Frequent Asked Questions

Are there any "grants" available to start a new business?

Typically, grant money is only available to assist non-profit organizations. If your business is non-profit, you will want to start with the and Foundation Center websites. However, the availability of grant funds for for-profit businesses is extremely limited and typically highly specialized. We have found no consistent, reliable source from small businesses either public or private. We do not want to discourage you from searching for such funding, but Maryland Capital Enterprises, Inc. is not aware of for-profit grant funding.

Am I limited to a certain type of micro business?

Only the size is limited. Microbusinesses have no more than 10 employees, including the owner. Common micro-businesses are tailors, car repair shops, dry cleaners, daycare providers, arts and crafts, computer technology, catering, sewing, fishing charters, and much more.

Do I need an Employer Identification Number (EIN)?

In short, the answer is yes. That number is a unique number used to identify your business. You will need it when registering your business with state or federal agencies. You must have an EIN if you sell goods and/or have employees. Occasionally, some sole proprietors choose to use their social security number in lieu of an EIN. However, in today’s world where identity theft is a very real threat, it’s a safer bet to protect your SSN and use an EIN, even if you’re a sole proprietor. You can get an EIN from the IRS at or 1-800-829-4933.

How can I finance a new business?

Assistance from personal resources, such as family and friends, followed by traditional financing through a local lending institution where you have an established relationship is the most common method for funding your start-up business. Some businesses may qualify for assistance in the form of loan guarantees from the Small Business Administration. Non-profits organizations such as Maryland Capital Enterprises, Inc. also offer small business loans.

How do I get certified as a minority-owned business?

Maryland Department of Transportation
Office of Minority Business Enterprise
7201 Corporate Center Drive,
P.O. Box 548
Hanover, MD 21076

410-865-1269 or 1-800-544-6056
TTY 410-865-1342

How do I qualify for a loan through MCE?

Receive further information on MCE’s loan eligibility and criteria for Start-Up Loans and Expansion Loans.

How do I start a new business in Maryland?

First, you need to have an idea about what you want to do. With your idea, you need technical assistance to figure out the next steps. Click here to make an appointment with MCE’s trained business counselor who may be able to help you with business training, loans, or technical assistance, and other support services. This service is FREE. MCE can guide you through the entire process and provide valuable resources, training, and financing.

What is a micro entrepreneur?

Microenterprise development programs generally focus on underserved populations, which have difficulty accessing business development services or credit through traditional institutions. In Maryland, micro-entrepreneurs cut across all demographic lines—from men to women, from low to middle income, from very young to middle-aged, from the downsized worker to the disabled, from urban to rural. Micro entrepreneurs choose a wide range of businesses—ones that fit their interests, abilities, and niches in local economies. From fly-fishing guide services in rural Western Maryland to food catering services in Baltimore City to artists and desktop publishing entrepreneurs on the Eastern Shore, microenterprise works!

What is a microenterprise?

It is a business that employs five or fewer people, has an inadequate capacity to access traditional business services, and has a capitalization need of $25,000 – $35,000 or less. Many micro enterprises are sole proprietorships, creating employment for the owner and, often, family members. However, there are also micro enterprises that grow into larger businesses that employ other community members.

What is MCE's geographic area?

MCE provides counseling, loans, and technical assistance to the following counties in Maryland: Wicomico, Worcester, Somerset, Dorchester, Talbot, Caroline, Queen Anne’s, and Kent on the Eastern Shore and also Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and Anne Arundel County.

What kind of registration and licenses are generally required to start a business?

Registering the business is a very important step because it protects you from another person/company using that same name in the State of Maryland. For information on trade name and corporate name availability and forms contact:
State Department of Assessment and Taxation
Corporate Charter Division
301 W. Preston Street
Baltimore, MD 21201


A State of Maryland business license is required for most businesses. Maryland’s Business License Information System (BLIS) offers business owners a source from which to determine many of the state permits and licenses that may be necessary to operate the business. To determine whether your particular business activity requires licensing by the state, and needs to have any additional licenses, contact the Clerk of the Circuit Court in the county in which your business will be located.

Who can provide assistance for writing a business plan?

Why support microenterprise?

Microenterprise is a component of both economic and community development strategies. Increasing jobs and tax bases, micro-enterprises also foster stronger communities by revitalizing downtown areas, enhancing rural economies, and increasing civic capacity. When plants close or corporations downsize, many dislocated workers can turn to microenterprise development to create their own jobs or supplement their incomes rather than face unemployment and welfare. Most banks cannot make a profit on loans under $25,000, so many hard-working entrepreneurs with good ideas have no one to help them start a business—unless there’s a microenterprise development provider nearby. People who need flexible schedules—especially stay-at-home parents—can remain in the workforce by running their own micro-businesses. People generally excel at what they love to do and productive citizens make for stronger communities. Microenterprise development allows people to achieve their dreams.