Step 4: Create Your Business's Legal Structure

There are five basic business structures: sole proprietorships, general partnerships, corporations, limited liability company (LLC) and S-corporations. Read more about them and get the forms mentioned below from Business Link North Carolina, at

  • A sole proprietorship is basically an extension of its owner’s personal finances, so starting one does not require filing any paperwork.
  • Starting a general partnership requires a partnership agreement. The agreement should be in writing, and each partner should have a copy. This document does not need to be filed with a government agency.
  • To start a corporation (C-corporation), file Articles of Incorporation.
  • To start a limited liability company, file Articles of Organization.
  • An S-corporation is created as a C-corporation, and then converted into an S-corporation using IRS Form 2553, Election by a Small Business Corporation.

File these forms with the Business Registration Division of the NC Department of the Secretary of State, at They can also be reached by phone at (919) 814-5400.