Checklist For Starting Your New Business
1. Have a business plan.
2. Know what form of legal ownership (sole proprietor, partnership, or corporation) is best for your business.
3. Know whether your business will require a special license or permit and how to obtain it.
4. Obtain an EIN (Employer Identification Number) for your business.
5. Know how to compute the financial “break-even point” for your business and how to prepare and/or interpret a balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement.
6. Know how to compute the start-up costs for your business.
7. Understand how a business loan can impact your credit and be aware of the various loan programs available from banks in your area and the Small Business Administration.
8. Be sure your planned business fills a specific market need, know your target market and where to find demographic data and information about your customers.
9. Have a marketing plan.
10. Understand the tax requirements associated with your business.
11. Know how to learn about your business competitors.
12. Be computer literate.
13. Have a payroll process planned for your business.
14. Have a customer service strategy in mind or in place.
15. Know whether your business should have some form of intellectual property protection.
16. Know where to obtain information about regulations and compliance requirements that impact your business.
If you have difficulties with any of the above items on the checklist, the U.S. Small Business Administration is available to help you.
SBA Answer Desk
409 3rd St. SW
Washington, D.C. 20416
Send emails to:

Structuring a New Business
Starting a new business involves careful decision-making and thorough planning from the day the idea first enters your mind, to implementing your concept and getting the business up and running, and finally, to ensuring that your operation will remain a viable, thriving success.
One of the first steps in establishing a business is determining the appropriate structure which will affect taxation, legal and financial liability, and decision-making authority. There are three basic types of business models:
·         a sole proprietorship
·         a partnership
·         a corporation 
Which is the appropriate type for your new business? You may wish to consult an attorney or an accountant for assistance. For more information on how to choose a legal structure, visit the North Carolina Department of Commerce at
North Carolina Department of Commerce
301 N. Wilmington St.
Raleigh, NC 27601-1058
Writing a Business Plan
Once you have determined that you are ready to start your own business and have decided what type of business you are going to start, you must plan for the implementation of your concept and its ongoing operations.
A written business plan is a critical component of opening a successful business. Regardless of the type of business that you plan to start, a business plan is the foundation for launching your business.
A business plan serves two functions: 1. It helps secure financing by demonstrating technical competence, marketing knowledge, and organizational ability. 2. It helps establish goals, identify risks, recognize financial and physical needs, and provide guidelines to establish performance.
A business plan precisely defines your business, identifies your goals, and serves as your firm’s resume. The basic components include a current and pro forma balance sheet, an income statement, and a cash flow analysis. It helps you allocate resources properly, handle unforeseen complications, and make good business decisions.
A good business plan is a crucial part of any loan application. It provides specific and organized information about your company and how you will repay borrowed money. This business plan serves as a road map for your business success, and a well-thought out business plan is necessary for obtaining loans and other aid. Additionally, it informs sales personnel, suppliers, and others about your operations and goals.
Before you begin writing your business plan, consider four core questions:
1. What service or product does your business provide and what need does it fill?
2. Who are the potential customers for your product or service, and why will they purchase it from you?
3. How will you reach your potential customers?
4. Where will you get the financial resources to start your business?
Elements of the Plan 
When writing your business plan, be sure to address each of the vital elements:
1. Description of business: Define the type of business you are starting. Write out your mission statement and set goals for your new company—both short-term and long-term. Provide background on your organization’s history and principals.
2. Management structure and organization: At this stage, you must determine what type of organizational structure, management, and personnel your company will require. Identify key management members and their responsibilities. List goals and a time schedule for hiring and training your staff. Determine what is needed to establish and maintain your company’s culture.
3. Market plan: Understand and define your company’s market. Describe the targeted customer. Determine the number, location, and size of the various competitors in the area. Describe your marketing goals and strategies, and illustrate how you plan to achieve these goals.
4. Risk management: 
