Our step-by-step guide will help you learn how to open a business in Florida.
Ready to start your company today? Check the availability of your new company name to get started.
It’s no wonder entrepreneurs flock to Florida. Streamlined regulations make starting a business easy, and some business owners don’t need a license to get up and running. Florida’s 21+ million residents also enjoy no personal income tax. Plus, the state’s GDP of almost a trillion dollars makes Florida’s economy the nation’s fourth-largest.
Florida has a large workforce and innovative business climate. This encourages high levels of private equity investment, workforce training, and women-owned companies. With more than 2 million small businesses, you will find yourself in good company. It’s easy to connect with networks of fellow entrepreneurs.
If you want to form a business in Florida, you have to file your entity type with the state. Your business structure will have an impact on how you can run your business and what taxes you pay. You can choose from the following types of business structures:
You can file your entity online at the Florida Department of State website. Each filing comes with a fee which you can pay either online or by check. If you want an easier way to get your paperwork filed and fees paid, we can help. We offer business formation services that take care of the paperwork so you can focus on launching your business.
You can use our Florida Business Name Search tool to see if your desired business name is available. You need to have a unique business name before you submit your filing paperwork with the state. If you submit a business filing without a unique name, the state may reject your application.
Once you’ve decided on a name and submitted your filing, the state will send you a certificate of status. The certificate of status is also called a certificate of good standing. This certificate serves as legal proof that you can conduct business in the State of Florida.
Before you do anything else, you’ll have to choose your business name. Part of your business name will be your entity type. You’ll have to add the entity type at the end of your name (i.e. “Limited Liability Company”, “LLC”,” L.L.C.”). To make sure you can use your chosen business name, you’ll have to do an entity search. Our entity search tool lets you know if your preferred business name is free to use. Name reservations are not available in Florida.
The type of business structure you choose will have an impact on how you run your business and what taxes you pay. We can help you learn the differences between the different types. You can find a full list of all business structure types below.
If you represent an existing company that wants to do business in Florida, you need to file as a foreign entity. Foreign entities must include a Certificate of Good Standing when they file. If you file online, you will have to mail the Certificate within 90 days. Domestic entities, or those based in Florida, can skip this step.
When you file your business formation paperwork, you’ll have to pay a filing fee. If you file online, you will need to pay the fee using a credit card on the Florida Department of State website. If you decide to mail your filing paperwork, include a check made out to the Florida Department of State. The check should cover both the filing fee and registered agent appointment fee. Include the check when you mail your formation forms in. You’ll send it to one of the addresses below:
Department of State: Division of Corporations, Corporate Filings
P.O. Box 6327
Tallahassee, FL 32314
Department of State:
Division of Corporations, Clifton Building
2661 Executive Center Circle
Tallahassee, FL 32301
These fees include Florida registered agent designation fees
Florida does not allow you to reserve your business name currently. In other states, business owners who want to secure a business name file for a reservation before registering their business. Since this is not available in Florida, names go on a first-come, first-serve basis. A business secures its name upon filing for formation. We recommend doing a Business Entity Search to make sure your preferred name is available.
You can also use different names for your business. For example, you could have a primary company name, then get a DBA to use for marketing. DBA is short for “doing business as.” If your company uses any name other than its legal name, you have to file a DBA. Your DBA is your official record that you’re allowed to do business under that name. You can file a Florida DBA with the Florida Division of Corporations.
A Certificate of Status serves as proof of your compliance with Florida state law. It is a document that helps business owners qualify for loans or renew business licenses. It
You may also need a certificate if you have a business entity outside of Florida and want to open one in the state. It is likely that the Secretary of State will request a certificate when you register your business.
You can find a downloadable certificate at the Florida Department of State website. You can also request a certificate upon initial filing with the State. The cost is around $8.75
An operating agreement establishes the relationship between business owners and/or board members. It also spells out the relationship between members and the business itself. The agreement gives details on how the members will govern and manage the business. It also lays out the rights and responsibilities of each managing member.
You can learn more about Operating Agreements for Florida LLCs at the link below.
After you file with the state, you need to apply for an EIN with the IRS. The EIN makes your business legally identifiable for tax purposes. Companies without an EIN can’t make any financial transactions using the business name. It’s also illegal to hire employees without a business EIN in Florida.
Filing for an EIN is critical. We provide fast EIN filing services so you can focus on getting paid and growing your business.
How you register your new business depends on your industry, entity, and locality. For example, while you’ll file your LLC with the state, some sole props may not need any state registration. Also, Florida cities and counties may have their own registration requirements. Be sure to check with your city or county government offices.
Check the State of Florida Business & Regulation website to see what licenses you may need. You can also check with your registered agent whose job it is to help you stay compliant.
Your taxpayer identification number helps you with everything from payroll taxes to opening bank accounts. For a sole prop, this could be your social security number. Other types of businesses need to apply to the IRS for an employer identification number (EIN). Sole props can apply for one, too.
Along with permits and licenses, you need to finalize your business insurance, register your company’s domain name, and reserve any social media handles. You also need to open a bank account for your business.
It’s important to keep your personal and business expenses separate. A business bank account allows you to track your business finances. This is important when tax time comes around because it simplifies the process. A business account also allows you to take credit card payments. You can’t do that with a personal checking or savings account. Last of all, having a bank account for your business makes it easier to grow your business or sell it when you’re ready.
Our ZenBusiness Money platform makes it simple for you to track your income and expenses, as well as manage clients. We also make tax time simpler by tracking your financial records for you.
A website is your most basic form of marketing. It’s also the most important. Your website gives potential customers more information about your products or services. It also gives them a way to buy, ask questions, or set up appointments. We at ZenBusiness now offer website building services. We make it fast and simple to get your business launched online.
You can also print marketing materials like business cards, brochures, and postcards. These are physical ways to get your brand and message in front of people.
Word of mouth never goes out of style. As you work with customers, ask them to pass your name on to someone else. Encourage them to leave a positive review on your Google Business page. And consider setting up a rewards program as a way to show gratitude to customers who spread the word.
Be sure to reserve your business in online directories like Google My Business. Using social media? Develop a content and engagement plan that keeps you engaged with customers. You don’t have to go it alone.
From tried-and-true companies to innovative industries, new businesses can succeed in Florida. Here are some ideas to consider as you plan your path to owning your own business:
While Florida is home to millions of companies, there’s plenty of room for yours, too. With the right business plan, an understanding of your industry, and a willingness to do the work, you could be on your way to your first day of business in Florida.