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How to Start a Small Business in Maine With No Money

Do you want to invest or start a small business in Maine? If YES, here is a detailed guide on how to start a profitable business in Maine with no money. Maine is the least densely populated sate in the United States of America and the population is predominantly whites. The economy of Maine is driven by the agriculture, manufacturing and service sectors. Maine is the number one destination for hiking, sport fishing, sport hunting, snowmobiling, boating, camping, amongst others.

If you intend starting your business in Maine, then you can be rest assured to run your business in one of the safest places in the whole of the united states of America. Maine is notable for its thriving agriculture business.  Farmers in Maine exports cattle, leather, apples, wild blueberries, poultry, eggs, dairy products, maple syrup and maple sugar.

Commercial fishing is also a major source of income for the locals. There is an avalanche of small, medium and large businesses that you can start in Maine with little stress. Please note that a small business is an independently owned and operated company that is limited in size and in revenue depending on the industry.

A local car wash that employs 10 people is an example of a small business. So also, a manufacturing company that employs less than 500 people is an example of a small business. To Start a Business in Maine, follow these steps:

14 Steps to Starting a Small Business in Maine With No Money

Step 1: Choose a Workable Business Idea or Niche

No serious entrepreneur registers a business without first settling for a workable business idea or niche in an industry. In essence, the first step that you are expected to take is to come up with a workable business idea. For example, if you are not too sure whether starting a Marijuana dispensary business is legal in Maine, why choose such business idea?

So, the rule of thumb is that you must ensure that your business idea falls in line with what is acceptable in Maine and one that you can easily secure the necessary permits and license. When it comes to starting a business, the most ideal thing that you need to do is to ensure that you select a business that you are passionate about.

The truth is that if you choose a trendy business that you are not passionate about, it won’t be long before you lose the zeal to push the business on in the midst of challenges. Major industries of Maine include: mining, cattle ranching, salt production, and services industry; you can choose to start your small business in any of the industry listed above.

Step 2: Conduct Your feasibility studies and Market Survey

Irrespective of the town or city in Maine that you decide to start a business, the one important step that you are expected to take is to conduct thorough feasibility studies and market survey.

With the result from your feasibility studies and market survey, you will be able to make informed decisions as it relates to the type of business to settle for, the location for your office, factory or store, the demographic composition of those who would need your services or product, the likely competitions that you will be confronted with, how to source for raw materials or goods and loads of other factors.

Step 3: Choose a Catchy Name for Your Business

After coming up with a workable business idea and of course having conducted your market survey and feasibility studies, the next step to take is to choose a catchy name for your business. The truth is that when it comes to Choosing a name for your business, you should be creative because whatever name you choose for your business will go a long way to create a perception of what the business represents.

Usually it is the norm for people to follow the trend in the industry they intend operating from when naming their business. Before choosing a name for your business, it won’t cost you anything to go online and check out the names of leading brands in the industry you intend starting a business in.

Step 4: Write a Workable Business Plan

No matter the type of business or size of business you intend starting in Maine, it is a wise decision to first write a good business plan, complete with pro-forma financial statements. The truth is that in order to successfully run a business, you would need to have a good and workable business plan in place.

With a workable business plan in place, you will reduce the trial and error approach of doing business. You will be able to manage your business with purpose and perhaps precision; you will know what to do per time and how to handle challenges, growth and expansion.

So if you want to start your own business in Maine, you are required to write a detailed business plan that can pass reality test when subjected to it; you should work with the facts, figures and other indices in the industry as it applies to the location you intend establishing your business.

Your business plan should outline and cover strategies on how you intend to manage your business. The rule of thumb in writing a business plan is to try as much as possible to be realistic and never to over project when putting figures on income and profits et al. As a matter of fact, it is safer to underestimate when writing a business plan so that you won’t be so disappointed when reality sets in.

These are the key areas that should be covered in your business plan;

Executive summary and Company’s descriptions

You are expected to write about the concept of your business, descriptions of your company, your company’s vision statement, mission statement and where your company will be located and also if you intend selling out franchise or opening other outlets.

Other key components that should not be missing in your business plan are product offering, SWOT analysis, competitive analysis, marketing and sales analysis / strategies, target market, market goals, pricing, costing and financial projection, publicity and advertising strategy, expansion and growth strategies, budget and startup capital generation et al.

Step 5: Choose a Legal Entity for Your Business

If you choose to start your business in Maine, Choose a business entity. Decide whether you wish to operate as a sole proprietorship, partnership, Limited Liability Company or corporation. If you decide to incorporate, form a limited liability company (LLC) or a partnership, you should consult an attorney and tax accountant.

However, you can obtain incorporation papers from the Maine Secretary of State, Bureau of Corporations, 101 State House Station, Augusta, ME. Telephone:  207-624-7736. Forms and information are also available on their website. If already incorporated in another state, obtain an application to do business in Maine as a foreign corporation from the same office.

If you decide not to incorporate and wish to protect the name of your business, you may file a Trademark or Service mark with the Secretary of State’s office. For information about filing for marks in Maine, you may call 207-624-7736 or visit their website.

If your business will operate under a business name that is different from your given name, you must register that name in the city or town where your business is located. This is called filing a D/B/A (Doing Business As) and the fee varies slightly, according to your location.

Step 6: Register Your Business Name

Once you are able to carry out all the steps listed above, then go straight ahead to register your business name. Of course, you would have done the necessary business name search that will ensure that you are not settling for a name that is already in use.

If you don’t want someone to register your business name, then you should be fast about registering the business name. For most small businesses, registering an LLC is a great option. In comparison to other business entities, LLCs are easier to set up and manage and they have favorable tax treatment. You can set up an LLC in Maine for as little as $70.

