You want to start a Limited Liability Company. You have your vision, your business name, and the motivation to make your dream a reality. But you want some help getting started, so you’ve decided to hire a business formation service.
But that leads to a big decision: which service should you use? There are a lot of options available, but they’re not created equal. Two popular services are Northwest and MyCompanyWorks.
In this guide, we’ll give you a side-by-side comparison of these two options. Then you can pick the right service for you.
Rocket Tip: Looking for the best and most affordable LLC formation services? Compare the 3 top formation services to see how they stack up.
Our philosophy: What makes a formation service “good?”
Ultimately, the “best LLC formation 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 an LLC formation service, here are some questions we 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 comparison below.
Northwest vs. MyCompanyWorks: What’s the difference?
On the surface, Northwest and MyCompanyWorks seem to accomplish the same purpose: helping you form your LLC. And while that’s true, the difference between them goes deeper than that. We’ll give you our full analysis in just a moment, but here are a few key differences:
- Northwest has the best customer support in the entire industry. Northwest has a highly personalized support system staffed by knowledgeable experts who know your business inside and out.
- MyCompanyWorks has a stellar online reputation, including thousands of positive customer reviews.
Both Northwest and MyCompanyWorks can help you register an LLC. For a lot of our categories, these two companies come up nearly tied. We do have a preference for one, though. But to give you a better idea of which is right for you, let’s jump into the specifics.
Pricing and packages
Whenever you make a purchase, you want to know that what you’re buying is truly worth the cost. The same goes for Northwest and MyCompanyWorks. The first major difference you’ll notice is pricing: Northwest forms LLCs for $225, while MyCompanyWorks has a starting price point of $79. Let’s take a look at them:
Northwest only offers one LLC formation package, and it costs $225 (plus state fee). For that price, they’ll file your formation documents for you. They also throw in a year of free registered agent service, which costs $125 after the first year (there is no obligation to renew once the free year is up). Finally, Northwest also provides a sample operating agreement and membership certificates.
- Basic: MyCompanyWorks starts out their package offerings at a price point of $79. For that price, they’ll form your business and give you online access to your formation documents. They’ll also give you several different business documents, along with helpful ebooks, a StartUp Wizard checklist, and a custom operating agreement.
- Entrepreneur: The next package jumps to $199, and it adds an EIN and a business kit to the Basic package. The kit includes an embossed binder, company seal, and ownership certificates to use in your business.
- Complete: The top package from MyCompanyWorks costs $279, and it adds one year of registered agent service to the Entrepreneur package. This service normally costs $99 per year, so it’s actually a pretty good deal for your first year.
MyCompanyWorks has a fair price point for their entry-level package, especially considering how many features it includes. The only clear drawback is that you don’t get registered agent service until their top package.
In contrast, Northwest includes a year of this service for free with every package. That said, their price point of $225 is much higher than the $79 package provided by MyCompanyWorks, and even if you add registered agent to the MyCompanyWorks Basic package, their price tag would still only be $178. Still, Northwest’s next-level customer support is enough to make up the remaining pricing gap, so we’ll call this category a tie overall.
How easy it is to use the service
Any business service is supposed to make your life easier, right? That’s why we always consider how easy it is to use a service when we evaluate them. After all, why would you bother paying someone to file your paperwork if it’s harder to hire them than it is to do it yourself?
We tested both services, and they’re both relatively straightforward. Here’s the run-down of the two:
- Choosing a package: Northwest only offers one package, so this does not apply.
- Up-sells: With Northwest, there aren’t any up-sells! Their order form is as simple as it gets.
- Order time: There are really only three steps to ordering an LLC formation package with Northwest—enter your business details, and pay for your order. That’s all there is to it, so it takes very little time.
- Choosing a package: After you select your business type and your desired state, MyCompanyWorks directs you to select your package. You can also choose some add-ons as part of your package choice.
- Up-sells: MyCompanyWorks offers a few up-sells along the way, but none of them are too pushy. They also have some third-party offers, such as a web hosting option from InMotion Hosting.
- Order time: As long as you have all your business information on hand, it’s really easy to complete an order. Usually, you can finish the process within ten to fifteen minutes.
Northwest and MyCompanyWorks are both easy to use; you’d probably spend about 10-15 minutes using either service. This category could have been a tie, but we have to mark down MyCompanyWorks for their inclusion of third-party offers and up-sells. These aren’t a huge problem, but they can be annoying. That’s why Northwest gets the win.
Buying a product is one thing. But getting support for that product is just as important. After all, if a company doesn’t stand behind its product, why should you? But when a company helps you throughout the entire process—choosing a product, purchasing it, and keeping that product up-to-date—you’ll be happier with your purchase.
