Limited liability company (LLC) service companies can help you set up a new LLC, but they have different specialties and aren’t equally good in all situations. In this guide, you will learn about the best LLC services currently available and why they made this list while other companies didn’t.
|ZenBusiness||Most Small Businesses||$49 + state fees|
|IncFile||Affordable Options||$0 + state fees|
|Northwest Registered Agent||Privacy & Security||$225 + state fees|
|LegalZoom||A-Z Service||$79 + state fees|
|Rocket Lawyer||Ongoing Legal Help||$99 + state fees|
|Inc Authority||Building Business Credit||$0 + state fees|
|Swyft Filings||Flexible Value||$49 + state fees|
ZenBusiness: Best for most small businesses
ZenBusiness is ostensibly an LLC formation company, although it also supports partnerships, corporations, and even nonprofit organizations. It offers three pricing packages, charged annually and excludes any government fees, to help with different needs.
Its starter package includes an operating agreement, filing articles, one year of registered agent services for managing documents, and a certified public accountant (CPA) assessment to ensure your business follows the correct accounting procedures.
However, the starter package still requires some work for things like registering for an employee identification number (EIN) and similar tasks. ZenBusiness takes over areas like this for its Pro and Premium packages, where it also helps prepare and file annual reports, supports opening business bank accounts, and so on.
The crucial thing to understand about ZenBusiness is that it wants to provide ongoing management services for your business rather than help with your initial setup. Its introductory prices are low because it hopes you’ll continue being a customer over time, and that’s where its real profit is.
Most of its functions are automated, which helps reduce the number of errors and ensure accuracy in all filings. Notably, it also adjusts its speed based on the package you choose. The premium level might have a turnaround of as little as three days, while those in the starter package may need to wait up to two weeks.
Overall, ZenBusiness is a reliable LLC formation service, and it has an excellent customer support team capable of providing personalized advice. However, it’s not as good of a choice if you want to form your LLC and then drop the exterior support. If ZenBusiness sounds like the right choice for your company, check out our full ZenBusiness review.
- Formation in multiple business types
- No pushy up-sells
- Annual report filing available
- Not a great fit for business owners looking to spend as little as possible and DIY annual report filing
IncFile: Best for affordable formation
IncFile, as its name suggests, is particularly good at incorporating companies under different roles. While it can help with most businesses, it’s not a good choice for forming partnerships, although it can provide compliance services after you start a partnership.
One of the standout aspects of IncFile is how most of its services utilize a variable pricing model. For example, its business formation services have different prices depending on state fees, so you can expect to pay anywhere from $40 for an LLC in Kentucky to $520 for one in Massachusetts.
IncFile also provides optional accounting services, ranging from acquiring an EIN ($70) to help with regulatory compliance. Its overall services aren’t incredibly unique, but the fact that most services are optional means you can save money if you want to do some things yourself.
In that sense, IncFile is an excellent choice for cheap LLC formation. If you go all-in on its services, which you might after the frequent upsell attempts, you’ll probably end up paying similar costs to what you’ll see with most other services.
In other words, IncFile is an excellent choice for partial do-it-yourself (DIY) formation, but there’s no reason to choose it over an all-inclusive service if you want as much help as possible. Its unfavorable history with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), where it lost accreditation after hundreds of disputes, also makes it harder to recommend the company. If IncFile sounds tempting despite the BBB issue, check out our full IncFile review for more information on it.
- LLC formation on a budget
- Affordable non-profit formation
- Spotty customer service
- Not the fastest turnaround
Northwest Registered Agent: Best privacy & security
Despite what its name implies, Northwest Registered Agent doesn’t focus specifically on the Pacific Northwest area of the United States. It has more than 200 customer service staff (known as “Corporate Guides”) across the country.
Somewhat unusually, Northwest Registered Agent gives a high amount of independence to its Corporate Guides. This means more variation in activities and services depending on who you work with, but it tries to balance this by having regular training and oversight practices to ensure each agent meets its overall standards. As a paperwork-focused company, Northwest Registered Agent provides help for most types of businesses but does not do anything for sole proprietorships.
The main thing that sets this company apart is its focus on acting as a registered agent and providing support with paperwork and similar issues. It has a relatively high up-front cost compared to some other LLC formation agencies, but the price drops by almost half in later years if you only want it to continue acting as your agent.
As a registered agent, it’ll receive mail on your behalf, which it scans and forwards to you while isolating junk mail. This is especially useful for creating and preserving records of communications, and it’s a nice touch that makes its service more valuable overall.
The downside to this company is that its services are uniform, so you can’t reduce the cost by excluding certain things. This makes it functionally the opposite of IncFile, but there are times when it’s nice to get the full package with no other decisions necessary. For more information on Northwest Registered Agent and it's a la carte services, see the full Northwest Registered Agent review here.
- Top notch privacy
- Ongoing registered agent services
- Great customer service
- Not great for business owners looking to incorporate on a tight budget
LegalZoom: Best A-Z service
Most people don’t associate legal services with the word “speed,” but LegalZoom aims to minimize delays so that you can file paperwork and turn your attention back to other matters. The most significant difference this company has its focus on legal services through connections with independent attorneys.
For clarification: LegalZoom does not directly provide legal services and cannot provide legal advice on any matter. However, because it can connect you to licensed attorneys, you can go through it to get legal help if you ever need it.
Unsurprisingly, LegalZoom is a good fit for all types of businesses. While individual members may specialize in forming certain types of businesses, it has enough connections to find someone who’s a good choice for almost any type of LLC.
LegalZoom offers two primary pricing areas for its services. The first area is its package setup, which is divided into Economy, Standard, and Express Gold. The Express Gold is only slightly more expensive than the Standard package but adds in rush processing and express shipping, which can help you open your business sooner.
