How to Open a Business
By: Claudia Repsold
Every single day we get emails asking how to start a business in the Sunshine state. The warm weather, friendly people, sense of security and the thriving market filled with business opportunity attracts people from all over the world.
The last time I interviewed the Miami’s Mayor, Carlos Gimenez, he told me that the city and the state welcomes all entrepreneurs. “Florida has a very good tax structure. We have neither state income tax nor city income tax. In terms of taxes, it’s a very friendly environment, and our government in Miami/Dade County is also very friendly in our permitting process, although we watch out for things we have to do. We try to make the permit process as quick as possible, because we know time is money. If you start your business fast, the faster you can start to make money; the faster you can hire people; the faster you can participate in improving the Miami/Dade economy, and vice-versa. Hopefully, locating your company in Miami will improve the viability of the company and give it a better bottom line.”
Do you think that you’re ready to start your business in Florida? Here’s a step-by-step overview of what you need to do to make it happen.
1º Step – Build a Business Plan
A business plan is not a requisite of the state when starting a Florida business, but helps you figure out where your company is going, how it will overcome any potential difficulties, and what you need to sustain it. It is also an instrumental tool that will be beneficial when you look for business funding.
Quick Links on How to Write a Business Plan
2º Step – Assess Your Finances
Starting any business has a price, so you need to determine how you’re going to cover those costs. Do you have the means to fund your startup, or will you need to borrow money?
There are a number of financial options accessible for your small business. These options for financing a business in Florida are offered by various government and private entities.
Quick Links to Finance Your Business in Florida
- How to Finance a Businessis a guide that directs you to the five common and uncommon ways to finance your business in Florida, ranging from state financial grants to innovative financing ways, crowdfunding.
3º Step – Pick A Business Structure and Incorporate in Florida
Before you can register your company, you need to decide what kind of entity it is. Your business structure legally affects everything from how you file your taxes to your personal liability if something goes wrong.
Once you incorporate legally with the wrong structure, this might pose some business issues that could affect your whole lifecycle. This guide on how to choose a business structure will guide you this crucial decision-making process.
If you want to separate your personal liability from your company’s liability, you may want to consider forming a corporation. This makes a business separate entities apart from its owners and therefore, corporations can own property, assume liability, pay taxes, enter into contracts, sue and be sued like any other individual. If you decide to make your business a corporation, you’ll need to choose C or S. The main difference between these is the income taxing, with an S corporation owner only being taxed on a personal level.
One of the most common structures for small businesses, however, is the limited liability corporation (LLC). This hybrid structure has the legal protections of a corporation while allowing for the tax benefits of a partnership. Any lawful business can form an LLC, with the exception of businesses in banking, insurance or a few other specific professional service operations.
Ultimately, it is up to you to determine which type of entity is best for your current needs and future business goals. More details about the different business structures are outlined on the SBA website.
4º Step – Register your Fictions Name
Naming your business is an important branding exercise, but if you choose to name your business as anything other than your own personal name then you’ll need to register it with the appropriate authorities.
This process is known as registering your “Doing Business As” (DBA) name.
To file a Fiction Name in Florida, check the link to Florida Department of State Division of Corporation
5º Step – Register with the government and IRS
To become an officially recognized business entity, you must register with the government. If you are registering as a corporation, you’ll need an articles of incorporation document, which includes your name, business purpose, corporate structure, stock details and other information about your company. Otherwise, you will just need to register your business name/ Fiction Name
After you register your business, the next step is obtaining an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service. While this is not required for sole proprietorships with no employees, you may want to apply for one anyway to keep your personal and business taxes separate, or simply to save yourself the trouble later on if you decide to hire someone else.
The IRS has provided a checklist to determine whether you will require an EIN to run your business. If you do need an EIN, you can register online for free.
Regardless of whether or not you need an EIN, you will need to file certain forms to fulfill your federal and state income tax obligations. The forms you need are determined by your business structure.
A complete list of the forms each type of entity will need can be found on the SBA website.
6º Step – Keep Track of Your Florida Taxes
In this part of starting a business, it is crucial that each requirement of your Florida small business taxes and licenses are compliant. This is because these requirements are your ticket to operate legally in the state of Florida and ensure that you won’t face legal charges from the state.
To comply with each requirement of your Florida business tax, our Florida Business Tax Guide is a great starter.
7º Step – Get Your Florida Business Licenses
Aside from complying with Florida business taxes, filing your business licenses is another important thing to consider when starting a business. These Florida business licenses are a requirement for your business to operate legally within the state.
Recommended Resource: If you would like for professionals to find all business licenses and regulations on your behalf, here is a great package. Otherwise, look into this resource roundup offered by the SBA.
8º Step – Insure your business.
Some industries have specific insurance requirements. Discuss your needs with your insurance agent to get the right type and amount of insurance. Such as:
- Unemployment insurance
- Workers’ compensation
- General Liability
- OSHA requirements
9º Step – Open a Business Bank Account
When starting a new business in Florida, it is very critical to open a bank account for your business. This way, you can separate your personal assets from your business assets and keep a close eye on your business financial health.
Recommended Resource: Look into this roundup of the best business banking accounts to decide which is right for you.
10º Step – Pick the Perfect Location for Your Business
What is the perfect business location when starting a small business in Florida? More than the aesthetics, picking a location that seamlessly fits with the requirements of your business should be utmost on your mind.
Choosing a Florida business location should be a well thought-of decision as it can affect your business’ success and growth. The guide on How to Find the Perfect Business Location is an ideal starting point to choose that perfect location.
Claudia Repsold is the Editor-in-Chief of Brazil & USA Biz. She is a Brazilian international award- winning journalist with twenty years of experience in editing, research, coordination, production and reporting news on Brazil and U.S.