Do you need to start an LLC but you don’t want to bother with the complexities and hassles of forming your own LLC?
With this ZenBusiness vs Northwest Registered Agent comparison guide, you’ll find the information you need to choose the best LLC service for you.
Are ZenBusiness and Northwest a Good Value?
Before we dive into this comparison, let’s briefly talk about what good value in an LLC service looks like. Most LLC services, like LegalZoom, charge $99 or more to form an LLC — but don’t include the features to justify the high price.
Alternatively, ZenBusiness ($39) and Northwest ($79) are two of the most affordable options online and include important features like free registered agent service, great customer support and more.
They are two of the best LLC services online with great prices, features, and overall value.
6 Things They Have in Common
1) Affordable: With either ZenBusiness or Northwest Registered Agent, you’ll save a significant amount of money on your LLC formation compared to hiring a business attorney to handle your formation process.
2) Great Customer Feedback: Although ZenBusiness has a higher volume of reviews, both of these companies receive high average ratings in their customer reviews.
3) Registered Agent Service: Both of these companies include a full year of registered agent service in every one of their LLC formation packages. Every LLC is required to designate a registered agent to receive your important document deliveries from the state, so this is a highly valuable feature.
4) Customer Support: These two services both have customer support networks that can answer your tough questions. Why go it alone when you can get help from ZenBusiness or Northwest?
5) Efficiency: These companies both work quickly, and they can get your formation processed with the state in a matter of weeks or even days.
6) Additional Services: Both Northwest and ZenBusiness have many other services that they can offer to help you focus more on building your business and less on paperwork.
Side by Side Comparisons
ZenBusiness and Northwest Registered Agent have very similar feature sets in their entry-level LLC formation packages. They both provide the full preparation and filing of your articles of organization, along with free registered agent service for one year.
Beyond that in their base package, ZenBusiness also bundles in a customizable LLC operating agreement (important document) and a free accounting/tax assessment from their in-house licensed CPAs to help determine your bookkeeping, accounting and tax needs.
Northwest Registered Agent opened for business in 1998, and over the years they’ve served about two million customers. ZenBusiness has only been around since 2015, but they’ve already formed several thousand businesses in that time.
Northwest is the industry leader for support, thanks to their Corporate Guide system. Out of all the services we’ve reviewed, they have by far the most helpful reps.
ZenBusiness offers chat, phone and email support. Their representatives are courteous and responsive, but they don’t have the expertise of Northwest’s representatives.
ZenBusiness has turnaround times that are based on which level of service you purchase from them, although they do mention that in some states, their processing speeds might be a bit faster or slower. In general, they have a 3-4 week turnaround time with the Starter package, which you can cut down to 1-2 weeks with the Pro package, and 3-5 days with the Premium package.
As for Northwest, their turnaround times are based on the actual processing times of your state, which can vary from just a couple days all the way up to several weeks.
Registered Agent Service
Every LLC in America is required to designate a registered agent, which is a person or online service 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.
ZenBusiness includes registered agent service with all of their LLC formation, and this service costs $110 per year if ordered separately. Northwest bundles in a year of registered agent with any of their LLC formation packages, and they charge $125 per year after that.
It’s also worth noting that Northwest is the only major national registered agent service provider that locally scans every document they receive on your behalf. Their competitors only scan the government-issued docs that they’re legally required to scan.
ZenBusiness excels when it comes to customer feedback, as they have over 900 reviews available online, and nearly all of them are positive. People are clearly satisfied with their services, and they frequently praise their efficiency, along with the general ease of use provided by their platform.
We were able to find just over 100 reviews for Northwest Registered Agent, and their reviews are also overwhelmingly positive in nature. Their customers love Northwest’s industry-best customer support, and also enjoy how quickly they process formations.
Ease of Use
These companies are relative equals in this category, as they both make the LLC formation process quite simple compared to forming your own business using the DIY method. Still, we will give Northwest a slight edge because their website is a bit more straightforward than the ZenBusiness site.
Which Is the Best LLC Service for You?
In summary: Northwest’s biggest advantage is their premium customer support. As for ZenBusiness, they have some of the best prices in the industry, with a solid $39 package that even includes registered agent service and customizable operating agreement in every package.
