Complete Guide to Starting a Business in Florida — Introduction
Entrepreneurs and experienced business owners are looking to establish their next ventures in our beautiful Sunshine State, and there has never been a better time to do so. According to The Florida Legislature Office of Economic and Demographic Research, “In the latest revised annual data, Florida finished the 2014 calendar year with 5.0% [economic] growth over the prior year — above the national growth rate of 4.4% and ranking 9th among all states.” This upward trend is expected to continue, as Florida’s technology, financial, and tourism industries attract entrepreneurs from all parts of the state to start their own business.
But, launching a new company takes significant time, money, and know-how to succeed. That doesn’t mean a novice can’t start their own business and prosper — everyone starts out small and your first business is a great opportunity to learn and develop your entrepreneurial skill. Starting your own business requires a few simple steps and applications, which you can easily complete and open your business in no time.
Most businesses stem from the entrepreneur’s hobbies, talents, passions, or experience in their professional fields. But, not everyone who has talent succeeds. Before you invest in your business idea, you should Test your idea, and develop a business model to support it. Even the best products won’t make it to the market without a solid business and marketing plan to guide you and your team. Pitch your idea to friends and colleagues, and ask for feedback to make your business model viable before starting the business.
After you’ve tested your product or concept, you can start creating your brand. A brand consists of the logos, slogans, marketing materials, and the mission statement you set for your company. A brand is the personality you want to create for your business. It speaks to your customers, and persuades them to choose you over the competition. You can start small, with your company name, a simple logo and a website or social media page to feature your team and products. If you start to gain traction from promoting your brand, you should start to set up your business as a legal structure.
The first major decision you’ll have to make on behalf of your company is the ownership structure. Do you want to be the sole owner of the business, or are you working with partners? Will you be able to grow quickly enough to need the legal protections of a corporation? There are several ownership structures you can register in Florida, but the most common for small businesses are sole proprietorships, partnerships, and limited liability corporations (LLCs). Sole proprietorships do not require additional paperwork (aside from proper business licenses). But a partnership requires a partnership agreement, while an LLC requires you to file Articles of Incorporation with the state.
Once you establish the ownership structure of your company, you should register your business name as a DBA, set up a business bank account, obtain proper licenses, and register with the IRS for tax purposes. With all of your accounts set up, you will then be ready to streamline transactions and even start looking for funding opportunities.