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Business Formation Guide (2024)

Guides, reviews, and business articles for entrepreneurs.

Best LLC Services

It is much easier to set up an LLC when you have an online service guiding you through the process. Pick a good LLC service and then enter some basic information on their preselected forms.

Best Registered Agent

A registered agent is required for all business entities in the 50 states. We compared more than 50 registered agent services and narrowed down our top five choices.

How to Start an LLC in TExas

When you launch a Texas business, it is important to form an LLC. Many new business owners feel intimidated by paperwork, filing requirements, compliance obligations, and other legalities.

Our Process

Anyone who has dealt with government institutions knows how frustrating it can be to get the right instructions. Our philosophy has been to answer all your questions as if the reader were a close friend.

Research

We have researched the top 15 LLC services. Talked to their sales departments, asked questions of their customer service, and read nearly 1000 online user reviews, and BBB ratings.

Get straight to the point

We put a lot of effort and time into making sure guides get to the point. There is no clickbait, unnecessary word padding, long intros, or time-wasting words. Just answers.

We use plain, everyday language

We avoid legalese and avoid complicated terminology wherever possible. We can help you understand any topic, no matter how complex.

Keep current

Regulations and laws change frequently. The articles you see are regularly updated. We will do our best to provide you with accurate and current information.

How to Start an LLC: 9 Steps

There are a few different kinds of business entities and structures to consider when forming a new business, including Corporations, S-Corps,  and Limited Liability Companies (LLCs).

If you are interested in forming an LLC or want to know how to create an LLC, then follow these 9 easy steps. 

AAAA

Step 1: Select a State

Step 2: Choose a Name For Your LLC

Step 3: Choose a Registered Agent

Step 4: Prepare An LLC Operating Agreement

Step 5: File Organizational Paperwork With the State

Step 6: Obtain a Certificate From the State

Step 7: Obtain an EIN (Employer Identification Number)

Step 8: Obtain a Business Bank Account

Step 9: Register To Do Business in the Other States (Optional)

our Website Contributors

We want to thank our team for getting this website up and maintained.

Annie Meyers

Web designer

Annie worked with us on the design of the website.

Andy Toen

Developer

Andy is a backend developer and keeps our website operating.

Liz Stevens

Researcher

Liz is our research assistant. She does most of the work on the various LLC services that we write about.

Our Top 3 Picks

When starting a new business there are three main options for entity formation. DIY and hope that you did everything correctly, pay an attorney to do it for you or hire one of the affordable online LLC formation services to get you through the process. These are our top picks for online business entity formation.

ZenBusiness

$0 – $299

+ state fee

Great online reviews but ZenBusiness may outsource its registered agent service to a 3rd party. Incorporations and LLCs (nonprofit formations are currently not offered.)

Bizee

$0 – $299

+ state fee

Texas-based company with LLC services in 50 states. Bizee has assisted with over 1,000,000 business formations in the past 20 years.

Northwest Registered Agent

$0 – $225 $39

+ state fee

Northwest has offices in 50 states. They are regarded as the premiere registered agent and LLC formation service in America.

Best Business Formation Services

We analyzed 12 providers and 2000+ reviews to determine which was our favorite business formation service. With a simple interface and chatbot technology, they take the hassle out of business registration. This is no longer a maze of complicated jargon and guesswork.

Top Business Formation Services

You don’t need to read this whole post to reduce your search time and find the right product. These are our top picks out of the entire crop of business formation services that we reviewed and tested.

ZenBusiness makes it easy to form a company.

Bizee allows you to keep money in your pocket and get up and running quickly, as you only need to pay your state filing fees.

Northwest Registered Agent excels in the details of incorporation such as securing an agent.

Rocket Lawyer provides access to legal advice along with its business formation services.

LegalNature gives you access to all legal forms and documents that your business may need through a simple subscription.

