In 2016, Ohio was home to over 927,691 small businesses. In fact, the state has a 90 percent annual growth rate in business filings. Retail, construction and transportation are the fastest growing industries in the region, and 117,429 new companies have been registered in 2017 alone. If you're planning to set up a business in Ohio, start by choosing a name for your company. Approximately 80 percent of business fillings occur online, so the process is quite straightforward.

Know the Rules

Before you conduct an Ohio Secretary of State business search, make a list of company names that reflect your activity and product offering. Consider your business structure as well. Is it a solo proprietorship, a partnership, a corporation or a limited liability company? You may also form a nonprofit organization, an association or a joint venture. Each of these options has distinctive legal requirements. For example, if you're going to register a limited liability company, or LLC, you cannot use certain words in its name, such as treasury or secret service and the name cannot imply that it's a corporation. You may use John's Transportation Services, LLC, but you cannot use John's Transportation Services, Inc. or John's Transportation Services, Corp. Additional paperwork will be required in case you wish to use words like attorney, doctor or bank.

Conduct a Business Name Search in Ohio

Access the Ohio Secretary of State's website to familiarize yourself with information available to new businesses. Head over to the Business Name Inquiry page, which offers multiple search options and helpful resources. Enter the name you would like to use for your company in the designated field. Select the desired search criteria as well as the business structure you are forming. For a more accurate business name search in Ohio, provide additional information about your company, such as its location. For example, when you're searching for a local business, enter the city name and then select the order in which you want the results to be displayed. The results of your search can be ordered by business name, prior name, status, original filing date and more. Also, you can choose to see the results in HTML, Excel or ASCII.

If the Name's Already Taken

Ohio requires all business owners to select a unique company name that is not being used by another entity. So, you must make sure your business name isn't already taken by another legal entity. It mustn't be too similar to another company's name, either. If it is, you can contact the owner to request consent to use the name. Ask them to file Form 590, which is found on the Ohio Secretary of State's website. The form must be signed by an authorized representative of the consenting entity.

How to Register Your Business Name

Once you're done with your Ohio business entity search, register your company's name. Simply fill out the Name Registration form available on the Ohio Secretary of State's website. You may also reserve the name for up to 180 days by filling Form 534B. This grants you the right to use it for up to 180 days. If you don't register the name with the secretary of state’s office during this period, the reservation will expire, and your business name will become available for anyone to use.