Start a Business in Florida

Florida State Capitol, Tallahassee

Starting your own business may seem like a daunting task, but Florida makes it easy for entrepreneurs to find resources that will set them up for success. The state’s growing economy, tax advantages, access to startup hubs, and small business conferences help new and seasoned business owners alike. For those who are just getting started, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of resources and helpful tips for anyone looking to start a business in Florida. 

Business Structure

Deciding what type of structure you want will be an essential part of starting your own business. The most common business structures are LLCs, DBAs, and Corporations. 

Florida is the fifth most favorable state for starting an LLC. An LLC is a business that combines the liability protection of a corporation with the simplicity, flexibility, and tax advantages of a partnership. LLCs can be simple to set up and run and they require less complicated paperwork than corporations. When forming your LLC you’re also able to register your business name and increase your credibility. 

DBA stands for “doing business as” and they are fictitious names created for sole proprietorships or partnerships. They are filed to say you, as a business owner, are doing business under that name. With a DBA you will still need to file additional paperwork to register your company with the state and county. 

There are 4 types of Corporations available in Florida including; S Corporations, C Corporations, Nonprofit Corporations, and Professional Corporations. Each type of corporation has its own distinguishing features, but they can be summarized as follows: S corporations have special tax advantages because the taxes are handled on the owners’ personal tax returns. C corporations pay their own taxes and do not limit the number of owners possible. Nonprofit corporations are tax-exempt because they are not oriented towards making profits, they are charitable organizations. Professional Corporations are owned by licensed professionals like doctors who have set up businesses to provide their licensed services.

Regardless of what structure you choose, your next step will be choosing a name for your business!

Naming Your Business

Naming your new business can be exciting, however, there are rules when it comes to selecting your business name. Unfortunately, you cannot have the same name as any other business in Florida. Your name must also be distinguishable from similar businesses. You can see if your potential business name is available by searching for it here. However, even if the name is not taken on the website, it still may not be available to you. Your business name cannot be trademarked in Florida or nationwide, so you’ll have to do both a state and federal search. This process ensures you’re not infringing on any preexisting registered trademarks. When naming your business you’ll want to be certain you’ve selected the best name. Keep in mind, changing your business name can be costly down the road.

Applying for an Employer Identification Number

You will need an employer identification number or EIN from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to identify your business. Corporations are required to have an EIN. Sole proprietors or LLCs with no employees often will not need an EIN. If you operate a sole proprietorship or an LLC with no employees you most likely will be able to use your own Social Security Number as a tax ID. You can apply and see the guidelines for EINs on the IRS website here

Note, this is a free service offered by the IRS. You should beware of companies or websites that charge for this service.

Florida Business Registration

After you’ve chosen your business structure, your company name, and applied for your EIN, you’re ready to submit your business registration. You’ll need to register your business through the Florida Depart of State’s Division of Corporations, but you’ll need to pick the correct forms to submit based on your chosen business structure. You’ll also need to file through the Florida Department of Revenue

Obtaining Permits and Licenses

Finally, you’ll need to obtain any permits or licenses needed from the federal, state, county, or city governments. There is an informational portal that you can access here that will help you start your business in Florida. Depending on the type of business you are starting you can find information about your business license needs and how to obtain them through this website.

Start a Business in Florida

There are a lot of factors to consider when starting a business in Florida, however, that shouldn’t deter you. There are plenty of resources that are created to help you and your business thrive. When you start a small business in Florida you should take advantage of resource guides, business grants, and government start-up kits. If you need assistance at any point in the process there are plenty of companies and agencies that can assist you. Some include government-funded networks like Florida SBDC. Whether you’re ready to start your own business today or you’re planning for your future, we hope you choose to start a business in Florida!

Florida’s state capital has a robust network of business owners and entrepreneurs, making it a popular city to start a company. A few businesses headquartered in Tallahassee include RealZips, NewSci, Divvy Up, and Danfoss. If you’re thinking about moving or starting a business in Tallahassee, check out our comprehensive Resource Guide