Could a Payroll System Perfect Payroll for Your Small Business?

Picture of Gina Blitstein Gina Blitstein combines her insight as a fellow small business owner with her strong communication skills, exploring topics that enhance your business efforts. That first-hand knowledge, matched with an insatiable curiosity to know more about just about anything, makes her a well-rounded writer with a sincere desire to engage and inform.

Could a Payroll System Perfect Payroll for Your Small Business?

Paying your employees is one of the biggest expenses in running a business. It can also be one of the most time-consuming, confusing and incorrectly-performed tasks a business owner can take on. Regardless of the complexity of payroll, it’s critical that you do it - and do it right - lest your employees and Uncle Sam alike become displeased.

Chances are, your expertise lies elsewhere than in accounting. You are (rightfully so) busy running and growing your actual business. Clearly your time is better spent than on figuring out the intricacies of processing payroll which include:

  1. Tracking and calculating hourly wages and overtime
  2. Calculating salary and taxes (federal, state, and local)
  3. Figuring deductions for Medicare, Social Security, insurance, unemployment, 401(k) and workers compensation contributions and for other benefits your company may offer
  4. Paying employees via their preferred method
  5. Keeping records of all of the above and creating necessary reports based on the data
  6. Seeing that payroll taxes are promptly paid

So, how’s an employee-pleasing, law-abiding business owner to process payroll correctly? Basically, you choose between three choices: 1) bite the bullet and spend time and effort going it on your own; 2) hire a payroll expert; or 3) enlist a payroll system, either free or paid.

Although the first option is free and you may try to justify it to yourself on the basis that you’re only spending your own time, for the reasons stated above, it’s not usually the ideal option. Additionally, unless you are an accountant, it’s all-too-easy to make inconvenient - or illegal - errors when calculating all those variables manually.

Hiring a payroll expert can be expensive, especially for young or small businesses. While the job would be done right, it can be difficult to swing the cost of hiring a professional’s services.

That leaves the third option - implementing a payroll system.

What is a Payroll System?

A payroll system operates in the cloud to automate payroll for you, ensuring that employees are paid accurately and that all deductions are taken from each employee payment, whether for hourly or salaried work. Because there are a number of services offered by payroll systems, it’s important to determine your business’ particular needs before choosing one. Features commonly offered include:

  1. Automatically withholding employee taxes, filing quarterly payroll tax reports, and paying tax withholdings to the proper agencies; issuing employee W-2 and 1099 forms
  2. Managing and administering workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance, paid time off, garnishment payments...
  3. Providing a dedicated service representative to help onboard your company and assist with questions or issues that may arise
  4. Offering multiple payment options as to how payments are made (direct deposit, paper checks or pay cards)
  5. Integrating with time/attendance, accounting or human resources software
  6. Providing self-service access for employees to view pay stubs, end-of-year tax forms and payroll reports
  7. Reporting new hires to the government automatically
  8. Provide mobile access allowing you to manage payroll remotely

Choosing a Payroll System for Your Business

Once you’ve determined the features you prefer in a payroll system, you’ll want to look for certain marks of quality in the companies you’re considering, like:

  1. Ease of use - There should be nothing complex or confusing; the system should take only minutes of your day to manage.
  2. Company reputation - Exercise due diligence in investigating potential payroll system companies. You’ll want one with experience - preferably with others in your industry.
  3. Security and professionalism - It’s perfectly acceptable to ask questions of the company, such as “What precautions do you take to safeguard my company’s data?” “How often is routine maintenance performed?” And “What assurances can you provide that your calculations are up-to-date and accurate?”

Costs of a Payroll System

There are actually payroll systems available free of charge. If your needs are minimal or you’re just starting out and want to do so on the right foot, one of those could work for you. While paid plans’ options vary among companies, basically you have a choice between paying each time you run payroll, or on a monthly basis. If your payroll is only one or two times per month, paying each time would probably be more economical than paying a fixed monthly charge. Many monthly plans are available without long-term contracts. Do note that some plans are billed by pay period, rather than by month - the timing may influence your charges.

Payroll doesn’t have to be a thorn in your side, business owner. It can be taken off your shoulders accurately, efficiently, and affordably with a payroll system. It may be the perfect way to take on this critical function of running your business while you get down to what you do best.

How do you tackle payroll in your business?

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