Are you deciding between ZenBusiness and LegalZoom for LLC formation? We know, it can be confusing. But don’t worry! Read our helpful comparison guide below, to learn which company is the best for you.
LLC service providers all seem to offer the same services, but is price the only thing you should consider? We think user experience, including friendliness of website language and customer support, are really important too. We compared prices along with the other aspects of both websites to help you select the best company to form your LLC.
Is it better to use a big company like LegalZoom, or a specialized LLC formation service like ZenBusiness? We compared ZenBusiness vs LegalZoom on 10 different features of their business formation services.
Winner: ZenBusiness is the clear winner over LegalZoom. With their ease-of-use, better pricing, and higher quality service bundles, ZenBusiness works better for small business owners starting a Limited Liability Company (LLC).
ZenBusiness is a filing company that offers LLC formation along with many other services. ZenBusiness can help you set up a Limited Liability Company in any state. In addition to their business entity formation services, they also offer Registered Agent services and a collection of legal forms.
LegalZoom is an online legal technology company that offers a wide variety of legal services, including business formation services. According to their website, LegalZoom was founded in 1999 and has launched over 4 million businesses.
LegalZoom offers LLC formation packages that include various documents as well as other legal services like legal forms templates and consultations with attorneys. While LegalZoom is a large company, they don’t always get the best customer reviews.
LLC Formation Services: ZenBusiness vs. LegalZoom
The Basic LLC Package: What do you get?
We compared the features offered in the basic LLC formation package at each company. What else do you get besides the actual Articles of Organization filing with the state?
The basic package (called “Starter”) includes an Operating Agreement template, one free year of Registered Agent service, one free year of Worry Free Compliance Service, an Accounting Consultation, and a Google Ads credit match.
The basic package (called “Basic”) only includes the LLC formation filing. But remember, it doesn’t cover the state filing fees; you’ll still need to pay those. It also doesn’t include a year of Registered Agent service; you will have to pay $249 for that.
Why? ZenBusiness’s basic package offers better value.
The real value in ZenBusiness’s Starter Package is the free year of Registered Agent service and their Worry-Free Compliance Service, which files your LLC Annual Report for you. LegalZoom also offers an Annual Report filing service (in their Total Compliance package), but that’s a separate fee of $280/year.
Note: None of the prices below include the state LLC filing fees.
ZenBusiness offers the Starter package for $49, the Pro package for $199, and the Premium package for $299.
The Starter package is good value for an LLC service. But be careful: it contains an annual compliance service subscription that renews at $119 per year. Plus, it signs you up for ZenBusiness’s Registered Agent service that renews at $199 per year.
The Pro package has expedited filing and a few extras, but isn’t worth $199. The only upgrade in the Premium package is web hosting, which we don’t think is worth $100 extra.
LegalZoom offers the Basic service for $0, the Pro package for $249, and the Premium package for $299.
The Basic package is an okay value for business formation, but we really can’t justify the high prices for the Pro and Premium packages. Both offer some extras. However, the extras aren’t necessary to start your business, and you can get them cheaper with other companies, or you can do it yourself.
Why? ZenBusiness has more affordable prices and their packages have more valuable add-ons.
Want a better deal? We recommend hiring Northwest instead. You'll get a lot more for your money. They also protect your privacy by keeping your address off public records. Use our special discount link to get 60% off and 1 free year of Registered Agent service.
(See why Northwest is #1 in our Northwest Registered Agent review)
LLC Service Turnaround Time
- Related article: How long does it take to get an LLC?
Usually it takes 2 business days for ZenBusiness to send your documents to the state. That’s pretty quick compared to their competitors.
Pro and Premium packages include expedited processing times. This means ZenBusiness will get your paperwork sent to the state right away. And, for an extra fee, the state will expedite your LLC’s approval time.
Despite being a big company, LegalZoom doesn’t offer very fast business formation turnaround time. Your documents will be filed within 1-2 weeks of purchasing LegalZoom’s LLC service.
You can also pay extra for the state expedited processing, and get your LLC faster.
