Starting a business? We have a guide for that!

You have an idea and want to start a business.  Starting a business is challenging – there are many things to think about, decide upon and do.  At the Maine SBDC one of the most frequent requests we get is for assistance with starting a business. Our goal is to make sure you are on the right track with access to helpful information, resources and expert advice. 

A Guide to Starting a Business in Maine will help you with your questions, planning, research and preparation to launch a business.  The Guide will answer your questions about determining the probable success of your business, selecting a business entity, finding financing, writing a business plan, registering your business, getting insurance, selecting a name, reporting taxes and much more.

The 24-page Guide provides basic information about starting a business in Maine and contents include:

  • Business Startup Checklist
  • Doing a Feasibility Study
  • Common Business Entities
  • Business Plan Guidelines
  • Financing Your Business
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Where to Get Assistance
  • Maine SBDC locations

This Guide is intended to provide basic information about starting a business in Maine. Your business may have additional requirements or needs that are specific to your type of business that are not covered in this Guide.  It is best used in conjunction with a Maine SBDC business advisor or other business professional.  Call us at 800-679-7232 or email: if you would like assistance.

Click here to download the Guide as a PDF

Maine Small Business Development Centers announce record year for client success in securing capital

February 1, 2017

It was a record year for Maine small businesses securing capital to start and grow their companies in 2016, according to a recently released annual report compiled by the Maine Small Business Development Centers (Maine SBDC).

2016 Program Results with Map of MaineMaine SBDC provided no-cost business advising to 1,583 entrepreneurs and small business owners throughout Maine in 2016. Fourteen certified business advisors across Maine helped clients secured an unprecedented $47.1 million in capital to start and grow their businesses, more than in any other year in Maine SBDC’s 39 year history. In addition, the Maine SBDC helped these clients create and save 1,006 jobs and start 120 new businessesRead More

Maine Startups Insider: Founder Forum – Joel Alex of Blue Ox Malthouse

Maine SBDC client Joel Alex and his business Blue Ox Malthouse featured in Maine Startup Insider!

The other thing that emboldened me to pursue this and decline graduate school was that I had come across Top Gun, I had come across the Maine SBDC. Because in November 2012 when I made the decision to pursue Blue Ox Malthouse in earnest, or with more energy and intention, I started talking to craft brewers, to people in agriculture, to farmers. I talked to business owners, too. I started doing a survey of the resources available, and through the Maine SBDC I was encouraged to apply for the TechStart grant from MTI and then I got plugged into the really strong network of Blackstone Accelerates Growth, the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development and that whole community. The other resource I took advantage of, and which provided emotional support and served as a connector, was Slow Money Maine. I had one tremendously amazing early partner named Steve Culver, who I met through the Slow Money Maine network.

That network of people gave me the confidence in the idea and the confidence that there was a support network out there that could help me realize it. And that was tremendous.

Read the entire interview with Joel here!

Hiding in Plain Sight – The IRS Website

By: Business Advisor Peter Harriman

Often small business owners scour the internet trying to find information or answers. ​Often they resign themselves to hiring an accountant, and other times they call me up hoping that I can offer some wisdom. I work for the Maine Small Business Development Center in Portland, a free and confidential business advising service. More often than not, because I am not an accountant, I end up first guiding my clients to a wealth of information that can be found​ for free​ at the IRS websiteRead More

Client Highlight: Maine BayCycle

Maine BayCycleNeil Kinner, a Peaks Island native, came into the Maine SBDC after spending a summer in Portland, Oregon. There, he had captained a pedal-powered paddle boat, and wanted to bring this unique concept to Casco Bay in Portland, Maine. New to Maine and New England, the business would feature 10 pedal stations with seats for four more and would be entirely human powered, with a small solar powered back up motor in case of emergency.

With idea in hand, he needed financing in order to purchase the boat, and bring it to Maine. For this he sought out the assistance of Maine SBDC Business Advisor Peter Harriman. Together the pair worked to create a realistic business plan and projected financials. They worked on his narrative, timeline, marketing plan and the many aspects required to launch this unique business – hoping for a summer 2016 launch, the peak tourist season in Portland.

Read More

Client Highlight: Izzy’s Cheesecake │ Portland, ME

Izzy's CheesecakeDavid “Izzy” Izenstatt, founder of Izzy’s Cheesecakes, has been making high quality, hand crafted cheesecakes since 1985. Made in small batches, the company makes 37 flavors of cheesecakes include gluten-free and seasonal options.

When Izenstatt’s business partner Jim Chamoff came into the Maine SBDC, he was looking to expand the business. He wanted to start making and selling “mini” cheesecakes to convenience stores and Whole Foods Market. He needed capital in order to ramp up production, including design and packaging of the new mini cheesecakes.Read More

Client Highlight: CrossFit Bangor │ Bangor, ME

CrossFit BangorMelinda Metten does it all. A firefighter at the Bangor Fire Department and a boom operator in the United States Air National Guard, Metten opened CrossFit Bangor in June 2011. It wasn’t long before CrossFit Bangor’s reputation spread and membership increased, putting her at capacity in her current location. She had begun turning away business because to add new members would negatively impact the quality of service to the existing members.

Always a problem-solver, Metten had found a larger space that would be ideal for growing the business, but she needed financing in order to secure the location. Her lender at EMDC (Eastern Maine Development Corporation) suggested she work with Maine SBDC Business Advisor Ann McAlhany to help her with the documents and paperwork necessary to apply for a loan.Read More

Client Highlight: Tulu Salon & Spa

Tulu Salon - Biddeford, METerra Olson worked for a high end salon and spa in Portland for years, but knew that there were other opportunities out there.  One opportunity she noted was the lack of a high end salon south of Portland.  She went to the Maine SBDC office in Saco and met with Business Advisor Steve Lovejoy.  That was the beginning of Tulu Salon & Spa on Main Street in Biddeford.  Olson worked with Lovejoy to develop the plans for the new salon. Read More