A Step by Step Guide to File Your LLC (in Florida)
I've noticed a lot of my peers seem to be intimidated at the prospect of filing an LLC. I'm not sure why this process has been hyped as so mysterious, but I'm here to filter out the noise with a no nonsense step by step guide on how to file your LLC. It's not scary. It's not difficult. I promise :)
- Get a physical mailing address at a UPS store or something, PO box won’t work.
- Use address above to fill out an online form to register an LLC at sunbiz.org. Pay the fee. Use yourself as the sole managing member and use the address you got.
- Once your LLC goes through, get an EIN number for your business from irs.gov (free).
- Take this number to a bank and open a business account.
- optional but strongly recommended: Get general business liability (I have hiscox but here’s others). it’s incredibly cheap and can CYA.
- optional: file a DBA with sunbiz.org so u don’t have to use LLC on everything like a lawn company.
Step 1: Get a physical mailbox
Before we start, I strongly suggest getting a physical mailbox address. A P.O. box won't work. I suggest this because your filing will be public, so your home address will be searchable by anyone on the internet using just your name. There's a ton of options from virtual mailboxes, UPS stores, mom & pop shipping shops, and more. Just make sure it's an address at which you can receive mail that isn't your home.
Step 2: Sunbiz.org
Go to Sunbiz.org, specifically, the page for creating an LLC online. and select the New Filing button.
You'll be greeted by a giant form. Don't panic.
Filing Information Section
In the first section "Filing Information", the only thing required is your Limited Liability Company Name. This is the legal name of your business. This does not need to be the company name that your customers see (I'll explain later) but it's the legal name you'll use for all your future paperwork. You'll need a name that ends in "LLC", "Limited Liability Company", or "L.L.C." An example would be "Stark Industries LLC".
Principal Place of Business Section
This is the address you just got in the pre-requisites section. Or, you can use your home address here like an animal.
Mailing Address Section
"Mailing address same as principal address" Check this box.
Name And Address of Registered Agent
For simplicity, this will be you.
Any Other Provision(s)
Correspondence Name And E-mail Address Section
Use your contact information, and the business address.
Name And Address of Person(s) Authorized to Manage LLC
The only section you'll need to complete is the very first set of fields before the "- OR -". This lists you as the sole managing member of this LLC.
Leave the rest blank, and proceed to the payment screen. Complete your payment. Congrats! You just filed for your LLC. You do not need the certificate of copy (I just saved you $25 or however much it is these days).
Step 3: Get your EIN
Your EIN number is somewhat similar to a social security number for a business, but it isn't secret. It's required for you to open a business checking account, among other things. Let's start the EIN application here.
This application is a bit more straight-forward. Complete the steps, selecting your entity type (LLC), state, and just complete your information. You should receive notice of your EIN number once you get approval.
Step 4: Get your bank account
You'll need a separate checking account for your business. This helps protect your personal assets and keeps your accounting in line. This part is not so clear cut, because there's simply a ton of options for business banking. I'm in the central Florida region, so I personally went with Fairwinds, but there's plenty of other great choices. These are the documents they will most likely need:
- You driver's license / ID
- Articles of Incorporation (you'll get that when your LLC filiing is approved)
- Your EIN number
- Your business mailing address
Once you have these things in hand, you're ready to shop for business banking.
Step 5 (optional): File a DBA, "Doing Business As"
This is optional, but I'd suggest filing a DBA without an "LLC" appended to the name. This also allows you to have a generic holding company LLC name, and tailor other venture's branding to your needs without doing an LLC name change. It gives you flexibility. Note: You'll need to provide your bank with your DBA filing information once it's approved so you can accept payment under this name
Step 6 (optional): General Liability Insurance
I would strongly suggest getting General Liability insurance. I personally have a policy through Hiscox insurance, and the general business liability portion costs me ~ 35 a month for 2 million-dollars worth of coverage in the event I'm sued. It even covers me if I'm at fault for the civil suit.
- Save your business receipts
- Don't co-mingle personal and business checking activites
- Get a good accounting app (QuickBooks Online, Wave, etc)
- Get that bread 😎