Thursday, September 16, 2021

How to Start an LLC in Florida

A limited liability company (LLC) is one of the most popular business entities for its easy setup and simple structure. 

Florida is one of the best states to start an LLC in, mostly because in Florida, LLCs don’t pay state income tax and have no limitations on membership or management structure.

The process of starting an LLC in Florida is admittedly time-consuming, but it’s a lot easier than you may think. 

Once you understand how to register, file articles of organization, create an operating agent, and obtain an EIN, your LLC will be up and running in no time. 

Luckily, in this in-depth guide, I will highlight how you can start an LLC in Florida right now. 

The Easy Parts of Starting an LLC in Florida 

To many people’s surprise, choosing a name for your Florida LLC is one of the easiest parts of the process. You don’t need to spend money, fill out a bunch of forms, or travel anywhere—you can do it all online from the comfort of your home. 

After thinking of a few names that reflect the aim of your business, you can search for LLC names via the Florida Division of Corporation’s business name search database. This database will list all registered LLC names in the state, leaving you with a wide variety of options for your LLC. 

You can also use a free website to generate a name for your Florida LLC, as there are many free name generators on the internet today, so make sure you look around if you’re struggling to find a name. 

When it comes to naming your LLC, it cannot include words or abbreviations that could confuse your LLC with a government agency, such as the FBI, Treasury, or State Department. 

There are also restricted words, like Bank, University, and Attorney, which may require additional paperwork and a licensed professional to be a part of your LLC to get approval to use these words. 

The Difficult Parts of Starting an LLC in Florida 

Although choosing a name for your Florida LLC is one of the easier parts of the process, registering the name can be a little bit trickier. Once you’ve found a business name you love and checked for its availability, now you have to form your business with the state of Florida, which can be time-consuming. 

To properly start an LLC, you will need to file your formation documents with Florida’s business division, usually the Secretary of State. By completing the form online by yourself, you risk accidentally sending off misinformation, which can heavily impact your business decisions and waste your time by receiving a rejection letter. 

Registration forms are usually complex, and for a complete beginner, mistakes are bound to happen. However, luckily for you, there are many LLC services on the market today that can make registering your LLC so much easier. 

Incfile is a leader in business registration and can help you register and manage your new LLC with ease. 

Not only is it free to form your LLC with Incfile, but it’s incredibly easy, as it takes the guesswork out of file formation and registration. The only fee you have to pay is the state fee, which is currently $125. 

Step 1: Choose a Name For Your Florida LLC 

The first step is to choose a name for your Florida LLC because a business doesn’t exist without a name. This step will be easier if you already have a name in mind, but it’s okay if you don’t, as we will go through the steps to find the perfect LLC name for you. This step is significant because it will ultimately reflect the aim of your business, so choose carefully. 

Come Up With a List of Possible Names

If you don’t have a name in mind, the easiest way to choose a business name is to come up with a list. Write down every name that aligns with the aim of your business. Here are a few pointers for when you write your list: 

  • Be descriptive
  • Keep it simple 
  • Avoid your name 
  • Aim for easy spelling 

When naming your Florida LLC, you must include the phrase “limited liability company,” or either of its abbreviations of LLC or L.L.C. This phrase is what differentiates your business from an S and C Corporation, Nonprofits, and Sole Proprietorships—which all have different protection and structure. 

If you really can’t think of a business name, you can always try out a free business name generator. 

Incfile offers this service using high-powered AI—so you can find a name you love and then search for its availability right away.

Check for Domain Availability

Although this step is optional, I recommend checking if your business name is available as a web domain. Most successful businesses have a website, and making sure your URL matches your LLC name is ideal. If you search for a domain name first and it’s available, there’s a high chance it will also be available as a business name. 

Unfortunately, to check for domain availability and eventually claim one via Incfile, you will have to purchase its Platinum Package, valued at $424. 

  • Package fee: $299
  • State fee: $125

The best part about this package is that the Incfile team helps you organize all forms and operating agreements while giving you access to business contract templates, expedited filing, and a domain name with a business email. 

You can also search for a domain name for free on many hosting websites, but keep in mind that you will always have to pay for a domain. Once you find a domain name that’s available in Florida, the searching continues in the next step.

Check for Name Availability 

Just like searching for a domain name, you want to make sure that someone else hasn’t already registered the desired name of your LLC. 

You can check the availability of your desired business name by utilizing the Incfile Business Name Search tool. This tool is free, but you need to include additional information, like your name, email address, and entity state and type, which can be time-consuming for some people. 

Alternatively, you can visit the Florida Division of Corporations business name search database. This database is also free, but it’s an overall quicker process, as it’s specific to Florida, so all you need to include is your desired business name and search. 

Checking that your desired LLC name is available is an important step because the state will deny your documentation if you try to file your business with a name that’s already in use. 

Protect Your Name With a Trademark 

Protecting your LLC name with a trademark will ensure nationwide protection backed by federal law. Trademarks make sure that you have legal precedent on your side if anyone decides to use your name or something similar. 

I would only recommend purchasing a trademark if you want to go nationwide with your business, as fees are involved.

Business trademarks typically cost between $225 to $400, including attorney fees and a 10-year renewal fee. 

