With such close proximity to the booming Big Apple and some of the best universities in the world, Massachusetts is rich with talent and opportunities to support many small businesses. Today, there are more than 1.5 million Bay Staters working for small businesses.
Are you looking to start a business out of Massachusetts? We’ve outlined seven steps below to help you get started.
Start a business in Massachusetts in 7 steps
01. Come up with a business idea
A great business starts with a great business idea. Whether you’re to sell a product or a service, you’ll want to make sure that your idea meets the needs of your target market, plus aligns with your interests and experience. Take the time to research the market in your area, and make sure that your idea can stand the test of time.
There are numerous niches for you to choose from when it comes to setting up a business in Massachusetts. They include:
Tech consulting: Massachusetts is home to a thriving tech industry, making it a prime location for starting a technology consulting firm or a tech startup of your own.
Online retail: With the rise of eCommerce both inside and outside of Massachusetts, starting an online retail store could be a lucrative endeavor.
Finance: Boston is a hub of financial activity, serving as a natural place to offer financial planning, investment advisory, accounting or other services.
Event planning: Massachusetts attracts many festival-goers and corporate parties throughout the year, making event planning a viable business opportunity.
Education: Harvard, MIT and Boston University all stand on Massachusetts soil. The state’s focus on education inspires a demand for tutoring, educational tech and other related products and services.
Health and wellness: As a leader in healthcare, Massachusetts has no shortage of individuals looking for health and wellness services (like personal training, yoga and massage therapy) in addition to institutions looking for support with medical devices and healthcare tech.
02. Choose a business type
Choosing the right business type or model from the start can be a game changer in the long run. Massachusetts allows for several different business structures:
Limited liability company (LLC)
The type you choose will impact all aspects of starting your business—from your tax obligations to your marketing needs. So, if you’re not sure which business model is best for you, we recommend seeking professional advice to get you started on the right foot.
There is a wide range of business models you can pursue in Massachusetts, too. These include:
Subscription-based businesses: These businesses provide services or products on a recurring basis, such as a monthly or annual subscription. Examples include streaming services, clothing subscription boxes and SaaS providers.
Franchises: Opting into a franchise can get your business a step ahead with regards to branding. You can tap into a proven business model and enjoy ongoing support from your franchisor.
Online stores: Selling online is a must in this day and age, and the possibilities are endless, whether you’re looking to sell digital products, physical products or both.
Dropshipping: Dropshipping is a business model in which an entrepreneur sells products online without having to hold any physical inventory. It’s a relatively low-cost and flexible option for starting a business, though you’ll want to study up on how dropshipping works before jumping in.
Service-based business: Tap into the skills you can offer and create a business whereby you can offer a professional service to your customers, such as consulting, accounting or legal services.
03. Name your Massachusetts business
Selecting the best business name can be a challenge. You’ll need to make sure you come up with something that appeals to your target audience and accurately reflects your brand.
When choosing a business name, make sure that your is:
Not already in use by another business in the same industry. You can check this by searching Massachusetts' business entities.
Not trademarked. Check the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) site to ensure that you’re not accidentally infringing upon an existing trademark. (It's a good idea to seek professional guidance from a lawyer or a business advisor if you’re not sure how to approach this step.)
Reflective of the products or services offered. This helps to attract the right audience, without relying on first-time visitors to accurately guess what your business is all about.
Catchy, memorable and easy to spell. The best names are easy for customers to remember and to recommend to their friends.
Available as a website domain and social media handle. Search for a matching domain name and make sure the one you want is available.
Once you've landed on a name, apply for a trademark and immediately claim all relevant accounts—including those for your domain, business email and social media—so that no one else beats you to it and forces you to start from scratch.
04. Write a business plan
A business plan is an essential part of starting a business in any state. This plan will describe your business’s goals, operations and its path to profitability. At minimum it should include an executive summary, funding plans, management and hiring decisions. You should also consider including details around your marketing and advertising plans to ensure that everyone from your team to your investors are aligned.
