Are you looking to form a limited liability company, a corporation, or a nonprofit, but you’re stuck trying to settle on the best formation service to use?
Choosing the right service can be difficult. That’s why we’ve carefully evaluated over a dozen of the top formation providers, looking at and comparing metrics across several key categories, such as pricing and turnaround time.
ZenBusiness vs Incfile: Verdict
ZenBusiness emerged as the clear winner in this service provider match-up.
It is tough to find anything to complain about with ZenBusiness. The service they offer is extremely fast and very reliable. And customer feedback backs up our positive impressions – ZenBusines’s reviews average 4.8 out of 5 with many thousands of entries from (overwhelmingly) satisfied customers.
ZenBusiness’s Starter package is very affordable and is great for basic formations – it contains everything we consider essential to set up a business. And ZenBusiness’s higher-tier packages – rather than being chock full of unnecessary upsells – actually offer useful features and services, such as business website registration and setup.
ZenBusiness scored highly across all our key categories. We have no hesitations about recommending ZenBusiness to anyone searching for a good formation service.
We focus on ZenBusiness and Incfile in this article, but if you would like to get a more complete picture of all the options available to you, be sure to check out our Best LLC Formation Service and Best Incorporation service articles.
If you are looking for more general information on the first steps of forming a business, we recommend taking a look at our How to start an LLC article.
|Ease of Use||5/5||5/5|
|Help & Support||4/5||3/5|
Read on to find out more about how we arrived at our verdict in this head-to-head comparison.
ZenBusiness vs Incfile: Pricing
Pricing is one of the most important criteria we look at when comparing business formation services. In fact, we assign a 2x weight to the pricing criteria when calculating our overall rating.
When considering services’ prices, we try to look not just at the raw costs, but at the true value a service provides to business owners.
Our goal is to make it easy to determine, at a glance, which services provide the best value.
To do this, we compare prices across a few standardized service categories, which are explained below.
Both ZenBusiness and Incfile include registered agent services with their business formation plans, but if you would like to compare some other options, be sure to have a look at our Best Registered Agent services article as well.
Note that the costs of the services listed below do not include state filing fees, which are usually paid to the formation service and then forwarded to the state.
|Registered Agent (standalone)||$99/yr||$119/yr|
We use “Basic Formations” and “Full Formations” as terms in order to compare formation packages across services. Here’s how we define each:
Basic Formation: Covers the essentials of business entity creation. Includes – at minimum – filing of Articles of Organization and the drafting of an Operating Agreement for an LLC or corporate bylaws for a corporation.
Registered Agent (standalone): Price If you’re only looking for a registered agent service.
Full Formation: Additionally includes – at minimum – a registered agent service, which most owners will find essential. Price includes one year of registered agent service.
ZenBusiness uses a three-tiered structure for its formation and incorporation plans. They have a Starter plan (priced at $49 per year ), a Pro plan (priced at $199 per year ), and a Premium plan (priced at $299 per year). All three levels include the services we consider essential for a business formation, with the higher tiers including a number of additional useful services.
The Starter plan is the most affordable of ZenBusiness’s offerings. It includes the three essentials of business formations – the document preparation and filing of your Articles of Organization or Incorporation (business name searches are included), a registered agent service for one full year, and an Operating Agreement (for LLCs) or Corporate Bylaws (for corporations). The Starter plan is an excellent option for anyone looking for a streamlined, no-nonsense business formation.
The ZenBusiness Pro plan adds several useful add-ons to the Starter plan, including an expedited filing service, the obtaining of an EIN (federal tax number) for your business, a banking resolution template (often required to open a business bank account), and ZenBusiness’s Worry-Free Compliance service, with which you can receive company alerts for filing deadlines. Through the Worry-Free Compliance service, you can also let ZenBusiness handle your annual reporting obligations.
ZenBusiness’s Premium plan is a good option if you are looking to build a basic website for your business. With the Premium plan, you get a business domain name (URL), a professional-looking website, and a business email address. Plus, all your formation documents are rush-filed.
Note that while ZenBusiness charges their formation costs annually, you can cancel your service at any time with no penalties or fees.
Incfile uses a three-tiered pricing model as well. Incfile has three formation packages: Silver, Gold, and Platinum, which are priced at $0, $149, and $299 respectively.
The Incfile Silver package is the most notable of the three, as it’s free. While the Silver package can be a good deal, you should be aware that it doesn’t include an Operating Agreement (which we consider essential), and the free registered agent service it comes with is only free during the first year – after that, you’ll be charged $119 annually.
Incfile’s higher-tier packages come with a number of additional services. The Gold package costs $149 and includes an Operating Agreement, filing for an employer identification number (EIN) with the IRS, reminders for your business’s annual reports, and several partner offers, such as the creation of a business bank account and a business tax consultation.
Incfile’s Platinum package is the most expensive, coming in at $299, and includes expedited filing for your formation documents, a small library of business contract templates, and an online domain name and email address for your business (no website creation included, though).
