An LLC is a flexible business structure that offers strong liability protection. It can also be taxed as a pass-through entity or as a corporation.
It’s a good idea to draft an operating agreement. While it’s not a legal requirement in Florida, it helps prevent personal assets from being at risk if the company gets into financial or legal trouble.
Choose Your Business Name
Your LLC’s name is the first impression customers will have of your business, so picking the right one is an important step. It should be creative, catchy, memorable, and easy to spell. It should also not contain any restricted words, such as “bank,” “lawyer,” or “attorney.”
You can find out if the name you want is available by searching the state database for business names. Your name must be distinguishable from other existing businesses to avoid legal issues down the road.
Keep in mind that you will likely need a website and a domain name that reflects your entity name, so you should check those names before finalizing the company name. You may also need to obtain additional licenses or permits, depending on the type of business you operate. For example, you will need a liquor license to sell alcoholic beverages. You should contact your local government to learn more about the licensing requirements for your particular industry.
File Articles of Organization
When you’re ready to make your LLC official, file the Articles of Organization with Florida’s Division of Corporations. This document sets up the basic information for your new business, including its name and the address where it will be doing business.
You also need to include the name and address of your registered agent. This can be a person or a service. In Florida, the registered agent must have a physical address in the state.
This address doesn’t appear in public records, but it will be the place where any legal papers or notices are sent to your LLC. It is also where the company must file its annual reports.
If your LLC will have employees, it will need an Employee Identification Number (EIN). You can get an EIN online from the IRS website or hire Sunshine Corporate Filings to do it for you ($125 plus state fees). Similarly, your LLC may need a Florida business license, depending on its industry. Consult a tax professional for details.
Designate a Registered Agent
A registered agent is required by the state of Florida for all LLCs and LLPs. You can choose to be your own registered agent, appoint another person or use a registered agent service. It takes one responsibility off your hands and ensures that someone is always available to receive service of process or other official correspondence for your business.
Many registered agent services also offer add-on services like corporate compliance, legal expertise and even LLC formation services. The cost of these services will vary based on which company you go with.
Depending on the industry in which your business operates, you may need to obtain licenses or permits from various state agencies. For example, if you manufacture or distribute alcohol beverages, you’ll need a license from the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. You can find information on these licenses by visiting the Florida Business Portal.
File an Annual Report
Florida doesn’t require an LLC to file a business plan, but this step can help you stay organized, define goals, and envision the future of your company. In addition, if you ever need to apply for a business loan, a lender will likely want to see a business plan.
When you file your annual report online, you’ll need to provide the following information:
Keep in mind that there are several other requirements you may need to complete as a new LLC, including obtaining any necessary licenses or permits for your business. For example, if you manufacture or distribute alcoholic beverages, you’ll need to obtain an Alcoholic Beverage Control Board permit or distributor’s license. In addition, you might also need a health department permit, zoning permit, or home occupation license, depending on your business type. These permits can be obtained through the local government agency where your business is located. Also, consider registering for state sales tax if you’re planning on selling goods or services in Florida.