LegalZoom also provides a la carte pricing for other services, ranging from business compliance to trademark registration and monitoring, entity conversion, and more. As mentioned above, it can also connect you directly with an attorney if you want genuine legal advice and not a standard form. That’s a plus few competitors can match.
The main downside of LegalZoom is the cost. It’s often more expensive than most of the competition, especially if you purchase several add-on services. That makes it much harder to recommend unless you’re ready to pay lawyers’ fees. For more information on LegalZoom’s services, check out our full LegalZoom review.
- One stop, A-Z service
- Lots of options
- Good privacy & security
- Not the cheapest option
Rocket Lawyer: Best for ongoing legal help
Rocket Lawyer is one of LegalZoom’s main competitors. It stands out by providing a monthly subscription plan that offers a 30-minute consultation for every new legal project and unlimited Q&A with an in-house attorney. That’s correct, an in-house attorney. While the lawyer still works for Rocket Lawyer, it does provide actual legal services.
Generally, the monthly plan is its best offer, but it also offers a one-time incorporation service for creating an LLC. That includes support with preparing and filing the articles for the organization, hard copies of the completed versions, a search of state databases, and more.
This is a moderately expensive option, though, and it includes LLC formation in the regular monthly plan. You’ll save money through the one-time route if you don’t need ongoing legal support, but if you expect to talk to a lawyer regularly, there’s something to be said for its monthly subscription. Outside of all of that, it offers registered agent services with a discount for members.
It’s hard to overstate how valuable access to an on-call attorney is, especially with monthly costs that are a fraction of what you’d usually pay per hour for a good attorney. The one downside is that the attorney works for Rocket Lawyer, not for you, but there’s generally no conflict of interest because your legal needs rarely have anything to do with its employer.
Overall, Rocket Lawyer is a good LLC formation option for anyone who needs lots of legal support, but it’s not nearly as notable outside that range. Check out our full Rocket Lawyer review for more information on its services.
- Great for business owners looking for ongoing legal help
- Comprehensive services
- Not great for business owners just looking to incorporate
- Good option for business owners looking to build business credit
- Low cost during the initial year
- Some on-going costs
Swyft Filings: Best for flexible value
Swyft Filings is a relatively affordable option for establishing LLCs, with a basic plan that covers essential services like submitting documents and access to an online account that stores their relevant records.
Like Inc Authority, Swyft Filings is suitable for LLCs, corporations, and nonprofit organizations, but it doesn’t work with anyone forming partnerships or sole proprietorships. It’s not that it’s fundamentally flawed at it. Instead, it doesn’t do it at all.
Its higher tiers include additional business-oriented services like creating and hosting a website, which can be useful if you don’t already have a plan for that. Like other registered agents, it also provides electronic delivery for documents.
While not quite the cheapest option on the market, Swyft Filings is still a low-cost service provider. Unfortunately, it doesn’t include registered agent services as part of any regular package, so you’ll have to buy that separately if you need it.
Generally, it also offers solid customer support and an online learning center with access to many guides, ebooks, and industry reports. Ultimately, Swyft Filings is a high-speed, no-frills service that works well for more straightforward businesses but may fall off somewhat for more complex needs. For more information on whether Swyft Filings is the right choice for your business, check out our in-depth Swyft Filings review here.
- No frills incorporation
- Flexible options
- Not great for partnerships
- Sub-par registered agent service
Recap: Best LLC Services of 2021
How We Assess LLC Formation Services
We assess LLC formation services by several different measures to determine whether they’re worth a final recommendation or not. A key thing to remember is that businesses specialize in different areas, so we evaluate them based on both how useful they are and on what they’re trying to be. Here are the major things we check.
Most LLC formation companies offer basic services like filing documents and acting as registered agents, but others stand out from the crowd by offering financial advice, legal advice, or even in-person consultations to help your business succeed. We assess LLC formation services both by the variety of services they offer and how satisfied their customers are.
Document Management & Online Experience
Document management is a fundamental aspect of LLC formation services. Indeed, on many levels, this is the single most important part of what they do. There are two parts to this that we consider.
First, we consider their expertise with document submission. This means filing paperwork with states, not having things get lost in the mail, and so on. Any errors in this process can stop you from opening your business on time, so it’s essential that they uphold the highest standards here.
The second thing we consider is how good they are at receiving documents. Many LLC formation companies act as registered agents, which means they get official documents and forward them to you (usually electronically).
On a related subject, we check the company’s experience online. Most people prefer managing their LLC formation process online these days, so the more experience a company has on the internet, the better.
Processing time is a crucial part of business formation. There are some processing times you can’t get around, especially when states are processing documents and have no rush options, but everything else is on the LLC formation company.
The best companies have short processing times, ideally under two weeks for most types of paperwork. A few companies can go 1-2 months, though, and that makes them a lot harder to recommend to new business owners.
Compliance refers to an LLC formation company’s adherence to all relevant legal guidelines. That means they’re running their business well and managing all documents well. Some companies can afford to slack a little on processing times, but they cannot have problems in this area and still get a full recommendation.
This is crucial because problems with paperwork can stop you from opening your business. Worse, problems might come back to you later, after you’ve spent money to open your business, but before you’ve had a chance to recover those losses. In other words, this is the least negotiable part of our assessment process.
Having great customer service is a strong positive for any company, but it’s especially useful for LLC formation companies because their activities are essential to yours. Most LLC formation companies can address almost any problem within 24 hours. To a lesser extent, satisfaction guarantees fall into this area.
Price and Value
Finally, is an LLC formation company worth the cost? Companies provide different services, so evaluating this isn’t as simple as finding out who’s the cheapest and the most expensive. Instead, we assess companies holistically to see if they can provide good value for their price. Any company whose value is too different from their price doesn’t get a recommendation.