Starting Your Business in North Carolina | A Step-by-Step Guide

Start a Business in North Carolina

If you want to start an LLC in North Carolina, there are numerous factors to consider. Starting your own business is one of the most exciting and profitable things you can do in North Carolina. But where do you start? Follow our comprehensive guide on How to Start a Business in North Carolina. We will assist you in removing doubt from the process and investigate your success chances. It will begin with defining your business idea and progress to establishing, launching, and expanding your business. Webinarcare Editorial Team will help you every step of the way!

What Business to Start in North Carolina?

If you’re looking to start a business in North Carolina, consider starting a limited liability company (LLC). LLCs offer personal liability protection for their owners while also providing the flexibility of a partnership or sole proprietorship. Beyond that, here is the list of businesses to consider in North Carolina.

  1. Recruiting Agency
  2. Moving Company
  3. Professional Services
  4. Bed & Breakfast
  5. Virtual Assistant Business

Whatever business you choose to start, it’s important to conduct thorough market research and create a solid business plan before diving in. We reviewed some of the Best LLC Services and provided features as an add-on with their packages for you to check out.

LLC Service

Rating & Pricing

Top Features

Learn More

#1 Recommendation

$0 + State fee

  • Free LLC Formation

  • Legal Support

  • Highly Reputed Company

$299 + State fee

  • Single LLC formation package

  • Flat price for all services

  • Legal consultation

Starting a business can be a challenging but highly rewarding endeavor. By taking the time to research and plan, you can increase your chances of success. Whether you choose to form a corporation or start an LLC in North Carolina, it’s important to surround yourself with a strong team that will guide you. Don’t let fear hold you back, take that first step towards turning your business dreams into a reality.


How to Start a Business in North Carolina?

To form a business in North Carolina, you must follow a few steps that include creating a business plan, choosing a business entity type, determining your business costs, naming your business, registering a business, and lastly, marketing your business.

Please continue reading to learn more about the overall procedure and what new small business owners should keep in mind as they complete each step.

Step 1: Creating a Business Plan

When developing a business plan, many factors should be considered during the decision-making process. Your business plan in North Carolina serves as a road map for your company’s success.

A business plan should take into account the specific goals of your company. You should know the product or service you will provide in North Carolina. A well-thought-out business plan is essential for determining how your company will make a profit. If the purpose of the business plan is ambiguous and unrelated to the service you provide, it will impact the business you are forming. Make sure your business goals are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound). Also, researching your competitors’ services will help you determine your strategy for your state business. Finally, you should consider your company’s funding.

With this article’s assistance, you can better comprehend your business’s essential components and success strategy. You can apply for North Carolina Small Business Loans from banks and investor funding to help support your company in North Carolina.

Once you have the entire plan in your hands, you can work on the legal framework of your company. Legally, you can form an LLC for your ideal business.

Step 2: Choose a Business Entity in North Carolina

Selecting a business entity for your North Carolina company. When starting your own business, you must choose a business structure. How well your personal assets are secured, how much tax you pay, and how much paperwork you have to deal with will all be significantly impacted by the type of corporate entity you choose. Consider setting up a corporation, LLC, LLP, or sole proprietorship as your business entity in North Carolina.

Sole Proprietorships

Consider a sole proprietorship if you want to start a business in North Carolina by yourself. A sole proprietorship is the simplest business structure in which a single individual owns and operates the entire business. The owner and the business are considered the same legal entity in a sole proprietorship. There is no legal distinction between the owner and the business, meaning that the owner has complete control over the business operations, profits, and losses.

Sole proprietorships are best suited for North Carolina small businesses with low risks and for individuals who want to maintain complete control over their business without the complexities of establishing a separate legal entity.

Limited Liability Company

A Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a business structure that combines features of both partnerships and corporations, offering limited liability protection to its owners (called members) while allowing flexibility in management and taxation. An LLC is a separate legal entity from its owners, meaning the members are not personally liable for the business’s debts, obligations, or liabilities.

It is a popular choice for small to medium-sized businesses that want the liability protection of a corporation while maintaining management flexibility and simpler tax treatment. It’s essential to consult with a legal or financial professional to determine if an LLC is the best choice for your specific business situation.

