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Florida is a great place to start a business. A combination of a rich culture, beautiful cities like Miami, Orlando or Tampa Bay, and access to the world’s transport networks makes the state home to some of the biggest businesses in the U.S. Headquarters of companies like Publix, Tupperware, Burger King and more are proud to call Florida home. One of the world’s largest entertainment companies, Disney, is famous for its Disney World theme park in Orlando.
If you want to start your own business in Florida, one of the best ways to do so is by forming an LLC. Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) are a business entity designed for startups, and small- and medium-sized businesses. Florida makes forming an LLC easy and inexpensive. LLCs are great for small businesses because they give you many of the protections and advantages of larger corporations — without all the rules, regulations and compliance issues common to larger business entities. Let’s start by looking at the advantages of forming a Florida LLC.
LLCs in Florida have many benefits...
A Florida LLC must have a designated street address. That could be your home address (if you’re running the company from your residence), where your office is located, or any physical address of your preference — even outside of Florida. It cannot be a P.O. Box.
Every Florida LLC must have a "registered agent". That could be you, the managing director, owner or a dedicated registered agent service. The registered agent in Florida is someone who receives official legal and tax correspondence and has responsibility for filing reports with the Florida Secretary of State.
At Incfile, all of our packages include a "Registered Agent" service free for the first year and $99 per year thereafter. We also have a dashboard you can login to and easily view any document your registered agent has received on your behalf. Here are a few reasons you might want to appoint Incfile as their registered agent service...
There are more considerations, but this should help you with your decision to use a Registered Agent service.
Your Florida LLC members are the people who own and run the business. They will be the individuals who withdraw profits from the business to pay themselves. Florida requires you to list the names and addresses of all managers or members when you register the LLC. You can register these addresses as street addresses or P.O. boxes.
Once you've gathered all the information together for your LLC, you’ll need to file formal documents with the Florida Secretary of State. You can do this online, download a PDF, fill it out and mail it in or have Incfile do this on your behalf.
Florida LLCs aren’t required to have an operating agreement, but they are extremely useful for several reasons. Your operating agreement covers how the business will be run, how managers and members are chosen, rights and duties of members and several other key areas. Here’s how to create your Operating Agreement. If you’re interested in having your Operating Agreement created for you, Incfile will draft a general Operating Agreement within most of our online business formation packages. It can also be selected as an add-on option in our Silver package. This Operating Agreement will be a basic template that you can make changes to anytime you see fit.
You can find lots more useful information on how to form an LLC here. It answers questions like:
Incfile provides a cost-effective service to help you create your LLC. We guide you through the process and handle most of the administrative steps, such as filing the articles of organization on your behalf. Our basic package also provides a free registered agent service for the first year. If you're looking for help to start an LLC, our comprehensive services provide outstanding value.
*Note that some types of businesses cannot be formed as LLCs in Florida so you will need to choose a different business structure if you are one of these types of businesses.
You need the right name for your Florida LLC. Choosing the right name is vital because It tells your suppliers, customers and employees what your business does. Florida has several rules and regulations about what you can call your new business. Let’s explore what they are:
In addition to the rules above, it’s also vital to see if your Florida LLC name might infringe on the trademark or service mark of another business. For example, it might not be a good idea to call yourself “Google Search Optimization Services,” since Google is a trademark.
The easiest way to see if your proposed business name infringes is to carry out a trademark search. You can do that via the United States Patent and Trademark Office. You should also bear in mind that your Florida business entity name cannot be substantially similar to an existing trademark or service mark.
Search the database of the Florida Secretary of State for your proposed business name to see if it's unique.
You can search for:
Finding the perfect name for your Florida business can be difficult. You need a business name that:
Fortunately, we’ve got some good advice on seeking out the perfect business name for your Florida LLC. Check out our guidance here to get inspired.
Once you’ve found the right name for your business, it’s time to make it a reality. Check out our guide to starting your Florida LLC and form your LLC today.
There are plenty of beautiful cities where you can form your LLC in the Sunshine State. Here’s a quick overview of the four largest cities, Miami, Orlando, Jacksonville and Tampa.
