Starting a business in Florida can be a great decision for many reasons. It has the 3rd largest population of any state in the U.S., and the 4th largest state economy. The Sunshine State also has a growing population, making it a place for considerable potential business growth and consumer demand.
With small businesses representing 99.8% of all businesses in the state, Florida has earned its well-deserved reputation as one of the best places to start a small business in the U.S. With this in mind, we’ve put together the seven steps necessary to start a business in Florida.
Once you’ve got your business idea, create a website to jumpstart your venture.
Start a business in Florida in 7 steps
01. Come up with a business idea
Coming up with a viable and eventually profitable business idea is the first step in the process of setting up a business.
With its large number of retirees, Florida is ripe for specific products and services that meet the needs of an aging population. Needless to say that Florida is also popular among tourists, who travel from far and wide to experience Disney (among other attractions)—making it a top destination for travel and tourism-related businesses.
With the unique nature of Florida’s business climate in mind, here are a few business ideas to consider:
Tourism-related: In 2022, Florida welcomed more than 137.6 million tourists to its beaches, cities and tourist attractions. From holiday rentals, to city tours or chartered boat rental, there are many tourism-related businesses that you could entertain (see our guide on the best hotel website designs).
Food and beverage: From seafood to southern comfort food, Florida is no stranger to a diverse range of cuisines. This can make it a great place to start a restaurant, food truck or catering business.
Health and wellness: With a large and always growing retiree population, Florida may be an ideal location to start a fitness business like a center, spa or health clinic. Florida may additionally be a good place to offer in-home care or elderly services, such as food delivery. You could also start a consulting business, offering support to seniors and their families navigating senior care or other similar services.
Home services: Florida, like many large states, has a flourishing tech industry which attracts a younger, professional population. Home services (such as cleaning, landscaping and general home maintenance) could therefore be in high demand.
02. Choose your business type
There are several types of businesses that can be established in Florida. These include:
Limited Liability Companies (LLCs)
Ultimately, the best type of business to start is one that draws from your personal interests, expertise and available resources - whether you begin with a microbusiness or something bigger. With this in mind, we’ve put together some general types of businesses you could start as an entrepreneur in Florida:
Online businesses: For many people the first online business idea that comes to mind is an eCommerce website, but an online business could also mean a digital marketing agency or online tutoring services.
Dropshipping: Dropshipping is a popular eCommerce business model in which you don’t have to carry any physical inventory. Instead, any customer orders are forwarded to a third party supplier, who handles all aspects of fulfillment.
Service businesses: In general service businesses are easy to start, and can be started with a team of one. Examples include house cleaning, pet sitting, babysitting and other home-based businesses.
Consulting businesses: Consulting is a great way to start a business if you’re already well-versed in a particular field or skillset. For example, you could start a marketing consultancy or offer financial advice.
03. Name your Florida business
Naming your business is one of the most important parts of the business setup process. Your name will shape your brand identity and play a pivotal role in building a connection with your customers. When choosing a business name, be sure to consider how the name appeals to the target audience. Ensure that it stands out from the competition, while also reflecting your company’s values.
Once you’ve thought of your business name, it’s a good idea to research if the relevant domain name is available for your website. In addition, you can search the Florida Secretary of State website as well as the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) site to check that your name isn’t currently in use by another Florida-based business or trademarked, respectively. It's also a good idea to claim all relevant accounts immediately—including those for your domain, business email and social media accounts—so that no one else beats you to it and forces you to start from scratch.
Tip: Use a business name generator tool to find your perfect business name. Here are a few business name ideas: Florida Sun Rentals, Key West Tutors, Orland Events.
04. Write your business plan
Writing a comprehensive business plan is an important and necessary step when it comes to creating a business. At minimum, your business plan should include:
An executive summary
Details about your target market
Initial financial projections (with a clear path to profitability) - include cost to start your business
It should additionally include details about ownership, hiring goals, marketing plans and more to give a 360-degree view of your move-forward plan. Your business plan helps to keep your team on track, plus communicate your vision to investors or other stakeholders.
05. License and register your business in Florida
Business registration and licensing requirements vary from state to state, so if you’re registering a business in Florida, it’s important to research the specific steps required. These may include submitting an application for a trade name and filing Articles of Incorporation with the state, depending on your business type.
Study these essential steps for getting registered in Florida:
Register your business with the Florida Division of Corporation, taking care to fill out the necessary paperwork and pay any fees related to your business type.
Apply for an employer identification number (EIN) with the IRS. An EIN is used for federal tax purposes, as well as to open a business bank account with most banks (among other things). You’ll also need to register your business with the Florida Department of Revenue to receive any required tax IDs.
Depending on your industry, you may need specific licenses and permits from both the state and local governments in your area. For example, businesses that sell food, alcohol or tobacco will need to obtain specific licenses from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
Apply for the right insurance. Under Florida law, you’ll need to purchase workers’ compensation insurance if you plan to hire employees. There are a variety of other insurance types that you should consider, including general liability insurance. If you’re not sure what you should get, it’s best to seek legal advice.
Before starting a business in Florida we highly recommend checking all registration and licensing requirements with the Florida Division of Corporations, as well as any relevant local government and industry associations for more specific information and guidance.
06. Get funding for your business
Securing funding for your business can seem challenging but there are a number of capital sources that you can entertain:
Personal savings: Depending on the intended starting size of your business and the amount of resources needed to get it off the ground, using personal funds can be a quick and easy way to fund a new business. This is generally a good funding option if you’re starting a business from home, or without a staff.
Small Business Administration (SBA) loans: The SBA provides a variety of loan programs to small businesses, including the 7(a) loan program and the microloan program. These across-state loan programs can provide funding to cover startup costs, working capital and equipment purchases. The SBA runs from different regions within states, for example, SBA South Florida. They can also help you understand better how to get a loan for your business and what type.
Crowdfunding: If you can’t rely on personal savings or a bank loan, consider crowdfunding. Sites such as Kickstarter allow you to set funding goals and raise money from the general public.
Business grants: Examples of Florida-specific business grants include those from the Florida Small Business Development Center and the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund.
State and local programs: Each state has its own local programs for helping small businesses get up and running. In Florida, these include the Florida Angel Nexus and the Florida Opportunity Fund. These often have strict criteria requirements and favor local, community businesses.
07. Create a business website
Creating a business website is essential for propelling your business forward—whether you’re selling products online or offering local services. It can be one of the most effective ways to build and market your brand.
Start by choosing the right business website template for your needs. From there, you’ll want to consider the functionality and user experience of your site. Carefully consider its layout and design, finding opportunities to drive visitors towards the right actions—be it to purchase something, join your mailing list or anything else.
Business examples in Florida
Check out some business examples located in Florida, all of which use Wix to manage and promote their businesses.
5 Flags Pizza
This affordable pizza joint offers both takeaway and home delivery services in Ripley, Florida. They combine great, fresh ingredients with a creative approach to catering that brings great pizza to your door whenever you need it.
This tattoo parlor brings together Florida-based tattoo artists who specialize in detailed and meaningful designs. Site visitors can view past work (including fine line tattoos and micro-realism tattoos) and book an appointment at their convenience.
How to start a business in Florida review
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