Limited Liability Partnership

A limited liability partnership (LLP) is comparable to an LLC. However, it is usually used by licensed business professionals like attorneys or accountants. A partnership agreement is necessary for this kind of business entity. You can form an LLP in North Carolina if you are planning to.


Forming a Corporation in North Carolina reduces your personal liability for business debts as an LLC does. A corporation is a legal entity that is separate and distinct from its owners, known as shareholders. It is created under the laws of the state it is incorporated in and is considered a separate “person” under the law. The corporation can enter into contracts, own property, sue and be sued, and pay taxes separately from its owners.

A corporation can be taxed as an S-corporation (S-Corp) or a C-corporation (C-Corp). If a small corporation satisfies certain Internal Revenue Service (IRS) standards, then S-corporation status is available, providing pass-through taxation. However, most larger businesses and startups seeking venture financing are taxed as C-corps.

To choose the right business structure in North Carolina, consider personal liability protection, taxation, management flexibility, administrative requirements, and setup costs. Consult a legal or financial professional to help you make the best decision.

Recommended: Incorporating a business has never been easier that’s why Legalzoom’s corporation formation provide a comprehensive and streamlined approach for your business. Whether you have plans to crowdfund or go public, get help from LegalZoom every step of the way. We recommend using –

LegalZoom Starts at $149 + filing fees

Step 3: Determine your North Carolina Business Cost

In North Carolina, you should determine the cost of your business. You should consider paying the Articles of Organization fee, business licenses fee, office supplies and equipment, payroll, rent, utilities, transportation, and taxes.

Usually, filing an initial North Carolina Articles of Organization fee costs $125, while the LLC annual fee costs $200 in North Carolina. In terms of filing North Carolina Articles of Incorporation, the costs usually range up to $125 for filing online, or by mail..

If forming an LLC is your ideal business, consider knowing the LLC Cost in North Carolina.

Step 4: Name your Business in North Carolina

Naming your business doesn’t take a lot of time. With the help of North Carolina Business Name Search, you can acquire a name for your business. If you form an LLC in North Carolina, you must follow the below rules while naming your business-

  • The name should not be confused with a government entity.
  • The name should be unique.
  • The name should be available to use.
  • Any other business does not use the name.
  • The new name must include “LLC” if it is a limited liability company.

In North Carolina, if you do not wish to file your business right away but want to hold the name that you have decided on, then you can reserve your business name. You must file a name reservation application in the North Carolina Secretary of State to keep the name.

If the business name is available, you may choose to reserve it for a specific period of 120 days. The online name reservation fee is $30 and the mail name reservation fee is $30. If your business plans to operate under a name other than its legal name, you may also need to register a fictitious or “doing business as” (DBA) name.

The DBA filing can be done in two methods, by mail and in person, which you can file in North Carolina Secretary of State. You can check out how to file a DBA in North Carolina for clearer understanding.

Recommended: Unlock your business’s full potential with LegalZoom’s DBA service, providing a hassle-free experience that allows you to focus on what matters most – turning your passion into profit. We recommend –

LegalZoom – Starts at $99 + filing fees

Step 5: Register North Carolina Business

To register a business in North Carolina, you need to file it with the North Carolina Secretary of State. Before that, you must have a North Carolina Registered Agent for your business. The Registered Agent is a person who is responsible for receiving important legal documents on your behalf.

You can serve as your own Registered Agent, or you can appoint a friend or family member, or you can check the Best Registered Agent Services in North Carolina.

Apply For Articles of Organization

After you have a Registered Agent, you need to file the North Carolina Articles of Organization, if you want to have an LLC structure, or you need to file the North Carolina Articles of Incorporation if you want to have a Corporation.

Request For an EIN

In addition to the paperwork, your Registered Agent should apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) in North Carolina. An EIN will serve as the tax ID for your professional corporation. EIN can be obtained from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It is a 9-digit number similar to Social Security Number. EIN, however, is distinct from SSN. It is only used for business-related activities, particularly for submitting general taxes. The form must be completed and uploaded to the IRS website. You can obtain the EIN for free from the IRS.

