9 Best Payroll Services for Startups in 2023

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Once your startup begins hiring a substantial number of employees, processing payroll can quickly become a frustrating and time-consuming task. Thankfully, there are plenty of payroll services for startups available today that are designed to streamline and automate the process of ensuring that all of your employees get paid correctly and on time.

To help you choose the payroll processing software that’s best suited for your startup, we'll explore everything you need to know about the top nine payroll processing software solutions on the market today.

Best Payroll Software for Startups: ADP 

Best Payroll Software for Startups

Payroll software simplifies the process of paying employees by automating many of the tasks involved. This includes calculating withholding taxes, calculating and issuing paychecks, and maintaining records of employee compensation. 

By using payroll software, businesses can save time and money while ensuring that their employees are paid accurately and on time. There are many different payroll software programs available, each with its own unique features and pricing structure. Some of the most popular payroll software programs include ADP, OnPay, Gusto, and Zenefits. 

Each of these programs offers a different set of features, so it is important to select the one that best meets the needs of your business. Regardless of which program you choose, you can be confident that investing in payroll services will help your business run more smoothly and efficiently.

Best Payroll for Startups:

  1. ADP
  2. OnPay
  3. Gusto
  4. Zenefits
  5. QuickBooks
  6. Payroll4Free
  7. Paychex
  8. Workful
  9. Square

Best Payroll Software: ADP

We recommend ADP's payroll service for startups because of its ease of use, advanced tools, and affordable pricing.

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1. Best Payroll for Startups: ADP

ADP is a payroll processing service that manages to pack a wealth of features into a platform that is surprisingly easy to use. This combination of being both easy to use and feature-rich is what earns ADP a spot on our list as the best overall payroll service for startups. 

With ADP, startup owners can automatically track and file taxes, create automated direct deposits, easily access state and federal forms and resources, and set up detailed, automated reporting. Best of all, all of these features are available in the base ADP plan, with even more useful features available in upper tiers.


  • Easy to set up and use 
  • Excellent customer support 
  • A broad range of helpful features, with all core features available on the base plan 


  • A lack of detailed error messages can make it difficult to resolve an issue when something goes wrong.

Notable Features

  • Automated tax services
  • New hire onboarding and reporting
  • Wage garnishment assistance


ADP requires that you contact their company for a custom pricing quote. 

Recommended: Get started with ADP today!

2. Best Payroll Service for Managing Benefits: OnPay

Along with everything you need to streamline and automate your payroll processing, OnPay also makes it easy to manage employee benefits as well. With OnPay, business owners are able to choose from a wide variety of healthcare, worker’s comp, and 401(k) plans to offer to their employees then easily manage these plans within the OnPay platform. 

If you are looking for a tool that will help with payroll processing in addition to benefits management and other HR responsibilities then you can’t go wrong with OnPay.


  • Offers HR, benefits management, and payroll processing features 
  • Detailed reporting


  • The UI can be a little confusing 
  • Customer service can be difficult to reach at times 

Notable Features

  • Performs all tax filing and payments
  • Multiple pay rates and schedules
  • Accounting and time tracking integrations


OnPay offers a single plan that costs $36/month plus $4/month per employee.

Recommended: Get started with OnPay today!

3. Top Payroll Software for Automation Features: Gusto

As an incredibly well-rounded payroll processing solution, Gusto offers everything that startups need to take the hassle out of payroll processing. With Gusto, startup owners can automatically pay employees via either check or direct deposit, track and file federal, state, and local taxes, track paid time off (PTO), and more.

The biggest benefit of Gusto, though, is the fact that it comes available in three well-thought-out pricing tiers, allowing startups to choose the service that best matches both their needs and their budget.


  • Full-service payroll available in all fifty states
  • Offers unlimited payroll runs
  • Highly affordable for the features that it provides 
  • Basic reporting is included in all pricing tiers


  • Next-day direct deposit is only available in Complete and Concierge plans
  • Dedicated support is only available in the Concierge plan

Notable Features

  • Employee time tracking
  • Comprehensive tax compliance documents
  • Manage multiple employee benefits


  • Simple Plan: $40/month plus $6 per employee/month 
  • Plus Plan: $80/month plus $12 per employee/month 
  • Premium Plan: Exclusive Pricing, Contact for Quote

4. Best Payroll Service for HR Features: Zenefits

If you are looking for a service that offers much more than just payroll processing, Zenefits is a great company to consider. In addition to all of the features you need to process your startup’s payroll, such as time-off tracking, tax filing, and direct deposits, Zenefits also offers additional HR features such as automated onboarding, employee scheduling, performance management, and much more.


  • Allows for automated direct deposit payments 
  • Offers a wide range of both payroll processing and HR features 
  • Mobile-friendly


  • Customer service is hit or miss
  • Custom email triggers could use greater functionality 
  • Implementation is sometimes complex and time-consuming

Notable Features

  • Benefits administration
  • Time, attendance, and PTO
  • Enrollment planning


  • Essentials Plan: $8/month per employee
  • Growth Plan: $14/month per employee
  • Zen Plan: $21/month per employee 

5. Top Payroll Software for Easy Setup: QuickBooks Payroll

As one of the most popular payroll processing services on the market today, QuickBooks Payroll has earned its reputation for making payroll processing a simple and straightforward process. QuickBooks Payroll is especially easy to navigate for those who are already using QuickBooks for accounting since the two platforms are so similar and work well together. 

