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How to start an online business in Ohio

The USA and global markets have changed a lot in the last decade, especially since Covid. There has been a steady growth in the number of online businesses. Some of these are home-based companies, while others have transformed into mega e-commerce portals. If you are planning to start an online business in Ohio, then this is just the right time. Our guide will provide you an insight into online business ideas and benefits. This guide will provide the necessary steps to start an online business from home in Ohio. You will get to learn about business plans, registration of a company, licenses and permits, business bank accounts, and local zoning laws.

Online Business in Ohio

Ohio is one of the top states when it comes to providing the right business environment and platform. This is one of the reasons why the state is witnessing an e-commerce revolution. Due to ease of access to advanced technology and high-speed internet, home-based online startups are mushrooming across the state. The state has even introduced online business licenses in Ohio, especially for e-commerce companies. This is not all; there are numerous small online businesses that are using bigger e-commerce platforms to sell their products or services, like through the eBay Marketplace. This means you can also start an e-commerce business in Ohio and go global.

What are the biggest benefits of doing business online in Ohio?

You can start an online business in Ohio with ease, as there are many advantages of this type of business. As the name suggests, you will need to operate this online. An online business doesn’t necessarily require a physical location, and that can cut down overhead costs. Certain online businesses are also known as home-based businesses. Some of the benefits of starting an online business from home in Ohio are:

  • Flexibility – One of the top benefits of an online business is the freedom and flexibility it offers. Online businesses are flexible in terms of opening or closing hours. Since all products are available online, customers can purchase whenever they want.
  • Low operating costs – When you start an online business in Ohio, the overall operating costs are low as compared to brick-and-mortar businesses. The most common operating cost components are:
    • Cost of website
    • Cost of internet connection
    • Legal fees
    • Energy costs
    • Software costs
    • Cost of business licenses
    • Marketing costs
  • Low startup costs – Whether you start an e-commerce business in Ohio or an online consultancy, the startup costs will be much lower than those of traditional businesses. The costs will also depend on the type of business model and the amount of inventory.
  • Easy to scale – Internet-based businesses are extremely easy to scale as you are not bound by any specific physical location. The ease of scaling will also depend on the business model.

Top online business ideas in Ohio

Internet and technology work hand-in-hand to make business processes highly efficient. They are also responsible for creating opportunities and platforms for online businesses. Today, the possibilities of starting an online business are limitless. Some of the top business ideas are:

  • Dropshipping is a type of order fulfillment option. To be a drop-shipper, you will need an online business license in Ohio. This idea revolves around a high-efficiency and low-overhead business model.
  • Freelance Services – This is one of the most popular online options. As a freelancer, you can offer a wide variety of services depending on your skill sets. The options can vary from online tutorials to graphic design, coding, writing, and content development, among others.
  • Subscription Box Services – This industry has seen tremendous growth recently. If you want to start an online business from home in Ohio, then this idea can be quite profitable. Through this, you can offer your customers a categorized selection of products that can be delivered to their doorsteps on a regular basis.
  • Virtual Event Planner – Remote work options and virtual gatherings have created this form of online virtual event planning company.
  • Virtual Assistant (VA) – A virtual assistant specializes in completing administrative tasks from a remote location. You will be an independent contractor and will be able to perform a wide range of tasks over the Internet.

Form your online Ohio business Today!

Starting an Online Business in Ohio

If you have a good online business idea, then this is a good time to put on your working shoes. You can start an online business in Ohio with ease by ensuring all business requirements are met. You will also need to be compliant with the state laws. Let’s look at some of the key areas to focus on.

1. Prepare your Ohio online business idea and plan

If you want to know how to start an online business from home in Ohio, then you need to start from the very basics. Create a business plan! A good business plan will enable you to validate your existing business idea. It will also help assess your financial position while creating a concrete strategic action plan. Some of the important components of your plan will include:

  • Executive Summary
  • Your business idea
  • Business Opportunity
  • Industry and market analysis
  • Target Market
  • Competition
  • Operations
  • Timeline for key milestones
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Financial plan

2. Choose your Ohio online business name

The name of your company will create a unique identity in the market. This name will be used to register the entity and apply for an online business license in Ohio. You can go with a traditional business name or opt for a trade name or DBA (Doing Business As). While choosing a name, ensure it follows the naming guidelines as mentioned in the 2022 Ohio Revised Code. The naming guidelines will vary according to the type of entity structure you choose. Here are some steps toward choosing a company name.

  • Choose a name
  • Conduct a name availability search or entity search
  • If the chosen name is available, then file the Name Reservation / Transfer / Cancellation Application along with a fee of $39
  • If you want to register a DBA or trade name, then you will need to submit the Name Registration form (form 534a) along with a fee of $39

3. Register your online business with Ohio SOS

It is important to understand that your idea and entity structure are different aspects of the same business. The entity structure will define your company’s registration process. If you choose a sole proprietorship company, you will not be required to register with the Ohio Secretary of State. Let’s look at an example to understand this.

