Each time I go through the steps in creating a business in Florida, I have to remind myself of the exact tasks, so I thought the world might benefit from the cheat sheet I eventually created for myself.
The first step is ordering the $10 Florida Business Guide: http://www.floridabusinessguide.com/. This will guide you through different kinds of companies, and is much more comprehensive than my little cheat sheet here. It comes in the mail to you.
My cheat sheet below refers to a General Partnership between two individuals living in Orange County, Florida (but not within Orlando city limits), in a book publishing business run out of a personal dwelling. The individual forms YOU need to fill out will be different based on all the variables mentioned in that previous sentence.
That said, here is my cheat sheet. These items are meant to be done in this order:
1. Check http://www.sunbiz.org/ for fictitious name (also corporation name, also partnership name)
2. Check for existing trademarks at http://www.uspto.gov/ (click Search Marks)
3. Get EIN from IRS – http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=102767,00.html
4. Create general partnership on sunbiz: http://form.sunbiz.org/cor_gp.html (form must be printed, signed, then mailed in with check for $50) – only the link for partnership registration statement is needed.
5. After Document Number received from sunbiz, register fictitious name here: https://efile.sunbiz.org/ficregintro.html. Need credit card for another $50.
6. Obtain Occupational license (Orange County; no need for city of Orlando) in person at the Business Tax Department located on the 2nd Floor, 201 South Rosalind Ave. Orlando, Florida. Use the form here: http://www.octaxcol.com/LocalBusinessTax/Forms.aspx) – technically called "application for payment of local business tax." Signatures need to be notarized in advance. See rules here: http://www.octaxcol.com/LocalBusinessTax/ObtainReceipt.aspx
7. Register with the Florida Dept of Revenue (DOR) to pay Florida taxes (such as sales tax). You will need this even if your business is Internet-based; you have to at least file $0 returns quarterly. http://dor.myflorida.com/dor/taxes/registration.html (click on “start a new registration”) for the online version of Form DR-1.
Your mileage will definitely vary - do not copy line by line what I did unless your circumstances match mine precisely! But this should give any aspiring business a starting point, at least. I still advise buying the $10 Guide linked at the top - it answered all my questions almost before they occurred to me.
Chime in with comments below if you've got additional tips and tricks!