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
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 Maine Registered Agent free of charge when you register an LLC with a service like IncFile. (They handle this along with much more depending on your package.)
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
Take some time to shop around and see which bank/credit union has the most convenience and perks to offer your brand. Don't assume where you bank personally is the ideal choice. How's their online banking? What are their free deposit/withdrawal limits? How high are their monthly fees?
Where you choose to bank is one of the most important decisions so don't take it lightly. If this will be your first time setting up shop, a) check out this quick breakdown of Business Checking Accounts, and b) make sure to keep your brand's account completely separate from all other accounts. Don't muddy the pristine water of your financials.
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.