Carrying loads of papers to offices in search of services is now a thing of the past. Technology has come over, and the new office goes by the name ‘online.’ The impact is so much that, as a new business owner, you feel out of place when you find people engrossed in “web talks.” No spiders are involved here! They are merely talking about what is happening in the digital space.
Technology helps in increasing productivity and sales. Reduction in time taken to perform different tasks, meaning efficiency is improved. Thus, a business owner needs to embrace technology to aid his/her wellbeing businesswise.
Well back in the day, a new business formation demanded a visit to an attorney to help you file legal documents on your behalf. The process was tedious and time-consuming. Again, it involved a lot of paperwork and hence giving room for errors. These mistakes might be costly, and you might miss out on the whole process of making your business legal.
On the other hand, attorneys don’t have standard pricing for their services. They charge the filing fee at per-hour rates, which are quite expensive. I am sure the same attorneys have a trick or two up their sleeve in the pretense of giving legal advice while they reap from you with the increase in hours.
As a result, online incorporation service companies have emerged to help solve carrying bulky documentation. These service providers assist in creating corporations, including S-Corporation (S-Corp) and C-Corporation (C-Corp), partnerships, and limited liability companies (LLCs).
Remember, business registration enhances its identity and credibility in the way it operates. It protects the business owner from personal financial liability, which means the business obligations are separate from assets. The process makes the business look legitimate, helps attract new business, and opens doors for funding opportunities.
In this review, we look at ZenBusiness and LegalNature in terms of customer experience, ease of use of its software, and whether they offer ongoing compliance or not.
Note that I have an independent ZenBusiness Review and LegalNature Review, which you can read to understand how the individual companies work. You can also look at other comparison articles to get the best online company formation partner.
Let’s get into the gist of the matter on LLC formations.
New business formation vests a lot of responsibility to the business owner. It would be best if you took care to ensure that state and local regulations are adhered to in operating the new or current business.
As such, online incorporation service providers have emerged to deal with the process of compliance. The idea here is to simplify the process while ensuring that following the law has been observed. The other aspect is cost reduction. As we saw earlier, attorneys receive payment per hour, and there is the turnaround aspect that saves the business owner both time and money.
ZenBusiness and LegalNature are some of the providers that help in company formation. They provide the service online, and you can do it at your office’s comfort at the business premises or your home.
Why incorporate your business? There are several important reasons why you need to have your business registered.
Venturing into a small business is a risky affair, and the business liability becomes a personal matter. One way of limiting that is by incorporating your company.
As much as it involves a lot of paperwork and expenses than in a sole entity or partnership, there are legal and tax advantages.
- Protect Personal Property
By incorporating your business, you protect personal assets. The incorporated company (corporation) can own assets, do business, incur debts, sue, or be sued.
Since it is a separate legal entity, it is responsible for its liabilities.
- Easier Access to Capital
A corporation can issue shares; hence it is easier to raise capital, and thus the business can grow and develop. Banks wouldn’t take a significant risk of lending money to unincorporated business ventures, thus giving corporations an advantage.
- Business Credibility
Suppliers see corporations as more stable than incorporated ventures. Having INC or Corp at the end of your business name denotes that you are permanent, credible, and stable, and committed to your entity’s ongoing success.
Corporations enjoy perpetual existence regardless of what happens to directors, employed staff, or shareholders. Incorporation avoids legal battles that could arise with other business ventures.
A corporation hides the identity and involvement of the business owners from the general public.
Now that it is clear why you need to incorporate your business let’s get into this ZenBusiness vs. LegalNature review.
ZenBusiness was formed in 2015 as an LLC formation service for ongoing and new businesses. Based in Texas, the company has helped a large number of entrepreneurs form LLCs from scratch.
They provide important business registration services, which include:
- Registered agent services
- Website Building
- CPA assessments
ZenBusiness has three incorporation plans to choose from: The starter plan, Pro Plan, and the Premium plan.
They are the most affordable of all the LLC formation services and with a one-year free registered agent service from any of the packages you choose. They also offer a custom plan, which is a unique feature among all the LLC formation companies.