Near the southern tip of Florida, Miami features a diverse culture and population, together with many business opportunities. Miami is the second most populous city in Florida, and its metro area is the eighth largest in the US. Miami is a major center for business and international trade with the man industries being media, entertainment, commercial trade, imports / exports, finance, entertainment and the arts. Miami has been described as “America’s cleanest large city” due to its large green spaces, drinking water, environment and recycling. Miami is also a popular center for entertainment, media and other businesses supporting Spanish language speakers.
Although it's probably best known as the home of Walt Disney World and a number of other entertainment theme parks (It’s the “Theme Park Capital of the World”), Orlando is a center for many different types of business. Located in Central Florida, Orlando is the fourth largest city in the state and is home to the largest university campus in the US. Key industries in Florida include entertainment, tourism, technology, digital media, research, healthcare and golf. Florida accommodates over thirty universities, colleges and centers of higher education.
Located in the far northeast of the state, Jacksonville is the most populous city in Florida, the 12th largest in the US, and the largest city by area in the US. Jacksonville is the financial, commercial and cultural, center of North Florida and contains deep-water commercial, civilian and military ports. Many businesses in the banking, insurance, healthcare and logistics industries are headquartered in Jacksonville. The main industries in Jacksonville include insurance, biotech, distribution, consumer goods, financial services, information services, insurance and manufacturing.
Located on the west coast of Florida, Tampa and the Tampa Bay area is an important international center for shipping and trade. Tampa is the third most populous city in Florida and was ranked as the fifth-best outdoor city in the US. It’s also in the top 10 of the cities that people in the US want to live in. The main industries in Tampa include air and sea shipping, retail, healthcare, finance, tourism, insurance and real estate. Tampa is also home to several professional sports teams. There is also a significant military presence in Tampa, as it is home to the MacDill Air Force Base, United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), United States Marine Forces Central Command (USMARCENT) and many other military outposts and installations.
Incfile provides a cost-effective service to help you create your Florida LLC. We guide you through the process and handle most of the administrative steps, such as filing the articles of organization on your behalf. Our basic package also provides a free registered agent service for the first year. If you're looking for help to start an LLC, our comprehensive services provide outstanding value.
Every Florida LLC must have a “Registered Agent.” A registered agent is a person or business you choose who can accept legal notices for your Limited Liability Company (LLC) on your behalf. A person you choose to be your registered agent must live in Florida, a business you choose as your registered agent must be able to conduct business in Florida.
Our registered agent service includes a dashboard where you can review documents received, automatic notification of correspondence and free forwarding of all documentation.
Incorporate through us to get your first year of registered agent services for free.
A Florida registered agent may receive, on behalf of your LLC:
Note that the Florida Secretary of State does need the address of your registered agent and it needs to be a street address, not a P.O. Box.
A registered agent might also be known as a “Corporate Agent,” "Resident Agent," “Agent for Service of Process” or "Statutory Agent."
If you permanently reside in the state of Florida, you can choose to be your own registered agent, however you may decide not to be, for several reasons:
There can be significant issues if you fail to provide a registered agent, these include:
Here at Incfile, we have an expert registered agent service. We provide the first year of this service completely for free if you choose to form your LLC with us. After the first year, it’s only $99 for subsequent years — a small price for your peace of mind. Here’s what our service provides:
If you want to form an LLC in Florida, there are certain forms, requirements and legalities you need to get in place. Below is a rundown of what you’ll need to do, together with details on each form required for your Florida LLC. Some of these forms you only need to submit once, while others must be filed on a regular basis. You will need to set reminders in your calendar to file forms regularly if you're filing yourself — if you file with a service such as Incfile, we can take care of form renewals for you.
Although setting up a Florida LLC is very easy, managing one can be more complex. One way to make sure everyone is working to the same goals is by creating an operating agreement. Your operating agreement typically includes areas like:
Legal Standing: Declares the legal standing of your LLC, that it was formed in Florida and including dates, formation details and other important legal information.
You are not required by Florida state or federal law to have an operating agreement for your LLC, but we recommend one for several reasons. An operating agreement:
Your operating agreement only needs to be created once and will need to be updated if significant changes are needed. The good news is, Incfile provides an Operating Agreement with most packages and it can also be individually added to our basic Silver package. Our Operating Agreement provided will be a general template that covers the top 20 most common provisions for any new business. As your business evolves, you can make changes anytime as you see fit as this is an internal company document for LLC members and not filed with the state or IRS.
