You'll have a lot to consider when you're setting up your new business. It's easy to see why it seems easy to become lost in a sea of jargon and regulations; one of the best ways to streamline the process is to rely on a business formation service. But there are hundreds of service providers, so you'll need to choose wisely. Two great providers are ZenBusiness and Northwest Registered Agent. Let's compare the unique pros and cons of each provider.

ZenBusiness vs. Northwest Registered Agent: The Verdict

ZenBusiness is one of the most affordable registered agent services, with cheap formation packages and a good reputation backed by plenty of customer reviews. Northwest is a reliable provider that revolutionized the mail-forwarding process. Northwest Registered Agent's 200+ corporate guides can assist you every step of the way, and premium customer support is a crucial offering here. However, ZenBusiness doesn't do too badly with excellent live chat, email, and phone options. One letdown by ZenBusiness is the frequency of upselling, though.

Choose ZenBusiness if:

  • You want to save money
  • You need less assistance
  • You don't want all of your mail forwarded to you

Choose Northwest if:

  • You want an upselling-free service
  • You want premium customer support
  • You want the best registered agent service

Services Offered & Pricing

Northwest Registered Agent and ZenBusiness offer many of the same incorporation services with similar formation processes. The most significant difference for entrepreneurs is the price you can expect to pay. Northwest only offers one package at $225, with additional features such as annual reporting available on an a la carte basis. ZenBusiness offers several packages starting from $49, including a free registered agent service. They also offer a 60-day refund policy (less the cost of state filing fees).

Key Similarities

  • Free registered agent services
  • You can register any business entity

Key Differences

  • Northwest Registered Agent's LLC formation service is more expensive than ZenBusiness
  • ZenBusiness has a 60-day refund policy

Northwest Registered Agent Packages & Pricing

Unlike ZenBusiness, Northwest doesn't offer multiple packages - only one. It includes essentials such as registered agent services, and corporate guides will walk you through everything you need.

A la carte services - $225 upfront, variable per year

Northwest Registered Agent maintains a unique pricing model; everything you need is included in the $225, with further add-ons available on an a la carte basis. The registered agent service is good value for money, and Northwest Registered Agent offers outstanding benefits to business owners.

They complete all paperwork filing and create the entity for you, with full assistance every step of the way.

Additional services such as annual reporting are also available.

They receive all of your mail and pass it on to you, whereas other companies will only pass on government mail.

ZenBusiness Packages & Pricing

ZenBusiness offers multiple plans to choose from, depending on the features and incorporation services that you want.

The prices quoted don't include state fees.

Starter package - $49/year

If you're looking for an affordable way to file your LLC, this is it. The Starter package from ZenBusiness is their cheapest - including an essential incorporation service and registered agent services. A registered agent is legally required and receives important deliveries for the business. This plan also includes a customized corporate operating agreement - or corporate bylaws to help you define your ownership structure. You'll also receive a nice extra with a CPA assessment with an in-house accountant.

Pro package - $199/year

The Professional package is aimed at entrepreneurs who want more features; ZenBusiness will help your company in acquiring an Employee Identification Number (also known as a Federal Tax ID). You'll get priority filing with this package and domain name registration if required. A banking resolution is also included.

Premium package - 299/year

The Premium package includes everything above in addition to:

  • Domain name registration
  • Name privacy
  • Expedited processing
  • Business website

Document Management & Online Experience

ZenBusiness and Northwest Registered Agent offer comparable online experiences with secure cloud storage for your essential documents and easy-to-navigate virtual offices. With that said, Northwest has gone the extra mile to revolutionize the registered agent industry by adopting their "scan everything" approach, so you'll never have to miss anything.

Key Similarities

  • The websites are secure and easy to use
  • Unlimited cloud storage

Key Differences

  • Northwest Registered Agent will scan everything for you - ZenBusiness will only forward government mail

Processing Time

Northwest Registered Agent has unclear turnaround times, though they're known to be efficient. It's disappointing that clear processing times aren't listed, but expedited processing starts at $100. ZenBusiness has clearer turnaround times. If you purchase the Starter package, you'll receive your formation in around two weeks. The Pro package will be around a week, and the Premium package can be as little as three business days.

Key Similarities

  • Expedited processing is offered

Key Differences

  • ZenBusiness has more transparent, faster processing times

Compliance & Track Record

Northwest Registered Agent has great customer feedback online, and both companies offer assurances that you'll have a no-hassle formation process. However, Northwest isn't accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB). ZenBusiness has an 'A-' rating with the BBB, so despite being newer has a more trusted track record.

Key Similarities

  • No compliance issues

Key Differences

  • ZenBusiness is accredited with the BBB

Customer Service

Northwest Registered Agent is famed for providing excellent business services via their reps (known as corporate guides); you'll receive 24/7 premium support and immediate assistance. ZenBusiness offers comprehensive FAQs online, but if you still need help, you can reach the support team via live chat, email, or phone.

Key Similarities

  • Each service provider has positive reviews on Trustpilot

Key Differences

  • Northwest Registered Agent's customer support team goes the extra mile during the ordering process

Structure Breakdown

The exact experience you'll have will depend on the business entity you're setting up. A small business starting a limited liability company will have different needs than a corporate client wanting to create an S-corp or a budding non-profit. Let's look at what each service provider can offer each business structure.

LLCs: Choose ZenBusiness

The low price point and overall value make it a no-brainer - but you should also consider the top-notch customer support, more transparent filing times, and ease of use. Looking for a low-cost LLC formation package, look no further than ZenBusiness. Northwest's package is expensive and isn't worth it for LLC filing.

Corporations: Choose Northwest Registered Agent

While ZenBusiness represents one of the best LLC services, the same can't be said of their corporate services. You'll end up paying extra for things included with Northwest (for example, an EIN) and could even spend more money. Northwest Registered Agent is a trusted, reliable provider that can help you with all aspects of starting up a new corporation, whether you're looking for a C-corp or S-corp.

Partnerships: Choose ZenBusiness

ZenBusiness can help you set up a DBA or partnership agreement for a low price. Though Northwest Registered Agent offers exceptional customer support, it's not worth the additional price.

Non-Profits: Choose Northwest Registered Agent

Northwest can help you with all of the tax-exemption certificates required to run a non-profit - they can also help you with related corporate services. Non-profit entities can be complicated, so it's recommended that you work with an experienced provider like Northwest. While ZenBusiness can also help you with this, the additional filings required may cost extra, and you could quickly run up a hefty bill.

The Last Word

If you're looking for premium customer service with a large service provider, you should consider Northwest Registered Agent; however, if you're looking for a provider that offers faster processing times, good customer service, lower prices, and overall better value, then you should consider ZenBusiness.

Filed under: Head-to-Head

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