How to Start a Small Business in Maine

Whether you want to bring to life a dream business concept you have always had, or want the satisfaction of being your own boss, you’re not alone if you want to start a small business in Maine. According to the Small Business Administration, in 2022, 99.2% of all Maine businesses were small businesses. We have put together a non-exhaustive list of some of the tasks you will likely need to take to get your business off the ground and running.  

Decide on a Concept 

Before you go much further, you need to define what services or products your business will provide. Ask yourself what industries or subjects you have experience or interest in. Below are some go-to business ideas for entrepreneurs.

Learn the Market 

It takes more than just a great idea or product to have a business succeed. The other half to the equation is your customers. Where will they come from? Will they support your business? If you plan on having a physical location in an area, look for statistics on demographics of the surrounding communities. Things like average household income, median age, and population can be helpful in determining if your business would be a good fit for the area you are in.

 Analyze what similar businesses already exist. How will your business offer something different or improved? Ask yourself if there is a need for something in the market that you can offer.

Write Your Business Plan 

A business plan is more than a roadmap for your business. It can also potentially help you secure funding to get your business off the ground. Here are the key points you should hit:

  • Your Executive Summary (Purpose, Problem The Business Solves, Financial Summary)
  • The Services Your Business Provides
  • Sales & Marketing
  • Organization & Management
  • Financial Projections
  • Appendix (Additional Documentation)

Decide Where Your Funding Will Come From  

When it comes to funding your business, you have several different options. If you don’t require a lot of funding to start your business and you have some savings, self-funding your business may make the most sense for you. For businesses that require more capital to get them off the ground, consider the following:

  • Obtaining a commercial loan from a bank
  • Launching a crowdfunding campaign
  • Securing Funding from an angel investor or VC like Maine Angels

Decide on a Business Structure 

What business structure you have can affect your personal liability, the paperwork you need to file, and can also affect how much you will pay in taxes. When choosing a business structure, consulting with an accountant or attorney is often wise.

Sole Proprietorship

If you are doing business but have not registered as any other kind of business, you are automatically considered to be a sole proprietorship. Sole proprietorships do not separate business assets from personal assets. This means that you can be held personally liable for the debts and obligations of your business.


If your business will have multiple owners, partnerships are a structure for two or more people to own a business together. There are multiple different types of partnerships that can potentially be formed, some of which may offer liability protection whereas others do not. 

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

An LLC can be owned by one or more people or entities, called members. One advantage of an LLC is that it offers members personal liability protection against the debts and obligations of the company, meaning that in most instances, your personal assets like your personal savings accounts or your home won’t be at risk if your LLC faces bankruptcy or lawsuits.


A corporation can be owned by one or more persons or entities, called shareholders. The potential advantages of corporations include protection of the shareholders’ personal assets from the debts and obligations of the corporation, as well as potentially the ability to raise revenue from outside investors by selling shares in the company. However, there are certain formalities and tax considerations/implications that go along with forming your company as a corporation.

As the type of structure you choose for your company can have a significant impact on issues related to your personal liability, taxes, required paperwork and other formalities, it is always a good idea to consult with an experienced accountant and attorney so that you can make an informed choice. 

How to Register Your Business in Maine 

After you have chosen your business structure, you can register with the state of Maine. If you are a sole proprietor doing business under a name other than your own (DBA) then you must file a certificate of assumed name with your local city or town clerk’s office. You can search the name on the Maine Secretary of State’s website to see if it is available for use.

If you are a corporation or LLC, you will also need to do a name search on the Maine Secretary of State’s Website.

After this, you need to appoint a registered agent to receive process notifications and other government correspondence. You can be your own registered agent if you have a physical address in Maine, or you can hire a professional. Once you have a registered agent in place, you can register with the state by filing a Certificate of Formation. This can be done by mail or online. If you are a corporation, you are required to submit Articles of Incorporation. This can be done on the Secretary of State website or through the mail.

After you have registered your business, you should get a Federal Employer Identification Number, also known as an EIN. If you are a sole proprietor, this is optional. However, if you are a corporation or LLC, it is required. You can apply online for an EIN here.

Obtain Necessary Permits and Licenses 

Certain types of business professions in Maine need licensing (example: athletic trainers). The website is a good resource for seeing what permits and licenses may be required for your business.  

Get Insurance    

Obtaining commercial insurance coverage for your business is a step that should not be ignored. In Maine, if you have employees you are legally required to have workers’ compensation coverage. Some other types of insurance to consider are: 

Our local agency with offices throughout Maine can help find commercial coverage options for your business, as well as benefits for your employees. Request a quote online here, or call one of our offices to start the process.

Help People Find You Online 

In today’s world, developing an online presence is critical to connecting with your customers. Consider developing a website. If you have a physical address, claim your Business Profile on Google to add photos, company hours, and more. Create profiles on social media sites to share the latest updates like product releases, grand openings, and more.


This article is for general informational purposes only and is not to be relied upon or used for any particular purpose. Cross Insurance shall not be held responsible in any way for, and specifically disclaims any liability arising out of or in any way connected to, reliance on or use of any of the information contained in this article. The information contained or referenced in this article is not intended to constitute and should not be considered legal, insurance, accounting or other professional advice, nor shall it serve as a substitute for the recipient obtaining such advice. The views expressed in this article are that of its author and do not necessarily represent the views of Cross Financial Corp. and its subsidiaries and affiliates (“Cross Insurance”) or Cross Insurance’s management or shareholders.

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