The application of an EIN in North Carolina can be through the following:

  • Apply Online- The online EIN application is the preferred method for customers to apply for and obtain an EIN.
  • Apply by Fax- Taxpayers can fax the completed Form SS-4 application to the appropriate fax number), after ensuring that Form SS-4 contains all of the required information.
  • Apply by Mail- The EIN application Form SS-4 can be filed via mail. The processing time frame to receive the mail is four weeks.
  • Apply by Telephone (for International Applicants)– International applicants may call 267-941-1099 (not a toll-free number) from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday to obtain their EIN.

After you have your EIN number, you can benefit in several ways. It will give your LLC the absolute advantage necessary to operate at full capacity without encountering legal or judicial issues.

Recommended: Professional services have the EIN included in their LLC formation package. We recommend using –

LegalZoom($0 + State Fee for LLC formation)

Step 6: Apply for Business License and Permit

Business licenses and operating permits are necessary to run any business in North Carolina. Before launching your new business, request any required business license or permission. Most North Carolina businesses need licenses or permits to operate. Federal, state, and local governments may all require businesses to have licenses and permits. The business license fee depends on the type of license you are applying for. It can start from $25 till going up to $100+. However, in North Carolina, the business license fee ranges from $50 – $300.

Step 7: Obtain a Bank Account

Your business dealings in North Carolina might be simpler with a US business bank account because it boosts your company’s legitimacy and liquidity. Opening a separate bank account for your North Carolina business is essential for maintaining a clear separation between your personal and business finances.

You can check out the Best Banks in North Carolina, which offers the best fees, services, and convenience for your business needs.

Step 8: Market your Business in North Carolina

Now that your North Carolina business is registered, you can market it with an ideal marketing plan. An ideal marketing plan can help a start-up business to become known. Making a comprehensive social media network like META, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube falls within this category. While creating an SEO campaign for your company website, you may also look at specialized communities on Facebook and LinkedIn.


