When you're setting up your new business, you'll have various issues. One of those is business formation. You'll need to choose which business structure to choose and file complex legal paperwork. You could do this alone, but a business formation service will do the hard work for you. Your only task is choosing a good service provider. ZenBusiness and incorporate.com are two excellent providers. Let's take an in-depth look at both to see what they offer.

ZenBusiness vs. incorporate.com: The Verdict

ZenBusiness and incorporate.com are both well-known providers, but they have key differences. ZenBusiness' pricing model is more affordable than incorporate's. Incorporate.com has a much stronger reputation, with 100+ years in the industry.

With that said, ZenBusiness has helped more customers, and despite starting in 2015, it has more verifiable feedback online. Incorporate.com and ZenBusiness are comfortable online with full access to your documents, but incorporate.com will require you to pay extra for many features.

Incorporate.com and ZenBusiness are Better Business Bureau (BBB) accredited, but incorporate.com has a 1/5 rating.

Choose ZenBusiness if:

  • You want to save money and avoid extra fees
  • You want a better-rated company with more customer reviews

Choose incorporate.com if:

  • You want a company with a long history

Services Offered & Pricing

The services offered are similar, with a three-tier pricing model that will allow you to set up a non-profit, corporation, LLC, or partnership. One area where they diverge is regarding registered agent services. ZenBusiness offers free registered agent services with all packages, but incorporate.com will require you to pay an additional $235 for this service, making them much more expensive. In addition, ZenBusiness' packages are around half of the price of incorporate.com. ZenBusiness also offers a free CPA assessment with an in-house accountant.

Key Similarities

  • You can open any business entity
  • You can choose from three pricing packages

Key Differences

  • ZenBusiness offers free registered agent services
  • ZenBusiness is cheaper
  • ZenBusiness offers free accountancy services

Incorporate.com Packages & Pricing

Incorporate.com offers a three-tier package system. It is worth noting that none of these packages will include a registered agent. You'll have to pay an additional $235 a year for an agent.

Most other sites do not require you to pay extra for having a registered agent assist you through the whole year. Many of these other companies include that in their regular fee.

Now, here's a quick breakdown of what each incorporate.com package covers.

Starter Package - $99 (plus state fee)

This package is the cheapest, but it doesn't include as much as you may think:

  • Preparation and filing of the articles of organization
  • Business name availability search
  • Online organization of your paperwork

Essentials Package - $249 (plus state fee)

With the Essentials package, you get the features of the Starter package, plus these additions:

  • EIN (Federal Tax ID Number) - You can arrange this yourself, but, incorporate will do it for you with this package.
  • Seal and LLC Kit - You'll receive a binder with a customized decorative seal and your company name printed on the front.

The Works - $349 (plus state fee)

For the price of $349, you can get all the works, including all of the options above of the two previous packages, plus:

  • Research package for a business license: Incorporate identifies the required tax registrations, permits, and licenses you will need for your LLC. They supply you with the necessary applications and provide instructions for filling these out and filing them.
  • Operation agreement: Your operating agreement outlines the company's infrastructure and operational procedures. With this package, incorporate will create a draft for your business.

ZenBusiness Packages & Pricing

ZenBusiness offers several packages to select from, depending on the incorporation services you need. Let's take a look at a detailed breakdown of each package:

Starter package - $49/year

This is ZenBusiness' cheapest package and includes:

  • An operating agreement
  • Customer support via phone, live chat, and email
  • Filing articles
  • One-year registered agent services
  • Free CPA assessment

Pro package - $199/year

The Pro package is designed for business owners looking for extras, not just the basics. It includes a worry-free satisfaction guarantee and Federal Tax ID services. This package includes:

  • 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.

  • Expedited filing speed
  • Business email address
  • Domain name registration and name privacy
  • 100% accuracy guarantee
  • Business website to allow customers to establish an online presence at a very reasonable price

Document Management & Online Experience

You can manage your documents online with incorporate.com & ZenBusiness, which is excellent. However, incorporate.com's website is harder to navigate. It tries to include everything and can be distracting. ZenBusiness and incorporate can also manage your compliance reports and reminders online, but incorporate.com will require you to pay more for the CSC navigator.

Key Similarities

  • You can manage everything online
  • You can receive compliance alerts online

Key Differences

  • ZenBusiness has a smoother online interface, perhaps due to being more modern
  • Incorporate will charge more for the CSC navigator

Processing Time

Turnaround time is hard to pin down - incorporate.com offers expedited filing but doesn't publish the exact cost of this online. ZenBusiness doesn't offer specific expedited filing, but you can purchase the pro package, which gives you faster processing times (filing documents completed within seven business days). Incorporate.com's expedited processing - which takes 1-3 business days - is only available for some services such as the articles of organization and EIN. You should clarify exactly what is covered if this is a dealbreaker for you.

Key Similarities

  • You can usually expedite your processing time

Key Differences

  • ZenBusiness' expedited processes are of better value
  • Incorporate.com's service isn't very transparent

Compliance & Track Record

Incorporate.com has an odd track record; despite being around for more than a hundred years in one form or another, there are precious few customer reviews available online. In addition, while they hold BBB accreditation, their current rating on the BBB website is 1/5. ZenBusiness, on the other hand, has scores of positive customer feedback and was recently awarded an A rating from the BBB - impressive for a fairly new company. Despite incorporate.com's superiority in longevity, ZenBusiness wins in this category.

Key Similarities

  • ZenBusiness and incorporate.com haven't had any major compliance issues

Key Differences

  • Incorporate.com only has a 1/5 on the BBB website

Customer Service

Regardless of your business size, all business owners need some help during the formation process. You don't want to deal with upselling and poor customer support. Luckily, ZenBusiness quickly made a name as the best LLC formation service. They offer excellent customer support, including a well-designed live chat. There is a live chat feature, but it isn't as well-designed. Incorporate.com has an average reputation for customer support, as shown by its low BBB rating.

Key Similarities

  • Live webchat is available

Key Differences

  • ZenBusiness offers better customer support

Structure Breakdown

Your experience with a formation service will depend on the type of business you're opening. A small business owner starting a limited liability company will have different needs from a corporate client or budding non-profit. Let's take a look at a structure breakdown.

LLCs: Choose ZenBusiness

From the smooth order process to the low price, ZenBusiness is the top choice. ZenBusiness is a modern online business with a reputation for fast business filing and the best LLC services. You can trust them with your start-up. Incorporate.com also offers LLC services, but they have very few positive reviews, and their registered agent service will cost you over $200 (something ZenBusiness offers for free).

Corporations: Choose ZenBusiness

ZenBusiness can help you start a corporation with even the cheapest package, including corporate bylaws (though you can choose one of the more expensive packages for rush filing and annual report services). Incorporate.com can help, too, but they don't have the best reputation and will cost substantially more.

Partnerships: Choose ZenBusiness

ZenBusiness offers an affordable way to start a partnership, using either a DBA or partnership agreement. Incorporate.com offers partnership services, but you should be wary of their poorer rating with the Better Business Bureau.

Non-Profits: Choose ZenBusiness

When you're starting a non-profit, it's even more crucial to keep costs low. This makes ZenBusiness an attractive prospect with some of the lowest filing fees in the industry.

The Last Word

It's rare to have an all-out best, but for several reasons, including price, reputation, and customer service, ZenBusiness is the clear winner. You might consider using incorporate.com's services if you want an older service provider. Still, if you're looking for a more affordable provider with excellent customer service and streamlined filing techniques, ZenBusiness is the one for you.


Filed under: Head-to-Head

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