This is the last posting of a 9 part series about using Legal Zoom to incorporate a small business. Part of the reason I did this was to draw a comparison between two online services (incorporating a business and publishing a book), seemingly vastly different — and yet the online process had consistent similarities. One could argue that both of these objectives (incorporating a business and publishing a book) can be done without the convenient services of an online company. That’s true, and then one has to ask one’s self whether the learning curve and time expenditure is worth the money saved. I’m not an attorney or a CPA, so I don’t want to learn the in’s and out’s of incorporating a company — I just want to incorporate one! Ergo, Legal Zoom. By the same token, most writers don’t want to learn the in’s and out’s of publishing a book – they just want to publish one! Ergo, Outskirts Press.
So even though the industries that Legal Zoom and Outskirts Press exist in are very different, they have a lot in common, as demonstrated by this 9-part series. To complete that comparison, I’m going to soon publish a similar blog series covering the step-by-step process of someone using Outskirts Press to publish a book. But first, we’ll take a break next week and talk about Google+.
So, that brings us to the final step of Legal Zoom — paying! Here’s the last screen I get, which is a comparison chart, designed in a manner to promote upsells:
What is this screen missing? The cost! Now you have to imagine that Legal Zoom conducted some tests on this screen to see which was more successful – including listing the price here or not. But, if they did, frankly I’m surprised this was the result. Asking someone to commit to something without knowing the final price is asking a lot of an internet customer. Sure, I realize clicking the “continue” button isn’t a “commitment” per se, but it still seems like a pretty big oversight for this page. Only by selecting each package and clicking the “Continue” button can you see what the cost of each one is, which I’ll do for you:
Economy: $99 (plus whatever upgrades you selected during the course of the process) – so my total with this package ends up being $317.95
Standard: $239 (plus whatever upgrades you selected during the course of the process) – so my total with this package ends up being $457.95
Express Gold: $369 (plus whatever upgrades you selected, although some of those upgrades are supposed to be included) – so my total with this package ends up not making any sense, because the screen shot above indicates my Fed ID number and my subchapter S election are supposed to be included – only by reading the fine, fine print do you see that they’re NOT actually included with this package — they’re just cheaper.) Should that really be a check-mark, then? Probably not.
I’m going with the economy rate of $99, which gets to $317.95 awfully fast. Of course, they add on a $9.95 “shipping and handling” fee, and it’ll be interesting to see the actual postage on what I receive — probably $2.25. I’m not particularly bothered by this, I’m just making a point: All companies have necessary profit margins. Anyone who expects otherwise probably doesn’t own a business. The same thing happens when you hire a lawyer for $200 a hour and the minute you walk out the door, the lawyer hands it to a paralegal who makes $80 a hour.
And boom, presto, they say I’ll have my documents in about 35 days and my new business will be officially incorporated. Ahh, isn’t it nice having a service company take care of things like incorporating businesses and publishing books for you? I think so…