STEP 1) VERIFY & SECURE 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 North Carolina, 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 the name you choose should contain the words “Corporation”, “Incorporated”, “Company”,  or “Limited.” Abbreviations like, “Corp.”, “Inc.”, “Co.” or “Ltd.” 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) APPOINT 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 registered agent free of charge when incorporating through IncFile or CorpNet. They handle this along with so much more depending on your startup package.

STEP 3) FILE ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION

Register an LLCTo legally form your North Carolina Corporation, you need to file your Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State. Some of the information that you may need to file ahead of time include the following:

  • Corporate name and address,
  • Name and address of registered agent,
  • Number of shares the corporation is authorized to issue,
  • Name and address of every incorporator,
  • Effective date of your Articles of Incorporation.

Filing Fee: $125

STEP 4) GET A CORPORATE RECORDS BOOK

File Annual Reports & Publication Requirements

Think of this as the hard copy record book where all critical corporate documents are kept like the Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, meeting minutes, stock certificate ledger, stock certificates, stock certificate stubs, stock transfer documents, etc. It’s the ultimate company binder! They’re very common and while not necessary having one is highly recommended for all serious business entities.

You can find them at nearby office supply stores or on Amazon, but we’re huge fans of Corporate Kits which include gorgeous records books/binders you can brand for as little as $99.

STEP 5) ELECT DIRECTOR, MEET, DISCUSS BYLAWS

Hold a Meeting with Your Board of DirectorsAppoint at least 1 initial Director who among other things will oversee the North Carolina corporation until the first shareholder meeting where new directors will be voted in. Prepare an “Incorporator Statement” with complete names and addresses of each director and keep it in your records book. Once elected, an initial meeting should:

  • Appoint officers & discuss/create Corporate Bylaws.
  • Choose a bank & approve the issuance of stock certificates.
  • Agree on corporate seal and adopt official stock certificate form.
  • Approve s-corp (opt.). Record Minutes of Meeting, have directors sign, then add to records book.

STEP 6) OPEN A BUSINESS BANK ACCOUNT

Best Business Bank Account

As discussed in your initial meeting, now’s the time to set up your brand’s financial groundwork (or have your CFO do it). 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 as well as credit unions. 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 other data streams and bank accounts of any kind. Here’s a quick breakdown article of Business Checking Accounts from some of the biggest banks to begin the research process.

STEP 7) HANDLE TAXATION & LICENSING/PERMITS

Business Licenses

When starting a business, you’re required to be 100% compliant with all relevant local/state/federal agencies. Ideally you should have an attorney or at least dedicate time to knocking this out yourself and doing the homework. That said, here are four resources to get started:

  1. Get a free EIN, or Employer Identification Number, quickly through the IRS website.
  2. Bookmark the Charlotte Small Business Administration and the state’s Biz-Dev Center.
  3. To form an S-Corp, submit Form 2553 with the IRS and be sure all board of directors have signed it.
  4. Consider professional Business License Research packages that handle the legwork for you.

OPTIONAL) WRITE A BUSINESS PLAN

Write a Business Plan

Corporation’s aren’t pet projects. There should be a real vision on the table, so start seriously planning out the core fundamentals: marketing approach, competitive analysis, budgeting, milestones & metrics, problem & solution, etc. And no, you don’t have to have an MBA or be a seasoned entrepreneur to get this done and initially set up.

These days it’s all about software. Sleek, step-by-step, and beginner-friendly, you end up with presentation-ready plans you can optimize over time and when needed show to VCs, lending institutions, potential partners and stakeholders, and so on. Learn more through our free resources below.

QUICK LINKS TO BUSINESS PLANNING

  • Use our Business Plan Software guide to see which mobile-friendly solution best suits your team. (Spoiler: We’re huge fans of LivePlan, plus they offer our readers a special discount.)

OPTIONAL) BUILD A COMPANY WEBSITE

Build a Business WebsiteListen, if you have this part all taken care of because you have a fabulous team then that’s great! We added this step because tons of startups we bump into have most everything else in this article in the works by the time we meet, but their websites are in shabby condition or extremely basic/non-existent.

Why? We don’t know. With platforms like Wix, SquareSpace and Weebly out there, there’s no reason not to have a great responsive, functional and branded website. They are all very easy to use and won’t break your budget.

Need Help Forming Your Corporation?

Have a reliable incorporation 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 a North Carolina Corporation 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 a North Carolina Corporation or business in general, please consult with a lawyer or other accredited professional.