ZenBusiness Entity Formation Services – Pros, Cons, Pricing, and More (2020 Review)

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Quick Reference

  • Free plan offers a lot of value (state filing fees still apply)
  • Lifetime customer support
  • Free registered agent in the first year
  • Free 1-hour tax consultation
best value
  • Free plan offers a lot of value (state filing fees still apply)
  • Lifetime customer support
  • Free registered agent in the first year
  • Proactive customer service called to discuss next steps
best value
  • No free plan, but pricing is fair and upfront
  • Lifetime customer support
  • Free registered agent in the first year
  • Free business name availability check
easiest

Starting a new business means managing 10,000 moving parts, 19 different deadlines, and finding time to sleep. While all these things are important, we can’t forget about the most exciting topic: the legalities of forming and running a small business. 

All joking aside, being compliant with local, state, and federal law is essential. Starting your business on the right foot sets a strong foundation you can build upon in the future.

Although nearly everything to do with starting a new business is complicated, forming your Limited Liability Company (LLC) doesn’t have to be. Business formation service providers, like we dig into in this ZenBusiness review make this process quick, easy, and painless. 

You provide basic information about yourself and your business. Then, someone else takes your info and turns it into formal documentation they then file with the state on your behalf. 

No heavy lifting (on your part) required. 

But with so many options in the industry, it’s hard to decide which business formation service is the right choice for you and your new business. To help guide you in the right direction, I used ZenBusiness (a newer service) to set up a Limited Liability Company. 

Along the way, I documented my experience. In this review, I cover the things I liked, the things I didn’t like, how to set up your LLC, their pricing plans, and a deep dive into real-life user reviews. 

By the end, you’ll be able to cross entity formation off your to-do list without pulling your hair out and while keeping (most of) your hard-earned money in your wallet. 

Let’s get started with this ZenBusines review!

Summary: High-Level Pros and Cons of Using ZenBusiness

As I went through the LLC formation process, I took note of the things I thought were great and the things I didn’t like, although there weren’t many not-so-great things. Here’s a high-level view of my experience in case you don’t want to read the full review. 

What I like (AKA the good stuff):

  • You have the option to build your own plan
  • Free business name availability check
  • You can contact customer support via live chat
  • Free registered agent service for one year
  • You have access to a personalized dashboard
  • They’re 100% transparent about pricing (and no hidden fees)

What I don’t like (AKA the not-so-good stuff):

  • They charge for an EIN number (optional – we’ll show how to do it for free later)
  • Several upsells throughout the registration process
  • No customer support on Saturdays

Using ZenBusiness to form an LLC is an affordable and easy choice for new and seasoned business owners alike. They use a tiered pricing model which means you can bundle services to save money. 

Or you can build your own package if their standard packages don’t fit your needs. 

But, like most entity formation service providers, they charge for an EIN (which you can easily get for free on your own). Additionally, they make several upsell offers throughout registration (especially on the Starter Plan) and they don’t provide customer support on Saturdays. 

How to Form an LLC with ZenBusiness

To form an LLC, select the LLC option and enter your state on ZenBusiness’s home page. Then, click the “Start Now” button. 

After that, you can decide which package fits your needs. ZenBusiness has three plans to choose from or you can create your own customized plan. Their main plans include:

  • The Starter Plan ($49/year + state fees)
  • The Pro Plan ($179/year + state fees)
  • The Premium Plan ($299/year + state fees)

I go into detail about these plans and their benefits later. But for now, you can scroll down the page to see everything that’s included with each one. It’s great that you have the option to build your own plan if none of their standard plans fit your needs.

This is unique and something I haven’t seen with most other business formation service providers. If you decide to create your own plan, you’ll walk through a series of questions about your business.

Then, ZenBusiness will let you know which products they think you need. As always, these are suggestions and you can decide which ones to move forward with.

But, after reviewing all the plans, features, and benefits, I chose to go with the Starter Plan.

After choosing a plan, they ask you a series of questions about yourself (or you can sign in if you already have an account). These questions include:

  • Your name
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Name of your business

As you enter your information, they let you know how they’re going to use it and why they need it. So, you can rest assured they aren’t going to sell your info or contact you about anything except what’s needed to complete your order.

