We've created a six-step outline to help you with information to get started. The requirements vary according to your business activity.
Step 1: Create a business plan
For any business, the first step is to turn your basic idea into a written, viable plan of action. A well-thought out business plan is necessary for obtaining loans and is a model for your success. Refer to the Business Planning and Resource Section.
Step 2: Decide on your business structure and register your business name
Careful consideration must be given to the management, structural and tax implications of your decision. While not a replacement for sound legal or tax advice, see Selecting a Business Structure and the Business Forms sections on our website.
- To register a business name for a sole proprietorship or general partnership: Contact the County Register of Deeds Office where you intend to do business.
- To file a Corporation, LLC, LLP, or Limited Partnership:
Contact the North Carolina Secretary of State, Corporations Division or call (919) 807-2225.
Step 3: Get license requirements
The State of North Carolina does not issue a single business license. Your business may be subject to state, city, county and/or federal requirements. Call Business Link NC (BLNC) at (800) 228-8443 or (919) 447-7828 to determine your state license needs. Business Licenses & Permits listed by State Agency and/or Licensing/Occupational Board.
Local license & zoning information: check with city/town & county governments where you intend to do business: List of North Carolina cities and towns or List of North Carolina counties.
Step 4: Obtain the necessary tax information
Taxation for small businesses may be simple or complex, depending on the size and business structure. The tax liability for each business will be different and you should consult your attorney and accountant regarding comprehensive tax planning. See the Business Tax Information on our website to identify tax requirements.
Step 5: Identify sources of financing
Refer to the Financial Resources Section on our website for an overview of financial resources available for small business owners in North Carolina.
Step 6: Learn about employer reporting requirements and responsibilities
Visit the Employer Requirements Section on our website for instructions on how to register as an employer, unemployment insurance and worker’s compensation insurance. This includes applying for federal and state withholding numbers.
- For Federal Identification Numbers (EINs) contact the Internal Revenue Service or call (800) 829-4933
- For State Sales Tax and State Withholding Tax Numbers contact the North Carolina Department of Revenue or call (877) 252-3052
- Consult with an accountant for bookkeeping and tax purposes
- Obtain insurance
- Review contracts with legal counsel
- Review applicable regulations (OSHA, EPA, Labor, etc.)
- Register trademarks or patents
- Develop policy and employee handbook
- Join trade associations, chamber of commerce organizations