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Welcome to the “Free State!” We’re exploring the entrepreneurial life in Maryland, a state that lies at the center of the Eastern Seaboard. Maryland is known as the country’s leading producer of blue crabs (and famously renowned for its crab cakes!) with the state capital, Annapolis, home to the United States Naval Academy.

What does the business climate look like here anyway? While entrepreneurs in Maryland do have to face higher taxes than other states as well as an elevated cost of living, the state offers up endless business opportunities. There’s plenty of community support found in faithful customers, funding programs, and grants, along with a close proximity to Washington D.C. where entrepreneurs may seal federal contracts.

Ready to call the “Old Line State” home to your business? If so, here’s what you need to know about incorporating in Maryland.

1. How do I get started?

All aboard the Maryland Business Express! The Maryland Office of the Secretary of State has a handy portal in the Maryland Business Express that includes all the resources necessary to start a company in the state. Here, you can conduct a business entity search and order your certificate(s) of status and business documents. You may also register your entity with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation. You can also manage filings and annual reports, register a trade name, file personal property tax returns, and establish necessary tax accounts with the Comptroller of Maryland. (Isn’t that an amazing resource?)

2. Picking the right entity.

Consulting a professional advisor can help you decide on the best entity for your business. The four most common business entities include sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, and limited liability company (LLC). The entity must be registered through the Maryland Business Express portal, using their step-by-step process.

3. Naming the business.

Do not forget to name your company! You can choose to pick a name for your business yourself. You may also consult a professional to do the search on availability and file the necessary forms. If you are planning to file a trade name, you may do so with the Department of Assessments and Taxation.

4. Determining which licenses and permits are necessary.

Most businesses require business permits and licenses. Once your company has been registered, conduct a search through Maryland’s statewide licensing database and county licensing database. This will give you a better look at what types of documents your business needs in order to operate. You will also discover which occupational and professional licenses the entrepreneur may need personally. You will also need to establish a business tax ID (or Employer Identification Number — EIN) and a business plan to ensure your company is off on the right foot with its future.

5. Where can I find capital?

The state also offers a few search tools that can help you find funding for your small business. The Maryland Department of Commerce and other similar organizations throughout the state offer these funding programs. You can utilize the incentives search tool to find available programs and you can use the incentives map to see if your business is located within the incentive zone.

If Maryland sounds like the perfect place to venture into the world of entrepreneurship, then follow the Secretary of State on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest small business updates.

Thinking about starting a small business in Maryland? Give us a call at 1(877) 692-6772 or visit us at mycorporation.com if you have any questions about forming a business or the regulations required.

Welcome back to the 50 States of Incorporation, Rebooted where we share what it takes to start a business in each of the 50 states. Join us biweekly for advice on how to start an LLC or corporation across the United States.

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