How To Start a Business in Ohio

There are over a million Small businesses in Ohio, accounting for 99.6% of all private enterprises in the state. There are estimated to be 2.2 million small business employees, making up almost half of the state’s total workforce comprising 44-48% of workers from small business enterprises. Between January 2021 and January 2022, more than 5.8 million new business applications were filed nationwide, and Ohio accounted for 166,938 of those. According to the state’s secretary of state, it has over 12,000 new business fillings each month. However, after demographic adjustments, Ohio had 1,428 applications for new business per 100,000 residents, which was lower than the national average and put it in 22nd place among states.

Ohio Economy Trends

Ohio’s GDP increased by 1.0% from 2021 to $620.7 billion in 2022, making it the 7th largest state economy in the nation. The industrial and financial services sectors account for 18.3% of Ohio’s GDP, making them the state’s two largest GDP-generating industries. Based on GDP, manufacturing is the largest one of Ohio’s main industries, With a total of 699,000 people, the Buckeye State boasts the third-largest manufacturing labor force after California and Texas. The state’s manufacturers are the best in the country at producing electrical appliances, plastics and rubber, fabricated metals, and plastics and rubber. Additionally, Ohio is a major producer of steel, cars, and trucks.

Starting a business in Ohio will require entrepreneurs to go through a personal checklist of planning, market research, and choosing a location for the business. Prospective business owners will also have to go through state government requirements for starting a business which involves registering and licensing the business, choosing and registering the business name, and tax requirements. The overall process may be split in the following steps:

To help people who are beginning or expanding their enterprises, the state government established the Ohio Small Business Development Centers (SBDC). This was done to assist small businesses and entrepreneurs with development and growth to improve sales and generate jobs in their local communities.

Step 1: What Kind of Business Should I Start in Ohio?

Ohio’s rich economic climate creates opportunities to start different types of businesses and enables new businesses to thrive. Ohio also has a high number of skilled and employable labor that business owners can hire for a reasonable cost. The state’s unique geographical location ensures that manufacturing, tourism, or healthcare businesses have considerable high growth potential. Based on statistical data the following businesses are best suited for Ohio’s economy:

Aspiring business owners should perform market research to discover what industry would be most suited for a specific area or what market segments are most likely to succeed.

How To Do Market Research in Ohio

Market research involves gathering information about a prospective business target market. Researching a market will help an owner understand the profitability of a business and how to structure a business to create good exposure and project the company’s value effectively. While doing market research in Ohio, it may take weeks or even months for market researchers to accurately portray the commercial environment after looking into many different aspects of the industry. The following questions must be satisfactorily answered to perform successful market research

Step 2: How To Write a Business Plan

Writing a business plan is the first step to creating a business. For a firm to succeed, it is imperative to have a solid, carefully planned, and comprehensive business plan. Without one, it might be difficult to sustain a business’s future vision and determine what a company’s next actions should be. it is considered a yardstick to demonstrate that each action is part of a more comprehensive, well-thought-out endeavor.

A formal document defining a corporation’s objectives, course, resources, personnel, and long-term planning course, resources, personnel, and long-term planning of an organization is known as a business plan. It might be tailored for investors to raise money or used internally to bring teams together and give guidance. Usually, it contains in-depth market research, competitive analysis, financial records, and a description of a company’s operations and marketing. usually, a company will refer to its business plan periodically to ensure that its activities are in line with its set out plan

There are two different formats for outlining business plans. These are the traditional format and the lean start-up approach. The traditional format is the more commonly used of the two and contains more details about the business plan; the lean start-up approach is more concise and contains information about the highest levels of the business.

A typical business plan has the following sections:

Step 3: Do I Need a Business License in Ohio?

Yes, to operate a business in Ohio, business owners will have to apply for licenses and permits on the county level, state level, and sometimes federal level. Generally, to lawfully conduct business in the state of Ohio, businesses must register with the Ohio Secretary of State; this is known as a business license. Additionally, a vendor license will be necessary for any company leasing or selling physical goods or services that are typically subject to retail sales tax.

 After registering a business with the Ohio Secretary of State, the next step is to register with the state agency in charge of the business of choice. For example, persons who are starting an alcohol business must register with the Department of liquor control (DOLC). This can be done through the Ohio Elicence portal.

