Harvard Business Services and LegalZoom are both respected LLC service providers, and either one of them can form your new company. If you’re forming an LLC in Delaware, Harvard Business Services is a solid choice, but it does not offer services in other states.
Harvard Business Services includes a full year of registered agent service with any LLC formation package, which LegalZoom doesn’t. They’re a good LegalZoom LLC service alternative for Delaware. That said, LegalZoom can form businesses in all 50 states and offers free (+ state fee) LLC formations, two advantages HBS can’t match. If you’d like to learn all the relevant details that set these companies apart, we invite you to read on as we cover their most important commonalities and differentiators.
1) Affordable: Is saving money a high priority for you? With either Harvard Business Services or LegalZoom, you’ll save money over hiring a traditional law firm. That means hundreds of dollars that you can pour into your business instead of forking over to an attorney.
2) Customer Support: Even though they’re much less expensive than a lawyer, these providers still have your back. With their easily accessible customer support teams, both of these companies have service reps ready and willing to answer your questions.
3) Experience: Experience matters and these companies have plenty of it. Harvard Business Services and LegalZoom have each served thousands (or even millions) of businesses over the years, making them both trustworthy and legitimate LLC formation services.
4) Guaranteed Service: They both offer satisfaction guarantees that cover any services you order from them. If you’re unhappy with your LLC formation, simply inform LegalZoom or Harvard Business Services to receive a refund. It’s as simple as that. (We will note that HBS has a nominal 5% convenience fee for refunds).
5) Efficiency: If you need your LLC formed in a hurry, they can help you out. Both of these companies can expedite your service — for an additional fee, of course — getting your new business up and running quickly.
6) Additional Services: Do you need other business services in addition to your LLC formation? From registered agent service to business documents to federal tax ID numbers, these companies both have plenty of other services available.
Identify the LLC package and services that fit your needs and then get started.
LegalZoom: While LegalZoom does offer a $0 (+ state fee) package for LLCs, the number of upsells can get overwhelming — and expensive. They charge $199 per year for registered agent service.
Harvard Business Services: First off, we should mention that Harvard Business Services only operates in the state of Delaware ― they don’t offer any products or services for businesses in any other state. Their pricing starts with the Green package for $89 (plus state fee), and this package includes a full year of registered agent service, along with access to their compliance alerts system. Their ongoing Delaware registered agent service is available for $50 per year. However, their $139 Basic and $239 Standard plans don’t add enough value to justify their price points.
LegalZoom: LegalZoom has served more than 2 million business customers since it started offering business services online in 2001.
Harvard Business Services: While Harvard Business Services has been around longer (since 1981), they have a smaller volume of customers, with more than 300,000 clients served.
LegalZoom: LegalZoom offers phone and email support. We reached out twice via the email form on their site, but it took them a full week to respond. The response we received was generic, thanking us for reaching out but not answering our question.
When we contacted them via phone, our question was answered thoroughly. The representative went into detail about our different options and then sent us an email with their direct extension so that we could reach out directly with questions. Overall, while their customer service via phone is good, their online support could be improved.
Harvard Business Services: Harvard Business Services provides customer support via phone, email, chat, or Skype. Regardless of which option you choose, in our experience, they provide good support, and they never leave you waiting too long to get a response. One aspect of their customer service that we like is the fact that they provide a full list on their website of direct phone extensions and email addresses for all of their employees. Their hours of availability are pretty limited though ― 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Fridays.
LegalZoom: Their turnarounds are based on which package you order rather than which state you’re forming in. With their most expensive package, you could receive your finalized business formation documents in 7-10 business days, but their cheaper packages take as long as 30 business days (six weeks).
Harvard Business Services: Because Harvard Business Services only provides services in the state of Delaware, they can process formations in this state more quickly than most competitors. Their standard processing can have your business formed within 3-5 business days, and their expedited processing (while expensive, at $150) gives you a same-day turnaround if purchased before 1 p.m. ET or a next-day turnaround after that.
LegalZoom: We found 6,000+ reviews for LegalZoom, and while they do have some negative reviews mixed in, a majority of this feedback is positive. Their satisfied customers often talk about how convenient and easy it is to use LegalZoom’s services.
