How To Start & Grow Your Business

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How to Start a Business in Maine

Do you want to start a new business in the state of Maine, but you’re not sure how to get started? You’re in the right space.

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Maine residents enjoy a high quality of life – beautiful mountains, a long shoreline running along the state, and a bounty of delicious lobster. “The Pine Tree State” has a small human population yet a massive moose population — over 76,000 statewide! And many iconic lighthouses (over 60) throughout the state. And, in recent years, Maine has been implementing several state programs to boost small business and economic development.

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How to Start a Business

Starting a business can be both exhilarating and challenging. It requires your full attention and energy. It all begins with an idea, an observation that there is a problem and the belief that you have a new solution – or a better one. Allow us to walk you through the steps in this free guide: How to Start A Business.

General resources for starting a business in Maine

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Fun facts about starting a business in Maine

Famous business founded in Maine Stonewall Kitchen

Stonewall Kitchen is a creator of high-quality, specialty food products. Their product line ranges from jams and jellies to grill sauces and mustards. The company was founded in Kittery, Maine.

Famous entrepreneur born in Maine Yvon Chouinard, founder and CEO of Patagonia

Yvon Chouinard (born in 1938) is a rock climber, environmentalist, and outdoor industry businessman. He founded the company Patagonia, which is known for its environmental focus. Chouinard, born in Lewiston, Maine, has written about climbing issues and ethics and on mixing environmentalism and sound business practices.

“Businesses need profits to survive. The less we make, the less we will have to give away, and the less other companies will think we have a mission that is worth imitating.” – Yvon Chouinard

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Which type of legal structure is best for my business in Maine?

We strongly recommend you incorporate, but you must consider the tax, legal, and liability implications carefully before deciding on the best structure.

Here are 5 helpful steps to determine what is the best legal structure for your business:

Click one of the buttons below to learn more about the different types of business legal structures and how to start them in the state of Maine.
LLC (Limited Liability Company)
An LLC is a specific form of a private limited company. It is a business structure that combines the pass-through taxation of a partnership or sole proprietorship with the limited liability of a corporation.

Steps to starting an LLC in Maine:

  • Step 1 — Choose a name for your LLC.
  • Step 2 — File a Certificate of Formation.
  • Step 3 — Appoint a Registered Agent.
  • Step 4 — Prepare an Operating Agreement.
  • Step 5 — Comply with any publication requirements.
  • Step 6 — Comply with other tax and regulatory requirements.
  • Step 7 — File Annual Reports.
  • Step 8 — Register foreign LLCs doing business in Maine.

For help forming your LLC in Maine we recommend CorpNet (they have fees for their service).
Alternatively, you can visit the Maine Secretary of State website.

Other Maine resources for LLCs:

Secretary of State Business Name Database: Search for the availability of your LLC name here.
File your “Application for Reservation of Name” here.
File your “Certificate of Formation” here.
File your “Annual Reports” here.

Maine Commercial Registered Agents: Search here to find a registered agent. Every Maine LLC must have an agent for service of process.

IRS EIN Online: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your LLC here. If your LLC has more than one member, you must get an EIN, even if you have no employees.

Maine Revenue Services: If you will be selling goods or will have employees, you’ll need to register here.

Sole Proprietorship
A sole proprietorship is an unincorporated business with one owner who pays personal income tax on profits from the business. With little government regulation, they are the simplest business to set up or take apart, making them popular among individual self contractors or business owners.

Steps to starting Sole Proprietorship in Maine:

  • Step 1 — Choose a business name.
  • Step 2 — File an assumed name certificate with the city or town clerk.
  • Step 3 — Obtain licenses, permits, and zoning clearance.
  • Step 4 — Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

For help forming your sole proprietorship in Maine we recommend CorpNet (they have fees for their service).
Alternatively, you can visit the Maine Secretary of State website.

Other Maine resources for Sole Proprietorship:

Secretary of State Business Name Database: Search for the availability of your business name here. A sole proprietor may use his or her given name, or an assumed business name.

U.S. Patent & Trademark Office: Federal database for existing trademark registrations. Click on the “TESS” link to conduct a search.

IRS EIN Online: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your sole proprietorship here. If you hire employees, you will need an EIN.

Maine Revenue Services: If you will be selling goods or will have employees, you’ll need to register here.

Partnership
A partnership is created whenever two or more people do business together for profit and share ownership, even if there is no written agreement to form the partnership. Each partner contributes to all aspects of the business, and each partner shares in the profits and losses of the business.

Steps to starting Partnership in Maine:

  • Step 1 — Name your partnership.
  • Step 2 — File an assumed name certificate with the city or town clerk.
  • Step 3 — Create a partnership agreement.
  • Step 4 — Obtain licenses, permits, and zoning clearance.
  • Step 5 — Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

For help forming your partnership in Maine we recommend CorpNet (they have fees for their service).
Alternatively visit the Maine Secretary of State website.

