries like household employment, nannies, clergy, or non-profits — and it’s a great fit for very small businesses with fewer than five employees. If you are looking for an inexpensive, simple, straightforward payroll program, SurePayroll deserves to be in top contention. It’s simple to use and was designed for small businesses both in terms of price and functionality.

Also, SurePayroll continues to listen to client feedback and has worked on its features in recent months. For small businesses that need a basic payroll system and don’t need to add a lot of extra integrations, SurePayroll is a competitive option in this price range.

SurePayroll: best payroll software for small businesses with few employees

SurePayroll Pricing

SurePayroll doesn’t publish its prices online. However, our business was quoted $29/month, plus $4/employee. One frustration with SurePayroll is the extra fees. Integrations like time-tracking can cost an additional monthly fee, and the monthly cost does not include the cost for year-end filing and W2 reports. You can get one month free, however, to try SurePayroll. Overall, SurePayroll is an affordable option.

SurePayroll Features

SurePayroll’s features were designed with small businesses in mind. This means that a small business should find every feature and customization they need, but not too many extras. That said, SurePayroll’s employee app and attention to 24-hour support are unmatched at this price point, and also can be specifically customized to meet the needs of those overlooked industries.

SurePayroll offers the following features:

  • Unlimited payroll processing
  • Tax services
  • Direct deposit
  • Employee self-service portal with mobile app
  • Garnishments
  • New hire reporting
  • HR support

When To Use SurePayroll

SurePayroll is the perfect payroll software to use if your company is small or if you are looking for a payroll system that specifically manages nanny/household employees. The software’s features and customizable options are few; however, most small business owners who are running payroll by themselves without an accountant may feel bogged down by options they’ll never use in a more robust app, and SurePayroll doesn’t lack any essential features or reports. Full tax support at its current price puts SurePayroll among the least expensive options available, and it truly is simple and easy with excellent customer support.

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OnPay: Best Mobile Payroll Software


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Best for small businesses within the field service industry.


  • Customizable HR & payroll tools
  • Strong mobile experience
  • Responsive customer service


  • Poor scalability for larger businesses
  • Extra fees to process year-end tax documents

OnPay is the best payroll software for small businesses that want a simple system to onboard new employees and that need to automate both their payroll and HR processes. OnPay boasts fast, unlimited payroll processing as well as flexible frequency to accommodate different reporting needs, and even offers a robust mobile experience to assist small businesses with their HR and payroll.

OnPay is a cloud-based payroll software solution that provides an impressive range of flexibility and functionality. The software offers users fast payroll processing that’s made even better with custom fields and forms, as well as a sleek, easy-to-use mobile app experience.

OnPay has a positive reputation for responsive customer service that’s available through an easily navigable dashboard, and it even integrates with QuickBooks for small businesses that are already using Intuit QuickBooks products. This is one of the best payroll software solutions for small businesses that want to combine a wide range of customizable payroll features with HR resources and tools to streamline processes.

OnPay Payroll Dashboard

OnPay Pricing

OnPay’s pricing includes just a single plan that starts at a flat rate of $36 a month, with a monthly per-employee fee of $4. OnPay doesn’t offer a free trial or free version of its software, so you can use all of its features and functions without worrying that you’re missing out because you didn’t upgrade to a higher service tier. And, since OnPay doesn’t require that its users sign any contracts for terms of use, you only need to pay to keep using the software on a monthly basis without risking getting hit with penalty fees.

OnPay Features

OnPay’s features are very customizable and appropriately varied for small businesses that need help with payroll. There is only one service plan available with OnPay, so you can enjoy all of the biggest features the software has to offer including unlimited payroll runs with quick processing speeds, employee self-service options to review paychecks and tax forms, and onboarding and employee time management options for administrative users.

OnPay offers the following features with its single service plan:

  • Unlimited payroll runs
  • Self-service portal
  • Tax services
  • New-hire reporting
  • Online HR library and resources
  • Responsive mobile site experience
  • Integrations with popular services (TSheets, QuickBooks Online, Xero, etc.)

When To Use OnPay

OnPay works best for very small businesses that are rapidly growing and need to flesh out both their payroll and HR processes. Its highly intuitive online platform complements its expansive set of HR tools, tracking capabilities, and customer service that work well on mobile as well as on a desktop PC. Certain businesses may find a single service plan limiting; however, the pricing is relatively inexpensive compared to certain higher-tier plans offered by solutions such as Paylocity and Intuit QuickBooks.

