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Starting a business requires a lot of work. There are several important steps that you’ll need to take for your new business formation. The first few steps are pretty abstract. You’ll have to evaluate yourself, develop a business name and idea, do some market research, and get feedback. You’ll be dipping your toes into the water but not diving headfirst.

After you’ve gone through these stages, you’ll enter the harder ones. Things will get severe at this point as the dream starts to become a reality. Many potential business entities don’t make it out of this stage, thanks to the grueling legal requirements. It can be overwhelming to someone unfamiliar with business law — everything from legal services to LLC filing services and state filing fees.

Fortunately, help is available to get you through the legal process correctly. Skipping legal requirements or rushing through the process can result in financial damage down the road. Take your time and weigh your options carefully during each step. One option you should seriously consider is to structure your business as an LLC.

Where can you find the best LLC services in 2023?

Finding an LLC service isn’t particularly difficult. There are plenty of individuals and agencies that can help make your business official as a limited liability company. The tricky thing is finding one that offers the best features. Here is a list of the four best LLC services that provide the most benefits:




ZenBusiness is first on this list thanks to its various features at a low cost (basic packages start at $49 annually). ZenBusiness offers three different pricing plans, so you don’t have to pay extra for additional services you don’t need. The customer reviews of ZenBusiness have been overwhelmingly positive, and they have one of the highest ratings on this list. The different tiers unlock different features, but here is an overview of what you can get from ZenBusiness:

  • Articles of organization filing
  • Unlimited name availability searches
  • Accounting consultation
  • Automatic expense tracking
  • Publication service available
  • Tax deduction tagging
  • Add-on registered agent service
  • Worry-free annual compliance included
  • Excellent customer support
  • A digital dashboard feature that helps organize and access important documents

There aren’t many downsides to ZenBusiness that should be considered dealbreakers. The main issue is that some add-on features can be slightly more expensive than other options. You’ll also be charged an additional fee if you want an Employer Identification Number (EIN). However, getting an EIN isn’t tricky, and you should be able to handle that on your own

The only other issue worth mentioning is that ZenBusiness has only been around since 2015 and is much newer than most of its competitors. That can be an issue for some people, and others might see it as a benefit. 


Northwest Registered Agent

Learn MoreOn Northwest Registered Agent’s Website

Northwest Registered Agent is the second option on this list and is only narrowly behind ZenBusiness. There are two options available at Northwest (less expensive packages starting at $39 annually with discounts), so you’ll be able to pick one that suits your needs. 

The customer reviews for Northwest are almost universally positive and are the top-rated option on this list. These are a few of the features that Northwest can provide to your business: 

  • LLC formation
  • Faster filing time than competitors
  • Industry-leading comprehensive customer support
  • Free registered agent service included in the first year of the plan
  • Guarantees to protect your personal information
  • Annual report filing available
  • Virtual office features are available
  • Simplified online ordering process that only takes minutes
  • Business address with mail forwarding

The downsides of Northwest aren’t terrible in most cases. The main issue is that the premium package is much more expensive than other options with similar features. The less expensive plan is excellent, but it requires you to use discounts. Otherwise, it would be much more costly and probably drop Northwest down on this list. Another issue is the user interface could be better as it’s a little more challenging to use Northwest than other options.



Learn MoreOn IncFile’s Website

IncFile can be the perfect option for anyone looking for the most basic features. That’s not to say that IncFile is of lower quality than its competitors. There are way more excellent customer service reviews for IncFile than ZenBusiness. IncFile makes this list because it offers these essential features for free (except for applicable state taxes). In addition to a free basic plan, two other tiers of formation packages can provide you with all the features you might need. Here are a few examples of IncFile features:

  • LLC formation
  • Lifetime company compliance alerts
  • Operating agreement creation service available
  • Free business website and domain name available
  • Contract templates available
  • Free registered agent service for the first year
  • Real-time order tracking tool
  • High-quality customer support
  • User-friendly online dashboard

The main downside with IncFile is that you’ll be getting what you pay for. The free option isn’t bad, but it’s nowhere near as comprehensive as the paid plans. The best features are locked behind a paid subscription, and IncFile will remind you often. The frequent attempts to upsell you can get pretty annoying after a while.



