Do you need to form an LLC, but you find the DIY option unappealing?
Thankfully, there are online LLC websites like Harvard Business Services (also known as Delawareinc.com) and LegalZoom that can help you, but how do you discern which one can best assist your company?
This Harvard Business Services vs LegalZoom comparison is structured in a way that highlights their common traits and major differences. Let’s figure out which one you should choose!
Harvard Business Services and LegalZoom are both highly respected LLC service providers, and either one of them would be a solid choice to form your new company. If you’re forming an LLC in Delaware, Harvard Business Services is a strong choice, but it does not offer services in other states.
Harvard Business Services includes a full year of registered agent service with any LLC formation package, which LegalZoom does not. They’re a great LegalZoom LLC service alternative. That said, LegalZoom can form businesses in all 50 states and has extended customer support availability, two advantages HBS can’t match.
If you would like to learn all the relevant details that set these companies apart, we invite you to read on as we cover their most important commonalities and differentiators.
6 Things They Have In Common
1) Affordable: Is saving money a high priority for you? With either Harvard Business Services or LegalZoom, you’ll save loads of cash over hiring a traditional law firm. That means hundreds of dollars that you can pour into your business instead of forking over to an attorney.
2) Customer Support: Even though they’re much less expensive than a lawyer, these providers still have your back. With their easily accessible customer support teams, both of these companies have service reps ready and willing to answer your tough questions.
3) Experience: Experience matters, and these companies have plenty of it. Harvard Business Services and LegalZoom have each served thousands (or even millions) of businesses over the years, making them both trustworthy and legitimate LLC formation services.
4) Guaranteed Service: They both offer satisfaction guarantees that cover any services you order from them. If you’re unhappy with your LLC formation, simply inform LegalZoom or Harvard Business Services to receive a refund. It’s as simple as that.
5) Efficiency: If you need your LLC formed in a hurry, they can still help you out. Both of these companies can expedite your service — LegalZoom in as little as a week, while Harvard Business Services can form your company with same-day turnarounds!
6) Additional Services: Do you need other business services in addition to your LLC formation? From registered agent service to business documents to federal tax ID numbers, these companies both have plenty of other services available.
Obviously, everyone would rather pay $79 than $89 for similar services, right? Even though it’s only a $10 difference, every dollar counts. That said, pricing isn’t everything, so let’s see how Harvard Business Services fares in the remaining categories.
It’s important to note that Harvard Business Services only does LLC formations in the state of Delaware, while LegalZoom works in all 50 states. Aside from that, Harvard Business Services includes a complete year of registered agent service with any LLC formation, along with ongoing compliance notifications.
LegalZoom doesn’t provide registered agent service with any of their service packages, but they do include a banking resolution to help you open business checking and/or savings accounts.
12 months of registered agent service is a valuable feature that more than makes up for the slight pricing advantage LegalZoom has. In fact, if you wanted to add a year of registered agent service to make LegalZoom’s package match the features offered by Harvard Business Services, you would need to add $299 for a total of $358.
Even if you take advantage of LegalZoom’s offer of your first year of registered agent service for $249 if you purchase it with your LLC formation service, that still comes to $328. Or, you could just pay Harvard Business Services $89.
Harvard Business Services opened in 1981, and since then they’ve helped form more than 300,000 companies. That’s impressive, but LegalZoom is one of the industry giants and they exist in a league of their own. LegalZoom started providing online business services in 2001, and they’ve helped more than 2 million business customers.
With Harvard Business Services, you’ll receive their solid customer service with any purchase. Their support agents are knowledgeable and professional, and they’re able to answer even your toughest LLC service questions. Their offices are open from 9 am to 5 pm ET Monday through Thursday and 9 am to 4 pm ET on Fridays.
LegalZoom has some advantages and disadvantages in comparison. One thing their customers love is their extended service hours, which run from 8 am-10 pm ET on weekdays and 10 am-7 pm ET on weekends. However, they’re a bit inconsistent when it comes to their support agents, probably because they’re such a huge company. The more reps you have, the less likely they’ll all be top-notch, and that seems true for LegalZoom.
LegalZoom’s turnarounds are based not on your state of formation, but rather on which level of LLC service you decide to buy from them. Their quickest package is the most expensive, Express Gold (7-10 business days). Next is the Standard package (15 days), followed by Economy (30 days).
Since Harvard Business Services only forms companies in Delaware, their estimates are quite simple. If you want rush service, they can form your LLC in one business day or even less. Otherwise, the process takes about 1-2 weeks.
If you want order status tracking from Harvard Business Services, you’ll need to send them an email that includes your name, company, and order number. It’s not the most efficient system. LegalZoom has a simple yet effective tracking tool on its website. Just log into your account and you’ll see where you stand in the formation process.
Registered Agent Service
Every LLC in America is required to designate a registered agent, which is a person or business entity that receives important document deliveries (like service of process) from your state government, informs you of the receipt, then forwards the documents to you. This is so crucial because the state needs to have a reliable means of contacting your business at any time.
LegalZoom offers registered agent service for $299 per year (or $249 for your first year if purchased in the same order as your LLC formation service), and they do not include this feature with any of their LLC formation packages. However, Harvard Business Services not only bundles in a full year with any formation package, but they also have a low annual rate of $50 that is guaranteed to remain at $50/year for the life of your company.
