We are a leading financial resource for Maine businesses.
Our Business Advisors work one-on-one with individuals looking to start a new business, expand their current business or acquire an existing business to determine their specific needs. Every loan client gets access to Technical Assistance provided Free-of-Charge. We will help you develop and refine your business plan or existing operations with the end goal of making you traditionally bankable.
CCFC has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as the Top Performing Microlender in the state of Maine for the past 3 years!
Community Concepts Finance Corporation is here to help provide you information to get your business headed in the right direction. Along with help from one of our business advisors, use this guide and checklist to move you toward success.
Selecting a Business Name
It is not necessary to file a business name with the State if you are a sole proprietor. However, you may want to consider registering your business name as a trade name or DBA (doing business as). If you plan to form your business entity as a corporation or limited liability company, Maine’s law will restrict you from using a name that another business entity is already using. To see if the name you have chosen for your business is already in use, do a corporation name search at https://icrs.informe.org/nei-sos-icrs/ICRS?MainPage=x. Also, be mindful of trademarked names by checking www1.maine.gov/sos/cec/corp/trademarks.html.
If you intend on having a website, consider searching availability of domains you may wish to reserve early in the stages of selecting your business name as one may influence the other. There are several domain search resources you may wish to use, one is https://www.godaddy.com/
Select a Legal Structure
Legal, liability and tax considerations enter into selecting a business structure. The most common forms of business are the sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, and S corporation. A Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a business structure allowed by state statute: https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/business-structures
Business owners intertwine business and personal finances all too often, doing so can cause liability concerns and mean a web of frustration at tax time. Even if you’re just starting out, it’s essential to split up these two sectors of your finances. Start with tracking your business expenses separately from your personal, even though in the early stages they may feel the same. Get started by opening a business bank account using a separate debit card and creating a record keeping system. To learn more about business bank account tips visit https://www1.maine.gov/pfr/financialinstitutions/consumer/business_banking_guide.htm
See an Accountant for Tax Help
You may be responsible for Sales Tax, Self-Employment Tax, Excise Tax, Income Tax and more. It is recommended you consult a tax representative or accountant in the early stages of starting your business. Here is a helpful video on small business taxes to get you started. http://www.irsvideos.gov/Business/virtualworkshop
Obtain Business Licenses and Permits (Federal and State)
General licenses to operate a business are managed at the town/city level in Maine. Federally regulated industries will have additional requirements. http://www.maine.gov/portal/business/licensing.html or http://www.sba.gov/blogs/how-find-right-license-and-permit-your-new-business
Use your Business Plan as a living/working document
Maintain, update and revise your business plan on a routine basis. As operations, procedures, goals and SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) change, refer to and adjust your business plan. Doing such aids in moving ideas forward, staying organized and developing future goals and plans. The SBA offers a free online log-in portal in which you can continually work on a business plan from, including step by step guides, and PDF saving at https://www.sba.gov/tools/business-plan/1
Good records will help you monitor the progress of your business, prepare your financial statements, identify sources of income, keep track of deductible expenses, keep track of your assets and liabilities, prepare your tax returns, and support items reported on you tax returns. You may choose any recordkeeping system suited to your business that clearly shows your income and expenses. The IRS provides a clear resource for recordkeeping for businesses of any kind: https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/recordkeeping
Obtain a Federal Employer Identification Number
An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number, and is used to identify a business entity. Generally, businesses need an EIN. It is helpful to establish an EIN prior to starting a business bank account. https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/employer-id-numbers
Build and maintain Supports, Networks and Resources
Having a support team of family, friends and other business owners provides helpful support as one faces the celebration of successes and the challenges of barriers through business ownership. Additionally, explore opportunities to connect within networks in your industry, local chambers and workshops. The State of Maine also offers a great “Business Answers Program” to aid you in feeling connected to resources during your business journey http://www.maine.gov/portal/business/starting.html
Personal Credit History
As a small business owner, your personal credit and handling of checking accounts and loans affects your ability to borrow for the business and your terms with vendors. Know what is on your personal credit report by ordering a free credit report through www.annualcreditreport.com (the only authorized source to receive your free credit report) and dispute any inaccurate information. Be sure to pay all bills on time and avoid overdrawing your personal checking account to help build a record of handling your personal accounts well and according to the terms you agreed to.
Business Credit History
As you are getting started in your business, you can use your personal credit for the business. However, establishing credit with a credit reporting service, in the name of the business, is very important. Business credit reports compare the stability of a business to similar businesses participating in the credit reporting service. Strong business credit can aid you with future vendor contracts and acquiring materials and or funding moving forward. In order to obtain a business Dunn’s number and initiate business credit history register at https://dashboard.dnb.com/register