A PRIME Corporate Services Guide on Founding a Business in the Sunshine State.
If you’re thinking about starting an LLC, Florida is a great place to start a booming business. With a low tax burden, the fourth largest economy in the nation, and popular tourist seasons, Florida has many benefits for entrepreneurs. Between the sunny beaches in St. Petersburg to the theme park thrills of Orlando, Florida has a lot to offer business owners, and we’ve got all the information you need need to form a business in the Sunshine State.
(Want to learn the secrets of creating a successful business in Florida? Read on! Or skip ahead and reach out to one of our PRIME advisors for a free consultation.)
Forming a Business in Florida: Seven Simple Steps
The state of Florida maintains an official business information portal that’s a great resource for Florida entrepreneurs and business owners. There’s a large amount of information on that site, so we’ve distilled it down to seven steps you should follow to register your business in Florida:
- Decide on a business structure such as a sole proprietorship, corporation or LLC.
- Choose a business name.
- Register your business with the state.
- Apply for your Employer Identification Number (EIN).
- Open a company checking account and credit card.
- Get all the necessary business licenses and permits.
- Learn about annual and ongoing requirements for your business structure.
Step 1: Decide on a Business Structure
Before any progress can be made, you must decide which type of business you want to create. If you’ve read many of our prior blog posts, you;ve probably noticed that we are big proponents of forming an LLC. One easy way to learn more details about this process is by scheduling a consultation with a PRIME advisor or looking through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)’s site.
Before making the decision on business structure, you should know how your business operates. Ask yourself questions about location, supply chain accessibility, and the hiring population in your desired area.
Step 2: Choose a Business Name
Choosing the right name for your business is crucial for captivating customer’s attention. When deciding on a name, you will need to research its availability and make sure it fits within the guidelines of the Florida state statute. It is important to choose names which are easy to remember and write. Customers should be able to spell and pronounce the name to others.
Remember to check for name exceptions such as restricted words or language which implies an unlawful purpose. Have fun and be creative! Think about ways you can incorporate local geography or culture into the name if it is a small business.
*Note—although the business name is important, it’s ok if you choose a name now and later decide that you want to expand to new markets or do business under another name. A DBA allows you to legally operate your business under multiple names. You can check out this article for more information about DBAs, or schedule a consultation with a PRIME advisor for more information.
Step 3: Register your Business with the State
You must register your business with the state of Florida. Registration forms are accessible on the Division of Corporations website through the Florida Department of State.
The four steps of registering your business include:
- Signing the appropriate business license(s), if necessary
- Registering the business through the Department of Revenue.
- Registering the business through the IRS.
- Registering with the DOS if necessary
If you have questions, you can schedule a consultation with a PRIME advisor for more information.
Step 4: Apply for your Employer Identification Number
An EIN can be thought of as a social security number for businesses. Companies use this number for opening bank accounts, filing taxes, and more.
There are multiple ways to register for an EIN through the state of Florida.
- Call the IRS and register via phone
- Apply through a SS-4 Form and fax to 859-669-5760
- Mail the SS-4 Form to the IRS
- Apply through the IRS website
Step 5: Open a Company Checking Account and Credit Card
When founding a business in Florida, here are the steps you should follow to take control of your finances:
- Create a business bank account: This type of account separates business and personal assets, which makes accounting and tax filing easier.
- Apply for a business credit card: A business credit card creates separate logs for personal and company expenses and allows you to build credit. This credit log is important for applying for grants and loans down the line.
- Set up a business accounting system: A business accounting system eases tax filing and performance tracking. You can manage the accounting software yourself or hire a business accountant to navigate your needs. If you’re looking for an expert, PRIME has an experienced staff of CPAs who specialize in helping businesses in Florida and around the country keep more of their earnings through smart tax planning and strategies.
PRIME counsels entrepreneurs to create a business credit card and avoid using personal wealth if possible. We even have a specialized program designed to help you access business credit quickly and efficiently.
Step 6: Get all the Necessary Business Licenses and Permits
Before your business can open, you must ensure that you have filled out the proper licenses and permits to continue. The state of Florida offers an incredibly comprehensive handbook titled “Guide to Starting a Business in Florida” that will help you make sure you have signed the proper forms. Make sure to look out for secondary permits!
Our PRIME advisors also recommend reviewing the Florida SBA site for in-depth coverage of licensing.
Step 7: Learn about Annual and Ongoing Requirements for your Business Structure
Once your startup has been approved, it is time to focus on next steps. Here are three factors to consider during the opening months of your business.
- Learn About Local Resources: Florida businesses have access to local resources such as SCORE. Companies such as this one provide counseling services such as workshops and one-on-one’s with businesses.
- Hiring: Every successful business needs reliable employees. Learning the steps of hiring is important for creating a successful relationship between the employee and employer in addition to creating positive customer service experiences.
- Make Yourself Accessible: The most important way to get customer’s attention is through cohesive and catchy marketing. One of the most important aspects of selling a business is to create a website and social media pages. Your website should answer the 5 W’s and have accessible language. Your site and social media platform should have identical handles if possible. If possible, research SEO for your type of business to better learn how to sell your product or service.
Although starting a business in Florida may seem scary, we have resources such as our blog to assist the process. Additionally, you can sign up for a free consultation, where we can help you build the business of your dreams.
Starting a Business in Florida: FAQs
Is a business license required to start a business in Florida?
Typically, Florida businesses acquire an EIN license. Additional licenses may be required such as a certificate of occupancy or tax permits.
How much does it cost to file for an LLC in Florida?
To file for the Article or Organization with the Florida Division of Corporations, the filing fee costs $125. The filing process has only a few steps.
Where do I register my Florida LLC?
Florida requires business registration via the Division of Corporations Forms can be found online and require credit card payment.