FL Business Facts
Also known as “The Sunshine State,” Florida hosts one the largest US economies. Top industries include tourism and agriculture, contributing $1 trillion to the state’s GDP as of 2018.
Florida is the third most populous state in the US, surpassing New York with over 21.9 million people.
Major Companies Headquartered in Florida
Some of the largest companies in Florida include Publix, Darden Restaurants, Bloomin’ Brands, Royal Caribbean Cruises, and Tyco Integrated Security.
Florida is highly coveted by many startups. in 2020, Inc. Magazine reported that entrepreneurs are swarming the Sunshine State, because of its business-friendly environment.
There are 3 top options: a DBA, a Corporation, or an LLC. Click here for help choosing your business structure and to learn about business entity types.
“Doing Business As” or “Fictitious Business Name” or “Trade Name” – often used as an operating name to simplify the legal name or differentiate from other businesses with similar names. DBAs are also used to manage multiple businesses under one LLC or Corporation.
Example: Florida Auctions LLC could register a DBA like Orlando Auction House for its Orlando-based warehouse and Miami Auction House for another warehouse without having to form two separate LLCs or Corporations.
“Corporation” or “Corp” – a separate entity that provides its owners liability protection. This business structure includes shareholders, directors, and officers. Corporations are more complex than DBAs, but it’s the best business structure for for-profit companies. Some professions require you to form a “Professional Corporation” or PC (doctors, lawyers, architects, etc.).
“Limited Liability Company” – a separate entity that provides liability protection to its owners, and is also taxed less and easier to manage than a Corporation. The LLC has taken first place in popularity over both DBA and Corporation business structures because of these attractive features.
Choosing a business name is easier said than done. Many legal and business problems can arise from choosing the wrong name. You can always change your business name later, but it’s easier in the long haul to get it right the first time. Before you search names in the Florida databases, we highly recommend taking the following steps:
Start with the Basics
Think of a name that is unique, easy to understand and pronounce, and would be relevant over time (“DVD World” is not timeless). Say your business name out loud: “Thanks for calling XYZ” and decide if you like what you hear. Here are some tips on business identity, including logos and trademarks.
Search the Web for Your Proposed Name
Search Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo as a “first sweep” for any potential conflicts, especially in your state or local jurisdiction.
NOTE: It is very important for a Nationwide or International company to have a unique business name, especially if the name is not trademarked. See below.
Run a Trademark Search
Visit the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO): A trademark search is the best way to determine if you’ll have conflicts with your business name. There’s an art to trademark searches and specialists charge a handsome price for a thorough search. But in our experience, you can usually clear a name yourself if you’re able to use Google at a fairly advanced level.
TIP: Search misspellings, plurals, variations of spelling, sound-alikes, and other versions of your chosen name to be sure it’s not already registered. Make sure your company name choice is available by searching the Florida Department of State Division of Corporations business name database.
Business registration requirements vary by state. Now that you have chosen a business structure and your business name, here are the requirements to register your business in Florida.
How to form an LLC in Florida
Notes about Incorporation and forming an LLC in Florida
The Division of Corporations could take anywhere from 2-3 business days for e-filing to 3 to 5 days for mail filings to process the paperwork. This may increase during peak periods.
How to File a DBA in Florida
DBAs in Florida can be registered through the sunbiz.org portal.
Ready to register a business in Florida?
Our formation package includes everything you need to get started.
Your EIN is like your Social Security Number for your company. It’s required for Corporations and LLCs and is optional for DBAs unless you have employees (then it’s required). If you are a DBA and don’t obtain an EIN you will be forced to use your Social Security Number on many documents so obtaining the EIN is recommended to prevent identity theft.
TIP: We will obtain your EIN for you if we form your company.
You’ll need to keep business and personal finances separate by opening a business bank and credit accounts. Learn more about how to build your business credit profile. Corporations and LLCs are required to operate these types of accounts, but they position your company for favorable loans and lines of credit. Call your preferred bank and ask how to open a business bank account. Typically you’ll need a) your filed paperwork, b) your EIN, and c) a company resolution authorizing your company to open the account (signed by the owners, members, officers or directors, etc.).
Click here to view a list of our recommended banks in our Vendor Network.
TIP: Our business formation service includes a free banking solution.
Set up your Accounting and Record-keeping system and learn about the taxes your new company is responsible for paying.
Company documents generally are required to be kept for 3 years, including a list of all owners and addresses, copies of all formation documents, financial statements, annual reports, amendments or changes to the company. All Tax and Corporate Filings should be kept for at least 3 years. View our “Accounting & Financial Management” section for help with setting up an accounting system and purchasing accounting software.
Now that you’ve registered your business name you need to obtain a business license for your company – this authorizes your company to do business in your city or county. Typically this also involves registering for state taxes and permits (the city may require them as part of the business licensing process).
The Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation website has information regarding business licensing in Florida. It also has a list of types of businesses that require special licensing.
If you intend to hire yourself or others as a full or part-time employee of your company, then you may have to register with the appropriate State Agencies or obtain Workers Compensation Insurance or Unemployment Insurance (or both). View our “Employees & Payroll” section for help with hiring employees and processing payroll.
Review our list of recommended Payroll Providers in our Vendor Network.
There are many types of insurance for businesses but they are usually packaged as “General Business Insurance” or a “Business Owner’s Policy”. This can cover everything from product liability to company vehicles. A decent policy can run as little as $300/year and offers a great extra level of protection.
Click here to view our list of insurance providers in our Vendor Network.
Prepare the business as if someone needed to take it over and run it for you. This means have a method to process orders, pay bills, pay employees, pay taxes, maintain your permits, etc. Basically, try to make the operational aspect of the business as automated and efficient as possible so you can concentrate on growing your business. View our “Manage Your Company” section for help with systemizing and automating your business.
Now that you’ve set up the company for success, you need to get the word out. Create a marketing plan for your products and services that targets your ideal customer. View our “Marketing & Sales” section for help for more information.
DBA: Your Fictitious Business Name should be valid for 5 years (unless you change the company name or other information listed on the FBN) at which point you’ll need to renew it with the county.
LLC: Florida LLCs are required to file an annual report, due May 1 every year, which has a filing fee of $139.
Corporation: Every year you’ll need to file the “Statement of Information” or Annual report which updates the state on your business address and other things. Florida corporations can e-file. There is a $400 late fee for all for-profit corporations who do not make the May 1 deadline.
Franchise Taxes: Florida requires a franchise tax due on the last day of the month in April, June, and September, as well as on the last day of the tax year. This is calculated as a percentage of the company’s net income for that year.
Click here to view our MyCompanyWorks Premium™ service which can automate most or your ongoing compliance tasks.
Florida State Taxation Departments
Florida Startup Resources
Florida Legal Statutes
Florida Chambers of Commerce
Florida Angel Investors
Florida Business News
Business Planning and Economic Development
Whether you’re just starting your business or just need small business management, MyCompanyWorks Premium™ includes annual reporting and compliance in your state, status monitoring, forms, storage, and top-notch support from our experienced and friendly team.
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