We will be providing website development services in local cities. The main “location” will be Melbourne, FL. We also want the ability to add more local “branches” to the business (i.e. Houston, TX; Tulsa, OK, etc) and these would need to be part of the main company but be serviced locally through subcontractors in those cities. There will not be physical locations, as we will be operating “virtually” through the internet (but still meeting clients physically, of course). We would want to do some local advertising specific to the city (i.e. “Houston Website Designs, through [Main Business Name]”, possibly even branded websites for those branches), without needing to form a new business name for each one. We are starting out very small, no employees, and expect revenue <$5k for first year.
Your main concern in starting this business is to protect yourself from personal liability. A corporation, a limited liability company (LLC), or a limited liability partnership (LLP) will all protect you from personal liability. All of these types of organizations can be qualified to do business in the other states you are planning to enter. If you expect to own real estate in the name of the business, you should use an LLC (which elects to be taxed as a partnership) or an LLP rather than a corporation. For a more comprehensive analysis of the business structures available to you, you should consult an experienced lawyer in your area.
Disclaimer: This answer is provided for informational purposes only, does not constitute legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Actual legal advice can only be provided after completing a comprehensive consultation in which all of the relevant facts are discussed and reviewed.
I agree with Atty. Deason, and I echo his advice that you sit down with a business attorney. In addition to having a lawyer on your team, a great accountant would be advisable as well. Both professionals will save you in the long run. I wish you lots of luck in your endeavor!
Answer given for general advice and is not a legal opinion, which would require an analysis of the facts and circumstances as well as the applicable law and regulations.
I agree with Attorney Deason in that your main concern when opening your business should be to limit personal liability. LLC's and partnerships are best suited for this as it addresses personal and tax liability issues. Under your scenario, you could have the original location in Melbourne and branch out to other locations and if your brand is successful you can think about franchising which is a separate business structure all together. Setting up a business correctly is as important as the initial concept so I suggest you meet with an experienced Business Attorney in your area. Good luck to you.
DISCLAIMER: This answer is provided solely for informational purposes only. This answer does not constitute legal advice, create an attorney-client relationship, or constitute attorney advertising.
There are way too many moving parts for any business lawyer to offer meaningful advice here. My concerns straightaway are going to be whether you are going to require a number of foreign qualifications as well irrespective of where you domicile the entity and what type of entity that is.
I will link you to a couple general overviews on this topic below but I strongly suggest that you consult with a lawyer in private and discuss your objectives in more detail. You can start by calling around to several for a free phone consultation, get some insights then pick the best fit to work with as you will have a number of legal concerns.
DISCLAIMER: this is not intended to be specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. No attorney-client relationship is formed with the law firm of Natoli-Lapin, LLC on the basis of this posting.