Do you want to incorporate but don’t know which incorporation service is the best choice to help you handle the paperwork?
This comparison guide walks through the five most important factors that you need to keep in mind when selecting your incorporation service. Let’s find out if ZenBusiness or Northwest Registered Agent is the best option for you.
Key Comparison Points
In our review and comparison of each online incorporation service, we performed a “stress test” on each based on five key factors:
- Compared pricing and features to determine overall value.
- Researched their track record.
- Assessed the quality of customer service.
- Tested their ordering process and service’s ease of use.
- Reviewed the turnaround times for incorporating online.
As you’ll see in this comparison review of ZenBusiness and Northwest Registered Agent, they are both very good incorporation services.
Overall Pricing and Value
ZenBusiness: With a low rate of just $49, ZenBusiness has one of the lowest sticker prices in this industry. Not only is this an excellent price point, but it’s a fully featured package as well, including annual report service, some sample business documents, and an accounting assessment. If you want to also bundle in an operating agreement or corporate bylaws, along with a business website package, their $299 Premium plan is also a good value.
Northwest: In comparing many of the best incorporation services (and LLC services) available, Northwest ended up topping our list as one of the elite options. At $39, their price point is very low compared to many of their competitors. Still, the inclusion of a full year of their premium registered agent service is a great feature that makes their pricing even more attractive. Once the first year is up, the registered agent service will renew at $125 per year.
Company Track Record & Experience
ZenBusiness: ZenBusiness has only been around for a few years, as they formed in 2015. Even though they’re a relatively new addition to the industry, they’ve already served thousands of customers with business formation services. They also receive excellent customer feedback, with 10,000+ positive reviews and minimal negative feedback.
Northwest Registered Agent: Founded in 1998, Northwest has formed around two million business entities, which is a truly impressive volume of clients. On their website, they also note that they’re currently working with 200+ new businesses every day. With such a high volume of clients, you might expect to see more reviews, but we were only able to find just over 400 of them. Still, nearly all of those 400+ reviews are positive in nature.
ZenBusiness: With ZenBusiness, you can access their customer support team via phone, email, or their web-based chat portal. We have experience with all of these options, and we’ve found that no matter which one you choose, you’ll receive timely, accurate, and friendly service from their representatives. They typically reply to emails within one business day, and we’ve never waited for more than a few minutes by phone or chat.
Northwest Registered Agent: This category is actually Northwest’s biggest strength. Northwest assigns a dedicated representative (which they refer to as a Corporate Guide) to each client account, and that employee assists you with every step of your formation process. They even provide you with their direct contact info so that you may call or email them whenever you encounter a question or concern.
Ease of Use
ZenBusiness: Ordering business formation service from ZenBusiness is simple. You start by selecting which incorporation package you’d like to build from, then you provide some basic information about yourself and your business, before choosing which add-on features you want. It’s a streamlined process that never gets confusing.
Northwest Registered Agent: It doesn’t get much easier than ordering business formation service from Northwest. We were able to make it from the beginning of their order form through the payment screen in around 10 minutes, and we didn’t notice any third-party info-selling attempts or upsells throughout the entire process.
Speed of Formation
ZenBusiness: Whereas most companies in this industry base their turnaround times on the actual processing speeds of each state, ZenBusiness instead chooses to structure your formation speed based on the package or rush filing you choose. Overall though, when compared to other formation services, they are either just as fast or slightly faster. To find out your turnaround time, simply plug in your state and immediately see your turnaround time.
Northwest Registered Agent: Northwest’s turnaround times vary depending on which state you’re forming in. Some states can process business formations in just a few days, while others take several weeks.
Conclusion & Final Verdict
As you can see, the competition between these two companies is extremely close and largely comes down to your personal preferences.
If you’re looking for an incorporation package that includes annual report service, ZenBusiness is your best choice. Other than that, Northwest includes registered agent service, and their customer support is second to none in this industry.
What Is the Biggest Advantage of Each Service?
The main advantage for ZenBusiness is its inclusion of annual report service in all of its incorporation service packages, which is not a common offer. In addition, we appreciate ZenBusiness’ dedication to giving back to the communities it serves.
Meanwhile, Northwest’s most significant advantage over ZenBusiness is its customer support. Northwest Registered Agent has the best support in this industry, with a high level of personalization that ZenBusiness can’t quite match.
Which Is the Best Package From These Services?
We typically advise our readers to choose the cheapest formation package that includes registered agent service. In this situation, Northwest Registered Agent is the clear winner, as they provide this combination of features for just $39.
Overall, these are both great formation packages, it just comes down to your priorities (annual report vs. registered agent) to determine a preference.
Which Company Offers More Help With Ongoing Compliance Requirements?
Regardless of which company you choose to form your business, they can both help you when it comes to keeping your business in good standing down the line. ZenBusiness charges $99 for the first year of registered agent service, which is better than the $125 annual fee charged by Northwest Registered Agent. However, Northwest’s $125 rate is cheaper than the $199 price point ZenBusiness charges after the first year. As for annual reports, both companies charge $100.
Again, keep in mind that Northwest includes a year of registered agent service and ZenBusiness bundles in a year of annual report service with all incorporation packages.
Can I Get a Refund if I Need One?
ZenBusiness has one of the best refund policies in the industry. This company provides you with 60 days in which to analyze your purchase. If you’re unhappy for any reason, you can simply request a refund and they will grant it. They don’t even charge any cancellation fees!
Northwest has a somewhat less generous refund policy, as they also have a 60-day window to request a refund. If you request it within that window, they will provide a refund with no questions asked, although they do have a $25 cancellation fee that applies to all refunds (they call it a “You changed your mind” fee).
Which Is the Better Option if I Need Publication Service?
In some states, you need to publish your company’s formation in a regional newspaper. For example, Arizona and Nebraska require publication for LLCs and corporations, New York requires it for LLCs only, and Pennsylvania and Georgia have this requirement for corporations only.
If you’re forming a business in one of these five states, you may prefer ZenBusiness, because they provide publication service, whereas Northwest Registered Agent does not.
Do Either of These Services Go Overboard With Upsells or Third-Party Partnerships?
One of the many inviting aspects of Northwest’s services is the fact that they don’t offer any upsells or third-party partnership offers on their clients. Instead, Northwest focuses on providing their own high-quality services to the best of their abilities, without any distractions. On the other hand, ZenBusiness does have upsells, mainly in their cheapest package.
Am I Required to Use a Business Incorporation Service?
There is no legal statute that dictates the usage of a professional formation service to create a new business entity. If you would rather give the DIY option a try, we have how-to guides on this website to help you form a corporation or nonprofit corporation.
That said, we do have some reservations about forming your own business. With LLCs, every state has its own guidelines, so you’ll need to figure out what your specific state requires in this regard. As for corporations, they’re generally a rather complicated business type, and we only recommend the DIY option for those of you who are already comfortable with the process.