How to Start a Business in North Carolina

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According to the Secretary of State, 2020 was a banner year for new businesses starting in North Carolina. 2021 is poised to shatter last year’s record. North Carolina is obviously surging in new businesses. This post will show you the complete breakdown of how to launch your business in the state with step-by-step clarity.

There are plenty of things you need to be aware of before you can legally and confidently launch your business in the Tarheel / Wolfpack state — just as it is in every other location in the United States.

We will discuss how much a business license costs in North Carolina and how to apply for one. We also detail other new business fundamentals such as planning, insurance and financing.

You may doubt whether a license is required to launch your business in North Carolina. If you read this post completely, you’ll know WHY it is important and why you shouldn’t hesitate to register and obtain a license for your venture.

Without any further ado, let’s get started!

Business plan

As the popular saying goes, “when you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” When you draft a solid business plan for your new venture, you tend not get surprised by any unexpected developments like a global pandemic and resulting supply chain issues.

For example, as a small business or start-up, ideally you would analyse how your established competitors are faring. If the top dog is struggling, maybe you should “niche down” or pick another vertical.

Your brand

When you come up with a brilliant business idea, you then start to think about the name of the business and what the logo looks like. Your “branding” is the symbol, colors and design elements that represents your business. Be spontaneous while choosing a name for your brand. You could choose your name as your business name. Or you could choose a branded name or even a niche-specific name. It’s all up to you. But a branded name is highly recommended!

Register your brand

This is a crucial step. Registering your business depends on what entity your business name falls under. The tax your business pays to the government is also dependent on what type of business entity you fall under.

There are four main business entities — the Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) and Corporation.

A sole proprietorship is easiest structure to register your business in North Carolina for tax and legal implications. If you’re wary of any unforeseen legal actions that may be taken against your business, then the LLC is ideal. LLCs are easy to register and operate. This structure also offers outstanding protection for business owners.

One advantage of an LLC is that you can choose how you want to pay your taxes to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). If your brand name is going to be your legal name, you are good to go with an LLC. Otherwise, a sole proprietorship is recommended for simplicity and tax ramifications.

How much does it cost?

North Carolina is “business friendly” and keeps costs down for new entrepreneurs. For example, LLC registration costs $125. If you are moving to North Carolina from another state with an existing business, it costs only $10 to transfer the name. For all fees, refer to the North Carolina Secretary of State.

Obtain a license

Now get a license and appropriate permits to operate your business legally in North Carolina. Although obtaining a license is crucial, you would also need to verify if your type of business requires permits to conduct business in the state as well as at a city, county and federal level.

For your business licensing, contact Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC) Small Business Advisors. And if you want an occupational license instead, visit the directory of North Carolina occupational boards for the appropriate contact info.

Employer requirements

As a new business or start-up, you need competent individuals to help you run it. You need a team! Once you fill these vacancies, you need to register with the state to get unemployment, Workers’ Compensation and health insurance. The EDPNG Small Business Advisors will be able to point you in the right direction to start and manage these employee benefit programs.

Raise funds

Some new businesses are pre-funded. Some are not. If you are in the latter category, you need pursue a business loan or other form of funding to operate your business in North Carolina. Your business plan discussed above should explore how and why you are eligible for funding.

A business plan is also known as a pitch deck. With a well-detailed pitch deck, you can forward it to banks and individual investors to solicit funds. Emailing a pitch deck to a potential investor saves you precious time. If the investor is receptive, you can then schedule time to meet them one on one and discuss funding in more detail.

Generate New Business

You have all the legal stuff covered, employees or contractors and funding. Now you need to get the word out about your new business and create an effective marketing and sales plan. Most likely, a bank or investor wouldn’t have given you money if you didn’t have this covered in your business plan.

You are now at the stage where you can tweak your marketing and sales plan. With the advent of the internet, most marketing nowadays is digital and falls into two primary categories – Social Media Marketing (SMM) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM).

SMM is lower cost and can be effective. You can work with a person who has clout in your vertical (an “influencer”) and have them create awareness for you by posting to prominent social media platforms. SEM is a longer-term strategy and can result in higher quality leads.

Once you have leads coming in, you can “convert” them yourself or turn over to your sales team and continue your ascent to moguldom.

If you would like assistance or clarification on any of these steps, click or tap here. We would be glad to assist!



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I am so glad I found ABC, every company or lender I talked to told me we needed to have revenue on our business to get a loan, well we are a start up, and need the loan to get started generating revenue. ABC was able to get us funded at great rates in a short amount of time. I definitely plan on using them again as our business grows!
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Erik R
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Kina was amazing to work with. As a new business owner and limited credit history, she really went to bat to ensure my business plan was heard by the lenders, so they felt confident in investing with me. Highly recommend!!

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