5. Financial Plan: This section should include your proposed financing, past financial performance, and future expectations for financial performance. What are your financial goals to ensure the success of your business? Careful financial planning is necessary for a successful business. Your banker can offer valuable assistance in financial assessment. During this stage, you must also determine what resources are needed to reach your financial goals. An incubator may be a possible resource option as well.
5. Exit strategy:  Your business plan should include an executive summary, supporting documents, and financial projections. Although no single formula exists for developing a business plan, some elements are common to all business plans. They are summarized in the outline that follows.
Outline of a Business Plan
1. Cover sheet
2. Statement of purpose
3. Table of contents 
I. The business
o    A. Description of business
o    B. Marketing
o    C. Competition
o    D. Operating procedures
o    E. Personnel
o    F. Business insurance
II. Financial data
o    A. Loan applications
o    B. Capital equipment and supply list
o    C. Balance sheet
o    D. Break-even analysis
o    E. Pro forma income projections (profit and loss statements)
o    F. Three-year summary
o    G. Detail by month, first year
o    H. Detail by quarter, second and third years
o    I. Assumptions upon which projections were based
o    J. Pro forma cash flow
III. Supporting documents
o    A. Tax returns of principals for last three years
o    B. Personal financial statement (all banks have these forms)
o    C. For franchised businesses, a copy of franchise contract and all supporting documents provided by the franchisor
o    D. Copy of proposed lease or purchase agreement for building space
o    E. Copies of licenses and other legal documents
o    F. Copies of resumes of all principals
o    G. Copies of letters of intent from suppliers, etc.
Using Your Business Plan
A business plan is a tool with three basic purposes:
·         Communication
·         Management
·         Planning
As a communication tool, a business plan is used to attract investment capital, secure loans, convince workers to hire on, and assist in attracting strategic business partners. The development of a comprehensive business plan shows whether a business has the potential to make a profit. It requires a realistic look at almost every phase of business and allows you to show that you have worked out all of the problems and decided on potential alternatives before actually launching your business.
As a management tool, the business plan helps you track, monitor, and evaluate your progress. The business plan is a living document, which you will modify as you gain knowledge and experience. By using your business plan to establish time lines and milestones, you can gauge your progress and compare your projections to actual accomplishments.
As a planning tool, the business plan guides you through the various phases of your business. A thoughtful plan will help identify roadblocks and obstacles, so that you can avoid them and establish alternatives. Many business owners share their business plans with their employees to foster a broader understanding of where the business is going.
If you have difficulty drafting your business plan, community colleges have small business centers to assist you in preparing a thoughtful and comprehensive business plan.
Site and Building Selection
The following resources are provided to help you with site and building selection for your business.
City of Greenville Office of Economic Development
201 W. Fifth Street
Greenville, NC 27835
North Carolina’s East Alliance
3802 Highway 58 N
Kinston, NC 28504
Pitt County Development Corporation
111 S. Washington Street
Greenville, NC 27835-0837
Uptown Greenville
301 Evans Street Ste 101
Greenville, NC 27858
Business Licenses and Permits
The state of North Carolina has no single business license that will ensure compliance with the numerous state licenses, permits, and regulatory requirements. Additionally, your business may be subject to local and/or federal requirements. Simply knowing which agencies to contact for all of these permits can be a very confusing task for a new entrepreneur.
Contact the North Carolina Department of Commerce’s Business ServiCenter at 800.228.8443  800.228.8443  or 919.807.4280  and permitting requirements.
North Carolina Department of Commerce
301 N. Wilmington St.
Raleigh, NC 27601-1058
Business Link North Carolina
301 N. Wilmington St.
Raleigh, NC 27601
800.228.8443  800.228.8443
Provides information and assistance in locating and applying for business licenses.
Business Name Registration
Pitt County Register of Deeds 
100 W.  3rd  St.,
Greenville, NC 27858
Application and information on business name registration
City of Greenville Privilege License
City of Greenville | Department of Finance/Collections Division
200 W. Fifth St.
PO Box 7207
Greenville, NC 27835
Processes applications for all businesses conducting business in the Greenville city limits

Inspections and Permits
City of Greenville  Inspections Division
201 W. Fifth St., First Floor
Greenville, NC 27835

Building permits, sign permits, inspections, and zoning permits
North Carolina Privilege License
North Carolina Department of Revenue
501 N. Wilmington St.
Raleigh, NC 27604

877.308.9103 : Other Taxes/Electronic Services
Sales and Use Tax Registration: 919.733.3661 or 877.252.3052
License and Excise Tax Division:
Corporate Income and Franchise Tax:
Corporation Charter (Corporation Only)
North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State
Corporations Division
2 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC 27601

