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Payroll Services for the Small Business Owner

Updated on May 19, 2011


You, the Small Business Owner

As a small business owner you make dozens of decision every day, some more important than others, however the bottom line is, you are the one making the decisions.  You are the one ultimately accountable and you are the one who will ultimately realize the profit or loss from the decisions you have made.

Your specialized skills and unique knowledge base

As a small business owner your primary responsibility is to run and grow your business.   That implies that you have a specialized skill set or knowledge base that is needed to run your business.  This knowledge base and skill set is what gives you the advantage over your competition.  This is a highly specialized position, and as such, you would never dream of handing this responsibility off to someone else who is less knowledgeable or skilled than you.  And that’s the way it should be.

Routine functions

But what about the routine functions that are common across all businesses?  What about functions such as accounting and payroll?  Sure they require a specialized skill set, but should you, as the small business owner be the one to acquire the skills necessary to do the job of a CPA, Tax accountant or Payroll Administrator?  I would think, probably not.  You would most likely hire someone to handle those activities.  After all, you should be concentrating on running and growing your business, not performing the somewhat routine tasks faced by most businesses, both small and large.

Does it make good business sense  

Let’s take it one step further; would it make good business sense to contract those services out to specialized third parties, and minimize the burden you bear as the small business owner even further?  If you saw that it was cost effective and made good business sense, would there be any reason why you wouldn’t look for a third party to handle these functions?  My guess is the answer to this question is no.


So let me ask this, why are you currently burdening yourself with the task of performing your payroll functions, instead of outsourcing the responsibility to a payroll service provider?  My first guess is that you probably thought outsourcing your payroll functions to a payroll service provider would be too expensive.  Or possibly, that the conversion to a payroll service provider would require too much work.  Well, if that was your reasoning I have some good news for you.  Third party payroll services are a lot less expensive than you think.  How inexpensive?  Typically a full function payroll service provider can perform these tasks for less than $5.00 per check.   In addition to producing the pay check or performing the direct deposit functions, a full service payroll service would also include tax filing functions.  

Technical requirements

So you like the price, but you are still concerned about the system changes you will have to make.   Well, the fact is, in many cases there are no system changes.  Many payroll service companies provide their customers with a secure web based portal, which provides an interface for the customer to key the payroll data directly into the payroll service provider’s system.  Another option many payroll servicers support is the submission of payroll data entered on spreadsheets and delivered using secure email services.  The point is, the technical requirements are more often than not, minimal.

Selecting a Payroll Service Provider

Now you’re starting to think this may not be such a bad idea.  But where do I start.  There are many payroll service providers to choose from, in fact several are listed on this page.  Start by clicking on a few to see what they have to offer.  I would suggest choosing  a payroll service provider that has experience dealing with businesses of your size.  Some payroll service providers deal primarily with small businesses, while others deal primarily with large businesses.  The size of the businesses the payroll service provider deals with is not a reflection of the quality of service offered, rather just the area in which they specialize.  Also look for a national firm with a proven track record and strong financial stability.  You don’t want to take chances with your payroll processing.  Employees have a tendency to get quite upset when they don’t get paid.    Do your homework, compare prices and features as well as Service Level Agreements (SLA) and if available, ask for references. 

Wrap up

After all is said and done, you may decide you are just fine the way you are, however, you may find that you made a very wise business decision and can now get back to your true area of expertise, which is running and growing your business.


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