Tue 15 Mar 2016 | By:

How to Start a Business in Maine: 10 Simple Steps

Step 1: Plan Your Business Idea

Write a Business PlanWithout a game plan your business idea is as vulnerable as a lobster inadvertently crawling ashore on Kennebunk beach. As the saying goes, nobody does lobster like Maine and no serious entrepreneur tangles with the 21st century marketplace unprepared. Get off on the right foot, no bib required.

Take Action: Seize upon our 100% free email-based Business Planning Course designed to get you from A-to-Z as pleasantly as possible. Plus, we provide access to tons of other great tools along the way.


Step 2: Choose Business Structure & Register

How to Choose a Business StructureThe next step is threefold. First, choose what type of legal entity you’re building, then incorporate it which will secure your brand name with the state in the process. Currently for example (late 2016), their filing fee for LLCs weighs in at $175 with an annual $85 ongoing compliance charge. Not too shabby.

Take Action: As this part of starting a business can be rather sensitive, we’ve developed quick and easy incorporation guides for the most popular entities if you want to skip over to those.


Step 3: Tackle Maine Tax Obligations

Small Business TaxesMaine has its share of tax incentives, subsidies, credits, reimbursements, and what have you. I mean come on, consider all those amazing dingy little clam shacks that do fabulously well from Edmunds to York Harbor. Your next step is to do your homework, well, unless you have a tax attorney in your bucket, and leverage these benefits.

Take Action: To get you started head on over to Maine.gov’s Business Taxes section where you have an assortment of user-friendly options. There’s also a great Business Answers system that takes you through some steps to help you find what you need. If that doesn’t work, they have a number to call as well as email.


Step 4: Obtain Licensing/Permits

Business LicensesChances are, if you’re reading this you’re considering a brick and mortar location. There are states with cheaper fees if you intend on being 100% online. That said, the regulatory environment in Maine can be challenging primarily because of the geography. Why? Coastal areas aside, there are like 6,000 lakes! So you’ve got two good options here:

  1. For DIY’ers bookmark Maine.gov’s Business Licensing section or approach it through their searchable index of Resources by Profession.
  2. For $99 IncFile’s Business License Package is amazing! They determine everything required on Federal, State, County and Municipal levels, get the forms, and provide step-by-step filing instructions.


Step 5: Open a Business Bank Account

Best Business Bank AccountNow it’s time to secure and centralize your financials, to pave the way for the numbers to cleanly roll in and create the data-narrative that’ll determine where your brand goes. It’s about two things, where you choose to open up a dedicated business account and what kind of software you’re running.

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Step 6: Pick a Stellar Maine Location

How to Choose a Business LocationJust remember, it’s blueberries, blueberries, blueberries. No wait, sorry, location! And you’ve got quite a smorgasbord of options, from the classic New England-style cities like Portland to the summer vacationing lifestyle of Ogunquit; from the Jewel of the Maine Coast (Camden) to entertainment towns like York.

Take Action: We know picking a spot can be tough if it doesn’t somehow happen naturally through your personal/professional networks. If you’d like to brush up on everything that goes into making this decision, refer to our friendly guide on How to Choose the Perfect Location.


Step 7: Fund Your startup

How to Finance a BusinessWhether you opt for more conventional financing options or debt free routes like CrowdFunding, Maine has an incredible assortment of networks and support for startups. One place to check out and start digging is Maine Angles.

Take Action: The email course we mentioned in Step 1 really comes in handy here because planning and finances go together like the smell of salt and chowder. You can also browse our guide on How to Finance a Business to start generating ideas.


Step 8: Design & Publish a Business Website

Build a Business WebsiteWe’re of the school of thought that proclaims, “websites are no longer optional for businesses!” That truth is as pure as Maine’s maple syrup in our minds. Who can argue with it when modern consumers and professionals turn immediately to search algos, online social proofing, and their smartphones to investigate EVERYTHING?

Take Action: If you could use some help in this department the first step is finding the right platform, which thankfully there aren’t too many yet. Head on over to this easy Business Website Builder Guide to get a head start.


Step 9: Market Your Business

Social Media ChannelChances are you’re not a marketing guru, but more of an innovator. The trick then is learning to adapt your inner-creator to better understanding not only your product but your ideal customer/client/user. Not in a cliché sense, but a very real and tech-savvy-personal way.

Take Action: As has always been the case, the ideal marketing strategy is the one that’s designed in a way your product or services sells itself. Or, these days, your fans and followers do most of the marketing for you. Start optimizing!


Step 10: Continue Learning & Stay Inspired

Sign Up For Entrepreneur InterviewsOnce you’re lording over the previous steps like a magnificent pine tree, and managing your platform in the home of America’s first chartered city (York, 1641), please keep Startup Savant in mind for a reliable stream of useful and insightful entrepreneur-friendly info.

Take Action: Tap into our weekly newsletter filled with tips, tricks, lessons, and inspiring stories directly from ambitious professionals like you.

Note that this guide is not a legal advice. This is simply a guide to inform you on how to start a business in Maine. To learn more about the specifics of starting a business in Maine, talk to your lawyer.

About Liesha Petrovich

Liesha is a small business owner of 20 years, host of Startup Savant, the owner of a karate dojo in Maine, and creator of Work Mobly. During free time she's with her family and working on a Doctorate in Entrepreneurship.