Posted in Payroll

Do I Need Payroll Software for My Small Business?

It’s that time again: Payday.

It’s a day workers celebrate with glee. But if you’re like a lot of small businesses, it’s not exactly the highlight of your week. Payroll can mean fire drills, late nights, and spending time away from the things that actually go into running your business.

Could finding the right payroll software make this routine more manageable? You might not be ready for technological advances like self-driving cars or robot master chefs, but here a few reasons you might go over to the software side to handle your payroll.

(Disclaimer: Payroll software for small businesses is our business, so we have definitely have an opinion here.)

1. Your time matters

According to Score, small businesses spend between one and five hours doing payroll every month. That number doesn’t even include the 41-plus hours spent on year-end tax preparations. If you use payroll software, you could be spending some of that time on other things.

Photographer Nicole Chen used to dread the end of the month, when she’d spend an hour and a half sorting through labor codes and technical glitches to get her payroll right. With payroll software, it now takes her five minutes: “[My business partner] Karen and I can do a lot with that extra hour and 25 minutes!” She said. “We’ve been making a distinct effort to work on personal creative projects, so that additional time is really valuable.”

2. Making payroll mistakes sucks

For the 2015 fiscal year, the IRS levied $4.27 billion in penalties for mistakes businesses made with their employment taxes. There’s no way around it: Errors can be costly, time consuming to fix, and stressful from start to finish.

From calculating and withholding taxes to helping with end of year filings, good payroll software can help you avoid the most common payroll-related mistakes. Payroll software companies usually update their systems to stay on top of changing state and federal requirements. They even automate tasks like tax filings and send you alerts when you have deadlines to meet.

3. The rest of your business needs you

Using software to streamline payroll means more focus on actually running your business. Wish there were more hours in the day to interact with customers, bond with your employees, figure out marketing, or brainstorm new ideas? Payroll software can give you a few.

“My time is everything to me,” said Andrea Talley, owner of GreenLid restaurants in San Francisco. Using software for payroll gives her “more time to be in the business — like thinking about our products, and our quality and sourcing — and doing the types of things that I started the business to do.”

So do you need payroll software?

If you’re thinking about making the switch, these are the kinds of features and functionalities good software should give you. If you find yourself drooling as you look over this list, chances are you’re a good candidate:

  • Automation wherever possible. From filling out forms for new hires, to calculating and filing your payroll taxes, to paying your staff and your contractors on time, the ability to set it and forget it (or at least forget parts of it) is what sets modern software apart.
  • Customization to fit your business. Whether you run payroll weekly or monthly, offer benefits, allow employees to make charitable donations from paychecks, or give the occasional bonus, your payroll system should be tailored to your needs. Otherwise you’ll end up doing more admin on the side, which really defeats the purpose.
  • Simplified taxes. Payroll software can do much of the heavy lifting with your employment taxes — withholding, filing quarterly reports, preparing W-2s and 1099s, and more. It can help end-of-year accounting go much more smoothly.  
  • An employee portal. Workers often need to be able to access their own pay and benefits records. In fact, a portal can actually improve employee morale because they’ll have access to information when they need it, and better control over their work lives. It’ll also save you time by empowering employees to dig up their old pay stubs or W-2s on their own.
  • Flexible access and integrations with other software. Maybe you want your HR manager to have a login. Maybe you want your accounting or time tracking software to sync with payroll. Whatever the case, software integrations and features that let you collaborate with other people are another way to take the administrative pressure off yourself.
  • Great support. You want to know that someone has your back. Any payroll provider you work with should be responsive and able to help when you need it.

If you’ve been running payroll on your own, we applaud you (especially considering everything you need to know to do it right). But you don’t have to carry this particular burden by yourself  — especially when payroll software to make your life easier for small business owners. When you find the right provider, it can help cut stress, save time, and make you and your employees happier. What’s not to love about that?