For general information on corporate application and name availability, contact the town hall of your municipality.
Incubators & Co-working Spaces
When deciding where to locate your business, an incubator or co-working space may be the right decision for you. Incubators are unique in that they focus primarily on start-up and early-stage companies, providing all of the resources necessary to establish and build a successful business. Similarly, co-working spaces offer a location for independent workers and entrepreneurs who desire community and synergy by providing collaboration and basic office supplies.   
What is an incubator?
Incubators are typically industry-specific and provide a location for you to start your business with low overhead costs and a variety of other amenities. An incubator generally provides business mentoring, focusing on the development of strong business plans, financial management techniques, marketing strategies, networking activities, and funding opportunities. In addition, incubators provide a low-cost location with a variety of features ranging from conference rooms to answering services to laboratory research facilities.  
What is a co-working space?
Co-working spaces provide a physical location to independent workers, such as freelancers and virtual workers who desire a sense of community and collaboration. In addition, meeting space and networking opportunities are typically available, as well as basic business necessities such as Internet access, printing and faxing, and office supplies.  
Several incubators are located in Greenville:
Greenville SEED
Greenville, NC 27858
Provides a turn-key environment in which entrepreneurs can cultivate an idea/concept with minimal risk

The Technology Enterprise Center of Eastern Carolina
Pitt County Development Commission
111 S. Washington Street
Greenville, NC 27835
Fostering the development of technology-based businesses, the Technology Enterprise Center offers office, laboratory, and light manufacturing space to technology-based companies on a short-term lease basis

Art Avenue
212 E. Fifth Street
Greenville, NC 27858
Private studio and gallery art center and a small business arts incubator
Workforce Development
Region Q Workforce Development Board
The mission of the Region Q Workforce Development Board is to inform local area businesses of the many “No-Cost” services for new and existing businesses, and to promote continuous and purposeful communication with the local area WDB. Communications can be accomplished by e-mail, direct employer contact, US mail, telephone or fax. We are committed to helping business owners find answers to the difficult and challenging questions.
Region Q Workforce Development Board
Business Services

North Carolina Builder Institute
The North Carolina Builder Institute was developed by the North Carolina Home Builders Association to assist industry professionals stay on the cutting edge. NCBI seeks to enhance technical and professional knowledge in the areas of new technology, business strategies, marketing techniques, effective management, and changing consumer demands. To provide recognition for those who strive for continued growth and development in the home building industry; to provide continuing education and professional development programs that are both accessible and affordable to members. More than 50 courses are offered via nine different tracks to build an educational experience to meet specific needs.
North Carolina Home Builders Association
5580 Centerview Drive, Suite 415
Raleigh, NC 27606

North Carolina Department of Labor
The North Carolina Department of Labor provides free assistance to employers, especially those in smaller businesses, to help them reach their goal of achieving a safe and healthful workplace for their employees. Experienced and professional safety, industrial hygiene, and ergonomics consultants can help you identify safety and health hazards in your business or industry, advise you on how to reduce or eliminate those hazards, and assess your safety and health program. The goal is to help businesses meet current OSHA job safety and health regulations and develop an ongoing, effective safety and health management program. The Department of Labor provides employees with a confidential, comprehensive written report containing its findings and recommendations. The employer’s obligation in accepting these services is to correct all hazards identified by the consultant within a reasonable period.
Consultative Services Bureau
1101 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1101

North Carolina Department of Labor Apprenticeship and Training Bureau
Apprenticeship, by virtue of its success in preparing skilled workers, helps North Carolina compete more effectively in the global economy and contributes to the state’s economic development. Apprenticeship is a voluntary system of employee training. It combines on-the-job training with technical instruction. The program currently recognizes and provides training programs for more than 800 occupations. North Carolina’s apprenticeship program serves a diverse population, including women, minorities, youth, and dislocated workers. The Apprenticeship and Training Bureau provides free assistance to the apprentice and certifies the training program and newly trained graduate.
Apprenticeship and Training Bureau
1101 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1101
STRIVE is a nationally recognized workforce initiative committed to individual and community empowerment through employment. STRIVE believes that every individual deserves an opportunity to lead a fulfilling, self-sufficient life and that the key to achieving this is gainful employment and career advancement.
North Carolina STRIVE
600 W 3rd St, Greenville, NC 27834
Employer Requirements and Information
State Withholding Taxes
Certain taxes must be withheld from employee wages and remitted to the appropriate agency. These include state and federal income taxes and FICA (Social Security). The state of North Carolina requires that every new employer complete and file with the North Carolina Department of Revenue an application for a North Carolina withholding identification number.
To register with the state of North Carolina, you must complete an Application for Withholding Identification Number (Form NC-BR) and submit it to:
North Carolina Department of Revenue
PO Box 25000
Raleigh, NC 27640-0640

Unemployment Insurance Tax
Generally, a sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation is required to provide unemployment insurance coverage for its employees if the business has one or more employees for 20 or more weeks in a calendar year, or pays $1,500 in wages during a calendar quarter. You may also be liable for unemployment insurance tax if you acquire all or part of a business already subject to the Unemployment Insurance Tax. Employer contributions to the Unemployment Insurance Tax are paid to and administered by the North Carolina Employment Security Commission. To determine the extent of your obligation, contact your local Job Service Center or:
North Carolina Department of Commerce 
Division of Employment Security 
700 Wade Ave.
Raleigh, NC 27605

