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Today we are going to be comparing ZenBusiness vs LegalZoom so that you can see what each of these online legal service providers have on offer, and decide which is the best option for you and your business.
Whether you’re looking to start a brand new company, or looking for ongoing legal services for your existing business, it’s a good idea to have a go-to place where you can easily find online legal services for your business that are both reliable and affordable.
Starting an LLC can be complicated if you decide to handle it all on your own, so it’s well worth paying a small fee to have a specialist company handle the paperwork for you. Both ZenBusiness and LegalZoom offer company formation services, as well as a range of ongoing services such as Registered Agent services, to handle all of the tricky stuff and give you more time to focus on the exciting parts of your new business.
In this comparison review, we are going to look at exactly what services each of these companies offer, as well as their reputation, customer service, and (of course) the pricing, so you can decide which one best suits your business needs.
Let’s take a look…
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The main differences between ZenBusiness and LegalZoom are:
ZenBusiness is an online company formation service which also provides a number of other useful ongoing services to help ensure that your new business runs smoothly and remains in good standing with the state you are operating in.
Using ZenBusiness will take all of the stress out of forming an LLC, and the company pride themselves on providing a fast and affordable service which is easily accessible to entrepreneurs and small business owners.
As well as these key services, ZenBusiness has partnered with a few other companies who they recommend, to provide additional services which can’t be provided directly by ZenBusiness. These include:
If you are ready to start a business, then you have two options. You can either choose from one of ZenBusinesses ready-made business formation packages, which include everything you need to start your business, or you can build your own package from the range of services they offer, depending on your needs.
Once you have decided which business formation package is right for you, ZenBusiness will gather all of the information they need from you by sending you a simple form to fill out with all of the important details about your new business.
Next, they will gather the required documents, and file them with the State to officially form your business. This is normally quick a quick process, but occasionally there can be a backlog of applications with the state which can slow things down if this is the case and you are in a rush for any reason you have the option to pay an additional fee to have your application expedited.
Once the State has approved your documents, your business will be official (congrats!). Your documents will be sent back to ZenBusiness, and they will upload them online for you to view at any time in your online dashboard.
And that’s all there is to it.
After your company is officially up and running, ZenBusiness have a range of other services that you can take advantage of to ensure your business always remains complaint.
As well as its company formation packages, ZenBusiness also offer a range of other services that can help your new business to run smoothly.
One of the most popular services they offer is their Registered Agent service, which costs just $119/year. There are many benefits to using a registered agent service for your business, and although you certainly can appoint yourself as your own registered agent, since the yearly fee is so low it’s well worth paying for this service.
Your registered agent will accept all professional and legal documents on behalf of your business, and upload them online for you to view at any time, so you never miss any important mail, and if you business is home-based, it means you don’t have to give out your personal information for business purposes, ensuring privacy for you. By using a registered agent you will also ensure that your business never receives any late filing penalties or fines, as your registered agent will ensure your business always files everything on time and remains compliant in all areas required for your state.
ZenBusiness can also provide an operating agreement for your business. This is an important document that should be drawn up when a business is first formed, which outlines the rules and procedures of the business, as well as stating ownership of the business, and what would happen if the owner leaves the business so that everything is clearly documented and available for reference if required. An operating agreement also has the benefit of separating your personal assets from your business assets, so if anything happened to the business you wouldn’t be personally liable.
If you need an EIN number for your business, ZenBusiness can take this off your hands too. The EIN is a 9 digit number that is assigned to your business by the IRS, which works like a social security number for your business, allowing you to set up a business bank account, and employ and pay staff for your business.
If your business is to be registered in the state of New York, it is a legal requirement that you publish an announcement in two newspapers for 6 consecutive weeks within a 120-day timeframe. This service costs just $200 (plus publication fees), and although it seems pricey, it can help you to save money, as they have existing relationships with lots of publications, and can seek out the ones with the lowest fees and costs. They will make sure everything is published on time to meet the State requirements, so that’s another thing off your plate.
ZenBusiness also partner with some other trusted business services who they recommend for anything can’t provide themselves, such as opening a business bank account, accounting and bookkeeping, and business insurance.
The ZenBusiness website has an extensive FAQ section, which can usually answer any common queries for you quickly. If you can’t find what you are looking for in the FAQs, then you can contact the customer success team at ZenBusiness. They can be reached by live chat (real-time chat) and phone between 8am and 7 pm Central Time. Out of these hours, you can only contact them by email, and you can usually expect a response within one business day.
ZenBusiness performs very well when it comes to customer satisfaction scores, with an astonishing 5 stars out of 5 on Trustpilot reviews, and a rating of ‘Excellent’ out of 1,324 reviews. Customers say the service is affordable, stress-free, and quick. Only 3% of the reviews were scored below average.
ZenBusiness does not provide any clear timelines on how long the business formation will take, and they upsell an offer to expedite your filing for an additional $50 – $100, depending on how quickly you want it done. This isn’t a huge problem in itself, however, some of its competitors offer a quicker service without the additional fee.
ZenBusiness has three business formation packages, each of which includes various additional services to help you run your business.
The Starter package costs just $49 per year (plus state fees) for the first year and renews at $119/year if you would like to use the ongoing registered agent service. This package includes preparing and filing for your LLC, company name availability check, phone and email support, online document access, registered agent, operating agreement, and worry-free CPA assessment. This plan has a standard filing speed (2-3 weeks), but you have the option to purchase ‘expedited’ filing speed for an additional $50, or ‘rush’ filing speed for an additional $100.
The ‘Pro’ package costs $179 per year, which is billed annually. This package includes everything from the Starter package, as well as expedited filing speed, banking resolution, employer ID number, worry-free guarantee to keep your business in good standing, and annual filing.
The ‘Premium’ package, costs $299 per year and is billed annually. This premium plan package includes everything from the Starter plan and Pro packages, as well as the ‘rush’ filing speed, and a business webpage, business domain name, domain name privacy, and business email address.
To find out more about ZenBusiness and all of the business services they offer, you can visit their website here.
LegalZoom is an online legal services provider that offers a range of affordable legal services for small businesses, as well as for personal use. There’s no need to pay a retainer fee, you simply pay for the services as and when you need them, making LegalZoom a great choice for small businesses and entrepreneurs that can’t afford the hefty fees of private lawyers.
They have a solid reputation with great customer reviews and have launched over 1.5 million businesses worldwide to date.
As well as their range of business services, LegalZoom also offer some personal legal services, including:
LegalZoom can also provide an attorney for you to consult on business or personal matters. You can also take advantage of the flexible attorney-prepared services such as contract drafting, international trademark filing, website terms and conditions, as well as any other attorney-prepared services you may need.
It’s easy to form an LLC with LegalZoom, everything can be done online, and their team of experts will walk you through the entire process so that you can be sure everything has been done correctly.
Once you have told LegalZoom which State you want to register your business in, the next step is to check if your chosen business name is available. LegalZoom will check this for you, and once it has been confirmed that your business name is available, they will send you a form to fill out with all the key details of your business.
You can choose to add additional ongoing services to your packages such as the Registered Agent service, or any other legal services you may need. Once you have chosen which package is right for you, you simply confirm and make the payment online.
Now that you have paid for your package, LegalZoom will handle everything else, including personally checking your documents before sending them off to be filed with the state to ensure there are no errors that have slipped through the cracks.
Once your documents have been filed with the state your business will become official, and you will receive your documents. Bear in mind that the processing time this takes can vary depending on which state you are registering in.
LegalZoom offers a full range of legal services for both your business and personal needs, which you can pay for individually, as and when you need them.
Their registered agent service is a popular service which can be added on to any company formation package. This service costs $299 each year and provides you with the security and peace of mind of knowing that you won’t need to use your personal details for business purposes. The Registered Agent service also ensures that you never miss any filing deadlines, so that your business will never receive any fines and will always remain in good standing with the State.