Why? ZenBusiness has faster turnaround times.
Lots of Upsells
ZenBusiness offers many upsells with their LLC formation services, but not in a distracting way. Although many of these upsells are things you can do yourself at home, for free, we appreciate that ZenBusiness isn’t aggressive about them.
LegalZoom offers a ton of upsells, but bundles them into packages. This means you end up paying more for the LLC service you want, plus some extras you may not need. We don’t like that LegalZoom’s upsells are intrusive and sometimes need to be declined more than once to make them go away.
You’ll also be bombarded by offers for other subscriptions, like the Legal Protect Plan and Total Compliance package. Overall, LegalZoom has a lot of upsells during their business formation process and most of them aren’t worth the cost.
Why? ZenBusiness has fewer and less aggressive upsells.
ZenBusiness makes sure every product is clearly explained and easy to understand – even for people new to starting a business. However, some of their service costs aren’t super clear and it can be confusing to figure out which items are annual subscriptions and which aren’t.
LegalZoom’s website has a lot of fancy language to make their services sound like you can’t live without them. They hide a lot of important details about limitations of the services (in particular, the Legal Protect Plan has a lot of exclusions). And LegalZoom isn’t clear about how the pricing really works on their packages.
Why? Neither of these sites is truly transparent about pricing, but ZenBusiness has clearer, more helpful language on their website.
ZenBusiness’s customer service is reliable. And they can be reached by phone or online chat. We were also happy that they didn’t use pushy sales techniques.
However, they didn’t go out of their way to provide additional guidance. They instead just answered what we asked. That isn’t bad, but other companies offered more helpful suggestions.
LegalZoom offers customer support by phone or online chat. But if you’re a new customer or just trying to get information, LegalZoom requires you to give them a lot of details about your business before they will even try to answer your questions.
We were disappointed to find that they were more interested in getting us to start the LLC formation process or to purchase online legal services, rather than helping us with our questions.
Why? ZenBusiness’s customer support was much easier to get a hold of and they’re more helpful.
User Experience and Website
ZenBusiness excels at providing a simple, pleasing user experience. Their website uses an automated chat to walk you through the steps. This is helpful because it gives an explanation of each item in the LLC formation process.
After you form your company, ZenBusiness offers a user-friendly dashboard for your compliance needs. This is useful for filing Annual Reports and managing your Registered Agent service.
LegalZoom offers a sleek, modern website design. However, it sends you through a lot of different pages to get the information you need. Also, the LLC formation process uses confusing layouts that make avoiding the upsells tricky.
Why? ZenBusiness’s website is visually appealing and doesn’t have tricky or frustrating layouts.
Additional Features and Services
ZenBusiness offers several features not directly related to the business formation filing. We like their Google Ads credit match, but don’t think the website hosting package is a good value.
ZenBusiness also offers an accounting “consultation”. However, we don’t recommend this service. This is often a way for companies to make more money (they sell your information to the accounting company). And more often than not, your “consultation” is really just a sales pitch.
Instead, we recommend you hire your own accountant for your LLC. That way you have a trusted advisor for your business.
LegalZoom offers additional services, but most have a monthly fee (instead of a one-time purchase). For example, the Legal Forms library, the Legal Protect Plan, and the Total Compliance subscriptions. These are expensive add-ons that LegalZoom describes as life-savers, but which actually have a lot of limitations. We don’t recommend spending your money on them.
Why? ZenBusiness offers more useful services at better prices.
If your business needs legal forms, like contracts and agreements, both ZenBusiness and LegalZoom offer them.
ZenBusiness offers a Business Document Templates Library. The cost is $99 (or it’s included free with the Pro and Premium packages).
LegalZoom offers a Legal Forms Library. The cost is $40 per month.
Winner: ZenBusiness’s library is much better. The price is cheaper and you get the actual document template, which can be used many times. On the other hand, LegalZoom requires you to complete a survey every time you want a form. And you can’t modify or re-use the LegalZoom document later.
