If you’re starting a business, the business entity formation process is one of the first and most important hurdles. This step can be terriblycomp ...
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Written by: Carolyn Young
Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.
Edited by: David Lepeska
David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.
Updated on February 27, 2023
Business entity formation is a crucial element of launching a business, and because it’s often complex and tedious many entrepreneurs hire a professional to do the job right.
Two of the leading online services to consider are IncFile and Northwest Registered Agent. And to help you determine which is best, and which might be best for you and your business, we have thoroughly reviewed their services by putting ourselves in the shoes of an entrepreneur. Read on to make the choice that will put your business on the highway to success.
After a thorough review, we are convinced that Northwest offers a better overall customer experience and an affordable business formation plan that includes registered agent services.Visit Northwest Registered Agent
IncFile offers three business formation packages: Silver, Gold, and Platinum. The Silver Package is free, plus state fees, and includes free registered agent services for one year. Incfile also gives customers access to an online dashboard and unlimited phone and email support.
Northwest Registered Agent offers several a la carte services and one business formation package, which includes a year of registered agent services. All customers have online access to their documents and full customer support.
Incfile’s “base” package includes the preparation and filing of the articles of organization and unlimited name searches. It also includes free registered agent services for a year, making it a great value at no cost beyond state fees.
The Incfile $149 “middle” package provides the added services of an operating agreement, business tax consultation, and lifetime company alerts. It has a few other benefits as well, so it’s an overall good value.
The Incfile $299 “top-tier” package offers the additional benefit of expedited filing as well as a domain name and business formation. You’ll also receive access to business contract templates. However, if you have either the “base” or “middle” package, you can gain access to the entire document library for $150.
Northwest Registered Agent’s single plan includes the preparation and filing of your LLC formation documents and an operating agreement. Customers receive same-day processing, registered agent services for one year, a business address and digital mail forwarding.
It also provides online access to your documents, and customer service support, making it a great value at a reasonable price.
The cost of the package is $225.
However, we did find a discount for customers. This link will enable you to form your LLC for just $39 and receive registered agent services for a year from Northwest Registered Agent – in any state!
Incfile offers three tiers of LLC formation plans at different annual rates plus state fees. Northwest Registered Agent has one signature plan.
|Incfile||Northwest Registered Agent|
|Price||Silver Plan – Free|
Gold Plan - $149
Platinum Plan - $299
|$225 plus state fees|
|Turnaround time||Standard for Silver and Gold, Expedited for Platinum||Three to five business days plus state filing fees
|Registered agent||First year free then $119 annually||Free for one year when you purchase the formation package; $125 annually thereafter
|Operating agreement||Included in Gold and Platinum||Included|
|Compliance services||Lifetime company alerts included in Gold and Platinum||Not included in plan, can be added for $100 per year plus state fees
|EIN||Included in Gold and Platinum||Included|
|Website Services||Domain name included in Platinum||Not included|
|Legal Advice||Not included||Not included|
|Free Accounting Consultation||Included||Not Included|
|IRS form 2553||Included in Gold and Platinum||Not Included|
|Banking resolution||Included in Gold and Platinum||Not Included|
|Business checking account||Included in Platinum||Not Included|
|Business contract templates||Included in Platinum||Not Included|
We tested the customer service experience of both options from every angle. Here’s what we found.
When you first go to the Incfile site, clicking on the “Start My Business” button will open up a new window. You’ll then see a couple of drop down menus: one for your business type (choose LLC) and one for the state in which you are filing. Once you choose your state, you’ll see specific pricing.
Each of the three available plans will appear, along with an outline of what’s included in each. The price displayed will include both the package fee and the fees for your particular state. Once you’ve made your decision, click the “Get the Silver/Gold/Platinum Package”. You will then be prompted to enter your contact information and mailing address.
Next, you’ll be asked to choose standard or expedited filing. Incfile also includes the typical processing time in your chosen state so you can make a more informed decision.
Next, you’ll enter your company information, including information on your members or owners, business purpose, industry, and address. After entering these details, you’ll be offered a chance to upgrade to a higher level package before continuing.
The next series of screens prompt you to enter the information that will ultimately appear on your articles of organization document. Then you’ll be asked if you’d like to use Incfile as your registered agent or act as your own (if allowed in that state). If you choose the Silver Package, the service is free for a year and $119 annually afterwards. The service is included in the price of the Gold and Platinum packages.
From this point onward, depending which package you choose, you’ll be prompted to provide all the applicable information for each included service. If you choose Silver or Gold, you’ll have opportunities to add various a la carte services.
Once you’re finished making your choices, you’ll have a chance to review your information before you submit payment.
The formation process was quick and easy, making for a nearly seamless user experience. Opportunities to upgrade were more informative than intrusive, and it was made clear what you were getting with each package.
One downside is that there’s no way to save your progress if you have to leave the page and come back later. However, if you click the back button and move back to the homepage, you will be prompted to either start over or resume.
