Small businesses have been the backbone of the United States’ booming economy for a number of years. Most of them start with a dream, a lifelong ambition of an aspiring entrepreneur that wants to do something they are passionate about. This often turns into a small business.

North Carolina is certainly no stranger to small businesses and they make up a large proportion of the overall businesses in the state. North Carolina is known for its reputable universities, thriving professional community, and low cost of living.

The Tar Heel State is a great contributor to the U.S. economy. Over the past few years especially, North Carolina has been providing extra support for its small businesses in order for them to thrive and succeed, which has had a direct correlation with the state’s recent economic growth too.

Number of Small Businesses in North Carolina

So, how many small businesses are there in North Carolina? There are 964,280 small businesses in North Carolina, according to the latest figures (2021) from the SBA.

It is not just Americans and locals starting small businesses in North Carolina. The state is a rather large attraction for international entrepreneurs and foreign-born people. It is home to a number of immigrant entrepreneurs that have decided to call North Carolina their place of business.

There are 61,838 immigrant entrepreneurs in North Carolina that account for 12% of all self-employed North Carolina residents.

The following graph shows the number of small businesses in North Carolina in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021.

How many small businesses are there in North Carolina?

Of the 964,280 small businesses in North Carolina in 2021, there is a wide array of different enterprises from small, one-person sole proprietorships or LLCs to much larger businesses with several hundred employees. If you want to join the 964,000-plus small businesses in North Carolina, it is fairly easy to register a business in North Carolina.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the number of small businesses in North Carolina by looking at the top industries, small business owners, employees, and more!

Latest Small Businesses Statistics in North Carolina

  • Small businesses equate to over 99.6% of all businesses in the state.
  • There are 1.7 million small business employees in North Carolina, which is 45.1% of the states’ employees.
  • Small businesses employing 20 employees or fewer created the most job gains!
  • International trade in North Carolina is very strong and there are 11,015 small business exporters.
  • There are more professional scientific firm small businesses in North Carolina than any other type – 120,826.
  • Construction Firms make up the 2nd largest number of small businesses in North Carolina – 116,863.

North Carolina industries

How Many Small Businesses in North Carolina?

Over 964,000 is a huge amount of small businesses to be registered in a state. Compared to the rest of the U.S., the total number of small businesses in North Carolina is 2.96% of all U.S. businesses. There are 32.5 million small businesses in the U.S.

The number of small businesses in North Carolina has been growing over the past several years.

  • In 2018 there were 890,398 small businesses, which increased to 913,398 in 2019 (2.5% increase).
  • The number of small businesses in North Carolina in 2020 was 934,604. This was 21,206 more than the state had in 2019 (2.32% increase).
  • In 2021 the number of small businesses in North Carolina increased by 29,676 to 964,280 (3.17% increase).

North Carolina offers a tremendous amount of support to small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs from all over the world, due to an abundance of different pro-business factors, with the more notable being a competative and highly skilled labor market, low cost of living and cost of doing business and manageable taxation rates for businesses.

If you would like to download the latest 2021 Small Business Profile on North Carolina from the U.S. Small Business Administration, Office of Advocacy, the Profile can be downloaded here.