Starting a business is a worthwhile experience, however, this is a major commitment and will be a challenge. Understanding the proper steps to take can save you time and money. Nebraska has many resources available to help entrepreneurs and business owners realize their dreams. This guide will support the learning process in that journey.
Please note that these are basic steps to consider. It is always best to consult a professional and ensure that you do not miss anything. There are many organizations in Nebraska that provide no-cost consultation services. SourceLink Nebraska can assist you in locating consultants in your community by requesting a Personal Action Plan, or by searching The Resource Navigator®
The Startup Checklist
100 bullet points from Jason Calacanis and the team at LAUNCH that will help get your startup off the ground.
Step 1 - Ideate
Step 1 - Ideate
Conceiving a business idea is an exciting process that takes dedication and research.
Is there a need? What problem is being solved?
Identifying industry gaps, pain points, and unserved niches can be a great way to discover novel prospects for business growth and innovation. To recognize these opportunities, investigate consumer needs as well as current products or services.
- How to Come Up with an Innovative Business Idea (Harvard Business School)
- Explore Franchise Opportunities in Nebraska (FranNet of The Heartland)
- Franchise Ownership Resources for Veterans (VetFran)
Where do I begin?
Starting a business requires a lot of planning. Begin by learning about the steps and practices for starting a business.
- Starting a Business in 10 Easy Steps (SBA)
- Steve Blank Innovation and Entrepreneurship(Steve Blank’s Website)
It is crucial that you identify mentors and business consultants in your community that provide support at all stages of the business lifecycle. Request a Personal Action Plan or search The Resource Navigator® to find resources and business mentors or consultants near you.
Step 2 - Prepare
Step 2 - Prepare
Now that you have a business idea, found potential mentors, and began researching processes, it is time to prepare. The steps below illustrate some basic ideas and principles during the preparation stage. Consider requesting a Personal Action Plan from SourceLink Nebraska or search The Resource Navigator® to find resources to support you while you prepare to build your business.
Research the market.
Completing market research and evaluating current trends is essential for all businesses. Understanding what your customers need, as well as market competition promotes making sound decisions.
Leverage educational resources.
If you are starting a business, connecting to educational resources will aid in becoming familiar with the fundamentals of operating a business. There are several organizations in Nebraska that provided training options for new and existing business owners. Also, several community colleges and university programs have entrepreneurship centers available for support.
- Networking Events and Training (SourceLink Nebraska Events Calendar)
- Enlighten (Nebraska Business Development Center)
- Podcasts and Webinars
- Entrepreneurs Education Collaborative (EEC)
Build your support network.
Frequenting entrepreneurship and business groups such as 1 Million Cups, Perk Up Thursday, and Startup Grind produce opportunities for you to connect with other entrepreneurs and business owners, but most importantly, learn from others. Research what is offered in your community and strategically build your network. Additionally, remember to place a team around you that consists of financial advisors, legal professionals, accountants, and marketing specialists.
Share your idea.
Communicating your business idea is an important milestone in the business cycle, whether you are starting a new business or expanding. However, you must have a vision for your business to present it in an organized manner.
Consider designing a presentation that covers the business concept while distinguishing the audience you will be presenting to, thus modifying the information accordingly. At the conclusion of your presentation, be prepared to address questions. With sufficient preparation, sharing your business idea will be a rewarding event and build your confidence.
Step 3 - Plan
Step 3 - Plan
Identifying professional business consultants in your community is an excellent way to receive guidance. In fact, multiple organizations in Nebraska provide this service for free. Business consultants offer valuable guidance to help you fully capitalize on your business endeavor while helping you make informed business decisions. Also, there are many organizations in Nebraska that provide no-cost technical assistance for creating a business plan and/or business consultation. SourceLink Nebraska can assist you in finding business consultants in your community by requesting a Personal Action Plan, or by searching The Resource Navigator®.
Draft your business plan.
Start off by drafting a business plan that defines your goals and approaches to achieving them. A business plan is a necessary tool for all businesses, whether new or existing. A business plan provides direction for a thriving business, but most notably, defines the blueprint for operations. Also, it also recognizes risks and guides the business owner in reducing the chance for unfavorable outcomes.
- 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, finding a co-founder, or outsourcing tasks as needed.
- 7 Tips for Making a Business Partnership Work (SCORE)
- The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Outsourcing Work (SCORE)
Brainstorm business names.
Producing a great business name will be your next challenge. Once you have some ideas, be sure to check for availability to avoid any legal issues.
- 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).
Step 4 - Register
Step 4 - Register
Legitimizing your business is an important milestone to make certain that it is operating within the legal requirements of state and federal laws.
Structure your business.
Each type of business entity type has advantages and disadvantages, so research which one is best for your business situation. The best practice is to speak with a corporate/business law attorney and certified public accountant (for tax considerations).
- Choose a Business Structure (SBA)
- Doing Business As (DBA): What is a DBA, How to File as a DBA (NBDC)
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 according to individual state laws.
- An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is used to identify a business entity. Apply for an EIN online through the IRS.
State of Nebraska
- Nebraska One-Stop Business Registration
- 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)
Research labor regulations, laws, unemployment insurance, registrations, and programs.
Step 5 - Finances
Step 5 - Finances
Do not forget to set up your business finances and record-keeping procedure. Adequate record-keeping safeguards your business, by guaranteeing that records are up-to-date and readily accessible.
Learn about record-keeping.
- 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 appropriate business documents. Making sure all of your business documentation is prepared helps the process of opening a business bank account considerably easier.
Obtain capital for your business.
Starting a business requires a significant amount of capital and it can be complicated to learn where to begin. One of the most common ways to attain capital is to apply for a business loan from a bank or other financial institution. Most 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 Programs (SBA)
- Resources for Rural Entrepreneurs: A Guide to Planning, Adapting, and Growing Your Business (USDA Rural Development)
- Business Capital Guide (SourceLink Nebraska)
- Simple Steps to Choosing the Right Financing (SCORE)
Crowdfunding is another possibility. Also, you may want to consider angel investors or venture capital opportunities. Regardless of what you choose to do for infusing capital, be sure that you understand the implications on the long-term viability of the business.
Step 6 - Logistics
Step 6 - Logistics
Your business will need to find a location, secure insurance, while thinking through the logistics to operate your business.
Find a commercial business location.
Do not forget to reflect on the local economy and demographics to find a location for best serving your customers. Once you find a great location for your business, evaluate the cost of leasing or purchasing the property and if this 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)
- Questions to Ask Before Signing a Commercial Lease (SCORE)
Purchase business insurance.
Set aside time to investigate the different coverage options. 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.
Hire and train employees.
Recruiting employees is one of the top expressed needs from Nebraska business owners. 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 Representatives are available to help you build your team and support other business needs.
- Labor Laws and Workforce Programming
Procure suppliers and service providers.
Research dependable vendors that provide the products and services your business will need. Having the right suppliers and service providers will promote efficient operation as the business’s lifecycle evolves.
Step 7 - Launch
Step 7 - Launch
Marketing is a critical part of managing a successful business. With employing the right strategies, businesses can increase visibility, reach desired customers, and ultimately grow.
Create a marketing plan.
To achieve your business goals, create a marketing plan. A thorough marketing plan improves reach to your target audience and increases brand awareness.
- 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)