Workers’ Compensation
The Workers’ Compensation Act requires that any employer who employs three or more employees provide workers’ compensation coverage. The act provides employees with compensation for the loss of earning capacity from accidents, injuries, deaths, or occupational diseases arising in the course of employment. Any sole proprietor or partner of a business whose employees are eligible for benefits may also be covered as an employee. The proprietor or partner must be actively engaged in the operation of the business, and the insurer must be notified that he/she has elected to be included. For further information concerning workers’ compensation, contact:
North Carolina Industrial Commission
430 N. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC 27603

New Hire Reporting Guide
Federal and state law requires employers to report newly hired and rehired employees in North Carolina to the North Carolina State Directory of New Hires. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services website contains information about reporting new hires, including reporting online and other reporting options.
North Carolina Directory of New Hires
PO Box 90369
East Point, GA 30364-0369

Occupational Safety and Health Act of North Carolina
The North Carolina Department of Labor administers and implements the Occupational Safety and Health Act of North Carolina, which applies to most private employers in the state. OSHA safety and health standards protect workers from unsafe and unhealthy working conditions. The Labor Department offers free services that can help employers bring their businesses into full compliance with OSHA standards. For information regarding OSHA requirements, contact:
North Carolina Department of Labor
Occupational Safety and Health Division
1101 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1101

Federal Occupational Safety and Health Act
The U.S. Department of Labor administers and enforces the federal OSHA rules designed to protect workers from workplace hazards and ensure they go home healthy every day. Enforcement is a high priority at the federal level, and OSHA tracks the injury and illness records of about 80,000 workplaces in high-hazard industries to identify trends, pinpoint problems, and target inspections. For information regarding compliance with federal standards, contact:
U.S. Department of Labor – Raleigh Area Office
4407 Bland Road, Suite 210
Raleigh, NC 27609

Employment Eligibility Verification
The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 requires employers to verify employment eligibility of anyone hired after Nov. 6, 1986 by completing and retaining a one-page Employment Eligibility Form (Form I-9). This form must be presented for inspection to officers of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service or the U.S. Department of Labor upon request. The law does not require that Form I-9 be completed for:
1.     Persons hired before Nov. 7, 1986;
2.     Persons hired after Nov. 6, 1986, who left your employment before June 1, 1987;
3.     Persons you employ for domestic work in a private home on an intermittent or sporadic basis;
4.     Persons who provide labor to you who are employed by a contractor providing contract services (e.g. employee leasing); or
5.     Persons who are independent contractors.
A Handbook for Employers and Instructions for Completing Form I-9 (M-274) is available to download on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website. Additional information is available by calling the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services National Customer Service Center at 800.375.5283. This toll-free call center can connect you to live assistance in English and Spanish during office hours. The NCSC can answer most questions—although they cannot provide information about the status of your case over the telephone.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
301 Roycroft Drive
Durham, NC 27703

U.S. Department of Labor 
Raleigh District Office, Wage and Hour Division 
Somerset Bank Building 
4407 Bland Road, Suite 260
Raleigh, NC 27609

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Greenville  Area Office
301 N. Main Street
Greenville, NC 29601-9916
General information on equal employment
Financial Programs
City of Greenville Facade Grant Program
The City of Greenville’s Facade Grant Program helps businesses and property owners in the Center City Redevelopment area upgrade and improve their building’s exterior appearance.
Office of Economic Development 
201 W. Fifth Street 
Greenville, NC 27835

City of Greenville Small Business Plan Competition
The Small Business Plan Competition provides incentives to small business owners and other entrepreneurs to create or expand businesses within the Center City and the West Greenville Redevelopment Areas.
Office of Economic Development 
201 W. Fifth Street 
Greenville, NC 27835

Energy Improvement Loan Program
The Energy Division of the North Carolina Department of Administration, in conjunction with the Commerce Finance Center, administers this low-cost loan program. It provides funds for the implementation of eligible energy conservation/efficiency measures by industrial or commercial firms. The minimum loan amount is $100,000, with a maximum total loan indebtedness of $500,000 for a single business at any given time. Interest charged is between 3.75 percent and 5 percent, tied to average rates for 90-day Treasury bills.
Energy Improvement Loan Program
State Energy Office
1830-A Tillery Place
Raleigh, NC 27604

North Carolina Department of Commerce Tax Credit for Growing Businesses/Article 3J Tax Credits
In January 2007, the North Carolina General Assembly passed this tax credit program to replace the William S. Lee Quality Jobs and Expansion Act. This tax credit program provides three types of tax credits to eligible taxpayers that undertake certain activities in North Carolina. These activities include: the creation of jobs, investing in business property, or investing in real property. These credits may be used to offset up to 50 percent of the taxpayer’s state income and/or franchise tax liability, and unused credits may be carried forward for up to five years. (Note: These are general guidelines. Please contact the Department of Commerce for specific details.)

