< 1 minute read|Published by FAIRWINDS

A Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Small Business in Florida

Whether it's selling crocheted hats or brewing the best coffee, our guide provides all the essentials to help you turn your business idea into reality.

If you’re reading this article, you probably have an idea for starting a business that you aren’t sure how to make a reality. Maybe you want to sell hats you’ve crocheted or make the best coffee that you want everyone to try. Either way, you’ve come to the right place! Starting a business from the ground up can be a lot to tackle, but with the help of this guide, you’ll have everything you need to get started.

1. Identify Your Passion

When you’re looking to create a business, start by brainstorming ideas based on your interests, skills, and market opportunities. Creating something you’re truly passionate about will drive you to work harder, overcome obstacles, innovate, and connect with customers. Take your passion and think about what products or services you can offer that will help meet a need or solve a problem. If you already have an idea in mind, you’ve got a head start!

2. Research Your Market

Once you have an idea, research your target market or who you want to sell your product or service to. It’s important to understand their needs, preferences, and buying behaviors to make your product or service successful. Look at your competitors to see what similar businesses are offering and how you can differentiate your business. Ask yourself, what are they missing, and what can I do to make my product even better?

3. Write a Business Plan

A business plan will help you better define the concept of your business, determine your target market, outline your business goals, and develop a strategy for achieving them. It will also help you secure funding and stay focused as you launch and grow your business.

If you’re thinking, “How do I know what my business goals should be?” or “What’s my strategy?” you’re not alone! Here are a few resources in Florida that can help you get started:

Team Volusia Economic Development Corporation

If you’re looking to start a business in Volusia County, the Team Volusia Economic Development Corporation can provide the information you need, from business startups to hiring employees and navigating expenses.

National Entrepreneur Center

Get connected with a business coach in central Florida to help you throughout every stage of your business journey. Attend free or low-cost seminars, networking events, and receive free resources to help develop your business.

BizLink Orange

Explore free business guides on how to start, legal structures, licensing and zoning, procurement and certification, international trade, and more.

Florida Small Business Development Center at Seminole State College

Meet with a consultant for a no-cost one-on-one meeting to discuss business startups, financing, marketing, business plans, and more.

4. Gather Your Team

You don’t have to be an expert at accounting or practice business law to start a business, but you will need a team of professionals who can help you succeed. You’ll want to connect with a banker, attorney, accountant, and insurance agent to help you avoid pitfalls and guide you along your journey.

Work with your accountant and attorney to decide on the legal structure for your business. Should it be a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, or corporation? Each structure has different legal and tax implications, so it's important to choose the one that best suits your business.

6. Register Your Business

Now that you have a plan, it’s time to make your business official! Register your business name with Sunbiz.org and obtain an EIN (employer identification number) from IRS.gov.

Depending on your location and business structure, you may also need to obtain an occupational license or permit. Rely on your trusted team throughout this process to help verify that you have everything you need.

7. Organize Your Finances

Open a business bank account to keep your personal and business finances separate. It’s important to keep your accounts separate to ensure legal protection for you and your business, tax compliance, and easier financial management.

If you need help choosing the right account for your business, schedule an appointment with one of our Business Relationship Managers to discuss your options.

You should also discuss how you will be supporting the business during the startup phase to make sure you have the money to get started, plus reserves for the unexpected. You may need to secure funding for your business through savings, loans, or investors.

8. Set Up Your Operations

To run your business, you’ll need more than just an idea. Create a plan for how you will manage your inventory or clients, plus handle customer service and sales. You may also need to hire employees or contractors to help you manage and grow your business.

Think about how you will accept customer payments, like if you will take credit and debit cards or if all transactions will be online through your website. If you have employees, how will you manage hiring and payroll services?

9. Build Your Brand

Develop a strong brand for your business that reflects your values and will resonate with your target market. This means creating a memorable and unique logo, a website, and marketing materials like social media posts or advertising.

If you’re not a graphic design expert, you can search for free logo templates online to help you get started.

10. You’re Ready to Launch

Congratulations, now it’s time to start your business!

Be prepared to adapt and make changes as your business grows. Don’t forget to continually check in with your team (banker, attorney, accountant, and insurance agent). They can keep you up to date with the most recent laws, tax advantages, or specials so that you can spend time focused on your business.

Remember, starting your own business is a journey filled with learning experiences and opportunities for growth. So, embrace the challenges, celebrate your successes, and never stop striving to make your business the best it can be. With a little bit of hustle, you’ve got what it takes to make your idea a reality.