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 Harvard Business Services’s LLC formation service.
Rocket Tip: Looking for the best and most affordable LLC formation services? Compare the top 3 LLC websites to see how they stack up.
Our philosophy: What makes a formation service “good?”
Ultimately, the “best LLC service” 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 LLC formation services, 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 Harvard Business Services?
Harvard Business Services first appeared on the scenes in 1981, founded by Richard H. Bell. Richard—or Rick, as his friends call him—originally operated the business out of his home.
He and his wife wanted to make it as easy as possible to form a business in Delaware. So they created their own business formation service and made it a team effort. They personally answered every phone call.
This personal touch persists in the business model of HBS; customer service is everything to them. Since then, they’ve moved into an office and added members to their team, enabling them to form more than 175,000 businesses.
Two things stand out about Harvard Business Services: their excellent customer service and their specialization to the state of Delaware. They serve Delaware alone, making them an authoritative source for Delaware business law (at least, as authoritative as they can be without being actual lawyers).
How does Harvard Business Services work?
Harvard Business Services is fairly easy to use. To get started, you’ll head to their “Form an LLC” page. Once there, you can expect to complete the following steps:
- Enter personal contact information: To file your paperwork (and notify you about your business in the future), Harvard Business Services needs some more information about you, including your email, your full name, your phone number, and if you want, your Skype.
- Information about your business: Here, you’ll tell HBS what type of business you want to form, your business name, and other information, such as the business owners, how the LLC will be managed, and more. This is the nitty-gritty stuff, but it helps make your business a reality.
- Choose any add-ons: Harvard Business Services doesn’t nag you with a lot of additional services, but they do offer you the option to expedite your filings. They’ll also get an EIN (Employer Identification Number) for you, if you want them to.
- Payment information: Of course, you’ll have to give Harvard Business Services the money they deserve for all their help. To that end, you’ll need to provide your credit card information.
Is it a good option?
If you want to form a business in the state of Delaware, then Harvard Business Services is a great option. Their service is reliable and prompt, and their customer service is unmatched in the industry. And their registered agent service is a very competitive price point, making it easy to hire them even on a budget.
What are their customers saying?
Harvard Business Services boasts excellent reviews on Trustpilot and the Better Business Bureau. In fact, they have some of the best reviews of any service we’ve seen.
We’ll give you our own opinion below, but here are some of the things customers say they love about Harvard Business Services:
- Annual cost to maintain the company with HBS is one of the lowest in the industry
- Friendly, professional, responsive staff that looks to help the client, not upsell
- Easy to use
- Quick turnaround for filings
Usually, we’d include a summary of some negative reviews here, but to be perfectly honest, we couldn’t find many! Negative thoughts about Harvard Business Services are few and far between. The one bad review we did find complained that hiring HBS wasn’t worth the money because you can complete the process yourself for less.
Technically, this complaint is true; you don’t have to hire any formation service. You can do it all on your own. But the whole point of hiring a service is to pass that work to someone else, so you can take that negative with a grain of salt.
Who is Harvard Business Services best for?
Harvard Business Services is best for new businesses who are looking to create an LLC in the state of Delaware. Unfortunately, they’re limited to Delaware alone. (Granted, that is an advantage to the businesses they can help because they know all the ins and outs of Delaware laws).
Harvard Business Services is also a good option for entrepreneurs who want an affordable package with no extra bells and whistles. And their registered agent service is the best price in the industry–$50 per year.
But if you want a fuller package with lots of upper-tier features, another service may be better. Harvard’s upper packages aren’t as packed as their competitors (more on that below).
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. Harvard Business Services is no exception.
Harvard Business Services offers a decent value for their most basic packages. That said, the features in their higher tier packages don’t add as much value as their higher prices would have you believe. The equivalent packages of other companies tend to be more helpful for new businesses.
