Florida is one of the best states to start a business. Whether you are looking to escape your mundane 9-to-5 job, start something new, or expand on a hobby, starting a business in Florida is a great idea. However, if you’ve never started a business in Florida, you may wonder where to begin. While you may think starting a business is difficult, it can be broken down into 12 simple steps.
All you need to start the process of forming a business is an idea. The idea forms the foundation upon which your business is built. So how do you even develop a business idea or know it will work?
Here are some questions to ask yourself when coming up with an idea to use:
- What hobbies or interests do I have?
- Can these hobbies be turned into a profitable business?
- Can I see myself enjoying the work or running the business every day?
- What needs are there in the market?
- What problem does my business solve for consumers?
- Are there any businesses like mine already?
- How can I make my business unique from theirs?
Answering these questions should get your brain flowing with ideas you can build on to start your business.
The name of your business is incredibly important. This is the first thing that potential customers will see and hear. Their first impressions of your business will be based on your name, and you want to make a good impression. Therefore, your business name should be easy to spell and pronounce. Names irrelevant to your business or the industry should be avoided.
Florida has some regulations about naming businesses that you should also consider. One of the regulations you need to adhere to is that your business name cannot already be registered with the Secretary of State. You can look through the database on the Florida Division of Corporations website to see if your name is available.
If you are having trouble picking out a name for your business, try these tips below:
- Brainstorm with friends and family.
- Create a word dump. This is where you quickly write down any word that springs into your head when you think of your business.
- Use an online name generator. These are free and provide randomized names. This can be a great starting point for landing a good business name.
Writing a business plan is an essential part of starting your own business. The business plan will contain all your research, planning, and financial goals for your business. Having a business plan is an excellent method of presentation when seeking investors for your business, which we’ll dig into a little deeper in step 4.
A good business plan should answer the following questions:
- Why have you started the business?
- What products or services are you offering?
- Who is your target audience?
- How do you plan on converting your target audience into paying customers?
- Who are your competitors, and how do you plan on standing out?
- How much do you need to break even?
- How much are your startup costs?
Unless you already have the money to fund your business upfront through personal savings and your current income, you will need to get funds another way. You can do this in three ways: grants, loans, and investors.
Getting a grant for the business is the best way to get funding as you do not have to pay the money back, unlike a loan. The state of Florida has a lot of grant programs available for many different types of businesses. You can browse through what’s available on Florida’s Congress Darren Soto’s government affiliate website. Because you don’t pay the money back, grant programs have strict requirements that must be met to be eligible for the grant.
If you don’t meet the grant criteria or cannot get one, your next best option is to apply for a loan. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) and the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) have a loan program that may be worth looking into. This program is called the Rebuild Florida Business Loan Fund. Alternatively, you can even take your business plan to your local bank to see if they would be happy to lend you some startup money. A final loan option is to ask your friends and family for help. If you borrow money from friends and family, make sure to get it all in writing as you want to avoid any potential conflicts in the future.
The third and final option to get funding is to attract investors to your business. Investors are a great way to acquire funds and support for your business. Just be aware that some may require a particular share of your business. Your friends and family members can also be investors if they are interested in putting money into your business for a return.
Choosing the proper business structure for your business needs is extremely important for the success of your business. There are four main business structures to choose from: sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company, and corporation.
Sole proprietorships are favored by businesses that are considered low-risk. This structure is used by businesses that have only one owner, and there is no separation of the owner’s personal and business assets. This is the simplest business structure to set up.
A partnership is similar to a sole proprietorship; they are both informal business structures with no separation of business and personal assets. The only difference between the two is that in a partnership, there can be more than one owner with equal shares in the business.
The limited liability company, LLC, is the most popular choice for small businesses. With the flexibility and simplicity of a sole proprietorship and the liability protection of a corporation, this hybrid formal business structure is a great choice and is surprisingly easy to start in Florida.
As the most formal business structure available, many large companies with multiple shareholders choose to use this structure. Unlike informal business structures, a corporation is an entirely separate entity from its owners. Corporations also differ from other business structures because multiple shareholders own parts of the business.
Registering your business is the next step in starting your business. By registering your business, you are officially given the green light to start your business.
As this business structure is not formal, there is no need to file any documents with the state. However, if you wish to operate your business under a different name other than your full name, you must file a trade name with the Florida Division of Corporations. There is a $50 fee for this.
There is no need to register your partnership with the state unless you want to register a trade name.
To register your LLC with the state of Florida, you will need to fill out and submit the Articles of Organization to the Florida Divisions of Corporation. The article is just a document containing all the information about your LLC. You must also pay the $125 fee.
Registering a C or S corporation is similar to registering an LLC. In addition, you will need to complete and submit the Profit Articles of Incorporation on the Division of Corporations website. The fee to submit this is $50.
Setting up your business’s finances and accounting before you begin trading is strongly advised. Setting up your finances could include opening a business bank account, applying for a company credit card, and establishing a payment method for customers to use. In addition, if you have employees, consider installing good payroll software to manage their salaries and taxes efficiently.
Hiring an accountant to assist you with your business’s books and finances is a good idea, especially if you’re new to the business world. Plus, a professional accountant can help you avoid any potential costly tax mistakes and can take a load off your shoulders come tax season.
Business insurance is a must-have in the case of injury or damage to your business. While there are plenty of different insurance policies to choose from, you should at least get general liability insurance. This broad policy will cover your day-to-day running of the business.
Other types of business insurance you should consider getting are:
- Workers compensation insurance
- Commercial property insurance
- Commercial auto insurance
- Business owners insurance
- Limited liability insurance
There are plenty of options to meet every business owner’s needs. Consult a business attorney or broker if you feel overwhelmed by the choices.
You do not need to get a general business license in Florida. However, depending on your line of work, you may need specific permits or licenses to start your business legally. The requirements may also differ depending on your local county. You can use this website to check what license your business may need.
You must register with the Florida Department of Revenue to get a sales tax license if you sell taxable goods and services.
Check with your local county clerk office for any additional licenses and permits you might need.
Having a website for your business is an important step you cannot miss. Any legitimate business in this day and age should have a decent website for customers and clients. Thankfully, building a website yourself has become simplified. Nowadays, there are so many different web-building tools and websites that anyone can make their own website.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind when building a website:
- Check if your desired domain name is still available.
- Your business name should be bold and visible to viewers.
- Keep all fonts neat and easy to read.
- Avoid overloading the page with images, speech bubbles, and GIFs. This can result in slower loading times and sometimes be difficult to load on a mobile screen.
- Make sure your website is compatible with mobiles.
- Link the website to other social media accounts.
- Contact details should not be difficult to find.
- Include a call to action button.
Juggling too many roles and responsibilities at once can harm your business and overall productivity. So if you need help, hire more employees. Aside from choosing candidates that match your requirements, you must also adhere to state regulations. All new hires must be reported to the Florida Department of Revenue 20 days from their hire date.
The final step in successfully starting a business is to market it. Marketing has grown into such a massive movement that there are so many ways to do it for every budget and business. When you begin marketing the business, consistency is the primary key. This is how you will build brand recognition.
Here are some different ways to market your business:
- Make use of your website.
- Create content and advertise on social media like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.
- Make use of pay-per-click advertising.
- Create a Google Business Profile.
- Run competitions and giveaways on social media to build a following.
- Create flyers.
- Advertise in your local newspaper and radio station.
- Attend expos and local markets.
If you have the budget for it, you can even hire a professional marketing consultant to help you with all of this.