Miami is a vibrant city with charming people, beautiful beaches, relentless nightlife and pleasantly warm weather. It is the second largest population in Florida with 439,890 in 2021 based on the US Census Bureau. It is also the ninth largest metropolitan area in the U.S.
More than being a beautiful city, Miami has become an excellent place for any small business. It has the most international banks in the US and is home to many small businesses such as restaurants, digital marketing agencies, transport services, and others. It also boasts of a growing domestic economy and zero state personal income tax. In this article we will help you jumpstart your small business with a step-by-step guide.
Step 1. Conduct Market Research.
Know as much as you can about your business such as gathering information on similar businesses or potential clients and the like. It is important that we get accurate and verified data even before preparing your business plan.
Often, startup businesses neglect this first important step. Without realizing it, unfounded information or reasoning may have severe consequences to the future of the business. Marketing research helps the aspiring business owner to understand their target audience, the market conditions and potential competition. To conduct a market research, be guided by the following:
Conduct Primary Research to Identify the Problem.
Analyze your market and identify the problem by looking into several feedback on similar businesses or products. You may get your primary data by sending out surveys to the public, interviewing random consumers or observing the business in a natural environment. For both the survey and interview, tailor your questions to understand customer experience about the brand. Sample questions to include are reasons for buying the product, what is the best attribute of the product, disappointments from using the product, inconveniences in acquiring the product and the possibility of repeat orders. You may also observe consumers in their natural environment like watching a retail shop welcome incoming customers. Take note of both positive and negative comments about products or services similar to yours.
Establish your objectives.
After gathering your first market data, establish how you can respond to the results of the preliminary research. Set a list of objectives you will want to achieve. Start by asking yourself “what about my business do I want to answer”. Do you have an impelling reason to produce a product that will alleviate the negative feedback you have learned from the primary research? For your startup business, you need to validate whether or not the product or service you are offering is feasible to market.
Profile your Customers.
Not everyone will buy or have a need for your product. Make sure you know who your potential customers are from the preliminary demographics data you have obtained. Once you are clear of your buyer’s common traits, you can easily create marketing strategies for each target customer. Demographics data should include your customer’s age, gender, location, income, educational level and occupation.
Run Secondary Research.
Once you have identified the profile of your customers, gather another set of data where the identified profiles will be exclusively participating. You can run the secondary research by aiming to send the surveys and questionnaires to the identified group. In the selection of participants to your research, consider including a mix from social media, coworkers, friends and other connections which fit the final profile.
You may also research information about them from public records such as trends, statistics, sales or pricing data, competitors and the overall business climate. This information will be very significant while you study your competitors. It will also help you better understand the challenges, buying habits and other common traits of your target customers.
Summarize Your Findings.
The enormous data you have gathered is only good when analyzed or processed correctly. Both data from your primary and secondary research must be summarized to feature your findings and recommendations. If there is a need to go back to your sources to verify your findings, you will have to do so. A good analysis presents observed patterns or unusual discoveries and discusses them in relation to the initially identified problem.
Conclude and Take Action.
To conclude your market research, interpret your findings and recommendations by describing its effectiveness and taking action. Your conclusion may include designing ways to maintain or improve on the positive feedback and develop strategies to minimize or eliminate the negative feedback. Take action by creating a sample of your product that characterizes the positive feedback or better. You may also test your sample product and gain more reactions from your potential customers. If your business provides services, ensure that an improved process is established and tested by conducting a parallel run if possible.
More importantly, your conclusion must include a list of priorities, a timeline and the overall significance the study will have on your business.
Step 2. Choose a Business Plan Writer
Once you’ve established that your business has the potential to succeed in Miami, the next step would be to transfer your research data to your business plan. A Miami Business Solutions Guide strongly suggests the need for a small business to have a business plan before registration. Here at BSBCON, we have a team of professional business writers who have successfully written custom business plans for small-medium sized businesses in Miami. To a large extent, the success of our client’s business plan is due to the expertise of our business plan writers in conducting market research, identifying content to include or omit, and using appropriate language and overall format. Business plans made by BSBCON can help you secure financing, launch or expand your business.
