How To Establish A Business in Florida

If you’re reading this, chances are you are interested in learning how to establish a business in Florida. Florida is appealing to new business owners because it has one of the most business-friendly tax and regulatory environments in the country. In Florida, you can form a business yourself or hire a service to do it for you. But regardless of which option you choose, use the following steps to get you through the process. There are basic requirements you must satisfy, which we will address later in our six steps.

For starters, it is vital to emphasize the process of selecting the best type of business entity form for your business. According to the Small Business Association, the type of business entity you wish to establish influences several business practices: from how you’ll file annual taxes, to the day-to-day operations of your business, and even how much of your personal assets are at risk.

Types of Business Entities/Structures

  • Sole Proprietorship
  • Partnerships
  • Corporations
  • S Corporations
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC)

Each business entity/structure type has its pros and cons, and our experienced team of attorneys is here to carefully walk you through your options to help decide which is best for you. We’re happy to discuss the benefits and risks associated with each type of entity structure and invite you to contact us here for a free consultation.

Once you establish the form of business you want to pursue those best suits your needs and business, follow these steps to establish a business in Florida:

  1. Establish a Name – Follow Naming Guideline for Florida

Do your research, and make sure no other business has your desired name or one similar enough that can cause confusion for your customers and clients. To check if your business name is available, you can do a name search on the SunBiz Florida website. If you’re creating an LLC, your name must include the phrase “limited liability company or “LLC/L.L.C.”

  1. File Articles of Incorporation

Form your business by visiting www.SunBiz.com to file your Articles of Incorporation. You can file your business online or via mail. Non-Profit, Profit, LLC, and Partnership business types all have different and separate Articles of Incorporation. Be sure to fill out the corresponding form for your business type. You are also required to register your business with the Florida Department of Revenue

  1. Choose a Registered Agent 

Florida requires that you nominate a Registered Agent for your business, who is the business’ point of contact with the state. The registered agent can be an individual within the company, or an authorized services company authorized to do business in the state of Florida. The authorized agent will send and receive legal papers on the business’ behalf, including correspondence such as legal summons and document findings to properly maintain business. 

  1. Register Your Business Name 

If you selected to open your business as a Sole ProprietorshipThe Fictitious Name Act  (s.865.09, F.S.) requires any person (which, by definition, includes an individual, as well as a business entity) to register their “fictitious name” or “dba” name with the Florida Department of State prior to conducting business in Florida.

Registration of a fictitious name under the Fictitious Name Act allows:

  • An individual or business to operate under a name other than their legal name.
  • The public to search SunBiz to determine what individual or business is operating under the fictitious name.
  1. Seek Legal Advice

If you established a business where more than one owner or individual is involved, seek legal advice to create an operating agreement. Whether you’re starting a new business or revising your existing business structure, our experienced team of attorneys can help you draft an operating agreement tailored to your needs. We’ll make sure your agreement complies with applicable laws and regulations, and provides the protection you need to keep your business running smoothly.

  1. Get an EIN for your Florida LLC

What is an EIN? The Employer Identification Number (EIN), is a nine-digit number issued by the Internal Revenue System (IRS); an Employer ID Number is used to identify a business entity and keep track of a business’s tax reporting.

If you are looking to establish a business in Florida, it is important to follow the proper steps and seek legal assistance. The Markarian Group has a team of experienced attorneys who can help you navigate the complex process of starting a business in Florida. We understand the importance of getting your business set up properly for success, and will work diligently to ensure that all necessary paperwork is filed and that your company is compliant with state laws. Contact us today for more information about our services or to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.

Building Bridges with your Business Partner During COVID-19 Times

There are few issues that are more dominant than the Covid pandemic, which has changed our society in ways no one anticipated less than two years ago. Despite the broader, more recognizable impacts that all of us have seen, the pandemic has also forced some uncomfortable situations that may not have existed before 2020. Consider vaccinations, which have proven effective in either preventing serious illness or hospitalization, or infection altogether. Though this may be true, not everyone shares the belief that vaccinations should be mandatory, but rather a personal choice. So what happens in a work environment where two partners share this difference of opinion? Dave Markarian, Partner, The Markarian Group, says it is a reasonable question to consider as the issue grows in relevance. This can be approached in several ways:

