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Five simple ways to file your LLC online – cost and feature comparison

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Filing an LLC online

If you are a small business owner looking to expand your service into a full-fledged company, an LLC is the way to go. An LLC, or Limited Liability Company, is a form of enterprise that combines both partnership and corporate structures and is commonly used by independent real estate brokers, retailers and service providers. Easy to set up, LLCs allow business owners to have a flexible management and ownership structure while being able to protect personal assets behind the corporate veil.

The process of creating an LLC can be done through many means. While some business owners tend to go through the expertise of an LLC start-up attorney which is ideal, the costs of legal advice can be prohibitive to some, anywhere from $200 to $450 an hour. In the age of the Internet, more and more business owners look to structure their LLC through an online service. Online LLC filing services offer many perks to small business owners looking to expand, and although there are many options for web filing, we are highlighting five up-and-coming services that can help you take the next step from sole proprietor to LLC member.

BizFilings.com

BizFilings, an online incorporation provider based in Madison, Wisconsin, has incorporated over 500,000 entrepreneurs since its inception in 1997. They offer multiple options for its incorporation services, with a five-step process that strives to give you a unique and bureaucratically-sound company. Buyers can start off with a basic package for $97 plus tate fees which includes business name availability verification, document filing, phone and email support, six months of agent service, and BizComply, an online compliance tool. For $237 and $347, more goods and services are included that ease the process of incorporation.

Verdict: While one of the more expensive options, BizFilings has over a dozen years of experience, half a million success stories and an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.

EZOnlineFiling.com


EZOnlineFiling promises a staff of experienced professionals that aim to give the easiest online LLC filing process on the web. From first glance, on the website are two notable features. One, a graphic box with a giant “$39”, and two, a 100% satisfaction guarantee, committing to matching or beating any competitor’s price. EZOnlineFiling has extremely low prices considering the services rendered, charging $39+ state fees for preliminary LLC name research, a custom Articles of Organization, filing the documents with the Secretary of State, unlimited phone and email support, and free business tax consultation. The Standard and Premium packages will run you $169 and $329 respectively, but look for inclusions such as EIN application filing and custom LLC member certificates.

Verdict: A value service that doesn’t appear to skimp on quality, EZOnlineFiling is banking on low prices and guarantees. PRWeb.com names EZOnlineFiling “the fastest growing online incorporation service”, a sign that EZOnlineFiling is known for getting the job done well.

AAAFiling.com


AAAFiling is a rapidly growing Internet-based legal document filing company that has been helping small business owners, entrepreneurs, musicians, and film/movie producers since 2006. While many online incorporation services offer multiple package deals, AAAFiling offers one standard deal of $48+ State fees, including preparation and submittal of the Articles of Organization, reviewing the documents, 24-hour order processing, and unlimited phone and email support. For additional costs, users can add expedited filing, Federal Employer Identification numbers, or an LLC kit with binders, certificates, documents, waivers, and more.

Verdict: Swift and simple, AAAFiling supplies an affordable service that allows customers to add individual supplements to their purchase as seen fit. Clients like Erick Hoffman created Cascadia Equity Holdings LLC and Steve Quan created OverstockPB.com, a paintball gear supplier through the company.

IncorporateFast.com


IncorporateFast, celebrating its eleventh year of existence, provides both solid information of the benefits of incorporation, and an affordable service to help your business become an entity of its own. A five-minute questionnaire and $49 plus State fees is all it takes for your documentation to be professionally prepared and sent off to the state for filing. Your money will get you preliminary clearance of your LLC’s name, preparation of your documents, filing, and unlimited toll-free and email support throughout the process. Like many other services, IncorporateFast offers more premium packages, with the first $173 step getting you Federal Tax ID assistance, a deluxe company kit, and a CD with essential forms. The most expensive $265 package will get you professional registered agent service.

Verdict: Relatively more affordable than most services, IncorporateFast will take care of the entire filing process and make certain you are satisfied with your result. With a 4/5 star rating on LegalSpring.com, their reliability is proven.

LegalZoom.com


LegalZoom is one of the best known eLawyering services in the world, and their good reputation extends well into the field of LLC filing. $99 plus State fees will get you the Economy Package- preliminary clearance of your LLC’s name, filing of the Articles of Organization, a custom Operating Agreement, and LegalZoom’s trademark “Peace of Mind review.” The Standard Package will run you $289 plus State fees, but includes Federal Tax ID assistance, a deluxe company kit with custom embossing seal, 20 membership certificates with transfer ledger, and a boost in online presence with the PRWeb.com visibility package. For a higher $359+State fees, you can get the Express Gold Package, which will give you priority rush service on ALL filings, a 30 day trial of Business Advantage Pro Attorney assistance, over 100 important business forms, and a fully functional Peachtree accounting software.