Harvard Business Services: With roughly 3,600 reviews available on reputable third-party websites and mostly positive ratings, it’s clear that most customers are pleased with the service they receive from HBS.
LegalZoom: First, you’ll pick your business entity type (LLC, corporation, nonprofit) and which of LegalZoom’s three packages you’d like to purchase. From there, you fill out your business information and payment details over a series of screens that also include upsells for registered agent service, an operating agreement, an EIN, a license research package, ongoing compliance assistance, a tax consultation, ongoing legal guidance, standard or complex tax returns, a legal protection plan, two options for business bank accounts, expedited processing, and an LLC kit and seal.
Harvard Business Services: We were able to fill out their entire formation service order form in less than ten minutes. They avoid third-party partnerships entirely, and they have just one minor upsell in their ordering process.
Both of these companies offer many other services that can help you start, maintain, and develop your business. They also provide quite a few of the same services, as you can order things like registered agent service, EIN acquisition, foreign qualification, and operating agreements from either Harvard Business Services or LegalZoom.
However, each of them also has some services that the other company doesn’t offer. For instance, only Harvard Business Services offers mail forwarding service and DUNS number acquisition, but only LegalZoom trademark services and attorney consultations. In addition, LegalZoom also offers some personal services like power of attorney and divorce papers that Harvard Business Services doesn’t offer. It’s also worth mentioning once more that LegalZoom offers LLC formations in all 50 states, while Harvard Business Services only forms businesses in Delaware.
Harvard Business Services and LegalZoom are two of the most popular LLC services available online. Still, some of you may remain undecided, so let’s finish by walking through some scenarios that may make you more inclined to use one instead of the other.
If you’re forming an LLC in Delaware, they’re a solid choice. They have good customer support, solid feedback, and reasonable pricing models.
If you want to form in any state other than Delaware, LegalZoom can do that. Also, they offer a free (+ state fee) LLC formation service.
If you’d like to create an LLC with ZenBusiness, we’re here to help. We offer LLC formations starting at $0 (+ state fee), and we have a much higher volume of positive customer feedback than either LegalZoom or Harvard Business Services. Form your LLC quickly and get more tools to start your dream business.
Starts at $0 + state fees and only takes 5-10 minutes
Harvard Business Services only forms LLCs in Delaware, which is a state that doesn’t have any significant state-specific LLC formation compliance requirements. For what it’s worth, LegalZoom does not offer publication services either. Here at ZenBusiness, we’d be happy to handle your New York publication requirement on your behalf.
LegalZoom has an extensive series of upsells throughout its order form, and it would add more than $1,000 to your order if you bought all of them. On the other hand, Harvard Business Services has very few upsells. While they do have some additional features and services that you can buy with your formation service, they present them in a way that isn’t pushy at all.
Harvard Business Services grants refunds as long as they’re requested within 30 days, and they have a nominal 5% processing fee. If you received any physical products as part of your formation (like an LLC kit), you need to return them within seven business days of your refund request.
LegalZoom has one of the best refund policies in the industry. Thanks to their satisfaction guarantee, they give you 60 days from your purchase date to request a refund for any reason. They don’t even charge a processing fee. This is nearly identical to our refund policy at ZenBusiness.
Harvard Business Services has efficient turnaround times for Delaware formations. With standard processing, they estimate a 1-3 day turnaround, which most competitors can’t match even with an expedited order.
As for LegalZoom, they do things a bit differently in this regard, basing turnaround times on which LLC package you purchase rather than on the capabilities of your formation state. Their Economy package has a 30-business-day turnaround, their Standard package takes 15 business days, and their Express Gold package takes 7-10 business days.
You can. In fact, quite a few entrepreneurs do choose to form their own LLCs without any assistance. However, the do-it-yourself route doesn’t provide the peace of mind we get from hiring a professional service. In addition, each state sets its own rules and regulations for LLC formations, so it’s not always easy to figure out what your state requires.
LegalZoom has a free (+ state fee) LLC formation service package. Only a few companies (including us at ZenBusiness) can match this offer.
On the other hand, Harvard Business Services has some unique advantages due to its Delaware-only focus. For instance, HBS can form Delaware businesses faster than most companies.
Disclaimer: The content on this page is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.
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