Business Formation Services Review Process

We’re trying to make this a more relatable and recognizable category. This is where a few providers stand out. We have broken down our reviews into use scenarios so you can easily find the right brands for your situation.

We discovered five things that these business formation providers have in common with each other, which we analyzed when evaluating them for how to incorporate.

  • First-time business owners
  • Getting extra legal assistance
  • Maintaining compliance
  • Fast filing
  • Privacy and Information Protection

It is possible that you already recognize the scenario in one of these use cases. You don’t have to go through all the information. Instead, you can just jump to the reviews that are relevant to your use case and start to find the best choices.

This section explains what is most important when reviewing these services. Find out more about the things you should look for when choosing a business partner for your new venture.

Best Business Formation Services For First-Time Business Owners

The greatest problem for new business owners is not their passion for starting their businesses. It’s about ensuring that all legal issues are taken care of so there are no problems with the IRS or the state. A good business formation provider will ensure that you don’t miss any steps in bringing your business to life.

ZenBusiness

ZenBusiness can help you start a business and avoid the headaches associated with registering it. The process of forming a business is very simple. They also offer unparalleled customer support and resources. It’s easy to form an LLC, Ccorp, or Scorp. However, they won’t help you set up a non-profit.

The chatbot walks you through every step from start to finish, which is great for beginners. You can also get assistance via live chat, phone or email, from Sunday to Friday, if you require human assistance.

ZenBusiness offers many other resources. Check out the free academy before or after you incorporate. It will help you research your business idea and grow your business. You can also check the list for grants. ZenBusiness is the right place to go for first-time business owners looking for an easy, quick, and accurate way to form their business.

Bizee

Bizee provides free business formation services. You only need to pay the state filing fees. You even get a registered agent free of charge for a year. Bizee isn’t a free service, but it doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice quality.

Bizee’s customer service is outstanding. 84% of users say they are happy with the support and help they receive from Bizee. Although they can only be reached by phone, users love how easy it is to work with them.

Bizee also offers assistance with non-profit business formation. You can register any business free of charge (all you have to do is pay the state fees), but they also offer convenient paid packages that include valuable extras such as a year of registered agent service and an EIN.

Bizee offers resources to help you at every stage of your business’s growth. No matter where you are in the planning stage or need guidance on growing your business, Bizee has the expertise and grants to assist you.

BizFilings

BizFilings is a trusted provider of business formation services. They have been helping new business owners since 1996. Their a la carte services allow you to add as many additional services to your business formation that you want, so you only have to pay what you use.

Their website has the BizFilings Toolkit that walks you through every step you need to take in order to launch, market, pay taxes and stay compliant. This unique 360-degree approach helps new business owners to learn a lot along the way.

You can reach customer support by phone, email and chat, Monday through Friday. However, it is not limited to answering your questions during the web-based registration process. For owners who prefer a human touch, you can call BizFillings and set up your business by phone.

Swyft Filings

Swyft Files is a provider who will give you extra attention. When you sign up for their formation services, you will be assigned a business specialist who can give you access to their email address and phone number. You can rest assured knowing that there will always be a human available to help you with your business.

This eliminates frustration when seeking support as you won’t be bounced between customer service representatives or left on hold. Swyft Filings’ attention to detail is what earned them a 92% customer satisfaction rating in our research.

It is easy to navigate the website and it’s intuitive layout allows you to seamlessly go from one step of the process to another. The website is so easy to use, you can incorporate your company in just 10 minutes.

Legal Assistance: The Best Business Formation Services

A lawyer may be needed for many reasons, including when you start a business or once you have it running. A lawyer can help with questions, contracts, and other legal matters. Business formation service providers such as the ones we have reviewed below provide access to legal advice and services, so that you can quickly get answers and advice while also saving money.

Northwest Registered Agent

Northwest Registered agent offers a variety of services, including business formation and titular registration agent services. However, they also offer personalized legal advice. You can have a licensed lawyer available to answer your questions and provide advice about your business for less than $10 per monthly.

