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ZenBusiness and LegalZoom are both online legal services that can help your business with formation and ongoing operational tasks. To decide which might be right for your small business, you may need to dive into the features, pricing, pros, cons and reviews of each service.
ZenBusiness is all about business formation; therefore, its services are there to help you do just that. LegalZoom, while offering many documents for business formation, also offers other services to help you continue to run your business.
ZenBusiness explains its five-step formation process, so you know exactly what to expect from the service.
Select filing package and any additional business services.
ZenBusiness files business documents with your state.
State confirms your business.
ZenBusiness delivers all business documents to your user dashboard.
Ongoing services to keep your business compliant with state requirements.
Some of the specific features it offers are:
Business formation plans.
Registered agent service.
New York certificate of publication (New York is one of the few remaining states that requires a published announcement of your LLC formation.).
Business formation experts for customers to chat with.
LegalZoom has many features that make it a comprehensive legal service for those looking to form their business and continue to run it. Below are business formation services offered by LegalZoom, and the types of business you’ll be able to form:
Pricing for online legal services can be hard to determine, especially since LegalZoom offers a pricing structure where each service and document is priced differently. ZenBusiness, on the other hand, lists its pricing right on its homepage and has standard packages you can choose from, or individual services and document pricing similar to LegalZoom.
ZenBusiness offers three package options that cover a wide range of needs and services.
$119 per year after a promotional first-year price of $49 + state fees
$179 per year* + state fees
Everything in Starter, plus:
$299 per year* + state fees
Everything in Starter and Pro, plus:
In addition to those packages, customers can pick and choose certain services to add to a package or create their own package.
New York LLC certificate: $200 plus the publication fees.
Assign ZenBusiness as your registered agent: starting at $99 per year.
ZenBusiness’s worry-free compliance (covers annual report and up to two yearly amendments): $119 per year.
EIN: $70 (keep in mind, you can apply for your EIN for free directly from the IRS).
Operating agreement: $35.
Annual reports: $75 plus state fees.
Expedited filing speed: $50.
Rush filing speed: $100.
Banking resolution: $30.
Business website: $100 per year.
Business domain name: $25 per year.
Domain name privacy: $10 per year.
Doing business as (DBA) registrations: $95.
DBA compliance: $50 per year.
Certificate of good standing: $75 plus state fee.
Business email address: $25 per year.
Business bank account: $110 per year.
Accounting and bookkeeping: $50 to $200 per month.
Business credit card (through a partnership with Divvy): free to apply.
Business name reservation: $50 plus state fee.
If you’re in need of more than one of the services offered above, it makes sense to go with one of the package options, as the cost really adds up when adding them a la carte.
LegalZoom has a bit of a different pricing structure than ZenBusiness, as there are no set package options or memberships. Each formation service will come with its own set of packages with prices varying depending on service and state. For example, here is how LLC pricing breaks down:
$79 + state filing fee
$329 + state filing fee
Everything included in Economy, plus:
$349 + state filing fee
Everything included in Economy and Standard, plus:
The LLC Next Steps Guide is step-by-step instructions to review your LLC documents. Peace of Mind review is when LegalZoom personally reviews your order before anything is filed and your business is formed. LegalZoom offers 20 personalized company membership certificates and an official company seal with the Standard and Express Gold packages.
Just like ZenBusiness, LegalZoom offers extra services that you can add on to whichever package you choose, or purchase on their own. Here is a sampling of what is offered:
Registered agent services: $299 per year for the first year, then subject to change.
DBA/business names: starting at $99 plus state filing fees.
Trademark search: starting at $199.
Certificate of good standing: starting at $45 plus state filing fees.
LegalZoom does offer attorney access for any questions or concerns, and that comes in two package options: Legal Advantage Plus and the Business Advisory plans. Plans start at $31.25 per month and $9.99 per month, respectively.
Pros and cons
Both ZenBusiness and LegalZoom have plenty of pros and cons for you to consider when choosing between the two legal services. Keeping in mind what your business needs most from this type of service will help you determine which are deal-breakers.
Clear pricing right on homepage.
Services can be purchased separately from packages.
Chat function on website to get in touch with customer service quickly.
Access for business formation experts.
Can view, download or print documents at any time with the registered agent service.
No access to attorneys — formation experts are not attorneys.
Chat function on website can take up to two hours for a response, depending on traffic.
Doesn’t offer legal documents like LegalZoom does.
Customers get sent copies of documents that have been filed on their behalf.
No monthly membership, unless you opt for the legal advice plans.
Free newsletter for tips and information.
Mobile app for iOS and Android.
Reasonable, flat-fee pricing, since you only pay for what you need.
No downloads or edits allowed on any documents.
Legal advice only with paid plan.
Pricing is only straightforward and easy to find if you know what services you need.
Wording on website can be confusing and lead to you signing up for (or not opting out of) services you don’t need or want.
Customer reviews are a mix of good and bad for both ZenBusiness and LegalZoom.
While the customer service chat option on its website is convenient and makes it seem like you’re talking to a real person, customers felt like they were just working off of scripted responses and didn’t deviate from exact wording when asking for clarification on a subject. However, others have said that the personalized customer service they received was outstanding, so your experience may vary.
Customers love the reasonable prices and the fact that they weren’t upsold or hit with hidden fees and charges. Overall, the reviews for ZenBusiness are overwhelmingly positive, which is a good sign if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to form your business.
LegalZoom has hundreds of reviews, and while there is a mix of positive and negative, a lot of them focus on the negative.
The most common complaints seem to be about hidden charges, LegalZoom not making it clear what is an add-on that can be opted out of and customer service. Many people noted that they were still being charged for services they hadn’t received or after canceling their various plans and memberships.
For instance, while a registered agent is required by law for anyone operating a business, LegalZoom doesn’t necessarily make it clear that it doesn't need to be your registered agent. If you don’t opt-out of that service, you will automatically be charged for it.
When it comes to customer service, many reviewers noted long wait times or it being impossible to get in touch with anyone at all, and when they did they were met with less than ideal assistance. Again, like with ZenBusiness, this experience can vary from person to person.
A version of this article was first published on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet