If you are getting ready to start a business, you already know what you want to do. The question is how – how will you make sure that your foundation is rock-solid so that the business will become a success. The strength of your foundation depends on obtaining the proper registrations, licenses and permits so that you can legally do business. Failing to comply with licensing and permitting regulations can result in you having to spend time and money to correct the problem and can also lead to expensive fines, putting your business at serious risk.
There are four layers of government with which you are obligated to interact.
Federal Government – The most obvious way you will interact with the Federal Government is by paying taxes. The Internal Revenue Service requires that you register for an Employer Identification Number so that it can keep track of your business taxes. Additionally, if you have a clever name, logo or slogan, or if you have invented a product or process, you may have to register it with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to protect yourself from being imitated so others will not profit from your ideas without your permission.
State Government – The Florida Department of State requires businesses to file their names and basic business information with the Division of Corporations. The purpose of this requirement is both to help consumers and to protect business owners. Consumers learn where to direct their inquiries or complaints. Business owners stake their claims to their business names, show the public that they are operating, and protect themselves from losing a home, car or personal savings because of business liability. If you already have a business, but are calling yourself a different name, then you may also need to register for a “fictitious name”.
County Government – Business owners have to comply with county ordinances too. Miami-Dade County requires a type of zoning permit called a Certificate of Use to prove that the business is allowed to operate within the zoning district where its main office is located. Whenever you are constructing a new building or moving into an existing building, you will need a Certificate of Use. The Certificate of Use allows for your business to occupy the structure and certifies that that type of business is allowed in that building. These are most often issued on a permanent basis, but some are temporary, (90 days) and others need to be renewed annually.
There is another requirement that you pay a Local Business Tax- a tax on the business activity. After a Certificate of Use has been issued, you must apply for the Local Business Tax. This is also referred to as an Occupational License. Certain types of service providers to acquire professional licenses.
If your business has any environmental impact, you may also have to file an application for approval for Land Use Regulations, Sewer Capacity Certification, or approval by the Department of Environmental Resource Management (DERM).
City Government – the last on the list of government authorities that you must consider when starting your business is the city government. The city requires you to obtain a municipal tax receipt. When obtaining this city Tax Receipt. You may even need to submit your credentials. For example, professionals (such as physicians, lawyers and engineers) and businesses (such as real estate firms, mortgage brokers, restaurants, etc.) must submit current State Certificates when applying for new Local Business Tax Receipts.
When we help entrepreneurs start their businesses, we provide them with the guidance that they need to determine which registrations and permits apply to them. We don’t just register the business with the State of Florida, but complete the entire process. This can take many months if you try to do it for yourself, but we can get your business up and running, legally, in a much shorter time and for a predictable cost.
If your business is already up and running, then you know that sometimes minor issues come up that you need a lawyer’s help to solve. Whether it is writing a contract for a customer, preparing a non-compete or non-solicitation agreement for a contractor, handling a collection or even something as minor as a traffic ticket, we offer a subscription service that allows you to pay a low monthly rate to have a lawyer available when you need it.
Business coaching – Are you having trouble managing your personnel? Planning your marketing campaign? Managing finances? Streamlining your operations? We can coach you through the beginning stages of starting your business by introducing you to bookkeepers, accountants and business consultants, by helping you design your business plan or media strategy, or by pointing you towards books and articles that can help you run your business, earn a living and still maintain a satisfying personal life.
Non-Profit – Do you manage a non-profit entity but you are having trouble with the business management demands of the organization? We have experience with working with non-profit organizations and can help you structure your organization so that volunteers can provide valuable financial and administrative support without losing valuable time training and supervising them. Whether your goal is local and short-term or global, we can provide you with valuable advice that can turn your organization from good to great in a short time by identifying your mission, your resources and the steps that must be taken to execute your goal.
Condominium – A condominium has its own personality and organizational needs. Much like a corporation or non-profit, for a condominium to be healthy and residents to be happy, the association needs to be structured in a way that ensures that personality types can work cohesively to make the environment peaceful and efficient. We can provide assistance to condominiums and management companies by drafting proxy voting agreements, assisting with collections, evictions or foreclosures, obtaining permits, moderating board meetings, or providing legal advice when issues arise. We have experience representing homeowners’ associations as well as owners and tenants and can provide our services on an annual subscription or a la carte.
The heart of our practice is civil litigation. Because we are familiar with the disputes that can arise between business owners and their clients, among partners, or between businesses, we are able to prepare you to avoid litigation by having the appropriate agreements and protections in place. Our goal is to solve our clients’ problems- to prevail in their disputes, whether by resolving the problem before filing suit, settling a matter in litigation, winning at trial or some other way.
Contract Enforcement – The simplest transaction involves a contract. Maybe it is only a handshake agreement, but you agreed to do something in exchange for some form of payment. If you did your part, but the other person did not follow through with his side of the bargain, we can help you negotiate a settlement or file suit to make it right. Whether you want to enforce the contract and make the other party do what they promised or get your money back, we can help.
Collections – The most disappointing thing a client or customer can do is not pay your bill. You worked hard for your customer, invested time and effort into providing the customer a service. You deserve to get paid for your work. If you have a customer who did not pay your bill, we can help.
After a prestigious three-year career with the Office of the State Attorney for the 16th Judicial Circuit of Florida, Adam Gersten went into private practice. Since then, he has used his experience as a prosecutor, his powerful observational skills, his superb negotiation talent, and his research abilities and persuasion to represent clients in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties on a variety of criminal matters. His personal interest in clients and attention to detail make him an attentive counselor and an excellent advocate.
Along with rising talent Lincoln Atten, who was recognized by his peers in law school as the best advocate on their Mock Trial Team and who prevailed over colleagues at other schools in the Chester Bedell Memorial Mock Trial Competition, a state-wide competition, Gersten provides personal and confidential help to anyone who comes to have a problem with the law.