Step 2: Choose a Registered Agent 

For the next step, you should choose a registered agent to secure your LLC. A registered agent is a person or business responsible for sending and receiving legal documents on behalf of your company. Every LLC must have a registered agent, as it serves as a permanent physical presence in Florida. 

Sign Up With Incfile 

To choose a registered agent, you can sign up with Incfile for free and let its team do the work for you. Incfile’s registered agent service is free for the first year, helping you get started with your entrepreneurship. 

By first hovering over File With Your State and then clicking Get A Registered Agent on the dropdown menu, you have the option to provide your contact and company information, so Incfile can find the perfect registered agent for you. It will then give you access to the Business Dashboard, where you can view the name and address of your chosen agent.

Renew Your Registered Agent 

It’s important to remember to renew your registered agent each year. As mentioned above, with Incfile, the first year is free, but after that, you will have to pay $119 each year. 

Luckily, Incfile will email you a month before your renewal due date with instructions. You can then renew your registered agent at any time by accessing the Registered Agent Dashboard. 

Step 3: File Your Articles of Organization

Articles of organization are the formal documents that help you create an LLC and make your business legal. Without them, you can’t start your business, so they are essential items to file. You can file these documents online, by mail, or get an LLC service to file them for you. 

Review and Organize Your LLC Information

Before filing your documents, you should review and organize your business information. For a Florida LLC, the articles of organization require the following information: 

  • The name and principal place of your LLC
  • Registered agent’s name and Florida street address (P.O Boxes are not accepted) 
  • Registered agent’s signature 
  • All of the names and street addresses of each LLC member 
  • Name and street address of the LLC manager 
  • The effective date of the LLC or the date of filing 
  • Signature of the individual completing the form 

There is a $125 state fee to file your articles of organization, and it takes four weeks to file. With Incfile, it takes up to five business days for expedited filing. 

When it comes to Florida’s compliance requirements, the articles of organization need to be reviewed and filed each year on the first of May for $139. 

File Online Through Incfile 

The best part about filing the articles of organization through Incfile is that it’s completely free to do. Many other LLC services charge upwards of $150 to help you file your documents, but this is not the case with Incfile.

All you have to pay is the $125 state fee, which you would have to pay if you were filing these documents yourself. Incfile helps you prepare these documents and pays the Florida Department of State on your behalf upon completion. 

Florida doesn’t currently offer expedited filings for an LLC, but Incfile can internally expedite your order to ensure the fastest delivery to the state for filing. 

Step 4: Draft an LLC Operating Agreement

According to Florida law, an LLC does not currently need to have an operating agreement. However, I would highly recommend drafting a written operating agreement among you and the members of your LLC, as this agreement facilitates your daily operations, ownership structure, and member roles. 

Organize Your Agreement Information

Just like with your articles of organization, you need to organize any information that goes into these legal documents before drafting and filing them. An operating agreement should include the following information: 

  • The purpose of the LLC, including services or products
  • The names and street addresses of members and managers 
  • Each member’s contributions of value to the LLC
  • Each member’s ownership stake in the business, voting rights, and profit share
  • The procedure for admitting new members 
  • The procedure for electing a manager 
  • The meeting and voting schedules of the LLC
  • Dissolution terms and procedures 

Create an Agreement Through Incfile 

Creating an operating agreement through Incfile has never been easier. You can purchase this service through its Gold and Platinum packages. 

Incfile’s legal experts will take your information and draft an error-free operating agreement that fits the exact needs of you and your LLC members. Drafting your agreement through Incfile will help save you time and money, especially as an entrepreneur on a tight budget. 

Make Sure All Members Sign the Agreement 

After creating your LLC operating agreement, you must make sure all members review and sign the document. Signatures ensure that everyone is on the same page, meaning there won’t be any disagreements or injustices within the business in the future. 

Step 5: Obtain an EIN 

For the last step of the process, you will need to apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN). An EIN is a unique nine-digit number that you use to identify your business and keep track of tax reporting. You can apply for an EIN through the IRS website for free or through Incfile for a small fee. 

Here are some quick steps to do it through both platforms:

Request an EIN From the IRS

Requesting an EIN from the IRS online is a simple and free solution. After going to the IRS website and clicking Apply Online Now, the IRS will redirect you to a webpage that looks like this: 

Make sure you choose Limited Liability Company (LLC) as your legal structure. If you accidentally choose any other business structure, there will be different rules and questions. After this, the IRS form will ask you about your members and location. The page should look like this: 

You can then add the correct amount of members in your LLC and make sure to select Florida for the location. The next set of questions will ask the reason you are requesting an EIN, which in most cases, is because you are starting a new business. 

The authentication process will ask you who the responsible party is for the LLC and a few personal questions about the responsible party, alongside physical location and mailing address. 

The IRS form is easy to follow after these steps, but it’s important to get this information correct the first time, especially if this is your first time starting a business. If you find the IRS form too long or confusing, there’s always the option to request an EIN from Incfile instead. 

Request an EIN From Incfile

The process of requesting an EIN from Incfile is much easier. All you have to do is order its filing service for a low fee of $70. 

Once you’ve paid the fee, Incfile’s representatives will contact you for the information, so make sure you have everything organized beforehand. I would recommend filing through Incfile if you don’t have much time to spare. 

from Quick Sprout