Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What should I do first in preparing to open my business?
If you feel that you have an entrepreneurial mindset and a valid business idea, the first thing you should do is contact your local Small Business Center (SBC) Director at the local Community College. These SBC Directors are professionally trained to guide you in the right direction. There are 58 SBC Directors across NC forming this business support network.
How do I know if I have what it takes to be an entrepreneur?
Take a look at yourself. Am I willing to take risks? Do I make sound decisions in a timely fashion? Am I a leader? Do I possess knowledge and expertise in the area I desire to focus my business? Am I an organized and financially responsible individual? Do I have the support of my family and friends? These are important questions to answer. For a closer look at your skills, take the Self-Guided Business Assessment located on the SBCN site.
I have heard about grants which are available to help me start my business; can I get one of these grants?
Many misconceptions exist about business grants. Generally speaking there are very few, if any, grants available for business startup. Some non-profit agencies are eligible for grants; many of these grants also require matching funds (either in-kind or cash contributions). There are a few grants for businesses in the fields of high technology, growth, and innovation. You may search for such grant information on the Business Link North Carolina site.
What licenses and permits might I need to start my business?
Requirements vary from state to state. Each county and local municipality may also have different requirements. If you have employees you will need a Federal Employer’s Identification Number (EIN). The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can also provide you with a “Going Into Business” tax kit.
If you are buying products for resale, then you will be required to have a Sales and Use Tax Number. This is obtained through the NC Dept. of Revenue. If you are planning to Incorporate or form a LLC or LLP business structure, then you will file these forms and make annual reports through the NC Dept. of the Secretary of State.
If you are forming a sole proprietorship or general partnership, then you will need to file a Certificate of Assumed Name with the local county Register of Deeds in the county where you business will operate. Other local requirements may exist such as a city privilege (business) license. Many towns also have zoning requirements and local sign ordinances that you need to adhere to. It is wise to contact your local SBC to find out what requirements exist in your area. The local SBC can provide you with contact information and other assistance in starting your business. For online information visit Business Link North Carolina.
Where do I get startup capital or how do I get a business loan?
Most banks will provide debt financing for existing and startup businesses, although banks vary in their lending practices. Some banks will offer business startup loans through the Small Business Administration (SBA). A well prepared Business Plan is required for consideration by any lending agency or organization. You will also need collateral, a down payment (or equity investment) in your business, a good credit score, history of your personal financial worth, proof of ability to repay the loan, sound management abilities, and knowledge of your business or industry.
If I do not need to apply for a loan will I still need to write a Business Plan?
Most definitely… a Business Plan is an absolute must for any business whether startup or existing. Such a plan is a guide for mapping your business, its successes and failures. It serves as a benchmark for all that you do.
Business Plan templates are available on the site, and you may wish to take a look at these prior to scheduling an appointment with your local SBC Director. The Director will not write the plan for you but will assist you with locating resources to create your plan and also advise you on the feasibility of information included in your plan.
Your local SBC Director will help assess your Business Plan as you prepare for your entrepreneurial venture.
What form of Business / Legal Structure should I use for my business?
There are many reasons to use the various forms of Business / Legal structures available in North Carolina. It is important to consult with a professional accountant and attorney in making this determination. Consider all the possibilities before making a final decision. Your local SBC Director can assist you with information in this process.
There are many questions to be answered when starting a new business. Who will guide me through the process and help me as I prepare my Business Plan? Can I also receive low (or no) cost training from anyone?
Your local SBC office can provide you with this type of assistance. The SBC offers many forms of training, workshops, and seminars to aid you in business success.