These days, there are plenty of online services that can help you form your own LLC, corporation, or nonprofit. But with so many options available, it can be hard to decide which one to go with.
Among the most popular business formation services are IncFile, ZenBusiness, and LegalZoom. Which service is the best?
The truth is that it highly depends on your situation and what type of services you need. Join us for a breakdown of IncFile vs LegalZoom vs ZenBusiness, what they offer, and how much they charge.
What We'll Cover
What Services Does Each Have to Offer?
On the surface, each of our three contenders offers a similar set of services. But upon closer inspection, you’ll find that some offer services that others do not.
For instance, if you want to create a nonprofit, you’ll want to go with Legal Zoom or IncFile vs ZenBusiness. ZenBusiness offers several different entities, but nonprofits are currently not among them.
If you’re looking for legal services, you’ll have less luck with ZenBusiness and IncFile vs LegalZoom, which is the only service that provides access to attorneys. Here's a quick breakdown in some of the major services each option provides.
|IncFile||LLC Formation||C-Corp Formation||S-Corp Formation||Nonprofit Formation||Attorney Access||Taxes & Accounting Services|
|ZenBusiness||LLC Formation||C-Corp Formation||S-Corp Formation||Nonprofit Formation||Attorney Access||Taxes & Accounting Services|
|Legal Zoom||LLC Formation||C-Corp Formation||S-Corp Formation||Nonprofit Formation||Attorney Access||Taxes & Accounting Services|
All three services also offer some of the most basic components needed to get your business up and running. These include things like:
- Preparation & Filing of Articles of Organization
- EIN Business Tax Number
- Registered Agent Service
- Annual Report Filing
- Business Finance Assistance
Each service also offers dozens of other options, but the biggest difference lies in how much they cost and how they are packaged.
Pricing and Packaging Options
While you’re likely to find everything you need to start or run your business with any of our three services, the biggest difference is how much you’ll pay for them. This is a category where IncFile really stands out.
IncFile offers three pricing tiers for each of its business formation services.
Their most basic (Silver) package is actually free - you only have to pay state fees, as required by law, to get your business filed.
They also offer a Gold Package for $199 + state fees and a Platinum Package for $299 + state fees.
Additionally, one of the potential perks of IncFile vs LegalZoom and ZenBusiness is that all of their packages are available for a one-time vs annual charge. That said, IncFile also offers services that you can choose to pay for on an annual basis.
For instance, while you’ll enjoy Registered Agent services for the first year for free, you’ll have to pay $119/year to continue using them after that.
ZenBusiness offers the same three identically priced tiers as IncFile, but they come with different perks.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that ZenBusiness isn’t as straightforward about exactly what features come with each package. While "top services" are mentioned, there's no clear indication of whether they are the only services included with each package.
For this reason, it can be harder to tell immediately the difference in the value you get for your money at IncFile vs ZenBusiness.
Regardless, you’ll find more moderately priced packages at both IncFile and ZenBusiness vs Legal Zoom. While Legal Zoom does also offer packages, they vary based on what type of entity you want to form.
Legal Zoom's cheapest packages start at:
- LLC - $79 + state filing fees
- Corporations - $149 + state filing fees
- Nonprofits - $99 + state filing fees
Ease of Use and Price Transparency
It will probably come as no surprise that almost any business formation service you use will attempt to up-sell you additional features and services. But we found IncFile to be by far the most transparent about exactly how much you’ll pay for package options and the services included in each.
When you choose a package on ZenBusiness, you’ll be directed to a chat box where you’ll be asked a long series of questions. Based on your answers, ZenBusiness will then recommend a number of different add-ons and services.
We found this a bit of a turn-off, as there’s no way to really see what you’ll end up paying until you complete the full process. On the other hand, if you are looking for a personalized quote, then this process may appeal to you.
Additionally, be aware that you’ll be asked to hand over all your contact information throughout the process. ZenBusiness will then use it to contact you with sales pitches.
If you want to see what ZenBusiness has to offer without the risk of having to deal with sales calls or emails, then you may want to complete this end of the process with fake contact information. If the final quote appeals to you, then you can then go back and use your real info.
While LegalZoom is a bit more transparent about what’s included in different packages, you’ll also be asked to complete a similar process. The idea is to customize a plan based on your individual needs.
Which Service is Fastest?
Each service offers expedited filing with its top-tier plans. IncFile will also offer expedited filing for an extra fee, no matter what tier you choose.
