If you’re looking to legally set up a company in the US and would like good value support for business formation filing, this ZenBusiness review is for you. Our review will take you through the ZenBusiness platform and services.
ZenBusiness provides an online support service in the US for legally forming a new business and ensuring ongoing state compliance. It’s a low-cost alternative to using a lawyer and Chartered Public Accountant (CPA).
ZenBusiness will manage the filing process of business formation for LLCs, Corporations of Doing Business As (BDA) entities, with additional services available as optional add-ons. This allows you to build a personalized package of services depending on what you need.
They promise a 100% accuracy guarantee so you can maintain good standing certification with the relevant state. Founded in 2015, they state that they have completed over 70,000 business formations to date.
Read on for our ZenBusiness review that summarizes everything you need to know about using this online service in detail, which will help you weight it up against other options and decide if it’s the right solution for you.
Who Is ZenBusiness For?
ZenBusiness is suited to entrepreneurs and SMEs looking for support to form an LLC, Corporation or DBA entity without having to pay for expensive legal and CPA fees.
First-time entrepreneurs – If you’re setting up your first business then ZenBusiness will smoothly take you through the time consuming and often confusing system of legally forming a business in the relevant US state. They promise to ensure you won’t have any unnecessary filing hold ups or complications when it comes to legal compliance.
Time-poor entrepreneurs – If you want to set up more than one legal business entity but are already strapped from time with your existing workload then ZenBusiness provides a convenient solution. You don’t need to waste your precious time and energy with formation or annual filing paperwork when it’s better spent managing your strategic business activity.
International SME businesses new to the US system – If you’re looking to create a separate entity in the US but are unfamiliar with the legal process here, ZenBusiness promise to take you through the process quickly with full compliance for the relevant state. They also have a registered agent service, ongoing annual reporting and compliance services and a free CPA consultation to provide an assessment of your accounting needs.
ZenBusiness delivers a simple, fully customizable business formation and annual filing compliance service. You order and receive the service online through their website and personalized dashboard.
5 step formation process – ZenBusiness provides a clear and simple online formation process:
- On their website, select a formation package and any additional services you’d like
- ZenBusiness files all the necessary paperwork with the relevant state
- The state confirms your business
- ZenBusiness delivers all business documents in your personalized dashboard
- ZenBusiness provide ongoing annual filing services to keep your business compliant with individual state requirements
Customized service packages – You can buy a standard formation plan or build your own customized service with a pick-n-mix service list. Once your formation is complete, you can later upgrade your plan or purchase add-on services to help run and grow your business.
The available services are;
- Business Formation Service (included in all subscription plans)
- Registered Agent Service ($99)
- Operating Agreement Template ($35)
- Faster Filing Speeds ($50-$100 plus state fee)
- Worry Free Compliance ($119 annually)
- Employer ID Number ($70)
- Annual Reports ($75 plus state fees)
- New York Publication ($200 plus publication cost)
- Filing Amendment ($100 plus state fee)
- Certificate of Good Standing ($75 plus state fee)
- Banking Resolution Template ($30)
- Free Accounting Consultation (included in plans)
- Domain Name Registration ($25 annually)
- Domain Name Privacy ($10 annually)
- Business Email Address ($25 annually)
- Business Website ($100 annually)
- Business License Report ($89)
- Legal Document Templates Library ($50)
- Business Bank Account ($110 annually)
- Business Insurance (free quote)
- Business Credit Card (free)
- $150 Google Ads Credit (free)
- Business Name Reservation ($50 plus state fee)
Online dashboard – You’ll have a personalized dashboard for safely storing important documents so you can access them in once place at any time, receiving state compliance alerts when your annual filings are due, or managing a domain name and website for your business.
Free business name search – ZenBusiness will perform a search on the business name you’re considering for your company before the formation paperwork is filed. They’ll contact you for a suitable alternative if it’s not available.
Fee & filing time checker – The free and helpful ZenBusiness State Map tool lets you easily check the state-specific fee and how long it takes to complete formation. Note that this doesn’t include the ZenBusiness filing time or service fee.
Customer support – There’s an online Help Center with a collection of articles that can help answer questions quickly as a first port of call. All formation plans include real-time chat, phone or email support. ZenBusiness’s support hours are between Monday and Friday from 8am – 8pm Central time, and Sunday from 10am – 7pm Central time.
Pros & Cons
There are some great reasons to use ZenBusiness, and also just a few cons to be aware of during your decision-making process.
