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Starting or Growing a Business in Maine > Business Startup Checklist

The following is a list of steps compiled by the Maine Small Business Development Centers which provide a general guideline to anyone who is starting a business in Maine.
· Prepare a written business plan, complete with pro-forma financial statements. This can serve as an operating guide as well as a financing prospectus.

  • Decide whether you wish to operate as a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company or corporation (See Establishing your business entity)

  • If you decide to incorporate, form a limited liability company, or a partnership, you should consult an attorney. However, you can obtain incorporation papers from the Maine Secretary of State, Bureau of Corporations, 101 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0101. Telephone: (207) 624-7736. You can also reach them on-line at 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 regarding filing trademarks, you may call (207) 624-7736 or you may find the information at the above web address.

  • If you operate a business, and the business name 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.

  • Determine whether you need to obtain any state licenses or permits to operate your business. An extensive listing can be found in A Guide to Doing Business in Maine, published by the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development. They also offer a business licensing service that can provide you with the required license applications. This service can be reached at 1-800-872-3838. You should also inquire about local licenses or permits at your local town office or city hall.

  • Check with the local code enforcement officer to determine if your business will be in compliance with local zoning ordinances.

  • Maine Employer's Registration Requirements :
    - Register for a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN). Complete and file IRS Form SS-4. You are required to file this if you pay wages to one or more employees; or are required to have EIN to use on a specific return, statement or other document (often banks will require this for a business checking account); or plan to incorporate (in which case owners drawing salaries are also considered employees). This form can be obtained from the nearest IRS office, or call 1-800-424-1040, or download it from the IRS website:
    - Register for Maine State Income Tax Withholding. Complete and file the Application for Tax Registration from the Maine Department of Labor, Central Registration Section. They can be reached at (207) 287-2338. Form A is for those registering just for withholding tax and unemployment contributions. Form B is for those registering for withholding, sales, use and excise taxes.
    - Have employees complete and keep in employer's files: Employer's Withholding Certification Form W-4 obtained from the IRS and Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 obtained from the U.S. Dept. of Immigration and Naturalization. This form can be downloaded from the Department's website:
    - Obtain Worker's Compensation Insurance from the business's insurance carrier.
    - Maine employers are required to report newly hired or rehired employees to the Maine Department of Human Services (DHS) within 7 days. The report must include the employee's name, address, social security number and date of birth, as well as the employer's name, address, employer security reference number or employer identification number. Employers may report by sending a copy of the employee's W-4 form or facsimile thereof. For more information contact DHS Support Enforcement and Recovery at (207) 287-2886 or 1-800-437-9611.
    - Obtain and post the required labor posters that summarize the state's labor law by calling the Workplace Safety and Health Division at 624-6460 or by contacting Business Answers at 1-800-872-3838.
    Note: many of these forms can be obtained with the start-up kit from the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development @ 1-800-872-3838.

  • If you plan to sell a taxable product or service, you must obtain a State Sales Tax Number by filing an application with the Maine Department of Finance, Bureau of Taxation, State House Station #78, Augusta, ME 04333. Telephone: (207) 287-2336. This form is also used to register for State of Maine income tax withholding.

  • If necessary, contact the Maine Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Standards to determine compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Telephone: (207) 287-6400.

  • Contact an insurance agent regarding the necessary insurance coverage your business will require.

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