Resources for starting a business in the Sunshine State
If year-round sunshine isn’t enough reason to lure you to Florida, the state’s shifting attitudes toward business development might be. "Florida is devoted to easing burdens for small business owners,” says NFIB State Director Bill Herrle. “With the leadership of business-friendly Governor Rick Scott—whose main focus is job creation, economic growth and less regulation—Florida is a great place to start a small business."
Certain industries are finding especially fertile ground here. According to AreaDevelopment magazine, Florida is fast-becoming a logistics hub and will soon be a major import-export state. Sectors like biotech, medical devices, space technology and defense are also on the rise, says Terry Murray, who coaches startups throughout Florida as managing partner of Performance Transformation LLC in Venice, Fla.
No matter your industry, here are some tips to make starting a business in Florida simpler:
Get to know state and local tax codes. Florida small businesses must collect sales tax for many products and services, and businesses that own tangible personal property may have to pay additional discretionary surtaxes.
Florida’s lack of a state income tax—plus its low combined state and local tax burden—are prime business attractions. “For small businesses, the state’s low sales tax is an advantage as consumers are more able to purchase goods and services,” says Raphael Clemente, executive director at the West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority.
Contact the Florida Department of Revenue for state tax information, or a local CPA for more on Florida’s Corporate Income Tax.
Registering, permitting and licensing your business
Clemente says that, by merging departments and eliminating duplicative steps, Florida has expedited its permitting processes and reduced the time it takes a permit to move through the system, saving Florida small business owners money. “The state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation is a one-stop shop for any required state licensing or permits, and it too has streamlined and reduced costs,” he adds.
The state's website, myflorida.com, will walk you through business registration and provide other helpful small business resources. Consider talking to a lawyer or consultant to make sure you’re compliant with city, county, and state licensing and contracting requirements.
Ready, Set, Learn
A mentorship can help you understand everything from competing for federal government contracts to local hiring practices. Many Florida programs provide mentoring for small businesses and startups, says Clemente—particularly in urban areas and redevelopment zones. NFIB and the local Chamber of Commerce can inform you about any mentoring programs in your area. For instance, the Enterprise Development Corporation of South Florida (EDC) has a mentor/protégé program to help facilitate the growth of emerging science and technology businesses. Check out buzgate.org, a small business referral and network website, for mentorship opportunities in your industry.
Learn more about NFIB in Florida.