Compared to other business structures, sole proprietorships are relatively straightforward to set up. A sole proprietorship only has one owner who assumes liability for the business's debts. Opening a sole proprietorship involves selecting a business location, registering its name, applying for licenses and permits, and registering to pay taxes. Although uncomplicated, it is essential to set up a sole proprietorship correctly so as not to incur jurisdictional fees or penalties.
Select a location for your business. You will need to have the address of your business to fill out any required paperwork.
Read More: How to Open a General Partnership in Florida
Choose a name for your business. Decide if you want to do business under your own name, or create a different business name. If you choose to conduct business under a different name than your own, you may check to see if another business is already using the name. Two businesses may have the same name in Florida, but you may want to avoid duplication to prevent consumer confusion. To see if the name is available, visit the Florida Department of State website. Click on "Corporations" in the left column. Select "Look Up a Business Name" from the popular links list on the left column of the next page. Next, click on "Inquire by Name," and type in your selected name. You may also go back and click on "Inquire by Fictitious Name," to complete a more detailed search.
Advertise your selected business name. If you choose to do business under a different name than your own, you must publicize the fictitious business name in at least one newspaper in the county where you decide to do business.
Register your fictitious name with the Florida Department of State. You can do this online, but it won’t expedite the service. To register, visit the Florida Department of State website. Click on "Corporations" in the left column, and then on "Electronic Filing" Click on "Fictitious Name Registration." 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 you name fictitious name online by returning to the Florida Department of State website, clicking on “Corporations,” then on "Electronic Filing," followed by "Fictitious Name Registration." At the bottom of the page, check the box, and then click on “Add Fictitious Name Registration.” You will then see a form that you can fill out and submit online. You can also print it out and mail it or hand-deliver it to the address on the form. Call 850-245-6058 if you have any questions.
Apply for appropriate licenses and permits. Visit the website for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to determine if your professional business requires a license. Contact the city and county government to determine if you must apply for any local licenses or permits such as a health department permit or a permit for a sign. Your permit requirements may change depending on what county you select for your business.
Register with the Florida Department of Revenue. If your business is required to pay sales tax, or you have any employees, you must register with the department of revenue. You may register online by visiting the Florida Department of Revenue registration page. Follow the on-screen instructions to register your sole proprietorship. To speak to a department representative call 800-352-3671.
Register for an Employer Identification Number (EIN). If your business will have any employees, you must register for an EIN. To apply, visit the IRS EIN registration website to apply.
- Florida Small Business: Choosing a Legal Structure
- Florida Small Business: Forms, Permits & Licenses
- Florida Department of State Division of Corporations: Fictitious Name Registration - General Information
- Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation: Licensing Portal
- Florida Department of Revenue: Beginning Your Relationship with the Florida Department of Revenue
- IRS: Do You Need an EIN?
- Entrepeneur.com: Business Licenses and Permits
- IRS: Forms for Sole Proprietorship
- Florida Department of State Division of Corporations: Fictitious Name Inquire By Name
- Florida Department of State Division of Corporations: OnLine Fictitious Name Registration
- Florida Department of Revenue: Registration and Account Maintenance
- IRS: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) Online
Elizabeth Rayne earned her J.D. from Penn State University and has been practicing law since 2009, advising clients on issues ranging from employment law to nonprofit management. For two years, she served as a contributing editor for the "Vermont Environmental Monitor."