How To Start & Grow Your Business

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How to Start a Business in Florida

If you’re looking to start a new business in the state of Florida, you’ve come to the right place!

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Florida has several attributes that make it attractive to the new business owner given the state’s tax advantages and tax exemptions. Let’s start with this one – no state personal income tax. That’s right! Businesses thrive in Florida’s low-tax environment, and employees enjoy the benefits of not paying tax on their income. The state has also implemented capital formation initiatives, such as the Florida Opportunity Fund. Year long warm weather, golfing, and beaches also can’t hurt, right?

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How to Start a Business

Starting a business can be both exhilarating and challenging. It requires your full attention and energy. It all begins with an idea, an observation that there is a problem and the belief that you have a new solution – or a better one. Allow us to walk you through the steps in this free guide: How to Start A Business.

General resources for starting a business in Florida

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Fun facts about starting a business in Florida

Famous business founded in Florida: Burger King

Burger King is a global chain of hamburger fast food restaurants headquartered in Miami-Dade County, Florida. Burger King began in 1953 as Insta-Burger King, in Jacksonville, Florida.

Famous entrepreneur born in Florida: Wallace Amos

Wallace Amos, Jr., born in 1936, is a TV personality, entrepreneur and author born in Tallahassee, Florida. He is the founder of the “Famous Amos” chocolate chip cookie brand. He also was the host of the adult reading program, Learn To Read.

“I lost a business. So what? It’s just stuff. Can’t take it with you.” – Wallace Amos

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Which type of legal structure is best for my business in Florida?

At bizHUMM we strongly recommend you incorporate, but you must consider the tax, legal, and liability implications carefully before deciding on the best structure for your business.

Here are 5 helpful steps to help you determine the best legal structure:

Click one of the buttons below to learn more about the different types of business legal structures and how to start them in the state of Florida.
LLC (Limited Liability Company)
A limited liability company, commonly called an "LLC," is a legal business structure that combines the pass-through taxation of a partnership or sole proprietorship with the limited liability of a corporation.

Steps to starting an LLC in Florida:

  • Step 1 — Choose a name for your LLC.
  • Step 2 — File Articles of Organization.
  • Step 3 — Appoint a Registered Agent.
  • Step 4 — Prepare an Operating Agreement.
  • Step 5 — Comply with necessary publication requirements.
  • Step 6 — Comply with other tax and regulatory requirements.
  • Step 7 — File Annual Reports.
  • Step 8 — Register foreign LLCs doing business in Florida.

For help forming your LLC in Florida we recommend CorpNet (they have fees for their service). Alternatively visit the Florida Department of State website.

Other Florida resources for LLCs:

Florida Department of State Business Name Database: Search for the availability of your LLC name here.

Florida Department of State Division of Corporations: File your Articles of Organization here.
File your Annual Reports here.

IRS EIN Online: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your LLC. If your LLC has more than one member, even if it has no employees, you will need an EIN.

MyFlorida.com: Visit this site to determine if your LLC needs to obtain other local and state business licenses.

Florida Department of Revenue: If you will be selling goods or if you have employees, you’ll need to register here.

Sole Proprietorship
A sole proprietorship is the simplest and most common structure chosen to start a business. It is an unincorporated business owned and run by one individual, with no distinction between the business and the owner. The owner is entitled to all profits, and is responsible for all the business’s debts, losses, and liabilities.

Steps to starting Sole Proprietorship in Florida:

  • Step 1 — Name your sole proprietorship.
  • Step 2 — File a trade name with the Department of State.
  • Step 3 — Obtain licenses, permits, and zoning clearance.
  • Step 4 — Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

For help forming your sole proprietorship in Florida we recommend CorpNet (there are fees for their service). Alternatively, you can visit the Florida Department of State website.

Other Florida resources for Sole Proprietorship:

Florida Department of State Business Name Database: Search for the availability of your business name here. A sole proprietor can also use his or her given name.
File your fictitious trade name here.

U.S. Patent & Trademark Office: Federal site for your business name search. Click on the “TESS” link.

IRS EIN Online: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your sole proprietorship here, if you will hire employees.

MyFlorida.com: Visit this site to determine if your sole proprietorship needs to obtain other local and state business licenses.

Florida Department of Revenue: If you will be selling goods or if you have employees, you’ll need to register here.

Partnership
A partnership is a business operation between two or more individuals who share both management and profits. The two most common types of partnerships are general and limited partnerships. Each partner contributes to all aspects of the business, and shares in the profits and losses of the business.

Steps to starting Partnership in Florida:

  • Step 1 — Choose a business name.
  • Step 2 — File a trade name.
  • Step 3 — Create a partnership agreement.
  • Step 4 — Obtain licenses, permits, and zoning clearance.
  • Step 5 — Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

For help forming your partnership in Florida we recommend CorpNet (they have fees for their service).Or, visit the Florida Department of State website.

