Florida has earned its moniker of “The Sunshine State,” with its beautiful weather, stunning beaches, and untouched wilds in the Everglades. For many, moving to Florida to retire is the ultimate dream. For others, Florida is the destination at the beginning of their career.
With 1.6 million small businesses in Florida catering to 21 million residents, this state is a great destination for aspiring entrepreneurs. However, Florida also has some unique legislation that entrepreneurs need to be aware of when they get started. Here’s everything you need to do to start a business in Florida.
Decide Your Business Structure
Before you do anything else, decide how you’re going to structure your business. Most entrepreneurs use a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) rather than an incorporation. The type of structure you use impacts how you are taxed and the rules and regulations you must follow regarding reporting your income.
Starting an LLC in Florida is a fairly straightforward process, with the majority of the work being conducted within a few hours online. Unlike with an incorporation, you don’t require a board of directors or formal meetings. Your business can be a one-person-show if that’s the route you choose.
Create a Business Plan
No matter where you decide to start a business, you need a business plan. While many start a business and reach success without a business plan, it creates a solid structure on which to base your brand strategy and marketing goals. Many financial institutions also require a copy of your business plan before giving you a business loan, as they want to verify that you’re serious about your new business.
There are many business plan templates online that will help you devise a mission statement, conduct customer research, and evaluate your competition and challenges in your chosen marketplace.
Forming an LLC
Steps to forming a Florida LLC include determining a business name, having a physical address, and working with a Registered Agent. Determining the business name will take a bit of creativity on your part, so start brainstorming now! You’ll also need to do a search to determine that no other businesses in the state have your desired business name already. Once you have confirmed that you’re the only one with your business name, you can register it as your own.
Having a physical address attached to your business is a state requirement, even if you’re a one-person show from your basement. It can be your home address or even an address outside of Florida if you have multiple residences. It does, however, have to be a street address and cannot be a post office box.
Finally, everyone who starts a business in Florida is required to work with a Registered Agent. The Registered Agent is responsible for receiving tax information and ensuring everything is filed accordingly.
File the Articles of Organization
Once you have all your proverbial ducks in a row, you must file the “Articles of Organization” with the Florida Secretary of State to officially register your business. This is common practice in many states. You can either file this yourself or work with an agency to put everything together for you and file it on your behalf. After the Articles of Organization are filed, your business is officially registered.
Getting an EIN
It’s highly recommended that you get a Federal Employment Insurance Number (EIN) to conduct business with your LLC. This number will replace your Social Security Number on loan applications and business agreements, protecting you from identity theft and adding a layer of protection between you and your business. You can apply for this separately when registering your business or have an agency apply for one on your behalf if that’s the route you choose to go.
Florida is a land of opportunity for small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. Follow these easy steps, and you can become a small business owner!