Learn MoreOn Legal Zoom’s Website

LegalZoom is the most well-known entry on this list and across the industry. You’ve probably at least heard of them at some point long before you even thought of starting a business. Nobody in the industry has a better track record than LegalZoom. The only problem is that said track record will cost you extra. The least expensive of the three LegalZoom plans starts at $79 annually. These are a few of the features available with a LegalZoom subscription:

  • LLC formation
  • Annual report filing and trademarks
  • Free legal articles on a variety of topics
  • Add-on services available for low cost
  • Two LLC formation subscriptions plans and one expedited plan
  • Most prolonged customer support hours in the industry

The problems with LegalZoom include a noticeable lack of features (especially for the cost), many reviews mention poor customer service, and they’ll try to upsell you to another plan. It’s also a much slower process than other options when it doesn’t have to be. LegalZoom is a high-quality service that belongs on this list, but there’s a reason why it’s the last one mentioned.

What is an LLC?

LLC is the common abbreviation of a limited liability company. These legal entities are prevalent when structuring a business because they’re highly flexible. You’ll have the option to decide how your business is taxed and the total number of allowed owners. But the main benefit of an LLC has to do with the protection of your assets. 

Depending on how your business is structured, your assets can be seized to cover business debts. Sole proprietorships and partnerships offer no protection or separation of your assets. So if your business ends up with $100,000 in debt, you’ll owe $100,000 in debt. You’ll need to take care of the business debt, or you can end up paying with personal assets. 

Forming an LLC limits a business owner’s liability (hence the name) over their businesses. It creates a clear separation between your business and your assets. The company’s assets can be seized if your business is sued, files for bankruptcy, or accrues overwhelming debt. However, your assets will not be included and will remain in your possession.

How do you start an LLC?

The exact process of structuring your business as an LLC can vary based on the state. However, there are a lot of similar steps that are universal across the country, including:

Select a name for your business

The first step might sound pretty straightforward, but it can be much more complex than you’d think. You cannot use a company name already taken when forming an LLC. If you’ve ever tried to create a username online, you can imagine how hard it can be to find something unique for a new company.

Some of the covered services offer methods for determining if the name you want is still available. They can also help you to find similar sounds that are still available. Finding a word can be so tricky that you should immediately reserve it when you’ve seen it, even if you’re not ready to file your LLC documents or take the following steps in this process.

Select a registered agent

Most, but not all, states require you to use a registered agent to file the LLC documents on your behalf. A registered agent could refer to an individual, or it can refer to a company that provides incorporation services or business formation services. There are many service providers to choose from, but the primary thing to look for is whether they operate in your state or not.

Prepare an operating agreement

Operating agreements aren’t required legal documents in states. However, creating one is a good idea because it can be a helpful outline of how you expect your business to run. A typical operating agreement provides detailed information about:

  • The overall organization of your business.
  • The expectations of each owner and their contributions to the company.
  • The board of managers and their voting abilities.
  • Any restrictions on the selling or transferring of shares.
  • The process for adding or removing members.
  • The division of company profits and losses among members.

File the articles of organization with your state

You’ll need to file the articles of organization with the Secretary of State’s office in your state. The form is pretty simple to fill out and includes the name, address, and purpose of your LLC. There can be a fee to file this document in some states. It’s also possible that they refer to them as a certification of formation instead.

Structure your business as an LLC to properly protect yourself

Forming an LLC comes with a variety of unique benefits. The process is simple; you’ll have tax flexibility, less compliance paperwork, and fewer ownership restrictions. However, the most important of them is that you can separate your personal assets from your business.  

Nobody starts a business intending to fail. Unfortunately, it’s a harsh reality that most companies will fail within ten years of starting. Closing your business can be a rough experience for a business owner. The last thing you want is to have your personal assets seized to cover the bill. 

Forming an LLC can be an excellent way to limit the pain of losing your business. There might still be some emotional damage, but an LLC will considerably limit the financial damage. You don’t want to lose your house, vehicle, and savings on losing your business.

Information provided on Entrepreneur Guide is for educational purposes only. Your financial situation is unique and the products and services we review may not be right for your circumstances. We do not offer financial advice, advisory or brokerage services, we do not recommend or advise individuals to buy or sell particular stocks or securities. Performance information may have changed since the time of publication. Past performance is not indicative of future results

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