Next, you have the option to speed up your processing, filing, and formation time. If you’re in a hurry or have a tight deadline coming up, this will help you out. Otherwise, the normal processing time is fine. But you can choose between:

  • Normal — included with the ZenBusiness Starter Package
  • Expedited — included with the Pro Package (or +$50)
  • Rushed — included with the Premium Package (or +$100)

I chose the standard processing time of 2-3 weeks (this will vary based on the state you’re filing in). After that, they offer you their add-ons and upgrades. These depend on the package you chose earlier. Since I chose the Starter Plan, the add-on offers include:

  1. An EIN number for $70 (included with Pro and Premium)
  2. The Worry-Free Guarantee for $119/year (included  with Pro and Premium)
  3. Banking resolution template for $30 (included with Pro and Premium) – note that most banks will give this to you at no cost when opening a a business bank account.
  4. Customizable website for $150/year (included with Premium)
  5. Business domain name registration for $25/year (included with Premium)

I chose to move forward without any of these. But I go into detail about each option, their benefits, and why I chose to move forward without them later in this review of ZenBusiness.

After that, it’s time to review your information. Look over everything carefully before moving on. If it all looks good, the next page lets you review the plan you chose along with the different add-ons. Double check to make sure everything looks right.

Note: Make sure the estimated formation date works for you before finalizing your order. And don’t forget you can opt for expedited processing if you need to. All that’s left is entering your payment information! Once that’s squared away, you’re done.

That’s it! That wasn’t near as bad as you thought it was going to be, right? Sending all the social-distancing virtual high-fives to you and your new LLC!

What I Like About ZenBusiness

During the process of setting up my LLC with ZenBusiness, I took note of everything I enjoyed about my experience. Furthermore, I want to cover each one and talk about the added value it provides to business owners and entrepreneurs looking for a simple LLC solution.

1. You Can Build Your Own Plan If Their Plans Aren’t a Perfect Fit

Many business formation services offer rigid plans with little to no flexibility. But, what happens if you don’t actually need everything in the package? You’re stuck paying for it even if you aren’t going to use it.

ZenBusiness recognized this problem and came up with an easy solution. You can create your own plan and choose only the services and products you need for your business. This is great because you won’t have to spend money on offers you don’t want.

To build your own package, enter LLC in the dropdown menu on their homepage along with your state. Click “Start now.” After that, click “CONTINUE FOR FREE” below the pricing table.

After that, you’ll walk through a series of questions designed to help ZenBusiness suggest the right services and products for your business. Choose what you need (or don’t need) and you’ll be on your way to forming your new LLC!

2. Free Business Name Availability Check

There are thousands of businesses licensed in each state. So, ZenBusiness does a name availability check to make sure yours is unique and not currently in use by someone else in the same state.

This step makes sure you don’t waste time and money filing for a name that’s already taken. Imagine paying hundreds of dollars in state fees to find out there’s another business with the same name!

With ZenBusiness, you don’t have to worry about it.

They run the check for you and let you know if there are any issues before filing your paperwork with the state so you don’t waste your time or money.

3. Live Chat Customer Support

Although their registration process is easy, you may have questions along the way. If so, you can start a live chat in your browser window to talk with their support team right away. They’re available to help:

  • 8 am – 8 pm CT Monday through Friday
  • 10 am – 7 pm CT on Sundays

Additionally, you can give them a call or shoot them an email and they’ll get back with you within one business day.

I personally haven’t contacted their support team. But there are hundreds of positive reviews mentioning their top-notch response times and eagerness to help.

4. Free Registered Agent Services for One Year

As an LLC (or corporation) you have to have a registered agent in every state where you have a physical presence (office, warehouse, employees, etc). A registered agent offers their address (in place of your own) for legal correspondence from state and federal agencies.

This person (or entity) could be you, another member of your LLC, or a business (like ZenBusiness). To qualify as a registered agent, this person (or entity) must:

  • Be available during normal operating hours to receive communications
  • Have a physical address on file with the state (no PO boxes)
  • Accept legal documents/communications and deliver them to you

Meeting these guidelines on your own isn’t always easy, especially if you don’t have a physical business address and don’t work during “normal operating hours”. This also keeps your address private.

