Setting Up a Business in Florida: A Guide for International Entrepreneurs

Starting a business in Florida is an exciting opportunity for international entrepreneurs. The state offers a favorable tax climate, strategic location, vibrant economy, and a supportive environment for new ventures.

At Reichard Tornes, we understand the unique challenges international entrepreneurs face and are here to provide the guidance and legal support necessary for your success.

Understanding the Florida Business Landscape

Florida’s economy is the fourth largest in the United States, making it a fertile ground for business opportunities. Key industries in Florida include tourism, agriculture, aerospace, and technology.

The state also boasts a growing tech ecosystem, particularly in Miami, which has become a hub for innovation and startups.

The business environment in Florida is characterized by a regulatory framework that supports business growth and development. The state offers various business incentives, such as tax credits, grants, and training programs to foster economic development.

Understanding this landscape is crucial for international entrepreneurs to make informed decisions and leverage available opportunities.

Key Steps to Setting Up a Business in Florida

Step 1: Business Planning

A solid business plan is the foundation of a successful business. It outlines your business goals, strategies, market research, and financial projections. A comprehensive business plan helps secure funding and provides a roadmap for your business journey.

Market research is a critical component of business planning. It involves analyzing your target market, understanding customer needs, and identifying competitors.

This research helps identify market gaps and opportunities, allowing you to tailor your products or services to meet customer demands.

Step 2: Choosing the Right Business Structure

Selecting the appropriate business structure is a crucial decision that affects your business’s legal and tax obligations. The typical business structures in Florida include:

  • Limited Liability Company (LLC): Offers flexibility and protection from personal liability.
  • Corporation: Suitable for businesses seeking to issue stock and attract investors.
  • Partnership: Ideal for businesses with two or more owners.
  • Sole Proprietorship: Simplest structure, suitable for single-owner businesses.

Each structure has its advantages and disadvantages. Factors to consider when choosing a business structure include liability protection, tax implications, management structure, and the ability to raise capital.

Step 3: Registering Your Business

Once you have chosen your business structure, the next step is to register your business with the state of Florida. This involves:

  • Registering your business name: Ensure your business name is unique and not already used by another entity.
  • Filing Articles of Incorporation or Organization: Depending on your business structure, you must file the necessary documents with the Florida Department of State.
  • Obtaining necessary licenses and permits: Different businesses require different licenses and permits to operate legally. Identifying and getting all the licenses needed for your business is essential.

Step 4: Understanding U.S. Visa and Immigration Requirements

International entrepreneurs must secure the appropriate visa to establish a business in the U.S. The common visas for entrepreneurs include:

  • E-2 Treaty Investor Visa: For investors from countries with a treaty of commerce with the U.S. who invest substantial capital in a U.S. business.
  • L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visa: For executives, managers, or employees with specialized knowledge transferring to a U.S. branch of an international company.
  • EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program: This program is for investors who invest a minimum amount in a U.S. business and create at least ten full-time jobs for U.S. workers.

 Each visa has specific requirements and application processes. It is advisable to consult with an immigration attorney to determine the best visa option for your situation.

Legal Considerations for International Entrepreneurs

Compliance with U.S. and Florida Laws

Compliance with local, state, and federal regulations is crucial for operating a business in Florida. Vital legal requirements include:

  • Employment laws: Understanding labor laws, employee rights, and hiring practices.
  • Health and safety regulations: Ensuring a safe working environment for employees.
  • Environmental regulations: Complying with environmental laws and regulations.

Failure to comply with these regulations can result in legal penalties and harm your business reputation.

Intellectual Property Protection

Protecting your business’s intellectual property (IP) is vital to maintaining a competitive edge. Steps to safeguard IP include:

  • Trademarks: Registering trademarks for your business name, logo, and slogans.
  • Patents: Securing patents for unique inventions and products.
  • Copyrights: Protecting original works such as literature, music, and software.


Understanding your business’s tax obligations is essential for financial planning. Key tax considerations include:

  • Corporate taxes: Florida has a corporate income tax rate of 5.5%.
  • Sales taxes: Collecting and remitting sales tax on taxable goods and services.
  • Federal taxes: Complying with federal tax requirements, including income tax, payroll tax, and self-employment tax.

