How to start a business in North Carolina

10 Simple Steps

Step 1: Truly Plan Your Business Idea

Write a Business PlanNot all entrepreneurs are planners and not all startups “plan” the same way. Regardless, the first step is organizing your business idea and coming to terms with how it’s going to work. Things like pitches, executive summaries and professional plans typically come into play big time though once you reach step 7 (funding). No lending institution, VC, angel network, or CrowdFunder will take a brand seriously without a solid plan in place.

Take Action: Check out our 100% free Business Planning Guide designed to get you from A-to-Z as pleasantly as possible. Plus, we provide access to tons of other great tools along the way.

Step 2: Choose Business Structure & Register

How to Choose a Business StructureIn this step you’re going to choose what kind of business structure best suites your company and then register it. This secures your brand name and protects your personal assets (house, car, etc) at the same time.

Most entrepreneurs form an LLC because it has all the benefits of a Corporation without the disadvantages like double taxation, board of directors or corporate officers. However if you’re trying to take your company public or raise substantial outside capital, consider forming a Corporation.

Take Action: Since this step is so important and expensive if it’s not done correctly, we highly recommend investing 10 minutes to go over your options through our business structure comparison guide. You’ll get a better idea of the advantages and disadvantages of each while building a solid legal foundation for your business.

Step 3: Sync With The North Carolina Tax Code

Small Business TaxesWhether you do this yourself, hire a lawyer, or work with a professional incorporation service provider, in order to legally conduct business and avoid being fined or jailed you must be compliant with both state and federal tax codes. Thankfully this isn’t usually a huge ordeal for most startups. Being close to 2020, the process is pretty efficient.

Take Action: There will inevitably be forms to file along with their corresponding fees – some will need to be paid annually. To get started, bookmark the NC Dept. of Revenue’s Tax Information for Businesses page, the Charlotte Small Business Admin office, and the state’s Small Biz-Dev Center.

Step 4: Obtain Proper Licensing/Permits

Business LicensesThe regulatory environment is very startup-friendly in NC for a large variety of reasons, but the complexity of red tape you’ll have to deal with depends on what kind of business you’re in, whether you work with the public, and where you’re located.

  1. For DYI’ers head over to The Economic Development Partnership page on Business Licenses & Permits.
  2. If you need help with this step, a Business License Service is what we recommend. They determine everything required on Federal, State, County and Municipal levels, get the forms, and provide step-by-step filing instructions.

Step 5: Create A Dedicated Business Bank Account

Best Business Bank AccountThis is the easy part, but ever-so critical. Centralize your financials! Don’t mix personal accounts/money with your business accounts. Once you link your dedicated accounts to your accounting software it becomes much easier to keep profits/taxes in one place, and investment/optimization/marketing money in another.

Step 6: Pick A Stellar North Carolina Location

How to Choose a Business LocationFirst of all, just about everywhere in NC is gorgeous. Then you’ve got cities like Apex near the famed Research Triangle Park, Wake Forest and Greensboro. How about the bustle of Charlotte, Raleigh, Fayetteville, or even Myrtle Beach? What a great choice to have to make!

Take Action: We know picking a spot can be tough if it doesn’t somehow happen naturally through your personal/professional networks. If you’d like to brush up on everything that goes into making this decision, refer to our friendly guide on How to Choose the Perfect Location.

Step 7: Finance/Bootstrap Your Platform

How to Finance a BusinessMoney runs the show. Capital is king and for new entrepreneurs there just never seems to be enough. Managing and organizing and staying on top of your financials is one of the most important factors of your success, along with your resourcefulness and ability to leverage all the many amazing funding options at your disposal in NC and online in general. Don’t be shy.

Take Action: The email course we mentioned in Step 1 really comes in handy here because planning and finances go together like Chapel Hill BBQ and checkered tablecloth. You can also browse our guide on How to Finance a Business to start generating ideas.

Step 8: Design & Publish A Business Website

Build a Business WebsiteIn North Carolina they have a saying, “Esse Quam Videri” which is Latin for, “To be, rather than to seem (to be).” The point here is they respond to and revere authenticity. And these days “to be” your brand needs a presentable business website. Does it need to be as stunning as an afternoon gaze of Whitewater Falls? No. Just genuine and easy to use.

Take Action: Check out a business website builder like Wix or Weebly. Both are extremely easy to use and out-of-the-box. All you’ll need to do is choose a template and make a few customizations that reflect what your business offers. Zero technical skills required!

Step 9: Market Your Business

Social Media ChannelThe first step is truly understanding and embracing how good of a marketer you are…or aren’t. If you’re a natural born seller, awesome! If on the other hand you couldn’t slang Stanley Cup seats to a Hurricanes fan, then outsource and focus on your strengths instead.

Take Action: We’ve interviewed armies or entrepreneurs and when we ask them about influencers that changed their game about 70% of the time it’s the person/coach they brought in to help with marketing. Who can you turn to?

Step 10: Continue Learning & Stay Inspired

Sign Up For Entrepreneur InterviewsFrom this point forward, where you turn for insight and motivation’s going to play a big role in your success and determining where your brand is in a couple years. Right? So please consider adding Startup Savant to your goodie bag because if anyone knows where you’re coming from, what you’re going through, and what you’re facing it’s our community!

Take Action: Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to tap into our daily feed filled with tips, lessons, and inspiring stories directly from entrepreneurs like you.

North Carolina Startup Toolkit

Out of all the resources available to help you start a business in North Carolina, here are the two we believe in most. With an incorporation service and business plan software, you'll take the first steps toward bringing your idea to life and having a solid plan behind it.

Incorporation services register your business with the state and handle all paperwork. For as low as $49, they'll bring your business to life by registering your LLC or Corporation in record time.

See The Top 7 Options
And

One of the most important aspects of starting a business can also be the most tedious: the business plan. A business plan software will walk you through the entire process in half the time.

See The Top 7 Options