ZenBusiness vs LegalZoom: Registered Agent Services
- Related Article: What’s a Registered Agent for an LLC?
Price Per Year
ZenBusiness offers two types of Registered Agent services for $199 per year.
Note: The difference is “Complete Coverage” includes Worry-Free Compliance (ZenBusiness will file your LLC’s Annual Report).
However, be careful. If you choose the Pro or Premium LLC package, they already come with Worry-Free Compliance. So you just select “Standard Coverage” (so you don’t pay for Worry-Free Compliance twice).
LegalZoom charges $299 per year for Registered Agent service, which is one of the most expensive prices in the industry. In some states, LegalZoom discounts this price to $249 per year if you form your LLC with them. That’s still very expensive compared to the competitors.
Why? ZenBusiness has a much better value for money on Registered Agent service.
Mail Forwarding and Service of Process
ZenBusiness scans and uploads legal mail sent to your LLC (including service of process). You use the same dashboard to access these as you do for other ZenBusiness features.
LegalZoom also scans and uploads legal mail sent to your LLC (including service of process). They also have an online dashboard where you can access your documents.
Winner: This is a tie.
Why? Both companies offer the same service type.
ZenBusiness vs LegalZoom: Who’s the winner?
When you compare ZenBusiness vs LegalZoom, ZenBusiness is the clear winner.
We liked ZenBusiness’s customer service and convenient user dashboard for Registered Agent services. Their LLC formation process uses a conversational chat interface to walk you through the questionnaire. This is a user-friendly design.
ZenBusiness’s LLC formation packages give you lots of features at reasonable prices. Additionally, their Complete Coverage Registered Agent package also comes with their Worry-Free Compliance package. This means they’ll be your Registered Agent and file your LLC Annual Reports for only $149 per year. On the other hand, LegalZoom charges $579 per year ( $299/year for Registered Agent service, and $280/year for Total Compliance service.
LegalZoom makes things complicated with lots of fine print, and their services are offered in confusing packages and monthly subscriptions. On the other hand, ZenBusiness has a simple, easy-to-use website with clear and friendly language.
We don’t like that LegalZoom is focused on selling you their other legal services – especially consultations with their attorneys. If all you need is help starting and running your LLC, ZenBusiness is a much better choice.
Is there a better option? Yes, we recommend hiring Northwest. You'll get a lot more for your money. They also protect your privacy by keeping your address off public records. Use our special discount link to get 60% off and 1 free year of Registered Agent service.
(Learn why Northwest is #1 in our Northwest Registered Agent review)
File yourself with our free LLC guides
If neither ZenBusiness or LegalZoom seems like the right fit, and you want to save money, you can form your LLC yourself. And we can help!
At LLC University®, we offer step-by-step guides that teach you how to form your LLC yourself. You just pay the state filing fee.
Get started here: How to start an LLC in all 50 states
The Hybrid Approach: Hire ZenBusiness and DIY the little things
And even if you do hire ZenBusiness or LegalZoom to file your LLC, you can still save money in other ways. There are several upsells that you can skip and DIY instead:
Instead of paying for an LLC Operating Agreement, you can download our free LLC Operating Agreement template.
If you see an upsell for LLC Membership Certificates, you can skip it. We provide free LLC Membership Certificates here.
If you see an upsell for a Banking Resolution (aka financial account authorization letter), you can ignore it. This document isn’t actually needed to open an LLC business bank account. Banks will provide their own form.
If you’d rather not pay for someone to file your LLC Annual Report, you can do that yourself. Go to our LLC Annual Report page and select your state.
And you don’t have to hire someone to be your LLC’s Registered Agent. Instead, you can be the Registered Agent for your LLC. Check out our Registered Agent page for more details. All you need is a physical address in the state where you form your LLC. Being your own Registered Agent can save you more than $100 per year.
Matt holds a Bachelor's Degree in business from Drexel University with a concentration in business law. He performs extensive research and analysis to convert state laws into simple instructions anyone can follow to form their LLC - all for free! Read more about Matt Horwitz and LLC University.