LegalZoom can also help you get an EIN number for your business so that you can open a business bank account, and hire and pay employees for your business. Having an EIN also helps protect you as a business owner from having you use your own social security number to set up a bank account for your business purposes.
LegalZoom can also provide an operating agreement for your business, filing of annual reports, trademarking your business name, and any other corporate changes and filings you may need.
LegalZoom also offers prepaid legal plans, which are perfect for anyone who may need legal advice regularly. The prepaid plans give you access to an attorney whenever you need one for a set monthly fee. The Business advisory plan gives small businesses access to an attorney for business matters such as contracts, copyrights and trademarks, as well as tax advice.
If you ever need personal legal advice you can take advantage of the ‘legal advantage’ plan which gives you access to personal lawyers whenever you need them for any number of matters including employment issues, family matters, and estate planning.
You can contact the LegalZoom customer service team by phone between 5 am – 7 pm, Monday to Friday, and on Saturdays between the hours of 7 am and 4 pm.
Generally, LegalZoom’s customer service reviews aren’t great sadly. They are rated A+ on Better Business Bureau but only received one star out of 5 from 182 reviews, which is pretty shocking. They have also only received two stars out of 5 on Trustpilot, with most reviews complaining about the poor service.
LegalZoom charges a lot more (more than double) than their competitors for their registered agent service, at $299 each year. They also have poor customer reviews complaining about the service, so if you do decide to use LegalZoom, be sure to take advantage of the 60-day money-back guarantee if you are not satisfied with the service.
LegalZoom has three packages to choose from: Economy, Standard, and Express Gold.
The Economy package costs $79, plus your state filing fees. This package includes your business name check, business document filing with your state, articles of organization, LLC next steps guide, a personal review of your order before your business is formed, lifetime customer support, and a financial account authorization letter.
The Standard package costs $329, plus your state fees. This package includes everything from the Economy package, as well as a deluxe organizer embossed with your business name, 20 personalized company membership certificates, an official company seal to record the ownership of your business, and LegalZoom VIP processing to ensure a fast turnaround.
And last but not least, the Express Gold package, which includes everything from the Economy and Standard packages, as well as rush processing with your state (bringing the turnaround time down to around 7-10 days), and express shipping.
They also offer prepaid attorney packages starting from just $31.25 per month which gives you 30-minute consultations with an attorney on any new legal matters, contract and document reviews, and annual business evaluation.
ZenBusiness offers a %100 refundable guarantee, subtracting all the expenses it might be incurred for the formation of the client. Refunds are not applicable once the payment has reached to the state.
Sadly, ZenBusiness do not promise an error-free guarantee, but they do promise to ensure every order is processed the best. And of course, in case you find an error, you can contact them for support.
With LegalZoom, the maximum time they can hold order is one year.
After comparing LegalZoom vs ZenBusiness side by side, it’s clear that these two service providers are quite different, however, they both provide LLC formation services and registered agent services, so… who does it better?
Bottom Line: It’s a no brainer for us. ZenBusiness is definitely the better choice if you are looking to start a new business or looking for reliable and affordable Registered Agent services. ZenBusiness is trusted by thousands of customers, and they pride themselves on their excellent customer service, quick turnaround, and affordable pricing. What’s not to love?
Unfortunately, we can’t recommend LegalZoom to anyone starting a business, mainly because of their worrying amount of negative feedback, but also because their registered agent pricing is much higher than almost all of their competitors.
Still not made a decision?
One of our favorite affordable LLC service providers is Incfile, which has excellent ratings and starts from $0 (plus state filing fees), we also compared ZenBusiness and Incfile side by side, so you can see how they measure up next to each other.
If you’re still not convinced, you should check out our article on the Best Registered Agent services, to compare some other services side by side and help you make a decision.
David Borgogni is a professional digital marketer who specializes in SEO. He’s the founder of First Click Content, a digital marketing agency that focuses on content development driven by organic search data analysis. He’s also a passionate content strategist and writer in the entrepreneurial sectors for new business.