fort lauderdale, florida
From its low tax burden to its popular seasons, Florida a great place to start and grow a company. — Getty Images/Sean Pavone

Thinking about starting a business in the Sunshine State? You’re on a promising path: With a growing economy (the fourth largest in the nation), a tax advantage over small businesses in some other states, access to several startup hubs and more, Florida is an excellent place to grow your company.

Here are some benefits of doing business in Florida, and tips for getting started.

[Read: Location, Location, Location: How to Decide Where to Start Your Business]

Benefits of starting a business in Florida

There are several benefits to starting a business in Florida, including:

  • Low tax burden. Overall, local business owners know that the Sunshine State has an overall low tax burden — there’s no personal income tax to pay. In addition, corporations that exist in Florida have the benefit of only being required to pay 5.5% on their corporate income tax return.
  • Access to capital. Florida offers many investment capitalists and angel investors for entrepreneurs looking to launch their business. This easy access to capital makes the startup process much simpler for budding business owners in the state.
  • Popular seasons. Tourists visiting Florida during colder seasons works in favor of Florida business owners. An influx in tourists means an increase in revenue and opportunity for growth. However, this can also mean “off seasons” where you don’t earn as much profit, which is why it’s important to distribute your revenue throughout the year so you’re not left scrambling.

What are the steps to starting a business in Florida?

Basic steps to starting a business in Florida are as follows:

  1. Decide on a business structure such as a DBA (Doing Business As, also known as a trade name), corporation or LLC.
  2. Choose a business name.
  3. Register your business with the state.
  4. Apply for your Employer Identification Number (EIN).
  5. Open a company checking account and credit card to pay all expenses with.
  6. Get all the necessary business licenses and permits.
  7. Learn about annual and ongoing requirements for your business structure, such as how long it will be valid for and what kind of paperwork you’ll need to file with the state.

[Read: Startup Checklist: 20 Things to Do Before You Start Your Business]

Common questions about starting a business in Florida

Following are some frequently asked questions about opening a business in the Sunshine State:

What business licenses are required?

Every business is not required to obtain multiple business licenses in Florida. The most common license is the EIN. Others may include sales and use tax permit, professional licenses or a certificate of occupancy.

Florida offers many investment capitalists and angel investors for entrepreneurs looking to launch their business.

How do I register as an LLC?

Registering your business as an LLC in Florida can be done through the Division of Corporations. The process entails filling out and submitting forms online or by mail. Payment is required with registration and can be made by check, Mastercard, Visa, Discover or American Express.

What is the business registration process?

The business registration process consists of:

  • Finding out if you need a business license, and, if so, which ones.
  • Registering your business with the Department of Revenue.
  • Registering your business with the IRS.
  • Registering with the Department of State if your business is a corporate entity or has a fictitious name.

How do I get a DBA?

If you will be operating as any name that is not the one you filed your business with, Florida law requires you to file a DBA. Before filing a DBA, search the Fictitious Name Database to ensure it’s available. Once you decide on a name that’s available, you can process the necessary paperwork to have your name registered.

What do I need to know about new hire reporting?

Any employees that are brand new to your company or come on board as rehires need to be reported to the state directory. The state gives businesses 20 days from employee’s start date to be reported. Independent contractors are not considered employees and do not need to be reported.

What else can I do to make my small business a success?

Lean on your local resources. Florida SCORE is a great starting place that has local chapters throughout the state. SCORE volunteers consist of business experts who provide business counseling services to companies in need in the form of workshops and one-on-one sessions.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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