What are the general steps to start a business in North Carolina?
First, decide on a business structure, then register your business with the Secretary of State’s office, obtain any necessary licenses and permits, obtain tax registrations, and set up your business finances.
How do I register my business in North Carolina?
You can file your business registration paperwork online with the Secretary of State’s office.
What is the fee to register a business in North Carolina?
The fee starts at $125 to register as a limited liability company and varies depending on the type of business structure.
Do I need a business license to start a business in North Carolina?
It depends on the type of business you are starting. Check with the Business License Information Office to determine if you need one.
What kind of business entity should I form for my startup in North Carolina?
The most common types of business structures in North Carolina are LLCs, corporations, and sole proprietorships.
Can I run my business from home in North Carolina?
Yes, as long as you comply with local zoning codes and obtain any necessary licenses and permits.
Are there any grants or funding programs for small businesses in North Carolina?
Yes, there are grants and lending programs that small businesses and startups can apply for through the Small Business and Technology Development Center and other organizations.
Does North Carolina have a sales tax?
Yes, North Carolina has a sales and use tax.
What sales tax rate should I use for my business if I’m located in North Carolina?
The sales tax rate in North Carolina is 4.75% plus any applicable local taxes.
How do I collect sales tax for my business in North Carolina?
You can register for a Sales and Use Tax number through the North Carolina Department of Revenue and collect tax from customers at the time of sale.
How do I create a business plan for my North Carolina startup?
You can use resources like the Small Business and Technology Development Center or SCORE to get help creating a business plan.
Do I need a lawyer to start a business in North Carolina?
It’s not required, but it’s recommended to consult with a lawyer to ensure that you cover all the legal aspects of starting your business.
What taxes do I need to pay as a small business owner in North Carolina?
You will need to pay federal income tax, state income tax, and self-employment tax as a small business owner in North Carolina.
Does North Carolina have any special tax credits for business owners?
Yes, North Carolina offers tax credits for businesses that hire employees or invest in research and development.
Which cities in North Carolina are especially good for small businesses?
Cities like Charlotte, Raleigh, and Durham are known for being good for small businesses.
Can I run a nonprofit in North Carolina?
Yes, you can run a nonprofit in North Carolina.
What are the requirements for running a nonprofit in North Carolina?
To start a nonprofit in North Carolina, you will need to register with the Secretary of State, file for tax-exemption status, and comply with state and federal regulations.
What are some resources for finding funding for my startup in North Carolina?
Look into resources like the NC Idea Foundation and the NC Commerce Small Business Credit Initiative for funding opportunities.
How do I determine the right accounting method to use for my North Carolina business?
Consult with your accountant to determine which accounting method (cash or accrual) is best for your business.
Can I hire independent contractors for my North Carolina business?
Yes, you can hire independent contractors for your North Carolina business.
What are the rules for hiring employees in North Carolina?
You will need to comply with state and federal employment laws and regulations when hiring employees in North Carolina.
How do I find employees for my North Carolina business?
Consider resources like NCWorks or local job boards to find potential employees.
Can I sell products online as a North Carolina business?
Yes, as long as you comply with state and federal tax laws and regulations.
Are there any specific industries that are popular for startups in North Carolina?
North Carolina is known for its strong presence in banking, healthcare, and technology industries.
How do I determine the right pricing for my North Carolina business’s products or services?
Research competitors’ prices and use industry standards to determine a fair price for your products or services.
How do I determine the right sales channels for my North Carolina business?
Consider your target market and using channels like social media, e-commerce, or retail partnerships to reach potential customers.
Do I need insurance for my North Carolina business?
It’s recommended to have insurance for your North Carolina business to protect your assets and liabilities.
What’s the best way to track my North Carolina business’s finances?
Use accounting software or consult with an accountant to keep track of your business’s finances.
How do I deal with competition for my North Carolina business?
Stand by your product or service’s unique value and consider implementing promotions or collaborations to stand out.
What are the legal requirements for starting a business in North Carolina?
In North Carolina, businesses must register with the Secretary of State’s office and obtain all necessary licenses and permits required for their industry.
How much does it cost to register a business in North Carolina?
The fee to register a business with the North Carolina Secretary of State’s office is $125.
How long does it take to register a business in North Carolina?
The registration process typically takes 7-10 business days.
Do I need a business license to operate in North Carolina?
Yes, many businesses in North Carolina require various business licenses and permits to operate legally.
How do I determine what business licenses and permits are necessary for my business?
You can do research specific to your industry through the North Carolina Department of Revenue.
What is a DBA in North Carolina?
DBA stands for ‘doing business as’, which refers to the name under which a business operates.
How do I file for a DBA in North Carolina?
You can file a DBA through the North Carolina Secretary of State’s office.
What is a sole proprietorship in North Carolina?
A sole proprietorship is a type of business ownership where an individual is the only owner/operator.
Can I start a sole proprietorship without registering with the state in North Carolina?
Yes, a sole proprietorship doesn’t require registration with the state, but it must still comply with any licenses and permits required for the industry.
What is a business entity in North Carolina?
A business entity refers to the legal structure of a business, such as a corporation or partnership.
How do I choose the right business entity for my business in North Carolina?
A business attorney or accountant can help you determine the most advantageous business entity for your situation.
Is there a lot of competition for new businesses in North Carolina?
It depends on the industry, but there are a variety of supportive resources available for emerging businesses.
What is the Small Business and Technology Development Center in North Carolina?
The Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC) offers business advice for current and prospective small business owners across North Carolina.
What kind of training resources are available for new business owners in North Carolina?
Several universities and colleges across North Carolina offer courses and workshops for entrepreneurs through their departments of business.
Are there any financing options available for new businesses in North Carolina?
Yes, North Carolina offers various financing options such as loans through SBA inititiave or Investors’ Circle.
What is the North Carolina State Business Income Tax in North Carolina?
North Carolina’s State Business Income Tax applies to sale of property, shares, partnership interests,..etc.
Is there a North Carolina State General Sales Tax in North Carolina?
North Carolina levy a general sales tax of 4.75%.
Can I register a business online in North Carolina?
Yes, business owners can register their business from anywhere via an online Business Service Center (NC SBC).
What is considered gross income for a business in North Carolina?
Gross income is business income prior to any business expenses.
Do 501c3 non-profit organizations require business licenses in North Carolina?
Yes, a nonprofit organization must register with the North Carolina Secretary of State’s office and obtain any licenses and permits required based on its activities.
Is a Sales Tax Permit required for a business in North Carolina?
If the business is engaged in selling items they must collect and remit taxes requiring business owners to register for a Sales Tax Permit with the North Carolina Department of Revenue.
Can I form an LLC online in North Carolina?
Yes, the North Carolina Secretary of State’s office offers online LLC formation.
Can I change the structure of my business down the road in North Carolina?
Yes, a business owner in North Carolina may chose to change its structute eg.
Is foreign qualification necessary for North Carolina businesses operating out-of-state?
Yes, if a business wishes to operate in other states it is required per state laws where the activity is is taking place.
What kind of businesses can be started from home in North Carolina?
Most home-based businesses can operate legally in North Carolina, provided any necessary zoning laws and licensening regulations are follow.
What types of businesses often thrive in North Carolina’s economy?
Manufacturing, healthcare services systems, construction/ development, Technical and IT based businesses and Agriculture appears to anchored in North Carolina’s economy.
Does North Carolina legislature have incentives for starting businesses?
Yes the North Carolina government offers several funding programs, permits for exemptions/micro loans and federal programs identifying-based incentives through various investment project plans.
Do I need a Trademark or Copyright for my North Carolina business?
trademark covers products and services distinguishing their ownership. A Copyright describes an instance of ownership to orginal works of expression such as writing, images. They both provide ownership rights for corporate docements as well necessary cover art, media strategy and product identity.

