Launching a new business comes with reams of paperwork, including confusing forms and filing procedures, a whole new world of legal jargon, and legislation to follow. Many choose to use a company formation service to avoid dealing with this. Inc Authority and ZenBusiness are two service providers that can help you with company formation. They'll be compared side by side so you can see which is best for you.
Inc Authority vs. ZenBusiness: The Verdict
ZenBusiness is a low-cost service providing expert assistance in all-things business formation; formed in 2015, they're quite new and have thrived in the digital landscape. Inc Authority, launched in 1989, is a competing service that offers many of the same benefits. Despite their similarities, there are some key differences that you should consider, such as Inc Authority's free service; however, while Inc Authority is great for starting LLC's, they're a bit of a one-trick pony and don't have as much experience or offerings for those wanting to start other company types.
Choose Inc Authority if:
- You want free formation (LLC only)
- You're starting an LLC
- You want a more established company to handle your formation
- You need financial services and business credit assistance
Choose ZenBusiness if:
- You're starting a corporation, partnership, or non-profit
- You want more advanced features
- You need a more well-rounded service
- You want low pricing starting at $49
Services Offered & Pricing
ZenBusiness and Inc Authority have a decent track record for customer support, formation services, and additional services. Both offered a registered agent service (free for one year) and other additions like domain assistance (free in Inc Authority's more advanced package, $25 add-on for ZenBusiness).
- Both can assist you with getting a federal tax ID and other essential compliance services
- Registered agent service (free for the first year)
- Add ons, such as domain names
- Complete order tracking keeps you up to date every step of the way
- Inc Authority offers business funding analysis, tax planning consultations, and other financial services, such as a business planning account
- Inc Authority offers free LLC formation services - you only pay state fees
ZenBusiness Packages & Pricing
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.
- Registered agent services: Every company needs an RA to remain compliant; ZenBusiness can be your registered agent
- Operating agreement and bylaws: ZenBusiness can help you define your business ownership structure with an operating agreement
- Customer Support: You can access customer support through phone and email
- Accounting services: You'll receive a worry-free CPA assessment with an in-house accountant, including recommendations for accounting software
- Online Document Management: You can quickly and automatically access your necessary paperwork through ZenBusinesses' easy online document management service
The starter package is all you need if you want an affordable way to file your LLCs. Don't mind putting a little effort and time into registering for an Employee Identification Number (EIN) and other necessities.
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 more.
- Banking assistance: This plan includes the provision of a banking resolution
- Federal Tax ID: This package includes a Federal tax ID, somewhat like a social security number for business entities
- Paperwork filing: You have a worry-free guarantee which includes compliance management and annual reporting for management
- Express Filing: Formation packages will usually be completed within one week under this service
Premium Package - $299/year
The ZenBusiness Premium Package includes all the starter and pro package features and extra perks.
- Rush Filing: Under this package, filing speeds are further increased
- Additional online services: Your domain registration is free under this service, and you'll also have a business email address
This package is ideal for allowing customers to establish an online presence at an affordable price.
Inc Authority Packages & Pricing
Free Package - $0 + state fees
Here are the benefits that come with Inc Authority's free tier.
- Business name availability search: Inc Authority searches to ensure your chosen business name is available for use in your state
- Articles of organization preparation and filing: This step involves having Inc Authority prepare your entity documents and paperwork and submit them to your state
- You'll get a registered agent for one year: Inc Authority will act as your company's registered agent for one year, notifying you of upcoming filings
- S corporation form: If you file as an S corporation, Inc Authority will file the appropriate paperwork
The free tier also offers third-party access to the following benefits:
- Business funding analysis: You can get preapproved for between $50,000 and $150,000 in minutes through a third party
- Tax planning: One hour of live meeting time with a tax expert about deadlines, deductions, inventory, and other questions
- Business checking account: Inc Authority partners with Bank of America to offer a free business checking account
Starter Package - $399 + state fees
Here's what you'll get with the company's Starter package. It includes everything from the free tier, plus:
- Operating agreement and bylaws: Each member receives fully drawn-up operating agreements and bylaws or their company
- Record book and company seal: This is a collection of the company's most important documents, along with a corporate seal
- Initial meeting minutes: Meeting minute forms for conducting business meetings
- Ownership certificates: All owners are given a copy of the official paperwork for their business
- Tax ID Number (EIN): Inc Authority charges $49 for an EIN, but you can get one for free through the IRS
- Evaluation for business credit and funding: Inc Authority will help you find the best sources for startup capital
- Success advisor: Inc Authority will give you access to one of its success advisors for one year
Executive Package - $499 + state fees
Inc Authority's Executive tier continues to build on the previous tiers, including:
- Business license report: This benefit gives you access to Inc Authority's license search software, which tells you exactly which documentation you'll need for your business
- Website domain: Inc Authority will help you secure a domain for your company website
Tycoon Package - $799 + state fees
Finally, Inc Authority's highest tier is the Tycoon package, which is primarily focused on helping to build business credit. It includes:
- Express processing: This lets you and your company jump to the front of the paperwork processing line
- BizCredit Express: You have multiple different ways to help your business build credit
- Credit coach for businesses: This feature gives you access to a credit coach for 90 days
- Business Credit LaunchPad: This is Inc Authority's credit-building software that guides new businesses
- Registration with D&B Credit Bureau: Dun & Bradstreet, a top credit bureau, will give you an initial credit report
Document Management & Online Experience
ZenBusiness offers a simple signup process and reasonable compliance assistance, with continual business monitoring and easy document upload/download processes. Everything is easy to use and understand. Inc Authority offers similar, albeit with a faster signup process and a mobile-friendly interface. Overall, both offer an easy-to-use online management interface.