Please note that in Maine, if you choose not to register your company as a business entity, you will be held personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of your business. In addition, unregistered business owners may need to file a Trade Name, also known as a “DBA.” Find out if your business is required to file a DBA.

Step 7: Source for New Business Financing

When it comes to sourcing for loan for a small business in the United States, Small Business Administration (SBA) is your Go-to Place. United States Small Business Administration (SBA) is a major source of financing for entrepreneurs especially those that operate small businesses.

The Small Business Administration has several loan programs for small enterprises who are unable to secure loans from lending institutions on their own. It is on record that a number of Fortune 500 companies in the United States benefited from SBA loan when they are just starting out.

Big corporations such as FedEx (Federal Express), Apple and Intel among others leveraged on loans gotten from SBA. The trend toward small-business start-ups and entrepreneurship in America, has encouraged both the SBA and its lending partners to continue to expand their loan programs.

The only reason why you should ignore this step is if you already have the required startup capital needed to kick start your business.

Step 8: Apply and Obtain the Needed Business License and Permits

The nature of the business you want to run will determine whether you need to obtain any state licenses or permits to operate your business. Business Answers, a program of the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, has a One-Stop Licensing Center for all the information needed to obtain appropriate licenses for your business.

This service can be reached at 1-800-872-3838 (in state) or 1-800-541-5872 (out of state). You should also inquire about local licenses and permits at your local town office or city hall.

STEP 9: Register for a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN).

In order to register for a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN), you are expected to complete and file IRS Form SS-4, EIN. You are required to file this if you: pay wages to one or more employees; or are required to have an EIN to use on a specific return, statement or document (often banks will require this for a business checking account); or plan to incorporate (in which case owners drawing salaries are considered employees).

This form can be obtained from the nearest IRS office, or call 1-800-829-3676. IRS forms and publications can be downloaded from their website:

Register for Maine State Income Tax Withholding and Unemployment Insurance.  Complete and file the Application for Tax Registration from the Maine Revenue Services, 207- 624-5644. The application can be downloaded from their website. You can also register online at the Maine Department of Labor’s online services.

STEP 10: Open a Maine Bank Account

Once the IRS has issued an EIN Number to your business, you can open a business checking account. It’s best practice to have a business checking account for your small business in Maine in order to maintain your personal liability protection.

Using a personal bank account for your LLC is called “commingling of assets” and this can lead to personal liability issues if you end up in court. Please note that having a separate business bank account for your business also makes record-keeping easier for accounting and tax purposes.

Since banks in Maine has their own rules and regulations, it is recommend calling a few places to determine the following:

  • minimum initial deposit
  • minimum balance requirements
  • monthly maintenance fees (if any)

STEP 11: Obtain a State Sales Tax Number

If you plan to sell a taxable product or service, you must obtain a State Sales Tax Number by filing the Application for Tax Registration with the Maine Revenue Services. This form is also used to register for State of Maine income tax withholding and unemployment insurance. You can apply online or download the application or call 207-624-5466.

Apply for a Resale Certificate if you are a retailer and expect to make purchases for resale and meet the required qualifications. This certificate allows a retailer to make such purchases without paying the Maine Sales Tax on them. When the retailer applies for a sales tax registration, the retailer will be issued a provisional resale certificate provided the applicant expects to make $3,000 or more in gross sales over the next year.

Step 12: Purchase the Needed Business Insurance

The rule of business engagement in Maine is that, you can’t operate a business without having some of the basic insurance policy covers that are required by the industry you want to operate from. So, it is important to create a budget for insurance and perhaps consult an insurance broker to guide you in choosing the best and most appropriate insurance policies for your business.

You might want to consider buying some or all of these insurance policy covers for your business; General insurance, Health/Medical insurance, Liability insurance, Workers Compensation, Overhead expense disability insurance, Business owner’s policy group insurance and Payment protection insurance.

Please note that if you are going to operate your business from home, then you might want to learn about home-based business insurance.

Step 13: Lease or Rent an Ideal Office Location

Another important step to follow when establishing a small business in Maine is to choose an ideal location for your office. When it comes to renting an office facility in Maine, the nature of business you want to do should serve as a guide.

You can check with the local code enforcement officer to determine if your business will be in compliance with local zoning ordinances. Besides, you would need your business license and permit as part of the document to be tendered before any landlord or realtor will sign any leasing agreement with your business in Maine.

Step 14: Hire the Required Employees

The only reason why you should ignore this step is if you want to run a one-man business. Please note that in Maine, it is mandatory to have all your employees complete and keep in employer’s files: Employee’s Withholding Certificate W-4 obtained from the IRS and Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 obtained from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. This form can be downloaded from the USCIS website or call 800-870-3676.

As a matter of fact, Maine employers are required to report newly hired, rehired or terminated employees to the Maine Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) within 7 days. Employers may submit reports by using the New Hire online portal or downloading the Report Form. For more information contact Division of Support Enforcement and Recovery at 207-624-4100.

You are advised to obtain and post the required labor posters that summarize state and federal labor laws by calling the Maine Department of Labor at 207-623-7900 or download from their website. If necessary, contact the Maine Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Standards to determine compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Telephone: 207-623-7900.

N.B: Please, note that the information in this article is provided only for general purpose and it is no way a legal advice. No lawyer-client relationship is established or should any such relationship be assumed. For legal advice, please consult with a professional lawyer. But, if you need additional assistance or have business-specific questions, we will advise that you contact the appropriate authority in your local council.