In Ohio, depending on their business operations or the location of their business’s base, entrepreneurs can also require specific licenses or permissions from their local government. For instance, the city of Columbus mandates that a variety of enterprises obtain a business license before starting operations. These companies mostly work in the building, construction, and transportation industries.

According to Ohio law, anyone starting a business selling tangible personal property or taxable services at retail must register for the sales tax by acquiring a vendor’s license. Using a vendor’s license, a company can collect sales and use taxes from their clients and send them on to the Ohio Department of Taxation. Individuals can purchase a vendor license through the Ohio Department of Taxation portal or the Ohio business gateway portal.

When applying for an Ohio vendor’s license, business owners must determine and use the NAICS number that most accurately describes their enterprise. Government and industry utilize the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) to categorize businesses based on the economic activity they support. The number code can be acquired by going to the NAICS portal and utilizing the keyword search to find the NAICS code that most accurately depicts the type of business they intend to run.

How Much Does a Business License Cost in Ohio?

According to the area, the kind of business, and the license or permit one wants to get, the cost of a business license in Ohio varies. However, depending on the type of business structure chosen, a new company in Ohio must pay between $25 and $99 to get its initial articles of incorporation. The cost of a business license to the department or organization in charge of that industry is typically between $15 and $100, though it may be higher depending on the jurisdiction.

The vendor license, which costs $25 to register, is Ohio’s main business license. In contrast to the requirement for a separate vendor license for each location in a multi-location enterprise, the vendor license does not need to be renewed. The cost of additional business licenses in Ohio can vary depending on the area or type of business.

Step 4: How Much Does It Cost To Start a Business in Ohio?

The U.S department of labor statistics ranked Ohio as one of the best places to start a business in terms of cost, availability of labor, cooperation, and income taxes. The costs of registration, permits, and licenses range from $500-$1000 depending on the type of business and jurisdiction where the business is located. And individuals can start a small business with $3000 or more.

Fees for submitting articles of registration: After choosing the company name and the kind of business entity to be founded, this fee is normally paid. The choice of entity type or business structure will affect both the registration filing fee and the business’s yearly tax. 

How To Get Business Funding in Ohio

New business owners and entrepreneurs in Ohio can source funding through the following ways

How To Bootstrap a Business in Ohio

Using personal funds to finance a business is known as “bootstrapping” or “self-funding.”.Self-funding can take the form of using money from savings accounts, borrowing money from family and friends, or even taking money out from any other source of income. With self-funding, a business owner can maintain control over the enterprise, manage operating costs, and draw in investors by demonstrating a personal stake in the enterprise. when self-funding a business in Ohio, business owners can

How To Find Investors in Ohio

Investor funding is an active approach to raising capital for a business. Including investors in a small business might have many advantages. Due to investors’ financial support, beneficial connections, and additional knowledge, businesses may expand more swiftly. Additionally, investors lower owners’ financial risk.

Finding investment for a small business in Ohio can be easy as the government has attracted a lot of investors with tax breaks and other incentives. Programs like Invest Ohio provide a non-refundable personal tax credit to investors and provide a cash infusion to small business owners.

To find investors in Ohio business owners can search online networks and databases such as 

There are numerous types of investors, and each is better suited to particular kinds of business investments. The ideal method for locating them or asking for their participation will depend on the type of investment in the issue. Here are some of the most common sorts of investors:

Angel investors: Angel investing is a popular kind of investment for small businesses and startups. An angel investor is a high net-worth individual that puts in funds in the initial stage of a business to stabilize it and make it viable. This investment strategy may be a one-time investment or an ongoing investment. Ohio has a rich and thriving network of angel investors willing to fund startups and business ideas.

Venture capitalist 

 Venture capitalists find businesses with high growth potential to invest in. Venture capital investments from investors might help entrepreneurs get the money they need to launch a company. Typically, venture capital is provided in exchange for an ownership stake and proactive participation in the business.

How To Get a Loan To Start a Business in Ohio

There are several different types of small business loans available for Ohio-based enterprises. Bank and government loans provide a safe means of providing capital for Ohio businesses. Personal loans from family members and friends are an option for people seeking smaller amounts of capital from community financing. These loans attract interest that can be paid over time.

