Business Builder Guide
Launching a business requires careful planning, significant commitment, and utilizing available expertise and support systems in Nebraska to translate your entrepreneurial aspirations into a rewarding reality. Thoughtfully evaluate your readiness, leverage free resources, and make a realistic commitment to set your business up for success. While complex, starting a sustainable business can be incredibly fulfilling with the right preparation.
Generating a new business idea requires creativity, research, and dedication. Start by identifying an unmet consumer need that your product or service could fulfill. You may also consider taking an established business in one market and introducing it in a new location. Exploring new franchise opportunities can reveal untapped demand too.
The most important step is to clearly define the problem your business will solve. Thoroughly research the competitive landscape to understand existing solutions. Reflect on how you can differentiate. Your idea must be viable, profitable, and better than alternatives. Seek advice from industry veterans throughout this process. With careful planning and execution, conceiving an exciting new business idea can pay off tremendously.
Is There a Need? What Problem is Being Solved?
Looking for unmet consumer needs and gaps in the marketplace can reveal promising new business opportunities. Carefully examine current businesses and people’s wants to identify prospects that fulfill a demand. This research into overlooked or underserved niches can spark ideas for new products, services, or business models that drive growth.
- How to Come Up with an Innovative Business Idea (Harvard Business School)
- Explore Franchise Opportunities in Nebraska (FranNet of The Heartland)
Where Do I Begin?
Starting a business necessitates extensive preparation. To begin, research the procedures and best practices for launching a new venture. To start a business, seek out mentors and consultants locally who can advise you throughout the business’s development. Ask for a Personal Action Plan or use The Resource Navigator® to connect with nearby experts and advisors who can guide your undertaking.
So, you have a business idea, found potential mentors, and completed your research. Now it’s time to prepare and take the next steps to turn your idea into reality! Follow these tips on researching, planning, networking, and more as you get ready to launch.
Complete Market Research
Before moving forward, it’s essential to understand your potential customers and competition. Completing thorough market research and analysis will provide invaluable insight.
Find Training and Education
Connecting with business and entrepreneurship training programs is a great way to build your skills and knowledge. Consider the following options:
- Events and Training (SourceLink Nebraska Events Calendar)
- Enlighten (Nebraska Business Development Center)
- Podcasts and Webinars
- Entrepreneurs Education Collaborative (EEC)
Build Your Support Network
Connect with other entrepreneurs through local networking groups. Join your local chamber of commerce to identify financial, legal, marketing, and other professionals that can support your business.
Share Your Idea
Sharing your idea is an important milestone, though you need a clear vision first. Consider developing a pitch tailored to your audience. Be ready to answer questions and build confidence in your business!
A well-crafted business plan is an essential document for entrepreneurs and business owners. It allows you to clearly illustrate your vision to potential investors, lenders, and partners.
Connecting with professional business consultants in your local community can guide you as you develop your business plan. Many organizations in Nebraska offer free consulting services to help entrepreneurs understand the local business landscape and make informed decisions. Leveraging consultants’ expertise will help you fully capitalize on your business opportunity.
SourceLink Nebraska can help connect you with local consultants with a Personal Action Plan or by searching the The Resource Navigator®. Taking advantage of these supportive services will help set your business up for success.
Draft Your Business Plan
Laying the groundwork for a successful business venture begins with a well-thought-out business plan. This essential document clearly defines your vision, objectives, and strategies. Though critical for startups, existing enterprises benefit equally from business plans to direct operations. The plan maps out your growth path, helping you anticipate risks and conquer hurdles. With a solid business plan guiding your efforts, you can build the framework to achieve your business goals.
- Business Plan Template (SCORE)
- Write Your Business Plan Guide (SBA)
- Calculate Startup Costs Guide (SBA)
At this point, it may be valuable for you to explore the formation of a team, find a co-founder, or outsource tasks as needed.
- 7 Tips for Making a Business Partnership Work (SCORE)
- The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Outsourcing Work (SCORE)
Brainstorm Business Names
Coming up with a memorable and meaningful business name should be your next step. Start the creative process by considering your location, core values, and the types of products or services you will offer. Brainstorm some initial ideas, then investigate their availability to avoid potential legal conflicts. Thorough research is crucial before settling on a name.
First, check whether the name is already registered by another company. The goal is to develop a distinctive, relevant name that secures your brand identity. With thoughtfulness and checking, you can craft a proper business name to launch your business.
- How to Name Your Business (SCORE)
Check with the Nebraska Secretary of State to see if the name you choose is available. While you’re on the Secretary of State website, spend some time browsing, as it contains an abundance of useful information (start with the Corporate and Business page).
Legitimizing your business is an important milestone to make certain that it is operating legally. By registering your l business name, deciding on your business structure, and acquiring your federal and state tax identifications, will help ensure that your business avoids potential legal concerns.
Structure Your Business
Each type of business entity type has advantages and disadvantages. The best practice is to speak with a corporate/business law attorney and certified public accountant (for tax considerations).
Register Your Business Entity
Once you have decided upon a business structure, you will need to obtain a federal tax identification number and a state tax identification number. These numbers recognize your business for tax purposes and for filing with the IRS. Please note that the process of obtaining these numbers may differ from state to state.
An Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number, is used to identify a business entity. Apply for an EIN online through the IRS. Learn more about federal business taxes from the IRS.
State of Nebraska
Check with the Nebraska Department of Revenue to register for a Nebraska Tax ID Number for sales tax, lodging tax, payroll tax, etc.
