How to Start an LLC in North Carolina

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North Carolina is an excellent place to start a business for its various government and public funds funded development grants and tax incentives. Moreover, the Job Development Investment Grant offered the by the state government also allows new companies to expand with greater control and financial freedom. This means that North Carolina is not only a great place to start a business but also to sustain and grow one in the long term. Choosing the LLC business structure further brings numerous advantages and benefits, like low filing fees, easy tax filing, and higher protection from business liabilities.

So without further ado, let’s take a detailed look at the steps required to start an LLC in North Carolina:

Select and Reserve a Business Name

To start an LLC in North Carolina, you must think of an original and distinctive business name idea. Besides being original, the name must also comply with the North Carolina regulations for choosing a business name.

It is best to think of a few names since you must also search to ensure that the name you brainstormed is available. The North Carolina Secretary of State website allows you to search for business name availability for free.

Once you have found an available business name you like, you can reserve it for $30 for 120 days. While you might find it an unnecessary step, it is best to invest the additional money to avoid finding an available business name all over again. Find the link for the Application to Reserve a Business Entity Name here. The easier way to complete this step is by filing the form manually and submitting it through the mail. However, you can also create an online account to apply.

Get a Business Address

Without an official business address, you cannot start an LLC in North Carolina. While this address can be out of state or residential, it must strictly be a physical street address and not a P.O. Box address.

However, you can utilize a virtual mailbox service if you don’t want to provide your residential address for privacy reasons or because you plan to move shortly. Getting a virtual mailbox can easily protect your privacy and reduce the address change hassle in the long run.

Name a Registered Agent

Like almost all US states, North Carolina requires LLCs to have a registered agent. A registered agent is a person or entity who represents the LLC at the Secretary of State and handles and files documents on its behalf.

You can name yourself or a business member as the registered agent to start an LLC in North Carolina LLC. However, the position can only be occupied by someone with a physical street address in the state. So if you or your business members don’t have a North Carolina physical street address, you can hire the services of a professional registered agent to complete this step.

Submit Articles of Organization

The article of organization is a form requiring the basic and essential information of the LLC getting established. The information required includes but is not limited to the following:

  • Business name and address

  • Business purpose

  • Business duration (can be indefinite)

  • Registered agent name and address

  • Business members’ names and addresses

  • Provisions for the regulation of the internal affairs of the company

  • Details of the organizer, i.e., the person filing the form

Like the Application to Reserve a Business Entity Name, this form is also submitted to the North Carolina Secretary of State. You can click here to download the form. After filing it manually, you can mail it to the Secretary of State. If you file it online, there will be an additional $2 on top of the $125 fee.

While articles or organization is only submitted once to start an LLC in North Carolina, an LLC annual report must be submitted to the Secretary of State to keep the business running smoothly. Bookmark this link so you can file the annual report when needed.

Obtain an EIN and Open a Bank Account

Though the above steps will establish your business on paper, you must complete a couple more steps to successfully start an LLC in North Carolina. These include obtaining an EIN and opening a bank account.

An EIN, or Employer Identification Number, is a business identification number provided by Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This number allows businesses to hire employees, open a bank account, and file taxes. You can get an EIN for your business by registering it with IRS for free.

Opening a dedicated bank account for your business is also essential to ensure smooth financial operations and tax reporting and filing for your business.

Prepare an Operating Agreement

Preparing an operating agreement is not an official requirement for starting an LLC in North Carolina. However, creating one can significantly protect you and your business against liabilities and unwanted demands and requests.

As the name suggests, an operating agreement defines the framework and processes for an LLC’s operations. The contents of an LLC operating agreement include but are not limited to business members’ roles and responsibilities, contributions, profit sharing, voting rights, recruitment process, and processes for adding or eliminating business members.

Build a Website and Market Your Business

The above six steps will create your business on paper and ensure its smooth operations. But you still have the essential part required to start an LLC in North Carolina, i.e., attracting your audience and converting them into customers.

The modern method to execute this last step is to create a website. Marking a digital presence for a business is as essential as making it officially legitimate. Today’s audience simply googles for everything they want or want. Hence, creating a website and marketing the business allows the audience to discover your business.

But there’s more to this step than you might initially think. Creating a website requires securing a host and domain name, building an interface, writing copy, adding images and other content, and combining all the elements in an easy-to-navigate and attractive way. A website also needs managing and frequent updating to ensure it ranks well on search engines. On the other hand, marketing a business includes creating social media profiles, making accounts on digital platforms like Yelp, Nextdoor, etc., and promoting the business through local websites, newspapers, and magazines. The digital and social media marketing routes also require the constant content creation and keyword inclusion so it can catch the audience’s attention.

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