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Payroll Service Providers That Won’t Break the Bank for Your Small Business

4 minute read

Devon Taylor

By Devon Taylor

Growing your small business is exciting! But that excitement comes with certain growing pains. Once you have more than a handful of employees, you’re likely going to want to digitize and automate your payroll. After all, do you want to spend your days doing tedious payroll tasks or focus your efforts on providing the best product or services you can? Luckily, there are numerous online payroll services to make the job easy and seamless. Searching online for HR and payroll software is a great place to start.

There are at least a dozen of these services that remain popular choices. The right one for you depends on a few things:

  • What kind of business do you run?
  • How many employees do you have?
  • How many extra features do you need?

Some are fairly simple, handling payroll deposits and not much else. Others can also handle HR tasks like recording sick days, distributing benefits, booking vacation time, along with dolling out tax documents. Whatever your business needs, an online search for the best payroll service providers is how to start researching. Or keep reading for our take on the most popular options.


Price: $36 per month, plus $4 per employee

OnPay, quite simply, is one of the best and most-popular payroll services available right now. For a relatively small cost, it offers a straightforward and easy to use all-in-one service suite. You’ll have access to payroll for both W-2 and 1099 workers, plus automatic tax payments and filings. There’s also a handy employee self-service portal that your workers can use to download documents and manage PTO.

OnPay also offers benefits management solutions. That means you can administer health insurance or retirement plans without needing another company. The only real downside of OnPay is that there’s no free-trial to test it out. It also doesn’t have built-in accounting tools, but it does integrate well with third-party ones like QuickBooks, Xero, and When I Work.


Price: $39 per month, plus $6 per employee

Gusto was designed specifically for start-ups and small businesses. If you run a medium- to large-sized company, it may not work quite as well. The $6 per employee can add up fast for companies with hundreds of workers.

With that being said, Gusto has plenty of attractive options. Gusto allows payments for both employees and independent contractors. It even has a lower-cost “contractor only” plan, if your company technically doesn’t have its own employees. It can also manage health care, retirement plans, and even an employee wellness portal.

Gusto has a couple very modern features that are somewhat unique, such as an automated donation tool for employees to give to charity and an online wallet that lets workers better control their money. Unfortunately, Gusto only works for companies and workers located entirely in the United States.


Price: $59+ per month, depending on the size and needs of the company

ADP is one of the largest payroll service providers in the industry. It has its own small business offshoot called ADP Run, which is a great service for any burgeoning entrepreneur. It has the added advantage of being able to grow with your business, even if your small outfit suddenly finds itself with hundreds of employees around the country.

ADP includes a solid HR platform alongside its payroll services. That means you can have it handle things like:

  • Employee documents;
  • A company handbook;
  • Training programs, and;
  • Vacation and sick day tracking.

While ADP Run is technically designed for companies with less than 50 employees, you can easily transition to ADP Enterprise if you grow beyond that. The only downside is that ADP charges extra fees for certain things, like contractor payments or benefits administration.

Paychex Flex

Price: $39+ per month, depending on company size and needs

Like ADP Run, Paychex Flex is designed for small businesses with less than 50 employees. On the plus side, it’s cheaper than ADP Run and offers most of the same services.

Flex is an easy-to-use online platform for paying both full employees and contractors. Unfortunately, it lacks a system to administer benefits. There’s also an extra fee for filing payroll tax and filing W-2 and 1099 forms.

The good news is that if you like Paychex Flex and wish it had more features, you can add other Paychex services to meet those needs. So this  payroll service can grow alongside your business.


Price: $49 per month (up to 25 employees)

If your small business caters to a team of remote workers, Justworks might be the best payroll solution for you.

Justworks is technically a professional employee organization. That is an employer of record for your workers. Basically, it handles HR and payroll on your behalf. That makes it slightly different from the other options in this article.

Since Justworks offers a co-employment arrangement, they actually absorb some of the legal liability that you would normally have to shoulder as a sole employer. Most other payroll software or services don’t offer this. As a trade off, you give Justworks a bit more control over things like employee handbooks and workplace policies.

While it might seem a bit expensive at first, keep in mind that you probably don’t need to hire a dedicated HR employee or benefits administration person. So it could actually save you money in the long run.

Justworks is great if you have complex or international hiring practices. On the other hand, you have to be comfortable giving up control of your HR policies.

TarikVision / Shutterstock
Devon Taylor

Managing Editor

Devon is an experienced writer and a father of three young children. He's simultaneously trying to build college funds and plan for an eventual retirement. He's been in online publishing since 2013 and has a degree from the University of Guelph. In his free time, he loves fanatically following the Blue Jays and Toronto FC, camping with his family, and playing video games.


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