Technology Development Tax Credit
The Technology Development Tax Credit is a 1.25 – 3.25 percent tax credit allowed to small businesses and is determined by county tier and research expenses. Businesses with North Carolina university research expenses for the taxable year are allowed a tax credit of 20 percent of those expenses.

North Carolina Department of Commerce
301 N. Wilmington St.
Raleigh, NC 27601-1058

For specific details on these incentives, contact the NC Department of Commerce or NC Department of Revenue at:
North Carolina Department of Revenue
Corporate Tax Division
501 N. Wilmington St.
Raleigh, NC 27604

Work Opportunity Tax Credit/Welfare-to-Work Tax Credit
The Work Opportunity Tax Credit is a federal tax credit program available to all private-sector employers who hire new employees from nine “targeted” groups, which have historically experienced high rates of unemployment and have had difficulty in securing employment due to a variety of employment barriers. Due to the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006, this tax credit program now includes the Welfare-to-Work Tax Credit.
The consolidated WOTC for hiring most target group members can be as much as $2,400 for each new adult hire, $1,200 for each new summer youth hire, $4,800 for each new disabled veteran hire, and $9,000 for each new long-term TANF recipient hired over a two-year period. The exact amount of net savings depends upon each employer’s tax bracket plus the amount of qualified wages paid. Participation in the WOTC requires specific documentation from employers and certain retention periods from employees.
North Carolina Department of Commerce
Division of Employment Security
700 Wade Ave.
Raleigh, NC 27605
U.S. Department of Labor
Employment and Training Administration

Specific tax liability for each type of business is different. You should consult your attorney and accountant regarding comprehensive tax planning to fit your business activity.
Taxation for small businesses may be simple or complex, depending on the size and business structure. North Carolina state taxes include Sales and Use Tax, Withholding Taxes, Privilege License Tax, Unemployment Insurance Tax, Franchise and Income Tax, county and city property taxes, and federal taxes.
The Internal Revenue Service will assemble and forward a tax information kit that fits your particular business situation. The kit includes forms and publications that apply to federal taxes only. To obtain this information, contact the IRS at 800.829.4933  or through and request:
·         A Small Business Resource Guide CD (Publication 3207), or contact 800.829.3676
·         Tax Guide for Small Business (Publication 334)
·         Employer’s Tax Guide (Publication 15)
·         Understanding Your EIN (Publication 1635)
Federal Taxes
Internal Revenue Service
Taxpayer Assistance Center
4405 Bland Road
Raleigh, NC 27609
Provides face-to-face tax assistance, distributes forms, and assigns employer tax number.
North Carolina Department of Revenue
Taxpayer Service Center
4701 Atlantic Ave., Suite 118
Raleigh, NC 27604
Provides information, forms, and instructions for North Carolina state taxes. 
North Carolina Employment Security Commission
700 Wade Ave.
Raleigh, NC 27605
Provides unemployment insurance tax registration and information.

Pitt County Revenue Department
111 S. Washington St
Greenville, NC 27834
Assesses and bills property taxes for Pitt County and its municipalities

Franchising Alternatives
Buying a Business
When buying a business, you need to go through all of the stages of starting a new business. Although the previous owner will provide you with background information about the business, you must still take precautions.
When considering buying a business, follow these three steps:
1. Determine the size and type of business.
2. Find available opportunities.
3. Evaluate the opportunity.
Buying a franchise is another alternative to starting a new business. In a franchise, the franchisee (you) will pay to do business under the franchiser’s trademark. Starting a franchise may include marketing plans and management assistance in running the business.
The franchiser may have already dealt with some concerns, but you may have several other concerns:
1. Finding a franchise
2. Evaluating the franchise
3. Product and service
4. Investment requirements
5. Training and management assistance
6. Operations
Whether you are starting a new business, buying a business, or opening a franchise, the three stages of structuring a business are critical. Remember to evaluate your idea, develop a plan, and implement your plan. If these stages are completed successfully, then you will have a successful business.