Florida may be known for its warm weather, endless beaches and Disney World, but it's also a great business state. If you're looking to establish business roots in the Sunshine State, you're on a potentially fruitful path. Florida is home to the eighth largest economy in the United States and has one of the lowest tax burdens for small businesses. 🇧🇷https://www.ibisworld.com/united-states/economic-profiles/florida/#EconomicOverview))
Whether you have a solid vision or are still exploring your options, opportunity awaits, and this step-by-step guide provides all the information you need to start a successful business in the sunny state of Florida.
Step 1: Choose a business idea
The first crucial question is: what kind of business would you like to have? You may have several ideas in your head, or you may not have gotten that far. In any case, it is advisable to take a look at your own state and your own skills to better determine which areas may offer the most opportunities.
To develop a business idea, you can:
- Look for gaps in the market or problems that need to be addressed. Maybe your neighborhood lacks good coffee or the state's agroindustry is in need of modernization.
- Follow your passion. What do you love? What are you good at?
- See what's hot in Florida and which industries are critical to its economy. Manufacturing is one of the main industries in the state. Florida is also one of the biggest markets for aviation, so manufacturing aerospace parts could have great potential.
Take a look at ourguides for different business ideasif you need more inspiration. Once you have a few ideas in mind, do your homework to decide if they are viable. Here are some things to consider when choosing a business idea:
- capital requirements- How much will you need? Do you have access to funds?
- Time requirements -How long will it take to start selling?
- industrial trends -Is the industry growing or shrinking?
- potential gain– How much money can you realistically earn?
- lifestyle factors -Running a business is hard work. Are you ready?
Step 2: Refine your idea
Once you've chosen a business idea, be more specific in your assessment of the opportunity. consider thewhy, what, how,ywho.
Because? Identify an opportunity
First, consider the viability of the business idea you have in mind. Here are three questions to consider:
- Is there an opportunity in the market?
- Will your idea add value to customers?
- Will people want to buy?
Starting a business requires investment, so it's not wise to just assume profitability. Make it a point to do your research and ask people you know and trust what they think of your idea.
Floridaeconomic development websiteallows visitors to browse business profiles, demographic status and other information.
What? Determine your products or services
The next thing to do is define your offerings. ask yourself:
- What products or services will I sell?
- How will I offer them: website, physical store/office or both?
You might consider offering related products or services to increase the size of purchases and increase overall value for customers. This step will define how your business will appear to customers and why they will buy, so take your time and make sure.
How much should you charge?
Before determining your price list, get to know your competitors. Visit the stores and websites of companies offering similar products or services – see what they are selling and at what prices and use that to inform your decisions.
If you have a direct competitor, it's a good idea to choose a competitive price. Run the numbers to find your breakeven price and use this walkthroughprofit margin calculatorto determine the profit margin and the final price.
You will also need to consider how to position your product. Are you going to offer a lower-priced alternative to Walmart, or are you going to position your business as more upscale, like Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware?
Once you've established a pricing system that works for you, you'll need to test it to see if it appeals to your target market.
Who? Identify your target market
Knowing your target market is crucial to sales and marketing success. This is where the customer profile comes in handy.
The first thing to do is figure out if you're selling to consumers or businesses. If you choose consumers, determine which people are most likely to buy by looking at:
- Demography– Age, gender, income, location
- Psychography– Attitudes, values, interests, tastes
Knowing your customers will allow you to shape your messages and know where to place your marketing. For example, based on who your customers are and what they like, are they more likely to be on Facebook or TikTok?
If you're selling to businesses, first determine what type of business will be interested in what you're offering. Then find out who the relevant decision maker is at these companies (it could be a VP, IT manager or head of sales) and adjust your marketing accordingly.
Step 3 – Choose a Business Name
Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that sums up your goals, services, and mission in a nutshell. You probably want a name that's short and easy to remember.
Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:
- Short, unique and catchy names tend to stand out
- Names that are easy to say and spell tend to work best.
- The name must be relevant to your product or service offerings.
- Ask those around you for suggestions (family, friends, colleagues, social media)
- Including keywords in the name, like "meats" for a butcher, boosts SEO
- Choose a name that allows for expansion: "Jim's Bakery" instead of "Jim's Cookies"
- Avoid location-based names that might impede future expansion
- Use online tools likeStep by step business name generator
Once you have a few potential names, check theflorida state websiteto see if your options are still available. You must also verify that the name you wish to register meets the naming guidelines set forth in the Florida State Statutes forLLCarenacorporations.