- A streamlined signup process and easy to navigate website
- Secure document access
- Inc Authority's site is easier to use on mobile
Inc Authority's turnaround time is dictated primarily by your location - in some states, this can be as little as a week. In others, it could be as much as six weeks.
Unlike Inc Authority, companies that base their estimates on the state's turnaround, ZenBusiness correlates your order's speed to the package you choose.
If you purchase the starter package, you should expect your business formation ready in approximately two weeks. The pro package has a processing time of roughly one week, while the premium package has a turnaround of 3 – 5 days or less.
- Expedited processing is available for a fee
- ZenBusiness has a much faster turnaround time
Compliance & Track Record
ZenBusiness and Inc Authority have five stars on Trustpilot, with customers praising Inc Authority's free LLC formation package and ZenBusinesses customer service and processing times.
In terms of compliance with state legislation, both can assist you in remaining compliant with state regulations as part of their service packages.
- 5 Star Trustpilot reviews, signaling a lot of happy customers
- Excellent assistance with business compliance
- Inc Authority has been around for a lot longer, so their track record has more longevity
One of the negative points about Inc Authority's customer service is its limited availability. Customer support is only available between 8 AM and 5 PM PT Monday through Friday. ZenBusinesses customer support is available from 8 AM to 8 PM. Customer reviews report that both are responsive and professional.
- An array of customer support options are offered - live chat, phone, and email
- Responsive, knowledgeable teams
- Inc Authority's customer service is comparatively limited to ZenBusiness's availability
Now let's look at how each performs in terms of individual structures.
This is an easy decision to make - Inc Authority is one of the few formation services to offer free LLC formation. Very few companies could beat their price - you only pay state filing fees. Inc Authority reviews on Trustpilot reveal that most customers are impressed with their free LLC filing business bundle, and Inc Authority's primary services revolve around limited liability companies; more than 90% of their customers set up LLC's.
ZenBusiness can help you set up either type of corporation (S-corp or C-corp), with their filing services including expedited filing times, additional assistance in terms of legal documents, and regulatory requirements like employer identification numbers, you're in great hands throughout the formation process.
Inc Authority can help you set up a corporation, but they're best suited to LLCs.
A partnership is a popular way to set up a business between two people. However, Inc Authority doesn't offer this service, so ZenBusiness wins by proxy. That doesn't mean that they don't provide excellent benefits, though, with ZenBusiness reviews on Trustpilot revealing that their excellent customer service, expedited filing, and low-priced additional services are a hit with all kinds of business owners.
Inc Authority doesn't currently support Non-profits. However, ZenBusiness can assist you in every step required to start a non-profit.
Non-profits are corporations that the IRS has granted a tax exemption, referred to as 501(c). To qualify for this status, your organization must fall under a specific category: charitable, educational, religious, scientific, or literary organization or institution.
The Last Word
The legal process behind starting a business can be daunting, particularly for small business owners; however, for a small fee (or even, free) you can access business formation services that will remove the majority of your stress. Some services even offer business bank account assistance, such as Inc Authority offering a free business checking account with the Bank of America.
Some provide more online services, such as domain and website help, or expedited filing, such as ZenBusiness, with expedited filing possible in as little as 3-5 business days. Whichever you choose for your business, either will make a solid choice.