With the custom plan, there are questions you need to give answers to as the process continues. ZenBusiness then lets you know about the products they feel you need, and you can decide on the ones to go through with.
ZenBusiness has three price points. The regular price is $49 plus the state fee, and the amount includes a registered agent service for one year. At the lapse of one year, you pay $119 annually.
What do you get with the Starter Pack?
- Normal filing speed
- Preparation and filing of the articles of organization
- Registered agent service
- Operating agreement
- Accuracy guarantee which is 100%
The pro plan is the second tier package plan and goes for $149 and includes:
- Expedite filing service
- Registered agent
- Operating agreement
- Employer Identification Number(EIN)
- Banking resolution
- Worry-free compliance
- Accuracy guarantee (100%)
The premium package goes for $249, and you get a
- Rush service in filing
- A business domain name
- A business website
- Registered agent service
- Operating agreement
- Employer Identification Number
- Banking resolution
- Worry-free compliance
- Business domain name registration
- Business email address
- Accuracy guarantee
The custom plan is a one-time incorporation service that goes for $49 plus the state fee. The package allows you to get only the services you need for your business. You hence save by not paying for services you don’t need.
Kindly note that the above prices are not inclusive of the state fee, which is different in the 50 states.
The features in a product are what make the product sell. ZenBusiness shines because of these features. From a live chat platform, excellent customer service, and an easy-to-use dashboard, ZenBusiness shines.
The worry-free compliance is a big win for them since business owners are treated to yearly compliance and allowed to make at least two amendments to the annual filings for companies with changing leadership.
1. Customer Service
Their customer support team can be reached by phone from Monday to Friday between 8 am and 7 pm. In addition to phone calls, there is the live chat option and an online form where you ask questions and get feedback via email.
2. Ease of Use
ZenBusiness has a well-designed dashboard that is easy to use. You have the option of working with a preplanned package or use the step-by-step process to plan for your business structure.
3. Turnaround Time
The time taken to incorporate with ZenBusiness is somehow standard. It is two to three weeks with the starter pack, five to eight business days with the pro plan, and two to four days with the premium pack. You can compare the time taken by the premium plan to Incfile, but they are not as fast as Swyft Filings.
4. Additional Services
These are services that are offered beyond incorporation. ZenBusiness registered agent services, an operating agreement customized for your business, Employer Identification Number, and created annual reports.
ZenBusiness also gets your new business published in the New York Publication.
Other services offered include:
- Doing business As name registration
This is an operating name that is different from the legally registered name. The purpose is to protect the consumers doing business with the entity.
- Filing annual reports
This is a report giving the company’s activities of the previous year. Annual reports contain the names and addresses of the directors or members in the management of a corporation. The state requires this information.
- Amendment filing
LLC amendment allows for changes in terms of your limited liability company’s operating agreement which is an internal document governing the corporation.
- Certificate of good standing
This document is issued by the state showing that your LLC has met all the requirements and is authorized to do business in that state.
- Business bank account
It is an account for the LLC and provides financial protection to the business entity.
- Accounting and bookkeeping services
- Business credit card
- Business name registration
5. Other Resources
They provide blog articles based on incorporation in each state. These are updated regularly to keep the customers informed on changes or other requirements. Their webpage is designed in such a way to give a step-by-step process of business registration.
LegalNature was formed in 2010 as an online incorporation service provider by a team comprising an attorney, business specialist, and technology guru.
The idea was to reduce expenses associated with formal legal representation by providing easy access to legal documents. Their work is to simplify customer legal needs.
The services they offer include:
- Incorporation documents
- Business formation
- Registered agent service
LegalNature doesn’t have a formation package like the rest of the providers. Here you form your business by paying $40 plus the state fee.
They handle your paperwork as you concentrate on your business. Every service is charged individually, and you have the opportunity of customizing your order since you choose the service that your business needs most.
Apart from providing business formation services, they offer other legal services like estate planning, marriage, and divorce. Their work is more on the legal services than business formations.
