STEP 1) VERIFY & SECURE YOUR BRAND NAME

Choose a Business Name

To secure and register your brand name it must be unique, not too similar to another registered name in NC, and shouldn’t contain any restricted wording. To check, conduct a free Business Entity Search through the state, and if there are potential trademark issues conduct another quick search using the TESS System through the U.S. Patent Office.

Keep in mind your LLC name should contain the words like ‘Limited Liability Company’ or ‘Limited Company’. Abbreviations for these words like ‘L.C.’ or ‘L.L.C.’ are also acceptable. If needed, you can file an Application to Reserve a Business Entity Name that’s good for a decade.

Filing Fee: $10

STEP 2) DESIGNATE A REGISTERED AGENT

Choose a Registered Agent

A North Carolina Registered Agent is a major player who receives and helps to handle/process all important documents on behalf of your brand like state filings, legal notices, tax forms, etc. Some basic requirements include:

  • Must be a natural citizen of the state of North Carolina,
  • Must have a street address or office address in North Carolina (P.O. box isn’t considered a street address),
  • Must be available during business hours (9am to 5pm) Mondays-Fridays.

So you can hire a 3rd party professional and expect to pay up to $160/year, or get a NC Registered Agent free of charge when you start an LLC through IncFile or Incorporate.com. They handle this along with much more depending on your startup package.

STEP 3) FILE ARTICLES OF ORGANIZATION

Register an LLCDownload and file the Articles of Organization (Form L-01) with the NC Sec. of State’s Office through mail or Online Filing System only when you’re ready. If you’re going to reserve the name do that BEFORE filing the articles which declare the basics of your LLC for the public record:

  • LLC name and address (if you have a principal location),
  • Complete name of North Carolina registered agent and address,
  • Hours of operation and nature of business.
  • Complete name and address of signatories in the articles.

Filing Fee: $125

STEP 4) GET AN EIN

Get an EIN for Your LLCYour EIN, or FEIN, which stands for Federal Employer Identification Number is almost exactly like a social security number but for businesses. State and federal agencies use it to track your business activity so it’s essential. You’ll use it to open business bank accounts and legally hire employees among other things.

To get your free EIN number, you can print out and mail in This IRS Form or apply online using the IRS Website.

STEP 5) OPEN A BUSINESS BANK ACCOUNT

Best Business Bank Account

Here we go, now you get to decide where to set up your brand’s financial groundwork. And this isn’t personal banking, so if you’re new to this then shop around. Look at an assortment of local, state, and national banks. There’s plenty of great deals, perks, incentives and kickbacks to be leveraged.

The other big important thing to remember is to completely separate your brand’s financials from data streams and bank accounts of any kind. Here’s a quick breakdown article of Small Business Checking Accounts from some of the biggest banks to begin your research.

STEP 6) DRAFT AN OPERATING AGREEMENT

Create an Operating AgreementDo you have to have one of these in your brand’s “important documents” folder? No, not by law anyway, but it’s a good professional move to have one. Why? Because not only do they put down on paper the basic rules of operation, but managerial/owner duties and financial responsibilities as well, which includes any profit sharing, ownership percentages, etc.

This adds layers of protection for everyone involved, including your new company’s LLC status, but it also trumps default North Carolina state rules which take over if you don’t have this document in place. To get started, consider checking out this savvy Operating Agreement Tool which you can customize yourself.

STEP 7) HANDLE BUSINESS TAXES & LICENSING

Small Business TaxesComplying with state taxes and obtaining business permits and licenses are mandatory requirements to start a North Carolina LLC. So depending on the nature of your business, how many employees, where you’re located and a number of other things it’ll either be a cake walk or take some time.

Start by bookmarking the Charlotte district office of the Small Business Administration and the state’s Small Biz Development Center because they’re likely going to be go-to sources. Also, consider professional Business License Research packages that can quickly source all needed documents for you.

OPTIONAL) IRON OUT A BUSINESS PLAN

Write a Business PlanWe understand that there are plenty of misconceptions when it comes to modern business planning. It’s not like it used to be. These days no one wants to be handed a large tome covering every minute detail of your grand plans. Instead it’s about streamlined presentation-ready plans that focus on the core fundamentals.

We’re talking your basic executive summary and pitch, financials and forecasts, marketing and outreach, budgeting, team structure, and so forth. To learn more check out our free resources below.

  • This Planning Software Guide is our savvy breakdown of all the best user-friendly and inexpensive business planning software solutions to help you plan better. (Spoiler: LivePlan is by far the easiest to use and gives our readers a special discount.)

OPTIONAL) BUILD A BUSINESS WEBSITE

Build a Business WebsiteFrom Wix and Weebly, the options you have as an entrepreneur to establish a digital presence are incredible compared to where we were only a handful of years ago. Why? Because we all want and need the same thing, a responsive, good-looking, and unique website where we can do business and expand our brands.

If you’re interested, check out both of our reviews to see which is right for you. If you’re still unsure, feel free to browse our business website builder overview for the top options. Enjoy!

Need Help Forming Your LLC?

Have a reliable LLC filing service like IncFile or LegalZoom do the work for you. Just answer a few questions about your business and they’ll take care of the paperwork.

Although both offer virtually the same service, IncFile is $100 less and our top pick. Enjoy!

Visit IncFile Or Visit LegalZoom

Note that this article on how to form an LLC in North Carolina isn’t a legal document or legal advice. It’s for informational purposes and the information above is subject to change. For specific legal questions regarding how to form an LLC in North Carolina or business in general, please consult with a lawyer or other accredited professional.