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 also want some help getting started, so you’ve decided to hire an online 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 ZenBusiness and Incfile.
In this guide, we’ll give you a side-by-side comparison of these two services. Then, you can pick the right service for you.
Rocket Tip: Looking for the best and most affordable LLC formation services? Compare the top 3 options (ZenBusiness vs Incfile vs Northwest) to see how they stack up.
Our philosophy: What makes an LLC service “good”?
Ultimately, the “best” 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 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 comparison below.
ZenBusiness vs. Incfile: What’s the difference?
On the surface, Incfile and ZenBusiness 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:
- With ten years of business over ZenBusiness, Incfile has a more proven track record and better brand recognition.
- As a Public Benefit Corporation, ZenBusiness gives back to small businesses with its Pay-It-Forward initiative.
- We score ZenBusiness and Incfile similarly with both services receiving 4.7/5 stars.
We recommend both Incfile and ZenBusiness as good choices for new businesses. To get a closer look, keep reading this comparison or check out their websites directly.
Pricing and packages
Whenever you make any kind of purchase, you want to know that what you’re buying is truly worth the cost. The same goes for ZenBusiness and Incfile. Each service has their own range of packages and price points; they’re pretty comparable in value. Let’s take a look at them.
- ($39) Starter: The first option with ZenBusiness costs $39 to set up an LLC. For that price, you get their annual registered agent service and customizable operating agreement, making it an excellent option. Past that, their regsitered agent service is $119 after your first free year.
- ($149) Pro: The pro package makes a jump to $149. That includes an EIN (which you can get for free on your own), their Worry-Free Guarantee (essentially a compliance assistance program), and a faster processing time.
- ($249) Premium: We don’t honestly recommend this package because it doesn’t add enough features for the price. And with a price of $249, it’s a lot of money to shell out for a new business.
- ($0) Silver: The lowest price point for Incfile is close to the Starter package of ZenBusiness, with a price tag of $0. Like ZenBusiness, they include a subscription to their registered agent service. After the first year, it’s $119.
- ($149) Gold: Incfile charges $149 for their mid-tier package. And like ZenBusiness, Incfile includes an EIN with this package. They also give you a kit for your LLC, which includes a decorative binder and seal.
- ($299) Platinum: Incfile charges $299 for their highest-tier package. This extra expense gives you expedited service for your state, along with a few other features. It’s not the right choice for every business, but in our opinion, it’s a little more helpful than ZenBusiness’s highest package.
Ultimately, both ZenBusiness and Incfile have comparable price points. The best package from ZenBusiness is a little more valuable than the equivalent from Incfile. But if you’re looking for the more budget-friendly option, Incfile is the way to go.
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 found them both pretty easy to use. Here’s the run-down of the two:
- Choosing a package: Just pick the right package for your business to get started.
- Up-sells: ZenBusiness does present a few extra up-sells throughout the process, which can be annoying. Thankfully, they are easy to accept or decline.
- Order time: When we tested the order process for ZenBusiness, we took just a few minutes to reach the final step.
- Choosing a package: With Incfile’s order process, your price is updated with any change you make. So, it’s easy to see just how much your order will cost you.
- Up-sells: Incfile does offer a few extras throughout your order, usually as specials from their partners. For example, you can build a business website with SnapWeb or a business bank account with Bank of America.
- Order time: Incfile is easy and fast, but you may find you spend a little longer using their order form simply because it’s so helpful; Incfile provides you with helpful information and hyperlinks along the way.
All told, the order processes with both Incfile and ZenBusiness are quite easy to create an LLC online.
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 online incorporation 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, Incfile has an advantage over ZenBusiness when it comes to customer support. Here’s our breakdown of the two:
- Types of support: ZenBusiness uses a web-based chat support for their customer support. You can also contact them via email or phone.
- Availability: ZenBusiness usually gives a prompt response if you contact them during their regular business hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST.
- Quality of support: When we tested them, we found the representatives at ZenBusiness to be knowledgeable and prompt.
- Types of support: Incfile offers customer support via email and phone.
- Availability: Incfile has very prompt service, especially if you contact them during regular business hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. CST. If you contact them after hours, you will receive a response by the following day.
- Quality of support: Incfile’s customer support gets the job done, and their phone support is extremely quick. If you want a more in-depth response, we found their email response gave a deeper explanation of our question.
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.
Both Incfile and ZenBusiness have excellent customer reviews, but Incfile has been in business longer. Here’s how the two stack up:
- Years in business: ZenBusiness was just founded in 2015, so it’s celebrating its fourth anniversary this year.
- Businesses formed: ZenBusiness has created thousands of business in their short time in business.
- Customer reviews: Customers have lots of good things to say about ZenBusiness, with excellent ratings on both Trustpilot and the Better Business Bureau.
- Years in business: Founded in 2004, Incfile has been in business for fifteen years.
- Businesses formed: Incfile has helped create more than 250,000 businesses, with a 200% growth rate in the last year alone.
- Customer reviews: Incfile is older than ZenBusiness, so they’ve had a little more time to accumulate negative reviews. That said, Incfile’s customer reviews are quite positive. Their good track record even won them a spot on Entrepreneur’s 360 Best Entrepreneurial Companies Businesses for 2018.
Both ZenBusiness and Incfile have good reviews, but if you want a company with a proven record, Incfile is a better choice.
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 creation website, 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 Incfile and ZenBusiness are no exception. We’ll summarize those policies here.
ZenBusiness offers refunds on a case-by-case basis. If, at any time, you are displeased with the service and want reimbursement, you’ll need to contact their customer support and make a request. The ZenBusiness team will then review your request. If they choose to offer you a refund, they’ll give you your money back, minus the state fees.
If you decide to cancel your services from Incfile, you’ll need to do so quickly; Incfile only offers refunds if you cancel before they transfer payment to the state. So basically, if Incfile has already processed your order, then you can’t get your money back. Your refund will be your full purchase price, minus a $30 cancellation fee.
Assistance with ongoing compliance
Starting a 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.
If you purchase the Pro package from ZenBusiness, then you are automatically subscribed to their Worry Free Compliance Guarantee. This program allows ZenBusiness to conduct an annual audit of your business to ensure that you meet your annual requirements. You can also purchase the program separately for $110 per year.
No matter what package you purchase with Incfile, you receive automatic notifications for important due dates for your business. That said, you do need to keep your email address up-to-date so you’ll receive those notifications.
So, which LLC service do we recommend?
Both ZenBusiness and Incfile are very good LLC formation services. And we honestly recommend them both.
We recommend ZenBusiness for any entrepreneur looking for affordability and included features, especially for their most basic package. Plus they’re a Public Benefit Corporation, too; we appreciate that they give back to their business community by donating to women- and minority-owned businesses each year.
On the other hand, Incfile is a bit cheaper and their track record is much more established.