What if you actually need to hire a lawyer? It’s possible. Legal services can be as affordable as $99 an hour. Rates will rise based on attorney experience. Lawyers with over 10 years’ experience are charging $250 an hour.

You also get access to their legal documents and templates for free. You can fill them out yourself, or hire a lawyer to review them.

Northwest Registered Agent offers a variety of useful extra services such as these. We haven’t even mentioned the additional services that can be used to spin up your business, such as virtual office, VoIP phone and mail forwarding.

Rocket Lawyer

Rocket Lawyer offers legal document access, unlike many other providers. It has a large library of form and document templates that are all supported by an attorney. You won’t be left scrambling if you choose to do it yourself when drafting an operating agreement, corporate bylaws or any other documentation.

The robust legal document library includes everything you need. This includes incorporation forms and forms, real estate contracts, HR documentation and IP. You can also use the interactive document maker to create a custom document for specific situations if you wish.

For new members, your monthly membership includes free incorporation and legal advice. You can even get a seven-day free trial so you can try their services out for size. Rocket Lawyer is a free service that allows you to ask as many questions as you like and gives you a sense of how Rocket Lawyer can help with your business’ ongoing legal advice.

Fast response times are guaranteed to keep your business running and not wait for advice. You can get answers within one business day, sometimes even as quickly as four hours.

LegalNature

LegalNature will be your best choice if you prefer to do everything yourself. Legal forms and templates can be downloaded from their library and filled out by you.

This is an excellent alternative for someone who is familiar with legal terminology and can take on the responsibility of creating legal documents. If you are familiar with legal forms and want a cheaper option to hiring a lawyer, then you’re in the right place. Surprisingly, LegalNature doesn’t offer access to a team of lawyers. This is a decision you will have to make on your own.

One subscription covers access to more than 100 personal, business and real estate legal document templates. You’ll also get a 7-day trial of LegalNature for free. There is no risk, and you can reap all the DIY benefits.

LegalZoom

LegalZoom is one of the most well-known names in online business formation. You can manage business formation, taxes and legal advice as well as trademark requirements all from one portal.

LegalZoom Business Advisory Plans allow you unlimited 30-minute consultations with a real lawyer if you have any questions. If you do need to retain a lawyer after your consultation, you can save 25%.

LegalZoom’s lawyer directory can also be searched so that you can find local or specialized counsel. You can search for lawyers by their practice area or where they are located. LegalZoom is an excellent choice if you need a quick and simple service to help with business formation, legal assistance and a document library.

For worry-free compliance, the best business formation services

A letter from the IRS, or the state, with your business name on it will make you feel sick and stop your progress. Only when you open the letter and discover what it contains, everything else is irrelevant. It can be very beneficial to have your business formed through a service that keeps your business in compliance with regulatory agencies year after year.

ZenBusiness

You get hassle-free compliance when you set up your business with ZenBusiness’s Premium or Pro plans. You don’t need to worry about complying with the rules of your state, or filing your annual returns. Notifications and updates about compliance events will be sent to you so that you don’t miss any important deadlines.

You also get access to 25 essential document templates that will help you run your business. You can modify the documents to your liking and then print them as often as you like. These documents cover purchase agreements and liability waivers.

ZenBusiness can help you rectify any problems you have and put you back in good standing with the state. ZenBusiness is there to help you even in the worst case. This is the essence of worry-free compliance.

Bizee

One of the great benefits of Bizee is that there is no cost (except for state fees) to form your business. You can also upgrade to their Gold and Platinum packages to get full compliance coverage.

Bizee will send you alerts throughout your life. This means you won’t have to worry about missing filing dates or any other compliance-related issues. Keep up-to-date with the latest regulations and changes in business laws in your state. Bizee can also file your annual reports for an additional fee.

These plans also include additional benefits such as a free year’s registration, tax consultations, access to the library, business forms, templates, legal agreements, NDAs, etc.

