Starting a Business in Florida: 8 Essential Steps

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Swyft Filings is committed to providing accurate, reliable information to help you make informed decisions for your business. That's why our content is written and edited by professional editors, writers, and subject matter experts. Learn more about how Swyft Filings works, our editorial team and standards, what our customers think of us, and more on our trust page.

Charlie Mitchell
Written by Charlie Mitchell
Written byCharlie Mitchell
Updated November 08, 2023
Edited by Carlos Serrano
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Owning your small business will change your life — so there’s never a wrong time to learn how to get started. This article will help you start a business in Florida. We’ll help you find an idea for your Florida business if you need one, walk you through the incorporation process, and everything else you’ll need to thrive.

Start Operating in Florida: Key Points

  • As the fastest-growing state in the country, it’s an excellent time for entrepreneurs to start operating in Florida.[1]

  • New business owners need to choose an approved name and business structure, find a registered agent, and file the correct business formation documents.

  • Starting a business in Florida is far easier with help from a third-party business formation service.

Set the Stage for Business Success

Easily start your business and remain compliant with our all-in-one tools, guiding you well past the initial setup with the right support and documents.

Start Your Business Journey

Ready to Start a Florida Business?

This list provides business owners step-by-step guidance in setting up a business in Florida. The process isn’t rocket science — but learning about the incorporation process and other Florida small business regulations will help you start operating in Florida faster without costly mistakes.

1. Choose a Business Idea

If you don’t know what your new Florida business should be, take some time with these tips, and you’ll be right on your way to starting a business in Florida.

Tips for Finding a Great Business Idea

Get out of your routine. Going somewhere that helps you see your world differently can lead to insights — which can lead to the idea for your next Florida business.

Journal. Writing will help you seize creative thoughts you have during the day but don’t commit to paper. 

Meditate. In the silence, you’ll notice feelings and other aspects of life that you usually overlook.

Live your regular life in abnormal ways. This article has even more suggestions for finding inspiration in unexpected places.

Go green. Here are some ideas for eco-friendly businesses.

Try out the competition. If you can tell your competitors are missing something big, then you’re already on your way to a great Florida business idea.

Think small. If you want to get something going, try one of these business ideas for recent college grads. A little momentum will take you far.

2. Draft a Florida Business Plan

Every new business needs a business plan. Without one, you run the risk of making fatal mistakes before you even start operating in Florida. Even if things change further into the startup phase, the process of writing a business plan will make sure you’ve done enough research and preparation to succeed in the industry you’ve chosen.

While a business plan does have to be professional, it doesn’t have to be long. Here’s a quick outline of a typical business plan:[2]

  • Begin with an executive summary: You may should write this last. Your executive summary will provide a condensed and direct overview of the whole business plan. 

  • Describe the company: Be as concrete as possible. What need are you going to fill? Who will your partners and suppliers be? Your customers? What is your team’s “special sauce?” Why is your idea going to work? Is it location, product, branding, a combination of these?

  • Describe the market context: Who else is out there? How do you fit in? What are the strengths and weaknesses of your market on the whole? How do you stand out from your competitors? You can use your knowledge to answer these questions, but statistics and research will also be vital. 

  • Provide an organizational chart and information on the business structure. When it’s time for business formation, will you build an LLC, a C Corp, or some other type of business? If you’re unsure what this means, read on to the section on business structures. Provide a chart of who’s responsible for what, with bios demonstrating qualifications.

  • Describe your service or products: What is it you do or sell? How did you come up with it? Why is it great? What are your values, aesthetics, and approaches? Do you have a patent on any of it or plan to get one?

  • Provide your marketing plan: What’s your target market? How will you reach them? How does the sales process work? Do you have the staff and capacity to scale that up?

  • How much money do you need? Be specific about the financing you require to get the business up and running. If you’re asking for initial investment capital, specify loan terms, payment timelines, and what you need the money for.

  • Make your financial projections: Plot out a timeline of your spending, cash flow, sales, costs, and debt payments on a five-year timeline. It should show a steady growth in sales with a flip from red to black in a few years.

  • Appendix: Additional materials or documents to firm up your business plan will go in the appendix.

Your local US Small Business Administration (SBA) office provides free, one-on-one help writing a business plan.

3. Select a Business Name

Good business ideas need great business names to succeed in the world. 

Your business name first needs to comply with state regulations; it has to be available in Florida; and it has to speak on behalf of your business in a way that draws your target customer. Here’s how you nail down all three:

Florida Business Name Rules

Your Florida LLC or C Corporation must contain the following business designations or abbreviations in the business name you use for the incorporation process. These designations and abbreviations are:

  • “Limited liability company,” “L.L.C,” or “LLC.”[3]

  • “Corporation,” “company,” “incorporated,” “co.,” “corp.,” “inc.,” “co,” “corp,” or “inc.”[4]

The only other rules for your business name are:

  1. You can’t impersonate a government office or agency.

  2. You can’t imply that you’re doing a type of business you don’t really do.

  3. Your business name must be “distinguishable” from other businesses registered with the state of Florida. To ensure you’ve met the standard, refer to this page.

