Florida is home to three million small businesses, with more people making the jump to small business owners every day. And you could be next! Learn how to open a business in Florida, including how to:
- Register a business
- Establishing your finances
- Considering business insurance
- Finding customers
Let’s get started!
1. Come up with your business idea
Before you can open a small business, you need a great idea! You may already have a vague concept of what you want to do. Now is the time to start ironing out the details. Brainstorm the exact products you’ll make, what you’ll sell, or the services you plan to provide.
2. Write a business plan
With an idea at the ready, it’s time to see if it might have legs. A business plan is a guiding document that helps you make important decisions. Business plans typically include details and research about your proposed business, such as:
- Background on your business
- Your business structure
- Ideal customer(s)
- Competitor research
- Financial forecasts
- Marketing strategies
A well-written business plan can help you reach your goals and stay on track.
3. Pick a business name
To register a business in Florida, you will need a name for it first. A good business name is memorable and often makes it clear what the business does. It’s essential to pick the right name, as changing it down the road could be a headache. When you have a list of potential business names, consider checking them against the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the Florida Division of Corporations.
You may need to register your business name, depending on what it is. If you are doing business under a “fictitious name” (i.e., a name other than your own), you will need to register this name with the state’s Division of Corporations.
4. Choose a business structure
There are several business structures that you can choose from in Florida. These include:
- Sole proprietorship
- Limited Liability Company (LLC)
There are pros and cons to each type of structure. Some may require you to complete additional steps to ensure you can legally do business in the state. An accountant may be able to advise you on which business structure will work best for your small business.
5. Obtain a business license and permits
A general business license is not required for Florida businesses, but you may need a license to provide certain services or to work in specific occupations or industries. There are several licensing agencies in the state. The two largest are The Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) and The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS).
The DBPR provides licenses for many professional service providers, including barbers, restaurants and food vendors, home inspectors, and veterinarians. Check the DBPR website for information on who needs a license to work in Florida and how to apply.
The DACS provides licenses for various professions, including beekeepers, pawn shops, and telemarketers. The DACS website provides more information on who may need a license and how to apply.
There are separate agencies that provide licensing for other industries, including health professionals, financial services, and daycares.
6. Set up your business finances
Many small business owners keep their personal accounts separate from their business ones. This typically makes it easier to track payments and spending, set budgets, and file your business taxes. Business accounts may allow you to access special perks, like higher credit limits or longer billing cycles. Depending on the business structure you choose, separate accounts may even be required.
All businesses in Florida must register for an Employer Identification Number (EIN). This is done through the IRS website. An EIN identifies your business on your state and federal taxes, as well as other important paperwork (much like your Social Security Number does for you).
7. Consider business insurance options
Protecting the business they’re creating is important for many Florida business owners. Insurance is a common way to do this. Many policies are available to help you safeguard your finances, business premises, and even your professional reputation.
The insurance you choose will depend on the type of business you’re running. You may take out multiple policies to help protect you against different risks. These may include General Liability, a Business Owner’s Policy, Workers’ Compensation, or Professional Liability insurance in Florida.
8. Market your business
It’s time to find some customers! Marketing your business spreads the word about your products or services. It helps potential customers or clients find you, and it could convince them that you’re the right person for the job.
There are many ways to market a small business. You’ll likely use a combination of channels to reach different demographics in your local area. Common marketing strategies include:
- Maintaining a website and social media profiles for your business
- Encouraging online reviews and testimonials
- Asking for word-of-mouth referrals
- Advertising online or in real life (flyers, billboards, print ads, TV, radio, etc.)
- Setting up booths at local farmer’s markets, festivals, or industry expos
- Sponsoring a local sports team or event
Some of the above strategies are more expensive than others. Your budget and options may be limited at the start. However, the way you market your business will likely change over the years as your advertising budget grows.
Florida Business Checklist
Ready to open a business in Florida? Here’s a quick checklist to help you get started:
- Finalize your business idea
- Write a business plan
- Choose your business name
- Register a business structure with the state
- Obtain necessary licenses and permits
- Open a business bank account and get your EIN
- Consider business insurance
- Market and advertise your business to potential customers
Protect your small business today!
Looking for Professional Liability insurance in Florida? BizInsure helps small business owners in the Sunshine State instantly protect their livelihoods with Professional Liability, General Liability, and more.
In as little as 10 minutes, you can compare policies, cover your business, and get on with your day. You’ll even receive your policy documents right in your inbox.
The number of quotes provided varies between products, occupations and other underwriting factors determined by the insurers.
This information is a general guide only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Always check with your local licensing board when getting or renewing your trade or professional license to ensure you are meeting their current licensing requirements.
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