Other Florida resources for Partnership:

Florida Department of State Business Name Database: Search for the availability of your business name here. A partnership may use the surnames of the individual partners or may use a fictitious business name.
File your fictitious trade name here.

U.S. Patent & Trademark Office: Federal site for your business name search. Click on the “TESS” link.

IRS EIN Online: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your partnership. You must have an EIN whether your have employees or not.

MyFlorida.com: Visit this site to determine if your partnership needs to obtain other local and state business licenses.

Florida Department of Revenue: If you will be selling goods or if you have employees, you’ll need to register here.

S Corporation
An S corporation (or S Corp for short) is a special type of corporation created through an IRS tax election. An eligible domestic corporation can avoid double taxation (once to the corporation and again to the shareholders) by electing to be treated as an S corporation. What makes the S corp different from a traditional corporation (C corp) is that profits and losses can pass through the shareholder’s personal tax return. Consequently, the business is not taxed itself.

Steps to starting S Corporation in Florida:

  • Step 1 — Choose a corporate name.
  • Step 2 — Prepare and file Certificate of Incorporation.
  • Step 3 — Appoint a Registered Agent.
  • Step 4 — Set up a corporate records book.
  • Step 5 — Prepare corporate bylaws.
  • Step 6 — Appoint initial corporate directors.
  • Step 7 — Hold your first Board of Directors meeting.
  • Step 8 — Issue stock.
  • Step 9 — Comply with Florida Annual Report Requirements.
  • Step 10 — Comply with other tax and regulatory requirements.
  • Step 11 — Register foreign corporations doing business in Florida.

For help forming your S corporation in Florida we recommend CorpNet (there are fees for their service).
Or, you can visit the Florida Department of State website.

Other Florida resources for S Corporation:

Florida Department of State Business Name Database: Search for the availability of your corporate name here.

Florida Department of State Division of Corporations: File your “Certificate of Incorporation” here.
File your Annual Report here.

IRS EIN Online: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your corporation here.

IRS S corporations: Specific instructions for your tax requirements as an S corp.

MyFlorida.com: Visit this site to determine if your corporation needs to obtain other local and state business licenses.

Florida Department of Revenue: Register here for taxes.

C Corporation
A C corporation (or C corp), refers to any corporation that is taxed separately from its owners. A C corporation is distinguished from an S corporation, which generally is not taxed separately. From a legal standpoint, C corporations are separate entities that can sue and be sued. From a tax standpoint, they are separate taxpayers, paying tax at special corporate tax rates that differ from those applicable to individuals.

Steps to starting C Corporation in Florida:

  • Step 1 — Give your corporation a name.
  • Step 2 — Prepare and file Certificate of Incorporation.
  • Step 3 — Find a Registered Agent.
  • Step 4 — Set up a corporate records book.
  • Step 5 — Prepare corporate bylaws.
  • Step 6 — Appoint initial corporate directors.
  • Step 7 — Hold your first Board of Directors meeting.
  • Step 8 — Issue stock.
  • Step 9 — Comply with Florida Annual Report Requirements.
  • Step 10 — Comply with other tax and regulatory requirements.
  • Step 11 — Register foreign corporations doing business in Florida.

For help forming your C corporation in Florida we recommend CorpNet (they have fees for their service). Alternatively, you can visit the Florida Department of State website.

Other Florida resources for C Corporation:

Florida Department of State Business Name Database: Search for the availability of your corporate name here.

Florida Department of State Division of Corporations: File your “Certificate of Incorporation” here.
File your Annual Report here.

IRS EIN Online: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your corporation here.

MyFlorida.com: Visit this site to determine if your corporation needs to obtain other local and state business licenses.

Florida Department of Revenue: Register here for taxes.

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Why choose Florida for my business?

  • 1

    Enterprise Florida: Small Business
    “Enterprise Florida, Inc.’s (EFI) Minority & Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Capital (MaSBEC) division partners with outside organizations to provide small, minority and entrepreneurial companies with training, development and financing options.”

  • 2

    Enterprise Florida: State Tax Incentives
    “Florida offers bottom-line advantages for long term profitability for all types of businesses, from corporate headquarters to manufacturing plants to service firms.”

  • 3

    Florida Opportunity Fund
    “...created to realize significant long-term capital appreciation by investing in high-quality venture capital funds, businesses and infrastructure projects that will provide a lasting benefit to Florida.”

  • 4

    Florida Venture Forum
    “The Florida Venture Forum is a statewide member based organization that helps entrepreneurs obtain funding through education, strategic partnering, and effective networking. The Forum hosts the annual Florida Venture Capital Conference that has been instrumental in helping Florida based entrepreneurs achieve over $3 Billion in funding to date.”

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