Looking at the table below, you will see the services offered and how much you need to pay.
1. Customer Service
LegalNature has a help center where they answer any questions clients ask. Otherwise, their representatives at customer care will handle your queries. You can also email them, and they will give you feedback.
The customer support team is available Monday through Friday between 6 am and 7 pm. Another good thing about them is that they are open on Saturday and Sunday between 9 am and 1 pm. Thus, your business doesn’t stop just because it’s a weekend. We work and party later. Hic!
2. Ease of Use
LegalNature will form your business in three easy steps. First, you provide contact information, which includes the primary contact for the company. Remember this information is for contacting you during the LLC formation. It’s this first step that you get to select the state of formation and the entity type.
Secondly, you provide company information, which includes company name and address and the management information.
Thirdly, you select the business compliance services. These are:
- Registered agent
- Tax information
- Tax ID (EIN)
- License and permit search
- State compliant documents
- Corporate kit
- Bank account
You finish up by placing the order. Here you provide company contacts, choose processing speed and shipping.
3. Turnaround time
The process of incorporation varies depending on the state you wish to incorporate your business. Mostly, it takes about ten days. In some states, it may take three to four weeks. Expedited filing takes between one and three days.
4. Additional services
- Document creation and storage
- Business formation
- Legal document templates
- Fast and reliable execution
- Excellent knowledge and resource center
Ease of Use
LegalNature has an easy-to-use dashboard with only a few steps to follow in the process. You will need to provide your details and those of the business, and LegalNature will handle the rest.
LegalNature doesn’t have any formation packages to choose from. They charge $40 plus state fees for your business formation. Other products or services you desire are paid for per product.
Products and Services
LegalNature offers a wide range of products which makes them different from other LLC formation packages. Their products and services include:
- Arbitration services
- Loan agreements
- General services agreement
- Release of liability agreement
- Security agreement
- Hold harmless agreement
- Articles of organization
- Bank resolution
- LLC operating agreement addendum
They also provide other business-related legal documentation and services on:
- Family and personal matters
- Real estate
- Marriage and divorce
- Health care
ZenBusiness has three packages to choose from, allowing a new business owner to select the best-suited services for their business entity. This kind of plan is suitable because you receive the services as a package.
LegalNature, on the other hand, charges $40 on business formation plus the state fees. There are no defined formation packages. From here, you choose a service you want and pay separately.
- Registered Agent
It is essential to ensure that correspondence from state and state agencies is correctly handled, ensuring that all legal and tax documents are managed correctly.
Zen Business will provide you with a registered agent service at $99 on a standard coverage, including the registered agent, online document access, and expert support. On a complete coverage, you pay $149 billed annually and get the registered agent service, online document access, specialist support, and worry-free compliance.
LegalNature will ask for $125 plus the state fees to represent you as your registered agent. This amount is paid annually.
- Services offered
ZenBusiness is strictly an incorporation service provider. Theirs is to form companies and provide ongoing compliance to the already existing ones.
On the other hand, LegalNature provides an array of services. They assist family and personal matters, business, and real estate.
What Makes ZenBusiness Tick?
I know I have become too much, but you keep talking about it when you are excited about something. In detail, of course. Did they say the devil is in the details? Huh! Let me let you in.
The formation packages in different incorporation services are rigid and don’t offer room for flexibility. As a result, you end up paying for services you don’t need. ZenBusiness provides a solution to this problem by allowing you to create your plan.
You choose the services and products your business needs and hence don’t pay for the other stuff.
Business Name Availability Check for Free
Thousands of businesses get registered and issued licenses in each of the 50 states. ZenBusiness checks the names and ensures yours is unique and not in use by someone else. This helps you save time and money.
ZenBusiness has a straightforward business registration process. Though as a business owner, you might have questions that need immediate answers. There is a live chat option on the dashboard where you can talk with the support team. They are available between 8 am and 8 pm Monday to Friday and 10 am to 7 pm on Sunday.
