starting a business in florida

A complete step-by-step guide to start your business and get on the fast track to financial success.

Doing Business In Florida

Business Facts

Florida is a major agricultural state, but farm products aren’t even among its 10 most common foreign exports. Florida’s No. 1 foreign export is airplanes and aircraft parts, according to census data.

Florida‘s gross domestic product reached $1 trillion in 2018. If Florida were an independent nation, it would have the 17th-largest GDP in the world, ranking just behind Indonesia and above Turkey, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, and Argentina.

Small Business and Startup Environment

Florida has 1,633,574 small businesses, according to the most current federal data available. Of those 1,633,574 small businesses in Florida, 444,066 have employees. The remaining 1,189,508 are Florida small businesses that have no employees.

Major Companies

Five Florida businesses placed on Fortune’s 100 best companies to work for list:

Ultimate Software, No. 12 Publix Super Markets, No. 17 JM Family Enterprises

No. 37 BayCare Health System, No. 40 Baptist Health South Florida

This diversity has piqued the interest of programs and investors. 500 Startups, an early-stage venture fund and seed accelerator launched its operations in the heart of Miami. This group charges that Miami will become an inclusive and global hub for entrepreneurs and their ultimate goal is to connect South Florida, East Coast, and Latin America to support underrepresented founders.

Specifically, Miami’s startup ecosystem is seeing success in Edtech and Life Sciences startups. In fact, Miami is top 30 global ecosystem for Life Sciences. Miami’s Cambridge Innovation Center is home to almost 250 early and mid-stage companies and a wet lab for early-stage startups. Also, Startupbootcamp, one of Europe’s largest business accelerators, launched its first U.S. based program in Miami with a $2 million grant from the Knight Foundation.

Step 1: Choose A Business Structure

The most common business structures are sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and a few different types of corporations—the standard corporation (often called a C corporation or “C corp”), the small business corporation (often called an S corporation or “S corp”), and the benefit corporation (often called a B corporation or “B corp”).

The most common business structures are:

Happens when you operate your business as yourself. There is no separate legal entity created; the law treats you and your business as one person. You are responsible and personally liable for all business activities or wrongdoing.

The same thing as a Sole Proprietorship, but just with 2 or more people. Like a Sole Proprietorship, a Partnership doesn’t create a separate legal entity and the partners are responsible and personally liable for any business activity or wrongdoing.

A more complex legal structure that requires a board of directors, corporate officers, and shareholders. Corporations don’t usually work for most small business owners since they face double taxation. Corporations can be beneficial to companies that are looking to raise capital investment, take the company public, or have large healthcare expenses for their employees. The most common types of companies that form Corporations are high-growth technology and startup companies.

Unlike a Sole Proprietorship or a Partnership, a Corporation is a separate legal entity from its owners (called shareholders). It provides them with personal liability protection.

A legal entity that combines the benefits of a Corporation and a Sole Proprietorship/Partnership.

An LLC in Florida is a separate legal entity under the law. And like a Corporation, it provides personal liability protection for the owners. If the LLC is sued, the owner’s personal assets – like their home, cars, and bank accounts – are protected. And like a Sole Proprietorship/Partnership, an LLC has pass-through taxation (so there’s no double taxation).

A Florida LLC is the most popular option and a good choice for people who want to run a small business for two reasons:

  • Personal liability protection (personal assets are kept safe)
  • No double taxation

Unlike a Sole Proprietorship (and a Partnership), your Florida LLC’s assets are separate and distinct from your personal assets. In the event your LLC gets sued, your personal assets are protected.

And unlike a Corporation, your LLC is not subject to double taxation. Instead, your LLC’s profits will “pass-through” to your personal tax return and federal taxes are paid just once.

Step 2: Choose The Right Business Name

Choosing a business name is important, you want to make it easier for your customers to remember it, here are some tips:

  1. Avoid hard-to-spell names.
  2. Don’t pick a name that could be limiting as your business grows.
  3. Conduct a thorough Internet search.
  4. Search and purchase a domain name.
  5. Use a name that conveys some meaning.
  6. Conduct a trademark search.

Step 3: Register Your Business

Depending on the business structure you chose you will need to register your business.

Florida Resale license 

Florida Business Entity Search

Step 4: Obtain an EIN Tax Number

With limited exceptions, most businesses require an Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Tax ID Number. An EIN is used to identify a business in its federal tax filings. Without an EIN, you can’t hire employees or open a business bank account.

Click Here to Apply for EIN number online

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Step 5: Open A Bank Account

– Open a business bank account:

  • Separates your personal assets from your company’s assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
  • Makes accounting and tax filing easier.

– Get a business credit card:

  • Helps you separate personal and business expenses.
  • Builds your company’s credit history, which can be useful to raise capital later on.

Step 6: Licenses & Permits

Now that you’ve registered your business name you need to obtain a business license for your company – this authorizes your company to do business in your city or county. Typically this also involves registering for state taxes and permits (the city may require them as part of the business licensing process).

Here are some links for Florida Businesses:

Selling products? Check Florida Resale Permit

Business Licensing for the State of Florida

Step 7: Branding & Marketing

Your brand is the image customers have of your business, so it’s important to determine who is your audience and what is the message that you want to project. That way, your company’s image will be what you intend it to be. It should be strategic and intentional.

Step 8: Establish a Web Presence

Creating an optimized website helps you to gain important visibility for the right terms. A website is a powerful sales tool and one that allows you to address your customers’ concerns, give them the information they need to make a decision and create compelling calls to action.

In addition to a website, you should also consider other avenues for promoting your business online: