18+ Unique Business Ideas To Start In North Carolina

Updated: May 13th, 2021

Looking to start a business in North Carolina?

Well, you're in luck!

North Carolina is known to be one of the most ideal cities to start a small business in.

We've identified 18+ profitable small business ideas you can started in North Carolina today.

Here they are:

Pepper sauce. ($2.25K/mo)

Mustafa started Trini Pepper Sauce, a pepper sauce. business. They are now doing $2,250/month.

  • Location: Raleigh
  • Revenue: $2,250/ month
  • Started: over 10 years ago
  • Founders: 3
  • Employees: 3

Case Study

My family is from the islands of Trinidad and Tobago, home to a distinct and exotic cuisine.

We launched a Kickstarter campaign that successfully raised over 32K, surpassing our 25K goal.

Served alongside these foods is a pepper sauce unique to every Trinidadian and Tobagonian family. My family’s pepper sauce recipe has been passed down five generations.


Exterior remodelling services ($350K/mo)

Clifton Muckenfuss started Carolina Exteriors, a Exterior Remodelling Services business. They are now doing $350,000/month.

  • Location: Apex, North Carolina, USA
  • Revenue: $350,000/ month
  • Started: over 13 years ago
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 10

Case Study

The founders are childhood best friends from small-town America (South Carolina). We took different paths after college and approximately 9 years later, reunited in North Carolina. I (Clifton) was recruited from Florida to work for a Mortgage Company in Raleigh, NC and Wesley was already established here (Raleigh) working for a major building materials manufacturer (James Hardie). After the housing crisis, the Mortgage Company went bankrupt and I (Clifton) found myself without a job. I then founded a Residential/Commercial/Cleaning Company (still in operations today, Managed by my wife, Mary Ann) and grew that business from $0 - $500K rapidly.

Surround yourself with POSITIVE people.

Then, Wes and I were talking about the possibility of starting a siding/exterior remodeling company since most of the contractors were retreating after the recession and the ones that remained, didn’t focus on the customer, but rather, only on the transaction.


Profitable real estate investments ($500K/mo)

T. Cory Lewis started T. C. Lewis & Co. Real Estate, a Profitable Real Estate Investments business. They are now doing $500,000/month.

  • Location: North Carolina, USA
  • Revenue: $500,000/ month
  • Started: over 18 years ago
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 36

Case Study

I’m from a very small town in the Appalachians called Sylva, North Carolina. If you’re not familiar with that region, it’s a very diverse area. Sylva is in the north end of Jackson County, and Cashiers (and neighboring Highlands) are in the south end. Sylva is blue-collar, and a factory-type (now tourist) town and Cashiers/Highlands is a spot where some of the wealthiest people in the world have vacation homes and are all members of one of the ultra-exclusive private clubs.

Growing up, I worked at my family’s convenience store. I saw a lot of the folks headed through to Cashiers and Highlands up from Atlanta for the weekend, and a big portion of them seemed to be making their money in real estate. Some were making money buying the mountain land around my town at a low price from local farmers who had no use for the steep mountains, developing a portion of the top, and then selling it off for astronomical amounts of money to other rich people. I was amazed by that. And I couldn’t understand why no one locally had tried this himself.

I come from a fairly long line of entrepreneurs on both sides of my parent’s families. My great-grandfather on my dad’s side quit school after the fifth grade, and then he went on and started a convenience store business that I still help operate 85 years later as it has passed down to my grandfather, my dad, and now myself and my brother. And my grandfather on my mom’s side owned a heavy civil construction company building large-scale projects like interstates throughout the mid-1900s. My uncles and cousins still operate a part of that business, too.


Custom app development services ($100K/mo)

Michael Georgiou started Imaginovation, a custom app development services business. They are now doing $100,000/month.

  • Location: Cary, North Carolina, USA
  • Revenue: $100,000/ month
  • Started: over 12 years ago
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 35

Case Study

So, it all started back in 2011. I had finished my Master's degree in Australia and came back to the US. The Great Recession of 2008 had just ended, but I didn't have a job as the economy was in bad shape, and the market was not good. At the same time, Pete was struggling as well in regards to working two full-time jobs, 16-18 hours a day. Pete was working at SAS and had realized that he wanted to do something bigger, build something of his own.

Pete and I met through one of our mutual friends but little did we know that we will become such great friends and business partners.

One day Pete called me very randomly and asked if I want to start a company. "Wait. What?" I was both excited and confused. I always had a dream of starting my own business and put my marketing knowledge to work. But, both of us didn't have any experience in building a business initially.


