Step 1) Verify & Secure Your LLC 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.
Keep in mind your LLC name should contain the words ‘Limited Liability Company’ or ‘Limited Company’. Abbreviations for these words like ‘L.C.’ or ‘L.L.C’ are also acceptable. If needed, you can file an Application for Reservation of Name and reserve the name for a $20 fee.
Remember, this isn’t optional in Maine-- it’s mandatory.
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
Before you can officially form your business, you need to appoint a Maine Registered Agent.
Your registered agent will be responsible for receiving important legal documents like tax forms and service of process notices on behalf of your LLC. They can be an individual who’s a resident of the state, or a company that’s legally authorized to represent businesses in Maine.
Maine state business law does give you the option to act as your own registered agent, but many business owners choose to appoint a professional instead. Here are a few things to think about before you decide to act as your own:
- You’ll have to maintain normal (9 am - 5 pm) business hours at the address you provide.
- If you run your business from home, you’ll be required to make your personal address public.
- You might risk missing important notices, or accidentally tossing them out with the junk mail.
- You could be served in front of your family or coworkers.
What To Do:
If you’re considering acting as your own registered agent, do some more research, starting with our registered agent guide. If you decide you’re up for the task, go ahead and list your own name and address on your Certificate of Formation. Just make sure that you understand 100% of the duties it will entail before you commit.
If you’re leaning toward hiring a professional, we recommend doing so through an online LLC formation service. Many of these companies (like IncFile) offer up to one year of registered agent service for free when you form your LLC with them.
Step 3) File Certificate Of Formation
To legally register an LLC in Maine, you need to file the LLC Certificate of Formation. They're like the articles of organization in that they officially declare to the state all the very basic details of your company, like name and address, names and addresses of all owners, the registered agent, nature of the business, etc., for the public record.
Just be sure not to file this until you're ready and have all the needed information so there aren't any hiccups.
Filing Fee: $100
Step 4) Process An EIN
An EIN, or Employer Identification Number, is absolutely essential if you want to be able to do things like legally hire employees, set up an official bank account in the next step, and pay your taxes. Like a social security number, it allows the state/federal government to keep track of your business activity.
You can obtain an EIN in a variety of ways, but the simplest is to quickly get one free of charge through the IRS Website.
Step 5) Open A Business Bank Account
Far too many entrepreneurs have made the mistake of running their businesses out of personal bank accounts. Regardless of how you choose to run your LLC, it’s incredibly important to keep your personal and business finances entirely separate. Otherwise:
- You’ll find yourself in a mess of trouble when tax time rolls around
- Your personal assets may be put at risk
- You won’t be able to take advantage of business banking perks
Opening a bank account designated for your business expenses is a crucial first step to smart financial management.
What To Do:
Do your research on what various banks have to offer in the way of online banking features, national ATM access, customer service, etc. It’s important to choose a bank that lines up with your priorities. To get started on your research, check out our favorite business bank accounts!
Step 6) Draft An Operating Agreement
Okay, first, this document isn't mandatory or required by law but not having one is incredibly foolish, even for solopreneurs.
Not only does it add a layer of protection for your brand (LLC status), but it also helps to deal with financial/management disputes and ensures your company is governed by your own internal set of rules rather than the default set on state books.
To get started, consider checking out this list nifty LLC Operating Agreement templates which you can customize yourself.
Step 7) Handle LLC Taxes & Licensing
Oh yes, we saved the best for last. This is where you go through the final steps of "taking care of the legal stuff" so to speak. How complex or simple this process will be depends on a number of variables including:
- Your specific location/county within Maine.
- Whether your work directly with the public.
- The nature of your business.
- Whether you have employees.
Bookmark the Augusta district office of the Small Business Administration, and the LLC section of the state’s Corporations Division because they’re likely going to be go-to sources. If you need additional help, there’s a Business License Service we recommend. They determine everything required on Federal, State, County and Municipal levels, get the forms, and provide step-by-step filing instructions.
Need Help Forming an LLC?
If you'd like help forming an LLC in Maine, feel free to read our reviews of the two most popular services available.