Starting a Maine business is hard.
You have a very limited timeframe to make it work and make it profitable, and money always goes out the door so much faster than you expect. But starting a business the legal and right way will pave easier roads ahead. Set yourself up for success by doing your homework and being diligent. Attention to the smallest matters is essential. Big ideas, creativity, disruption, and smart marketing will go a long way, but a long-lasting business must be founded on adherence to the rules and a pragmatic approach to details. This blog will discuss the legal and practical steps to take to begin your business.
Is there interest and a large-enough population with money to spend on your goods or service to support your business? Your idea may be an excellent one, but if set in the wrong market, it will never succeed. Do your research and due diligence. This means internet searches and boots on the ground. Get out and talk to other small businesses, those you think would be customers of yours and neighbors who know the area.
Write A Business Plan
It’s easier than ever to write a business plan with the help of the internet. You can find a traditional business plan template and start plugging in your ideas and information. This plan will include an executive summary containing the overarching goal or mission statement; a description of your company, what it provides and what makes it distinct; the structure of the company; funding requests and other financials. If you have an established business, you will need statements for cash flow, profit, and loss; or a five-year projection plan if you are just starting up. Graphs and charts are good here!
After you’ve written your plan, you should have a good idea of how much money you will need at the outset. Will you get venture capital from investors? Crowdfund? Or get a small business loan? In Maine, there are many opportunities through loans, grants, and incentives for a small- to medium-sized business to attain the funds required to get started.
Location, Location, Location – and Name
Where in Maine should you start your business? Consider the rents in Portland, the accessibility of coastal Route 1, and the seasonal nature of many of Maine’s prettiest spots. Next, it’s time to choose a name that is clear and concise, telegraphs what you do, looks good in print, doesn’t conflict with any other local business, and that pleases you. Hopefully, you will be saying this name for years to come.
Getting Down to Business
The way your business is structured will determine how much you pay in taxes, what types of paperwork you file, and your personal liability. Will it be a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a limited liability corporation? If a corporation, will it be an S Corp, B Corp, nonprofit or cooperative? There are many resources available to the Maine public to help you determine which is best for you. You will need to register your business with the state and local governments to make it a distinct legal entity. Get your federal and state tax IDs, apply for licenses and permits, and open a business bank account. Will you hire an accountant? Or can you manage the bookkeeping software?
Greenlight Maine stands with small business owners in Maine and encourages everyone with an interest in an exciting career as an entrepreneur to follow these steps to do it right. The resources are here!