Corporate Structure • Naming Your Business • Permits and Licenses • Location
Now that your analysis is finished and your business plan is under way, it’s time to build your business.
Choose Your Structure
One of your first decisions as a business owner is to determine how your company will be structured — as a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation or limited liability company. Each has its own legal and tax implications; choosing your best fit depends on your personal tax situation, type of business, number of owners and whether or not you plan to have employees. Official descriptions of these legal structures are included in the “dba Florida” section from the Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations. The taxes related to each are described in “Manage It.”
Naming Your Business
What’s in a Name?
A good deal of thought, we suggest. Choosing a name is one of the most important business decisions you’ll ever make, and it’s a task you shouldn’t take lightly. Plenty of advice about how to name your business is available online, but here are three tips to get you started:
The shorter your company’s name, the better. Many of the business names we know best — Ford, Apple, Exxon, Google, Mattel, CitiBank and Starbucks — have just 5-10 letters. Not only do these names roll off the tongue easily, they fit in a 144-character tweet.
Choose a name that’s easy to spell, easy to pronounce and — here’s the really tough part — identifies your business without being too limiting. You might want to one day enlarge your product line or expand to new locations, so give your company a name that allows the flexibility to do that.
The name you ultimately choose is no good if it’s already taken. Before you order signage or letterhead, search one of the free sites available online (www.uspto.gov or www.trademarkia.com) to see if another company is already using it.
Of course it’s perfectly okay to use your own name as the name of your business; many sole proprietorships do. However, 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 with the Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations. Corporations do not have to file, unless doing business under a name other than their corporate name.
For information about filing fees and to register a name online, visit sunbiz.org. Registration must be renewed every five years and re-registered if ownership of the name changes.
Take note: Registration does not reserve a fictitious name against future use by other business owners.