It's also a good idea to check nationallyregistered names, to avoid potential issues down the road if your business expands, check the availability of related domain names usingdomain name checkertool. Using ".com" or ".org" greatly increases credibility, so it's best to focus on those.
Unlike most other states, Florida doesn't allow reservations for business names, so once you've found a name that clears those hurdles, you can go ahead andregister your companyName.
Step 4 – Create a business plan
Writing a business plan may seem like a daunting task, but it is aessential stepin building a successful business. The plan will act as a roadmap to guide your startup through the launch process and stay focused on your main goals. A business plan also allows potential partners and investors to better understand your company and vision.
- Executive Summary: Brief summary of the entire business plan; must be written after the plan is completed.
- business overview: Company overview, vision, mission, ownership and corporate goals.
- Product and Services: Describe your offers in detail.
- Market analysis: Evaluate market trends, such as changes in demand and growth prospects, and make aSWOT analysis.
- competitive analysis: Analyze the main competitors, evaluating their strengths and weaknesses, and make a list of the advantages of their services.
- Sales and Marketing: Examine your company's unique selling propositions (USPs) and develop sales, marketing, and promotion strategies.
- management team: Overview of the management team, detailing their roles and career, along with a corporate hierarchy.
- operations plan: Your company's operating plan includes procurement, office location, key assets and equipment, and other logistical details.
- Financial plan: Three years of financial planning, including start-up costs, break-even analysis, profit and loss estimates, cash flow and balance sheet.
- Appendix: Include any additional financial or business documents.
If you've never created a business plan before, it can be a daunting task. ConsiderHire an experienced business plan writer on Fiverrto create a professional business plan for you.
Step 5: Register your company
Choosing your business location is an important decision because it can affect your taxes, legal requirements, and income. But you've already decided to launch your business in Florida, so we can check that box.
Choose your business structure
Businesses come in many varieties, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. The legal structure you choose for your business determines your taxes, personal liability and business registration requirements, so it's important to choose wisely.
The most popular types of business entities are described below.
The sole proprietorship is the simplest and most straightforward structure, and therefore the most common for small businesses. It is a company without legal personality, with no legal distinction between the company and the owner. As a sole proprietor, you receive all of the revenue, but you are also responsible for any debts, losses or liabilities incurred by the business.
A general partnership is similar to a sole proprietorship, but with two or more people forming the business. Again, they keep pre-tax earnings but are jointly and severally liable for any losses or liabilities. In a general partnership, each partner is known as a general partner and has unlimited liability.
Limited Liability Company (LLP)
This business structure is popular with lawyers, accountants, and architects. It is more formal than a general partnership and allows each partner to limit its responsibilities and share management responsibilities according to an agreement between the partners. This can be a good option when one or more partners want to invest in the business but have little or no management responsibility.
You can find the fees and guidelines for filing the Limited Partnership Certificate atSunbiz LLP FAQ page.
The next step is a corporation, where the business is a separate legal entity from its owners. In this structure, owners are not personally liable for losses, but earn their profits through dividends to shareholders.
If you choose to create a corporation in Florida, you will also need to decide whether you want to form a C corporation or an S corporation. Find the fees and guidelines for filing your articles of incorporation atSunbiz Profit Corporation FAQ page.
Limited Liability Company (LLC)
A limited liability company (LLC) combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships. As the name suggests, the owners are not personally responsible for any liabilities or debts. As an LLC, you will need to choose whether you want to be taxed as an LLC or an S Corp.
Regulations for LLCs vary from state to state. While easier to establish than a corporation, articles of organization must be filed with the state for the LLC to become a legal entity. You will also need to designate a registered agent, also known as a process service agent. Your registered agent will be responsible for receiving documentation from the state. A quick and easy way to get a registered agent is to useZenBusiness Online Registered Agent Service.
Find the fees and guidelines for filing Florida organization articles atSunbiz LLC FAQ page.
Finally, you might be interested in a non-profit organization if your business idea has a social purpose. A not-for-profit organization is a legal entity organized and operated for public or social benefit, as distinct from a corporation formed to generate profit for its owners.
You will also need to designate a registered agent, also known as a process service agent. Your Florida registered agent will be responsible for receiving all official documentation sent by the state.