Other Maine resources for Partnership:

Secretary of State Business Name Database: Search for the availability of your business name here. A partnership can use the surnames of the individual partners, or a fictitious business name.

U.S. Patent & Trademark Office: Federal database for existing trademark registrations. Click on the “TESS” link to conduct a search.

IRS EIN Online: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your partnership here. Partnerships must have an EIN, regardless of whether or not they have employees.

Maine.gov Business Answers: Find out what business licenses may be required.

Maine Revenue Services: If you will be selling goods or will have employees, you’ll need to register here.

S Corporation
An S corporation (or S Corp for short), is a special type of corporation created through an IRS tax election. An eligible domestic corporation can avoid double taxation (once to the corporation and a gain to the shareholders) by electing to be treated as an S corporation. In general, S corporations do not pay any federal income taxes. Instead, the corporation's income or losses are divided among and passed through to its shareholders. The shareholders must then report the income or loss on their own individual income tax returns.

Steps to starting S Corporation in Maine:

  • Step 1 — Choose a corporate name.
  • Step 2 — Prepare and file Articles of Incorporation.
  • Step 3 — Appoint a registered agent.
  • Step 4 — Set up a corporate records book.
  • Step 5 — Prepare corporate bylaws.
  • Step 6 — Appoint initial corporate directors.
  • Step 7 — Hold your first Board of Directors meeting.
  • Step 8 — Issue stock.
  • Step 9 — Comply with Maine annual report requirements.
  • Step 10 — Comply with other tax and regulatory requirements.
  • Step 11 — Register foreign corporations doing business in Maine.

For help forming your S corporation in Maine we recommend CorpNet (they have fees for their service).
Or, visit the Maine Secretary of State website.

Other Maine resources for S Corporation:

Secretary of State Business Name Database: Search for the availability of your corporate name here.
File your “Application for Reservation of Name” here.
File your “Articles of Incorporation” here.
File your “Annual Reports” here.

IRS EIN Online: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your corporation here.

IRS S corporations: Specific instructions for your tax requirements as an S corp.

Maine.gov Business Answers: Find out what business licenses may be required.

Maine Revenue Services: Register here to fulfill business tax requirements.

C Corporation
A C corporation (or C corp), under U.S. federal income tax law, refers to any corporation that is taxed separately from its owners. A C corporation is distinguished from an S corporation, which generally is not taxed separately.

Steps to starting C Corporation in Maine:

  • Step 1 — Name your corporation.
  • Step 2 — File Articles of Incorporation.
  • Step 3 — Find a registered agent.
  • Step 4 — Set up a corporate records book.
  • Step 5 — Prepare corporate bylaws.
  • Step 6 — Appoint initial corporate directors.
  • Step 7 — Hold your first Board of Directors meeting.
  • Step 8 — Issue stock.
  • Step 9 — Comply with Maine annual report requirements.
  • Step 10 — Comply with other tax and regulatory requirements.
  • Step 11 — Register foreign corporations doing business in Maine.

For help forming your C corporation in Maine we recommend CorpNet (there are fees for their service).
Alternatively, you can visit the Maine Secretary of State website.

Other Maine resources for C Corporation:

Secretary of State Business Name Database: Search for the availability of your corporate name here.
File your “Application for Reservation of Name” here.
File your “Articles of Incorporation” here.
File your “Annual Reports” here.

IRS EIN Online: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your corporation here.

IRS S corporations: Specific instructions for your tax requirements as an S corp.

Maine.gov Business Answers: Find out what business licenses may be required.

Maine Revenue Services: Register here to fulfill corporate tax requirements.

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Why choose Maine for my business?

  • 1

    Maine Small Business Development Center
    “The Maine SBDC program helps build and strengthen small businesses through business advising, training and educational resources. Certified business advisors provide guidance on topics such as business feasibility, business plan development, capital acquisition, financial management, marketing and sales, e-commerce, customer service, personnel management, small business strategic planning and more.”

  • 2

    New Ventures Maine
    “We help individuals recognize strengths, overcome barriers, find resources, develop a plan, take action towards their goals: start a business, find a career, return to school, build assets, be active in the community.”

  • 3

    Women’s Business Center
    “The Women’s Business Center at CEI offers experienced, knowledgeable business specialists who can help you at any stage of your business, from startup to expansion. Within a setting that respects your experience, skills, and learning style, we assist you in building business skills through access to timely, accurate, tailored information and resources.”

  • 4

    Maine Tax Incentives and Credits
    “As part of our efforts to encourage new, expanding, or relocating businesses of all kinds and sizes, Maine offers a wide variety of assistance financial, practical, and technical.”

  • 5

    Feds Award Maine $640,000 to Boost Rural Economy (2016)
    “The Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development won a $390,000 grant to expand its entrepreneurship training programs, and Coastal Enterprises Inc. landed $250,000 to pursue a seed capital investment program that would cater to natural resource-based businesses in rural Maine.”

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