Getting a Loan from a Bank or Credit Union

Several banks in Ohio offer bank loans for local businesses at a good rate and with flexible payment options. These banks provide loans through small-scale lending programs that monitor the business and assess its viability to access loans of different amounts based on the size of the business. Business owners can apply at banks in Ohio such as the Ohio capital access program, Huntington national bank, or the Economic and community development institute.

 Ohio Treasury (Grow Now Program)

 The Ohio treasury grows now initiative allows small businesses to access loans for two years, with the option of renewal, on new or existing small business loans up to $400,000 with a 3% interest rate decrease. The Ohio state treasury creates to access the loan by applying through registered financial institutions in the state. Business owners can access the loan if certain achievable criteria are met.

  Ohio Micro Loan Program

The Ohio microloan program allows business owners to apply for loans to purchase real estate, equipment machines, and vehicles to aid business activities. To apply for this loan, business owners can download the eligibility form, fill it and submit it.

How To Find Ohio Business Grants

Ohio offers different types of grants to business owners in select cities in the state. Grant funds can be used by qualified firms for a range of charges, such as rent or mortgage payments, utility bills, employee and contractor salaries and wages, company supplies or equipment, and other expenses. Some examples of these grants include

 Grants in Ohio are administered by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and the Ohio Department of Development. To access these grants business owners will have to prove eligibility and need for the investment. For example, the fearless striver’s grant is only available to women-owned businesses and minorities in the state. Generally, inquiries on grants in Ohio can be made by email to the Ohio Department of Development or the Ohio Grants Partnership.

Can I Start a Business With No Money in Ohio?

Yes, people with the necessary qualifications, good experience, and track records who lack financial resources can still launch a business by looking for venture capital or angel investment. However, getting the funding might be challenging because an entrepreneur must present a very strong idea that will attract investors’ attention and demonstrate competence to secure the required funds. Specifically, people with limited resources and a viable business plan who have a network or community to turn to can start with little money and then seek out additional investments from grants, crowdfunding, and business accelerators.

Step 5: Choosing a Business Structure in Ohio

There are six different legal business structures in Ohio:

When choosing a business structure in Ohio, it is important to note that the structure will affect the name of the business, tax, and legal liabilities. The registration process of the business is also dependent on the structure as different forms will be filled based on the business structure. When choosing a business structure, it is strongly advised that the business owner seek professional legal and/or accounting advice.

How To Start a Sole Proprietorship in Ohio

A sole proprietorship is a business type owned and run by a single person (no other partners), who is responsible for paying personal income tax on business income. The law doesn’t recognize sole proprietorships as independent legal entities, making it one of the simplest business models to launch. The owner is legally responsible for their acts and their staff. Additionally, the Owner reports all earnings and costs on their tax returns. 

A sole proprietorship can be started in Ohio through the following steps:

Sole proprietors who plan on having employees should also register for workers’ compensation coverage and understand the tax requirements for the business by visiting the Ohio business gateway portal.

How To Start a Corporation in Ohio

A corporation is an organization whose shareholders choose a board of directors to manage its operations. The corporation, not the shareholders, is responsible for the business’s operations and financial condition. 

Legally speaking, a corporation is considered to be different and separate from its stockholders, who are not held legally liable for the business’s actions or debts.

There are also two main forms of corporations in Ohio: 

A corporation in Ohio is a professional association established under Ohio Revised Code Chapter 1785, established only to provide a particular professional service. Individuals can form cooperation in Ohio by following the steps:

How To Start an LLC in Ohio

 A limited liability company is a single business structure that protects its owners from personal liability by combining the characteristics of partnerships and cooperations. The LLC adopts the tax breaks of a partnership and the limited liability aspect similar to that of cooperation. An LLC is a business entity with one or more owners, often known as “members.” Members of an LLC normally take an equal share in managing the company.

 A limited liability company may be established through the Ohio secretary of state by filing articles of organization pursuant to Ohio Revised Code Section 1706.16(D). The next step to create an LLC is to complete the name reservation process online, or download and submit Form 534B, the Name Reservation form. In either case, the fee is $39.