There are quite a few common characteristics between ZenBusiness and Northwest Registered Agent, but as you can see, there are some significant differences as well. With this in mind, let’s take a look at some scenarios where you might want to choose one over the other for your company’s LLC formation service.
Regardless of which one you end up selecting, we think that both of these companies are reliable and will form your new business with minimal hassle and stress.
➥ Choose ZenBusiness if You Are:
Are you seeking the lowest possible prices? Do you appreciate their large collection of positive customer reviews? These are a couple of great reasons to choose ZenBusiness.
➦ Choose Northwest if You Are:
Is premium customer support a priority to you? Or perhaps you want to go with the company that has a longer track record? Northwest is an excellent choice.
Frequently Asked Questions
Got questions? We’ve got answers.
If I Choose ZenBusiness, Which Package Should I Choose?
Depending on your budget and the needs of your business, there are two different ZenBusiness packages that we really like.
First, it’s hard to find any fault with their Starter plan, because it costs just $39, and it includes the full formation of your LLC, one year of free registered agent service and a customizable operating agreement.
We also like their $149 Pro plan, which adds an EIN, managed annual report service and a banking resolution.
Both are well rounded and a great deal. (See Packages)
If I Use Northwest Registered Agent, Which Package Should I Choose?
Our favorite package from Northwest is their $79 Basic offering, which is a tremendous bargain for the money, as it includes a year of registered agent and their premium customer support.
If you want an operating agreement and an EIN, their $179 Deluxe package is also a strong combination of features. (See Packages)
Can I Just Form an LLC On My Own, Without a Service?
This is always an option, and thousands of entrepreneurs form their own LLCs every year in the United States.
You can save money on formation fees if you form your own business entity, but it can be quite a bit of hassle, because each state has its own rules and regulations for LLC formations. Want to look into this option? Check out our guide.
Do Either Handle New York Publication Requirements?
While they don’t exactly offer to take care of publication requirements on your behalf, Northwest does provide a solid level of assistance.
For example, if you need to form an LLC in New York, Northwest allows you to use their Albany address as your “principal office” or “address for service of process.” Then, you just need to follow their detailed instructions to complete your publishing requirement.
On the other end of the spectrum, ZenBusiness does offer publication services. Here’s their description if you’d like more info.
Which LLC Creation Service Has Fewer Upsells?
Northwest Registered Agent has far fewer upsell attempts than ZenBusiness. While Northwest keeps the upsells to an absolute minimum, ZenBusiness sprinkles them in throughout the ordering process.
If you select their Starter plan, ZenBusiness will try to add an EIN ($70), their Worry Free Guarantee ($110/year), a banking resolution ($30), a business website formation package ($50/year), and a domain name ($25/year).
Do These Services Share My Information With Third Parties?
Northwest never shares or sells your information to third parties, and they even run their own servers and write their own code to avoid exposing any of your info to another company.
On the other hand, ZenBusiness does attempt to share your info with third-party partners through offers for a domain name and a business website package.
Do Either of These Services Have a Refund Policy?
Northwest charges $25 as a convenience fee for processing refunds, or as they call it, a “You changed your mind fee.” ZenBusiness has a similar system for refunds, but they charge $50 as a cancellation fee.
Some of their competitors (like LegalZoom) offer 100% satisfaction guarantees, so both of these companies are at a bit of a disadvantage in this area.
Which LLC Formation Website Is Faster?
There’s a major difference between ZenBusiness and Northwest in this area.
Like most of their competitors, Northwest bases their turnaround time estimates on the requirements of your formation state, which can vary from just a few days to several weeks.
ZenBusiness takes a different approach, instead choosing to structure their processing times based on what level of service you purchase from them. They do mention that their formation speeds may be a bit faster or slower depending on the state, but in general these are their estimates:
- Starter ($39-119/year): 3-4 weeks
- Pro ($149/year): 1-2 weeks
- Premium ($249/year): 3-5 days
In general, ZenBusiness is faster in some states, while Northwest has the advantage in others.
Ready to Start Your LLC?
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