Deciding to start a business is the easy part, actually filing the paperwork is another matter. Thousands of business owners turn to incorporation services to take care of the legwork.
Starting a business can be a complex process, which is why thousands of business owners turn to business formation providers. In doing so, you can avoid the piles of paperwork and seemingly endless bureaucracy and enjoy peace of mind.
Harbor Compliance and ZenBusiness will be analyzed side-by-side to decide which offers you the best business formation service.
Harbor Compliance Vs. ZenBusiness: The Verdict
If you're after a cheap and cheerful service, then you can't go wrong with ZenBusiness. You can't go wrong with Harbor Compliance either, though. ZenBusiness offers some of the fastest incorporation services in the industry. While they don't offer expedited processing, they are generally swift and provide premium 1-1 customer service. If you're in a hurry to get started, they're a good choice too.
Choose ZenBusiness If:
- You want one of the most affordable services
- You want to have expedited processing
- Positive customer feedback is essential to you
Choose Harbor Compliance if:
- You want bespoke service from a harbor compliance specialist on a 1-1 basis
- BBB accreditation is essential to you
- Online security is a primary concern for you
Services Offered & Pricing
Both ZenBusiness and Harbor Compliance offer comparable services and can help you set up an LLC, partnership, corporation, or nonprofit. They also provide similar add-ons and extras, like a registered agent service free for the first year with every LLC formation package. The big difference is pricing, with ZenBusiness representing one of the lowest cost options available and Harbor Compliance representing one of the most popular premium options.
- One year of registered agent service for free
- Filing for an Employer ID number
- Tax filing assistance
- Business name availability search
- ZenBusiness is significantly more cost-effective
- Harbor Compliance doesn't offer expedited filing
Harbor Compliance Packages & Pricing
Harbor Compliance offers just two packages to choose from, and each package provides you everything you need to start your own business, as well as some helpful extras.
Formation Package - $399 + state fees
The Formation package is limited to entity formation requirements. This package includes:
- Filing Articles of Organization - Draft and file forms submitted to the state to create a business entity officially
- Name Availability Search - Ensure your name is available by searching your state database
- Registered Agent Service - Free year of mail forwarding via a registered agent who receives important deliveries from the government for you and sends your way
- Federal Tax ID Number - Set up what's similar to a SS number for your business, used to file taxes, open bank accounts, and hire employees
- Sample Operating Agreement - Template to outline ownership structure and operation guidelines that you can fill in on your own
The Formation package costs $399 plus your state fee.
Compliance Package - $799 + state fees
The Compliance package provides the full suite of Harbor Compliance services. This package includes everything from the Formation package in addition to:
- Managed Annual Report Service - Manage due dates and file annual reports to the state on your behalf
- Initial Report - Some states require an initial report after filing – Harbor Compliance can determine if it's necessary and handle it for you
- Publishing - Some states have a publishing requirement of public proof of their business formation in a local newspaper, which Harbor Compliance can handle if required
- LLC Kit - Custom company binder with your brand name embossed along with a symbolic seal white-labeled with your company name, state, and date of creation
- S-Corp and C-Corp Tax Election - Prepare and file necessary IRS forms for tax election if you choose to be taxed as a corporation
- Ongoing Support - Ongoing access to Harbor Compliance's customer support even after entity formation
The Compliance package costs $799 plus your state fee.
ZenBusiness Packages & Pricing
ZenBusiness offers three pricing packages you can choose from, depending on the features and incorporation services you would like to include. This section covers a detailed breakdown of each package. Note that the pricing excludes state fees.
Starter Package - $49/year
The starter package is ZenBusiness's basic and cheapest package. The package includes an essential incorporation service and registered agent services. A registered agent (RA) is needed since every corporation needs to comply with the state government. The RA receives important deliveries for the business.
ZenBusiness acts as your registered agent and relieves you of the stress of handling document deliveries by yourself.
The starter package is all you need if you want an affordable way to file your LLCs. You'd need to purchase the EIN service (including other packages). The plan also includes providing a customized corporate operating agreement (or bylaws) form to help you define your business's ownership structure.
- Free operating agreement
- Customer support through phone and email
- Filing articles for companies
- Complete access to necessary paperwork and document for your LLC
- One-year free registered agent services with LLC formation ($119 annual fee after that)
- Worry-free CPA assessment with an in-house accountant - includes recommendations for accounting software and licensed CPAs
Pro Package - $199/year
The Pro Package is designed for entrepreneurs who need more features than those in the basic package to startup and run their businesses. The package contains all the elements in the basic package, and even ZenBusiness will help your company acquire an Employee Identification Number – EIN with the Pro Package. The plan also includes the provision of a banking resolution.