You can find the fees and guidelines for filing articles of incorporation for a Florida nonprofit atNonprofit Sunbiz FAQ page.
Step 6: Register for taxes
The final step before you can pay taxes is to get aEmployee identification numberor NIE. You can apply for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visitincome tax websitelearn more. Please note that if you have chosen to be a sole proprietorship, you can simply use your social security number as your EIN.
Once you have your EIN you will need to choose your tax year. From a financial standpoint, your business operations will take place over the period of a calendar year (January to December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can begin any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine what taxes you pay.
The IRS website also offers ataxpayer checklistand taxes can be filed online.
It is important to consult with an accountant or other professional who will help you with your taxes to ensure that you are filing them correctly.
As one of the most tax-friendly states in the country, Florida has no state income tax. If you sell physical products or services, you may be subject to sales tax. Florida has a corporate income tax for any business registered as a corporation, which can be found atFlorida Department of Revenue.
For more information about state taxes, see thistax guide.
Step 7: Fund your business
After creating your business plan, you should know how much money you will need to start your business. Securing funding is your next step, and there are many ways to raise capital:
- Bank loans:This is the most common method, but approval requires a solid business plan and a strong credit history.
- Loans guaranteed by the SBA:The Small Business Administration can act as a guarantor, helping you get that elusive bank approval through aLoan guaranteed by the SBA🇧🇷 You can also get a loan throughFlorida's first capital.
- Government Scholarships:A handful of financial assistance programs help financial entrepreneurs. VisitSubvenciones.govto find out which one might work for you.
- Risk Capital:Offer potential investors an equity stake in exchange for funds, keeping in mind that you would be sacrificing some control over your business.
- Fund raising:Sites like Kickstarter and GoFundMe offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, where donors fund an entrepreneur's vision.
- Guys:Self-finance your business through your savings, the sale of property or other assets, and the support of family and friends.
Step 8: Request licenses/permissions
You may need certain business licenses and permits to comply with Florida law. They vary by location, but if you're selling tangible goods, you'll need aseller's license.
You can consult the licensing process atFlorida Division of Library and Information Servicesfor more details. Your city, town, or county may also have additional requirements, such as signage and zoning permits. Talk to representatives ofyour local governmentsabout license requirements.
here are someSBA informationabout federal licenses and permits.
This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failure to comply with legal requirements can result in heavy penalties.
If you feel overwhelmed with this step or don't know where to start, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.
For your peace of mind and to save time, we recommend that you useMyCorporation Commercial License Compliance Pack🇧🇷 They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to you to ensure you meet all requirements.
Step 9: Open a business bank account
Before launching your business, you'll need somewhere to put the money you earn, and that requiresopen a bank account.
Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easier to file taxes and keep track of your business income, so it's worth doing even if you run your business as a sole proprietor. Opening a business bank account is quite simple and similar to opening a personal account. Most major banks offer merchant account options, just ask your preferred bank about fees and features.
Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it's a good idea to consider your options to choose the best plan that works for you. Once you've chosen your bank, you'll need to bring your EIN (or Social Security Number if you're a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and any other legal documentation that shows your business is registered.
Step 10: Get insurance
Commercial insurance is an area that is often overlooked, but it can bevitalfor your success. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that could have a devastating impact on your business.
Here are some of the different types of insurance to consider:
- General Responsibility:The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a comprehensive for many business items that require coverage. If you only have one type of insurance, this is the only one. It even protects against personal injury and property damage.
- Commercial property:Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
- Equipment breakdown insurance:It covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has failed due to mechanical problems.
- Worker's Compensation:Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
- Property:It covers your physical space, whether it's a cart, a shop or an office.
- commercial car:Protection for your company vehicle.
- Professional responsibility:Protects against claims from a client claiming to have suffered a loss due to an error or omission in their work.
- Business Owner Policy (BOP):This is an insurance plan that works as a complete insurance policy, a combination of any of the above types of insurance.
Step 11: Prepare for launch
As opening day approaches, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving a few key elements of your business.
Develop your website
Website development is crucial because your website is your online presence and you need to convince potential customers of your expertise and professionalism. However, your site is unlikely to be found unless you follow search engine optimization (SEO) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of major search engines like Google.
You can create your own website using services likeWordPress,web flow, osquare space🇧🇷 This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time consuming. If you are not tech savvy, you can hire a web designer and/or developer to create a custom website for your business.