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What To Look For In Good Payroll Software

Processing your own payroll can be cumbersome, to say the least. If you lack payroll expertise, you’re more likely to run into common beginner mistakes such as misreported tax withholding data or even missed filing deadlines. So, rather than trying to be your own payroll superhero, consider outsourcing your payroll processing tasks instead.

To do that, you’ll need to ask yourself exactly what your company needs from a payroll software solution.

  • Are you looking for a program that’s easy to use? Maybe something with the whole kitchen sink of customizable features?
  • Are you hoping for reliable, one-on-one customer service, or are you past the point of needing your hand held?
  • How much are you willing to pay for your software?
  • Do you want to offer benefits, and do you already have a broker to help you offer them?

For better or worse, these are all questions to which you need definitive answers before making a final decision on payroll software for your business. That’s because the payroll software solution you choose must meet your business’s unique needs. Fortunately, each payroll software has the same end goal in mind: to create a reliable and efficient payroll system for your business.

As you sit down to research, there are some key features that can guide your choices. Here are the things to look for in good payroll software:

  • Full tax support
  • Excellent customer service
  • Mobile apps
  • Benefits administration options
  • Ease of use for administrators & employees
  •  HR/attendance add-ons
  • Affordability
  • Integrations
  • Security

The bottom line? Taking the time to determine your business’s payroll needs before you contact a payroll sales rep can help you find a solution that’s right for your business. Sales reps want to sell you a product, and if you don’t know what your company needs, you might be easily swayed by features that you don’t need or can’t afford. Take your time, do your due diligence, and hopefully, you’ll end up with a solid payroll software solution.

Choosing The Best Payroll Software For Your Business

So, when it comes down to the decision-making moment, how do you choose between the payroll options? It depends! Payroll providers and small businesses certainly have one thing in common; they’re unique. The payroll software that wins your heart will be the one that meets and fulfills your needs. That sounds romantic, but remember: You’re hiring a payroll company to perform a service for you–so, ask yourself these questions:

  1. How much tax support do I need?
  2. What reports do I require to run my business?
  3. Will I need hand-holding through onboarding or can I manage it myself?
  4. Do I need payroll or am I looking for a full human capital management program?
  5. Is a modern interface important to me?
  6. Does the payroll provider have a functional app?
  7. What do the reviews say about the company? What are patterns and unresolved issues?
  8. How easy is it to schedule a demo?
  9. Does the price include filling W-2s?
  10. Are there tax experts in case of a tax emergency?
  11. Can I customize the software to suit my business’s needs?

With answers to those questions under your belt, you should have a firm grasp on what type of payroll system your company needs. Thanks to the varied options available, it should be easy to find something that is a perfect fit.

Still can’t find what you’re looking for? Take a look at our comprehensive payroll software reviews to find the perfect software for your business.

Small Business Payroll Software FAQs

What is the best payroll software for small businesses?

The best payroll software for your small business will come down to your business’s specific payroll needs. That said, Merchant Maverick’s top overall pick for the best payroll software for small businesses is Gusto.

Gusto’s easy-to-use and modern interface, friendly and helpful customer service, full tax support, and solid HR features all combine to create a robust program that continues to grow and evolve. If Gusto’s features sound like a good fit for your business, check out the software’s pricing plans to see which ones match your business’s payroll software budget.

What is the easiest payroll software to use?

Payroll software that is easy to use typically combines aspects such as a navigable user dashboard, payroll outsourcing and automated reporting, reliable customer service, and a responsive mobile web design. Merchant Maverick considers all of the payroll solutions covered in this article, including Gusto, Square Payroll, Paycor, and OnPay, easy-to-use payroll solutions that work well for small businesses.

That said, certain companies with very little or no payroll experience may find Square Payroll among the easiest to use. Square offers relatively rudimentary features compared to other solutions discussed in this article, with an interface that’s about as simple as it gets. Honorable mentions include ADP, Gusto, and Paycor for their simple setup processes and easily navigable dashboard layouts.

What is the best HR software for small businesses?

