You Bet You Can Register a Business!
Registering your business in Ohio is not as difficult as you may think. In fact, some people can get the process done in as little as fifteen minutes!
After doing your research and deciding what kind of business entity you want to create (I typically recommend for most people to form a Limited Liability Company) your first stop is the Business Services page at the Ohio Secretary of State’s website. You then click “File Online” and either log in to your existing account or create one (you will see those links in the upper-left).
Creating your profile is pretty straight-forward and after you are finished the site will confirm the username and password that you created. The site also gives you an “e-signature”. You will use all three (username, password, and e-signature) every time you log in, so keep a record of those.
Now that you have logged into your account, you will be presented with several options. Hover your mouse pointer over “Business Filings” and choose “File a New Business or Register a New Name”. In the drop-down that says “Choose One”, select the action that you wish to do (In this case, I am choosing to register a Limited Liability Company that will be located in Ohio). If for some reason you need to expedite your filing, you can do so for an extra cost. I’m in no real rush, so I can see that my filing will cost $99.
After hitting “Continue” you will be offered the opportunity to see if the business name that you want to use is available. It only takes a second to do and it may save you some time overall. In fact, I really suggest looking into this before you even create your account. You can search registered businesses in the state of Ohio at any time here. Broadly, if the name you want to use shows up “Cancelled,” “Dead,” or not at all then you should be able to use it.
Now that you have your name all sorted out, just click “Begin Filing”. For each field that you can fill out it will let you know if that information is necessary or not. For example, what you want to name your company is very necessary while having a “Purpose Clause” is not. Do remember to indicate on this page if you are starting a for-profit or a non-profit!
On the next page you indicate who the statutory agent is for your business. Simply put, the agent has to be a resident of the state in which your are registering the business. So, as odd as it sounds, you can be both the owner of your business and the statutory agent. It is possible for another business can be the statutory agent of your endeavor but that is a bit outside this introduction. Be sure to ‘sign’ the last box to indicate that you approve of being your business’s agent, even if you opt to be that agent.
The next page asks if you will be attaching any files to your registration: attachments are pretty uncommon. If you are uncertain just click “why would I need an attachment?” which spells out when you would need to add anything.
We are getting close to the end! On the following page you will put your name in the first box to once again ‘sign’ that you agree with everything. If you have a partner, or many partners, they will add their ‘signatures’ by click add then typing their name into a similar field.
With that done, you hit “save and continue,” then review that everything is accurate and press “preview document”. The preview usually opens in a new tab in your web browser, so just click on the tab to the left to get back to your registration. If everything looks good and you are ready to file, click “Verify for Checkout”.
No click the box to the left of the Document ID, press “add selected filing(s) to checkout,” then pay for filings. Enter your credit/debit card information and press “Confirm and Proceed”.
That is it!
Now, I know I promised this was a really easy thing to do and I still hold to that, despite how many words it took me to explain the process. The good news is, you are not alone if you are looking to register your business with the state. The librarians of the Business and Investment Center and the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County are here to help you navigate this, and many other, processes.