Otherwise, you can call or send an email, and they will respond within one business day.
Free Registered Agent
An LLC is required to have a registered agent in every state they have a presence. The registered agent provides their address for any legal communication from the state and federal agencies.
Thus, ZenBusiness offers a free registered agent service for a year to ensure compliance with this regulation.
The organization of documents and correspondence is vital to any business. ZenBusiness provides access to a personalized dashboard where they store documents they prepare for you and any government document received if they act as your registered agent.
You can also track your order and get alerts to let you know if anything needs your attention during the registration process.
At times we get busy and cannot remember when to report or file reports with the state. ZenBusiness guarantees to take care of your annual reports and filing, hence helping you get out of the mess that might attract the entity’s fines or dissolution.
Transparency in Pricing
ZenBusiness provides you with their prices which include the features, advantages, and benefits. That means as you answer the questions asked, you know what amount to pay in each step.
Common Terms used in the Incorporation
Sole proprietorships and general partnerships are businesses formed without the legal structure put in place. Turning those businesses to be formally recognized companies by the state is what incorporation means.
After incorporating a business, it becomes its legal business entity separate from the founders. That means they are not responsible for the company’s obligations and debts on a personal level.
- Registered Agent Service
A registered agent is that person or company that receives official communication from the government on behalf of the business. Thus, it is a requirement that businesses have a designated registered agent.
- Employer Identification Number
The EIN, also Federal Tax Identification Number, is a unique and distinctive number given to a business entity for identification purposes by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Employers use it for tax reporting.
- State fee
This is the amount paid by the new business entity to the state through the state secretary while incorporating your business. The amount is different in all 50 states.
- Operating Agreement
The management and operations of an LLC are guided by members who own the business. As such, their relationship has to be professional for them to carry out business with diligence.
Thus, an operating agreement will outline and define these internal operations, procedures, and the members’ relationship.
In summary, this is an internal governing tool.
- Articles of Incorporation
This is the formal legal document that establishes a corporation. Incorporation’s articles are crucial since they give the business owner legal protection for their personal property.
The document separates the business assets from the business owner’s assets.
- Banking Resolution
This is the document used to authorize the opening of a company bank account. The LLC members draft and adopt the document to define each member’s roles, obligations, and privileges concerning the business entity’s banking activities.
What to Consider when Choosing an Incorporation Service provider
The cost of a product or service determines whether we make a purchase or not. Thus, as business owners, we tend to go for affordable formation packages or give discounts.
In the case of business formations, services are provided in packages. Most of them have three from which you can choose the best for your entity. While at it, it is essential to check what each package offers.
Ease of use
No one wants to struggle to try to understand what is required of you in the process of forming your business. Thus, look for a provider with an easy-to-use dashboard that will save you money and mental torture.
Apart from business formation, other vital services will make your business develop and thrive. You might incur extra costs while getting these services. Thus, look for a company that provides them as a package or at an affordable price.
We all want to be treated with respect and given the attention we deserve. In regards to that, a company that is always there for you is the best to work with. Your questions as a business owner need to be handled professionally and in the shortest time possible.
Pros and Cons
- With pricing starting at $39, they are the most affordable of all the other providers. As such, it allows you to save some money.
- With ZenBusiness, care has been taken to make the whole process of Incorporation simple and exciting. They don’t trick the user into buying add-on services. Instead, they beautifully present the additional features.
- Customer reviews show thousands of positive feedback. This is a strength of ZenBusiness.
- As part of their worry-free guarantee, which is included in the pro package, they undertake to take care of your annual report filing and other ongoing LLC compliance services.
Well, ZenBusiness has distinguished itself as the best LLC formation service provider. As such, it is difficult to find fault with their services. But still, I did find two aspects that you would consider not so good.
- The registered agent service is included in the formation package, but that ends after one year, and you have to pay $119 for the service. Thus, it would be wise to cancel the service before the lapse of one year and consider finding your own agent.
- Most of the services offered by ZenBusiness are helpful for the business. Getting a business card from your filing provider is not one of them.
