Once you make the decision to make the big move, you have a lot of work to do. The first decision is what type of entity you want. A d/b/a is simply another term for you. There are no tax returns to file unless you sell a product with sales tax. The cost is under $20 and you are in business. You will have to do a name search in your county to determine if the name is available. The form with read “John Smith doing business as Express Floral”. From that point on you can use just Express Floral in all your communications, advertising etc. The disadvantages of a d/b/a is that you can not have partners, (unless it is your spouse), you can not raise capital or sell stock and most importantly you have NO liability protection if you have any type of legal issue. It is easy quick and cheap and may be the right choice. Talk to an attorney if you have questions.
By far the most popular entity is the LLC or limited liability company. An LLC does protect you from liability (unless you are a licensed professional with malpractice liability – in which case the LLC can be ignored). If a former employee sues you or an unhappy customer or someone gets hurt – they sue the LLC, NOT YOU. LLC’s come in different flavors but control is vested in the manager(s) not shareholders (called members). You can get investors who are passive but have no say in the daily running of your business. In a regular corporation there are situations where your shareholders can meddle. This website is not the forum for a complete discussion on LLC’s or corporations, taxes or liability. You will need professional guidance if your situation is complicated.
The next step is to decide what you are going to provide and your pricing. How will you market your product or service? This is where a business plan will help you navigate the decisions you will need to make.