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How To Start A Maine Sole Proprietorship

How To Start A Maine Sole Proprietorship

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How To Start A Maine Sole Proprietorship

Starting your first business is an exciting journey, and one of the first steps you’ll encounter is choosing the right business structure. In Maine, many entrepreneurs opt for a sole proprietorship due to its simplicity and ease of management. But why is this choice so popular in Maine?

Maine is home to 145,871 small businesses,1 with a significant 72% (105,051) of these being sole proprietorships.2 This high percentage indicates a strong preference for this business structure among Maine entrepreneurs. But why do so many choose this path?

To help answer that question, in this guide, you’ll learn what a sole proprietorship is, including its advantages and disadvantages. You’ll also get a step-by-step guide on how to register a sole proprietorship in Maine. By the end, you’ll have a clear understanding of why a Maine sole proprietorship might be the right choice for you and how to get started.

Related: How to start a business in Maine

What is a Sole Proprietorship?

A sole proprietorship is the simplest business form where a single individual owns and operates the business. This is different from other structures like general partnerships, corporations, and Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) – each of which has its own set of rules, complexities, and benefits.

Sole Proprietorship Advantages

Many businesses in Maine are sole proprietorships. Here are a few reasons why.

  • Simplicity and ease of formation: In Maine, you can start a sole proprietorship without filing any formal paperwork with the state. This simplicity is a big draw for many new business owners.
  • Inexpensive to form: Setting up a sole proprietorship in Maine is the lowest cost compared to the other business structures. There’s also no need for annual reports, reducing your ongoing expenses.
  • Tax simplicity: The income earned from your business is included on your personal tax return, simplifying the tax process.

Sole Proprietorship Disadvantages

While there are clear advantages, it’s also important to consider the drawbacks.

  • Unlimited personal liability: In a sole proprietorship, there’s no legal separation between you and your business. This means personal assets could be at risk if your business faces debts or lawsuits.
  • Difficulty raising capital: As a sole proprietor in Maine, you might find it challenging to raise money since you can’t sell shares like in a corporation or LLC.
  • Less business continuity: If you’re unable to run the business, there’s no structure for it to continue operating without you.

If liability protection is a key concern for you, consider forming a Limited Liability Company (LLC) in Maine. An LLC offers more protection for your personal assets compared to a sole proprietorship, and it might be a better choice depending on your business needs and goals.

Related: How to form a Louisiana LLC

Steps to Start a Sole Proprietorship in Maine

Starting a sole proprietorship in Maine is a straightforward process as it doesn’t require any formal registration with the state. However, there are a few essential steps to ensure that your sole proprietorship is set up legally. Let’s walk through these steps one by one.

Step 1: Come Up with a Business Name

In Maine, if you plan to operate under a name different from your own, you need to file a Doing Business As (DBA) or Trade Name, which is a requirement under Maine state statute Title 31, §2.3 For example, if Emily Clark, an aspiring baker, wants to start a bakery named “Sweet Treats by Emily,” she would need to register this name as her DBA. If Emily wanted to operate as Emily Clark, she would skip the next step.

Step 2: File the DBA Form

To officially register your business name in Maine, obtain the DBA form from the Town Clerk or City Clerk’s office where your business is located. Filing this form doesn’t protect it from another business from using the name. For a higher level of protection, consider applying for a federal trademark.

Related: How to file a Maine DBA

Step 3: Research Business License Requirements

In Maine, while there isn’t a state-wide business license requirement, various licenses may be necessary depending on the nature and location of your business.

Local business license: Some cities in Maine require a local business license. It’s important to check with your city officials or economic development office to see if this applies to your business.

Maine business tax number: Businesses selling taxable products & services or employing staff need to register with Maine Revenue Services. This registration allows businesses to obtain a Maine Sales & Use Tax License, Service Provider Tax, and/or Withholding Taxes.

Professional license: Certain professions in Maine are regulated and require licensing. This includes professions like forestry, electricians, door-to-door home repair sellers, landscape architects, and many others.

Employer Identification Number (EIN): The EIN is required by the IRS for some businesses for tax reporting. Sole proprietorships hiring employees will need to register with the IRS for an EIN, otherwise, they will use the owner’s social security number.

Wrapping Up

To sum up, operating your business as a sole proprietorship in Maine can be a practical, simple choice for getting your business up and running quickly. But it’s always important to consider all your options and understand the potential challenges related to this business structure.

Now it’s your turn. Have you set your mind on forming a sole proprietorship? Why have you chosen this path? If you have any questions or thoughts, please leave a comment below.


  1. Small Business Administration ↩︎
  2. Internal Revenue Service ↩︎
  3. State of Maine ↩︎


  • Greg Bouhl

    With over two decades as an entrepreneur, educator, and business advisor, Greg Bouhl has worked with over 2,000 entrepreneurs to help them start and grow their businesses. Fed up with clients finding and acting on inaccurate and outdated information online, Greg launched StartUp101.com to be a trusted resource for people starting a business.

How To Start A Maine Sole Proprietorship

How To Start A Maine Sole Proprietorship

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