According to the most recent data from the US Census Bureau, there are more than 233,000 “employer establishments” in North Carolina.
That's a lot of businesses.
If you’re looking for the fastest way to search for information about North Carolina companies, the best place to start is the NC Secretary of State website.
Their Business Registration Search lets you search all North Carolina businesses by name, industry, region, size or specific keyword.
Once you get a list of results, you can click through to get more details on individual companies, including:
What is a Registered Agent?
According to Legal Zoom, "An LLC registered agent is an individual or entity which has been designated by the LLC to receive service of process notices, government correspondence and compliance-related documents on behalf of the LLC."
Choosing the right name for you business is tricky.
But often the most difficult part isn't deciding on something catchy or creative. The naming process includes a lot of legal hoops and hurdles you need to clear before printing up business cards and building signage.
You can find some detailed advice on the NC Secretary of State page, including helpful reminders that:
There are also certain words and phrases which are prohibited by law from being used in the name unless you have received permission from the proper legal authority.
Those words and phrases include: Bank, Banker and Banking, Cooperative, Co-op, Mutual, Trust.
The Department of the Secretary of State will also reject the following words used in names unless the applicant can provide documentation that proves his or her business entity is legally qualified to provide the service indicated:
Assumed Business Name registration is also on file with the Secretary of State which includes sole proprietorships and general partnerships.
What is an Assumed Business Name?
"A fictitious business name, sometimes called an assumed name or DBA, short for 'doing business as,' allows you to legally do business using a particular name at minimal cost and without having to create an entirely new business entity. You can accept payments, advertise and otherwise present yourself in a business sense under this name." - Scott Allen, The Balance Small Business
You can also search business names by county with the Register of Deeds office in the county being searched.
According to the NC Secretary of State website:
"Business Corporations, Nonprofit Corporations, Limited Liability Companies (LLC), Limited Partnerships (LP), Limited Liability Partnerships(LLP or RLLP), and Limited Liability Limited Partnerships (LLLP) are required to register with the NC Secretary of State’s Office prior to conducting business in North Carolina."
Sole proprietorships or general partnerships, may have to file an assumed name certificate with the Register of Deeds Office in the county where your principal office is located.
Articles of Incorporation/Organization and Registration of a Partnership are the legal documents which must be filed in order to register a business entity with the Secretary of State in North Carolina.
One of the other big decisions you'll need to make before starting a business is what kind of business structure is best.
You can find guidance online for this as well.
Which type of entity is best for your business? It all depends.
There are plenty of factors from management structure to tax codes need to be considered when forming a business entity. If you're unsure or have questions, it would make sense to consult an attorney.
The different types of business entities include:
Click here for a comparison chart of business structures as provided by the North Carolina Secretary of State.
After you've done your due diligence for naming your business, the next step is completing the formation documents (i.e., Articles of Incorporation, Articles of Organization or Application for Certificate of Authority) and registering the business name with the Secretary of State’s Office.
According to the NC Secretary of State site, "The filing of this document means that the chosen name is acceptable under the registration laws of North Carolina. It does not guarantee that the use of that name will not be challenged by someone who has been using a similar name and who asserts that the use of the name constitutes unfair competition."
That's why it makes sense to get all your legal paperwork in order before rushing out and spending money on stationery, swag or signage.