Businesses must have a statutory agent in Ohio, also known as a registered agent or resident agent. They have the responsibility of accepting formal correspondence from the state or court on behalf of your LLC. An entrepreneur may serve as their own statutory agent or choose another LLC member or employee to do so. Another choice is to choose a third-party company to serve as an LLC’s statutory agent. The yearly price ranges between $50 and $20

 An LLC operating agreement must be drafted as the final step. An LLC operating agreement establishes the operational framework of a business and informs members and others of what to anticipate moving forward

How To Start a Business Partnership in Ohio

A partnership is a legal agreement between two or more parties to run a business and split the profits. There are three types of partnerships persons can open in Ohio: general partnerships, limited partnerships, and limited liability partnerships

How To Form a General Partnership in Ohio

A general partnership is a group of two or more people who operate as co-owners of a for-profit company.

Because this form of business permits the pooling of owner assets, including financial and skill sets, many people choose to form partnerships. Owners are personally liable for any and all partnership debts indefinitely. 

To Form a General partnership in Ohio it is not required that persons file a registration with the Ohio Secretary of State pursuant to the Ohio Revised Code Section 1776.22. However, partnerships are free to file documents if they so choose. Statements of Partnership Authority, Statutory Agent Updates, and any other documents that may be submitted to the Secretary of State.

Statements of Partnership Authority (Form 535) (Statement) are important documents that carry a lot of value in the court. The filing price for the Statement is $99.00, and there is an extra fee for filing urgently.

Step 6: Choosing a Business Location 

According to research, 9% of new businesses fail because of a wrong location choice. In Ohio, the location of a business must be chosen based on zoning requirements. Local governments in Ohio use zoning to define what activities are permitted on a particular piece of property. Zoning regulations may have an impact on a variety of aspects of a business, including what can be erected on the property, what activities are permitted, and even if a business is allowed to operate in a particular area. To find out whether the neighborhood zoning laws permit that type of business in that area, it is crucial to contact the local zoning authority. Sales tax rates also vary across different locations in Ohio. business owners must research local tax rates when choosing a business location in Ohio.

Other factors that influence the decision on the business location in Ohio include:

What Kind of Business Can I Run From Home in Ohio?

Ohio state laws and regulations do not prohibit businesses from being run from home. However home-run businesses must be properly licensed and fall within the zoning requirements set by local county authorities. The business should also not violate the state consumer protection laws. Each county and city in Ohio creates its zoning laws or codes that have an impact on these issues. These regulations were created to lessen the potential negative effects that a home company might have on the area in which it is located. For example, businesses set up in shaker heights county must be in agreement with the county zoning regulations and must have a permit from the planning department in the county.

Some businesses that can be run from home in Ohio include:

Some come counties in Ohio such as Avon lake county allow home-run businesses regard less to zoning regulations. However, business owners must adhere to the county home occupancy regulations

How Do I Start a Small Business From Home in Ohio

The specific requirements for launching a home-based business in Ohio will vary depending on the type of business.  The Ohio Small Business Development Center guide to starting a business can prove useful in researching the requirements for launching a home-based general business owners can start a legal small business enterprise from home by following the steps 

An aspiring business owner in Ohio has the opportunity to build a customer base and market his enterprise by opening a home-based business without incurring some of the costs connected with a conventional brick-and-mortar site.

Starting a Business Online in Ohio 

Online companies include all endeavors in which goods and services are exchanged and paid for over the Internet. The owner of the firm must select a business structure and register the enterprise with the Ohio Secretary of State to launch a legitimate online business. Most online businesses in Ohio are LLCs because they provide the necessary legal protection for the business. The registration process for an online business is the same as for any other firm, with a few exceptions. online businesses qualify for an out-of-state seller’s tax account and submit sales tax per Am. Sub. H.B. 166. Businesses without a physical presence in Ohio are subject to the out-of-state seller’s tax.

New business owners must understand and follow state laws that affect their chosen business structure. consumer laws such as consumer sales practices must be upheld by Ohio businesses and enforced by the Ohio attorney general’s office. It forbids dishonest, unfair, and unethical business practices during customer transactions.

 Employers must also adhere to immigration laws by verifying that their employees are allowed to work in Ohio. The employers can contact the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration office to verify their employees. Small businesses must understand and adhere to environmental laws. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sees to it that businesses abide by the rules regarding the environment. The Ohio EPA offers initiatives like the Small Business Assistance Program to assist startups in understanding environmental regulations. 

