1. How Are Sole Proprietorships Different From Other Businesses?
2. Registering Your Business Name
3. Exceptions From Registration

Starting a sole proprietorship in Florida is easy and affordable. A sole proprietorship is a business that has only one owner who assumes liability for a business and its debts. You create a Florida sole proprietorship just by going into business by yourself. If you are the only owner of the business, the business will automatically be a Florida sole proprietorship unless you choose to incorporate your business or register it as a Limited Liability Company (LLC). LLCs and corporations must be registered with the state of Florida.

How Are Sole Proprietorships Different From Other Businesses?

A sole proprietorship in Florida is the least complex and cheapest form of doing business. It is different from other businesses in the following ways:

  • It requires no formal paperwork to set up.
  • It doesn't need to be registered with the state.
  • It doesn't shield individuals from liability for their business debts and any claims made against the business.
  • Its income is treated as simple income for tax purposes; therefore, you do not need to file separate taxes for it.

If you decide that a sole proprietorship is right for you and your business, you should follow several steps. Deciding on the name of your business is a fun and important step. If you choose to do business under a name other than your own, check to see if another business is already using it. Florida allows two businesses to use the same name, but you'll want to avoid it to help with your branding and to avoid confusion for your consumers.

In addition to naming your business, you must select a business location. You will need that address to fill out paperwork. You must also register its name, apply for applicable licenses and permits with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation if necessary, and register to pay taxes.

Registering Your Business Name

Registering your business name is an important step. It allows you to do business using something other than your legal name. Most banks require proof of registration to open an account. A fictitious name (also referred to as “doing business as” or “DBA”) is different from your personal name. It is also different from your business's legal name. This also applies if you are part of a partnership.

The Fictitious Name Act (s.865.09, F.S.) requires any person (or business entity) to register their “fictitious name” or “DBA” name with the Florida Department of State prior to conducting business. To do so:

  • Visit the Florida Department of State website.
  • Click on "Corporations," and then on "Fictitious Name Registration" under "Electronic Filing."
  • Select "Sunbiz E-file Account" under payment options.
  • Download both the "Sunbiz E-file Account Application" and the "Sunbiz E-file Account Deposit Slip." Submit both forms with the required deposit to the address listed on the form to set up an account.
  • Once you are notified that you have an account, you can register your fictitious name online by returning to the Florida Department of State website, clicking on “Corporations,” then on "Electronic Filing," then "Fictitious Name Registration."
  • At the bottom of the page, click on “Add Fictitious Name Registration.” You can pay using a credit card, check, or money order. All payments must be in U.S. currency drawn from a U.S. bank, and you should receive confirmation of your registration within 24 hours.

To complete this process, you will be working with the Division of Corporations. It is the filing agency responsible for the administration of the Fictitious Name Act. As part of that process, it is your responsibility to comply with all rules and regulations. You must ensure that you are not infringing on another group's name, because the Division of Corporations is not responsible if you infringe on another business's name. The Division must accept any fictitious name registration that meets the filing requirements.

Exceptions From Registration

There are exemptions from registration. You may not need to register if:

  • You are an attorney whose business is practicing law in Florida.
  • You are registered with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
  • Your corporation is federally chartered and not transacting business under any other name.

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