05. License and register your business in Massachusetts
No matter what state you want to kickstart your business in, it’s important to research local regulations. Here are some steps outline how to register your business in Massachusetts:
Register your business with the Massachusetts Secretary of Commonwealth online, in person or by mail.
Secure any necessary licenses or permits from the state or local government. (You can check the Massachusetts Business Portal to check for any required permits and licenses.)
File for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) with the IRS. An EIN is required for certain businesses entities and employers—but it is also often required by many financial institutions to open a business banking account, as well as some vendors and customers.
Register for state taxes with the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR). To learn about your tax obligations, visit the “Businesses" section of the DOR website or contact DOR’s customer service bureau.
Register for workers’ compensation insurance and commercial auto insurance if you plan to have employees and use business vehicles, respectively. You’ll also need to get unemployment insurance (which is federally mandated for any companies with employees), as well as other insurance coverage depending on your industry.
06. Secure business funding in Massachusetts
Securing business funding is a crucial step before launching your business venture. There are many ways to raise funds, such as using personal funds, tapping potential investors and applying for business loans.
There is additionally a wealth of government-backed programs to help you secure a business loan for your business, including:
Massachusetts Small Business Development Center (MSBDC): The MSBDC offers counseling, training and resources to help small businesses get launched and grow.
Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC): MGCC provides funding and resources to help small businesses succeed and create jobs.
Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MassTech): MassTech offers funding and resources to support innovation and technology-based startups.
Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC): MassCEC offers funding and resources to support clean energy innovation and development.
Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC): MLSC provides funding and resources to support life sciences innovation and development.
The Small Business Administration (SBA): The SBA offers a variety of loan programs, including the 7(a) loan program, which provides funding for small businesses.
The Massachusetts Economic Development Incentive Program (EDIP): The EDIP provides tax incentives to companies that create jobs in the state.
When looking up potential business funding options, it's important to note that the availability of these programs can change over time. We recommend checking with the relevant agencies for the most up-to-date information.
07. Create a business website
Spreading the word about your business has never been more achievable by creating a business website. It’s a superb way to get your business online, both to sell your product or service—and to promote it far and wide. A well-designed website is an excellent business tool for building your brand and reaching a larger audience. Regardless of where you choose to start your business, you should consider building a business website to get your brand and service online.
Get started by choosing a business website template that suits your business. Customize it according to your brand and the user experience you want to create for your buyers. Remember that just because you build a website doesn’t mean people will come; you’ll want to invest in a promotion plan that drives traffic to your website and boosts your online presence.
Related Reading: How to Make a Business Website
Business examples in Massachusetts
Explore some successful Massachusetts-based businesses, which all use Wix as their website platform.
La Scala Ristorante & Steakhouse in the heart of Worcester has been in business for more than 50 years. They offer delicious tasting meals and drinks using the freshest ingredients—and boast some of the best cocktails, beers and wines in the Worcester area. They use their Wix website to let customers view their menu, order online and purchase gift vouchers.
ATR Cleaning Service
ATR Cleaning Services is a professional cleaning service, which operates in the Massachusetts and New Hampshire area. From their website, visitors can discover the different services that ATR offers, whether it’s for residential, commercial, moving-in or post-construction services.
How to start a business in Massachusetts review
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Start a business in Massachusetts FAQ
How much does it cost to start a business in Massachusetts?
It depends on the type of business you wish to start but opening an LLC in Massachusetts costs $500. This is is known as the LLC Certification of Organization filing fee and is filed with the Secretary of State.
Is Massachusetts a good place to start a business?
Massachusetts has a diverse and thriving economy, with a strong presence in sectors such as healthcare, biotechnology, finance, and technology. The state also offers various incentives, tax breaks, and other programs to support new businesses, including the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network and MassChallenge. All of these can make it potentially a great place to setup a business.