Businesses that generate more than $500,000 annually in Ohio should get information regarding the Fair Labor Standards Act from the U.S. Department of Labor.

How To Get an EIN Number in Ohio

An employer identification number (EIN) is a nine-digit number given out by the IRS. It is used to locate the tax accounts of employers and other types of people who do not have employees. The IRS utilizes this number to track down people who need to submit different company tax returns.

To obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN), a company with employees must complete the Federal Application for Employer Identification Number (Form SS-4). When filing for withheld taxes,  the business owner will require the EIN. Even if there are no employees, a corporation, partnership, or limited liability company must have an EIN. Additionally, sole proprietors need an EIN if they plan to pay wages to one or more workers or if they have any excise tax returns to file, such as those for alcohol, tobacco, and firearms

How To Get an Ohio Registered Agent

An Ohio registered agent is also known as a statutory agent. A  registered agent is tasked with receiving process documents and notifications on behalf of a business. Ohio law Code § 1701.07 mandates that each corporation and limited liability company appoint a statutory agent to receive service of process on behalf of the company. This regulatory obligation makes sure that a corporation can be reached if a lawsuit is brought against the business. Businesses can appoint a person or professional service as their registered agent, taking into account aspects including availability, dependability, and cost.

When a business entity is established in Ohio, a statutory agent for the state is appointed. The Ohio Secretary of State must receive a completed Statutory Agent Registration Form to accomplish this. Registration costs $25.

Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights in Ohio

The government grants the inventor of an invention a patent, which gives them the legal right to prevent others for a set amount of time from creating, using, or selling the innovation without their consent. In Ohio. patent rights fall under intellectual property and are covered by Rule 3349 of the Ohio administrative code. Business owners can apply for a patent at the US patent trademark office(USPTO). Through registered attorneys and patent agents, the office additionally offers assistance with legal patent registration.

 A copyright refers to the term “original works of authorship” which are published and unpublished literary, theatrical, musical, artistic, and other types of intellectual works that are protected by copyright. The 1976 Copyright Act generally grants the owner of the copyright the exclusive right to reproduce the work, create derivative works, distribute copies of the work, perform the work publicly, or exhibit the work publicly. In Ohio, copyright laws are covered under Rule 3352-7-09 of the Ohio administrative code.

Any word, name, symbol, device, or combination of any word, name, symbol, or device that is adopted and used by a person to identify and distinguish the goods of that person from the goods of other people, including a unique product, and to indicate the source of the goods, even if that source is unknown, is referred to as a trademark under Ohio Revised Code Section 1329.54(A). Although it is not legally necessary to register a trademark or service mark, doing so has several advantages.

individuals can submit trademark registration requests by mail or in person at the Secretary of State walk-in client center.

Walk-In Client Service Center

22 North Fourth Street

Columbus, Ohio 43215

Ohio Business Tax

Unlike most states, business tax in the state is collected and enforced by the Department of Taxation. Ohio does not impose a corporate income tax or a franchise tax. Rather, it has a tax called the commercial activity tax (CAT), which is based on a company’s gross receipts and applies to the majority of business structures. Gross receipts are the entire sums of money that your company receives from all sources within a given accounting period, before deducting any costs or tax deductions. 

As a general rule, Businesses that generate more than $150,000 in Ohio taxable gross receipts annually are required to register for the CAT, file all required returns, and pay all related fees.

The commercial activity tax, which is calculated based on your company’s gross receipts and is seen as a tax on the privilege of doing business in Ohio, is calculated as follows:

Additionally, there are specific guidelines for how and when businesses must make tax payments. For instance, companies with gross receipts of $1 million or more must pay this tax quarterly; quarterly returns are due by the 10th day of the second month after each calendar quarter’s tax period (May 10, August 10, November 10, and February 10).

Are Business Records Public in Ohio?

Yes, business records are public according to the Ohio Public Records Act. Business records such as financial records, trademarks, and auditor’s records on business are public records and are made available upon request to interested persons.

Business records can be searched through the Ohio Secretary of State business records database or in person at the Ohio Auditor of States office. To search the database, requestors must submit the business’s full name. However, some business records are exempt from public viewing by law. Any request for such records is declined by the government custodian of the records.