Roof access device ($65K/mo)

Zachary Brown started Moki Doorstep, a Roof Access Device business. They are now doing $65,000/month.

  • Location: Newington, New Hampshire, USA
  • Revenue: $65,000/ month
  • Started: over 6 years ago
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 1

Case Study

My wife and I have always been travelers and the adventurous type. One thing always held my wife up from getting after the powder on a bluebird day on her own. Because of her height, she struggles to use car top racks. Come to find out, she wasn't alone.

Knowing when to launch and other key factors will help you not only reach your goal faster, you'll end up on the front pages of Kickstarter as well as crowdfunding tracker sites.

Depending on the vehicle and type of rack, I often struggle as well. Using my background as a firefighter I knew the anatomy of vehicles. This helped me formulate the design and placement of the Moki Doorstep.


Custom socks ($1M/mo)

Dane Jensen started Sock Club, a custom socks business. They are now doing $1,000,000/month.

  • Location: Austin, Texas, USA
  • Revenue: $1,000,000/ month
  • Started: almost 13 years ago
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 38

Case Study

I was living in Austin, TX running and biking around being a twenty-something-year-old working as a web developer. At the time when I started Sock Club, I had a few failed startups under my belt. I built Camm Security Inc., a cloud camera company, and GitHire, a software developer recruiting service, with co-founder Rhett Creighton. So, I had acquired some software development skills and some sense of what’s important in starting a company.

I built the website for Sock Club over a weekend in kind of a flash of inspiration.

Birchbox had been a big subscription success and I thought that socks were an item I wouldn’t mind receiving monthly and having more of. After I built the website,I kind of forgot about it for six months.


Pimple popping simulator ($53.7K/mo)

Summer Pierce started Unique Obsessions, LLC, a Pimple Popping Simulator business. They are now doing $53,675/month.

  • Location: Florida, USA
  • Revenue: $53,675/ month
  • Started: about 6 years ago
  • Founders: 4
  • Employees: 4

Case Study

The idea came to me while my husband Billy and I were driving. As we were driving down the I75 on our way back from seeing a sick relative, we were bouncing different business ideas off of one another like we’d done many many times in the past. When all of a sudden I said to Billy what if we could make a pimple that actually popped like a real pimple? Just like the video’s we watch on YouTube?

Following our first viral video, we did over 100k in 8 days! At this time and up until December 2018 we have been making them by hand! We hand built over 10k POP IT PALS in that year!

Billy instantly looked at me and said I think I can make that! I immediately searched all over the internet to see if there was anything like this that existed. I couldn’t find anything at all. That’s when I grabbed a pen and paper and we started thinking what it would look like, what could we make the pimple pus out of, what to name the product & our business.


State-inspired apparel ($93K/mo)

Brian Wysong started Tumbleweed TexStyles, a State-inspired apparel business. They are now doing $93,000/month.

  • Location: Frisco, Texas, USA
  • Revenue: $93,000/ month
  • Started: over 12 years ago
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 2

Case Study

Growing up, in Fort Worth, Texas, I have always had a passion for business, sales and fashion.

I loved getting the latest pair of shoes and making sure my outfit was top notch going to school. I also loved the idea of selling my ideas and trying to negotiate deals with my parents or friends. My childhood buddies would agree that I was a sweet talker, hard worker, highly competitive and a very disciplined person in life, athletics and work.

No one is really prepared to own a business. I had a marketing degree with work experience in the field of business and marketing. I was even a teacher of the subject matter. Those things helped me get started, but the day-to-day experiences and the process of trial and error has really been the true tale of our success.


The most authentic exercise app ($0/mo)

Stephen Bilko started Exercise Simple, a The Most Authentic Exercise App business. They are now doing $0/month.

  • Location: Ashburn, Virginia, USA
  • Revenue: $0/ month
  • Started: almost 6 years ago
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 1

Case Study

I’ve been a teacher and coach since 2005. I was actually a high school English teacher and basketball coach, in my younger years; before I became a trainer and entrepreneur. I’ve worked with thousands of people, from every corner of the earth. Most of us, want to be healthy. Most of us, are kinda lazy though too. And so I just always knew we needed to build something that appealed to that market -- folks who internally really do care about their health, but have been failed by the traditional institutions. Most of us don’t like going to a gym, don’t have time to go to a gym, or don’t have the means to have a gym membership .. and I was adamant on building a tool to help people.

