Small Business Guide

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How to Start a Business in Florida Guide

The aim of this article is to guide you in your path to start a small business in Florida with a comprehensive set of links that will help you to navigate the path to small business ownership. These include links to financing institutions, office and retail space websites, licensing, and taxes.

The State of Florida has also developed a ‘how to start a business’ in Florida guide that you can download for free.

http://openmyfloridabusiness.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/OMFB-eGuide.pdf

How to Finance your Business

So you have a business idea. How do you plan to finance your venture? What are your options? You can fund your business yourself from your savings, borrow money from friends or family members, or you can look at the various other financing options below.

Links to funding sources

SBA 

These are loans typically made by banks and are guaranteed up to 85% by the Small Business Administration.

https://sba.gov/loans-grants

Grants 

Free money but difficult to receive. Your business idea needs to be closely aligned to the grant requirements. Grants may be available for research and development, for exporters, or for start ups in a rural underdeveloped area.

https://business.usa.gov

Micro Financing

Typically these are loans under $50K. Most of the companies below are non-profit and lend in Florida.

http://www.floridajobs.org/business-growth-and-partnerships/for-businesses-and-entrepreneurs/business-resource/small-business-programs/florida-microfinance-program

Grameen America 

LiftFund 

SBA Microloan Program

SBA Community Advantage Program 

Kiva U.S.

Excelsior Growth Fund 

Crowdsourcing

Another option that you have is Crowdsourcing. If you have a decent product, you can get funding from multiple investors who invest small amounts of money. I know someone who started his business this way. He got $250k though Kickstarter! His first year sales topped $1 million. This is a good way to fund the development of a product.

https://www.kickstarter.com/

https://www.gofundme.com/

https://www.patreon.com/

http://www.rockethub.com/

https://gogetfunding.com/

https://www.ulule.com/

 

Banks

Borrowing from High Street Banks can be a challenge for small business owners. In a lot of the cases, you may have to get an equity line of credit from your house and use that money to invest in your business.

Smaller banks and Credit Unions are easier to work with but you will need collateral and personal guarantees.

Sometimes it is better to work with a broker who specializes in small businesses as they have contacts within the lending institutions.

These are some of the best banks for small business loans:

Platinum Bank of Brandon

Community Southern Bank

Fairwinds Credit Union

American Enterprise Bank

BankFIRST inc.

Fidelity

Guardian Bank


Venture Capital

Do you have a unique product or business idea that you can pitch to a Venture Capitalist? These are not your traditional lenders. These firms will essentially take a chunk of your business. Many will want board positions. But if your idea and passion is something that they believe in, then you can get significant financial support. The list below are Venture Capital firms based in Florida. 

How to Find and Lease Retail or Office Space

The easiest way is to decide on a general location, then drive around and look for to lease signs. Websites such as the ones listed below are also a good starting point in your search.

Commercial Real Estate Listings Overview:

Best Commercial Real Estate Listing Websites

Branding, Formation & Licensing

What’s in a name?

This is an important starting point. Try to come up with a unique name but one which tells what kind of business you are doing. Is an exact match domain name available ? Check here.

Try not to choose a long name. In the long run, this will be detrimental in terms of your marketing efforts. Your logo design will be harder. Your adverts will not look good and your corporate emails will not look professional.

Also, when deciding on a domain name, look at double meanings. Avoid domains like this for example:-

www.whorepresents.com can be read as ‘whore presents’ instead of ‘who represents’
www.therapistfinder.com can be read as ‘the rapist finder’ instead of ‘therapist finder’
 
Once you have secured a good domain, let Higher Domain build you a website.

Company Structure & Formation

Once you have come up with a decent name and have secured a domain name, decide on a business structure. These are the main entity formations that you can have:

  • Sole Proprietorship
  • General Partnership
  • LLC
  • S- Corp
  • C-Corp

Generally most small businesses owners will form either as a Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, or LLC. Each have it advantages and disadvantages so contact a good accountancy firm to get advice. They can also get your formation done for a fee.

Register your Company 

Once you have formed your company, get it registered. Also, get a fictitious name registered, for example, if your company is a sole proprietorship called ‘John Smith’, you may want a fictitious name ‘John’s Pest Control’

 sunbiz.org

Licensing in Florida

There are two main agencies for licensing for skilled trade in Florida. Check them out to see if your business requires a state license.

Department of Business and Professional Regulation DBPR 

Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services DACS 

Also check out other business licenses requirements here.

https://dos.myflorida.com/library-archives/research/florida-information/business/starting-a-business-in-florida/small-business/license/other-agencies/

Set up your Taxes

If you engage an accounting firm, they will be able to set you up with all your tax requirements. You can more information on setting up your tax accounts here.

https://dos.myflorida.com/library-archives/research/florida-information/business/starting-a-business-in-florida/small-business/taxes/

Get your website up & running

Now that you have set up your company, you need to market. First thing you need is a website to bring customers to your door. Contact Higher Domain for a free quote.