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How to Start a Business in Florida

With the lowest income taxes in the nation and rated #1 by Forbes for economic growth prospects, Florida is a smart place to launch your business. Start your business today with our simple step-by-step guide and get on the fast track to financial and personal independence. If you get stuck along the way, connect with a business resources in your local area for help.

Steps to Starting Your Florida Business

Step 1: Choose the Right Business Idea

The first step toward business ownership is deciding what kind of business to start. Look for an idea that suits your interests, your personal goals, and your natural abilities. This will help you stay motivated when the going gets tough and will greatly improve your odds of success. Need inspiration? Here were the most popular ideas among our Florida visitors in 2017:

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Find the Right Business Idea for You

Our free Business Ideas Tool will help you identify great businesses that match your interests and lifestyle.

Business Ideas
Tool

Step 2: Plan Your Business

Successful businesses are built through careful planning. Before committing a significant amount of money and other resources toward your business, critically analyze your idea and create a game plan. At a minimum, you should have good answers to the following questions.

Product Development
What problem does your business solve? What will set your product or service apart from the competition?

Sales & Marketing
Who are your potential customers? How will you get their attention and convert them into buyers?

People and Partnerships
What roles will you need to hire and what professional relationships will you need to form in order to succeed?

Financial Planning
How many clients or sales will you need in order to break even? How much money will it take to get there, and where will you get the funding?

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Start Planning

Our Business Planning Guide helps you analyze your business idea and gets you access to free planning tools.

Need Help? Find organizations in your local area that can assist you with planning.

Step 3: Form your Business

Registering your company as an Florida business entity, such as an LLC or a Corporation, has two major advantages:

  • Increased credibility
  • Protection from personal liability in the event your business is sued

For most small businesses, registering an LLC is a great option. In comparison to other business entities, LLCs are easier to set up and manage and they have favorable tax treatment. You can set up an LLC in Florida for as little as $125.

If you choose not to register your company as a business entity, you will be held personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of your business. In addition, unregistered business owners may need to file a Trade Name, also known as a "DBA." Find out if your business is required to file a DBA.

Step 4: Register for Taxes


With limited exceptions, most businesses require a Federal EIN, also known as a Tax ID Number. An EIN is used to identify a business in its federal tax filings. Without an EIN, you can't hire employees or open a business bank account.

Obtain an EIN

You should also be aware of important florida taxes that may apply to you business:

  • If you are selling a physical product, you’ll typically need to register for Florida Sales Tax.
  • If you hire employees, you will need to register for Florida Re-employment Tax, which is a type of unemployment tax
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Register for Florida State Taxes

Sales Tax | Employer Tax

Step 5: Create Business Banking and Credit Accounts

Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.

When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.

You can protect your business with these two steps:

1. Opening a business bank account:

  • Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
  • Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
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Recommended: Get $200 when you open a business checking account with Chase. Learn more.

2. Getting a business credit card:

  • Helps you separate personal and business expenses.
  • Builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise capital later on.

Step 6: Set Up Accounting

An accounting system helps you track the performance of your business and simplifies annual tax filings. Quality accounting software lets you download your bank and credit card transactions, making accounting fast and easy. Learn more about the importance of accounting and how to get started with accounting today.

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Recommended: FinancePal is a one stop shop to meet all your accounting and tax filing needs.

Step 7: Obtain Permits and Licenses

To operate your new business legally, you will need to comply with federal, state, and local government regulations. In many cases, this involves obtaining one or more business permits and/or licenses. For example, a restaurant will likely need health permits, building permits, signage permits, etc.

Step 8: Get Insured

Business insurance helps you manage risks and focus on growing your business. The most common types of business insurance you should consider are:

We recommend that all small businesses, including home based businesses, purchase a general liability policy. Businesses selling professional advice or services, such as consulting and accounting firms, should also consider a professional liability policy. In Florida, businesses with one or more employees, including officers and LLC members, are required by law to have workers compensation insurance.

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Our recommended insurance provider can set you up with an insurance policy that is right for your business

Get a Quote

Step 9: Define Your Brand

The strongest and most memorable businesses are built on a solid brand.

When developing your brand, think about what your business stands for. What are the core values that drive your business? Customers and clients are looking for companies that have a compelling brand, as much as they are shopping for high quality products and services.

Learn more about branding and how to build a brand for your business.

Step 10: Establish a Web Presence

A professional website is critical to the long-term success of your business, regardless of what industry you are in. A website allows potential customers to find your business online and discover the products or services you offer, and it also enhances your business’ credibility.

In addition to a website, you should also consider other avenues for promoting your business online:

  • Setting up social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter, etc)
  • Creating accounts on review sites (Yelp, Google Reviews, etc)
  • Registering for a local Google profile
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More than ever, people are looking for reviews before doing business. Yelp is an important aspect of social validation for your business, claim your page today and get $300 in Yelp advertising credit.