I was reading the Steve Jobs’ biography in 2012 and his insistence on simplicity; in design, in UX, in well, everything. It’s the maxim attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” … and that was a lightbulb moment for this.

So much of the traditional methods rely on going somewhere to exercise, or buying workouts with super fit people in them, or clicking through page after page after page of in-app workouts. My wife walked into our office, and I remember saying to her, “it is exercise, simple -- that’s how we help people!”


Visitor guide maps ($10K/mo)

Tom Shott started Front Desk USA, a Visitor guide maps business. They are now doing $10,000/month.

  • Location: North Wroughton, England, United Kingdom
  • Revenue: $10,000/ month
  • Started: over 25 years ago
  • Founders: 3
  • Employees: 9

Case Study

I come from the publishing business starting 20 years ago.

I started publishing homeowner association newsletters in the 1990s. From there I discovered a franchise called “Coffee News”. Coffee News is a restaurant distributed newsletter printed on tan colored paper in black print. It is distributed weekly to restaurants.

If you believe in your idea and yourself, go for it. Figure out how to make it work. Start as a side hustle and grow your idea. It has never been a better time to start your own business or build a billion dollar brand.


Short term luggage storage ($2K/mo)

Sangeetha started Cubby Inc, a Short Term Luggage Storage business. They are now doing $2,000/month.

  • Location: Dallas, TX, USA
  • Revenue: $2,000/ month
  • Started: almost 5 years ago
  • Founders: 4
  • Employees: 1

Case Study

Have you ever looked at you’re vacation pictures and wondered if you could get rid of the bags or luggage photobombing the otherwise perfect vacation photograph? That’s our eureka moment! As a mom of five-year-old, I'm constantly clicking pictures of my son to keep up with him growing up so fast. After one of our vacations, I was trying to find the perfect picture to design for a keepsake. It didn’t exist.

Imagine my horror when I went back in time and still couldn’t find a picture without luggage. They were mostly ruined by either the stroller lurking around or the luggage staring back at us. Our sentiments were shared by our friends and we decided to do something about it. It got us thinking about how it could be changed. It then dawned on us that we had to lug around all our luggage because of the unavailability of lockers to store them when we didn’t need them.

Digging more into it, we soon realized that, lugging due to lack of convenient storage lockers were a huge problem and resonated with vacation rental guests, hotel guests, long layover air passengers, event attendees, etc,.This meant there’s definitely a need for a luggage storage solution. It must be simple, convenient and also affordable. Cubby was designed to keep these key factors and most importantly the safety of the bags.


Car audio products ($1M/mo)

Johnathan Price started Down4SoundShop.Com , a Car Audio Products business. They are now doing $1,000,000/month.

  • Location: Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
  • Revenue: $1,000,000/ month
  • Started: about 8 years ago
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 5

Case Study

I’ve always been into car audio since I was 13-14. The older I got, the more obsessed with it I became. The very first system I had was 2 -12s on a 900-watt amp. Now the system in my Tahoe that’s known all across the world has over 78 speakers and 100,000 watts!

The bigger my system would get over the years, the more crazy reactions I would get from it every time I took it to car shows. The more it impressed people the more they started asking “Man where do you get your equipment from?”. Then one day, the light bulb went off in my head! I COULD BE SELLING THESE PEOPLE THIS STUFF! And from there the idea of down4sound was born! But, it was just an idea! I had no idea how to start a business, run a business… or anything about business really. I thought maybe I could figure it out but that was about it. All I could do is give it my best!

At the time I was pumping gas at an airport in the city of Greenville, Making I think $12 an hour and was super broke. I pretty much lived paycheck to paycheck even while living with my parents. It’s where I was born and raised. I did that full time while I cut grass on the side for some extra cash. My dad taught me how to cut the grass when I was younger as a way to make money to buy toys/candy or whatever else I wanted at that age. I kept cutting grass up until the time I decided to move to Las Vegas where I now don’t need to and also don’t have time to.


Conversion-focused shopify websites ($30K/mo)

Leighton Taylor started Envision, a Conversion-Focused Shopify Websites business. They are now doing $30,000/month.

  • Location: Charleston, South Carolina, USA
  • Revenue: $30,000/ month
  • Started: over 11 years ago
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 2

Case Study

As a kid, I loved to read, and I used to bring home stacks of books from the library every few weeks. One day I checked out a book about HTML and how to code your own websites, and I became fascinated with the idea of building something myself that other people could see online. I built my first (horrible) website and was hooked.

I’ve always wanted to start my own business, and the idea of working a 9-5 office job for someone else was never something that felt right to me. In college, I began picking up freelance graphic design jobs, but this never turned into a full-time business.

My wife and I got married and moved to China to teach English for 2 years, and I continued doing a few small freelance gigs on the side while teaching. When we came back to the States, I decided to try to freelance full-time. Within 3 months I had established a solid client base and was earning enough income to consider it a “real” job.


Hatchet experience ($80K/mo)

Stuart and Kelly Josberger/Trish and Mark Oliphant started Stumpy’s Hatchet House, a hatchet experience business. They are now doing $80,000/month.

  • Location: Eatontown, New Jersey, USA
  • Revenue: $80,000/ month
  • Started: ago
  • Founders: 4
  • Employees: 5

Case Study

My husband and I, along with their friends Mark & Trish Oliphant had a casual backyard barbecue one night after a sail on the Barnegat Bay. Chopping wood for a chiminea fire led to the creation of an impromptu game of throwing the axe to a makeshift bullseye on a stump from a tree that came down during Superstorm Sandy.

The game evolved to a more sophisticated target of 2 x 6′ timbers on a tripod stand in the backyard. Soon, the four of us realized this game had potential and decided to take it indoors, recreating the fun and bonding over food, drinks, and some hatchet throwing. We wanted our business to provide more than just a place to play a game. Stumpy’s “social throwdown” allows friends to get together to create memories by doing something slightly out of their comfort zone in a beautiful, rustic environment.

Starting a business was something that the four of us often talked about when spending time together for our “next career”. Mark, a retired union carpenter, was raring to go. His wife Trish had been working for Ralph Lauren in the men’s wholesale division, while I was 3 years from retiring from the school system as an elementary school principal. My husband, Stuart, was also eager to have a successful side business, but at the time none of us had thought this business idea would evolve into a major recreation industry. After the business was up and running for several months, Trish, Stu, and I were able to join Mark in retirement from our “day jobs”. The four of us used our diversified backgrounds set out to go “all in” with our goal to be the #1 name in indoor recreation for adults.


Roll on rash guard. ($8.5K/mo)

Michael Vahey started Beach Gladiator, a Roll on rash guard. business. They are now doing $8,500/month.

  • Location: Virginia, USA
  • Revenue: $8,500/ month
  • Started: almost 9 years ago
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 4

Case Study

When we were kids, we both would vacation with our families at the beach. And we both suffered from the same issue: chafing.

When we would run around the beach all day in wet shorts, we would develop a rash between the legs. It would be bad enough to cause the “cowboy walk”. This is a walk that looks silly because you are trying to hold your legs apart. The chafing (I used to call it the rub-raw) would be severe enough to last for days and put a stop to most activity for those days. There wasn’t a cure for it. We tried Vaseline and other things, but it only provided temporary relief.

The coolest thing about beach Gladiator is that it was started by just the 2 of us and we still have control over what we want the brand to be. The greatest influence on the product was and continues to be our kids, who were our first customers.


Luxury weighted blankets ($416K/mo)

Elizabeth Grojean started Baloo Living, a Luxury Weighted Blankets business. They are now doing $416,000/month.

  • Location: Austin, Texas, USA
  • Revenue: $416,000/ month
  • Started: over 6 years ago
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 5

Case Study

In 2017 I quit my job in marketing and publishing in New York City and booked a one-way flight to Bali. I was completely burned out and confused about the direction of my life. I’d been working so hard, yet felt unfulfilled. In the process of leaving every familiar security behind, I came to understand that I’d been looking for wholeness through external validation. In the first weeks without a title, company, or convenient identity, I felt completely naked. Over the course of weeks that then became months, I softened my external cover and started to discover what life could be like when there’s nothing to prove, nothing to justify, and no one to impress; the experience of being enough, satisfied and happy, just because, was the greatest and most beautiful discovery!

I came back to New York City feeling so good and got smacked in the face with reverse culture shock. I tried to go back to life as I’d known it, but I had changed so much, I could never go back to working in an office for someone else. I’d spent almost all of my savings and had just a few thousand dollars left, but made the difficult decision to choose the path of uncertainty and risk, and go back to Bali with no income, with the intention of launching a business that I could run remotely and independently. In Bali, I met so many people running businesses while traveling, and I knew the secret to learning was to be surrounded by a community of kind people who could teach me.