Florida Business Name Availability

To ensure your desired business name isn’t already taken, you can search the database from the Florida Department of State Division of Corporations. Or you can conduct a thorough Florida business name search with Swyft Filings’ Free Business Name Search tool.

The Best Name For Your Florida Business

Your business name has a lot of work to do on your behalf. Here’s a quick checklist to make sure your name is firing on all cylinders for your small business:

  • Is it easy to read and pronounce?

  • Does it tell customers what your business does?

  • Look at your business plan. Does your business name give your customer some indication of what makes your business unique?

  • Is a website domain available under the name? What about relevant social media handles?

When You Find Your Business Name

Got the perfect name for your Florida business? If you’re not quite ready for the business formation process, you can send a letter of name reservation to the Florida department of state with a fee of $25 for a corporation and $35 for a limited liability company, and keep the name to yourself for 120 days.[5]

Florida Fictitious Name

Suppose you must file an official business name different from the one you want to use to do business. In that case, you can always register a fictitious name with the Florida Department of State. This allows you to legally use this name for doing business (it’s also called a “doing business as”), even if it’s not the official name you’ve registered with the division of corporations.[6]

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4. Choose a Business Structure

Entrepreneurs must choose a business structure before they begin the business formation process. In this section, we help you think about the best option for you. Swyft Filings can make your incorporation fast and effortless no matter what business structure you choose.

  • Sole proprietorship (DBA): the most basic business structure, with no separation between your personal assets and those of the business entity. You pay income tax for the business on your personal income taxes. You have no liability protection. Business owners usually register a fictitious name (DBA) to do business.

  • C Corporation: Personal asset protection and liability protection, but lots of regulations and paperwork. It is easy to raise money selling shares, and you can even go public. But the business entity pays corporate income tax on its profits; then, you’ll pay personal income tax on your earnings.

  • Limited liability company (LLC): Separates your personal assets from your business’s assets, providing liability protection. Easy to manage among your partners, who are called members. You pay income tax on your personal income taxes, avoiding corporate income tax.

  • Nonprofit: The structure of a corporation, but without a corporate income tax. Needs to qualify by advancing a social mission. As the name says, no profits are allowed. You must form a board. Liability protection for board members. Qualifies for grants and tax-deductible donations.

What about an S Corporation?

An S corporation is a corporation that elects what’s called S corp status with the IRS, which changes its taxation to “pass-through” status, allowing C corporations to avoid corporate income tax. Sometimes LLCs can use S corp status to reduce the amount they owe on their tax returns.

5. File Business Formation Documents

To officially register your business and start operating in Florida, you must file business formation documents with the Florida Department of State Division of Corporations. The filing fee comes to $70 for C corporations and $125 for LLCs, which are not refundable if you make a mistake.[7]

Getting a Florida Registered Agent

Before you register your business, you’ll need to secure a Florida registered agent. This registered agent receives legal documents on your behalf should you be involved in a court case. You can be your own registered agent and save yourself the nominal fee, but ask yourself: would you want to get served with a lawsuit during a business meeting?

Swyft Filings makes an affordable and reliable registered agent for your Florida business. This article has helpful information on how to choose a registered agent.

Florida Business Formation Documents

These business formation documents can be filed online or by mail to the Florida department of state division of corporations.

Florida LLC

Florida C Corporation

Articles of organization: Includes your business name, business location, members, effective start date, and the signatures of its members and the registered agent.

Articles of incorporation: Includes your business name and location, the number of shares issued, and your registered agent, along with the signature of an authorized incorporator.

Registered agent designation: Your registered agent must sign your articles of organization.

Registered agent designation: Your registered agent must sign your articles of incorporation.

Bylaws: Though you don’t file them to the state, your C corporation must have bylaws that provide legally binding ground rules for its operations.

Optional Documents


C Corp

Operating agreement: While not required by law, an operating agreement signed by all the members of your LLC can lay down essential rules for running your business.

Certificate of status: Also called a certificate of formation in other states, your certificate of status proves that you are an incorporated entity.

Certificate of status: Also called a certificate of formation in other states, your certificate of status proves that you are an incorporated entity.

Shareholder agreement: Shareholder agreements help clarify strategies to shareholders as a company progresses.

Starting a business in Florida can involve significant paperwork. But new companies incorporate every day — many are smart enough to use the best technology to speed up the process. 

Swyft Filings can help you start your LLC or C corporation in Florida with guaranteed success and practically no headaches on your part.