Sign up for our Business Center

Sign up for a free Business Center account for access to tools, legal documents, and discounts that will help you start and grow your business

Signup Now

Get Help From Local Resources

To help you start your business, we have identified the best resources across the state of Florida that can support you in your entrepreneurial endeavors.

Select your Region

Jacksonville Local Resources

Beaver Street Enterprise Center

Here are the Principle Service Areas:

  • Coworking

Accepts Walks In

Description

The Beaver Street Enterprise Center is a co-working space that also hosts workshops and seminars to help budding entrepreneurs. The center permanently hosts offices of the SBDC and other resource organizations. Amenities include access to conference rooms, event hall, break rooms, and a staffed reception area.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

1225 W. Beaver St.
Jacksonville, FL 32204
1-904-265-4700
theresajohnson@bsecenter.net

HOURS OF OPERATION:

MON-FRI: 9am - 5pm

SAT-SUN: Closed


E3 Business Group

Here are the Principle Service Areas:

  • Mentoring
  • Business Planning
  • Networking

Description

E3 (Educate, Encourage, Empower) Business Group offers a four week entrepreneurship class, which teaches students how to start a business by meeting them where they are. E3 Business Group also hosts a weekly 30-minute phone call, which acts as a mentoring program for entrepreneurs.

Restrictions

Services from this organization cost a fee.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

6050 Moncrief Rd.
Jacksonville, FL 32209
888-525-2299 x 120
sales@eaglesoaringmgmt.com

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Jacksonville Resources

Miami Local Resources

Venture Hive - Miami

Here are the Principle Service Areas:

  • Fundraising
  • Coworking

Description

Venture Hive is a top-tier accelerator program designed specifically for people looking to start a business part-time, transitioning to a full-time job after a successful launch. Venture Hive is a paid 12-week program that offers free consulting with legal and other technical professionals, weekly one-on-one mentoring, and a mini MBA course teaching vital business skills.

Restrictions

You must be willing to dedicate 15-20 hours a week and pay a fee if participating in a program.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

5966 South Dixie Hwy., Suite 300
South Miami, FL 33143
305-735-1274
info@venturehive.com

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Miami Resources

Orlando Local Resources

The National Entrepreneur Center

Here are the Principle Service Areas:

  • Mentoring
  • Business Planning
  • Coworking
  • Networking

Description

The National Entrepreneur Center is a facility that houses and manages the services of 13 different entrepreneurial assistance organizations. This collaboration allows the NEC to produce seminars and do 1-on-1 business counselling alongside numerous networking events. Partnered programs include several chambers of commerce, minority-oriented outreach organizations, and SCORE counseling.

Restrictions

Workshops range in cost from $35-$50.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

Orlando Fashion Square, 3201 E. Colonial Drive
Orlando, FL 32803
407-420-4848

HOURS OF OPERATION:

MON-FRI: 9:00am - 6:00pm

SAT-SUN: Closed

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Orlando Resources

Tallahassee Local Resources

Business Innovation Center

Here are the Principle Service Areas:

  • Mentoring
  • Business Planning
  • Financial

Description

The Business Innovation Center acts as a point of contact for local entrepreneurs seeking to launch a new business. Interested entrepreneurs can schedule a discovery session with an analyst to talk about your business opportunity and local resources that can help. Clients of the BIC benefit from networking with local organizations and guided help through the startup process.

Restrictions

There is a fee to be a part of BIC’s entrepreneur program.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

5230 West U.S. Highway 98
Panama City, FL 32401
850-913-2904
info@bicpc.org

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Tallahassee Resources

Tampa Local Resources

Entrepreneur Collaborative Center

Here are the Principle Service Areas:

  • Business Planning
  • Financial
  • Sales & Marketing
  • Networking

Description

Hillsborough’s Entrepreneur Collaborative Center serves as a flexible venue for free and low-cost entrepreneurial services, including workshops, lectures, consulting, and other events hosted by partnered organizations. The center usually offers several events on topics ranging from social networking to online accounting. Most events require registration and are free to the public.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

2101 E. Palm Ave.
Tampa, FL 33605
813-204-9267

HOURS OF OPERATION:

MON-THURS: 8am - 5pm

FRI: 8am - 3pm

SAT-SUN: Closed


Prospera

Here are the Principle Service Areas:

  • Mentoring
  • Financial
  • Sales & Marketing

Description

Prospera is a nonprofit organization specialized in providing bilingual assistance to Hispanic entrepreneurs trying to start or expand their business. This organization empowers Hispanic entrepreneurs through mentoring services, financial planning, sales and marketing plans, and other resources to prepare entrepreneurs to start a business. Prospera does not charge for many of their services, and other services are low cost.

Restrictions

Only Hispanic applicants will be considered for Prospera’s grant program.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

600 N. Westshore Blvd., Suite 1050
Tampa, FL 33609
813-634-6246

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Tampa Resources

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