LLC formation services are the modern entrepreneur’s best friend. After all, filing paperwork is annoying (if you don’t mind paperwork, then this guide probably isn’t for you), so an LLC formation service can remove some of that headache for you.
But which formation service should you use? There are dozens of options available to choose from. To put your money to good use, you’ll want to choose the perfect one.
Generally speaking, a good formation service does two things. First, they help you form your business, offering advice along the way. Second, they’ll help you maintain your new company by reminding you of due dates, state requirements, and more. Other important factors to consider are the service’s track record, their cost, and how easy it is to use their service.
In this review, we’ll give you our in-depth opinion of Direct Incorporation’s LLC formation service.
Rocket Tip: Looking for the best and most affordable LLC formation services? Compare the top 3 incorporation websites to see how they stack up.
Our philosophy: What makes a formation service “good?”
Ultimately, the “best” incorporation service online boils down to a matter of opinion. Which one is best for you depends on what you want from a service. But that said, there are certain qualities that make one formation service better than another. Whenever we evaluate an LLC formation service, here are some questions we like to ask:
- Does this service give me a good value for what I’m paying?
- Does this company have a proven record of supplying high-quality service?
- What is the quality of this company’s customer service?
- How easy is it to use this service?
- How quickly will my business be formed?
A good LLC formation service will receive high marks in these categories. We’ll consider the answers to these questions in our in-depth review below.
What is Direct Incorporation?
Direct Incorporation is a business formation service based out of Ann Arbor, Michigan. In 2003, a father-son team decided that Michiganders needed a more economical way to start a business without the hassle of paying a law firm.
So, they recruited a team of former lawyers and got to work. At first, they dedicated themselves to processing legal documents. But in the 15-plus years since then, they’ve greatly extended their services. Now they offer business formations, domain registrations, websites—features that their competitors overlook. With that versatility, they’ve formed over 80,000 businesses.
How does Direct Incorporation work?
Direct Incorporation is fairly easy to use, and once you fill out some information, they’ll form your business on your behalf. Here’s a flyby of what steps you can expect when using Direct Incorporation:
- Select your package: With five package options to choose from, you’ll need to decide which features are most important to you and select that package. You can select some add-ons later if you want a specific service.
- Enter information about yourself: Direct Incorporation needs some information about yourself, including your email and phone number, where you want to incorporate, and your full name.
- Enter information about your business: To wrap up, you’ll need to enter information about your business, including your desired name, the state where you want to incorporate, who will lead your business, and more.
- Review your order: In this step, you’ll have the chance to edit your order (if needed) and add any additional packages.
- Complete your order: To complete your order, you’ll need to enter payment information.
Once you’ve completed these steps, Direct Incorporation will file your paperwork on your behalf. They’ll also complete any additional services you’ve ordered.
Is there service a good option?
Direct Incorporation gets the job done, but it’s not the perfect option for everyone. For one thing, their lower tier packages are lackluster in how much they include. Their higher packages offer more bang for your buck, but they are far from basic. So if you want a simple package, they’re not a good option for you.
Our favorite part of Direct Incorporation is their “Executive Club.” With this feature, you get access to the expertise of a lawyer and an accountant for just $13.99 per month.
What are customers saying?
Direct Incorporation has decent reviews online; there are some good and some bad. And that’s to be expected for a company that’s over 15 years old.
Here are some of the things customers love about Direct Incorporation:
- Business logo or website (offered in some of their packages) makes the new business stand out
- Good customer support and follow-up after purchase
- Easy to use
And here are some of the negatives:
- Automatically subscribed to marketing emails and phone calls just for asking a single question
- Charges for unwanted services, which can be hard to cancel
If we have one caution about using any business service, it’s this: read the fine print so you know what you’re signing up for. Lots of services offer you free services for a while, such as a registered agent service. But those services aren’t always free; after the trial expires, you are automatically subscribed to that service. Many customers don’t read the fine print and are both surprised and disgruntled when they receive those charges.
If you’re able to pay the package fees to get a logo and business website with Direct Incorporation, then we agree that they’re quite valuable. Not everyone can swing for that expense, though, so Direct Incorporation isn’t right for everyone.
LegalZoom vs. Direct Incorporation: What’s the difference?
On the surface, LegalZoom and Direct Incorporation seem to accomplish the same purpose: helping you form your LLC. And while that’s true, the difference between them goes much deeper than that. We’ll give you our full analysis in just a moment, but here are a few key differences:
- LegalZoom has an impressive customer volume of more than 3.6 million customers. Over a million of those customers are businesses, giving them one of the most impressive client lists in the industry.
- Unlike a lot of their competitors, Direct Incorporation offers unique logo and web design options. If you want to establish the visual aspect of your brand, then Direct Incorporation can make it happen.
Both LegalZoom and Direct Incorporation can help you make your new business a success. But to give you a better idea of which is right for you, let’s jump in to the specifics below.
Who is Direct Incorporation best for?
Direct Incorporation is best for entrepreneurs who meet two qualifications: they have a decent start-up budget and they want a wide variety of services beyond just forming their business.
We’ll break down their packages below, but basically, their best package gives everything you could ever need: a business website, a logo, an EIN, membership in their Executive Club, and more.
Direct Incorporation: Our in-depth review
Cost to form an LLC
For a business, money is always a factor. That goes for new and established businesses alike. That’s why you should always factor in cost when considering an LLC formation service. Direct Incorporation is no exception.