Aerial view of the thriving downtown Orlando, Florida skyline

6. Apply for Florida Business Licenses and Permits

Once your startup becomes an official registered business entity, you may require special licenses and permits. There are several type of Florida business licenses you may need to start operating in Florida:[8]

  • A general business license is required to operate in some Florida cities and counties.

  • If you hire employees, you must register with the state’s workers’ compensation office and Department of Revenue.

  • The Florida department of business and professional regulation will get you set up with the licenses you need to sell regulated commodities like alcohol and tobacco and practice a professional that may require you to be licensed, such as veterinary medicine, agenting, real estate, and other businesses.

  • Federal licenses and permits may be required, too.

If you’re not sure what Florida business licenses your small business will need after incorporation, take advantage of Swyft Filings’ Business Licenses and Research service, which could save you huge penalties by making sure you’re squared away.

7. File and Report Business Taxes

Now that you’ve made a living, breathing Florida business, it will have to pay taxes. This requires creating an account with the Florida Department of Revenue and getting an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS, which we’ll cover in the next step.

Almost all Florida businesses will have to pay sales tax and use tax. This is the most common state tax, but you’ll want to look at this guide to see if other state taxes apply to your startup.

Income tax and franchise tax will depend on your business structure:[9]

  • LLCs will pay income tax on you and your members’ annual tax returns, and you won’t pay corporate tax, otherwise known as franchise tax.

  • C corps will pay the Florida corporate income tax, and shareholders will pay income tax on their earnings.

8. Open a Business Bank Account

Now that you are an official small business entity, it’s imperative to get your business its own bank account. Not only will this make your life as a business owner more convenient, but it is more secure and reduces your liability as a business owner.

You’ll need a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN or EIN) to open a business bank account. Issued by the IRS, this number, also called your tax ID, is kind of like the social security number for your business. Swyft Filings can get you an EIN from the IRS in no time.

Take Your First Steps Toward Small Business Ownership

Now that you know the step-by-step process to start operating in Florida, you can see that it takes a lot of effort to turn a business idea into a fully licensed and registered startup. As an entrepreneur, you decide how to get everything done — what you should do yourself and what experts can speed up for you.

Here’s our advice: Leave the business formation paperwork to Swyft Filings. We’ll form your LLC or C corporation for you, serve as your Florida registered agent, and help you get your business licenses and permits. You’ll skip the headaches up front and have more time in the day to do what your business needs to do.

Your Dream, Our Mission: Partnering for Success
  • Your Perfect Fit: Whether you're looking at a simple LLC or a dedicated nonprofit, we'll help you identify the best structure for your dream business.

  • Continued Support: Your entrepreneurial journey doesn’t stop at formation. Our key management services help ensure your business thrives. 

  • Tailored Affordability: Get value-packed options suited to your business needs, starting at just $0 + state fees.

Begin Your Business Journey

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Florida a good place to start a business?

Florida is a growing and dynamic economy with economic hubs all over the state. In Miami and beyond, Florida is a great place to start a new business. 

How much does it cost to start operating in Florida?

Filing fees for business formation documents are $70 for corporations and $125 for limited liability companies (LLCs).

Can I start a business in Florida without a business plan?

You are not required to produce a business plan to register your business. Still, lenders will need to see a business plan to offer you financing, and you’ll vastly increase your chances of survival by writing one.

What does Florida require to start a business?

Florida requires a registered agent and an approved business name before registering your business with the Florida Department of State.

What is the process for starting a business in Florida?

To start a business in Florida, you must choose an approved business name, select a business structure, secure a registered agent, file incorporation documents, and register for the proper licenses and taxation. You’ll also need an EIN from the IRS.

Why are most LLCs in Delaware?

Delaware has business-friendly laws that offer advantages to some LLCs. But for most Florida businesses, it’s going to be way more trouble than it’s worth to incorporate in Delaware instead of Florida.


  1. Marc Perry, Luke Rogers, and Kristie Wilder. “Florida Fastest-Growing State for First Time Since 1957.” Accessed July 28, 2023.

  2. U.S. Small Business Administration. “Write your business plan.” Accessed July 27, 2023.

  3. The Florida Legislature. “Chapter 605 Florida Revised Limited Liability Company Act.” Accessed July 27, 2023.

  4. The Florida Legislature. “Chapter 607 Florida Business Corporation Act.” Accessed July 27, 2023.

  5. State of Florida Department of State Division of Corporations. “Division FAQs.” Accessed July 27, 2023.

  6. State of Florida Department of State Division of Corporations. “Florida Fictitious Name Registration.” Accessed July 27, 2023.

  7. State of Florida Department of State Division of Corporations. “Fees.” Accessed July 28, 2023.

  8. State of Florida Department of State Division of Corporations. “General Information & Available Resources.” Accessed July 28, 2023.

  9. Florida Department of Revenue. “Florida Corporate Income Tax.” Accessed July 28, 2023.

Originally published on November 08, 2023, and last edited on November 08, 2023.
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