Which is why many business owners hire someone to do it for them. ZenBusiness offers this service for free to all new LLCs they help form for the first year. After that, it’s $119/year.

5. You Get a Personalized Dashboard

Keeping documents and correspondence organized is essential for the seamless operation of your business. But, it’s not always easy to do if everything is stored in different locations rather than in one centralized place. 

ZenBusiness conquers this by giving you access to a personalized dashboard. Inside, they store the documents they prepare for you and any correspondence you receive from the government (if they’re your registered agent). 

Additionally, you can track the status of your orders and get alerts if something needs your attention along the way. 

6. Worry-Free Compliance Guarantee

The Worry-Free Compliance Guarantee (an additional annual fee) takes care of your annual reports and filings. While these are pretty easy to do, if you forget to file on time, there is the potential for fees and the dissolving of the entity by the state. This is one less thing to worry about.

7. 100% Pricing Transparency (And No Hidden Fees)

Before you answer any questions, you’re shown a complete pricing page with features, benefits, and the cost of everything. And as you go through the process, you always know how much you’re going to pay without any gut-wrenching surprises. 

Other LLC formation services aren’t as transparent with their prices (and even make hidden recurring charges to unsuspecting customers – yikes). So, this transparency is seriously a breath of fresh air

You always know what you’re getting and how much of a dent it’s going to put in your wallet. 

What I Don’t Like About ZenBusiness

Although few and far between, I came across a few things I didn’t like about my experience forming an LLC with ZenBusiness. None of these are deal-breakers (in my opinion), but I do want to walk through each one, discuss why I didn’t enjoy it, and what it means for you. 

1. They Charge $70 for an EIN Number

An EIN (sometimes called a Federal Tax ID Number) is a number that lets you open a bank account, hire employees, and protect your personal social security number. It creates a level of separation between your personal assets and your business assets. If you choose the Starter Plan or build your own plan, ZenBusiness charges $70 for this service. While this does save you time and effort, it’s not hard to do on your own. And you can get one for free through the IRS.

Learn how to apply for an EIN at no cost!

Additionally, you can give them a call or shoot them an email and they’ll get back with you within one business day.

I personally haven’t contacted their support team. But there are hundreds of positive reviews mentioning their top-notch response times and eagerness to help.

2. Upsells Throughout the Registration Process

Like most LLC formation packages, ZenBusiness makes big bucks offering add-ons and upgrades. So, if you choose either of the two cheaper plans (Starter or Pro), they offer you upsells throughout the registration process.

Every formation service I’ve used does this, so this isn’t a unique downside to ZenBusiness. And while this isn’t inherently a bad thing, many new business owners may not know they don’t actually need these services and products to register their LLC.

As a result, they might end up spending more money than they planned for things they aren’t going to use or won’t work for their business. With that being said, your business is unique and may benefit from these add-ons.

Just be sure you’re making an educated decision before adding it to your cart.

3. No Customer Support on Saturdays

Some services don’t provide support on weekends at all. Others have reduced hours on the weekends. ZenBusiness does provide support on Sundays… but not Saturdays.

This is kind of an odd quirk, but it’s not the end of the world or a big deal. At least you won’t have to wait all weekend for answers or clarification as you go through the process of forming your LLC!

ZenBusiness Plans, Pricing, and Add-ons

ZenBusiness uses a tiered pricing structure with three different plans and the option to build your own if the standard plans don’t fit your needs. The Standard Plan starts at $49/year + state fees, the Pro Plan starts at $179/year + state fees, and the Premium Plan starts at $299/year + state fees.

While some providers like Inc File and Inc Authority give you a free option, building your own plan is essentially the same thing. You start with the basics and can add anything else you need as you go along.

Tier 3 — The Starter Plan ($49*/year + State Fees)

*Note: The first year of this plan starts at $49/year. After that, the price goes up to $119/year to cover their registered agent service, should you choose to use their registered agent.