Here are the packages and features offered by HBS:
Green: In the green package, everything is electronic, so there’s no paper to track down. This package includes most of the basic features of a formation package. For $89 (plus the Delaware’s state fee of $90), Harvard Business Services will run a name availability check, prepare and file your Articles of Organization, and send you compliance notifications. They also throw in a free year of their registered agent service.
Basic: The Basic package will cost you $139. For that price, you’ll get all the features of the Green package plus hard copies of your business documents and access to templates you can use in your business, such as operating agreements and more.
Standard: “Standard” usually implies a basic package, but with Harvard Business Services, the Standard is their top-tier. This package is $239, and it includes all of the above features and a corporate kit and seal. This includes an embossed binder with your company name and a customized seal to use on your formal documents.
Add-ons: Harvard Business Services doesn’t really throw a lot of extras at you during the order process. You can have them obtain your EIN for you for $65. However, you should note that you can complete this process yourself for free by requesting it from the IRS.
Harvard Business Services’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.
The order process with Harvard Business Services is fairly easy to use. When we tested it ourselves, it took us about ten minutes to complete. Their form was easy to understand, too.
Another big merit of the order process is that Harvard Business Services doesn’t have a lot of up-sells throughout the order process (unlike many of their competitors). They offer the EIN and their expedited services, but that’s pretty much the limit of their up-sells. We appreciate this because it keeps the form uncluttered.
Customer Support Friendliness
Availability: You can contact Harvard Business Services support during regular business hours on most days, with 9 to 5 (ET) availability on Monday through Thursday and then 8 to noon availability on Fridays.
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.
As we mentioned in the customer reviews above, Harvard Business Services inspires a lot of confidence through their customer service. And when we tested their support out for ourselves, we saw that excellence in action.
Harvard Business Services offers support via phone, email, chat, and even Skype. (We didn’t test the Skype feature, but it’s an intriguing option). Across each method, we found impressive response times and professionalism.
For example, our chat question was answered almost instantly. We got a response to our email in less than 24 hours.
Calling Harvard Business Services is equally simple; direct extensions to specific staff members are listed on their website, so you can get a hold of just the right person to answer your question. When we called, we contacted the main line. They directed us to the right department quickly, and that representative was courteous and knowledgeable. They even expanded on our original question to ensure we received all the information we needed.
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 Harvard Business Services can save you time—provided they’re fast enough. Poor processing times could leave you wishing you’d formed on your own instead.
Harvard Business Services will turn your order around relatively quickly, but just how quickly depends on your package. The Green package usually finishes within 3-5 business days. But the higher tier packages include hard copies which Harvard Business has to mail to you. That’s why the more expensive packages take a touch longer, averaging 4-6 business days.
That said, you can speed this process up by paying for expedited filings for a $150 fee. This gives you same-day processing provided you file before 1:00 p.m. If you file later than that, your documents will be processed the next day.
Either way, these processing times are competitive. You may find a few faster services, but there won’t be many.
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.
Harvard Business Services offers a few compliance assistance programs, including annual report and franchise tax help. If you’d like these services, you can call for a quote. Their registered agent service is also the cheapest in the industry at $50 per year.
If you ever change your mind about a product you’ve purchased, you want to be able to return it, right? Unfortunately, with any business 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.
Harvard Business Services makes it easy to get a refund. If you ever decide to cancel one of their services, you can do so, but you only have a thirty-day window. Harvard Business Services will give you a refund of your purchase price, minus a 5% cancellation fee.
Their final score
Harvard Business Services earns high marks in nearly every category. Honestly, the only real downside of this company is that they’re limited to Delaware.
If you want to set up an LLC in a different state, you’ll need to use another company instead like Zen or Incfile. That specialization is an advantage to Delaware businesses, though, because they are Delaware experts.
Harvard Business Service also offers a decent value for their entry-level packages. Their registered agent fee is one of the best we’ve seen, and their customer service is the best we’ve seen. Because of this, we award them a respectable 4.1/5.