We have a love-hate relationship with Direct Incorporation’s pricing. On one hand, their entry-level package comes with a mid-level price tag. But on the other hand, Direct Incorporation’s pricier packages include a lot of features that other services don’t. Not everyone needs these features, though, so only a select audience will want them.
One of our favorite features of Direct Incorporation is their Executive Club, which enrolls you in their business compliance program. And on top of that, you can also consult with a lawyer or an accountant when you need advice. With a price tag of $13.99 per month (if bought separately), it’s a fairly good deal.
With that in mind, let’s consider the packages they offer:
Standard: Direct Incorporation’s pricing begins with their $147 Standard package. For this price, you’ll get a preliminary name check, filing of your formation documents, and an EIN (basically your business’s social security number). They also give you a three-week trial to their Executive Club and six months of registered agent service (agent service costs $159 annually once your six months expire).
Premier: The next package will run you $297. It includes all of the above features, plus a corporate kit for your business. The kit includes an embossed binder and a seal that’s customized for your business. With that binder comes some sample documents to use, such as membership certificates and an operating agreement.
Elite: The Elite package costs $329, but for that extra $32, you get two unique features that you can’t get with any other incorporation service. First, you’ll get access to their website builder and five free business email accounts. Then, you’ll also get a stock logo (which you can use under the terms of a shared license).
Venture: This upper-level package has a hefty price tag, but it also has all the bells and whistles. For $873, you get each feature listed above and a professionally-designed logo and website. You have exclusive rights to that logo, too. And to top it off, you’ll also get 12 months of their Executive Club and trademark protection service. Bought separately, these three services alone would cost you $964.
Venture Plus: But wait, there’s more! There’s also one more package offered by Direct Incorporation. It’s a very niche package, though, as it includes a subsidiary entity filing or DBA name and a second trademark or copyright (and of course, the above features).
All told, the entry-level packages with Direct Incorporation are a little pricey compared to competitor’s prices (like Incfile or ZenBusiness), but their higher-tier packages aren’t available anywhere else.
Direct Incorporation’s order process
Have you ever tried to order something online, only to get lost in a never-ending series of cluttered web pages? The harder it is to order a service, the less likely you are to use it. Streamlined ordering is an important component of any good formation service.
With Direct Incorporation, it takes only ten to fifteen minutes to get from the first page to the last of their order process. They actually redesigned their package selection screen fairly recently, and we like the change. Each screen in the order form is clearly explained, too.
One caveat, though: you’ll want to finalize your business name, your leadership, and your purpose statement before you start. If you haven’t nailed those things down, you can still complete an order. It will just take a bit longer.
Customer Support Friendliness
Since online formation services are entirely virtual, they can sometimes feel a bit impersonal. But good customer support—complete with friendly, prompt customer service representatives—brings a personal touch to your experience.
Direct Incorporation offers phone and email support, and we tested both. Technically, you can call a team member directly; they post everyone’s extension on their website. We called the main line instead. All told, we only waited about three minutes on hold. But it was worth the wait; the response we got was thorough. The representative we spoke with was pleasant and professional, too.
LLC Formation Speed
Technically speaking, you can file your own LLC paperwork yourself. But you’re a busy, budding entrepreneur, so you may not have the time to spare. Hiring a formation service like Direct Incorporation can save you time—provided they’re fast enough. Poor processing times could leave you wishing you’d formed on your own instead.
Direct Incorporation matches their competitors in how quickly they’ll get your documents to the state. Usually, they submit your documents to the state by the following business day. And before you finish your order, they do give you a clear estimate of how quickly the state will process your paperwork. That way, you can decide whether or not you want to expedite your filings.
If you ever change your mind about a product you’ve purchased, you want to be able to return it, right? Unfortunately, with any LLC formation service, a full refund is impossible. That’s because part of the money goes to the state as their incorporation fee, and states do not refund those fees.
But occasionally, a customer changes their mind about a package they purchased. Perhaps they no longer want to subscribe to the registered agent service, or the company completes the process incorrectly. Each company has their own policy for refunds, and LegalZoom and Direct Incorporation are no exception. We’ll summarize those policies here.
You can request a refund from Direct Incorporation at any time, so they’re a bit more flexible than LegalZoom. However, the drawback is their $40 convenience fee; it accompanies any refund request you make.
Assistance with ongoing compliance
Starting your business takes a lot of time and effort, but so does maintaining it! Each state is a little different; some require annual reports, some require you to renew your license each year, and more. Keeping track of these requirements can be confusing.
That’s why a lot of services help you with ongoing compliance. But just how much help you’ll get depends on what service you choose.
Every package offered by Direct Incorporation also has six months of free registered agent service. You can contact them for a quote of how much this service will cost when the trial expires. They also offer annual report services for $75.
Direct Incorporation’s final score
Direct Incorporation is a decent incorporation service; honestly, there aren’t many downsides to the service. Truth be told, our biggest complaint is their package option.
For a lot of our readers, these packages just have more than most entrepreneurs need. Their prices are fair enough, but only if you actually want all the features they include. If those features do meet your needs, then Direct Incorporation is probably the only service that offers them all in one place.
Beyond that, Direct Incorporation does a decent job of giving their customers good service and support. They have a proven track record, too, so we give them a final score of 3.9/5.