Step 1) Verify & Secure Your Brand Name
To secure and register your brand name it must be unique, not too similar to another registered name, and shouldn’t contain any restricted wording. To check, conduct a Business Entity Search through the state and if there are potential trademark issues conduct another quick search using the TESS System through the U.S. Patent Office.
Keep in mind your brand name should contain the words ‘Corporation,’ ‘Company,’ 'Incorporated,' or 'Limited." Abbreviations for these words are also acceptable. If needed, you can file an Application for Reservation of Name and reserve the name for 120 days.
Filing Fee: $20
Quick Note: Before you commit 100% to a name, you may also want to check that there’s a decent URL available for your business. Use WEEBLY to search your options. If there’s a quality domain name for purchase, we advise buying it right away. Even if launching a business website isn’t on your radar right now, it’s going to be soon, and you might as well nail down a domain name that’ll make it easy for customers to find you!
Step 2) Appoint A Registered Agent
A Maine Registered Agent is a certified individual or business entity that acts as an intermediary, receiving and helping to handle/process all official documents on your brand’s behalf. They must be a legal resident of the state or registered to conduct business and have a Maine street address where they can be reached at all times during regular hours of operation.
You can hire an outside professional service and pay up to $160/year, or get a Registered Agent free when registering a corporation through services like IncFile and Incorporate.com. They handle this along with so much more depending on your startup package.
Step 3) File Articles Of Incorporation
Legally incorporating in Maine requires that you file Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State by mail or Online Filing. Keep in mind this is a very official document for the public record that discloses the basics of your company including:
- Corporate name, address, and purpose,
- Full name and complete address of Registered Agent,
- Full name and complete address of the incorporators,
- Number of shares Corporation is authorized to issue, and so on
Filing fee: $145
Step 4) Get A Corporate Records Book
A Corporate Records Book, or binder, is where you put copies of all the most important core documents that make your company what it is in the eyes of the law – Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, meeting minutes, stock certificate ledger, stock certificates, stock certificate stubs, stock transfer documents, etc. It’s very common. Sure, have them online or thumb drive as well, but this is a long-standing tradition for corporations.
Step 5) Elect Initial Director, Meet, Discuss Bylaws
Appoint at least 1 director who among other things will oversee the corporation until the first shareholder meeting where new directors will be voted in. Prepare an “Incorporator Statement” with complete names and addresses of each director and keep it in your records book. Once elected, an initial meeting should:
Step 6) Open A Business Bank Account
Where you choose to bank is no small matter when we're talking about a corporation. Often startups and solopreneurs just use personal accounts, but that's not going to fly with a corporation. Instead you and your CFO, if you have appointed one, need to find the best bank or credit union to handle the business banking services you'll need to grow.
Look at different fee-structures, perks, incentives, and overall costs and savings and think ahead! You could start with a smaller bank for better deals, then switch to a much larger bank when your volume demands it. To get started, check out this quick breakdown of Business Checking Accounts.
Step 7) Handle Taxation & Licensing
You should be working with a business attorney or at least buckle down and do the research thoroughly. Depending on the nature of your business there could be substantial regulatory paperwork to get through. Regardless, here's some resources:
- File for a Employer Identification Number (EIN) for free at the IRS website.
- Bookmark the Augusta Small Business Administration office and the Corporations Division.
- To form an S-Corp, submit Form 2553 with the IRS and be sure all board of directors have signed it.
- Consider professional business license services that take care of the legwork for you.