How to Start a Business in Wake County, NC: 
A Step by Step Checklist

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The number of people starting a small business has grown significantly over the last decade both in the United States and here in North Carolina. 

While the idea of entrepreneurship can be appealing for many reasons, knowing all of the steps to get started can be overwhelming.

Well, it turns out, you can dramatically decrease the time and research involved when you access the best resources.

The Wake Tech Small Business Center is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and small business owners start and grow their businesses within Wake County. We have business counselors that can meet with you to answer any questions and steer you in the right direction when you’re ready to start.

In addition, we provide workshops throughout the year on a variety of topics. See the list and get more information on dates and locations here

We’ve compiled a list of the steps and resources you need to get started. Then, when you’re ready you can make an appointment with one of our business counselors for continued assistance.

Now that you have the idea, let’s cover the first set of steps to turn that idea into a business:

1. Determine the structure of your business along with federal and state requirements.

The type of business structure you select will impact the amount of taxes you pay, the additional documentation and filing requirements you will need to complete and the legal liabilities you will personally assume for your business among other things. You can learn more about the various types of business structures from the Small Business Administration.

2. Select a name for your business. 

There are a few things to consider when selecting a name for your new business. First, you will need to decide if you’re going to conduct business only within your local geographic area, throughout the state or within the continental United States and beyond. The SBA provides helpful information on this topic. 

You will also need to search the availability of your business name. The North Carolina Secretary of State website will allow you to conduct a search for free. 

3. Register your business.

The type of business structure you select will determine where you need to register your business name. 

For example, if you choose to operate your new business as a S-corporation you would be required to register your business name with the North Carolina Secretary of State. If your business will be a sole proprietorship, you will need to register a Certificate of Assumed Name with the Register of Deeds within your local county. 

You can find more information in our Small Business Toolkit

There are fees associated with filing to incorporate your business within North Carolina so you will want to ensure that you conduct your research and get advice from a source you trust before you complete this step in the process of establishing a new business.

4. Obtain your Federal Tax ID number and understand your tax liability.

A federal tax identification number is required to open a business bank account and obtain many business licenses and permits. To obtain a federal identification number (EIN) online, you will need to have a taxpayer identification number such as a social security number handy when you complete the online application. 

Access the online application through here

Next, you will want to learn the forms that you need to track, file and pay both your federal and state taxes. The NC Department of Revenue has a helpful website page broken down by categories to help you get started.

Did you know there are many free resources and agencies to help you with the process of starting a business? Schedule an appointment with a business counselor at the Wake Tech Small Business Center here.

5. Research the local and state permits that will be required for your business.

Understanding the licensing permit requirements for your new business is essential for long-term success. The North Carolina Department of Commerce has a database of hundreds of licenses and permits available. 

Business Link of North Carolina may also be a good resource to learn more about permits and licenses required to operate a business within North Carolina. 

6. Start developing your business plan now. 

Whether you want to apply for a business loan or get assistance with growing your business from an agency like your local Small Business Center or SCORE, you will be asked for your business plan. In addition, it will provide a roadmap as you begin to scale your business over the next 3 to 5 years. 

A business plan is a written document that provides a description of your business, marketing plans and financial projections. It’s a good idea to start with a template. We provide one here. 

Starting a business can be exciting, rewarding and overwhelming. However, you don’t have to do it alone. We’re here to help.