  • Approach Interactions With An Open Mind: We have to acknowledge that there are going to be differences of opinion, even in what seems obvious. Attempt to remain open-minded and understand your partners’ or coworkers’ points of view and listen generously.  Trying to convince them they are “wrong” and you are “right” will be unproductive and can foster an even more emotional reaction, making working together more difficult.
  • Be Respectful: It’s acceptable to disagree. Respect the reasons for other’s decisions that differ from the choices you’ve made, and speak about them rationally, with a spirit of understanding.
  • Figure It Out: This might seem like a challenge, but there’s always room for negotiation. Once you can work through differences respectfully, you can set boundaries on what kind of workplace environment is best.  A little cooperation all the way around can yield a result that allows everyone to feel safe while allowing for a sense of self-direction. Understanding the basics will go a long way.
  • It May Not Be Forever: The final point to realize is that this might be temporary. It’s difficult to imagine, but the science and treatments are changing every day. Make it clear as you work through these conversations that it isn’t personal – this is just a way to get through the current circumstances.

The key to keep in mind; avoid trying to convince your fellow worker that they’re wrong, and instead focus on sensible give-and-take solutions. It will make working together a lot easier. Stay calm and committed to establishing the best practices for everyone involved – including yourself!

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We Help People and Business in Times of Crisis

Increasingly, the firm is retained to represent people and companies in crisis, during paradigm shifts, and during moments of uncertainty. In other words, at times when the stakes could not be higher:

  • A business owner learns that a trusted employee set up a competing business, moving all of that businesses’ customers, employees and suppliers to the new company in the dead of night.
  • An employer unfairly seeks an injunction against a former employee, keeping her from working in support of her family, at tremendous emotional and financial cost.
  • Suit is threatened against a respected community member that may lead to irreversible injury to reputation.
  • A high school athletic association wrongly denies eligibility to a promising football player, threatening the athlete’s scholarship opportunities at the very time that college scouts would make final decisions effecting his future – prejudicing what is likely his best ticket to a lucrative degree and to lift himself beyond his modest upbringing.
  • An election must be challenged within 10 days of its certification.
  • A business professional receives an administrative complaint against her license, threatening suspension or revocation potentially resulting in professional and reputational ruin.
  • A business’ trade secrets are to be exposed by subpoenas issued in an unrelated dispute between two business rivals in a tangential line of work.
  • Husband-and-wife business partners see both their marriage and business prospects crumble simultaneously, with the soon-to-be ex-husband resorting to financial hijinks to “maintain control” over the soon-to-be ex-wife.
  • A public official is wrongfully included in litigation in the midst of a re-election campaign, requiring forceful response followed by immediate, discrete resolution. Property or bank accounts must be immediately seized to prevent fraudulent transfers or dissipation of assets.
  • A family burdened by costly estate litigation finds itself victimized by an unreasonable sibling’s meritless, retributive legal challenges.
  • A record label filed bankruptcy, and the purchaser of its assets is seeking to void or materially change financial obligations to the artist.
  • A former business partner disables a business’ email domain and website, threatening to interrupt and potentially halt lucrative and necessary business operations.
  • A nursing school receives an administrative complaint which threatens to close the school down, displacing young soon-to-be nurses when our communities need them the most.An applicant for an administrative business license receives a notice of intent to deny, potentially preventing implementation of years of strategic planning and investment. potentially preventing implementation of years of strategic planning and investment.

The stakes of these important David vs. Goliath and “bet the company” contests led us toward law school in the first place, and they still cause our brains to race and our feet to hit the ground running each morning before day-break. In other words: this is what we train and prepare for.

The nature of our work requires the ability to file quality legal petitions, often in the course of just a morning, in order to quickly get the matter before a court for emergency rulings in the blink of an eye. We purposefully maintain extra bandwidth amongst our legal team in order to be able to routinely deliver “thread the needle” legal excellence under tight time deadlines.

At the same time, despite the urgent nature of these contests, sound strategic planning remains the foundation for all our successful legal challenges. We recognize not only the importance of a well thought out “Plan A,” but also the ability to nimbly respond to any potential development with carefully considered alternative courses of action, mapped out in advance. We believe that the best outcomes also occur when we partner effectively with our clients, including them in our inner circle of decision-making and preparation so they can also pay attention to even the smallest detail.

