With the recent rise in the economy, now’s the best time to start a business. Florida is especially booming all year long as it continues to live up to its name as the tourist capital of the country. Whether you’re starting a brick-and-mortar business or an online business, Florida is a relatively straightforward state to file the proper tax forms, licenses, and permits.
Depending on your situation, you might need to look into additional business requirements like state sales tax, registering a fictitious name, and registration decisions. Like all big business decisions, it’s important you speak to a lawyer and a tax professional about the best option. Keep reading for a guide to forming a business in Florida.
Step 1: Form a Business Plan
Starting a business is easier than ever, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take the right planning. Online companies have the lowest startup and overhead costs, so these are a good choice if you’re not ready to commit to a larger scale operation. Forming a brick-and-mortar business will require office or retail space as well as a detailed business plan.
You’ll need these ducks to all be in a row before you proceed with the registration and paperwork in the next steps. An important part of creating a business plan is naming your company. Depending on the type of business you decide to form, you’ll need to follow certain naming guidelines. This generally means you need to have the business type in the name, and you can’t share the title of any other state-registered organization.
Step 2: Decide on Your Business Formation
There are a few different formation options you can choose in the state of Florida. If you’re the only member of your company and you don’t expect to be making much money just starting out, you don’t need to do anything to operate as a Sole Proprietor. If you’re working with a partner, you’ll need to form a partnership. Both Sole Proprietorship and Partnerships are easy to establish in the state of Florida.
For more liability protection in case things go south, consider forming a Limited Liability Company or LLC. This means you won’t be personally held responsible for any assets in your business or any legal action. Similarly, you can form a corporation (either an S Corp or a C Corp) if you intend to have shareholders. In both cases you will need to file either online or via mail your Articles of Organization or your Articles of Incorporation.
Step 3: Decide If You Need a DBA
A DBA stands for “doing business as” and it’s a fictitious name. If you’re doing business as a Sole Proprietor and your business name is different from your personal name, you’ll need to file a DBA. Similarly, if you have a formal business structure which has a name different from any legal business entity, you’ll need to file a DBA with the state of Florida.
Before you can file your DBA, you’ll need to make sure the name isn’t already in use. For Florida, all of these state business records are stored in the Sunbiz, which you can access here online. Note that a DBA does not grant you complete ownership or rights to the name. It also does not stop someone else from using the same fictitious name. For that, you’ll need to register a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Step 4: Secure Funding
Every business has startup costs, and every business needs to find a way to secure funding. Luckily, finding the capital to launch your business is easier today thanks to the digital age. For in-person companies that have a foothold in the local community, credit unions can be a great resource. Not only do these locally-run organizations lend money to small businesses at a lower rate than traditional banks, but they’re a great resource for entrepreneurs.
If your business is selling a new product or service, crowdfunding might be an option. The most well-known online crowdfunding platforms include Kickstarter, Crowdrise, and RocketHub. Not only is this a great way to market the launch of your business, but it helps you grow your community online.
Step 5: Tax & Financial Information
You’ll need to create a tax plan to avoid running into problems later on that could result in a costly audit. You’ll need both a federal and state tax ID. You can register for these online, and then you’re able to open bank accounts and pay taxes for your business.
Depending on your business, you might also need to register for a Florida Sales Tax Permit. This is simply the registration process so you can collect sales tax for the state. You’ll also want to check your local county to see if there are any additional taxation requirements. Always consult a tax professional for specific information about your businesses tax needs.
Launch for Success
Now that you’ve taken care of the legal paperwork and financial information, it’s time to launch your business. A comprehensive plan and ongoing preparation will help you stand out in this competitive market. There’s no time like the present to start a business, but make sure you do it right the first time. The last thing you want is to run into problems later down the line.