The Best Payroll Solutions for SMBs

The Best Payroll Solutions for SMBs

The Best Payroll Solutions for SMBs

It doesn’t matter if you are the owner of a small or midsized business or work in the HR department, you realize the importance of choosing a payroll solution that will make life easier on you and your employees.

As your business grows, so does the need for a high quality, reliable and detail oriented payroll provider. One mistake regarding this part of your business could lead to big trouble down the road. From paying employees the wrong amount to tax related errors, you don’t want to have a mix-up when it comes to your payroll.

With all this in mind, it is time to select the best payroll solution for your particular business. Below, you will find providers that are trusted by companies of all sizes, spanning a variety of industries.


Since its official launch in December 2012, ZenPayroll has quickly moved to the forefront of the industry. With its cloud-based payroll solution, free trial period, no long term contract, and availability in all 50 states, there is a lot to like.

It is difficult to pinpoint the biggest benefit of ZenPayroll, but many agree that the easy-to-use backend is the primary advantage when compared to the competition.


  • Top of the line customer service
  • Affordable pricing structure (more on this below)
  • Ease of use for paying both employees and contractors
  • Autopilot setting that allows for a hands off approach to payroll


  • Tax services are not guaranteed
  • Manual upload of information often required, instead of file upload availability


While some payroll companies have a difficult payment structure that changes regularly, ZenPayroll has taken a different approach. Here is all you need to know:

The price is $25/month along with $4/month per employee.

For example, a one person company would pay $29/month. With this structure, it is simple to calculate your monthly payroll cost.

Note: as touched on above, ZenPayroll has a free trial period and no long term contract requirement.


As the first online payroll company to pay and file payroll taxes on behalf of customers, SurePayroll is an industry pioneer. This experience, combined with a powerful system, has helped the company become one of the top providers in the industry.

Despite the fact that SurePayroll was acquired by Paychex in 2011, it remains dedicated to serving small and midsized businesses.


  • Known for its ability to handle all aspects of payroll for employees
  • Low cost for bigger companies
  • Easy to use system
  • Provides a variety of tax services, such as filing a quarterly 1040-ES on your behalf


  • Customer service lags behind some of the competition, such as ZenPayroll
  • One size fits all setup, meaning you have to use the company for “all” or “nothing”


SurePayroll may not be as cheap as some competitors, but it is far from overpriced. The base price is $69.99/month with an additional $2/month charge per employee.


Every year, OnPay processes more than $400 million in payroll. The company may not be as big as its primary competitors, such as ZenPayroll and SurePayroll, but it continues to provide reliable service at an affordable price.

While it may not be fair to call OnPay “barebones,” it doesn’t share the same level of features and detail as the competition. Even so, its benefits run deep.


  • Unlimited pay runs
  • Instant on-site check printing
  • Tax services to go along with payroll
  • Pricing structure that rivals top competitors


  • No extra services, such as those that allow the company to combine payroll with retirement plans and health care benefits.


ZenPayroll gets a lot of attention for its affordable, simplified pricing structure, but don’t overlook what OnPay brings to the table.

Monthly base fee of $39.95 for the first 10 employees. Each additional employee costs $1/month.

Along with the above, OnPay offers one free month of service to give new customers an opportunity to become familiar with the system.

Intuit Payroll

Did you know that more than one million companies rely on Intuit as its payroll provider? As your business grows, Intuit has the ability to scale to meet its every need.

As a publicly traded company that has been in business since 1983, Intuit has established itself as an industry leader. Along with its payroll service, Intuit is well known for its financial products, such as QuickBooks.


  • Backing of one of the top names in the finance industry
  • Do it yourself or “hands off” plans
  • QuickBooks integration
  • Fast, professional, and free support via phone, email, and live chat


  • Lack of support for additional services, such as health care benefits and employee retirement plans
  • More expensive than other providers if you don’t want to do it yourself or require additional services
  • Limited extras


The price of Intuit Payroll depends on the plan you select. Here is what you need to know.

Do it Yourself

Enhanced: $31.20/month plus $2/employee per month or Enhanced with HR Essentials: $51.20/month plus $2/employee per month.

Payroll Done for You

Full Service: $79/month plus $2/employee per month or Full Service with HR Essentials: $99.20/month plus $2/employee per month.

The do it yourself plans are for companies that want to be hands on with their payroll. Conversely, full service plans are for those who want to hand everything over to their provider.

Final Word

Are there other payroll solutions for small and midsized businesses? Most definitely. However, these four continue to outperform the rest of the industry.

If you are selecting a payroll provider for the first time or looking to make a change, compare the pros, cons, features, and pricing structure of the four companies detailed above. There is a good chance one of these providers will offer a solution that suits all (or most) your payroll requirements.

Meredith is the Editor-in-Chief at Fundera, an online marketplace for small business loans that matches business owners with the best funding providers for their business. Prior to Fundera, Meredith was the CCO at Funding Gates. She is a resident Finance Advisor on American Express OPEN Forum and an avid business writer. Her advice consistently appears on such sites as Yahoo!, Fox Business, Amex OPEN, AllBusiness, and many more. 

This article was originally written on August 21, 2015 and updated on April 4, 2019.

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