Step 3. Develop a Digital Marketing Strategy
Part of your business plan should focus on your digital marketing strategy. This section gives your potential investors a clear picture on how you will maximize the use of digital technology to sell your products or services. Your digital marketing strategy will ascertain your adaptation to an online world.
This is especially important since the technology boom is happening in Miami. Many companies and major tech giants are opening local offices to include Microsoft and Spotify. Miami is becoming a tech hub due to its lower taxes. With employment conditions shifting to a work-from-anywhere framework, Miami is becoming a place where employees work while enjoying the sun.
To attract more customers to your business, your digital marketing strategy should include the following:
Goals, KPIs, and Analytics
- Create long-term performance measurements that follow the SMART principle for goal setting (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based). An example of a SMART goal is “to increase our social media followers by 200% in the last quarter of 2022” of “to double our online revenue in the next 3 years.”
- KPIs (Key performance indicators). For each goal, create short-term performance measurements or targets to monitor your progress in achieving your goals. Use analytics or tracking softwares such as number of overall leads, Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) and Sales Qualified Leads (SQL).
Enumerate strategies to develop and maintain your leads at every stage of their experience from Discovery, Research, Purchase and Loyalty. Make sure to identify communication tools to listen and respond which is a crucial part of nurturing leads.
Identify and write down your Unique Selling Propositions (USPs). From the results of your market research, pick out the challenges of customers and offer your USPs. You can put together information by asking yourself the following questions:
- What distinct benefit do we offer our target audience?
- What is the most significant component of the product that will benefit our customers?
- What can your product or service do that your competitors can’t do or don’t do well?
- What do your customers like most about your product, your sales process, your customer service or their overall buying experience that our competitors don’t have?
Know who your “personas” are. Write about the profile of your persona to include details about their demographics, common behavioral patterns, usual triggers, income levels, and other similar information. A clear picture of your target persona can now allow you to name them like a real person while writing about them. You can name them “Donna” or “David” or whichever name you think fits your persona’s description.
In this section, you can also specify the reasons why “Donna” or “David” is buying your products or services. In addition, you can relate their struggles, bad experiences about a similar business or product, or what they think they are missing to make life better.
Get a website
We are now living in an online world. As of 2021, 81% of customers research things online before buying. Chances are, if you do not have a website, your competitors who have one will get the first interaction with customers. Some advantages are: It will make you look professional, it can easily attract customers and it can showcase your products, best reviews and testimonials. Make sure to make your website attractive, functional and easy to use.
Create a content strategy
An effective content strategy for new business should support your goals. If done correctly it can generate many leads and eventually improve your ROI. Aside from creating a team of excellent content creators, designers and editors, your content strategy should include various formats such as social media platforms, slide decks, videos, and podcasts.
Create a social media presence
Showcase your new business in the most suitable on platforms and channels where your target customers are present. Plan out your content creation and posting strategies very well to ensure that your social media presence is continuous and well maintained.
Organic and paid SEO
Use both organic and paid SEO engagements. It is best to go with a professional digital marketing agency to always be updated with the latest and best strategies for assured success.
Step 4. Choose a Business Structure
The business structure you choose will determine the taxes levied on your business. There are six (6) business structures that you can consider when you start your business in Miami are:
Most small businesses start out as sole proprietorships, especially when business owners do not have external investors. This is the simplest kind of structure and it is the easiest and least expensive to register. The owner is in complete control, within the bounds of law, to make business decisions. Profits and losses are also on the account of the owner’s personal tax return. Business-related debts and risks may place personal assets at risk as well.
When two or more persons come together and share ownership and operation of a business, they follow a general partnership structure. This is similar to a Sole Proprietorship structure in terms of the partner’s liability for taxes and overall business decisions. Each partner is also jointly or severally liable for any business debt or claim.
Limited Partnership (LP) and Partnership with Limited Liability (LLP)
LP is another structure that is different from General Partnership in terms of the extent of involvement of each partner. There is Limited Partnership when some partners do not assume control of the business and have only contributed or invested in business. The liability of each partner is dependent on their business involvement.
