So you’re thinking about starting a business in Miami but are not quite sure where to begin. Then you should know right away that it takes more than just a highly-developed business acumen and keen eye for a niche market to make your mark in The Magic City.
The first step to running a successful business in Miami is understanding Miami, its people, its culture, its geography, its everything. Multi-ethnic and diverse, if the people of Miami enjoy anything, it is a good time, which could help to explain why Miami’s tourism industry is never wanting. Miami’s prime coastal real estate is quickly making a name for itself, as the rate of small businesses keeps booming, growing faster than the national average from 2004 to 2007.
Of course there are logistics to consider beyond appreciating such a metropolitan paradise by the sea. Navigating a business effectively is navigating a business legally, which often requires plenty of preparation and planning. Meeting with an accountant, a business, immigration and tax attorney as well as a professional business coach beforehand can save you a lot of headache (and money) down the road.
Here are a few of the other key first steps you should take prior to carving out your share of the Miami market.
What Will You and Your Business Look Like
When you begin drafting up your business plan, it is important to think ahead about your personal financial goals, budget, risk tolerance and funds look like. Building a business from scratch isn’t an easy task; it requires a lot of blood, sweat and tears as well as a healthy amount of perseverance. It’s vital to determine beforehand how much of a personal financial investment you will be willing to make before you start with the sweat equity.
Next, you should determine what form its legal structure will take. Will you be your business’s sole proprietor or are you planning on entering into a partnership? Do you intend to incorporate or will your company take the LLC route? Each option has its advantages, but we recommend seeking counsel from your attorney or accountant to determine which legal setup is right for you.
A quick note on the name of your business: if you decide on a name other than your own or that of a corporation (if you choose that setup), you will be required to secure a Fictitious Name Certification or a ‘storefront name.’ This step applies to all non-incorporated forms of ownership, though you are exempt if you simply give your business your own name.
Obtaining Permits & Licenses
All businesses require certain permits and licenses to operate, but depending on what it is your business does will determine exactly the sort of permits you specifically are required to obtain before you get up and running. For example, if you are opening a bar on the Beach, you will first have to register your business and get federal permits from the U.S. Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, on top of contacting your local Alcohol Beverage Control Board to learn the rules on local business permit and licensing. Without exception, however, all new businesses in Miami must obtain a Business Tax Receipt, Certificate of Use and a Miami-Dade County Occupational License.
Most international business owners (and travellers) in Miami fail to properly monitor their U.S. Tax Residency status, even though their status with immigration is as a non-US resident. Those not mindful of the 180-day rule, or the 3 year look-back provision, need to watch out for the dramatic change in US compliance rules between being a taxpaying foreigner and a taxpaying US resident with foreign assets and world-wide income reporting subject to declaration in the US.
There are many tools available to help enable your entrepreneurship and get you on your feet, but you should be aware by now that the process is long and not entirely straightforward. Getting lost in one of the many layers of creating your own company is not an uncommon occurrence, which is precisely why we cannot stress enough the importance of relying on your trusted accountant and attorney to guide you on your way. Missteps in business inception do not find many free passes, and the consequential cost can add up quickly.
If you need additional help, feel free to contact us to schedule an appointment. We look forward to helping you realize your ambitions. Call us at (305)4775671