If you're setting up a new business, one of the most significant things you can do to make your life easier is to rely on a business formation service. You can select your formation package, fill out a few details and then relax while the professionals handle it for you. But there are dozens of business formation companies. Two big names are Northwest Registered Agents and Harvard Business services, let’s analyze them side-by-side to see which is best for your business.

Northwest Registered Agent vs. Harvard Business Services: The Verdict

Harvard Business Services is a family-owned business based out of Delaware, only offering incorporation for Delaware businesses. Incorporating in Delaware has unique benefits, including flexible legislation and a friendly local government. Business Harvard Services has helped over 200,000 business entities in Delaware since 1981.

Northwest Registered Agent Services offers a no-nonsense approach to the formation process, with only one package and affordable registered agent services. Beginning in 1998, they continually improved their services with more than 200 corporate guides (customer service agents) at their disposal. Northwest scans all documents through to you - compared to most services that only scan through government mail.

Choose Harvard Business Services if:

  • You would want to incorporate it in Delaware
  • You want a company that's been around for longer
  • You want to save some money

Choose Northwest if:

  • It's important to you that you receive all mail
  • You want to incorporate outside of Delaware

Services Offered & Pricing

Northwest has a different approach to filing services, with only one standard package offered. They do also offer a free account, which doesn't come with any incorporation services but encompasses learning resources.

You can easily upgrade to a paid account at any time. Harvard Business Services don't offer a free account. Still, they do offer cheaper LLC formation packages and a free registered agent service, which rises to $50 after the first year, compared to Northwest's registered agent service, which will cost you $125 per year after the first full year. Harvard Business Services offer several packages for you to choose from and can also help international businesses incorporate in Delaware. Either way, you'll receive excellent lifelong customer support for your new business.

Key Similarities

  • Reliable registered agent services for your privacy
  • Form your new business, irrespective of the entity type
  • Lifetime customer support

Key Differences

  • Harvard Business Services can save you money
  • Harvard Business Services offers service packages geared towards international clients
  • Northwest can help you incorporate in any state
  • Northwest offers a free account

Harvard Business Services Packages & Pricing

Harvard Business Services offer several packages for entrepreneurs:

Green Package - $179

The Green package is the cheapest available and includes:

  • Entity name availability check - to ensure your company's name is available to form a business entity in Delaware
  • All state fees
  • Preparation and filing of all company formation documents
  • Same-day digital filing
  • Approved official documents to be emailed within 72 hours
  • Digital corporate seal
  • The first year of registered agent service ($50 per year thereafter)

Basic Package - $329

This package includes everything in the above plus:

  • Electronic document templates for LLC or corporate documents
  • Priority mailing

This package is quite expensive but offers priority mailing, which is a great benefit.

Standard Domestic Package - $429

The Standard Domestic package, at $429, is currently discounted to $329. It includes all of the features of the Basic package plus:

  • Digital member certificates
  • A meeting minute book
  • A Delaware company guidebook
  • Additional forms
  • A gold embossed company binder

Harvard Business Services also offers international packages for companies outside of the United States filing in Delaware as well as a mail-forwarding service to their preferred address.

Northwest Registered Agent Packages & Pricing

Northwest only offers one package, with optional add-ons such as annual reporting, legal documents, and compliance services such as assistance acquiring a Certificate of Good standing.

A La Carte Services - $225 upfront, variable per year

Northwest Registered Agent only offers one package with additional add ons. For $225, they will act as your registered agent for the first year ($125 thereafter) and form your business, providing new business owners with corporate bylaws, operating agreements, initial resolutions, and other essential documents. Annual reporting is also included, but after the first year, you can continue to use Northwest to submit your annual report to the IRS for $100.

Document Management & Online Experience

Northwest offers a great document management experience, but it may be distracting to receive all of your junk mail - you may appreciate a more streamlined offering, such as Harvard Business Services. Either way, you'll be managing your documents 100% online, with a completely digital system.

Paper systems are in the past where they belong, as you run the risk of losing documents and have to wait for posted documents etc., but you can still request physical documents from them. Harvard Business Services advises this will take 1-2 days, but Northwest doesn't advertise an explicit time. On the whole, both offer similar services and receive good customer feedback, but Harvard offers a more streamlined service.

Key Similarities

  • Secure, digital online systems
  • You can request paper copies

Key Differences

  • Northwest Registered Agents scan everything for you

Processing Time

Harvard Business Services offer some of the fastest processing times in the business; being directly connected to the Division of Corporations in Delaware, they can file formation documents the same day and guarantee approval within 24-48 hours. You can expedite filing for a fee.

Northwest also offers expedited service but falls short of explicitly promising a turnaround time.

Key Similarities

  • Expedited filing is offered

Key Differences

  • Harvard Business Services offer a clearer turnaround time

Compliance & Track Record

Harvard Business Services, Inc is incorporated with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and customer reviews on Trustpilot reveal that they have a solid track record and reputation. Northwest isn't registered with the BBB but has nonetheless earned an A- rating. Customer feedback online is overall positive.

Both service providers can assist you in remaining legally compliant, with additional services encompassing compliance issues such as annual reporting.

Key Similarities

  • They offer all you need to remain legally compliant
  • No significant issues with the reputation of either company

Key Differences

  • Harvard Business Services Inc is BBB accredited

Customer Service

Northwest offers 24/7 customer service and total protection of your data. You also have access to FAQs and other assistance for free before even signing up. Harvard Business Services offers customer support via live chat, Skype, email, and phone calls in both English and Spanish, and reps are knowledgeable and friendly.

Key Similarities

  • Excellent customer service

Key Differences

  • Harvard offers multilingual customer support
  • Northwest offers free assistance before you sign up for a service package

Structure Breakdown

The exact experience you have with a service provider will vary depending on the business entity you're setting up, so we'll take an in-depth look at what each business structure offers you.

LLCs: Toss Up

When it comes to LLC formation services, it's hard to pick the best. It really depends on what you're looking for - if you're looking for an industry leader in registered agent services and don't want to incorporate in the state of Delaware, you should consider Northwest first and foremost. However, if you want the extensive benefits of incorporating in Delaware multilingual customer support and cheaper formation for your limited liability company, Harvard Business Services win hands down.

Corporations: Choose Harvard Business Services

Delaware has attracted more than a million corporations for a reason - it is especially corporation-friendly. Harvard Business Services can help you set up a corporation in Delaware under General Corporation Law.

Partnerships: Toss Up

While Harvard Business Services advertise support for partnerships, the majority of their clients are corporations. Northwest deals with more partnerships and enjoys consistent excellent feedback from its clients; you can set up a partnership agreement or DBA with the help of Northwest Registered Agent Services.

Non-Profits: Choose Harvard Business Services

Harvard Business Services can help you set up a non-profit Delaware corporation, allowing you to enjoy tax-exempt status as a non-profit and the benefits that come with incorporating in Delaware.

The Last Word

Harvard Business Services and Northwest Registered Agent offer similar levels of service, with some differences. It's difficult to pick out an absolute best. However, Harvard Business Services offer the best price point, and incorporating in Delaware has unique benefits. You shouldn't discount Northwest totally, though. Their simple pricing and free FAQs/learning resources offer a unique benefit, too.

Filed under: Head-to-Head

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