The Covid-19 crisis made it more challenging to enforce legal rights, at least in part because of the suspension of jury trials and other limits on the function of the court system. The conduct of nearly all legal proceedings through video raises the emphasis on compelling story-telling and use of the latest in electronic presentation tools – our forte. We make it a point to be fair and honest with our adversaries, and respectful and helpful to our presiding judges as they labor with difficult decisions.

Most important: we play to win. In our business, winning is paramount, and in this arena, winning favors the litigant with the most compelling story, represented by the legal advocate best able to tell that story most convincingly.

Dave Markarian

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Business of the Month

We have the privilege of working for great people, causes and industries. We represent those who are brilliant at business, as well as those with brilliant ideas, that ultimately become great businesses. Each month, we’d like to tell you about one of our great business-partners and friends, and what they’re doing to make our daily lives better.

This month, take a moment to meet Patrick Powell, CEO of AXE Trailers. Located in Boca Raton, AXE is America’s premier heavy haul trailers provider, working with top manufacturers throughout the United States to provide the highest quality trailers in the industry. A fellow Florida State Seminole, Patrick uniquely understands the power of marketing. With an all gas, no brakes attitude, and a modern approach to the truck and trailer industry, AXE has grown from 4 to 20 employees exponentially. His company is changing the business landscape and finding better ways to serve their customers every single day.

We’re big fans of AXE, and hope you’ll check them out here.

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Safe Covid Practices Protect You and Your Business

Shortly after many communities shut down businesses and schools, etc., we were called upon by our business clients to provide them with a safe framework from which to do business. We set out to craft a plan to safeguard the health of business employees and customers, and do so without incurring crippling liabilities.

Our First effort involved harnessing as much of the known scientific knowledge and mainstream thought as we could and incorporate that into a businesses’ contingency plan. We next incorporated documents that would serve as checklists for companies to ensure safe practices, crafted agreements that businesses could have their subcontractors sign and adhere to (including among other things weekly testing of subcontractors employees, and a signed pledge, verified each week, that the employees have not been exposed to certain conditions, or suffered certain symptoms.

While state and federal government failed to quickly insulate the workplace from Covid liability, we went to work investigating and crafting reasonable steps that could be taken to ensure a safe and secure work environment, including workplace rules and regulations for social distancing, daily sworn documentation of non-exposure, how to enter and exit a workplace, how to sanitize it and how to ensure the spacing of people throughout offices, etc. We counseled businesses as to the type of chemicals to use in keeping their premises clean, the frequency of cleaning, temperature taking and rules on hand washing.

We paid perhaps the most attention to those businesses that could not function, and in fact would go out of business, if they were unable to have their workforce enter customer premises or homes to perform services or deliver materials.

One formula that we believe was most effective was a deliberate effort to assure customers that meaningful steps had been taken for their safety. One business we counseled sent out the notice to customers on the day before a scheduled visit to remind them of the business’ focus on safety, and careful attention to the range of solutions it employed. Customers gained confidence through these creative efforts to ensure as much normality as possible.

We are happy to report that all of the businesses that we’ve counseled, who depend upon working in or on the customers premises or home, are doing well and holding their own, and we’re proud of them.

By David Markarian

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It’s Our Privilege

We have the privilege of working for great people, causes and industries. We represent those who are brilliant at business, as well as those with brilliant ideas, that ultimately become great businesses. Each month, we’d like to tell you about one of our great business-partners and friends, and what they’re doing to making our lives better. This month, take a moment to meet Dean and Tracy Ernst, two of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, and the proprietors of Essential Candy, who make their home in Wellington. Some years ago, due to their desire to help a dear friend overcome the effects of chemotherapy experienced in the wake of cancer, they experimented with batch after batch of variations of concoctions of hard candies infused with CBD, until arriving at just the right formula. After establishing admirable business success, they continue to adhere to their roots – caring for others. A meaningful percentage of every dime they collect is donated and re-purposed for causes that help those with this terrible disease. They call it “Candy With A Purpose.” We say, they do well by doing good. We love them, and hope you’ll check them out here.

Learn more about them in an interview in VoyageMIA Magazine

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There’s No Litigation Line Item on Your P & L

Before joining FPL/Next Era, I never had a complete appreciation for how legal bills impacted our clients. I recall in the heyday of the white-collar litigation involving the likes of Tyco, Qwest, Adelphia, and Enron, that monthly bills just for document review tended to exceed $1 million, for cases of that type.