The same goes for business formation services. If they help you pick the package that’s right for you, assist you with the paperwork, answer your questions, and make it clear that they want to help you more than make money off you, you’ll keep using them. You might even recommend them to your friends.
In our opinion, both MyCompanyWorks and Northwest have good customer support teams, but we do have a strong preference. Here’s a summary of our thoughts on the customer service of both services:
- Types of support: Northwest offers support via phone and email.
- Availability: Northwest doesn’t post the exact hours for their customer support department on their website. However, when we tested their support, we received an email within 24 hours. We didn’t wait that long for our phone call, though (thankfully).
- Quality of support: Northwest fully delivers on its promise to provide next-level support. They’ll be your contact whenever you have questions, so you’ll get advice from someone who already knows your business situation, not a random person at an outsourced call center.
- Types of support: MyCompanyWorks also offers support via phone and email.
- Availability: You can contact MyCompanyWorks support on Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET for email support and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET for phone support.
- Quality of support: When we tested their customer support experience, we found MyCompanyWorks to be quite helpful. They gave us an in-depth response complete with links to more information. We got fairly quick responses, too.
MyCompanyWorks has an excellent customer support team; they’re prompt, professional, and helpful. Compared to most other services, they come out on top. But when we pit them against Northwest, they come up a bit short.
We’ll admit it: Northwest has our favorite customer support model of any formation service. With their personalized support, you’ll get excellent support every time.
Company track record
Technically, there’s nothing wrong with using a new company to form your business. But working with an established, trusted brand gives you confidence. You can trust a company that has already served thousands of happy customers.
MyCompany and Northwest both have excellent track records, but each service shows that track record in slightly different ways. Here’s how the two stack up:
- Years in business: Northwest is one of the oldest online business formation services; they joined the market in 1998.
- Businesses formed: Northwest boasts more than 2 million businesses formed.
- Customer reviews: For as well-established as Northwest is, they have very surprisingly few reviews online. They are mostly positive, though.
- Years in business: MyCompanyWorks started out in 2001 under the name MyNewCompany.
- Businesses formed: MyCompanyWorks has formed more than 60,000 new businesses.
- Customer reviews: Customer feedback is a major strength for MyCompanyWorks; they have over 3,300 reviews, and most of them are 4- or 5-star ratings.
Northwest and MyCompany are almost the same age, so both services have established themselves as reputable companies. Northwest has certainly formed more businesses, but we’re blown away by the sheer number of positive reviews MyCompanyWorks has.
Look at it this way: MyCompanyWorks has more than 3,300 reviews on third-party websites. That’s a huge number, especially considering that they’ve formed roughly 60,000 businesses. For us, that speaks volumes: their customers are happy with their service, and they’re talking about it.
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.
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 MyCompanyWorks and Northwest are no exception. We’ll summarize those policies here.
We’ll let Northwest speak for themselves here: “We will not take your money twice, and if we screw something up, we will give your money back.” Much like they have excellent customer support, Northwest makes it their priority to serve their customers, not just get money from you. If you’re ever disappointed with their service, you can get a refund. Their only stipulations are that you must request your refund within 60 days and there’s a $25 fee.
MyCompanyWorks has a 100% satisfaction guarantee, and their refund window is slightly wider than Northwest’s. If you decide that you’re unsatisfied with their service within 90 days of your purchase, you can contact them. They’ll either correct the problem or give you a refund—your choice. That said, they cannot refund any fees paid to the state and MyCompanyWorks also has some rather steep convenience fees depending on the status of your order when you request the refund.
If you request a refund before they perform your name availability check, there’s a $25 fee. Refunds requested before they create your formation documents are subject to a $50 fee, while refunds requested after that carry a whopping $75 fee, essentially rendering the “refund” moot.
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.
Northwest offers two separate services for ongoing compliance assistance. One is their registered agent service, which costs $125 annually after your first year. You can also subscribe to their annual report filing service for $99, which helps you meet all your yearly requirements.
Like MyCompanyWorks, MyCompanyWorks provides registered agent services and an annual report service. The registered agent service is included in their Complete package only. You can also purchase it separately for $99 per year (a very competitive price). Their annual report service carries the same price tag.
So, which service do we recommend?
MyCompanyWorks gets a lot of things right: their track record, good value in their packages, and a professional support team. And their reputation is hard to compete with.
But we think Northwest competes with them and comes out on top. MyCompanyWorks may be Northwest’s equal on several fronts, but Northwest has the best customer support in the industry, and their inclusion of a full year of registered agent service essentially evens out the pricing difference.