LLP on the other hand is similar to General Partnership but is differentiated by the protection of each partner on business liability. A Certificate of Partnership may be filed for this protection but not all states accept such type.
A corporation is a business entity entirely separate from its shareholders who own it. It files and pays its own taxes. A board of directors manages and controls it which can be changed through election. It takes more time and money to process and is monitored by the federal, state and local laws. As a business entity, it can enter into contractual agreements.
Subchapter S-Corporation (Entities Taxed as S-Corporations)
Another business type is an S-Corporation which is different from a C-Corporation in that profits and losses are filed through the shareholder’s personal tax return. An IRS tax election appoints an S-Corporation which is a business entity that limits the owner’s personal liability. It is filed at the state level. The maximum number of shareholders for this type is 100 and persons must be US Citizens or Permanent Resident Aliens. This structure requires a strict operational process where director and shareholders meetings and records are scheduled.
Limited Liability Company (LLC)
LLCs is a business structure that is hybrid in form. It is a combination of a partnership’s operational flexibility and tax efficiency but with a limited liability as that of a corporation. The owners of an LLC are called “members” whose liability is limited to his personal investment. It is composed of one or more persons, corporations, another LLC or even other entities. Tax filing of this structure is complex and is not the same across state lines.
Step 5. Choose A Name and Register Your Business
Before registration, make sure that your business location complies with the proper zoning requirements of the city. It is important to know that the location you have chosen allows your business to operate. It is worth knowing also if there are potential business incentive opportunities for your business.In choosing a business name for all structures, you must check its availability on the federal and state levels. For General Partnerships, you will be required to fill out a form which can be filed via online or mail.
Registering your business name as a Limited Partnership requires the words LLC or Limited Liability Company as its last words. You will also have to prepare the articles of organization for filing with the Florida Department of State, Division of Corporation.
Corporate business names, on the other hand, are required to contain the words “corporation,” “company,” “incorporated,””Corp.,”, “Inc.,” or “Co.”. An Article of Incorporation must also be filed with the Florida Department of State, Division of Corporation together with a form to be filled out. There may be other procedures to be complied with depending on the nature of your business. It is best to consult a service provider for this.
Step 6. Apply for Federal Employer ID Number (FEIN).
You may apply for a FEIN online. For more information about business tax requirements, you may visit the IRS website or you may call their taxpayer assistance hotline at (800)829-4933. The IRS also has an interactive online workshop for small business owners.
All businesses are required to obtain a Miami-Dade County Local Business Tax Receipt if they are located in Miami-Dade County. You may also need to obtain a city Business Tax Receipt from the municipality where your business is located.
Note that the IRS will require you to keep various financial records. Thus, you must also set up your Accounting and Record-keeping System.
Step 7. Open your Bank and Credit Accounts
Corporations and LLCs are required to have bank accounts. Although the other structures are not required to open a bank account, it is advised that you do to position your company for favorable loans and lines of credit. The usual requirements to open an account are your registration documents, your FEIN, and a company resolution signed by owners, members, officers or directors, authorizing you to open a bank account.
Step 8. Apply for Business License
You can only legally start your business when you have the proper registrations, licenses and permits. The permits and licenses for your business will be dependent on your business activity and other factors. Rules may vary by industry. It is important to understand the rules where your business will be situated.
Step 9. Secure Small Business Financing
Did you know that Miami is home to an office of the US Small Business Administration? SBA can help you get information on small business loans, grants, bonds and other financial assistance. The U.S. Small Business Administration gives assistance to small businesses by setting guidelines for loans and reducing lender risk.
Florida Small Business Development Center also operates in Florida, They have over 35 years of experience helping businesses start, grow and succeed. Aside from assisting business owners with financial concerns, they have also provided management advice and training on sound business decisions.
How Can BSBCON help?
BSBCON has extensive collaborations with startups and small business owners over the past years. With these experiences, we respect the commitment and perseverance you have rendered to set up your own business. We are here to help you carry on and move your business forward. Our team has a proven track record of successful turnarounds and start-ups.
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