Also Read

Why You Should Start Business in North Carolina

One of the key reasons why North Carolina is an attractive destination for starting a business is its diverse and robust economy. The state is home to a wide range of industries, including finance, technology, healthcare, and manufacturing. This diversity provides entrepreneurs with ample opportunities to tap into various sectors and leverage the state’s unique strengths.

In addition to its diverse economy, North Carolina also boasts a favorable business environment that is conducive to entrepreneurial success. The state offers a range of incentives and programs to support businesses, including tax credits, grants, and infrastructure improvements. Furthermore, North Carolina has a low cost of living and a high quality of life, making it an appealing place for both business owners and employees.

Another reason why North Carolina is a great place to start a business is its strategic location. The state is situated on the East Coast, making it easily accessible to major markets in the United States and abroad. This strategic location provides businesses with a significant advantage when it comes to reaching customers and expanding their reach.

Moreover, North Carolina has a well-educated and skilled workforce that is ready to support businesses in their growth and development. The state is home to several top universities and research institutions, which fosters innovation and entrepreneurship. Additionally, North Carolina has a strong network of support organizations, such as small business development centers and accelerators, that can provide assistance to entrepreneurs at every stage of their business journey.

Furthermore, North Carolina has a reputation for being business-friendly, with a number of policies in place to support entrepreneurship and economic growth. The state’s regulatory environment is known for being fair and predictable, providing business owners with the stability they need to thrive. Additionally, North Carolina has a strong infrastructure that includes an extensive network of highways, airports, and ports, which facilitates the movement of goods and services.

In conclusion, North Carolina offers a wealth of opportunities for entrepreneurs looking to start their own businesses. From its diverse economy to its favorable business environment, the state provides a supportive and fertile ground for entrepreneurial success. With its strategic location, skilled workforce, and business-friendly policies, North Carolina is a top destination for anyone looking to turn their business dreams into reality.


Starting a business in North Carolina has unique advantages and challenges since it offers a large and diverse market, access to skilled talent, and numerous networking opportunities, making it an attractive location for entrepreneurs. However, business owners must also contend with a high cost of living, intense competition, and potentially complex regulations.

Ultimately, whether starting a business in North Carolina is the right decision depends on the entrepreneur’s specific needs, goals, and industry. It is crucial to conduct thorough research and consider factors such as taxes, regulations, workforce availability, and target market when choosing a location for a new business. By carefully weighing the pros and cons, entrepreneurs can make informed decisions and set themselves up for success in the competitive North Carolina business landscape.

Leave a Comment