Example: If you want to start an e-commerce business in Ohio as a Limited Liability Company, then you will have to submit the Articles of Organization pursuant to OH Rev Code § 1706.16 (2022). The processing fee will be $99. Similarly, if you want to establish your online business as a corporation, then you will be required to file Articles of Incorporation pursuant to OH Rev Code § 1701.04 (2022).

Are you ready to form your online business in Ohio?

4. Obtain all necessary licenses and permits for online business

After you register a company, it will not be operational unless you apply for and obtain an online business license in Ohio. It is important to note that the licensing regulations and requirements vary from one state to another. The type of licenses required by your company will vary according to the business activity and location of your company. You will need to conduct a search through the following to determine which licenses are applicable to your company.

  • Professional and Occupational License – If your work involves specific skills or professions, you will need to apply for this type of license. Such licenses are issued by different government or state agencies. The process to obtain this license and fee vary according to the license.
  • Vendor’s License/Sales Tax Permit – If your business requires you to offer taxable services or are selling tangible personal property, then you may need to apply for a sales tax permit. If you start an e-commerce business in Ohio, you will require this type of license.
  • Local Zoning Laws and Permits – When you start an online business from your home in Ohio, you will need to check the local zoning laws. The zoning laws are different for each city or county. You may also be required to apply for local permits and licenses based on the activity of your company.
  • There are different categories of online business licenses in Ohio that may be applicable to your company, and this can be quite confusing. You can opt for our “Business License Research Report” service. As a part of this service, IncParadise provides a detailed report containing a list of filing instructions, supporting document requirements, and fees for all business licenses and permits in this state.

5. Buy a website domain and build an e-commerce website

If you plan to start an e-commerce business in Ohio or any online business, then there are two important areas to focus on – domain name and website hosting. You need first to check whether your chosen domain name is available. You will also need to compare various web hosting plans in advance. Book your domain name and web hosting plan depending on your requirements. You can take help from freelance website designers to design the website. Alternatively, you can also use various third party Online Store Builders.

6. Get EIN and File your taxes for Ohio business

If you plan to start an online business in Ohio or an e-commerce store, it is recommended that you apply for an employer identification number (EIN). This is a unique 9-digit number, also known as the Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN). The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will assign it to your business. The EIN is used primarily for filing taxes and opening a bank account.

7. Open a bank account

When you start an online business from home in Ohio, there are certain areas that play a key role in the management of finances. One such area is banking. However small your business may be, it is recommended that you always open a business bank account. It is also known as a checking account and is beneficial from a tax perspective. A business bank account will also make your company look professional and help reduce the vulnerability of your personal assets.

Since you plan to start an online business in Ohio, you can open a business bank account online. Cheqly is a modern-day banking alternative. It is a neo-bank for startups, and you can open a US bank account online. The Cheqly platform will help fulfill all your banking requirements, like ensuring you can receive and make payments globally.

8. Comply with taxes and other regulatory requirements

Once you start an e-commerce business in Ohio, you will need to ensure complete compliance with state annual requirements. This will ensure you enjoy a good standing in the state. One of the important requirements is that of an annual report. Certain entities in the state are required to file biennial reports, although LLCs and corporations are not required to file this report.

In addition, your company will be required to file various federal, state, and local taxes. The type of tax to be filed will depend on the primary business activity and entity structure. The most common taxes in the state for new businesses include graduated individual income tax, commercial activity tax (CAT), sales and use tax, withholding tax, and self-employment tax.

9. Market your business

Marketing is integral to the growth of your online business through increased sales. You can start an online business in Ohio as a consultant or as an e-commerce store but without proper marketing; you may not be able to reach out to your target market or consumers. You can take advantage of digital marketing, go with traditional methods of branding or even use salient aspects of both. The bottom line is to engage your audience and also create a strong brand online. The following strategies, tools, and methods can be quite useful:

  • Create a website that showcases all products or services
  • Search Engine Optimization of all content on your website
  • Provide additional value to your customers through blogs, articles, videos, and other resources
  • Create a powerful email campaign showcasing whitepapers, ebooks, and webinars
  • Send promotional emails directly to customers with discounts
  • Use banners and posters on social media platforms
  • Digital advertising like PPC (Pay-Per-Click)
  • Partner with another company to promote your business

Looking to start an online business in Ohio?

Starting an online business can be easy, although it is necessary to maintain compliance with state requirements. After choosing the right entity structure, you can start an online business from home in Ohio. This will help determine the advantages and benefits that you can derive in the long term. If you want to operate an online business successfully, our experts can provide the necessary guidance.

IncParadise is one of the top new business formation and registered agent service providers in Ohio. We also offer additional services that will help you with any other requirements associated with a home-based business, such as obtaining an EIN and foreign qualifications.

Register an Ohio online startup with IncParadise!