Verdict: LegalZoom is easily the most costly option listed, but it’s also the most recognized and historically successful eLawyering service in recent history. The cost is dwarfed by their reputation for outstanding customer service and speed in which your documentation will be filed. If you can afford the extra cash, LegalZoom is a reputable option.

Making your choice

There are many routes you can take when making the leap from small business to Limited Liability Company, but all will lead you to a golden opportunity for your business to expand and thrive under the corporate veil. Whether it’s low price, fast results, or a record of merit and satisfaction, you will be able to find the service that is tailored to your personal needs. These companies will help you, but first you need to take the leap and plan to create something special and ride the entrepreneurial spirit all the way to the bank!

The American Genius is news, insights, tools, and inspiration for business owners and professionals. AG condenses information on technology, business, social media, startups, economics and more, so you don’t have to.

Business Marketing

Ten podcasts that every business owner should hear

(MARKETING) If you’re a business and want to learn something, give one of (or all of) these ten podcasts a listen.

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headphones listen podcasts

So many choices, so little time

As podcasts grow more and more popular, it has become increasingly difficult to sort through the sea of excellent options out there.

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From interviews with business leaders to industry specific advice from experts, podcasts are an incredible free and convenient way to get a small dose of inspiration and knowledge.

Business podcasts for your listening enojoyment

This short list offers just a taste of the myriad of business podcasts available. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur looking for some tips on breaking into a new industry or a seasoned vet hoping to get some new inspiration, we hope you’ll find something here worth listening to.

How I Built This, hosted by Guy Raz.

Podcast fans will recognize Guy Raz’s name (and voice) from TED Radio Hour. While that show can be a great source of inspiration for businesses, one of the most consistently inspiring shows is his new project that shares stories and insight from some of the biggest business leaders in the world. In just four months, Guy has talked to everyone from Richard Branson and Mark Cuban to L.A. Reid and Suroosh Alvi. While there are plenty of excellent interview-driven shows with entrepreneurs, if you want to hear about the world’s best known companies, this is your best bet.

The Art of Charm, hosted by Jordan and AJ Harbinger.

The Art of Charm is a business podcast by definition, but the advice it provides will definitely help you in other parts of your day-to-day life as well. With over three million listens a month, the incredibly populat show provides advice, strategies and insight into how to network effectively and advance your career and personal life.

StartUp, hosted by Alex Blumberg and Lisa Chow.

If you’re an entrepreneur, there is no excuse not to be listening to StartUp, the award-winning business podcast from Gimlet Media. The show’s talented hosts come from incredible radio shows like Planet Money and This American Life and bring a top-notch level of storytelling to the show, which provides behind the scenes looks at what it is actually like to start a company. Now on the fourth season, StartUp is one of those business podcasts that even people not interested in business will get a kick out of.

The Whole Whale Podcast, hosted by George Weiner.

One of the best things about podcasts is the wide variety of niche shows available that go in-depth into fascinating topics. One of those shows is the Whole Whale Podcast, which shares stories about data and technology in the non-profit sector. You’ll get detailed analysis, expert knowledge and can hear from a long list of social impact leaders from Greenpeace, Change.org, Kiva, Teach For America and more.

Social Pros Podcast, hosted by Jay Baer and Adam Brown.

Navigating the surplus of social media guides online can be a nightmare, so look no further thna Social Pros. Recent episodes talk about reaching college students on social media, the rise of messaging apps, and making better video content for Facebook. Plus, there are great case-studies with companies doing social right, like Kellogg’s, Coca Cola and Lenscrafters.

Entrepreneur on Fire, hosted by John Lee Dumas.

One of the original entrepreneurship shows, Entrepreneur on Fire has logged over 1,500 episodes with successful business leaders sharing tips, lessons and advice learned from their worst entrepreneurial moments. Sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking, always inspiring, this show is sure to have at least one interview with someone you can learn from.

The $100 MBA, hosted by Omar Zenhom.

Think of The $100 MBA as a full-fledged business program in snack-sized portions. The daily ten minute business lessons are based on real world applications and cover everything from marketing to techology and more. Cue this show up on your commute to or from work and watch your knowledge grow.

This Week in Startups, hosted by Jason Calacanis.

This is your audio version of TechCrunch, Gizmodo or dare we say The American Genius. Each week, a guest entrepreneur joins the show to talk about what is happening in tech right now. You’ll get news about companies with buzz, updates on big tech news and even some insider gossip.

The Side Hustle Show, hosted by Nick Loper.

This is the show if you want answers for the big question so many entrepreneurs face. How do I turn my part-time hustle into a real job? Featuring topics such as passive income ideas, niche sites, and self-publishing, host Nick Loper is upfront and honest about the tough world of side hustles. The show features actionable tips and an engaging energy, and may just be that final push you need to grow your gig.

