Organize for Your Best Results
Business Structure • Name • Permits and Licenses • Location
Although a business plan should be at the top of your “to do” list, you can’t realistically complete one until you have made four crucial organizational decisions: (1) how to structure your business; (2) what to call your business;
(3) where to locate your business; and (4) which licenses/permits you will need to get your business up and running. Each decision relies on elements established by the previous one, so start with structure, then move along step by step, basing individual choices on what you believe to be in the best interest of your business.
Choose a structure for your business.
This isn’t nearly as complicated as it sounds. Businesses are typically structured as one of four types: sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation or limited liability company. Which one is best for your business depends on your personal tax situation, the type of business you want to start, number of owners and whether or not you plan to have employees.
For information on corporate filing fees and to register your business name online, go to sunbiz.org. Registration must be renewed every five years and re-registered if ownership of the name changes. For questions regarding online registration of fictitious names, call (850) 245-6059.
Naming Your Business
Selecting a name is one of the most important business decisions you’ll ever make, and it is not a task to be taken lightly. Here are four tips to get you started:
Brainstorm Gather friends and family for a brainstorming session. Come up with keywords that relate to you, your business and the products or services you provide. Look to pop culture and literary devices for ideas.
Be Concise Many of the business names we know best — Apple, Exxon, Google, Mattel, Citibank and Starbucks — have fewer than 10 letters, making them easy to remember, search and slip into a 140-character Tweet.
Keep Your Options Open You might want to one day enlarge your product line or expand into new locations, so give your company a name that allows you the flexibility to do that.
Consider trademark The name you ultimately choose is no good if it’s already taken. Before you order signage or letterhead, do an online search (www.uspto.gov or www.trademarkia.com) to see if another company is already using the name.
If you intend to conduct business under a name other than your own, even if the name seems very similar, you must file a Fictitious Name registration application with the Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations. For details, see dba FloridaTM.