Creating a limited liability company can be a real bureaucratic nightmare, especially for newcomers who need to form an LLC in an industry previously uncharted.
For all its relative newness, the industry of formation services has had more than two decades to flourish into a niche yet balanced market of solid customer support and timely processing.
Even business rookies have probably heard of such industry veterans like LegalZoom, but there are plenty of fresh alternatives that can offer quality services at much better rates, with ZenBusiness being one such LLC formation website performing considerably better than its competitors.
But how do these two perform against one another? That’s where this LegalZoom vs ZenBusiness overview might come in handy by hopefully providing more information and helping you in making the final choice.
Are LegalZoom and ZenBusiness Good Value for the Money?
By examining the most basic features in this ZenBusiness vs LegalZoom collation, a few things become immediately clear and that’s the disparity in pricing.
Despite its longstanding reputation, LegalZoom is now shown lagging slightly behind ZenBusiness in terms of good value of service as it prices its base package at a steep $79 to form an LLC compared to the $39 started fee required by ZenBusiness.
- Cost-effectiveness: despite the pretty big $40 in their base pricing, both LegalZoom and ZenBusiness are still much more affordable than paying for the services of a corporate lawyer to aid your LLC creation; you can see Zen pricing and potential discounts in our related article and find more details relating to LegalZoom costs here;
- Reliability: with almost 22 years of operation, LegalZoom is considered by many to be the most reliable formation service based on experience, given that the company has formed over 4 million businesses since its inception in 1999; still, despite only operating since 2017, ZenBusiness has already shown itself to be just as efficient and reliable as its older counterpart, often even exceeding them in many aspects;
- Performance: both services tend to be as efficient as the processing speed of any given state where a business is set to operate, but there are options to speed up the process for an extra fee;
- Customer support: though ZenBusiness has a few more contact options for getting in touch with representatives, both companies are widely recognised for their immaculate and timely customer care;
- Extensive resources: both websites offer all new business owners plenty of helpful information on various legal topics related to entity creation, accounting, documentation management and much more;
- Other features: in addition to the basic features in their respective cheapest packages, both services have an array of additional features on offer, including registered agent subscription, handling of annual reports, other business filings, help with your business compliance, and many more.
Comparing the LLC Services Features
At the most basic level, ZenBusiness is marketed as the more attractive options of the two due to its considerably lower rates, with its starter LLC formation package priced at $39 compared to LegalZoom’s $79.
More than that, ZenBusiness offer LLC formations to a fuller degree even with its much cheaper basic plan, winning over LegalZoom’s equivalent by including more relevant features. Still, you’re welcome to see Zen pricing and the cost of LegalZoom in full.
The comparison of the two base plans show the clear advantage ZenBusiness has over LegalZoom in terms of utility: even the basic $39 ZenBusiness package adds a registered agent service, whereas the LegalZoom formation package that offers such features costs $329.
Even setting aside the fact that ZenBusiness includes registered agent service, their starter plan also comes with a free operating agreement template, making the creation of an entity much smoother.
With more than 4 million successfully created entities under their belt and over 22 years of experience, LegalZoom is rightfully considered to be one of the most reliable formation services in the industry which is quite a serious claim compared to ZenBusiness’ 4 years of operation. And while many business owners will always choose LegalZoom on the basis of their market presence and its longevity, many new-gen entrepreneurs are likely to be drawn to ZenBusiness and their speedy services.
ZenBusiness offers well-rounded customer support, accepting questions via phone, through online submissions, and by email from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm on on weekdays and from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm on Sunday.
LegalZoom has a customer support service with flexible hours: you can call or submit online queries from 5:00 am to 7:00 pm PT on weekdays and from 7:00 am to 4:00 pm on weekends.
The two services are not dissimilar to other providers in this industry, offering easy access to your order status in your personal account after you’ve registered with the service.
Generally, LegalZoom takes between 7-10 days to process an order with more expensive plans, whereas the cheapest option can take much longer—even up to a month in some states. ZenBusiness is a similar LLC formation service in that regard, adjusting their default turnout times based on location.
Registered Agent Service
All new entities with limited liability are bound by law to appoint a registered agent for handling the communication between the state authorities and company owners such as receipts, relevant mail, service of process, and more.
Unlike LegalZoom, ZenBusiness includes free registered agent service in its starter plan for only $39, though other LLC registration packages also include this feature. LegalZoom offers such services separately for the annual fee of $299, and none of their LLC packages adds this option by default.
For all its relative newness, ZenBusiness has established itself as a trustworthy service according to over 4,885 customer reviews on Trustpilot and other platforms that deal with customer feedback.
On the other side of this is LegalZoom who are known for their experience but tend to attract mixed reviews where the majority of negative ones bring up problems with rep support and cost inconsistencies. All in all, LegalZoom reviews show that the positive aspects of the service outweigh the negative parts, but not everyone is ready to give up large sums of money with those odds.
While the online accessibility is pretty strong with both services, ZenBusiness wins over LegalZoom by presenting a much clearer interface and optimizing website response speeds.
LegalZoom is objectively the more generous option when it comes to additional features despite their decision to exclude the services of a registered agent from their formation plans. As it stands, LegalZoom provides an array of business and personal services like drafting property deeds, wills, divorce forms, and many more.
Though LegalZoom offers personalized assistance, the company also can help with trademark registration and various copyright issues. What they don’t do is deal with state publication, but thankfully ZenBusiness offers publication services for jurisdictions with such formation guidelines.
Which Is the Best LLC Service for You?
|Service||Annual Fee||Registered Agent||Key Benefits||Rating|
Express Gold: $349
+ State fee
|Good Value||★★★★★ (4.8/5)|
Both LegalZoom and ZenBusiness are quite capable at helping you start an LLC, especially compared to the potential costs that come with hiring a corporate lawyer. Even though ZenBusiness proves to be the best LLC service out of the two, there still might be some reservations left regarding compatibility.
What Makes ZenBusiness a Good Choice?
- Base plan includes registered agent services
- Suits small entities
- Offers publication
- Provides affordable LLC services from the start
- Supported by positive customer reviews
What Makes LegalZoom a Good Choice?
- Operating since 1999
- Confirmed customer volume measured in millions
- Personalized LegalZoom support
- Data protection
Frequently Asked Question
Many people will naturally gravitate towards the cheapest plan priced at $39 (see Zen plans for more details), and it’s definitely one of the two top recommended packages. Their $199 Pro plan is another option you might want to look into.
ZenBusiness may not avoid upsells completely, but compared to the frankly outrageous LegalZoom upselling practices amounting to $1,080, the company comes off as fairly modest with their $285 in upsells.
ZenBusiness is one of the few services in this price range that offers help with this requirement. For more information, you can look through their description of the service.
Both services lose to IncFile in their base pricing, but there are quite a few more aspects to consider when comparing the three. For a more detailed overview, feel free to look through our ZenBusiness vs IncFile comparison and IncFile vs LegalZoom comparison.
ZenBusiness is a bit elusive on the matter of refunds, but one thing is clear: they do not offer refunds after the company has already submitted the fee to the state. And even in the event of you managing to cancel the service before that window closes, the company is legally allowed to deny the refund if you fail to meet certain requirements or charge you $50 for cancellation.
This is where LegalZoom wins over a great many formation services—by providing a 60-day refund guarantee. It’s perfectly possible to cancel their services within the first two months and get a full refund without jumping through any additional hoops or paying cancellation fines.
Sure thing. In fact, many entrepreneurs actively choose this course of action, preferring to rely on their own resources. If it’s true for you as well, be sure to check our step-by-step guide for creating an entity through your own means.