Changes in workplaces across the country have galvanized a number of people to start their own businesses. Countless corporate employees have decided not to go back to commuting and are launching their own businesses. Maybe they had a big idea during work-from-home orders. Or maybe their health prompted them to think differently about work. Marks Gray has helped numerous business owners take their first steps to launch their new enterprises.
Here are some tips on how to navigate your business from idea to reality:
- Pick your name. Every business needs a name – and yours is no different. Use internet search engines to make sure the name is not already being used by others in your market. Take it a step further and search Florida’s Sunbiz.org registry of businesses to make sure no other businesses have registered your name.
- Pick your entity. For most, a business entity is going to be preferred over a sole proprietorship or a partnership. Florida has several entity types but the most commonly used are for-profit-corporations and limited liability companies. There also may be tax benefits of setting up an LLC with an S-corp tax structure (more on that below).
- Register your business entity. Sunbiz.org is not only where you can search other registered businesses, it’s also where you can register yours. The Sunbiz.org registration portal allows you to register your business all from your desktop. The filing fees vary depending on the entity type but you’ll need the same basic information for whichever entity you register. Annually, you will refile with Sunbiz to keep operating the enterprise. Here’s some information about the current status: https://dos.myflorida.com/sunbiz/manage-business/efile/annual-report/
- Get your Employer Identification Number (EIN). The IRS makes the SS-4 application available online, meaning you can get your EIN in less than half an hour. You’ll need an EIN to open up financial accounts for the business and for federal and state filings.
- Get your business license. This won’t apply to every business, but most will need to obtain a county/city business license. This license is issued by the county/city where the business is physically located. Most are issued by the county/city tax collector and have online applications.
- Get your accountant/book One of the key things to determine early on is whether your business will benefit from a federal tax classification other than the default; this is where an accountant is worth every penny in advising you early on. Similarly, you can’t make informed decisions about your business without the necessary information: your books. Create and maintain your books as soon as possible and you’ll be better informed about revenue and expenses.
- Get a domain. For businesses dealing with customers at large, a website domain is invaluable as a tool for future marketing/sales and for establishing legitimacy early on. The message to customers is quite different when comparing [yourbusiness]@gmail.com versus [you]@[yourbusiness].com.
- Claim your business on Google/Bing. You won’t be the #1 search result on internet searches immediately, but your business can only be found online if someone puts the information out there. Claim your business and create listings on Google and Bing to make sure you have control over the listing and can update it in the future.
Every business is different, and these tips are meant for general application. Marks Gray, P.A. has decades of experience advising business owners throughout the life cycles of their businesses and can help those needing more in-depth guidance on where they are and where they want to be.