Getting your start-up right the first time around can leave an entrepreneur teetering on the edge of financial ruin. Don’t stress! We are here to give you the scoop on what it takes to get started.
For Ohio natives and transplants, here is our guide to starting a business in Ohio. Let’s go!
Choose a Business Structure
One of the main steps to starting a business in Ohio is choosing a business structure. The most popular business structures include:
- Sole proprietorship
- Limited Liability Company (LLC)
Each of these forms of business requires registration with the Ohio Secretary of State and possibly other entities. The form and complexity of the business structure also determine the necessary paperwork and fees required at the state, federal and local levels.
Consulting with a knowledgeable local accountant is the best way to determine which type of business structure is best for the business.
Develop a Business Plan
A business plan should include a detailed description of the business, its objectives, and an explanation of why the business will be successful. It should include:
- Detailed market analysis
- Description of the management team
- Marketing Plan
- Financial plan
The financial plan should include existing and expected sources of income, projected expenses, and capital requirements. The plan should provide a realistic, detailed timeline for achieving those objectives.
Once the business plan is developed, it can be used to attract potential investors, secure loans, and communicate the business plan to key stakeholders. This plan should be updated periodically and serve as a roadmap for business growth and development.
Entrepreneurs need to consider various sources of funding. Banks offer various financial solutions to businesses. Grants are also available from various bodies. InvestOhio also provides funds to help startups access private capital.
Equity crowdfunding is another option. This allows businesses to secure private capital from a range of investors. Entrepreneurs would be wise to research each of these options to determine which is most suitable for their individual situation.
It is also possible to secure funding through private investors and venture capitalists, with the help of a business plan.
Choose a Location
Choosing a location is an essential component of starting a business in Ohio. The ideal location should have a steady stream of customers, public transportation access, and be convenient for employees.
Before deciding on a site, determine what type of zoning is allowed in your area. Ohio has many zoning rules, so be sure to familiarize yourself with them before making a decision.
If leasing or purchasing a property, consider the following:
- Length of the contract
- Extra fees
You should also evaluate the local taxes, local incentives, and economic stability in the region. Finally, the location should be visible from a public road and have adequate parking space.
Set Up Your Business Operations
All business owners must register with the Ohio Secretary of State. Depending on the type of business, you may need to obtain other permits and licenses from the appropriate Ohio agency before beginning operations.
You may want to register for state and federal tax identification numbers to help you track and report business income and expenses. In Ohio, you will then need to select a legal structure for your business.
Once the legal structure is determined, business owners should:
- Register the name of the business
- Obtain zoning permission from local authorities
- Lease or purchase property
- Obtain necessary insurance coverage
- Hire managed IT services for business cybersecurity
Finally, Ohio business owners should consult with an accountant and a lawyer to ensure they have met all requirements.
Market Your Business
Developing a comprehensive marketing plan is essential to creating a successful business with potential customers and clients. This plan should include steps such as:
- Target market identification and assessment
- Competitive analysis
- Pricing and distribution strategy
- Advertising and promotional activities
- Market research
- Web presence
To draw customers to you, it is important to:
- Create a strong brand identity
- Develop promotional materials
- Utilize word of mouth
- Create partnerships
- Search engine optimization
- Social media advertising campaigns
- Content marketing
Track and measure your results to refine your approaches and make sure your efforts have the desired impact. Regularly review your strategic marketing plan to ensure that it is still reflecting your goals and that it is adequately budgeted.
Before you can open your doors, it’s essential to make sure you’re following all the necessary regulations to remain compliant. The main steps to start a business in Ohio are:
- Filing the Articles of Incorporation
- Registering with the Ohio Department of Taxation
- Obtaining Ohio worker’s compensation insurance
- Employer Identification Number from the IRS
- Registering to pay the Ohio Commercial Activity Tax
To stay compliant with the state, make sure you register for any taxes or fees required by residents of Ohio and that you know the specific regulations governing your industry.
It is important to not only be aware of local statutes but to also follow state and federal laws as well. Research employee laws and make sure to comply with all labor laws governing the state. Once you’ve taken the appropriate steps to comply, you’ll be one step closer to opening your business in the state of Ohio.
Plan Starting a Business in Ohio Today
Starting a business in Ohio is achievable with the right steps. Gathering resources, having a plan in place and understanding the legal and tax regulations are all important parts of the process.