The Ohio Secretary of State has made it easier than ever for you to select and form an entity yourself.... But should you?

The Ohio Secretary of State's (SOS) business website ( has a wealth of information on starting your business, financing, and even offers you the ability to conduct name searches and file formation documents electronically. It's a user-friendly website and gets the job done.

However, as the saying goes "just because you can, doesn't mean you should!". For all its ease of use, the SOS's website is legally unable to help you evaluate the multitude of factors that go into naming and forming your business.

For example, the SOS's website can help you understand certain mechanics of a name search(how to conduct Boolean searches, removing punctuation, etc, it does not explain the nuances of methodically conducting and documenting a name search. This is critical so that you don't find yourself in a situation down the road where it's adjudicated that your company name was not significantly different enough from and previously registered name and you are required to change your name, your letterhead, bank accounts, finance agreements, etc.

In addition, even the SOS's website itself states that "The Secretary of State’s office may not advise you on what type of business entity to form such as a corporation, limited liability company or partnership" and that it is "best to consult with an attorney who can properly advise you".  I think it is very easy to discount the advice of the SOS and be lured into a false sense of security based on how easy it is to complete and submit formation documents(Articles of Organization/Incorporation, etc).  These deceivingly simple filings can have lasting legal and financial ramifications for you and your business. I cannot stress enough how important your entity selection  and observance of certain "corporate formalities" is. Even an entity such as the LLC's, which is highly flexible and can be structured through its operating agreement to limit, modify, and or remove certain corporate formalities, must still observe, certain non available duties in order to maintain the LLC's liability protections.

You can find a significant amount of information on the topic of business formation on the internet; some of it is good, some bad, but whether good or bad, it is almost always incomplete. As importantly, becuase of the huge reach of the internet, Even if good and mostly complete, the advice may not be applicable in your jurisdiction. 

My firm can quickly and cost effectively help guide you through the process of starting your business. I offer free initial consultations, and look foward to helping you make your dreams reality.

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