In addition to receiving a user-friendly and intuitive solution to set up and use, startups that purchase QuickBooks Payroll can also look forward to receiving all of the tools needed to automate their payroll process, including automated direct deposits and automated tax tracking, and filing and automated reporting.


  • Speedy direct deposit options 
  • Powerful integrations with QuickBooks accounting software 
  • Incredibly intuitive to set up and use 


  • Can be costly when compared to other payroll processing services 

Notable Features

  • Direct deposit for employees and contractors
  • Tax compliant forms included
  • Auto-fill for paid preparer information


  • Core Plan: $45/month plus $4 per employee/month 
  • Premium Plan: $75/month plus $8 per employee/month 
  • Elite Plan: $125/month plus $10 per employee/month 

6. Best Free Payroll Processing Service: Payroll4Free

As a completely free payroll processing solution, Payroll4Free enables startups to try out the benefits of payroll processing software without making an upfront investment. While the features of Payroll4Free are quite limited compared to paid payroll processing services, Payroll4Free still amounts to a big step up from entirely manual payroll processing. 

With Payroll4Free, startup owners can calculate and track how much employees are owed by inputting their hours. Unfortunately, there's not much else that you can do with Payroll4Free unless you pay for additional services such as automated tax filing and direct deposit payments. For startup owners with just a few employees that can't justify paying for a more comprehensive solution, though, Payroll4Free is worth checking out.


  • Completely free to download and use 
  • Offers the option to pay for automated tax filing and direct deposit payments 


  • Limited features 
  • Setup is completely manual

Notable Features

  • Comprehensive payroll processing
  • Full-time, part-time, and contract payment capabilities
  • Automatic federal, state, and local tax calculations


Payroll4Free is free to download and use. Automated tax filing and the option to pay employees via direct deposit both cost $15/month each. 

7. Top Payroll Software for Reporting: Paychex

If comprehensive and easy-to-understand payroll reporting is a priority for your startup, then Paychex is a great payroll processing service to consider. Even the basic Paychex Flex Essentials plan offers robust reporting features, complete with the ability to add custom data fields. 

Along with detailed and well-organized reporting, Paychex also offers automated tax filing, 24/7 customer support, useful HR add-on options, and lots of helpful integrations.


  • 24/7 customer support
  • Detailed reporting with the ability to create custom data fields 
  • Easy to set up and use 


  • Includes several hidden fees 
  • Customer support has received mixed reviews 

Notable Features

  • Payroll tax administration
  • Employee self-service
  • New hire reporting


  • Paychex Flex Essentials: $39/month plus $5 per employee/month 
  • Paychex Flex Select: Custom pricing with quotes available upon request 
  • Paychex Flex Pro: Custom pricing with quotes available upon request 

8. Best Payroll Software for Customer Service: Workful

If you are looking for a payroll processing service that will be there in your corner when issues arise, then you can't go wrong with Workful. In addition to offering well-rounded payroll processing software that comes complete with plenty of time-saving features, Workful has also made a name for itself in the payroll processing industry by offering some of the most responsive and genuinely helpful customer support you will find. 

Aside from its top-notch customer support, other noteworthy features of Workful include the ability for employees to submit reimbursable expenses through the Workful app and geo-location time clock tracking.


  • Affordable 
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Offers employee expense tracking 


  • Reporting features are somewhat limited 
  • Limited integrations 
  • Does not provide automatic tax filing

Notable Features

  • Automated PTO tracking
  • Tracks time and attendance automatically
  • Easy federal and state tax filing


Workful offers a single plan that costs $25/month plus $5/month per employee.

9. Top Payroll Service for Paying Contractors: Square

Though better known as a payment processing service, Square offers payroll processing as well. What earns Square a spot on our list of best payroll services, though, is the fact that it offers an affordable payroll processing plan specifically for paying independent contractors. 

Paying contractors is less complicated than paying employees, but it can still be a time-consuming process. This forces startups that rely on a lot of contract labor to either pay contractors manually or pay extra for payroll processing features they don’t need. With Square’s startup owners can access all of the tools they need to ensure that their contractors get paid on time with its contractor-specific plan.


  • Great integration with Square’s point of sale app
  • Affordably priced — especially for the contractor-only option


  • Only offers basic reporting 
  • Limited customization options

Notable Features

  • Automatic quarterly and annual tax filings
  • Syncs with QuickBooks and third-party timecard partners
  • Multistate payroll capabilities


  • Pay Employees and Contractors Plan: $35/month plus $5/month per employee paid
  • Pay Contractors Only Plan: $5/month per contractor paid 


What is payroll software?

Payroll software is software designed to automate the various tasks associated with payroll processing, such as time clock tracking, paying employees, and filing taxes.

Do startups need payroll software?

Payroll software is not an absolute necessity for startups, particularly for startups with a small number of employees, but good payroll processing software can certainly offer a wide range of worthwhile benefits. In addition to freeing up time for you and your staff by automating a wide range of tedious tasks, payroll processing software is also able to help you avoid payroll processing errors that could otherwise lead to costly consequences. 

Which payroll software is best?

Our favorite best overall payroll processing solution for startups is ADP. However, the best software for your startup will ultimately depend on factors such as your unique needs and priorities, your budget, and the size of your startup.