Turning your design side hustle into a full-time business in Florida

Turning your design side hustle into a full-time business in Florida

Taking your design side hustle to the next level could prove a lucrative proposition because Florida consistently ranks among the best states to open a business. Known for its pro-business government and no personal income tax, the Sunshine State enjoys a talented and educated workforce. With a population of more than 22.6 million, it’s home to major tourist attractions and organizations that rely on graphic designers and firms.


More than 60 percent of industry leaders prefer to outsource tasks that would otherwise require hiring skilled employees. Because hiring full-time creative people comes with holiday pay, sick time, payroll taxes, and benefits, hiring a third-party graphic designer saves operations money. It’s also a good reason your design hustle continues to grow and why you are contemplating ditching that tedious day job. If you’re serious about reaching for the American Dream of owning and operating your own business, these are things you need to know about turning your design side hustle into a profitable full-time venture.


Give Your Business a Suitable Name

A design company needs a name that distinguishes it from the pack, so to speak. It’s essential that your business moniker is memorable, relatable, and speaks to the service it provides. Consider gathering colleagues and people you rely on for sound advice. Hold a brainstorming session and list at least a dozen strong company name candidates.


If this is your first rodeo, you may discover that a wide variety of company names have been reserved, and many go unused. Take your list and run it through the Florida Division of Corporations business index. The division of corporations falls under the Florida Department of State. Once you hit on a suitable name, submit a letter to the Florida Secretary of State asking for the name to be reserved.

Write a Comprehensive Business Plan

It’s not uncommon for newly minted business owners to find themselves running from one task to another during the first year. More clients mean more deadlines, and there will be a so-called “business end” to handle as well. A well-conceived business plan helps keep company leaders focused on achieving goals. This document may also prove invaluable as you ramp up the side gig to a full-time organization and try to stay focused on success. These are elements to include in your business plan.


Executive Summary

Commonly called the “elevator pitch,” the executive summary articulates the fundamental aspects of your operation. It includes the business name, type of design work you perform, potential for growth, and where it fits in the Florida market. A well-orchestrated executive summary can also attract investors or help convince a lender your graphic design venture is worth the risk.

Company Overview

The overview digs deeper into the fine details of the design business. It provides points about the origins of the company, people and their skill sets, accomplishments, and the type of business structure you plan to adopt. Most side hustles that level up to full-time companies normally form a Florida limited liability company (LLC). However, there are other options available.

In-Depth Market Research

If you plan to approach angel investors or apply for a small business loan, decision-makers are going to want to see hard data. Market research demonstrates whether or not a need exists for your services, the current rate corporations pay for graphic design, and how you can do it better and at a lower cost.


A thorough financial strategy is also an essential aspect of the business plan. It should cover things like cash on hand, labor, IT, equipment, office space, and associated costs, as well as enough money to pay these expenses for upwards of one year. Startups typically don’t start turning a profit until the second year.

Get An Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Although side hustle freelancers do not necessarily need an EIN, it’s wise to secure one as you ramp up a company. The State of Florida generally requires LLCs, corporations, and partnerships to have an EIN for hiring and tax purposes. You can acquire one from the IRS website as long as you have a Social Security number or some form of a Taxpayer Identification Number.


The process is relatively straightforward. But it’s generally a good idea to gather any information you need ahead of time because the platform kicks people off after 15 minutes.


Secure Funding to Launch the Florida Business

With an EIN in hand, you can open a corporate savings and checking account in the Sunshine State. This positions you to reach out to a wide array of resources to put together enough funding to negotiate year one. Traditionally, entrepreneurs either borrow from family members or use that elevator pitch to get a small business loan. Today, there are other innovative ways to bring in money.


  • Crowdfunding: It’s amazing how many people want to give generously to help others realize their business dreams. Consider starting a crowdfunding post online.
  • Self-Finance: In recent years, business-minded people have been tapping into retirement and savings accounts to start businesses. It’s a risk that may pay off if you’re successful.
  • Grants: A graphic design business qualifies as an arts organization. Check on possible grants by contacting the Florida Division of Arts and Culture.


Partnering with someone who has ample cash may also be a viable option. When one person has the know-how and the other has experience with the financial end of an operation, the two can do great things together. Just be sure you’re comfortable with the person and business arrangement.

Location, Location, Location

Florida has 67 diverse counties, and each offers a different opportunity. Disney, for example, is located in Orange and Osceola counties in Central Florida. This may be an ideal location, given the enormous amount of art-oriented traffic. South Florida, on the other hand, enjoys a wealth of arts and culture. Arts organizations reportedly have a $1.43 billion impact on Miami-Dade County’s economy every year. Of course, Lafayette County reportedly has the lowest cost of living, and the need to save money is very real when starting a full-time company. When choosing a location for your graphic design venture, consider wide-reaching factors such as access to clients, office space costs, and networking opportunities, among others.

Select a Suitable Business Structure

As a startup company, you will need to make an informed decision about the type of entity to create. An LLC tends to be the most suitable entity for graphic design companies and other for-profit arts organizations. These are things to consider when choosing the right structure for your Florida design business.


Sole Proprietorship: Your side hustle was already an informal sole proprietorship, largely because the revenue flowed through your personal taxes. Although you could continue to operate in this fashion, a sole proprietorship has certain encumbrances that may not be sustainable. A sole proprietorship provides few — if any — tax incentives and opens business owners up to civil liability. If your company were to fall into bankruptcy, creditors would likely be able to attach your home, assets, bank accounts, and other financial holdings.


  • Partnerships: Forming a partnership and writing out the company’s articles of incorporation can work, in some cases. While this structure helps startups secure loans, lines of credit, and open business accounts, it also isn’t the best at protecting owners from liability. Errors, injuries, and loan defaults could result in civil litigation that involves your home, automobile, bank accounts, and other assets.
  • Limited Liability Company: A Florida LLC offers tax and financial benefits as well as protection from civil liability. This corporate structure can allow you to run the revenue through your personal tax return. By that same token, it can also protect your assets from liability, as long as you keep personal and corporate finances separate.
  • Corporations: Starting a complex corporation tends to be unwieldy and unnecessary when transitioning from a part-time gig to a full-time design business. Unless you plan on bringing in numerous investors and paying out dividends, keep things simple. You can level up to a corporation when it makes sense through the Florida Division of Corporations website for a nominal fee.


Get to Work Building Your Design Business in Florida

Small businesses are the backbone of the Florida economy, employing 3.6 million people. As the owner of a graphic arts organization, you can benefit from the diverse business landscape by providing a critical service to film production companies, creating PSAs for nonprofits and government agencies, building websites, developing promotional materials, and much more. The opportunity to make a comfortable living and be your own boss is an enticing reason to turn that side hustle into a lucrative enterprise.


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how to turn your design side hustle into a full-time business in Florida

If you found this post useful you might like to read these post about Graphic Design Inspiration.


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