Depending on the type of Florida business you’re running, you will need to obtain various business licenses and permits.
Various cities in Florida have slightly different rules and fees for permits and licenses. Check with your local Florida city administration to see what their rules are. You will need a separate permit or license for each city your Florida LLC operates in.
Depending on the type of business you are running, you may need to get additional permits and licenses from the city, county or state of Florida. You can get an idea of the types of permits and licenses you might need from the State of Florida website. The federal government may also require you to get certain licenses or permits, the SBA has a comprehensive list of Florida license permits.. The frequency of how often you need to file permits varies depending on the permit type.
If you’d rather have someone do the research for you, Incfile offers a Business License Research service for $99 additional fee to your online formation package of choice. With his add-on, a licensing specialist will determine all of the permits and licenses required for your specific industry and city-, state- or county-level jurisdictions.
The Articles of Organization are the formal documents filed with the Florida Secretary of State to create your LLC. They are a “charter” and state certain information about your business. Once they are filed with the secretary of state, they legally create your business as an LLC in Florida. Here’s what’s typically included in the Articles of Organization:
Here at Incfile we automatically create and file your Articles of Organization on your behalf when you form your business with us. There is a fee levied by the secretary of state of Florida to cover your filing.
You only need to file your articles once.
If you are “doing business as (DBA)” under a different name to your LLC, you will need to file a “Fictitious Name Registration” with the Florida Secretary of State.
You only need to file your Fictitious Name Registration once.
You will need to file for various different types of tax registration including sales and use tax, re-employment tax and other types of tax. You can find full details on the Florida Department of Revenue website.
You must file an annual report with the Florida Secretary of State on an annual basis, by May 1 of each year. The cost to file an annual report is currently $138.75. If you do not file your annual report by May 1 each year you will be charged a late fee of $400 and your LLC may be dissolved.
As you can see, there are several forms and permits you need to conduct business, both initially and that you’re required to submit on an annual basis.
Here’s a breakdown of the likely taxes and fees you’ll incur when you start and run an LLC in Florida:
Each state requires different forms such as your business annual reports and state franchise tax reports to be filed at different times. It’s important to understand when each form needs to be filed and when you need to refile the form. Complying by the form filing requirements keeps your business in good standing with the state. Failure to file these reports can lead to the company being revoked or administrative business dissolution. Incfile includes lifetime company alerts with courtesy email reminders to inform clients of an upcoming filing requirement with all of our state filing packages.
Due Date: May 1st
Filing Fee: $139
A trademark is an essential asset for your business because it protects the brand name and identity that you worked so hard to create. When you secure a federal trademark for your business brand, it gives you exclusive rights to use your business name, logo or slogan once the trademark is approved. Federal Trademark Protection also prevents other businesses from using your brand name and brand identity. Incfile is happy to help with conducting a trademark name search on your business name. Our partnered attorneys will do the research to make sure the mark isn't already taken, ensure the filing is properly prepared and submitted to the government office, and provide sound legal advice throughout the entire process.
Benefits of Incfile's Trademark service include:
Once you form your LLC in Florida, there are important next steps to ensure your business finances and accounting are organized for tax season and peace of mind, and that your personal and business finances are kept separate to ensure safety of your personal assets. With the right accounting steps, your business will run smoothly and be set up for increased profits and success.
The right business checking account for your business should have minimum fees, so that your money goes into the business or your own checking account instead of spending on hidden, tricky bank fees. According to NerdWallet — who looked at the 10 biggest banks in the U.S. and some additional online banks — these are the best four free business checking accounts for your LLC:
Create a chart like this:
|Best Free Business Checking Accounts|
|U.S Bank Silver Business||Allows 150 transactions a month for free. Has 3.000 bank branches in addition to online banking.|
|Capital One Spark Business||Online banking with no monthly limit on transactions.|
|Well Fargo Business Choise||Make 10 debit transactions a month and the $14 monthly free is waived. Offers a total of 200 free monthly transactions and no charge for the first $7.500 in cash deposits each month.|
|Bank of Internet Federal Bank Basic Business||Online-only bank that offers 200 free transactions a month and unlimited fee reimbursement for ATMs in the US.|
Once your form your LLC, it’s important to keep your business and personal assets separate to protect your personal assets from liability. It also makes tax season a whole lot easier when you have one clear account with all your business expenses, instead of all expenses mixed up within two accounts that need to be sorted. Once you choose a business checking account for your Florida LLC, make sure you receive a business checking card or apply for a business credit card that you can use for all business expenses. You can also use a tool like Expensify to track and tag business expenses from your mobile phone.
