Small biz owners - how hard is it to do your own payroll?

I’m in the process of purchasing an existing business, and am trying to get some of the details down before I close so I can hit the ground running.

If I do a search regarding any terms for payroll, all I see are various companies that provide payroll services. I can’t imagine that doing your own payroll is that difficult, especially since all of the calculations can be done at a site like Does anyone out there do there own payroll, or can you point me to a how to guide? Is it really worth paying a payroll processor?

Thanks in advance.


Rather than spend money for payroll processing services, you should be able to find some good off-the-shelf payroll programs to run on your PC.

Well, the last time I was in the Private Sector, it all hinged on how many employees you had. My branch of the business only had 15-20 employees, so I did my own payroll. My Dad’d branch, however, had over 100 employees. He had a payroll service do his. It’s up to you. Are you sure you can do all of the paperwork in a timely manner? Are you trained in accounting procedures? If not, then let the pros do it for you. Besides, it’s a tax-deductible expense.

I would say it depends on how many employees you have and how hands-on you want to be. Someone in the company will have payroll responsibility no matter which way you go. (Make sure a second knows the system, or hell can break loose if the primary person is absent come payday.)

I do the payroll at my office. We use Quickbooks, which is great if you only have a few employees. Tax reports, EIC and direct deposit can all be done. Payroll subscription keeps the tax tables up to date. I am responsible for reports, taxes and printing checks.

My boss’ spouse employs over 40 people and uses a payroll service. The service files the reports, remits taxes and cuts the checks. Someone at his office still needs to collect time sheets and transmit data to the service by the deadline.

How is payroll currently handled at this business? There must be some system already in place. Consult your accountant if you decide to do it yourself. I’ve heard some accountants just hate, hate, hate Quickbooks. Other software is available.

While I am not a small business owner, we do use Quickbooks. It only takes me about an 45 min. once a week to do payroll (we get paid once a week), and that includes hand writing checks to everyone, writing a check to cover the taxes, and entering the info manually in a book. We only have 3 employees, including myself, though, so YMMV.

Err, that should read “While I am not a small business owner, I do work at a small business and we do use Quickbooks.” It makes more sense that way :o

It can be done, but everything that you do yourself to save money eats up some of your time for doing something else. You also need to balance if the time it would take to do this might be spent better on marketing, sales, production, what have you. I am talking to an ADP rep this week for my new business, so I can let you know a bit later how they work out in terms of pricing and performance, what they have to offer. If you decide it’s worth your time to do your own payroll then definitely go with Quickbooks or similar software. It will greatly simplify your life regarding taxes and filings. I’ll likely use some combination of Quickbooks and ADP. Another thing that I know ADP offers is employee background checks. If you’ll be hiring a lot of people or have a lot of turnover (I will) then this might be worth it.

The business has 14 employees.

In regard to the quickbooks user above, is there no way to get the tax tables yourself? I can’t seem to find them, but I don’t see the value in subscribing to their service - by the time you do that, it costs almost as much to outsource it.