With around 3,500 reviews and high average rating scores, Harvard Business Services truly shines in the feedback realm. In general, their clients enjoy how quickly they work, and rave about the high quality of their customer support.
LegalZoom has a slightly larger volume of customer feedback, as you might expect, considering the fact that they’re a bigger operation. We found 6,000+ reviews for LegalZoom, and while they do have some negative reviews mixed in, a majority of this feedback is positive. Plenty of their customers are quite satisfied with the efficiency and effectiveness of their services.
Ease of Use
We’ll give a slight edge to LegalZoom when it comes to the convenience of their services. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with Harvard Business Services or that their services are difficult to use, it’s just that LegalZoom’s website is easier to use. Navigating their site is a highly user-friendly experience.
Both of these companies offer many other services that can help you start, maintain, and develop your business. They also provide quite a few of the same services, as you can order things like registered agent service, EIN acquisition, foreign qualification, and operating agreements from either Harvard Business Services or LegalZoom.
However, each of them also has some services that the other company doesn’t offer. For instance, only Harvard Business Services offers mail forwarding service and DUNS number acquisition, but only LegalZoom trademark services and attorney consultations. In addition, LegalZoom also offers some personal services like power of attorney and divorce papers that Harvard Business Services doesn’t offer. It’s also worth mentioning once more that LegalZoom offers LLC formations in all 50 states, while Harvard Business Services only forms businesses in Delaware.
Which Is the Better LLC Service?
Harvard Business Services and LegalZoom are two of the most popular LLC services available online. Still, some of you may remain undecided, so let’s finish by walking through some scenarios that may make you more inclined to use one instead of the other.
➥ Choose Harvard Business Services if You Are:
If you’re forming in Delaware, they’re a strong choice. They also have good customer support, great feedback, and strong pricing models. Harvard Business Services has a lot going for them.
➦ Choose LegalZoom if You Are:
If you want to form in any state other than Delaware, they’re clearly the choice. Also, if you respect things like brand power and experience, LegalZoom rates strongly in those areas as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
Got questions? We’ve got answers.
If I Decide to Use LegalZoom, Which Package Should I Choose?
To be honest, we only think one of LegalZoom’s LLC formation packages is worth buying, and that’s their $79 Economy plan.
This package is rather simple, as it includes the basics of your formation, as well as a banking resolution to help you open business bank accounts. LegalZoom’s other two packages cost $329 and $349, but they don’t add quite enough value to the Economy plan, in our opinion.
How Does LegalZoom Stack Up to Other LLC Websites?
LegalZoom, one of the most well-known services online, has formed more than 2 million businesses since 2001. Check out the comparison reviews below if you’d like to see how this giant stacks up to other good LLC websites.
LegalZoom compared to:
Do These Companies Handle Extra State Requirements Like New York Publication?
Harvard Business Services only forms LLCs in Delaware, which is a state that does not have any significant state-specific LLC formation compliance requirements. For what it’s worth, LegalZoom does not offer publication service either.
For more information on our favorite New York LLC publication services, check out our full guide on this topic.
Which Service Has Fewer Upsells?
LegalZoom has so many upsells that they’re actually the reason we started including this question in our FAQ sections. Before you even get an opportunity to choose which of their three LLC formation packages you want to purchase, LegalZoom attempts an incredible $1,080 in upsells.
On the other hand, Harvard Business Services has very few upsells. While they do have some additional features and services that you can buy with your formation service, they present them in a way that isn’t pushy at all.
Does Either of These Services Have a Refund Policy?
Both of these companies have solid refund policies. Harvard Business Services grants refunds as long as they’re requested within 30 days, and they have a reasonable 5% processing fee. If you received any physical products as part of your formation (like an LLC kit), you simply need to return them within seven business days of your refund request.
LegalZoom has one of the best refund policies in the industry. Thanks to their satisfaction guarantee, they give you 60 days from your purchase date to request a refund for any reason. They don’t even charge a processing fee!
Which LLC Formation Website Is Faster?
There’s really no one faster than Harvard Business Services when it comes to turnaround times for Delaware formations. With standard processing, they estimate a 1-3 day turnaround, which most competitors can’t match even with an expedited order.
As for LegalZoom, they do things a bit differently in this regard, basing turnaround times on which LLC package you purchase, rather than on the capabilities of your formation state. Their Economy package has a 30 business day turnaround, their Standard package takes 15 business days, and their Express Gold package has a 7-10 business day processing speed.
Can I Just Form an LLC On My Own, Without a Service?
Absolutely! It’s not uncommon at all for entrepreneurs to form their own LLCs. However, because every state has its own rules and regulations for LLC formations, you would need to learn the ins and outs of your state’s requirements, which can be a bit more hassle than you might think.
Also, the DIY route doesn’t provide the same peace of mind we get from having a professional service like Harvard Business Services or LegalZoom form our LLC.
LegalZoom and Harvard Business Services are two of the most popular LLC formation services available, and they both have plenty of strong attributes.
We wouldn’t blame you for preferring one over the other — either way, you’re using one of the best companies in the industry.