There are many reasons why Florida is one of the most popular and loved states in the country. Families across the nation visit Florida each year to escape the cold weather and bask in its warm waters. Soon-to-be retirees dream of making the move and enjoying their golden years in a state that has excellent healthcare, affordable housing and no estate (state) — or death — tax. Entrepreneurs also favor the Sunshine State because it’s part of a small club of states that do not collect income tax. Add to that the beautiful weather, growing economy and the chance to leave behind the winter coat, it’s no surprise why Florida is a popular destination to visit and even move to and start a business.
If you are lucky enough to already be a Florida native looking to start a small business or are planning to move there to fulfill your entrepreneurial dreams, read on and learn about the 15 best small business ideas in Florida.
With zero state income tax, Florida is a good place to start a potential business. It is also the third-largest state in the country and home to over 21 million people, with a population density of close to 400 people per square mile. Odds are you won’t need to go far to set up shop and find the right opportunity and clientele to support your business. Florida is also a popular tourist destination with as many as 131 million visitors in 2019 (pre-COVID) and close to 60 million tourists in the first half of 2021. There are plenty of opportunities to start a successful small business in the state. The best small business ideas in Florida include:
1. Restaurant or Food Truck
Florida has a rich cultural history and is ethnically diverse with populations from the Caribbean, South America, Europe and transplants from all corners of the United States. The culinary offerings range from Greek, Cuban, Columbian, Chinese and South Asian, to local specialties offering seafood and BBQ. This makes the state ideal for small businesses opening up a restaurant or food truck business. In 2019 there were 1,096,000 restaurant and food service jobs in Florida and that number is expected to grow by 14 percent by 2029.
2. Landscaping or Gardening
Let’s face it, when you are known as the Sunshine State, you are bound to have homes that boast lush gardens and green lawns. Taking care of the outside of a home is also a lot of hard work, which many would rather pass along to someone else, like a landscaping and gardening service. And an investment in property pays off as it increases the curb appeal of homes and also adds value to neighborhoods. The landscaping industry in the United States is valued at $114.6 billion, with a growth of over 5 percent in 2021. Considering Florida’s weather, landscaping is a need many Floridians have.
3. Senior Care
The good news is that people are living longer, and Florida is just one of those places where many people plan on spending their golden years. That said, there are a number of opportunities to enter this market and provide support and services for seniors, including transportation, shopping and even private nurses and health care. The fact is that 27.3 percent of Floridians are over 55 years old, so starting a small business to meet senior needs may prove to be a business that makes the most money in Florida.
4. Cleaning Business
According to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Services, there are 455,377 hotel and motel rooms in the state (as of May 2021). In addition, 6.6 million people rented their homes to travelers visiting Florida while on vacation. This alone offers enough reason why a cleaning business would be a good idea for the Sunshine State.
Following closely behind the restaurant business is the growth in microbreweries. According to the Orlando Business Journal, the number of craft breweries increased in the state by 700 percent!
As noted earlier, Florida is a vacation destination for over 100 million Americans each year, and not everyone may be interested in having Disney on their itinerary. Surrounded by three sides with water and rich with natural beauty, customized tours can attract a fair share of business. Think fishing trips, scuba diving, airboats in the Everglades, day trips to Key West and shopping tours in Miami.
7. Organic Farming
The demand for organic fruits, vegetables and dairy products is on the rise, and Florida has the perfect climate to start an organic farming business. If you are looking to lower your carbon footprint and are into working with nature, this may be the right place to start your business.
8. Real Estate
There are 200,000 realtors in Florida and business is booming! The sales price for an average home increased by 22.8 percent in July 2021 when compared to June 2020, making it a hot market. This proves to show that Florida is still a much-desired location with lots of value.
Taking care of one’s health is serious business, with an emphasis on “business.” In a time when people are downloading apps to count their steps and measure calories, investing in a gym — as well as one’s health — is a good opportunity. This is especially true in Florida, where people are more apt to flaunt their beach bodies than in Minneapolis.
Florida ranks number four among states with the most remote workers. Close to 7 percent of the population is engaged in remote work and many of these jobs are home-based startups. Continuing the list of 15 top businesses to start in Florida, here are five key opportunities in home-based work.
Consulting opens up opportunities for anyone with a strong background in basically anything! Whether it’s navigating through healthcare and insurance needs, offering financial advice or being a disaster-prep consultant, there are a number of opportunities where you get to help people looking for support. You can even add wedding, dating and event planning to the list.
12. Web Development
No matter the type of business, everyone needs a good website nowadays. Starting a web design business not only gives you the freedom to work from home, but also allows you to use your creativity when building unique sites for clients. And like many home-based businesses, your clientele can be anywhere in the world.
13. Freelance Writing
Ernest Hemingway called Florida home, so why can’t you? Even though you may be working on the next Great American Novel, that doesn’t mean you need to be a starving artist in the process. Innovations in technology and content demands from businesses have made editing and writing an in-demand skill. Copyediting, proofreading and fact-checking are all tasks that can be handled from home and worked on outside of an office environment. And don’t forget the marketing needs that most companies have that actually require writers. That includes writing for social media, working on blogs and developing (and editing) content on the billions of web pages that are out there.
Remote learning is a word that many families got used to this past year, and the convenience of this method of teaching will not go away any time soon. Although this need to teach via computer is a practice that occurs in all states, there are additional opportunities in Florida where tutors can help with ESL (English as Second Language) learners. Over 30 percent of Floridians speak non-English languages, which is a statistic that is 8 percent higher than the national average.
15. Home-Based Childcare
As people gear up to go back to work, they will also need support in taking care of their children. The job market is also opening up in Florida with the unemployment rate going down and new people entering the workforce, so starting a childcare business may be a real growth opportunity.
Starting a Small Business in Florida
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy Report from 2020, there are 2.7 small businesses in Florida employing 3.5 million people. A closer look by industry shows that the strongest industries support jobs in accommodation and food services, with close to 520,601 working for small businesses and 490,374 working in healthcare and social assistance. Economic forecasters project continued growth in tourism, agriculture, international trade and healthcare in the years to come, especially as economies start opening up again after the COVID restrictions and shutdowns from 2020 from earlier in the year.
If you’re planning on starting a small business, now may be the right time to consider your options. Incfile has helped over 500,000 entrepreneurs start their businesses and offers a full suite of support, including launching businesses and taking care of all your state filings so you can get to work in the Sunshine State. Begin with our Start a Business Guide to learn all about the ins and outs of forming your business.
Peter Mavrikis is an author and editor with over 25 years of experience in publishing. He has worked as the Editorial Director for Barron’s Educational Series, as well as Kaplan Test Prep, where he ran the test prep, foreign language, and study guide divisions. Peter has also written several books on history, exploration, science, and technology.