***Check with your county and city to see if registration is needed.
Obtain any professional/industry-specific state license(s) or certification(s) (if applicable)
The Nebraska License and Inspection Portal helps you identify if a license is needed for your business.
Research Labor Regulations, Laws, Unemployment Insurance, Registrations, and Programs
Finances and Recordkeeping
To get your business finances organized, start by creating a detailed budget to track income, expenses, and cash flow. Use accounting software, spreadsheets, or financial services to monitor your budget regularly. Also set up a filing system to keep all financial documents, both digital and paper, in one place for easy access. Finally, implement procedures to log transactions right away so your records are always up-to-date.
- 5 Steps to a Business Record-Keeping System that Works
- Record- Keeping for a Small Business (SBA)
- Record – Keeping (IRS)
Open a Business Bank Account
When opening a business bank account, you must bring the business registration documents, such as your Articles of Incorporation, business license, and other applicable business documents. This may also include the Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN).
Starting a business can require a significant amount of capital. One of the most common ways to attain capital is to apply for a business loan from a bank or other financial institution. Most Nebraska businesses are funded through individual equity investments combined with commercial or CDFI loans.
To understand different loan options that may be available to you, please request a Personal Action Plan to seek assistance.
Funding Startup Businesses
Understanding the type of business, startup or small business, you are building is important when considering funding options. A startup business is a new company that is in the first stage of operations. Startups are typically founded by one or more entrepreneurs who want to develop a product or service and bring it to market. In the early stages, startups generally have only a few employees and are working to validate their business model, attract initial customers and investors, and scale up operations.
Small businesses are typically independently owned firms with under 500 employees. But the stage of the business matters – startups may rely more on founders’ funds, accelerators, and angel investors, while small businesses access more traditional financing.
Here are some of the key differences between a startup and a small business:
- Growth – Startups are focused on rapid growth, while small businesses tend to have more modest growth goals. Startups want to scale quickly and have plans to scale across the nation and globe, while small businesses are usually content serving a local market.
- Funding – Startups tend to raise outside investment funding from investors like venture capitalists, while small businesses are mostly funded through individual equity investments combined with commercial or CDFI loans, or self-funded.
- Risk profile – Startups carry substantially more risk than small businesses. The failure rate for startups is quite high, while small businesses have more modest ambitions and lower risk.
- Business model – Startups aim to introduce innovative business models, products or services, while small businesses tend to have traditional business models serving an existing market.
- Exits – Successful startups aspire to high-value exits via IPO or acquisition, while small businesses focus on generating profit over the long term.
- Culture – Startup culture values speed, flexibility, innovation and disruption, while small business culture is slower-paced and risk-averse.
Before opening for business, you will need to find a location, secure insurance, and think through the logistics to operate your business.
Commercial Business Location
Securing your business location may include acquiring office, retail, or warehouse space. As a business owner, you should take into consideration aspects such as the amount of foot traffic, ease of access, available infrastructure, and utilities offered. Do not forget to reflect on the local economy and demographics to best serve your customers. Once you find a great location for your business, evaluate the cost of leasing or purchasing the property and fits within the perimeters of your business plan.
- Search The Resource Navigator® to find your local economic development organization.
- Pick Your Business Location (SBA)
- (LOIS) Available Sites & Buildings (Nebraska Department of Economic Development)
- Consider coworking, shared workspace, or co-warehousing.
- Not Ready for Commercial Office Space? Coworking Might Be for You (SCORE)
Appropriate planning involves the cost of buildout or renovation necessary. Importantly, identify a licensed contractor to acquire the appropriate building permits for your buildout or renovation. Last but not least, make sure you understand your local zoning laws and regulations.
Acquiring business insurance ensures that the business is protected from unexpected issues. You must have the proper coverage to protect your business and its assets, such as property, general liability, professional liability, workers compensation, auto, and so forth. Setting aside time to investigate the different coverage options and find an insurance agent can make certain that your business is protected.
Hire and Train Employees
Recruiting employees is one of the top expressed needs of Nebraska employers. However, by capitalizing on Nebraska’s workforce development organizations, you can attract candidates to join your team. In Nebraska, contact your local American Job Center (AJC) or Nebraska Department of Labor (NDOL) office for all your workforce-related needs. Business Services Representative are available to help you build your team and support other business needs.
Labor Laws and Workforce Programming
- Nebraska Department of Labor
- American Job Center – Heartland Workforce Solutions – Douglas, Sarpy, & Washington Counties
- American Job Center – Lancaster and Saunders Counties
- Hire and Manage Employees (SBA)
- Understanding Employee vs. Contractor Designation (IRS)
Procure Suppliers and Service Providers
Research and dependable vendors that provide the products and services your business will need. Do not forget to have a written contract prepared defining your business relationship, requirements, and expectations.
Marketing is a critical part of managing a successful business. Having a comprehensive marketing strategy can drive sales. With the proper strategies, business owners can increase visibility, reach customers, and grow their businesses.
Create a Marketing Plan
To achieve your business goals, begin creating a marketing plan. Implementing the right strategy allows for the effective establishment of your brand.
- Marketing and Sales (SBA)
- Business Events and Classes (SourceLink Nebraska Events Calendar)
- Enlighten – Marketing and Market Research – enroll here
Activate Your business Website and Social Media Accounts
- Grow Nebraska Foundation
- How to Build and Expand Your Online Presence (SCORE)
- How Entrepreneurs Can Make the Most of Social Media (Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute)
- How to Harness the Power of Social Media Without Spending Money (NBDC)
- 12 Reasons Why Small Businesses Need a Website (SCORE)