How to Start an LLC in North Carolina

Thinking of starting your own company here in North Carolina? It’s probably a good idea to establish an LLC before you get your business going. An LLC (limited liability corporation) helps to protect you, as the business owner, by limiting your liability to the resources of your business. In other words, it protects your personal assets from claims or lawsuits against the business. Plus, being able to tack “LLC” to the end of your business makes it sound just a little more official!

5 Simple Steps to Start Your LLC

Setting up an LLC might seem like some big complicated legal process, but it’s actually pretty straightforward. In fact, it only takes a couple of steps to get it all taken care of, and it’s fairly inexpensive, too. Here’s what you need to do to set up an LLC in North Carolina.

Step 1: Name your LLC

a couple brainstorming business name ideas

Naming your business is a critical first step! You obviously want to choose a name that doesn’t already belong to an LLC in North Carolina. The name must also comply with state regulations, and it needs to have “LLC” in the name and be distinguishable from other businesses on file.

You also want to pick a name that accurately reflects your business—your style, your brand, and your product or service! Keep in mind, though, you don’t have to use your LLC’s official legal name when you actually do business. Instead, you can use an “assumed name” (you just have to register it with your county).

Step 2: Appoint a registered agent

a woman and man discussing business ideas

North Carolina requires every LLC to have a registered agent. A registered agent is either an individual or business entity responsible for receiving legal documents, tax forms, notice of lawsuits, and official government correspondence for your business. The registered business must have a physical address in North Carolina.

Step 3: File articles of organization

a businessman filling out a form online

Next: paperwork. Your LLC is officially created when you file Articles of Organization with the North Carolina Secretary of State, Business Registration Division. You can find the forms online through the Secretary of State’s website, and either apply online or through mail.

You’ll need to include your LLC’s name, the name and address of your registered agent, your address and phone number, and the signature of the business organizer or their representative. The filing fee is $125.

Step 4: Create a North Carolina LLC Operating Agreement

business partners discussing their operating agreement

Here in NC, you’re not required to have an operating agreement, but it’s still a good idea to have one. An operating agreement is a legal document outlining the ownership and operating procedures of the business. It basically ensures that all business partners are on the same page and helps to reduce the risk of future conflict. It can also help to lend credibility to your LLC, particularly if you’re a one-(wo)man business.

We won’t go into the details of why you should establish an operating agreement and what all it entails, but we do recommend reading up on it (and then creating one). The finished agreement doesn’t need to be filed—it’s an internal document you keep for reference.

Step 5: Complete additional tax and business regulations

filing paperwork for taxes

Get an EIN: An EIN, or Employer Identification Number, is a nine-digit ID assigned by the IRS to help keep track of businesses for tax purposes. An EIN is required to open a business bank account, file and manage federal and state taxes, and hire employees.

Get a business license: You may need to obtain a business license and/or permits, depending on your type of business. Check with city and state websites to see what might be required for your business.

Register with the NC Department of Revenue: Again, this won’t be required for every business, but if you have employees or will be collecting sales tax, you will need to register your business with the NCDOR.

Confused? We Can Help!

Confused about all the legalese involved with kickstarting your own business (not to mention all the stuff that comes after)? Corridor Consulting can help! Whether you’re looking for tips on choosing your name or designing your logo, or you want someone to set up and manage your website for you, we are here for you! Give us a shout and let’s talk about your small business.