Back in Bali, I quickly went through an online course to launch a brand through Amazon FBA. Through product research, I discovered weighted blankets, and less than a week later, booked a flight to visit with suppliers and pick up samples. The moment I tried my sample weighted blanket for the first time, everything changed--I fell in love with the surprising, deeply relaxing sensation that crept in. At that moment, this business went from a project to a passion; the miracle of our bodies to self regulate and heal when given a nurturing environment is amazing to me.


Helps brands on amazon gain the unfair advantage to secure that page 1 spot ($100K/mo)

Nick and Angelica started Romans Tide, a Helps brands on Amazon Gain the Unfair Advantage to secure that Page 1 spot business. They are now doing $100,000/month.

  • Location: Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA
  • Revenue: $100,000/ month
  • Started: almost 9 years ago
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 5

Case Study

Outsource everything. The classic entrepreneur’s mistake is to try and do everything yourself. When I look back on it I definitely had the funds to outsource more and bootstrap less.

If it wasn't for that struggle I would have never made it to where I am today. I was forced into entrepreneurship because I was not someone people could hire. I always got along with people at interviews and people liked me but I was not hireable due to the mistakes I made in the past surrounding my issues with drugs and alcohol as a teenager.

Embrace the struggle. Good times can make you soft. I appreciate my life now and keep an attitude of gratitude but I never forget where I came from. I never forget not knowing where my next meal would come from or not knowing where I was going to sleep at night. Believe it or not, I have had worse times and been worse places than being homeless but I won't go there here

I got my GED at 16 so I didn’t even finish high school, before starting my business I did take some college classes at a local community college. I wanted to become a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine and attend Bastyr University.

I loved learning things but always struggled with the long road of school which held no guarantee of success, just a guarantee of debt.

My journey into entrepreneurship started as an early teenager hustling here and there just to put food in my mouth and fuel in the gas tank. My first real business was a landscaping business I started with a friend that didn't work out. We thought it would be a good idea because he had the work and I had the business mindset of growing and scaling. The opportunity was there but we did not collaborate well. Even with my guidance he did not want to change his habits. This led to us butting heads, ending our business, tainting our friendship, and me $20,000 in debt. After that had failed me I came across a program that taught people how to dropship on eBay for $20 a month. I really liked the idea of this as it gave me the opportunity to work from anywhere and be my own boss which are two things I really wanted. After a few months of hard work, things went well and I paid $500 for the selling on Amazon training. I literally had no idea what I was doing when my Amazon business took off. In a sense, Amazon was my crash course in business. It taught me how to hire and manage employees, how to set up payroll, how to outsource, how to do accounting, how to leverage credit and financing, how to market, how to do advertising. It taught me everything I know about business in the harshest way possible lol


Modern office furniture ($500K/mo)

Greg Hayes started Branch Furniture, a Modern office furniture business. They are now doing $500,000/month.

  • Location: New York, New York, USA
  • Revenue: $500,000/ month
  • Started: over 5 years ago
  • Founders: 3
  • Employees: 20

Case Study

My co-founders and I have no background in office furniture. This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise: it’s common that great solutions come from people with no preconceptions about how to solve a problem in the first place. What we do have is plenty of personal experience with the problem itself.

In my case, I spent the first five years of my career in institutional commercial real estate. I loved my job and the team I worked with, and I truly thought I would spend my entire career working for the same fund. But as luck would have it, life came knocking: my girlfriend (now wife) Taylre moved to New York City for work, and it wasn’t long before I followed suit. The change of scenery prompted me to think about a change of career for the first time. It wasn’t long before I was interviewing with startups and companies in the proptech world, eventually landing at a fast-growing company called Breather that built and operated flexible office space for growing companies. It was at Breather that the pains of procuring office furniture presented themselves to me for the first time.

Breather was growing at an incredible pace; they had identified needs in two large markets within the world of commercial real estate (short-term meeting spaces and flexible office spaces), and both investors and customers were throwing money at them, fueling breakneck growth. In the two years, I spent at Breather their portfolio of spaces grew from less than 150 to over 500 units. As you can imagine, that meant Breather was buying a lot of office furniture, and they were being plagued by a problem that had faced enumerable companies before them: they wanted beautiful, high-quality furniture for the spaces, but the cost of buying it was beyond justification.


meet the author
Pat Walls

I'm Pat Walls and I created Starter Story - a website dedicated to helping people start businesses. We interview entrepreneurs from around the world about how they started and grew their businesses.