Northwest Registered Agent

A registered agent is a key benefit for your business. They’ll keep you in compliance with changing regulations and requirements. Northwest Registered agent ensures that your business is compliant with all state rules and filings.

With their lifetime business guidance service, they’ll take care of everything. They guarantee timely filing and reporting to your state. They are also transparent about their process. Northwest will notify your 90-days before the deadline for filing and will mail the materials to you within five days. This will ensure that you are in good standing.

This is just one aspect of the Northwest Registered Agent’s offering. They will also ensure that you are not on any inactive business lists.

Harbor Compliance

It is a good idea to choose a company that specializes on compliance if this is your primary concern. Harbor Compliance has a product called ComplianceAdviser. This is a customizable package that you can build based on your specific needs.

Any registered agent services, including report filing, compliance audits and coaching, can be included in the ComplianceAdviser plan. You will have all the tools you need to keep your business in compliance.

Harbor Compliance’s proprietary interface gives you full visibility into all aspects of your business, so you don’t have to rely on luck. It’s all there.

MyCorporation

MyCorporation can be a great way to incorporate and offers an easy compliance service. You can get your business started in minutes. Then choose a plan that will support you for the long-term.

MyCorporation plans can take care of your annual filings and keep your business in good standing as long as they offer their service. The top-tier plan provides up to four business filings per year for no additional charge. You can also add compliance services to your package for $99 per annum if you don’t want to subscribe to their basic plan.

MyCorporation offers exceptional customer support. They can answer any questions that you might have and provide access to highly-trained, U.S.-based document file experts. MyCorporation includes a list of everything you must file to ensure compliance every year.

MyCompanyWorks

The MyCompanyWorks Entrepreneur package gives you lifetime access to business documents. This will help you maintain good standing and run other aspects of your business. You can also choose the Basic plan, which is a cheaper option and allows you to access their business documents library for a small fee.

The forms are entirely web-based so that they can be updated with new information to ensure you are filing the right documents. Access to forms as well as assistance in related actions such filing DBA forms, articles or amendments, will be available.

You can also get the ComplianceLock service, which includes a compliance dashboard, resolution generator and alerts about compliance tasks.

Fast Filing: The Best Business Formation Services

While accuracy is important, some business owners prefer the speed with which they can file their business formation. These providers can help you get from A to B quicker than anyone else, whether you are setting up your seventh company or need to fill in for lost time.

Northwest Registered Agent

No additional charge for business formations submitted through Northwest Registered agent. It is not necessary to request it. They will do it automatically as they are aware of the importance of your operation.

While processing times can vary from one state to the next, Northwest will ensure that you get the fastest possible process. This speed does not only apply to filing for incorporation. User reviews indicate that support emails are often answered by a Northwest Registered Agent in less than a business day.

Northwest Registered Agent can provide everything a fledgling company might need. This includes fast formation services and registered agent services. Virtual offices, phone services, and many other services are available.

Learn more about Northwest Registered Agents’ services in and read our complete brand review.

MyCompanyWorks

MyCompanyWorks is known for its ability to save time in forming your company. All orders received by 3 p.m. Eastern get same-day filing for no additional cost. You don’t have to miss the deadline, your request will still be filed the next business day.

Add this to the many other features MyCompanyWorks offers business owners such as managed compliance, access to over 300 vendors and access to their database, and you will see why MyCompanyWorks is one of the best combinations of speed AND service.

Their 100% satisfaction guarantee is also available for all services. You can return your entire purchase within 90 days if you are not completely satisfied. This is the only guarantee that’s so strong among all the providers.

Take a look at the complete company review to learn more about MyCompanyWorks.

Inc Authority

Inc Authority is one of two providers that offer free business formation services. They also provide quick 24-hour processing. It costs $49. However, there is an additional fee to expedite your business formation. Other people rush your order up to $80 or $100.