Merchant Maverick’s top picks for the best HR software solutions for small businesses include:

  • Gusto
  • Zenefits
  • BambooHR
  • Namely
  • Paycor

All of these are great options for small business owners that need to outsource or upgrade their HR department.

That said, not all HR software solutions are created equally. Some emphasize stellar payroll capabilities while others rely on a bevy of customizable features as their bread and butter. The best HR software for your small business comes down to how mature your HR processes are, which will impact the priorities you should look for in HR software.

Can I do my own small business payroll?

Doing payroll all by yourself may seem daunting, but doing it manually isn’t out of the question. DIY payroll can be a cheaper solution, if outsourcing the process seems too expensive or if you prefer to know what’s going on with all of your payroll processes and taxes. If you’re determined to do your own payroll manually, take a look at 11 easy steps to start running your own payroll.

What is the best free payroll software?

Running your own business isn’t cheap. Small businesses, in particular, know how important it is to run payroll in a way that helps them retain their hard-earned money. With free payroll solutions, small businesses can save on monthly subscription fees and allow themselves more room to invest money in other areas of their business. Merchant Maverick’s top overall pick for best free payroll software is Payroll4Free which, even at its most stripped-down level, packs a punch with an impressive range of features that’s available to businesses paying 25 or fewer people.

Is QuickBooks good for payroll?

There are two types of QuickBooks payroll products: QuickBooks Desktop Payroll and Intuit Online Payroll. The former works with QuickBooks Desktop Pro, while the latter integrates directly with QuickBooks Online. QuickBooks Desktop Payroll is an excellent choice for those with the desire to learn the ins and outs of its relatively advanced features. For businesses that want to emphasize mobility and cloud-based solutions, QuickBooks Online is the better option between the two. To learn more about the differences between QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online, take a look at our post: QuickBooks Online VS Desktop Comparison.

Either way, both solutions are reliable and there’s a reason that Intuit QuickBooks has been a leader in the accounting software industry, with more than 1.4 million users using it specifically for payroll.

How do I choose a payroll system?

When it comes to choosing the best payroll software for your small business, consider the software solution that provides the level of tax support and guidance that suits your amount of payroll experience. The right payroll software for your business should be easy to use and fulfill your unique business needs. As a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to look at solutions that balance a modern, intuitive interface with transparent pricing that clearly outlines features under each service plan, if there are multiple pricing tiers. With these things in mind, you should be able to make a confident and informed decision on the payroll system that’s a perfect fit for you and your small business.


In Summary: The Best Payroll Software For Businesses

Davina Ward

Davina Ward

Expert Analyst & Reviewer
A New York native, Davina earned her BA in English from SUNY Geneseo in 2018. After graduating, she began her career as a freelance writing generalist before finding a niche writing about SaaS. Davina unironically enjoys testing and reviewing software on her free time but otherwise can be found oscillating between hobbies every few weeks or so — most recently, longboarding.
Davina Ward
View Davina Ward's professional experience on LinkedIn.
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Responses are not provided or commissioned by the vendor or bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the vendor or bank advertiser. It is not the vendor or bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


    Wow… ADP for beginners? ….maybe you meant for beginners who have a lot of money???!!!
    Square payroll is also extremely limited, and Onpay doesn’t have an app. How much are these companies paying you? Moving on to a more reputable review site….

      This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

      Emily Hale

      Hi, and thanks for giving us this feedback – we hope to help you find the right solution for your business. Our list was primarily built for ease of use and scalability in mind. It is true that you’ll start to lose some of those robust features when you opt for a lower cost. To answer your question, the companies we feature are not paying us for a good review. We do look at some of the more popular brands so that our editorial team can thoroughly look through the features and offer a digestible overview of each. We also do feature lesser known brands, and we are never paid to include any brand in our list. You can read more about our editorial guidelines here: Since budget is one of your concerns, we do have 5 Best Free Payroll Apps For Small Business. We hope to see you again, and best of luck in finding the right service for your needs.

        This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

        Vaden Haynes

        I notice that you do not seem to be including in your review and mention of recording time for job costing. Do any of the free or paid payroll services/software include this feature?

          This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

          Jessica Dinsmore

          Hi Vaden,

          Thank you for asking. Paycore offers the option to add a scheduling platform that runs needed reports on inventory and job costing. Here is a link to our Paycore review I hope that answers your question!

            This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

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