Choosing the right accounting software will allow you to track your accounts receivable — the money that is flowing in and out of your business. Accounting software will allow you to track bills, invoices, expenses and customers. This is also another important step in simplifying your year-end tax burden. With a clear, separate business checking account and card and an organized accounting software system, you’ll (barely) dread tax season as a business owner.
Here are some favorite accounting software options for LLC business owners:
QuickBooks: This is a top option for a lot of business owners and starts out at only $10 a month. You can automatically important banking transactions, track your customers and vendors and related bills and expenses, and integrate with a lot of other online finance tools. If you hire an accountant or tax support, they will all likely support QuickBooks. You can even use an online version in addition to a desktop version of their software. The drawback is that the learning curve for QuickBooks can sometimes be a bit steep.
Xero: Xero is online accounting software that is a great option for those who find QuickBooks to be too complicated and difficult to understand. Their plans start out at $20 per month.
FreshBooks: Freshbooks is online accounting software that allows you to also track your time, expenses, collaborate on projects and view accounting reports. One drawback is that it doesn’t currently have a way to track invoices that your business needs to pay. But, accounts start out at $15 per month.
Bench: Bench not only allows you to track your accounts receivable, but they include the help of a real-life bookkeeper to run your accounting every month. For a Bench account starting out at $125 a month, this is quite the deal instead of hiring your own bookkeeper.
If you use QuickBooks or Freshbooks, you’ll be able to accept credit cards to pay for invoices. If you have a brick and mortar location for your small business, you want to look into offering payments through a service such as Shopify or Square .
In case your business runs out of cash flow, you want to have a backup option so your business doesn’t go under. You can raise capital from investors, ask friends or family for loans, get a business credit card, take an online business loan, or look into government financing using the SBA & BusinessUSA’s financing tools. Also, it’s important to remember that you can also bootstrap your business — which means, only using the funds you have in your bank account and not expanding until you get more business income.
Having a great online presence for your business is the number one way people will find you. You need to start with buying a domain name using a service such as NameCheap. Then you need to choose a service to host your website such as Sniper Monkey. Finally, design your website using a tool such as SquareSpace or WordPress. Make sure your website includes important business information such as how to contact you and business hours.
Your business needs a phone number so that your customers, employees and and vendors can reach you. A great option is to look into a tool such as Grasshopper, which allows you to get a business phone that actually forwards to your cell phone, so you never miss an important call.
A logo will reflect your business branding everywhere your customers interact with you — on your website, on your invoices, in your email signature, on business cards and more. Instead of trying to design a logo yourself, try a logo making service such as 99 Designs or buy some really high-quality pre-made logos you can customize on CreativeMarket.
Once you have a logo, create nice looking business cards that you can hand out when you’re out networking or even running errands. You never know when a conversation about your business will come up, and you want to be able to give someone a place to research your business and contact you. A great tool to create inexpensive business cards is Vistaprint.
In addition to accounting software, there is a number of online business software options that will lift a number of menial tasks and burdens off your full business-owner plate. Below are important business functions for your LLC and what we think are the best business tools for your Florida LLC.
If you want to track your progress in getting your new business set up properly, we have a great virtual Start a Business Checklist that includes everything you need to do to launch your business. It even features downloadable PDFs you can access to download and print.
Clear Pricing. No Contracts. No Surprise.
|State Fee||State Filing Time||Expedited Filing Time|
|$125||7 Business Days||4 Business Days|
This report is mandatory and must be filed within the specified time frame in order for the entity to remain in good standing with the state. Failure to file this report can lead to the company being revoked or administratively dissolved.
Due Date:May 1st
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