How to Start a Business

Depending on the business, federal, state, and local licenses and permits may be required. In most areas there are zoning guidelines which could restrict the location of your business or home occupation.  There are also income and taxes to consider.

As of July 2015, the North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 1050 which eliminated the authority of municipalities to levy a business license tax. Depending on the nature of your business, other local licenses and permits may be required.

There are several types of tax numbers. If a business is planning to have sales, a Sales and Use Tax number is required.
Businesses having employees are required to obtain a Federal Employer Identification number along with a NC withholding tax number. Business Link NC can provide application forms. 

The type of business structure determines where a business name (assumed name) should be registered.  A Certificate of Assumed Name for sole proprietorships and partnerships must be filed with the Register of Deeds in the county or counties in which businesses plan to operate.  Corporations must register their business names with the North Carolina Secretary of State Corporations Division.  

You can incorporate your business by filing a form called the Articles of Incorporation with the Corporations Division in the Department of the Secretary of State.  There is a filing fee associated with filing this form.   However, there are additional steps involved in completing the corporation, and the Business Corporations Guidelines booklet is available for assistance with paperwork.  Anyone who is not an attorney cannot prepare the documentation for your new corporation.  There are a number of legal issues involved with establishing a new corporation and you may find the services of an attorney helpful.

A federal employer identification number can be applied for by filing an SS-4 form with the Internal Revenue Service.  For more information regarding how to file by fax or phone, call 1-800-829-1040.

North Carolina has 58 Small Business Centers located within Community Colleges across the State.  These Centers provide a variety of services to small businesses, including assistance with the development of business plans.  For more information, contact your local community college.  In addition, the Small Business Administration (SBA) is an excellent resource for assisting with business plans for new and existing businesses and can be reached at 1-800-827-5722.