How to Form an LLC in Ohio 5 Simple Steps

Use A Professional Service

A professional service will handle the entire formation process on your behalf, allowing you to focus on the other needs of your new business.

4.6 out of 5 starsNorthwest ($49 + state fee) for basic & quick LLC formation.

3.6 out of 5 starsLegalZoom ($79 + state fee) for the most popular LLC service available.

Form An LLC

Step 1) Verify & Secure Your LLC Name

Choose a Business Name

First off, in order to launch a successful Ohio LLC, you need to give it the right name. Your business name needs to be catchy for branding purposes and legitimate for legal purposes. We go into depth on this topic in our LLC naming guide, but we’ll go over the legal basics below.

 

Legally, your business name must:

  • Contain the words limited liability company or limited company, or the abbreviation LLC or L.L.C.
  • Not contain the words bank, banker, banking, trust, or words of similar meaning in any other language without the approval of the Ohio superintendent of financial institutions.
  • Be distinguishable from any other entity or trade name registered in Ohio.

 

For an exhaustive list of naming rules you can visit the Ohio Secretary of State website.

If you’re having trouble coming up with a name that captures your brand, don’t let that stop you from forming your LLC. For now, you can focus on the legal requirements and consider filing for a trade name after you’ve nailed down your branding.

 

What To Do:

Once you’ve decided what you’d like to call your LLC in Ohio, do a business name search to find out whether or not it’s in the cards. If your business name is available, you’ll be able to lock it down when you file your Articles of Organization.

 

Quick Note: Before you commit 100% to a name, you should see if there’s a decent URL available. Use Weebly to search your options. If there’s a quality domain name for purchase, we advise buying it right away because even if launching a business website isn’t on your radar right now, it’s going to be soon.

Step 2) Appoint A Statutory Agent

Choose a Registered Agent

When you file your Articles of Organization, you will be asked to appoint an Ohio statutory agent.

Your statutory agent will be responsible for receiving important legal documents like tax forms and service of process notices on behalf of your LLC. Your statutory agent can be an individual resident of the state or a company that’s legally authorized to represent businesses in Ohio.

Ohio does give you the option to act as your own statutory agent, but many business owners choose to appoint a professional instead. Here are a few things to think about before you decide to act as your own:

  • You’ll have to maintain normal (9 am - 5 pm) business hours at the address you provide.
  • If you run your business from home, you’ll be required to make your personal address public.
  • You must keep up on important notices, dates, and deadlines.
  • You could be served in front of your family or coworkers.
What To Do:

If you’re considering acting as your own statutory agent, do some research, starting with our registered agent guide. If you decide you’re up for the task, go ahead and list your own name and address on your Articles of Organization.

If you’re leaning toward hiring a professional, we recommend doing so through an online LLC formation service. Many of these companies (like Northwest) offer up to one year of statutory agent service free when you form your LLC with them.

 

Step 3) File Articles Of Organization

Register an LLCTo legally form an LLC in Ohio, you’ll have to file the Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State. You can either file online or on paper through postal mail. The document is a declaration of the basics of your brand for the public record, including:

  • The name and purpose of your LLC
  • The LLC’s period of existence (if limited)
  • The name, address and signature of your statutory agent
  • The signature(s) of one or more members, managers or other representatives executing the document

Filing Fee: $99.00 (several expedited options available)

 

Step 4) Draft An Operating Agreement

Create an Operating Agreement

Creating an LLC operating agreement is the only way for you and your members to fully define your roles and lock down your LLC’s management and ownership structure. Having this document in place will also give you all something to return to if a dispute or lawsuit arises.

Your operating agreement should outline the following:

  • each member’s responsibilities
  • how new members will be admitted
  • how existing members may transfer or terminate their membership
  • how profits and dividends are to be distributed

From there, you can add as many provisions as you want, provided they are not in conflict with Ohio business law. To access a free operating agreement and learn more about how this document works in Ohio, click here.

 

Step 5) Get An EIN

Get an EIN for Your LLC

The Employer Identification Number (EIN), or Federal Tax Identification Number, is essentially a social security number for your company. State and federal agencies use this number to track your business activity.

 

Your EIN will come in handy when it’s time to:

  • Open a business bank account
  • File Federal and State taxes
  • Hire employees

We think the best way to get an EIN is by using the free online application on the IRS website. We prefer this method because it’s the most efficient, but if you’d prefer to apply via phone, fax or mail, read through our guide to find out how.

Maintain Your LLC's Personal Asset Protection

Best Business Bank Account

Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.

When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your LLC is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.

You can protect your business with these two steps:

1. Opening a business bank account:

  • Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
  • Makes accounting and tax filing easier.

2. Getting a business credit card:

  • Helps you separate personal and business expenses.
  • Builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise capital later on.

Reduce the Liability of Your LLC

Business insurance helps you manage risk and focus on growing your business. The most common types of business insurance are:

  • General Liability Insurance: A broad insurance policy that protects your business from lawsuits. Most small businesses get general liability insurance.
  • Professional Liability Insurance: A business insurance for professional service providers (consultants, accountants, etc.) that covers against claims of malpractice and other business errors.
  • Workers' Compensation Insurance: A type of insurance that provides coverage for employees’ job-related illnesses, injuries, or deaths. In Ohio, businesses with one or more employees, excluding business owners, are required by law to have workers' compensation insurance. Get a free quote with ADP.

Stay Compliant

Business LicensesThe final step is to make sure your LLC is operating in total compliance with the federal, state and local government by taking care of any business taxes, licenses and permits. Here are some of the best resources for each:

  • Federal: Head over to the federal licenses and permits page on the Small Business Association website to find all the business activities that require special licensing, as well as the corresponding government agencies. Then, to learn about federal LLC taxes, pop over to the IRS business taxes page.
  • State: The Ohio Business Gateway has some essential information on state-specific permits and licenses, while the Department of Taxation website is the best resource for Ohio business taxes.
  • Local: To make sure you don’t overlook any city or county-specific requirements, give your local Chamber of Commerce a call or visit.

If you don’t have a legal team to help you sort out licensing requirements, you might consider getting professional help from a business license service. They’ll do all the research on your behalf and send the necessary paperwork to your door (or inbox)!

Reduce Administrative Burden

There will be many demands on your time once you start your business. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to streamline your workflow and reduce administrative overhead from the get-go. The two most important business tasks to get help with are:

1) Accounting

Getting your books in order right up front will save you headaches in the future. At the very least, you can have a professional setup your bookkeeping and accounting for you. This will save you money and time in the long run.

There are all in one services that will do your bookkeeping/invoicing/tax filing for you all for one monthly fee. Mazuma ($95/month) is a reliable all in one tax service.

2) Employee Payroll

If you have employees, a payroll service will save you a lot of time and also save you from having to become an expert on state compliance or employee tax withholdings and filings.  

Gusto is a reliable and good payroll service for small businesses.

Need Help Forming an LLC?

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If you’ve got too much on your agenda to worry about all the paperwork and state-requirements, there are a handful of LLC formation services that can take care of everything for you.

Here are the two most popular:

Northwest ($49 + state fee) = Best Price & Overall Value

LegalZoom ($79 + state fee) = Best For Brand Recognition

Note that this guide for forming an Ohio LLC isn’t a legal document or legal advice. It’s for informational purposes and the information above is subject to change. For specific legal questions regarding how to form an LLC in Ohio, consult with a business attorney.