Step-By-Step guide on how to choose the right legal structure and where to register your business.
***It is recommended that you consult with an Attorney and Accountant to ensure you fully understand the liability and implications of the legal business structure chosen.***
Step By Step Guide
Create Your Business Plan
For any business, the first step is to turn your basic idea into a written, viable plan of action. A well thought out business plan is necessary for obtaining loans and is truly your road map to success.
Decide Legal Business Structure
Register Your Business
Business License & Tax Receipts
Careful consideration must be given to the management, structural and tax implications of your business and to ensure the name you select is not already in use or trademarked by another entity.
One common misconception of home-based or mobile businesses is that they do not require licenses. That is false!
Ensuring your business is properly licensed from the beginning will save you time and money in the long run. Operating an unlicensed business can result in multiple fines.
There may be several licenses you might need to obtain to operate your particular business and those requirements vary based on your location.
No matter what business you develop you’ll need to decide on the legal structure. If you decide to incorporate, you will need to register with the State, and obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Federal Government.
Local municipalities and counties often require you to register your business and obtain a business tax receipt or an occupational license in order to operate.
When choosing a location for your business you want to be sure it is properly zoned for the type of business you wish to locate there. Contact the permitting office of your city and/or county where the property is located to find zoning restrictions. This is critical in obtaining your business tax receipt.
Helpful information & links for licensing requirements in Central Florida.
Florida / State
The type of business will determine what the requirements are for registering with the State. Depending on your industry, the State may require additional licenses or additional documentation.
Sunbiz.org – To establish and file a Corporation, LLC, LLP, or Limited Partnership (Incorporation, Regulation, fictitous name registration, annual report filing, etc…) in the State of Florida. While not a replacement for legal or tax advice, it can provide helpful information for selecting a business name, and establishing a corporation. You can also do quick name or trademark searches within the State of Florida.
Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation – Some regulated services/businesses and professional licensing have special licensing requirements regulated by the state.
To register a business name for a sole proprietorship or general partnership: Contact your local county recorder where you intend to do business.
Employee Identification Number (EIN or FEIN)
Employers with employees, business partnerships, and corporations must obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service after registering with the state. Even if you are a sole proprietor and don’t have employees, it is still good practice to obtain an EIN.
An EIN may be needed for government forms, opening a business checking account at the bank, or applying for a business loan. One of the benefits of obtaining your EIN is it often times can be used in place of your personal Social Security Number to help protect against identity theft.
County & City
Business Tax Receipts (BTR)
It is highly likely that you need to acquire a Business Tax Receipt (license to operate locally within the county, city, and/or town) from both your city and county within the State of Florida. These are renewed annually.
Reach out to your local government agencies directly if you are unsure.
All businesses operating in the municipalities below must obtain a Business Tax Receipt from the city or town PRIOR to obtaining the County level.
Reporting and Responsibilities
Taxation for small businesses can be very confusing depending on the size and scale of the business. The tax liability for each business will be different based on the type of business and the corporate structure.
As an employer, you may be responsible for withholding money for unemployment insurance and worker’s compensation insurance. Additionally, any state sales taxes collected need to be sent to the state monthly.
For further information on these topics, contact the offices below directly.
- Federal Identification Numbers (EINs) contact the Internal Revenue Service or call (800) 829-4933.
- State Sales Tax and State Withholding Tax contact the State Department of Revenue.