Pricing winner: ZenBusiness
While both ZenBusiness and Incfile do well in the pricing category, ZenBusiness takes this category. We made this choice because Incfile’s least expensive tier, while free, does not include all of the services necessary for even a “basic” formation. ZenBusiness’s Starter tier, meanwhile, is priced very competitively and includes everything you need to start your business.
We also disliked that with Incfile, you need to opt for their premium package in order to get expedited state filing included.
ZenBusiness vs Incfile: Turnaround Time
The Real-world turnaround time of a business formation service is another very important factor to look at when comparing companies. We look for services that do everything possible to ensure that your LLC or corporation is formed ASAP.
Some of the things we look for when ranking a formation service’s turnaround time are the advertised and real-world turnaround times, the presence or absence of expediting options, whether or not the service uses artificial internal delays in order to entice customers towards more expensive packages, and stated filing time commitments (e.g. same-day or next-day filing guarantees).
Here is a quick overview of how ZenBusiness and Incfile perform when it comes to turnaround time:
|Paid internal rush option||Yes||No|
|Overall turnaround time||Fast||Average|
ZenBusiness has a tool on their website that lets customers explore expected processing times and the availability and costs of expediting options across states.
Turnaround times with ZenBusiness are generally fast, both for normal and expedited orders. Processing times for normal orders can vary quite a bit depending on the state, with some states requiring several weeks and others needing just seven days or fewer. Rush filings offer the fastest filing speeds, with formations often being completed in just a few days – sometimes, even same or next-day formations are possible.
ZenBusiness includes expedited filing with their middle-tier pricing plan. They also include a faster level of service – “Rush Filing” – with their most expensive tier. Expedited filing and rush filing are priced at $50 and $100, respectively, when not included with a formation plan.
Incfile lists their expected processing times in this dedicated turnaround time article. For the majority of states, formations are expected to take between two and three weeks when using standard filing. Expedited filing reduces this time to 1-5 days in most cases. Incfile makes it clear that they process all of their orders by the next business day, regardless of the pricing tier.
Unfortunately, Incfile does not include any expediting with their lower two tiers, so customers have to opt into their $299 Platinum package if they want the best possible formation times included at no additional cost. If you choose a lower tier, you can add expedited service as an add-on, but it will cost you an additional $50 fee.
Turnaround time winner: ZenBusiness
ZenBusiness takes this category. We settled on them because they generally offer quicker turnaround times for normal orders (which is what we believe the majority of customers will use).
Incfile, for example, lists an expected processing time of 4 weeks for a California LLC, whereas ZenBusiness advertises a processing time of just 10-13 days.
ZenBusiness also makes it easier for customers to opt into expedited filing by including it with their middle-tier bundle, rather than only including it with the most expensive bundle, as Incfile does.
ZenBusiness vs Incfile: Customer Satisfaction
We always try to provide a realistic picture of what it’s like to form a business through a given formation company. For this reason, we include customer satisfaction, as measured via customer reviews, as a key component of our overall rating. Looking at what customers have to say about a service lets us better understand how a service operates in the real world – we know better than to just take companies at their words.
When considering a service’s customer satisfaction, we search for available user reviews and look for things such as overall rating averages, the total number of reviews available, specific praises and complaints that come up frequently, and any notable changes in review sentiment over time.
|Stand-out mentions||“Quick and easy”“Good communication”||“Filing errors”“Poor customer service”|
ZenBusiness scores exceptionally well with customers. They currently have a 4.8 out of 5 rating on Trustpilot with more than 5,900 individual reviews – that’s a significantly better track record than most of the services we have looked at. This number of positive reviews is particularly impressive, considering that ZenBusiness has only been operating since 2015
Most reviewers praise the service’s ease-of-use, as well as the speed with which orders are processed. Many customers also appreciate the helpfulness of ZenBusiness’s customer service in their efforts to guide customers through the business formation process.
We also appreciate that ZenBusiness’s customer service team replies to most reviews and, in particular, reaches out to the handful of customers who have had negative experiences with the company.
Sadly, Incfile did not perform well in this category. They have fewer reviews available than many other comparable companies. On Trustpilot, they have an average rating of just 2.8 out of 5, with around 100+ individual reviews available. A significant fraction of the available reviews – namely 44% – are one-star reviews.
Customers frequently complain about unexplained issues and delays with their filings. They also frequently mention the poor quality of Incfile’s customer support. We read about several instances of serious issues and delays being left unresolved for long periods of time.
And it seems as though Incfile’s customer service does not respond to reviews at all, even when they are negative.
Customer satisfaction winner: ZenBusiness
This was an easy call – ZenBusiness scores very well with customers, with several thousands of overwhelmingly positive user reviews and almost no negative ones.