This is ZenBusiness’s basic package and includes everything you need to start forming your LLC. This package makes the most sense for most new business owners because it includes free registered agent services for a year and the essential services to get going.

But, if you’re in a hurry, need an EIN number, or don’t know how to set up a website, you might want to consider upgrading to one of the other plans.

The Starter Plan includes:

  • Preparation and filing for your LLC
  • Name availability search
  • Phone and email support
  • Personalized dashboard
  • Divvy credit card offer
  • Free CPA accounting assessment
  • A virtual business guide
  • Registered agent services free for one year
  • Operating agreement (most other providers charge for this)
  • Standard filing speed

At the end of the day, ZenBusiness provides a lot of extras on their basic plan other providers charge for. And it’s cheaper than many other options out there. You can also add any of the following upgrades:

  1. Expedited filing speed for $50*
  2. Rushed filing speed for $100
  3. Banking resolution for $30*
  4. EIN number for $70*
  5. Worry-free guarantee for $119/year*
  6. Business website for $150/year
  7. A domain name for $25/year
  8. Domain name privacy for $10/year
  9. Business email address for $25/year

In all, that’s $579 in upgrades for the Starter Plan. Add-ons marked with an asterisk (*) are free on the Pro Plan and everything on this list is free on the premium plan.

Tier 2 — The Pro Plan ($179/year + State Fees)

The Pro Plan is ZenBusiness’s most popular package (or so it says on their website) and includes everything from the Starter Plan with a few additional services that may be nice to have for your business. These include:

  • Expedited filing speed
  • Banking resolution
  • EIN number
  • Worry-Free guarantee

Buying these add-ons separately with the Starter Plan is $150 upfront + $119/year for the worry-free guarantee + $119/year for registered agent services. So, you can save $150 upfront and $59 per year by choosing this plan instead.

This plan makes sense if you don’t want to apply for EIN yourself, want to expedite the filing process, or want someone to take care of your annual reports. Plus, you get a banking resolution template (which allows you to open a bank account) out of the deal.

Tier 1 — The Premium Plan ($299/year + State Fees)

The Premium Plan includes everything in the Pro plan plus rushed filing speed and several website add-ons you may need if you’re not sure how to create a website on your own.

These add-ons include:

  • Rush filing speed
  • Business website
  • Domain name
  • Domain name privacy
  • Business email address

Buying these add-ons separately with the Starter Plan is $200 upfront + $448/year for all the annual services included. So, you can save $200 upfront and $149 per year by bundling everything in this plan rather than buying them separately.

This plan makes sense if you’re in a rush and want an easy way to build and manage your website, domain name, and business email address.

Additional ZenBusiness Services

ZenBusiness provides more than just Limited Liability Company formation services. They offer numerous other legal products and services to help you run and maintain your business whether you’re just starting out or have been doing it for years. Some of these services include:

  1. Doing Business As name registration ($95) — this allows you to launch new brands without having to incorporate each one of them separately
  2. Annual report filing ($75 + state fees) — annual reports are required by the state every year
  3. Amendment filing ($100 + state fees) — amendments are filed to make changes to any business documents previously filed with the state
  4. Certificate of Good Standing ($75 + state fees) — this acts as proof that your business meets your state’s requirements to operate
  5. Business bank account ($110/year) — ZenBusiness has partnered with Radius Bank to offer discounted business bank accounts
  6. Accounting and bookkeeping services ($50 – $200/month) — let someone else take care of your monthly accounting and bookkeeping tasks
  7. Business credit card (free) — ZenBusiness is partnered with Divvy to give small business owners easy access to a business credit card
  8. Business name registration ($50 + state fees) — this ensures no one else can use your business name so it’s guaranteed available when you’re ready to start

Exploring ZenBusiness’s Reputation

ZenBusiness has an exceptional reputation online and is considered a trustworthy, affordable, and quick LLC entity formation solution. Although they’re relatively new to the game (since 2017), they’ve built a strong foundation on transparency, protection, and paying it forward.

Furthermore, they have an A rating with the Better Business Bureau. One of the factors BBB considers in their grade scale is how long they’ve been around. So, I think that’s the main reason they don’t have an A+ rating.