Overall, the site is easy to use if you’re ready to go and just want to complete the process. Otherwise, information can be difficult to find to form an LLC on your own.
Incfile is great for entrepreneurs on a budget, as their Silver Package covers the basics and includes a free year of their registered agent service. Competitors like LegalZoom and ZenBusiness have a more robust suite of services, but are also more expensive.
We tested all three forms of Incfile customer support.
When we tested the customer service response time through the online chat option, we received a response within two minutes. We asked a question about cancellation policy and how to cancel an order if we change our mind about the filing. The agent was very helpful and explained the process clearly.
We called Incfile to ask a question about registered agent services. Our call was answered almost immediately, and the question was answered promptly.
The question was whether registered agent services are included in any of the plans. The answer was that they are included in Gold and Platinum and customers get a free year of registered agent services with the Silver Package.
The customer service representative was professional and polite and made sure to ask if we had any additional questions before hanging up.
We asked the same question via email about registered agent services and received the same response in under 24 hours. Our question was answered thoroughly and politely. The person who responded made no sales pitches and asked how else they could be of service.
When you first go to the Northwest Registered Agent site, you’ll see tabs at the top that you can click on to explore free guides, products and pricing, and more about the company.
Six quick links dominate the main page’s visual hierarchy.
To write this review, we clicked on the Hire Us link and proceeded to form a new LLC using Northwest Registered Agent’s service. Below we detail our customer service experiences.
You’re first prompted to select which service you’d like to purchase, and we appreciated that the option we were looking for is right near the top of the list.
Next, you’ll select your business type (LLC), the state you’re filing in, and your preferred payment method.
The following steps ask for your business’s information– such as its name, purpose, and management type. These sections do not influence your total order expense.
After you create an account with Northwest Registered Agent and provide your contact information, you can add more services or tools to your order.
View the prices for these options by selecting and deselecting the items and watching your Order Summary box on the right side of the webpage. Some fees vary depending on your state, like a certificate of good standing.
The questions are simple and quick without a lot of confusing text.
We found using Northwest Registered Agent to be an extremely smooth and pain-free process, and we especially like that the website’s order form allows you to jump back and forth between the filing sections quickly. For instance, you can compare prices for a certified copy and a certificate of good standing in North Carolina to the corresponding fees in Hawaii.
If you need to take a break, your progress will be saved – even if you don’t return until the next day. Northwest Registered Agent makes forming your LLC quick and easy.
Overall, the site is straightforward no matter what stage of filing preparation you’re in. If you’re ready to go and just want to complete the process, the Hire Us tab is always displayed at the top of the webpage, just like the How To and Our Services tabs, which offer more info and instruction.
Even if you don’t purchase any services, you do have the option to sign up for a free account with Northwest Registered Agent. However, this isn’t posted on their website as much as their quick links to begin filing are.
The filing/order page is where you’ll find the opportunity to sign up for a free account. But signing up for an account doesn’t seem to give you access to anything new unless you actually go ahead and form your LLC.
We tested all three forms of Northwest Registered Agent customer support.
When we tested the customer service response time through the online chat option, we received a personal response within one minute.
However, the online chat option doesn’t seem to be available consistently during Northwest Registered Agent’s posted business hours. We found that sometimes the chat was open, and other times it only displayed their “away” message. In fact, even as we were writing this section of this article, the online chat feature switched from “away” to “available” and back again multiple times.
The question we asked was about service packages– specifically, we wanted to double-check if there were any other packages. The customer service agent was very polite and quickly explained that Northwest Registered Agent only offers the single package; all other services can be purchased a la carte.
We called Northwest Registered Agent to ask a question about that mysterious discount floating around the internet – the markdown to form your LLC for only $39. We encountered just one automated phone menu with three options to listen through. Our call was then almost immediately answered by a friendly and professional customer service representative.
He knew exactly what discount we were referring to and promptly emailed us access to the deal.
In an email, we asked Northwest Registered Agent the same question about service packages we asked in the online chat. Within two hours, we received an email back with our question similarly answered. The person who responded was concise and made no sales pitches.
We wanted to know how real customers feel about both services, so we thoroughly explored customer reviews at the Better Business Bureau and Trust Pilot. Below we’ve summarized our findings.
Incfile is not currently accredited with the BBB.
Incfile is not currently accredited with the BBB. They have 4.67/5 stars from 1,530 customer reviews and have received 260 complaints in three years. A total of 30 complaints have been resolved over the last 12 months.
Many positive reviews at BBB revolve around exceptional customer service. Customers mentioned phone support being very helpful and cordial, as well as proactive in identifying potential problems. Customers also mentioned chat support being excellent at resolving issues.
One customer highlighted the responsiveness of the representative they were working with and that their issue was resolved quickly. Another had a difficult problem to solve and the representative that was handling the case “took care of the problem immediately”.