- Low cost – ZenBusiness compare favorably to their competitors on cost and say the reason is thanks to “using technology, innovation, and expert support to keep our costs down”. Subscribing to a plan is the best way to get value for money for formation and ongoing support.
- Flexibility and transparency – You can build your own customized package with complete price transparency – most providers don’t offer this kind of flexibility. The pre-bundled plans provide good discounts and include some helpful services for free. There are no hidden fees and you don’t need to sign up for services you don’t need.
- Free registered agent service – Every LLC operating in America is required to designate a registered agent. This is a person or business entity that receives important documents from the state on behalf of your business then forwards them to you. ZenBusiness will give you the first 12 months for free and the option to renew at $119/year after that.
- Good customer service and support – The overwhelmingly positive feedback ZenBusiness gets from customers is testament to the quality of service and support provided. They have a 4.7 out of 5 rating with over 4,000 reviews on Trustpilot, and they have an A rating with the Better Business Bureau.
- 100% accuracy guarantee – All ZenBusiness services come with an accuracy guarantee, providing you with peace of mind. In the unlikely event you fall fowl of state requirements due to something their team missed, they will provide a detailed action plan and cover the costs to regain good standing certification.
- No business structure consultation service – You’ll need to decide what kind of legal business structure you wish to form before you submit your online order request. However, their website does provide some information to help you understand the available options, and customer reviews state that they are happy to provide some advice if you contact them.
We contacted ZenBusiness for clarity on what advice they provide and they said “We do not have any attorneys on staff, so we can’t provide legal advice. We rely on our online tools and stellar Client Success team to educate potential clients so they can decide which products best fit their business needs.”
- Less extensive expertise – ZenBusiness is not the most experienced provider in terms of knowledge base. If you’re looking to form a company using other legal structures beyond an LLC Corporation or DBA, such as a non-profit or sole proprietorship, they aren’t the service provider for you.
- Lack of clarity on filing time – ZenBusiness doesn’t always guarantee exactly how many working days they will take to submit your filing for the standard, expedite or rush services. It’s also down to the state how long they take to complete and confirm the filing. The standard timing they advertise ranges from 2-3 weeks (but can be quicker), expedite from 6-9 days and rush from 2-5 days.
How To Use Zen Business
This simple online service is ordered and delivered remotely through ZenBusiness’ website, starting on the registration page. The website is easy to use and the process is simple.
Choose a plan, or create your own package – Start by selecting one of the three subscription plan options depending on how much support you want. If you want to create your own plan, the option is directly below the 3 paid plan options, and you’ll be asked a series of questions about your business. ZenBusiness will then let you know which products they think you need. Of course, it’s up to you to decide which ones you want.
It only takes a few minutes to fill out the ZenBusiness formation service order form, and the instructions are quite simple to follow.
First, you’ll need to select the type of entity you want to create – the options are either an LLC or a Corporation. Then you’ll have to select the state you want to register the company in. Pick your desired service plan and any add-ons you’d like, then you’ll need to enter your personal contact details, payment details and a password.
ZenBusiness submits the information required – Depending on what information is required by the relevant state for the type of legal business structure, ZenBusiness collects and file the necessary information. They’ll contact you if they need more information than you provided during the signup process, but this unusually isn’t necessary. You’ll get emails notifications to keep you updated on progress.
Note that if you have a specific deadline you need to meet and would like exact timings on when your submission will be completed, you should contact ZenBusiness.
Access your documents – After the state has confirmed your business formation, use your personalized dashboard to access your documents. This is where ZenBusiness uploads and securely stores all your documents, including any correspondence you receive from the government if they’re your registered agent. Additionally, you can track the status of your orders and get notifications if something needs your attention.
Renewing annually – After your first year, you may wish to renew to continue receiving the registered agent service and receive the worry-free compliance service. Note that it costs $119 after the first year.
There are three subscription plans available on a monthly or annual billing cycle.
Starter – The Starter plan costs $49 (plus state fee) with its features including Standard Filing Speed, Registered Agent, Operating Agreement Template and 100% accuracy guarantee. See the full guide to the Starter plan.
Pro – The Pro plan costs $199 (plus state fee) with its features including Expedite Filing Speed, Registered Agent, Operating Agreement Template, Employer ID Number (EIN), Banking Resolution Template and Worry Free Compliance. See the full guide to the Pro plan.
Premium – The Premium plan costs $299 (plus state fee) with its features including rush filing speed, Registered Agent, Operating Agreement Template, Employer ID Number (EIN), Banking Resolution Template, Worry Free Compliance, Business Domain Name, Business Website and Business Email Address. See the full guide to the Premium Plan.