You may also run into a promotional period. We found this out during our research, when expedited filing was available on all business formations for no cost. It’s not possible to guarantee it will be there when you need it but it is something you should consider when considering them for your incorporation needs.

You also get one-day filing and a year of free registered agent services. This is a tremendous value. Inc Authority also offers other expertise such as trademark and IP services, marketing and website design, and funding options.

Best Business Formation Services for Privacy Protection

Privacy regarding business formation refers to protecting personal information, keeping correspondence separate and keeping legal notices and correspondence away from your business. A competent registered agent service is essential to protect you and your business. All of the below providers are highly skilled in this area.

Bizee

Bizee allows you to have complete control over your privacy. You get a registered agent free of charge for the first year you incorporate through them. The service costs $119 per year thereafter.

This provider is designed to make it easy for new business owners. This provider provides ongoing support and access to business maintenance resources. They also offer assistance in the event of a problem (such as losing your good standing with your state).

Bizee is also a lot cheaper than similar providers the more you use their services for a longer period of time.

Learn more about what Bizee can do to help you in , our company review.

Northwest Registered Agent

Northwest Registered Agent is a popular choice in many of our use cases. You have the best friend for your new business, from their registered agent services to all other aspects. They are highly respected for protecting your personal information and keeping it separate from your business.

You can access their virtual office services to receive scans of business mail, and handle correspondence and documentation for your business. Northwest has virtual offices in all 50 US states. This is something that few providers can offer (both virtual office providers and business formation providers).

You can also get registered agents for multiple states if your business is in more than one.

Inc Authority

Inc Authority provides a complete suite of business formation services. Inc Authority offers the same services as Bizee, but also provides a free registered agent service in its business formation packages. This allows you to make your privacy a priority while you work on building and maintaining your business.

After one year, your registered agent is no longer available. The $99 annual fee is worth it to protect your privacy and comply with state regulations.

Many of Inc Authority’s services show how they can help new businesses over the long-term. They will assist you in filing for business incorporation and securing a registered agent. You can also tap into their resources for funding, trademark applications, and credit building.

What is important when reviewing business formation services

It’s easy to find a way for your business to be formed if you know what you want. This section is designed to help you focus on key factors that you should keep in mind as you shop for service providers. Below you’ll find the most important use cases for each factor. This will allow you to know what priority to set if you need business formation services that are specific to your situation.

Counseling and document management

Starting or maintaining a business is not always easy. It’s a relief to have a provider who can provide legal counsel and help with managing, filling out, and filing legal documents. This helps you avoid getting into any legal or tax problems that could damage your business.


When it Matters Most:

  • Legal assistance – Search for complete-service packages that allow you to ask questions of lawyers, access templates and retain counsel at a reasonable price.
  • No worries An annual filing and monitoring to ensure compliance can be a hassle, but not when there are legal professionals to help you.

Assistance and support

Sometimes, the business formation process can throw you a curveball. Business owners often find it frustrating not to have real human support when they need it. The providers who excel in this field will help you throughout your life, whether you start, manage, or grow your business.


When it Matters Most:

  • First-time entrepreneurs It is important to have a support system in place for those who are new to the business formation process.

User Experience

Although the details of business formation are complicated, the website and interface for incorporation service providers should not be. It’s important to have an easy-to-follow and intuitive process. A provider should be able to provide all the steps in one list.


When it Matters Most:

  • First-time owners – Prioritize suppliers with a consistent track-record for being easy-to-work with and beginner-friendly. This includes tutorials, knowledge bases resources and clear instructions or steps to be followed at each stage.
  • Quick filing – Not only is it important that your business formation company makes it clear how long it takes to file, but it can also save you time if the interface makes it easy to enter your new business information.

Steve Andrew is EntityFiling's main writer and editor.

Steve is an expert in business development and management with 14 years of business consulting experience. He assisted clients with LLCs and Registered Agent services using his business management degree.

Steve speaks and writes about business growth opportunities worldwide.

Email, steve@entityfiling.com

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