Content-wise, most of ZenBusiness’s reviewer’s experiences match up with what ZenBusiness promises on their website. Most customers describe a quick and easy-to-use service with no surprise fees or hidden downsides. ZenBusiness also makes efforts to resolve the few cases where customers had negative experiences.
In comparison, the reviews available for Incfile paint a bleak picture of the service, with almost half of their reviewers regretting using the company for their business formation.
ZenBusiness vs Incfile: Ease of Use
In the ease-of-use category, we rate the overall experience customers can expect when forming an LLC or corporation with a given service. Ideally, we want to see formation services guide customers smoothly through the entire process.
But strong performance in this category goes beyond allowing customers to form a business in minutes. We like to see services provide clear context information too – many good services offer educational articles on their websites, providing up-to-date answers about the formation process as well as related tax and legal issues.
Formation services should also have competent and knowledgeable staff ready to assist customers by answering questions that may be too specific to be addressed through online articles.
Finally, formation services should be clear and upfront about their pricing, with exact service costs clearly displayed and no hidden fees sprung on customers.
ZenBusiness’s website is set up in a clear and straightforward manner. To form a business entity, customers are guided through a step-by-step form where they provide basic information about themselves and their business.
ZenBusiness’s website provides ample context info on the formation process and is very clear on the terms and conditions of the company’s services. Pricing information and the exact contents of formation packages are displayed right at the beginning of the order process, and there are no hidden fees or unnecessary upsells later on in the checkout process.
ZenBusiness’s website also sports many formation-focused articles as well as some more general articles about other business-related topics.
Incfile’s business formation process is similarly straightforward. Their website is laid out in a clear and simple way and guides customers, step by step, through the online business entity formation process
Incfile’s pricing is displayed front and center during the signup process, and those prices, notably, include the state processing fees.
Incfile also provides a few small but useful tools on their website, such as a sales tax calculator and a tool for calculating the due dates of compliance reports.
Ease-of-use winner: Tie
Both ZenBusiness and Incfile provide roughly the same experience in terms of ease of use. Both websites clearly explain what respective services entail and how much they cost. Both websites also include helpful educational articles written for new business owners.
ZenBusiness vs Incfile: Help & Support
While it’s great that many formation services allow customers to form a business fully online, there are times when you might want to get in touch with customer support representatives in order to ask questions or resolve issues.
Strong support is particularly important if your business formation is more involved, or if your chosen provider will be providing services necessary to maintaining your company’s good standing with the government (e.g., annual compliance filing or registered agent service).
When comparing services’ help and support offerings, we like to see multiple available contact methods, support availability outside of normal business hours, and a clear online help section.
|Live Chat Support||Yes||No|
|Extended business hours||Yes||No|
|Website help section||Yes||Yes|
ZenBusiness offers virtually everything we could hope for in terms of help and support options. You can find multiple easily accessible contact methods on their website’s contact section – email, snail mail, phone support, and online chat are all available. ZenBusiness promises to respond to messages within 24 hours.
ZenBusiness even offers customer support outside of standard business hours: you can call them between 8 am and 8 pm CT on weekdays and between 10 am and 7 pm on Sundays. Most companies we look at provide support only during weekday business hours, so this sets ZenBusiness apart.
ZenBusiness’s website also features a dedicated help section with more than a hundred articles regarding their services and frequently asked questions.
Most customers who wrote about their experiences with ZenBusiness have only good things to say about the company’s support staff. Reviewers routinely praised the helpfulness and knowledgeability of representatives, as well as the promptness with which those reps responded to questions and issues.
Incfile’s help and support quality is decidedly average. They offer two methods to get in touch – either by phone or by leaving them a message through an online form – and no email address is listed on their website.
Customer support via phone is available only during business hours – between 9 am and 6 pm CST, Monday through Friday.
It should also be noted that Incfile’s customer service is harshly criticized by many of the customers who left reviews online. Many such reviewers mentioned long delays, difficulties getting in touch with Incfile’s customer service reps, and questions and calls going completely unanswered.
Help & Support winner: ZenBusiness
ZenBusiness earned perfect marks in this category. They offer everything we want to see from a good formation service: multiple contact methods, a responsive customer service staff, extended business hours, and a track record backed up by abundant praise from customers.
Incfile has a lot of room for improvement here. We think they should add more contact methods, list an email address on their website, and improve their support hours.
Do we recommend ZenBusiness or Incfile?
We recommend ZenBusiness.
ZenBusiness has an excellent track record, offers fast turnaround times, has great customer service, and sports excellent reviews from previous customers, boasting an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 on independent review sites. And both ZenBusiness’s basic and premium bundles offer solid value to new business owners.
In sum, ZenBusiness scores well across all of our categories. We recommend ZenBusiness, without hesitation, to anyone looking to form an LLC or corporation for their startup or existing business.
For a more in-depth look at their service, check out our dedicated ZenBusiness review. If you would like to compare ZenBusiness with some other options, be sure to take a look at our Best LLC services or Best Incorporation services articles as well.