The federal tax ID number is a social security number for business entities. It allows you to pay taxes, open business bank accounts, and hire employees.
The package offers a Worry-Free Guarantee, including compliance management service and annual reports management. ZenBusiness also prepares and files your annual report – which provides for filing two amendments per year.
- Acquisition of Employer Identification Number (EIN) needed to file your LLC taxes and open a bank account (the service costs $70 extra if purchased separately)
- Domain name registration ($25)
- Excellent filing speed (formation documents completed within one week)
- Worry-Free guarantee, which includes insurance on document filings to keep them in good standing if they're not submitted in time
Premium Package - $299/year
The ZenBusiness Premium Package includes all the starter and pro package features and extra perks.
Some of the extra perks included in this package include rush filing speed, business email address, domain registration, domain name privacy, 100% accuracy guarantee, and a business website to allow customers to establish an online presence at a very reasonable price.
Document Management & Online Experience
ZenBusiness offers a simple online experience; document management involves the local scanning and uploading of all official legal documents to allow access from your online business account. Harbor Compliance offers a more comprehensive experience with software encompassing an Entity manager, tax manager, license manager, and records manager.
- Online applications
- User-friendly websites
- FAQs and support are available
- Harbor Compliance specialists are on hand to help with whatever you need, and the site is more advanced and secure than ZenBusinesses
Harbor Compliance offers a relatively fast processing time in general but doesn't offer expedited processing, meaning that ZenBusiness is often faster. Harbor Compliance does offer all customers a chance to speak with a dedicated specialist within one day, which speeds up the process.
- A fast, painless process
- ZenBusiness has multiple price tiers, including rush processing
Compliance & Track Record
It's nearly impossible to find negative customer feedback for Harbor Compliance, which says the company does a great job keeping its customers happy and legally compliant with federal, state, and local regulations.
According to the spokesperson at ZenBusiness, the company plans to form 1 million+ new businesses by the end of 2025. They have already formed thousands of companies in their five years of existence, and the 4,400+ positive customer reviews prove their excellent customer service.
In terms of business compliance, both Zenbusiness and Harbor Compliance can provide ongoing support for all of your business licensing needs.
- Excellent customer support
- Stellar reputation
- ZenBusiness is newer and has a less established reputation
- The better business bureau accredits Harbor Compliance
The Harbor Compliance team has excellent customer service, offering a premium 1-1 service that is hard to beat; they guarantee that they'll meet your business needs and compliance requirements. ZenBusiness is well-rated for customer service and responsiveness, too.
ZenBusiness offers live customer support, in addition to the usual business hours; with Harbor Compliance, you'll have a dedicated compliance specialist that you can call or email at any time. They'll know you and your business inside and out and can quickly respond to your query.
- Easy to access, reliable customer service
- Excellent reviews
- Harbor Compliance offers 1-1 customer service
- ZenBusiness has a live chat option
A Limited Liability Company, or LLC, helps you avoid double taxation. That means the IRS won't tax your business and your finances. Instead, you pay both taxes through your tax return. With an LLC, your assets are also protected. ZenBusinesses LLC's formation service is an excellent, low-price reliable service with rush processing available, too.
Harbor Compliance and ZenBusiness can help you set up an S-corporation or C-corporation and advise which best suits you. Both services can offer great support for corporations. Both services can provide outstanding support for corporations. While Harbor Compliance offers more comprehensive customer service, ZenBusiness is faster with rush filing offered.
ZenBusiness understands small business partnerships and will go the extra mile to help you. They can offer you step-by-step instructions, business formation assistance, operating agreement templates, and a virtual business guide. Their expert customer service staff can help you with anything you can't find on their site.
A nonprofit organization (NPO) is also known as a non-business entity, nonprofit institution, or not-for-profit organization. To qualify, your business must meet tax-exempt status from the IRS and have a mission that provides a public benefit and furthers a social cause.
Even though nonprofits are non-business entities, they can still get help from Harbor Compliance.
The company is an attractive service provider for potential NPOs as they offer a 100% success rate in getting 501(c)(3) certified.
The Last Word
Whichever you choose, they both offer stellar support during the formation process and they rate well for ease of use, customer support, and offer many of the same benefits (such as a full year of registered agent service with LLC formation service packages). With that said, there are some key differences too.
ZenBusiness is a good choice for those looking for a budget option. They offer a brilliant all-around service and are even available for queries on Sundays. Their rush filing service is also difficult to beat. Harbor Compliance packages are ideal for those looking for premium service with all of the bells and whistles, including advanced software and compliance services from a specialist on a 1-1 basis.