Illuminated Me – South Portland, Maine

Illuminate Me logoSharon Herrick, business owner, modeling her jewelrySharon Herrick started her jewelry business Illuminated Me to honor the unique elements that define us. Inspired by history and nature, her jewelry is designed to help us feel elevated, empowered and adored. Each piece of jewelry is locally sourced and intricately created by hand. Sharon has collaborations with Anthony Manfredonia, a New York-based luxury fashion brand, and Venn + Maker, an online retail business that features carefully curated handmade goods.Read More

Maine SBDC Releases 2019 Small Business Client Results, Helps Start a New Business Every Three Days

Maine SBDC Annual Report CoverThe Maine Small Business Development Centers (Maine SBDC), a statewide program that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses, is pleased to announce its annual results.

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In 2019, certified business advisors across Maine provided no cost business advising to over 1,500 entrepreneurs which helped them to:

  • Start 133 new businesses
  • Save and create 600 jobs
  • Access $26.8 million in capital to start or grow their businesses.

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Dandelion Catering – Yarmouth, Maine

For ten years, Dandelion Catering has been providing fresh, quality prepared food that celebrates the local resources that Maine and New England have to offer. The business had
experienced a surge in growth due to their focus on top shelf service and creative, attractive food offerings. Business the garrison Logoowners Christian and Christine Hayes had big plans to scale up the operation and reached out to Brad Swanson, business advisor at the Maine SBDC at CEI, for guidance.Read More

New Research: Maine SBDC Clients Are More Likely to Succeed

Maine SBDC recently conducted an internal study to analyze the survivability of businesses that started with the assistance of an SBDC business advisor. The study included clients who started their businesses in 2016 and assessed whether these businesses were still in operation after three years.

graphic with still open sign and text "a recent study found that more than 72% of Maine SBDC client businesses were still in operation after three years, higher than national averages"The study found that more than 72% of Maine SBDC client businesses were still in operation after three years. This is higher than the national average of 61.3% from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.Read More

Contractor or Employee?

Is your worker a contractor or employee?

By: Diana Grandoni, Maine SBDC Graduate Assistant


The important differences between these two roles might surprise you.

Specific standards determine if your worker is legally an independent contractor or an employee of your business, and it’s up to the business owner to make sure these relationships are classified correctly.Read More

Hiring & Managing Your First Employees

Hiring and Managing Your First Employees

By: Diana Grandoni, Maine SBDC Graduate Assistant

Making the first new additions to your team is an exciting milestone and a sign that your hard work is paying off! For many small business owners, hiring can also be overwhelming and stressful.

business owner talking to employees

These four tips will help you make the most out of this important process:

1. Identify the role you need to fill.

What made you decide you need to hire a new employee? Outline the specific tasks and responsibilities you need support for and what aspects of the business you envision this person taking on in the future. Develop a clear picture of what skills this person should have to be a good addition to your team. Use this to create a job description which you can share in the job posting and with candidates in interviews. Refer to your budget to determine the pay including the cost of benefits. Offering a competitive wage can make you stand out among job seekers and could land you a more motivated applicant, but payroll shouldn’t be so costly that it leads to financial problems. In other words, don’t pay more than what the job is worth to you

2. Find the right person for the job.

Finding the right candidate is critical for minimizing turnover. Develop a comprehensive job description, post it online, and share it with your connections. Vet your applicants carefully and schedule interviews to further screen candidates. In addition to ensuring they have the required professional skills for the job, it is equally important that their personality is a good cultural fit. Especially on a small team, every employee has a distinct and formidable impact on the culture of the business.

3. Onboarding is your first impression.

The onboarding process is the foundation of your relationship with your new employee, and you won’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Put thought into how you want this person to understand their role and the culture of the workplace. Relay your expectations from the beginning. Provide an updated employee handbook that clearly states your company policies. Show your new team members that they made the right choice to accept the position by making them feel welcome.

employees having fun at work4. Keeping Good Employees

There are ways to retain good employees beyond salary that offer a worthwhile return on investment. Whenever possible, provide professional development opportunities and mentorship for your team members. Including health care benefits, vacation, and sick time if possible make the job more appealing and show your employee that you value them, which makes them much more likely to stay. Create a fair and transparent evaluation system to set goals, assess employee growth, and recognize achievements. Offering positive feedback when warranted never hurts! The best workers want to be challenged and feel that they are developing professional skills.

Strategic management of your human resources as your most important asset will put you on a path for long term success. For individualized guidance on how to sustainably grow your business and manage your team, contact the Maine SBDC to schedule a free meeting with a business advisor.


Maine SBDC’s Business Plan Guide

Writing a business plan is an important step in starting or expanding any business. A business plan provides an essential roadmap for your business that outlines goals and provides details on how you plan to achieve these goals. It is also a great tool in communicating your business’ potential to investors and financial institutions.

We’ve developed a step by step guide to help you write your business plan. 

Maine SBDC’s Peter Harriman walks you through each section of a business plan. He highlights the important parts and provides helpful tips & tricks.

Access the Writing a Business Plan Guide:




This tool is best used in conjunction with a Maine SBDC business advisor or other professional. The Maine SBDC has been providing free business advising to Maine’s small businesses and entrepreneurs since 1977.  We have experienced, knowledgeable, certified business advisors who can help businesses at all stages to provide confidential, individualized business development assistance – at no cost. Our centers are located around the state.  Call us at 800-679-7232  or visit our website to find out how we can help you.

True North Beauty – Milo, Maine

True North Beauty LogoHeather Lux was disappointed with the skincare products on the market. She wanted a natural, effective and luxurious product that would help her skin look its best. This is why she created True North Beauty.

True North Beauty is a blossoming skincare and lifestyle brand that utilizes the unique benefits of Chaga, a wild Maine mushroom. Chaga grows on birch trees in cold weather climates and is especially prominent in Northern New England. It is known for its anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties and is dense in anti-oxidants. True North utilizes a patent-pending process to extract these diverse properties to create a Chaga Infused Formula™. The formula reduces acne and redness, helps with fine lines, boosts elasticity and collagen, and helps repair sun damage.Read More

Bub ‘n Muthas – Winter Harbor, Maine

Family of John Fuhrman, Owner of Bub N' MuthasEver since he can remember, John Fuhrman’s “mutha” had a real knack for cooking. In DownEast Maine, her kitchen skills were almost legendary. One day, after tinkering around with spices in the kitchen, “mutha” developed a special blend of spices that needed to be shared. The blend combined a Maine attitude with local ingredients such as organic blueberry powder, maple crystals and even Raye’s Mustard (the oldest mustard company in America made right here in Maine).

Several bottles of rub on a treeThis is how John’s company Bub ‘n Muthas was started and their first product DownEast Dinnah (pronounced dinn-uh) Dust was created. The company later their Honey n’ HEAT flavor which added other varieties with honey crystals and chipotle to the mustard and blueberry. A veteran of the U.S. Navy, John loves every minute of creating, mixing, bottling and sharing his family’s classic Maine gourmet dry rubs.

He is working with Shannon Byers, Business Advisor at Maine SBDC at CEI, to expand his business. They have worked on his business plan and discussed ways to grow his web sales and retail locations.  Bub ‘n Muthas are looking to grow so he can hire other talented Veterans from the area so they can earn a quality living, get training and keep their families in Maine. For every 10,000 bottles they sell, they plan to offer an area veteran a job. More info on this initiative here.

Collage with rubs and food made with themJohn adds: “If you’d like a real taste of Maine, give us a try and I promise not to disappoint you.” 

​For more information on this growing Maine business, visit their website or follow them on FACEBOOK and TWITTER!