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On a Roll: How to choose a payroll solution for your Small business

When is payday? For small business owners, this question is the equivalent of hearing “Are we there yet” from the backseat during a family vacation. Your employees are the backbone of your company, and it’s important to not only pay them a respectable salary, but to make sure they are paid accurately and on time. That’s why you need to choose wisely when selecting a payroll solution.

Paying Out

Shy away from doing your own payroll. First you need to focus on the core operations of your business, and second, unless you have an accounting degree, you probably don’t know all federal, state, and local rules involved. There’s a lot more to payroll than simply writing a check each month. There are hefty penalties for filing your payroll tax returns late or not providing adequate withholding deposits when they are due — according to the IRS, 40 percent of small businesses pay penalties each year for late or incorrect filings and payments.

You’ve probably heard the warning not to keep all your eggs in one basket, but where payroll is concerned there are some definite advantages to keeping your money with someone you trust. Many banks now offer payroll processing services, and it’s just as good as choosing a specialist company. For one thing —- the fewer people handing your money, the fewer opportunities there are for mistakes. By going with your bank, you also get a better picture of your financial condition. You will have integrated information about all of your accounts: checking, savings, payroll, payroll taxes, etc. . Another advantage of going through a bank or credit union is that you may have an easier time setting up direct deposit accounts, so there’s no hassle getting people paid. The bank may also be able to provide draft contracts for payback of checks if employees get an advance or loan.

Many small businesses choose to manage payroll in-house using payroll software like QuickBooks, Paychex, Gusto or SurePayroll. These solutions are easy and cost-effective. Yes, it’s more time consuming than going with an outside source, but the main upside of going the DIY route is that you have total control over the accuracy of the information. It’s also easier to track changes, and to quickly add things like new hires, new tax rates or increases in health-care benefits with no delay.

If you’re like one of 4.3 million small business owners, you already know the value and ease of use in having Intuit QuickBooks as your accounting solution. QuickBooks Payroll integrates with your existing platform, and the full-service payroll plan takes care of tax payments and guarantees mistake-free paychecks and payroll taxes. The company offers a free 30-day trial, so you can make sure you’re comfortable using the platform before making a commitment.

Clocking in

Did you remember to clock in? That’s another common question for employees whether they are manually writing their ins and outs on a time card or punching a time clock. Properly recording hours worked is a crucial component to the payroll process.

Forget about manually entering hours — there’s too big of chance for errors, and even cheating. One option is a clocking-in via the Internet. Most payroll software, including QuickBooks, gives employees the ability to enter their hours online onto a password protected timesheet.

For the ultimate in timesheet security, employers such as Shana Wilkinson, of Smokey Shay’s, have even gone the extra step to utilize biometric time clocks. The unique advantage of a biometric timekeeping system, which uses a fingerprint scan to confirm an employee’s identity, is that employees cannot clock in or out for one another — no more “buddy punching” in the hopes that you or your manager won’t notice them arriving late or leaving early.

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