Back To Work, hosted by Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin.
Focused on the basics that you don’t think about, Back To Work looks deep into our working lives by analyzing things like workflow, email habits and personal motivation. Somewhere between self-help and business advice, Back To Work takes on a new topic relating to productivity each week.

#LearnSomething

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Business Marketing

Society has changed – no one wants help in a store anymore

(CUSTOMER SERVICE) Times are changing in the retail environment: a once customer-service driven experience is evolving into a minimalistic customer service approach.

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retail store help

Once upon a time, good retail management meant good customer service skills – asking customers if they needed assistance, helping them decide what looked best on them, and politely stalking customers to insure a sale was completed.

As technology evolves and become more prevalent and pervasive in our lives, these skills are no longer needed or wanted. A new study suggest that shoppers want to be left alone while browsing in stores, rather than be stalked, questioned, and coaxed into buying items they may not explicitly want due to persistent pressure from sales associates.

An HRC survey found that a whopping 95% of shoppers would prefer to be left completely alone while navigating the retail environment, rather than shopping under a constant barrage of questions: “Can I help you find anything?” “How are you today?” “What brought you in?” and the seemingly endless stream of inquiries, not to mention the sales pressure from those employees working on commission, can simply be too much for consumers looking to relax, browse in peace, or simply get in and out of a store quickly.

While the greater majority of shoppers may prefer to be left alone, this should not come as too much of a surprise, considering how much technology has supplemented the shopping experience. With enhanced apps and self-checkout lines it’s not hard to understand why most shoppers prefer to browse solo.

Smartphones have given us the ability to check prices, order goods, and check stock all without interacting with another human.

For many shoppers, this is an efficient way to save both time and money while shopping. For other shoppers, like myself, smartphones offer another way to shop without triggering my anxiety. Asking for help, or a price is nearly impossible – I’d rather go without an item than have to ask someone for help.

Sounds ridiculous? Believe me, it feels ridiculous too, but nevertheless, having alternative ways to shop without interacting, is a blessing for many people, for a variety of reasons.

What does this mean for stores? It’s time to take another look at your apps and/or mobile presence (and in-store wifi availability). Since customers are shying away from human interaction, is your app allowing people to scan for prices? Can your customers check stock and order things online to be picked up in store? Can customers use your app to enhance their shopping experience in-store? If not, you may lose customers to stores that offer these enhanced apps.

Times are changing.

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Business Marketing

How small retailers can adapt to new holiday shopping trends

(BUSINESS NEWS) Is your brand keeping up with shifting seasonal shopping trends? The changes are accelerating and small retailers must play catch up.

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small retailers shopping trends

Sometimes it really is Christmas in July. Shopping seasons for holidays are shifting, creeping into earlier slots each year. Specialty retailers have to keep up or risk losing business to larger competition.

When I worked at a locally owned children’s toy store, big box retailers often dictated our holiday seasons.

If Michael’s put out Halloween crafts at the end of August, we were pressured to follow suit or lose business. HEB groceries started lining the shelves with Valentine’s offerings almost immediately after Christmas.

It became a running joke to see how quickly other stores would skip to ahead to the next holiday.

One year at the toy store, we actually wrapped Christmas presents as early as July. While it was tempting to make the easy joke, we had a bigger question: is it really time to start ordering for the holidays already?

Smaller businesses, locally owned shops, and specialty stores typically don’t have the same purchasing power as say, Walmart. So if retail tycoons start stocking up on holiday items early in the season, other stores are left with limited inventory to order.

With less product choices, stores that don’t get ahead of the curve fall behind in sales and customer happiness.

Additionally, advertising inventory is limited. Since consumer holiday spending shifted to the six-day retail holiday starting on Thanksgiving, pressure is on marketers to capture customer interest.

Although larger retailers engaging in heavy marketing may lift the market as whole, success is not as equal. Only those who have the inventory to back up interest will see growth.

Online retail holidays account for a significant chunk of e-commerce spending. In 2017, online desktop spending between Thanksgiving and Cyber Tuesday accounted for 17.7 percent of all e-commerce holiday spending according to comScore.

Back in 2016, the same shopping period clocked 16.8 percent of online spending. We’re seeing a steady increase in early spending, but less days to spend.

This year there are 33 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but in 2019 that drops to only 27 days. There’s less time for marketers to capture attention before budgets get blown during Thanksgiving holiday sales.

Online retailers may lose out on sales if they aren’t able to leverage Thanksgiving retail shoppers.

Executing strong marketing strategies early in the season (rather than just joking about what the big boys are doing) is now crucial for brand success, especially smaller storefronts.

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