How to start a business in Florida

10 Simple Steps

Step 1: Plan Your Business Idea

Write a Business PlanThe first and most important step is professionally planning your business venture. Financials, objectives, strategies, your target market and pitch, etc. Along with being required to secure funding, a professional business plan also supports growth, helps manage cash flow and distinguish fly-by-nights from the ones who are serious.

Take Action: Check out our 100% free Business Planning Guide designed to get you from A-to-Z as pleasantly as possible. Plus, we provide access to tons of other great tools along the way.

Step 2: Choose Business Structure & Register

How to Choose a Business StructureThe second big step is figuring out what kind of business “entity” you’re building in Florida. Each one has it’s own set of pros and cons so take some time to weigh them carefully. This step is inevitable and protects your personal assets (house and car for example), so get it out of the way.

Most entrepreneurs form an LLC because it has all the benefits of a Corporation without the disadvantages like double taxation, board of directors or corporate officers. However if you’re trying to take your company public or raise substantial outside capital, you should probably form a Corporation.

Take Action: Since this step is so important and expensive if it’s not done correctly, we highly recommend investing 10 minutes to go over your options through our business structure comparison guide. You’ll get a better idea of the advantages and disadvantages of each while building a solid legal foundation for your business.

Step 3: Tackle Florida Tax Obligations

Small Business TaxesNow, once you’ve chosen your business structure and registered, it’s time to be completely aware of your tax obligations. No, you can’t put this off so don’t even think about it. Besides, the Sunshine State is very business friendly with plenty of incentives and tax credits.

Take Action: A great place to start is the Florida Dept. of Revenue website that has links to everything you need to know. Be sure to bookmark it. Here’s a link to the specific Florida Business Taxes page as well.

Step 4: Understand License Obligations

Business LicensesAfter tackling tax requirements, it’s time to fill out and file all forms required by the State of Florida to legally operate and be completely compliant by law.

  1. For the DIY’ers the state page linked in step 3 also has a nice big section on Licenses/Permits to go through as well. Or…
  2. If you need help with this step, using a Business License Service is what we recommend. They determine everything required on Federal, State, County and Municipal levels, get the forms, and provide step-by-step filing instructions.

Step 5: Open A Business Bank Account

Best Business Bank AccountMixing personal and business accounts is a cardinal mistake many novice entrepreneurs make until it bites them in the behind, typically around tax time or with funding issues. Do yourself a favor, separate the two and give your brand it’s own business account which itself will come with perks and discounts depending on the institution you choose to bank with.

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Step 6: Pick A Stellar Florida Area

How to Choose a Business LocationSo, what’s it going to be? Near the sandy beaches of Naples? No, wait, Orlando? Perhaps Doral so you’re still close to Miami? Regardless, like everywhere else in the world, with Florida location plays a huge role in your success as a Florida startup.

Take Action: We know choosing a location can be tough if it doesn’t somehow happen naturally through your personal/professional network. If you’d like to brush up on everything that goes into making this decision, refer to our guide on How to Choose the Perfect Location.

Step 7: Finance Or Bootstrap Your Startup

How to Finance a BusinessCrowdSourcing, Social Lending, venture capitalists or lenders, the good news is that money flows through Florida like a raging river thanks in part to the weather and all the many travel destinations inside her borders. Question is, how do you plan on taking your chunk of that pie?

Take Action: The email course we mentioned in Step 1 really comes in handy here because planning and finances go together like bikinis and the beach. You can also browse our guide on How to Finance a Business to start generating ideas.

Step 8: Build A Business Website

Build a Business WebsiteThe truth is, having a professional business website isn’t optional anymore if you want your brand to be taken seriously. No one’s saying you need a complex digital storefront, but there needs to be something online in place where potential customers can investigate who you are and what you’re about.

Take Action: The first step is finding the right platform, which thankfully there are a handful of great options. Head on over to our reviews of Wix and Weebly to get a head start. They’re both very reliable, affordable and easy to use. Plus they offer free trials so you can test the waters!

Step 9: Market Your Business

Social Media ChannelWe weren’t sure if we wanted to add this step or not because it’s such a big can of worms. But marketing, like having a website to help, isn’t optional and there’s no end to the budget-consuming complexity you can reach. It really comes down to people skills and tools. Honestly.

Take Action:  Before you start tossing resources at this methodology, or that social media platform, study your ideal customers/clients. Talk to them. Reach out to them. Don’t think you can just throw money at the internet and leads will appear. Increase your odds of success by making as many REAL human connections as you possibly can.

Step 10: Continue Learning & Stay Inspired

Sign Up For Entrepreneur InterviewsNot a single day will pass in business that doesn’t provide both lessons and opportunities. Often, they occur simultaneously. From where we’re sitting though the #1 place to turn for incredible insight and edge-grabbing-info are other change makers. They’re endless reservoirs that can help you push past the hard times.

Take Action: Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to tap into our daily feed filled with tips, tricks, lessons, and inspiring stories directly from entrepreneurs like you.

Florida Startup Toolkit

Out of all the resources available to help you start a business in Florida, here are the two we believe in most. With an incorporation service and business plan software, you'll take the first steps toward bringing your idea to life and having a solid plan behind it.

Incorporation services register your business with the state and handle all paperwork. For as low as $49, they'll bring your business to life by registering your LLC or Corporation in record time.

See The Top 7 Options
And

One of the most important aspects of starting a business can also be the most tedious: the business plan. A business plan software will walk you through the entire process in half the time.

See The Top 7 Options