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 ZenBusiness’s LLC formation service.
Rocket Tip: If you’re looking to incorporate instead, you should check out our sister site’s review of ZenBusiness at Incorporation Rocket.
What is ZenBusiness?
ZenBusiness is a newcomer to the online business formation game. In fact, they were founded in 2015. Because they’re so new, they’re also a small company, but that’s part of their charm. ZenBusiness loves to help small business owners chase their dreams of starting, running, and growing their own business.
Don’t let their youth deceive you, however; ZenBusiness has already formed thousands of businesses in just a few short years. They’ve even set a goal to form over a million in the next five years.
Unlike their competitors, ZenBusiness is actually a Public Benefit Corporation. They’ve committed themselves to helping out underserved businesses. Each year, ZenBusiness donates money (through Kiva.org) to women-owned and minority-owned businesses as part of their Pay-It-Forward initiative.
How does ZenBusiness work?
ZenBusiness helps new businesses get off the ground by combining automated technology with their own small-team mentality. When you order a package from ZenBusiness, you can expect a fairly simple process. Here’s a fly-by of what you can expect once you hit their “Start Now” button:
- Select your package: You can choose to use their Basic plan (free plus state fees), or if you want more features, there are three packages to choose from. To get a full idea of your expenses, be sure to indicate your state and business type at the top of the page.
- Give information about yourself: To best serve you, ZenBusiness needs some basic information, including your name and contact information. They will not share your contact information without your permission.
- Tell ZenBusiness about your business: In most cases, this is the most time-consuming step in the process. But thankfully, it’s easy; you just need to tell ZenBusiness all the details about the LLC you want to create, including your desired name, your business address, who will own the business, who will manage it, and more. This information helps ZenBusiness fill out your paperwork with the Secretary of State and other government offices as needed.
- Provide payment information: To complete your order, you’ll need a credit card on hand. Even if you use ZenBusiness’s basic package, you still have to cover the state fees.
Is ZenBusiness a good option?
ZenBusiness isn’t the #1 formation service on our list, but it is near the top. That’s because they’ve established themselves as a reliable service in such a short period of time. And better yet, their Basic package is the cheapest option we’ve encountered so far. Granted, with such a small company, there are a few drawbacks. The biggest one is that their processing times are slower than some competitors’.
Ultimately, ZenBusiness is a good, reliable option with few bells and whistles (unless you want them). They are an especially good option if you want to work with a smaller team to form your business. And if you want to support a company that gives back to its community, there’s no better option.
What are ZenBusiness’s customers saying?
Even though ZenBusiness is new to the business formation scene, they’ve already established themselves as a reputable, dependable service. An overwhelming majority of their reviews are positive. In fact, most of their negative reviews stem from a state or IRS filing error and not a problem they caused.
Here are the features reviewers love about ZenBusiness:
- Stress-free order process
- Affordable packages
And here’s what they didn’t like:
- Just as fast to complete some of their services on your own
- No phone support
We dive into these ideas in our in-depth review below. In terms of affordability, no one matches ZenBusiness’s price points. And for many, the simplicity of their process outshines their lackluster processing times.
Who is ZenBusiness best for?
ZenBusiness is best for entrepreneurs who want the convenience of using an incorporation service but also don’t want to deal with a big company. Since ZenBusiness is so new to the industry, you won’t get that big-operation feeling that you’d encounter with their competitors. And if you want the lowest possible price point, ZenBusiness is the way to go; they’ll charge you nothing to form your business (just pay your state’s fee).
ZenBusiness: Our in-depth review
Cost to form an LLC: 5/5 Stars
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. ZenBusiness is no exception.
ZenBusiness offers four different package options at a wide variety of price points, so there’s something for everyone. Here’s a breakdown of their package options:
Basic: ZenBusiness’s Basic package is as basic as it gets: they’ll form your LLC for you—no more, no less. But if that sounds like a rip-off, don’t worry. ZenBusiness actually doesn’t place a price tag on this package. You’ll pay $0 to ZenBusiness; the only money you’ll have to shell out is for your state’s filing fee (which is an expense that’s added on to the package price, regardless of which package you choose or which service you use).
Starter: The starter package starts out at $49 for the first year, and you’ll pay $99 per year every following year. For that fee, you’ll get the Basic features, plus registered agent service and a customizable sample operating agreement. You’ll also get a boost to your processing speed, cutting the time to roughly 2-3 weeks.
Pro: The Pro package is Zen’s most popular package. It makes a $100 jump for a total price of $149 per year, and it adds several features to the Starter package that you may or may not need. With this package, ZenBusiness will obtain an Employer Identification Number for you. And they’ll also give you their Worry-Free Guarantee. This service entails that ZenBusiness will help you file your annual reports, and they’ll also help you manage your business compliance. Last but not least, the processing speed for Pro takes roughly 6-8 business days.
Premium: At $249 per year, we think that the Premium package is, well…fluffy. The added features aren’t really worth the extra cost. The premium package includes a lot of third-party offers, such as a business email address, domain name registration, and domain name protection. Premium also expedites your filings, so they’re processed within 3-5 days.
Add-ons: ZenBusiness offers a wide variety of add-ons to these packages. Two of their most popular add-ons are banking services and insurance policies through their partners. You can get these services elsewhere, but some customers appreciate the one-stop shop for their business needs.
ZenBusiness’s order process: 4/5 Stars
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.
ZenBusiness’s order process is relatively straightforward. The form is simple—you simply provide them with information about yourself and the business you want to form—and ZenBusiness offers helpful guidance along the way, too. ZenBusiness does throw in a few upsells that clutter their order process. We’d like their order form better if they held off the extras until the last step.
Customer Support: 4.1/5 Stars
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.
ZenBusiness falls a bit short in this category, especially in terms of accessibility. Here’s why: ZenBusiness offers email support only. Most companies in the industry offer both phone and email support. Some even have 24/7 accessibility. ZenBusiness doesn’t; you can catch them most easily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. during weekdays.
That said, ZenBusiness’s support is excellent once you can get it. When we tested it out with a question of our own, we received a fairly quick response. And the representative we talked with seemed knowledgeable, too. In short, with a bit more availability, ZenBusiness’s support would improve a lot.
LLC Formation Speed: 2.5/5 Stars
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 ZenBusiness can save you time—provided they’re fast enough. Poor processing times could leave you wishing you’d formed on your own instead.
ZenBusiness is a bit odd in how they process orders. Most other companies base their estimates off of the state’s turnaround times. ZenBusiness matches your order’s speed to the package you purchase. So, if you purchase Basic, you can expect your business to be formed within roughly four weeks. Starter takes four. Only Premium has a speedy turnaround of 3-5 days. But that speed will cost you.
ZenBusiness’s final score: 3.9/5 Stars
ZenBusiness shows a lot of potential: they have a unique pricing system, and despite being a young company, they’ve established a loyal customer base. With a little work on their customer service availability and order processing speeds, they could shake up the business formation industry a lot. That’s why we give them a solid 3.9/5.