Do you need to form a limited liability company, but you don’t want to bother with the complexities and hassles of forming your own LLC?
There are many companies like ZenBusiness and Northwest Registered Agent that offer high-quality LLC formation service, but it can be tough to figure out which one is the best option for your new business.
With this ZenBusiness vs Northwest Registered Agent comparison guide, you’ll find the information you need to make this choice laid out in a convenient manner. Which service is the right choice to form your new limited liability company?
ZenBusiness and Northwest Registered Agent are two of the top companies in the LLC formation service industry, and they’re both quite capable of forming your new business in compliant and convenient fashion. They both have some distinct advantages that make one or the other a better choice depending on your needs.
Northwest’s biggest advantage is their premium customer support. They assign a dedicated representative to each client account, giving you a level of personalized customer service that no competitor can match. As for ZenBusiness, they have the best prices in the industry, as they offer a complete LLC formation package for free ― all you need to do is pay your state fee.
Would you like to learn more about your options before making a decision? Read on as we walk through all of the most important details of each company’s services.
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 rating scores in their customer reviews, which indicates an excellent level of client satisfaction.
3) Registered Agent Service: Northwest includes a full year of registered agent service in every one of their LLC formation packages. ZenBusiness doesn’t include registered agent in their free Basic package, but all of their paid service plans do include this valuable feature.
4) Customer Support: While the methods they use to provide customer service are quite different (which we’ll discuss shortly), 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.
4) Additional Services: Both Northwest and ZenBusiness have many other services that they can provide to your business, from registered agent to annual report service and much more.
Side by Side Comparisons
It’s quite difficult to beat ZenBusiness when it comes to pricing, seeing as they offer their Basic LLC formation package for free, as long as you pay your state fee. Northwest Registered Agent also offers reasonably priced packages, but their $79 package is still obviously quite a bit more expensive than “free” is.
The most significant difference between these companies when it comes to features is Northwest’s inclusion of registered agent with all of their LLC formation packages. ZenBusiness also includes registered agent starting with their $10/month Starter package, but with Northwest you’ll receive a year of registered agent for free, even if you order their $79 package.
Northwest Registered Agent opened for business in 1998, and over the years they’ve served thousands of customers. ZenBusiness has a similar level of experience, even though they’ve only been around since 2015.
These two companies have similar hours of availability for customer service, but there’s a big difference when it comes to the nature of this support. ZenBusiness does not offer support via phone or email. Instead, your only option is to contact them via web chat.
On the other hand, Northwest is the industry leader for support, thanks to their Corporate Guide system. Each client is assigned a highly trained Corporate Guide, and that person walks you through every step of your formation. You have your Guide’s contact information, so whenever you need assistance, you can talk to the same person every time.
ZenBusiness has turnaround times that are based on which level of service you purchase from them. They have a 4-week turnaround time for their Basic package, which you can cut down to 3-4 weeks with the Starter package, 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.
Both of these service providers have order tracking tools available on their websites. Simply log into your account and you’ll find your order status in your profile.
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. If you would like to see a list of our favorite registered agent service providers, simply click this link.
ZenBusiness includes registered agent service with all of their LLC formation packages except for the free Basic package, and this service costs $120 per year. 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 500 reviews available online, and nearly all of them are positive. Their clients 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 streamlined and user-friendly than the ZenBusiness site.
Which Is the Best LLC Service for You?
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 entirely capable of forming your new business with minimal hassle and stress.
Choose ZenBusiness if You Are:
Are you seeking the lowest possible price points? ZenBusiness has an LLC formation package that’s entirely free except for your state fee, which Northwest obviously can’t compete with.
Choose Northwest if You Are:
Is premium customer support a priority to you, as opposed to the web chat-only support offered by ZenBusiness? Or perhaps you want to go with the company that has a longer track record? Northwest is an excellent choice.
Frequently Asked Questions
If I Decide to 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.
Does Northwest Handle Extra State Requirements Like New York Publication?
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.
Which 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 Basic plan, ZenBusiness will try to convince you to add an EIN ($70), registered agent service ($120/year), their Worry Free Guarantee ($120/year), an LLC operating agreement ($35), and two different expedited processing options priced at $50 and $100.
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 a series of bonus features in their upper-tier LLC formation packages, including “Free CPA consultation,” “Domain name registration,” “Xero accounting software,” and “Free insurance quote.”
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 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:
- Basic ($0): 4 weeks
- Starter ($10/month): 3-4 weeks
- Pro ($30/month): 1-2 weeks
- Premium ($60/month): 3-5 days
In general, ZenBusiness is faster in some states, while Northwest has the advantage in others.
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 some 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. We also like the peace of mind we receive from hiring a quality formation service like ZenBusiness or Northwest Registered Agent.