Once I got to FPL/Next Era, I realized the severe impact that legal bills had upon profitability and operations. It even affected the personal compensation and bonuses for those responsible for controlling profit and loss, even if they had nothing to do with the cause of the litigation. I soon realized that litigation expense was highly impactful to the bottom line. I noted that there was no line item for potential litigation in any corporate P & L, because that type of unplanned, unbudgeted for expense was fatal to the success of any business unit.

Even for a gigantic company with deep pockets, litigation expense that was unplanned for was unbudgeted, and was sure to have great impact upon the fate of those working within an area or department of the company that was subject to litigation.

I learned at that time that, well before the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Professionalism published The Relevant Lawyer – Reimaging the Future of the Legal Profession, that even big companies suffered mightily under the weight of litigation expense.

I learned then and there that the best approach to minimize legal expense was proper planning, assessment of risk, negotiation of agreements to avoid risk or to have risk borne by the party most appropriate to do so.

Since that time, we have made it our mission to guide companies through disputes in the most cost of cost-effective way possible, and also to shore up and tidy up corporate operations, agreements and other risks, to minimize or avoid legal expense, and avoid litigation expense.

By David Markarian

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“Son, At This Firm, We Have No Billing Minimum – Just Win Everything You Touch”

At The Markarian Group, our lawyers have no “billing requirement” or “billing minimum.” Instead, we ask our team to simply bring excellence to everything they do and win everything they touch. Instead, we ask our team to simply bring excellence to everything they do and win at everything they touch. This idea and core belief were provided as a gift to me many, many mango seasons ago by my boss, Gil Haddad, when I asked him how many hours I should bill a day… He responded in a manner that I’ll never forget. I can still can hear his gravelly voice saying:

… at this firm son, we have no billing minimum or requirement. We simply ask that you win everything you touch.

And then, he laughed a loud, long, belly laugh (which I can also still hear, so many years later).

And so, it has been ever since. Mr. Haddad’s ethic lives on at The Markarian Group. Unlike nearly every traditional law firm, our team has no “billing minimum,” that is, no daily, monthly or annual “billing requirement” or target. Instead, we ask our team to focus on “winning everything we touch,” to assure excellence in all that we do. In place of a financial target or incentive, we ensure that our team keeps their eye on the real prize – doing good work and creating true value for you, our clients. Instead of viewing the law practice in terms of hours billed, our perspective focuses on creating value.

I’ve also found that this emphasis means something important to our talented team of lawyers. They love – and gain great satisfaction – knowing that they are valued for what they achieve for our clients, not how much they charge for doing it.

We don’t believe in charging for routine phone calls, nor for emails conveying quick updates pertaining to our representation. We want to encourage fluid communication that strengthens the attorney-client relationship and improves the end result; and want our clients to be comfortable that they don’t have to pay money just to get their lawyer on the phone, or to respond to a quick email, get an update or communicate an important nuance.

Finally, we hold ourselves to account, and we always treat you the way we would wish to be treated if we were on the opposite side of the equation. If our work for you doesn’t meet our standards – we won’t charge you. It is a simple guarantee – and we pledge to do our very best representing our clients and if we fall short of our own very high standards, you don’t pay for that work.

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Courtroom Experience is Paramount

I recall that the former General Counsel of a major company once confessed to me: …when I was a lawyer in private practice, the idea of attending a deposition made me nauseous, and the idea of appearing in court made me want to throw up.

It was the opposite for me. I always knew that I wanted to make a living in the courtroom from the time that I was in my early teens, and my experiences working my way through law school confirmed it. I was able to get a great deal of courtroom experience, early on. I tried my first case within four months of graduating law school, and argued and won my first appeal within the first six months.

The wide variety of cases that were available to me to try in the early days of my practice helped make me well rounded as an advocate. I learned how important it was to both convince juries and judges to see things “our way”, but also to keep the presentation of cases interesting and informative. My goal in those early days was to get as much experience in the courtroom as possible, and when there was a new matter brought into the firm, I volunteered to try it. In what seemed like a flash, I had tried everything from simple auto accident cases, to complex premises security matters to admiralty cases and to partnership disputes. I defended those accused of medical, legal or accounting malpractice, brought and defended product liability claims, and won countless complex corporate disputes. As my experience grew, I tried intellectual property disputes, energy cases, instances of toxic chemical exposure and a wide variety of matters that lent themselves to resolution in the courtroom.