- They have a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Unlike other LLC formation companies that provide business formation services, LegalNature has additional benefits on family and personal matters and real estate.
- Their customer care team is reliable and works well through the weekend. This is an advantage over the others who work Monday to Friday.
- Their dashboard is easy to use and hence saves time while filling out your details.
- They provide a variety of tailor-made legal documents.
- They only have one formation package, which is not the case with other online incorporation companies.
- Since they run other services apart from business registration, you might not rely on them much.
- The 7-day free trial takes time to load and hence doesn’t look that free.
Most of us look for customer feedback on a particular product or service before we make a purchase. The positive or negative reviews can significantly impact how customers react to your business since they check how your business is rated.
ZenBusiness has only existed for a short time(formed in 2015); they have managed to please their customers with their efficiency. The ease in which they form your LLC is an added advantage, too, thus making them a darling to many.
They have an excellent review with a rating of 4.8. from 5000+ reviews.
They do have a good rating on TrustPilot at 4.3 from 4000+ customer reviews.
LegalNature has a 2-star rating on BBB but is still rated A+. Dissatisfied customer’s complaints have been addressed professionally though customers always leave negative comments.
Choose ZenBusiness if:
You want fast filing at an affordable price and having the best customer service of all the business formation companies. They also provide you with a simple setup that eliminates jargon that will be hard to understand.
Choose LegalNature if:
If you need legal documents, then LegalNature is the place to go. As the name suggests, they are legal and will provide you with customizable personal papers, business documents, rental documents, and so on.
They are strong when it comes to document creation for rental real estate.
What is an LLC?
LLC is short for a Limited Liability Company. With this type of business entity, the owner(s) is not personally responsible for its debts or liabilities. Here, characteristics of a corporation, partnership, and sole proprietorship are combined to form one entity.
Does ZenBusiness have a refund policy?
They offer a 100% refund policy minus any expenses they might have incurred in the process of filing your documents for registration. However, there are no cancellations or changes to your filing once they have submitted payment to the state.
Which LLC package with ZenBusiness can be considered the best?
The starter plan and the pro plan are two packages we can’t ignore. First, the starter plan is $39 and includes your limited liability company’s full business formation, complete with a registered agent service and an operating agreement.
Secondly, the pro plan goes for $149 and comes with the Employer Identification Number, annual report service, and a banking resolution template.
Does every business need to have articles of incorporation?
The legality of filing articles of incorporation as a requirement by law depends on your business entity type. Hence, the law doesn’t require LLCs to file the articles of incorporation though it is highly recommended they have a certificate of formation. However, corporations have a legal obligation to file articles of incorporation with the state.
Online incorporation services have made the process of business formation simple. State-run government websites are complicated and challenging to navigate through. With the online service providers, you are taken through a step-by-step process of business registration. If you aren’t sure about a business registration requirement at some point, you can talk to a representative to get you out of the fix.
There are three critical features during business formation. These are:
- LLC formation
- Free registered agent
- Free operating agreement template
ZenBusiness has these three elements in all their packages.
Cost and dashboard ease of use are essential factors you need to consider when choosing an online incorporation service provider.
ZenBusiness is one of the best in the business, but it lacks additional legal field services. They stick to business incorporation, which may frustrate business owners who need assistance in an attorney’s intellectual property or services.
LegalNature doesn’t have an LLC formation package. The consumer is charged $40 f0r business formation and has to choose the other services which come with an extra cost. Business document filing is the same as ZenBusiness, but it might be difficult for a business owner to follow through.
Though LegalNature provides business formation service, most of their work is on document creation. They are more of an online legal service provider.
Jon runs the place around here. He pontificates about launching and growing online publishing businesses, aka blogs that make a few bucks. His pride and joy is the email newsletter he publishes.
Hyperbole? Maybe, but go check it out to see what some readers say.
In all seriousness, Jon is the founder and owner of a digital media company that publishes a variety of web properties visited and beloved by millions of readers monthly. Fatstacks is where he shares a glimpse into his digital publishing business.