A Road Map for Success
Building a business is a lot like planning a trip.
Secure the necessary permits and licenses. Unless you are working from home as a sole proprietor with no employees, you will likely need one or more of the following to legally open and operate your business:
- Zoning Permit Must be obtained before receiving a business tax receipt. If you are within city limits, apply at the city zoning department; outside city limits, apply at the county zoning department. Note: Some jurisdictions require both city and county permits.
- Business Tax Receipt (aka Occupational License) If your business is within city limits, and the city and county issue separate business tax receipts, contact your municipal and county government offices to determine if you need just one or both.
- State and Professional Business Licenses More than 300 job categories/professions require a license from either the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation or the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Health-related professions/businesses are licensed and regulated by the Florida Department of Health. Costs vary and applicants must meet established criteria.
- Health Permits and Licenses Required for public lodging and public food service businesses; available from the Florida Division of Hotels and Restaurants. Licenses for retail food stores, food processing plants and food storage/distribution businesses may be obtained from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs.
- Beverage Licenses Businesses that sell alcoholic beverages must apply for a beverage license through the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation; fees depend on types of beverages sold or served. Retailers and wholesalers of beer, wine or liquor must pay federal occupational tax and obtain a control number from the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
- Retail Establishment Licenses Required by the Florida Office of Financial Regulation for any business financing the sale of goods or services sold by installment contract or revolving charge account to a retail buyer. Also subject to licensing: collection agencies, consumer finance companies, mortgage brokers, securities dealers, investment advisors, mortgage business schools.
- Environmental Permits Required for any business that is an actual or potential polluting source; one-time construction permits and renewable operating permits are also required. Permitting is mandated for such activities as dredge and fill, storm water construction, water treatment and sewage treatment. Apply through the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
For more detailed information about permits and licenses pertaining to your specific business, visit myflorida.com/dbpr and sunbiz.org.
Expand your knowledge of labor law.You don’t have to be an expert in labor law to run a business, but it helps to have at least a working knowledge of federal and state requirements with regard to employee health, wages, safety and fair treatment. See the following for a list of laws every business owner should be familiar with and websites to find more information.
FEDERAL LABOR LAWS
- Federal Minimum Wage Requires employers nationwide to pay a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour and overtime pay of not less than one-and-one-half times the regular pay rate after 40 hours of work per week. (dol.gov)
- Occupational Safety and Health Act Requires businesses to protect their workers from health and safety hazards on the job. (osha.gov)
- The Americans with Disabilities Act Prohibits employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities; requires public accommodations and commercial facilities to comply with specified accessibility standards. (ada.gov)
- Family and Medical Leave Requires businesses employing 50 or more to give certain employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year (26 weeks for qualifying military caregivers) while preserving their health benefits. (dol.gov/whd/fmla)
- Equal Pay Act Prohibits wage discrimination between men and women performing substantially equal work within the same workplace. (eeoc.gov)
STATE LABOR LAWS
- Florida Minimum Wage Requires employers in Florida to pay a minimum wage of $8.56 per hour and, for tipped employees, a minimum wage is $5.56 per hour.
- Workers’ Compensation Requires employers with four or more employees (full- or part-time) to carry workers’ compensation coverage for their employees; different requirements apply for construction and agriculture. (myfloridacfo.com/division/wc)
- Child Labor Workers under age 18 cannot work in certain hazardous occupations, including excavation, electrical work, roofing and mining, or around explosives, toxic or radioactive substances or dangerous equipment. Additional occupations are banned for children ages 14-15. Minors cannot work during school hours without an exemption.
- Background Checks Private citizens or companies may request a state-only criminal history record check of an individual through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement website.