Of equal value was that our high-level corporate clients routinely engaged in litigation exercises prior to trial that used focus groups (or “mock juries” as they were called) matching the demographics of our likely jury venire to allow us to pitch ideas, explanations, legal theories and arguments before we actually got to trial. This allowed us to experiment and determine what our likely jurors would seize upon and what would move them toward a decision that would favor our clients. Over time, we learned how to provide information to jurors which tended to drive decision-making, in order to influence them as effectively as possible. We learned how to draw upon scientific and mathematical analysis, to use courtroom graphics and state of the art “demonstrative exhibits” to ensure the most favorable outcome for our clients.

Still later in my career, I maintained a national practice, and tried cases of all kinds and varieties across the nation, and provided advocacy in regulatory hearings, permit hearings and before regulatory commissions. We tried cases involving real estate property disputes, NIMBY (“Not In My Back Yard”) matters, nuisance claims and some of the most consequential cases involving renewable energy over the course of the last decade. More recently, we’ve had great success (and landmark rulings) in trust and estate litigation, injunctions, replevin actions, employment and partnership disputes.

What this means for you? Few people have as broad a background in courtroom advocacy, or more nimble experience in such a wide variety of matters. We have more than 35 years of experience trying cases of all kinds, and we consider the courtroom our home. We know how to take nearly any set of facts involved in a dispute and have them come alive in a courtroom or other forum. We ensure compelling presentation of evidence that jurors and other decision-makers can use to decide matters favorably.

By David Markarian

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What Sets Us Apart

We Use Our Courtroom Experience To Manage Future Risk and Cost

One key to our success is that our background and expertise was formed in the courtroom, where every mistake and miscue is magnified, and lessons are learned the hard way. Our experience in mounting a courtroom defense for nearly every type of mistake and oversight a business can encounter makes us uniquely qualified to develop sensible protocols and processes to guide our clients to avoid legal risk.

We Think And See The World The Way Our Clients Do

Another key to our success is the knowledge and perspective gained from a decade serving on “the inside” of a successful, well run Fortune 200 company (Next Era Energy, Inc., the nation’s leading clean energy company), including serving as a corporate officer with a seat on the Operating Committee. This experience allows us to view risk and consequences from the perspective of the client, the boardroom and the investor, enabling us to further leverage best-in-class tools to protect you.

We Value Economy

We understand there is no line item for litigation in your budget, and if you end up in court, precious resources are being squandered, instead of being used to grow your business or fund your retirement. Our Managing Partner, Dave Markarian, is one of few seasoned business lawyers and litigators who also has experience managing a complex, multi-million-dollar corporate P & L and we are trained to consider risk, cost, efficiency and economy at every turn.

We Mesh Experience with the Next Generation of Legal Minds and Technology

In addition to our years of dedication to the law, we are smart and laser-focused. Our lawyers are talented both in their legal analysis and advocacy, and as writers, each of them having written for their respective Law School’s Law Review publications. Additionally, we embrace technology and efficiency in everything we do, thus providing our clients with a greater value at a lower cost.

We Create Clear Agreements and Enforce Them In Court

We are the rare firm that both crafts agreements for you, and also has the skill and expertise to ensure their enforcement in court. The legal foundation of any business deal should be set forth in simple, clear language that adequately defines key terms and addresses key business risks. Our insistence on clear and enforceable agreements help our clients stay out of the courtroom, but when it is necessary to prevail in court, those carefully crafted agreements ensure our success.

We Successfully Intersect The Worlds of Law, Government and Business

We understand how businesses make money, how public policy can enhance or hinder an industry or business, and how to pursue enactment of public policy that encourages investment and provides a level playing field for businesses to thrive. Rarely do our clients’ challenges exist strictly within law, government, or business. Our experience across these arenas enables us to bring a diverse perspective to solving your multi-faceted problems and challenges.

We’re Guided by Success, Not Revenue

At The Markarian Group, our lawyers have no “billing requirement” or “billing minimum.” Instead, we ask our team to simply bring excellence to everything they do, and win everything they touch. Instead of viewing the law practice in terms of hours billed, our perspective focuses on creating value for you.