IncFile offers a nice resource that breaks down state filing times, as well as the fees for expedited filing.
IncFile vs LegalZoom vs ZenBusiness
Now that you have a general overview of some of the ways that IncFile, LegalZoom, and ZenBusiness compare, let’s take a closer look at each. We’ll also go over the pros and cons of each brings to the table to help you decide which is right for you.
IncFile was founded in 2004 and has since helped over 800,000 business owners. The service’s Silver package is one of the most affordable ways available to create a business online.
If you choose to purchase one of IncFile’s three packages, you’ll also enjoy a number of other tools and services for a one-time fee, as opposed to paying annually. Just be aware that some services, such as the free 1-year registered agent service, will require a recurring annual charge if you want to use them beyond the trial period.
That said, IncFile's registered agent service is available for the lowest annual fee among our three contenders.
IncFile offers a wide number of additional services, including annual reporting, DBA filing, and tax & accounting assistance. IncFile also partners with Bank of America to help customers effortlessly set up business banking accounts and obtain EINs.
Additionally, IncFile offers a great selection of free resources that you can use whether you’re a customer or not. Their research center contains a business name generator, business name search tools, free business resources, and financial management resources.
While IncFile enjoys excellent customer reviews overall, the most common complaint surrounds customer assistance wait times. But they do offer phone assistance from 9 am to 6 pm CST Monday – Friday, as well as chat and email support.
When it comes to the difference between IncFile vs LegalZoom, a lot comes down to pricing. While Legal Zoom is the most expensive option, it’s also the most comprehensive and well-established.
Legal Zoom has been around since 2001 and has helped millions of businesses. It’s also one of the only business formation services that offer access to attorneys every step of the way.
In addition to LLCs, non-profits, C-corps, and S-corps, Legal Zoom also offers services for:
- Sole proprietorship
- Limited partnership (LP)
- Limited liability partnership (LLP)
If you’re looking to form a larger corporation or more complex business, then Legal Zoom also offers a much wider selection of services that may interest you. Legal Zoom can help you not only establish your business but offers help with everything from business operations and compliance to patents and intellectual property protection.
With lifetime customer service assistance, Legal Zoom has solid customer reviews and an all-inclusive selection of business formation and management options.
Founded in 2017, ZenBusiness is the youngest company on our list but it’s already earned great customer reviews.
When it comes to a comparison of ZenBusiness vs Legal Zoom, ZenBusiness is a much cheaper option. But, like IncFile, it does not include access to attorneys.
ZenBusiness is the most similarly priced to IncFile, but its packages include a different range of options. At the moment, ZenBusiness’ packages don’t appear to offer as much value as IncFile’s.
But their premium package does offer a customizable business website and email address, whereas IncFile’s Platinum package only offers a domain and email address. One of the biggest differences between IncFile vs ZenBusiness comes down to how much customization you’re looking for throughout the onboarding experience.
ZenBusiness currently uses a chat-style questionnaire that attempts to upsell you on a number of different services. While some customers may find this annoying, others may find it helpful if they aren’t quite sure what services to choose.
We also love that ZenBuiness is also a socially conscious company that offers great resources for female, native, and black business owners.
|Pros||• Most affordable and transparent option
• 1 free year of registered agent service
• Packages available for a one-time rather than annual fee
• Partners with Bank of America to make setting up a business bank account easy
• Offers annual reporting and compliance assistance
• Great selection of free resources
• Easy-to-use dashboard
|• Widest range of services
• Access to professional legal counsel
• Lifetime customer assistance
• Customizable business website and tax savings consultation included in all packages
• Tax savings consultation included in all packages
• Business management and intellectual property protection available
|• Best customer service reviews
• Extended customer service hours
• Business website creation services
• Socially conscious company with resources and funding for women and minorities
• Solid learning center with helpful resources for new business owners
• Easy-to-use dashboard
- No access to legal professionals
- Some complaints about customer assistance wait times
- No website creation services
- By far the most expensive option
- Expect some attempts at upselling
- Chat-style sign-up process includes lots of upsell attempts
- No non-profit services
- No access to legal professionals
As you can see, when it comes down to IncFile vs LegalZoom vs ZenBusiness, there’s not necessarily a clear winner. The truth is that the best company formation service for you will largely come down to the type of service you need and the type of experience that most appeals to you.
We hope this has given you a solid overview of what you can expect to find from each of these three leading choices. Best of luck on your new business formation journey!
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