Essential software and tools
Being an entrepreneur often means wearing a lot of hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks.
Some of your business will come from the casual passer-by or online visitor, but you still need to invest in marketing! Advertising is especially important for new businesses, as it will help increase customer and brand awareness.
Once your website is up and running, make sure you link it to your social media accounts and vice versa. Social media is a particularly good way to promote your business because you can create compelling posts that advertise your products:
- Facebook:Great platform for paid advertising, lets you target specific demographics like men under 50 in the Cleveland area.
- Instagram:Same benefits as Facebook, but with different target audiences.
- Site web:Optimization for Search Engines (SEO)help your siteappear closer to the top in relevant search results, a crucial element of increasing sales.
- Popular web-based accounting programs for small businesses includequick books,legal books, youXero.
- If you're not familiar with basic bookkeeping, you might want to hire a professional, especially when you're just starting out. The consequences of submitting incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial.
Step 12: Assemble your team
As your business grows, you may need workers to fill various roles and positions. But before starting the hiring process, you should first consider the key roles for your line of work.
What levels of management and staff will you have? What is your salary scale? Costs are always an issue for a startup, but you need to pay enough to hire people with the right skills and experience.
It's a good idea to create a hiring plan. First, determine what hires you'll need to launch, and then what future hires you'll need as the business takes off. Be cautious and selective when hiring people for any role.
You want to build a great team that will keep your business running smoothly and create a great working environment that you will keep them for a long time.
Florida requires all new and rehired employees to report to the Florida New Hire Reporting Center within 20 days of the employee's start date. You can file this online through theFlorida Department of Revenue websiteor printingFlorida New Hire Report Formand send it by fax or mail.
Free methods of recruiting employees include posting a job ad on LinkedIn, Facebook or Jobs.com. You can also use a premium recruiting option such as advertising onFor right,Glass door, oZipRecruiter🇧🇷 Finally, you can hire a recruitment agency to help you find talent.
Step 13: Start making money
With everything in place, you're ready to open the doors on opening day! When you do this, you'll want to get a few customers in. Here's how to find them.
Focus on your USPs
Be sure to highlight the unique selling points, or USPs, of your products and services. Customers may already want your offerings, so your job is to convince them to choose you over your competitors.
Here are some good selling points you can capitalize on:
- high quality materials
- High value items, competitive prices
- Easy to use
- Convenient and time-saving
- Ideal for your target market
Understand your sales channels
Make sure you're selling through the right channels. Do you already know your target customers: where and how are they most likely to buy? Do you buy online or in stores?
If you don't have a store, you can find partner stores where your products can be sold. You can sell online and direct, but focus your efforts on the channel that matches your target market's buying behavior.
If you're selling to businesses, your sales channels could be online or include direct sales calls. Again, understand the buying behavior of the decision maker within the company.
Grow with Marketing
Help customers find you more easily by putting your marketing where they're likely to find you. The following options are a good start:
- Use eye-catching signs that clearly advertise your services
- Advertise near the main establishments where your target customers go
- Make sure your website is SEO friendly
- Add a list ingoogle my businessto drive engagement
- Place ads on the social networking sites your target customers use
- Create and publish a press release announcing your release!
You are now ready to begin your Florida business journey, although you may want to bookmark this page, just in case.
Frequently Asked Questions About Starting a Business in Florida
What companies are in demand in Florida?
LosFlorida's Major Industriesthat have great potential for entrepreneurs are aviation, life sciences and manufacturing. You may choose to leverage one or more parts of these industries when conceptualizing your business ideas. For example, as Florida is becoming a major innovation hub in the country, becoming a medical supply manufacturer may hold promise.
How much does it cost to open a business in Florida?
The total investment required will largely depend on the nature of the business you want to start. However, in terms of administrative fees, you can expect to pay $100 to the Florida Secretary of State's office and $25 to a registered agent to process your business registration.
In addition, there are additional fees for business licenses and business insurance.
What taxes does the LLC pay in Florida?
Since Florida is one of the lowest tax states in the country, it does not charge state income tax to individuals, LLCs or S corporations. However, if your business is registered as a corporation, it will be subject to tax. on the rent of 5.5%. Additionally, if your business sells tangible goods and provides services, it will be subject to 6% sales tax.