Consulting with a tax advisor can help you understand the tax landscape and take advantage of available tax incentives.

Setting Up Operations in Florida

Finding the Right Location

Choosing the right location for your business can significantly impact its success. Factors to consider include:

  • Proximity to customers and suppliers: Ensuring easy access for your target market and supply chain.
  • Business climate: Evaluating the economic conditions and business support in different regions of Florida.
  • Infrastructure: Assessing the availability of essential infrastructure such as transportation, utilities, and technology.

Popular business hubs in Florida include Miami, Orlando, and Tampa, each offering unique advantages for different industries.

Banking and Financial Setup

Steps to establish banking and financial operations include:

  • Opening a business bank account: Choosing a bank that offers favorable terms for business accounts.
  • Securing financing: Exploring options for business loans, lines of credit, and investment capital.
  • Understanding financial regulations: Complying with banking and financial regulations to avoid legal issues.

Building a Local Network

Networking with local business communities is essential for establishing your presence in Florida. The benefits of building a regional network include the following:

  • Access to resources: Gaining access to local business resources, support services, and mentorship programs.
  • Business opportunities: Identifying potential partnerships, collaborations, and customers.
  • Community support: Building relationships with local stakeholders who can support your business growth.

Organizations such as local chambers of commerce, business associations, and economic development agencies offer valuable networking opportunities.

Success Stories of Business in Florida

Florida has emerged as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship, fostering a diverse range of successful companies across various industries. In recent years, the state has seen a surge in technology firms pioneering advancements in augmented reality, conversational AI, and IT management.

With companies developing groundbreaking solutions transforming these industries, Florida’s entrepreneurial ecosystem supports established businesses and new startups, contributing to the state’s dynamic and robust economic growth:

Magic Leap is a pioneering technology company at the forefront of augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) solutions. Established in 2010 by Rony Abovitz, the company is based in Plantation, Florida. Magic Leap’s advanced AR headsets are not just about blending digital content with the real world; they are about transforming how we perceive and interact with our environment.

Mytaverse, founded in Miami in 2020, is a trailblazer in creating 3D immersive virtual environments. Their platform is not just about conducting virtual meetings, events, and collaborations; it’s about providing a solution to the increasing demand for remote work. Mytaverse’s adaptability to the changing work landscape has led to over $1M in revenue as of 2024.

Caribu is a family video calling and reading platform that provides kids with an engaging long-distance communication experience. It integrates children’s picture books into a simple, child-friendly video-calling app. Caribu also combines interactivity and education to create a communication tool for the modern family. Founded in Miami in 2016, it was acquired by Mattel in 2022.

Chewy, founded by Ryan Cohen in 2011 and headquartered in Plantation, FL., is an online pet food and supplies retailer. Its customer-centric approach and fast delivery have made it a favorite among pet owners.

In 2017, PetSmart acquired Chewy for $3.35 billion, marking one of the most significant e-commerce acquisitions., founded in 2013 in Orlando, FL, specializes in developing advanced AI-driven platforms to optimize and automate enterprise interactions through chatbots across various digital channels. The company focuses on creating seamless and efficient conversational experiences for businesses, enhancing customer service, and streamlining internal operations. was named a leader in the Forrester Wave for Conversational AI for Customer Service and featured in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant in 2024. 

Kaseya. Headquartered in Miami and founded in 2000, Kaseya is a prominent IT management and security software solutions provider for managed service providers (MSPs) and IT professionals. The company’s suite of products includes remote monitoring and management (RMM), network and endpoint management, service desk, and security solutions designed to streamline IT operations, enhance security, and improve overall efficiency.

As of 2024, Kaseya has generated over $100MM in revenue.

How Reichard Tornes Can Help

  • At Reichard Tornes, we specialize in business law and have extensive experience assisting international entrepreneurs. Our services include:
  • Business formation: Guidance on choosing the proper business structure and registering your business.
  • Compliance support: Ensuring your business meets all legal and regulatory requirements.
  • We have a proven track record of success in business and commercial litigation,

Starting a business in Florida offers numerous benefits for international entrepreneurs, from a favorable tax climate to a supportive business environment. At Reichard Tornes, we are committed to providing the legal expertise and support you need to thrive. Contact us today to take the first step towards establishing your successful business in Florida.