Despite their positive reviews and high rating, it’s important to note they have 17 complaints against them with BBB. Most of these complaints mention not meeting the estimated delivery date and customers having a hard time canceling services.

With that being said, ZenBusiness has responded to each complaint in a professional manner offering full refunds and explanations as to what happened and how they worked together to solve each issue.

Click here to see the full list of complaints filed with BBB.

Real ZenBusiness User Reviews from BBB, Trust Pilot, and Google

Better Business Bureau (BBB)

ZenBusiness reviews from BBB show an average of four stars on BBB. You can see the complete list of official reviews, here. Take a look at what some of their customers have to say:

“ZenBusiness made the process extremely easy for me. They were there to answer any of my questions along the way and had everything filed very quickly.” – Jessica D (August 21, 2019)

“Customer service isn’t what it used to be. I was a junior in high school when The Beatles and the British Wave arrived in America. Being “old school, it’s refreshing when you can actually talk to humans beings who understand the meaning of service and the value of customers. Thank you Zen Business for guiding Information DataWorks through the incorporation process. Special thanks to Mariano and staff for stepping to the plate and providing solutions to a challenging issue. You Rock!!!” – John C (October 15, 2019)

Trust Pilot

Trust Pilot has several ZenBusiness reviews to look at. Of the 2000+ ZenBusiness reviews, 95% rate them above average and 86% rate them as excellent. After reading through the first several pages, I noticed a recurring theme.

Most reviews mention quick turnaround times, amazing customer service, and ease of use. You can check them out for yourself, here. Or keep reading to see what some of their customers have to say.

“My experience with ZenBusiness was easier than I could have imagined. The process was simple, fast, and far exceeded all of my expectations.” – Nakisha J. (May 9, 2020)

“I found ZenBusiness to be very user friendly and helpful throughout the entire process of setting up an LLC.” – Verified Customer (April 27, 2020)

Google Reviews

On Google, ZenBusiness has two customer reviews and an employee review with an average of 3.7 stars. All of them were left in the last five months. Click here to check them out. Take a look at what their employees and ZenBusiness customers have to say:

“I absolutely love working here. The company really cares about its customers, and it shows. We work hard to make entrepreneurs successful and it’s a gift to be able to work at a place where we can actually make a difference.” – Ryan Pitylak (March 2020)

“ZenBusiness is one of the most affordable ways to help your business stay legal and keep those forms and requirements in order. Compared to Intuit and other companies. ZenBusiness provides a better deal for business owners throughout Austin.” – Charlie S. (February 2020)

TLDR; ZenBusiness User Reviews Conclusion

ZenBusiness is a legitimate business offering business formation services and other compliance products to help entrepreneurs start and run their businesses. They have thousands of happy customers, despite their short tenure in the industry.

It’s safe to say they’re a trusted and reliable source of friendly customer service, quick turnaround times, and responsiveness. They’re quick to address their mistakes and work to make things right for their customers.

Lastly, they have happy employees which leads to happy customers.

Final Words on ZenBusiness’s LLC Services

Whether you’re a new business owner or have set up countless LLCs, ZenBusiness is a quick, affordable, and trustworthy LLC formation service provider. They offer more value for your dollar than other companies out there (LegalZoom and Northwest Registered Agent) and their customer service is top-notch. For those that may not need as many add-on services, IncFile and Inc Authority both offer free business entity formation services.

Their process is easy to use and their transparency is second to none. Plus, with thousands of happy customers, you can rest assured they know what they’re doing and get the job done.

Get started forming your LLC with Zenbusiness, today!

  • Free plan offers a lot of value (state filing fees still apply)
  • Lifetime customer support
  • Free registered agent in the first year
  • Free 1-hour tax consultation
best value
  • Free plan offers a lot of value (state filing fees still apply)
  • Lifetime customer support
  • Free registered agent in the first year
  • Proactive customer service called to discuss next steps
best value
  • No free plan, but pricing is fair and upfront
  • Lifetime customer support
  • Free registered agent in the first year
  • Free business name availability check
easiest