All plans also include the 100% accuracy guarantee and a CPA accounting assessment consultation.
You can select additional services as an add-on to whichever subscription plan you choose should you desire more support in a specific area, or you could also purchase stand-alone services rather than a formation plan.
Do I need to use a business formation service?
No, it’s not legally required. However, it’s also not necessarily the best solution to go it alone. Laws vary from state to state and the process can be confusing. Using an experienced service will save you time and avoid error or complication.
How quickly does ZenBusiness complete a formation?
ZenBusiness can’t control how long it takes a state to file and confirm your filing, however, they do control the amount of time they take to prepare your paperwork and file it. The standard timing they advertise ranges from 2-3 weeks (but can be quicker), expedite from 6-9 days and rush from 2-5 days.
The expedite or rush service options will speed up how quickly ZenBusiness will submit your filing, however the speed of completion will ultimately depend on the state. Individual states also provide expedite and rush timings but these can vary greatly.
Check out ZenBusiness’ State Map tool to investigate timeframes based on which state you’re considering.
How does ZenBusiness compare to other options, and what is it best for?
ZenBusiness is a newer service provider than some of its more established competitors, formed in 2015, so it has less experience as an established business. Of course, that doesn’t mean they don’t hire experienced employees. Their customer service is actually rated among the best and their formation service has much more optional features than many other providers.
ZenBusiness is tailored for entrepreneurs new to the process or who are time-poor, and are looking to create an LLC, Corporation or DBA company. With ZenBusiness you’ll get a reliable service with more formation service options which provide good value.
In terms of pricing comparison to other service providers, ZenBusiness is on the lower-middle end of the range when it comes to pricing. ZenBusiness offers good value and more formation services compared with some other competitors including LegalZoom and Northwest Registered Agent.
LegalZoom is the best-known provider in the industry and provides more ongoing legal services, however their formation service is more expensive and not superior. You might also consider LegalZoom if you’re looking for more legal services.
For those that may not need as many add-on services, IncFile and Inc Authority both offer free business entity formation services. IncFile is probably its closest rival in terms of being low cost for a good quality service.
Is ZenBusiness good value for money?
The Starter plan offers best value at just $49 for ZenBusiness’ services (not including the state fee). It includes the full prep and filing of your articles of incorporation, a registered agent service and an assessment consultation with one of their in-house Certified Public Accountants.
On the Starter plan you’ll be able to arrange an EIN number yourself for free rather than paying. There’s no need to pay for this if you have the time and patience to submit the paperwork yourself. You can get banking templates for free from most banks also.
The Pro plan offers value if you also want to have the ongoing annual report and filing compliance service with the ‘worry free’ 2 free amendments per year should you require them.
The Premium package offers the speediest ‘rush’ service, however it offers less overall value. For an extra $100, the added features are third-party partnerships for a business website and domain. Note that customers who have used the website builder service to not rate it well for customization functionality. There are other specialist providers out there who offer user-friendly website builders at very affordable rates.
What do existing customers have to say about ZenBusiness?
Existing customers tend to rate ZenBusiness very highly.
What if I change my mind and want to cancel?
A subscription is 100% refundable minus any expenses that have already incurred to begin your formation. Once a payment is sent to the state, ZenBusiness cannot accept any cancellations or changes to your filing.
Their current terms of service online state:
You may elect to discontinue some or all of your paid services at any time by contacting email@example.com. Should you elect to discontinue any of the paid services prior to the expiration of the initial 12-month term you may be required to pay a $25 cancellation fee and any other expenses which have been paid or incurred by ZenBusiness, including state or third-party vendor fees.
Whether you’re a new business owner or a time-strapped serial entrepreneur, ZenBusiness is a quick, affordable, and trustworthy business formation service provider with additional services to support you on an ongoing basis. They are ideal for setting up an LLC, Corporation or DBA entity.
The online service makes it quick and easy for you to navigate confusing formation and compliance requirements which vary state by state without having to pay expensive fees for a lawyer and CPA.
They offer more value than some other companies out there. They include valuable extras like an in-house CPA consultation, a free registered agent service for the first year, a 100% accuracy guarantee, business name checks, and their customer service is rated as excellent overall. Their process is easy to use and transparent.
For those that may not need as many add-on services, IncFile and Inc Authority both offer free business entity formation services.
See more business formation tools to continue your research.