How to Start a Business in Maryland

With the highest business survival rate in the nation, Maryland is a great place to launch your business. Start your business today with our simple step-by-step guide and get on the fast track to financial and personal independence. If you get stuck along the way, connect with a business resources in your local area for help.

Steps to Starting Your Maryland Business

Step 1: Choose the Right Business Idea

The first step toward business ownership is deciding what kind of business to start. Look for an idea that suits your interests, your personal goals, and your natural abilities. This will help you stay motivated when the going gets tough and will greatly improve your odds of success. Need inspiration? Here were the most popular ideas among our Maryland visitors in 2017:

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Find the Right Business Idea for You

Our free Business Ideas Tool will help you identify great businesses that match your interests and lifestyle.

Business Ideas
Tool

Step 2: Plan Your Business

Successful businesses are built through careful planning. Before committing a significant amount of money and other resources toward your business, critically analyze your idea and create a game plan. At a minimum, you should have good answers to the following questions.

Product Development
What problem does your business solve? What will set your product or service apart from the competition?

Sales & Marketing
Who are your potential customers? How will you get their attention and convert them into buyers?

People and Partnerships
What roles will you need to hire and what professional relationships will you need to form in order to succeed?

Financial Planning
How many clients or sales will you need in order to break even? How much money will it take to get there, and where will you get the funding?

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Start Planning

Our Business Planning Guide helps you analyze your business idea and gets you access to free planning tools.

Need Help? Find organizations in your local area that can assist you with planning.

Secure your Domain

We recommend that you check to see if the business name you are planning is available as a web domain. Even if you aren't ready to make a business website today, you may want to buy the URL in order to prevent others from acquiring it.

Find a Domain Now

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Step 3: Form your Business

Registering your company as an Maryland business entity, such as an LLC or a Corporation, has two major advantages:

  • Increased credibility
  • Protection from personal liability in the event your business is sued

For most small businesses, registering an LLC is a great option. In comparison to other business entities, LLCs are easier to set up and manage and they have favorable tax treatment. You can set up an LLC in Maryland for as little as $100.

If you choose not to register your company as a business entity, you will be held personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of your business. In addition, unregistered business owners may need to file a Trade Name, also known as a "DBA." Find out if your business is required to file a DBA.

Step 4: Register for Taxes


With limited exceptions, most businesses require a Federal EIN, also known as a Tax ID Number. An EIN is used to identify a business in its federal tax filings. Without an EIN, you can't hire employees or open a business bank account.

Obtain an EIN

You should also be aware of important maryland taxes that may apply to you business:

  • If you are selling a physical product, you’ll typically need to register for Maryland Sales Tax.
  • If you hire employees, you will have to register for Unemployment Insurance Tax, and Employee Withholding Tax on behalf of your employees.
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Register for Maryland State Taxes

Get Started

Step 5: Create Business Banking and Credit Accounts

Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.

When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.

You can protect your business with these two steps:

1. Opening a business bank account:

  • Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
  • Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
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Recommended: Get $200 when you open a business checking account with Chase. Learn more.

2. Getting a business credit card:

  • Helps you separate personal and business expenses.
  • Builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise capital later on.

Step 6: Set Up Accounting

An accounting system helps you track the performance of your business and simplifies annual tax filings. Quality accounting software lets you download your bank and credit card transactions, making accounting fast and easy. Learn more about the importance of accounting and how to get started with accounting today.

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Recommended: FinancePal is a one stop shop to meet all your accounting and tax filing needs.

Step 7: Obtain Permits and Licenses

To operate your new business legally, you will need to comply with federal, state, and local government regulations. In many cases, this involves obtaining one or more business permits and/or licenses. For example, a restaurant will likely need health permits, building permits, signage permits, etc.

Step 8: Get Insured

Business insurance helps you manage risks and focus on growing your business. The most common types of business insurance you should consider are:

We recommend that all small businesses, including home based businesses, purchase a general liability policy. Businesses selling professional advice or services, such as consulting and accounting firms, should also consider a professional liability policy. In Maryland, businesses with one or more employees, including LLC members and corporate officers, are required by law to have workers compensation insurance.

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Our recommended insurance provider can set you up with an insurance policy that is right for your business

Get a Quote

Step 9: Define Your Brand

The strongest and most memorable businesses are built on a solid brand.

When developing your brand, think about what your business stands for. What are the core values that drive your business? Customers and clients are looking for companies that have a compelling brand, as much as they are shopping for high quality products and services.

Learn more about branding and how to build a brand for your business.

Step 10: Establish a Web Presence

A professional website is critical to the long-term success of your business, regardless of what industry you are in. A website allows potential customers to find your business online and discover the products or services you offer, and it also enhances your business’ credibility.

In addition to a website, you should also consider other avenues for promoting your business online:

  • Setting up social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter, etc)
  • Creating accounts on review sites (Yelp, Google Reviews, etc)
  • Registering for a local Google profile
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More than ever, people are looking for reviews before doing business. Yelp is an important aspect of social validation for your business, claim your page today and get $300 in Yelp advertising credit.

Sign up for our Business Center

Sign up for a free Business Center account for access to tools, legal documents, and discounts that will help you start and grow your business

Signup Now

Get Help From Local Resources

To help you start your business, we have identified the best resources across the state of Maryland that can support you in your entrepreneurial endeavors.

Select your Region

Baltimore Local Resources

School of Food

Here are the Principle Service Areas:

  • Mentoring
  • Business Planning
  • Product Development
  • Networking

Description

The School of Food has a year-long educational curriculum for small business owners whose business relates to food or beverage. The curriculum features industry experts and features all the relevant information for starting and successfully running a food-based business. Students have the option to attend all of the program's workshops with the SOF passport or selecting the workshops they want to attend.

Restrictions

This program is limited to food/beverage small business owners.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

1412 N Wolfe
Baltimore, MD 21213
443-708-3789

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Baltimore Resources

Hagerstown Local Resources

Hagerstown Technical Innovation Center

Here are the Principle Service Areas:

  • Financial
  • Accounting
  • Research
  • Product Development

Description

The Technical Innovation Center functions as an incubation program for technology-based businesses. They offer a large number of services, ranging from bookkeeping set up to financial planning, human resources planning, and more. 

Restrictions

The Hagerstown Technical Innovation Center generally requires a business to be technology based in order for it to be admitted into its incubation program.

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Hagerstown Resources

Silver Spring Local Resources

Silver Spring SCORE

Here are the Principle Service Areas:

  • Mentoring
  • Business Planning
  • Sales & Marketing
  • Networking

Offers Free Service

Description

SCORE (Service Corp of Retired Executives) is a leading, nation-wide organization that has assisted millions of entrepreneurs over its 50+ years of operation. SCORE is a resource partner of the SBA that offers access to a network of experienced business leaders who donate time to mentor entrepreneurs and small business owners. They also host free or inexpensive workshops online and at 300 local chapters around the United States. Mentoring can be conducted either in person or remotely and is always free and confidential, no matter how often you take advantage of this service.

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See more business resources in Silver Spring

Silver Spring Resources