New Business Resource Center

We know starting a new business can be challenging and daunting. You've got the idea down, but where to begin? Now, you don't have to. The Carrboro New Business Resource Center outlines the basics of starting a new business in 10 steps. Additionally, we provide access to great resources, many of which are free! The biggest mistake you can make is trying to start a business on your own. Let us and our partners help ensure you lay the foundations for a solid and successful small business. Schedule an appointment or contact us at any time if you have questions or would like a staff member to review your progress with you.

Entrepreneurship & Small Business Guidance and Training

When considering starting a new business, the Town strongly encourages you to seek out assistance either through the North Carolina SBTDC or the Small Business Center Network. Assistance from both of these agencies is free, provides you with a personal consultant, and can provide assistance with market research, developing your business plan, and finding financing sources. These Agencies also provide a series of free online and in-person training.

Taking a start-up or entrepreneurship course is also strongly encouraged. The Town may offer such in-person courses at various times throughout the year -- contact us to see when the next one will be. Alternatively, you can take a free, online, self-paced course such as FastTrac offered through the Kauffman Foundation or The Ice House Entrepreneurial Program (free with a Library Card) anytime.

  1. Start-up Roadmap
  2. Planning Resources
  3. Launch Resources
  1. Conduct Market Research

    It's easy to get excited about your business idea, but it's important to make sure the market can support your business. Market research will tell you if there’s an opportunity to turn your idea into a successful business. It’s a way to gather information about potential customers and businesses already operating in your area. Use that information to find a competitive advantage for your business. Talk to business owners in neighboring communities with similar businesses about your idea and seek out their thoughts. Many times, they will be more than happy to talk to or even mentor you. Resources are available in the Planning Resources tab.

  2. Write Your Business Plan and Model

    Your business plan and business model are the foundation of your business. It’s a roadmap for how to structure, run, and grow your new business. You’ll use it to help explain your business and how it will make money to banks, investors, and others working with you in the next step. We recommend you start with a Business Model Canvas exercise before beginning the writing of your business plan (see Planning Resources tab).

    PITFALL WARNING: Avoid the temptation to move through this step too quickly! Complete a business model and basic plan, seek input from potential customers, mentors, investors, and other business owners about your products and business, tweak your model and plan two to four weeks later based on the input, and repeat until you feel confident in your success from the feedback you are getting.

  3. Fund Your Business

    Your business plan will help you figure out how much money you’ll need to start your business. Once you know how much startup funding you’ll need, it’s time to figure out how you’ll get it. Fund your business yourself with self-funding, through investors with venture capital, through crowdfunding from a large number of people in your community, or through a small business or SBA loan (see Launch Resources tab).

    PITFALL WARNING: Inadequate financial preparation and under-resourcing your business is a common cause of failure for small businesses. Pricing your products or services correctly and guarding your cashflow are deciding factors for many new businesses. Thoroughly review and compare your revenue and price projections based on your competition, and double check and even overestimate your start-up costs projections. As an entrepreneur, it's important to have a team of expert and advisors surround and help you - use them during this step to ensure you have a solid financial foundation.

  4. Pick Your Business Location

    Your business location is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. Whether you’re setting up a brick-and-mortar business or launching an online store, the choices you make could affect your taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Try to prioritize your potential locations in the event one location will not work. You should always check with the Carrboro Planning Department (919-918-7324) to confirm that you can operate your business at a specific location.

  5. Choose a Business Structure

    The legal structure you choose for your business will impact your business registration requirements, how much you pay in taxes, and your personal liability. The Small Business Administration (SBA) provides a summary of various different types of business structures. We strongly encourage you to consult an accountant or attorney to help you identify the best structure for your business.

  6. Choose Your Business Name

    It’s not easy to pick the perfect name. You’ll want one that reflects your brand and captures your spirit. You’ll also want to make sure your business name isn’t already being used by someone else. The NC Secretary of State can help you find out if your name can be used in North Carolina. You may also want to check the US Patent and Trademark Office Database to make sure they is not a conflict with another business in the US.

  7. Get Federal and State Tax IDs

    You’ll use your employer identification number (EIN) for important steps to start and grow your business, like opening a bank account, paying taxes and registering your business. It’s like a social security number for your business. You can register for your EIN and NC Tax ID Number with the NC Secretary of State.

  8. Register Your Business

    Once you’ve picked the perfect business name and your EIN, it’s time to make it legal and protect your brand. If you’re doing business under a name different than your own, you’ll need to register with the  state government. You can register your business with the NC Secretary of State. You may also want to file a trademark with the US Patent and Trademark Office to protect your business name (this is not required, however).

  9. Apply for Licenses and Permits

    Keep your business running smoothly by staying legally compliant. The licenses and permits you need for your business will vary by industry, state, location, and other factors. Generally, you should check with Business Link North Carolina (800-228-8443), Carrboro Inspections Division (919-918-7336), Orange County Health Department (919-245-2360), and Carrboro Finance Department (919-918-7300) (if you are serving alcohol) to see if there are any permits or licenses you may need.

  10. Open a Business Bank Account and Get Insurance

    A small business checking account can help you handle legal, tax, and day-to-day issues. The good news is it’s easy to set one up if you have the right registrations and paperwork ready. Business insurance protects you from the unexpected costs of running a business. Accidents, natural disasters, and lawsuits could run you out of business if you’re not protected with the right insurance.

You can also find other resources for Minority, Women, Native American, Veteran, and LGBT business owners from the SBA. Don't forget to contact The Chamber For a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro and the Carrboro Business Alliance for additional opportunities to get connected to the local business community. Lastly, make sure the Carrboro Economic Development Department has your contact information so you can be updated on the latest news and information related to Carrboro businesses.

Additional Resources

We understand that it is important to have your personal responsibilities in order before starting a new business. Below you can find a list of various resources that you may be able to take advantage of to help ensure stability in your personal life as you embark on the new adventure of starting your own business.

  1. Housing
  2. Transportation
  3. Food Security
  4. Financial and Legal

The Town's Department of Housing and Community Services provides an extensive list of resources ranging from home repairs, to financial assistance, to homeownership. You can find these resources at the link below.

Community Housing Resources