How to Start a Home-Based Business in Maryland

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Many people dream of working from home, but making the leap from dream to reality can be a time-consuming process that requires both work and commitment. To start a home-based business in Maryland, you will have to fulfill certain legal requirements, including applying for a business tax account with the state and applying for a business license, if applicable, before your business officially opens. The good news is starting a home-based business in Maryland is a step-by-step, straightforward process.

Brainstorm a list of potential business names, keeping in mind that an effective business name is easy to remember. Once you've decided on a business name, contact the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation at 410-767-1340 to determine if the name is available.

Register your business name, if it is available, with the state of Maryland by filling out the trade name form. You can mail the form, including the $25 fee, to 301 West Preston St., Baltimore, MD, 21201.

Talk with a business lawyer or a tax professional to determine which business structure is right for your business, taking into consideration the tax implications and the advantages and disadvantages of each entity type. Business structures in Maryland include the sole proprietorship, the Limited Liability Company (LLC) and the corporation.

Go to the IRS's website and apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your business using Form SS-4. The IRS also allows business owners to apply by phone (1-800-829-4933), by fax (859-669-5760) or by mail (Internal Revenue Service; Attn: EIN Operation, Cincinnati, OH, 45999).

Get a business tax account, a requirement for businesses in Maryland. You can apply for your account by filling out an online application or by completing the Combined Registration Application, which you can then mail to the Comptroller of Maryland, Revenue Administration Center, Annapolis, MD, 21411-0001.

Contact the Circuit Court in your county to find out whether you will need a business license to run your business from home. You can find your county's Circuit Court by going to the Circuit Courts Directory online at http://mdcourts.gov/circuit/directory.html.

Make sure you are allowed to run a business from your home, especially if you live in an apartment, a condominium or a Home Owners' Association (HOA). If you are allowed to run a business from your home, contact your local Department of Planning, which you can find online at http://mdcourts.gov/circuit/directory.html, to determine if you need to apply for a zoning permit before you start your business.

Set up your home office, ideally in an area that is secluded from the everyday activity of family members. Make sure you set office hours during which customers can contact you.

Market your new home-based business using both online and offline methods, including issuing press releases to local and state media, such as Smart Company Magazine, advertising in local newspapers and magazines and starting a blog on your website.

Set a date and launch your business. To entice new clients to work with you, consider offering a discount on your products or your services.

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