Most of the negative reviews were categorized as a “problem with product or service”. A common issue seemed to be a lack of communication between Incfile and customers, especially when it came to expectations regarding turnaround time and refunds.
But it’s worth noting that at the time of this review, the most recent complaint was several months old. You can read reviews on the BBB website.
Incfile has a high trust score rating on Trustpilot.
The Trustpilot score for Incfile is 4.7/5 stars from 3.434 reviews.
Incfile reviews at TrustPilot break down as follows:
Positive reviews mostly involved how easy it was to file an LLC. Some commented on the user-friendliness of the website and appreciated the transparency in pricing and the added features. Some reviews mentioned customer service representatives by name and praised them for being highly responsive and helpful.
Reviews in the “bad” category included confusion over state filing fees, a lack of communication from representatives, and poor customer service over the phone. Other customers complained about long turnaround times and a lack of transparency in terms of how long things would take to process, especially when it came to state filings.
It does seem like a representative from Incfile is monitoring the negative reviews and the company makes an attempt to resolve issues. You can read reviews on the TrustPilot website.
Northwest Registered Agent has an A- rating from the BBB.
Northwest Registered Agent has an A- rating from the BBB with 4.39/5 stars from 100 customer reviews, but Northwest Registered Agent is not accredited with BBB. They have received 22 complaints in the last three years, all of which have a resolved status.
Many positive reviews at BBB revolve around exceptional customer service. You’ll find numerous reviews that praise Northwest Registered Agent’s prompt and efficient customer support, no matter which communication method you use. Customer service representatives have been commonly reported as polite, professional, and knowledgeable.
One review boasted fast customer assistance, saying a mistake was “fixed in less than 30 minutes.” Another said they received “the BEST” customer service in “MANY years,” and one passionate customer left a review that read they “can’t even begin to describe how much easier they have made my life.”
Some negative reviews concern billing errors and cancellation issues. One person said they waited five months for a service they ordered, and another said they experienced “bait and switch pricing.” This latter review received a response from Northwest Registered Agent claiming the company had no record of that username’s account, so it may have been a fake – which is a serious issue in this competitive market.
A 2021 review said that Northwest Registered Agent was still refusing to execute an account cancellation request from 2014.
You can read reviews on the BBB website.
Northwest Registered Agent has an average trust score rating on Trustpilot.
The Trustpilot score for Northwest Registered Agent is 3.5/5 stars from 10 reviews.
Northwest Registered Agent reviews at Trustpilot break down as follows:
Many positive Trustpilot reviews, again, revolve around excellent customer service and quick services. One person said, “the process was easy and fast,” and multiple customers highlighted how Northwest Registered Agent service representatives helped them start their businesses “without any problems.”
Another person reflected on the “awesome, friendly, and patient” assistance they received over the phone. Others mentioned the general accessibility of Northwest Registered Agent’s customer service.
Some less favorable reviews involve unexpected account charges or changes and difficulty reaching customer service. One person complained that they only received notice of an address change when they randomly checked their online account and saw a pop-up on their screen. Another complained of being unable to get a hold of anyone on the phone.
Others complained that the company finds a way to blame users who experience difficulties or have complaints. Another review bemoaned how the online chat representatives didn’t seem to know what services Northwest Registered Agent even offered. You can read reviews on the TrustPilot website.
Northwest Registered Agent has a competitive package for business formation.Visit Northwest Registered Agent
Incfile is a great value for business formation services.Visit Incfile
After a thorough assessment, we have determined that Northwest Registered Agent offers a better overall customer experience. With IncFile’s Silver Plan, you’ll save some money, but Northwest Registered Agent offers more personalized registered agent services and outstanding customer service.
We’re confident that Northwest Registered Agent offers a stronger and more valuable overall experience.
As an entrepreneurial advisory site, we take our responsibilities seriously. We understand that countless entrepreneurs, and potential entrepreneurs, rely on our judgments and insights, particularly when it comes to creating their business.
As a result, our writers do their utmost to gain a comprehensive understanding of the services offered and the actual customer experience. In this case, we:
Thanks to this full immersion in the actual customer experience, our reviewer and team are able to provide the most complete and insightful comparison of IncFile and Northwest Registered Agent LLC formation services.
Using a business formation service to start your LLC frees you up to focus on growing your business. These services handle the filing process for you and offer additional services that can make life easier for a new business owner.
When assessing whether or not a business formation service is right for you, it’s important to dive into the following four categories: included features, customer service, pricing, and turnaround time.
To learn more about the customer experience at a particular business formation service, check out the reviews and ratings on the Better Business Bureau and Trustpilot websites.
Incfile is great for entrepreneurs on a budget, as their Silver Package covers the basics and includes a free year of their registered agent service. Competitors like LegalZoom and Swyft Filings have a more robust suite of services, but can be more expensive.
Published on September 11, 2022
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Business entity formation is a crucial element of launching a business, and because it’s often complex and tedious many entrepreneurs hire aprofes ...