How to start a business in Ohio (10 Simple Steps)

Step 1: Truly Plan Your Business Idea

Write a Business PlanAccording to the U.S. Small Business Admin, a primary benefit of business planning is it allows you to see your entire startup in a very concise and illuminating way. This enables you to spearhead your focus, set realistic objectives and develop a more effective system of accountability. Without one, you’re flying blind. It’s about a structured game plan and the smart approach vs basically winging it.

Take Action: Check out our 100% free Business Planning Guide designed to get you from A-to-Z as pleasantly as possible. Plus, we provide access to tons of other great tools along the way.

Business Ideas: Find the Idea That Fits You Image

Don’t know what kind of business to start?

Our friends over at howtostartanllc.com have compiled a massive list of business ideas, ranging from personal styling to axe-throwing businesses.

If you’re having trouble finding the perfect business idea for you, we encourage you to check them out!

Step 2: Choose Business Structure & Register

How to Choose a Business StructureNow it’s time to establish a legal entity and in the process secure your brand name by filing it with the state. Once registered, you and your personal assets (house, car, etc) will be protected and your business will gain a variety of tax breaks.

Most entrepreneurs form an LLC because it has all the benefits of a corporation without the disadvantages like double taxation, boards of directors, or corporate officers. However, if you're trying to take your company public or raise substantial outside capital, consider forming a corporation.

Take Action: Since this step is so important and expensive if it's not done correctly, we highly recommend investing 10 minutes to go over your options through our business structure comparison guide. You'll get a better idea of the advantages and disadvantages of each while building a solid legal foundation for your business.

Step 3: Sync With The Ohio Tax Code

Small Business TaxesThere’s no reason to worry about your business taxes as long as you take care of them. Take your time and seek out as many incentives, breaks, and kickbacks as you can.

Take Action: Your best bet early on is to head on over to the Ohio Business Gateway, create an account, and reach out if you need help. Be sure to do your homework on this step- it's important.

Step 4: Obtain Proper Licensing/Permits

Business LicensesOhio’s regulatory environment can be simple or more complex depending on where in Ohio you’re starting your business and what kind of industry you’re in. Don’t be in a rush here; dot every t, and once it’s through you can celebrate. But until then, here are two great resources:

  1. DYI’ers can head to Ohio.gov and use their Licenses & Permits section.
  2. If you need help with this step, a Business License Research Service is what we recommend. They determine everything required on federal, state, county and municipal levels, get the forms, and provide step-by-step filing instructions.

Step 5: Separate Your Personal and Business Assets

Best Business Bank Account

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

Now that you’ve made it through registering and setting up taxes and licensing for your business, you’ll need to take steps to protect your personal assets and establish your business as an independent entity.

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

You can go a long way in protecting your assets with these three steps:

  1. Open a business bank account.

A business bank account separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection. A designated business bank account also makes accounting and tax filing easier.

To open up a bank account for your business, you’ll need to obtain an EIN (Employer Identification Number). You’ll use your EIN in place of your social security number so that this account is completely separate from your personal finances. After this, start doing your research on various business bank accounts. Local options and national banks, like Chase, both have their perks.

Get $200 when you open a business checking account with Chase. Learn more

  1. Get a business credit card.

A business credit card helps you separate personal and business expenses. A business credit card will also build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise capital later on.

Learn about the best small business credit cards here.

  1. Designate an authorized representative.

Make sure all documents are signed by a representative of your LLC and not by you (or other LLC members) directly. This will help separate you from liability incurred by the LLC.

  1. Keep your accounting and bookkeeping up to date

Make sure to sync up your banking and credit card accounts with an accounting software like QuickBooks as soon as you get the chance. It’s never too soon to start organizing your business’ finances!

Step 6: Pick A Stellar Ohio Location

How to Choose a Business LocationThe two important points about location are: how many resources are within about 1-5 miles from your office/store, and how much easier the location makes managing the business (for example, consider local talent and shorter vs. longer commutes).

Take Action: Listen, we know picking a spot can be tough if it doesn’t somehow happen naturally through your personal/professional networks. If you’d like to brush up on everything that goes into making this decision, refer to our friendly guide on How to Choose the Perfect Location.

Step 7: Finance/Bootstrap Your Platform

How to Finance a BusinessNo matter what industry you're in, your business is likely going to require a steady stream of capital that if all goes well will be rising over time. The good news is you’ve picked one of the healthiest places in the world when it comes to networks, groups, collegiate stuff, state-level programs galore and anything else you can think of, including tons of CrowdFunders and Social Lenders.

Take Action: The email course we mentioned in Step 1 really comes in handy here because planning and finances go together like Organic peanut butter and chocolate. You can also browse our guide on How to Finance a Business to start generating ideas.

Step 8: Design & Publish A Business Website

Build a Business WebsiteFor those that don’t know yet, your brand needs a website. These days, you can have a great site setup for far less money and hassle than in years past through business website builders.

Take Action: The first step is finding the right platform, which thankfully there are a couple fantastic business website builders. Our favorites are Wix and Weebly. No matter which website builder you end up choosing, you’ll be in good hands since each one offers free support.

Step 9: Market Your Business

Social Media ChannelNow after all that, it’s brand expansion time. All it takes once you get out there is a commitment to your customer. Don’t get too caught up in less personal aspects of digital marketing.

Take Action: Once you set up shop, start as locally as possible and work your way from there. Your first clients/users/customers are often the most helpful in terms of optimization.

Step 10: Continue Learning & Stay Inspired

Sign Up For Entrepreneur InterviewsAs you continue forth on your noble journey as a new entrepreneur, keep Startup Savant in your goodie bag because if anyone knows where you’re coming from and what you’re facing, it’s our community. We focus our content on helping you stay motivated and continue your education, updated on the savviest tools for modern business.

Take Action: Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to tap into our daily feed filled with tips, lessons, and inspiring stories directly from entrepreneurs like you. And, when you’re ready don’t be afraid to reach out and tell us about your journey in Ohio.

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Continue Learning. Stay Inspired!