Nebraska has a growing job market and a good quality of living, so starting a business in this state is quite desirable. But how do you start one? Where do you even begin planning?
Starting a business is not as complicated as you may think, and by using our detailed step-by-step guide, you will be well on your way to successfully starting your own business in Nebraska.
Step 1: Choose Your Idea
The first step in starting your own business is coming up with a good business idea. This will be the foundation of your business, but how do you know that your business idea will even work in the first place? At this stage in the planning process, your business idea does not need to be entirely thought out.
Try answering these questions that are specially formulated to get those creative juices flowing:
- What are my passions, skills, and hobbies?
- Am I able to turn what I love doing into a profitable business?
- Will I be able and willing to work with this business every day?
- Is there a gap in the market for my business?
- How does my business solve a consumer’s problem?
- Do I have the right skills to run the business?
Answering these questions should help you come up with a good business idea or help you decide if it is marketable.
Step 2: Pick a Name
The name of your business is important, as all your branding and advertising will have the name in it. Your business name is also the first thing potential customers will hear and see. Their first impressions will be based on this name.
The state of Nebraska will not allow you to register a business name or an assumed name if it is already being used by another business. To check if your desired name is still available to use, you can do an online search on the Nebraska Business Services website.
If you are battling to come up with a name for the business, try some of these helpful methods:
- Create a word dump. This is where you jot down any words that come into your mind. You don’t need to think too hard about each word.
- Create a mindmap with words related to your business.
- Use your friends and family for help. They might come up with a name you like.
- Use free name generators online. These create unique and randomized names.
Step 3: Write Your Business Plan
Once you have decided on what business you are starting and its name, you should create a business plan. This is not a legal requirement in Montana, but it is highly recommended. This business plan has everything about the business and all research that you gathered. Think of your business plan as the instructions manual to your business, as it will have all your planning, research, product information, business practices, and financial details.
Writing up a business plan will help keep your business organized and is an excellent tool for attracting investors.
You should answer the following questions in your business plan:
- How does your business solve a need in the market?
- How will your company differ from your competitors?
- Who is your target audience?
- How do you plan on turning them into paying customers?
- How do you plan on marketing your business?
- What roles will you need to be filled in the business?
- How many employees will you need to hire?
- What is your financial target?
- How much will you need to make to break even?
- How do you plan on making a profit?
If you’re unsure where to begin, there are plenty of free business templates you can use online.
Step 4: Get Funding
Starting a business can be costly, especially startup costs, and if you cannot afford them, you will need to look for funding elsewhere. An excellent way to get your business funding is to get a grant, loan, or investor.
Nebraska is a pro-business state, so multiple loans and grant programs are available through the Nebraska Department of Economic Development. The most popular funding program for businesses is the Nebraska Enterprise Fund. There are many different opportunities for loans and grants through this fund.
If you are not eligible for any of these grants or loans, you can see if an investor will help fund your business in exchange for some shares in your business. Investors can even come in the form of friends and family. Just be sure you have all agreements on paper. The last thing you want is to ruin a relationship over a misunderstanding!
Step 5: Choose Your Business Structure
Choosing the right business structure for your business is very important to the success of your business, as each structure has different benefits.
This is the most simple and informal business structure available. This business structure has only one owner, and there is no separation between personal and business assets. This business structure is commonly used for companies with low risk.
This business structure is pretty similar to a sole proprietorship, as there is no separation between the owners and business assets. The only difference between the two structures is that a partnership has more than one owner, all with equal shares in the business.
Limited Liability Company
A limited liability company, or an LLC, is one of the most commonly used business structures for small businesses. An LLC is such a popular choice because it has the flexibility and simplicity of a sole proprietorship with the added liability protection of a corporation, offering the best of both worlds.
C or S Corporation
This is the most formal type of business structure available. A corporation is a completely separate legal entity from its owners. Companies with multiple shareholders choose this business structure due to its tax benefits.
Step 6: Register Your Business
In Nebraska, you may need to register your business with the state before you can trade.
This business structure does not need to be registered with the state unless you wish to operate under a different name other than your legal personal name. To register an assumed name, you will need to file it with the Nebraska Secretary of State.
If you wish to collect sales tax, then you will need to register with the Nebraska Department of Revenue. This applies to all business structures.
This business structure does not need to be registered with the state either. Only an assumed name needs to be filed with the Secretary of State, if applicable.
Limited Liability Company
C or S Corporation
The process of registration of a corporation is very similar to an LLC. You must complete the Articles of Incorporation and submit them on the Nebraska One Stop Business Portal. The fee to register a corporation is $65.
Step 7: Set Up Your Finances & Accounting
You should set up your finances before you begin trading. To set up your finances, you should open a bank account for the business, get credit cards, and set up payment methods for your customers.
If you have employees, having payroll software is the best way to ensure all employee salaries are paid on time and manage employee taxes. If you are unsure of how to do taxes and look after the business’s books, hiring an accountant is a good idea.
Step 8: Get Business Insurance
Insurance for your business is not required but is strongly advised because you never know what may happen, and if something goes wrong, you’ll want to be prepared. While there are many different insurance policies you can choose from, one that you should definitely get is general liability insurance. This is a broad type of insurance policy that covers all the aspects of running a business as well as protection in the case of injury or damage on the premises.
However, there are many other types of insurance policies out there. It can be overwhelming when finding one that best suits your needs, so chat with a local insurance brokerage to get professional advice for your business.
Step 9: Obtain Any Permits or Licenses Needed
The state of Nebraska does not issue state-level general business licenses, but if you plan on collecting sales tax or you have multiple employees, you will need to apply for a sales tax permit with the Nebraska Department of Revenue.
Some counties and cities may require certain businesses to get licenses before they open. You can find more information about these licenses on the Secretary of State Business Licensing website. You can also check with your local county clerk to see if there are licenses you’ll need before you begin trading.
Step 10: Build a Website
Having a website for your business is crucial for marketing and getting your business out there. Nowadays, building a website isn’t reserved for those that know how to understand coding jargon. You can easily design your own website using free templates or subscription-based services.
There are a few things you need to keep in mind when building your website:
- The business name should be clear and easily visible.
- All the fonts you have used must be clean and easy to read.
- All the images and videos you use should be copyright free or your work.
- Refrain from cluttering your web page with graphics, as this can be overwhelming and cause slower load times.
- Your website should be easy to navigate.
- Your content should be relevant and up-to-date.
- Ensure that your website is mobile-compatible.
- Link your website to your other social media accounts.
Building a website is not complicated, but if you’re still unsure, you can hire someone to build your website for you.
Step 11: Hire Employees (If Any)
As your business grows, you may need to hire employees to ensure your business runs smoothly. To do this, draft up a job post, interview top candidates, and offer the job to the candidate best suited for the job.
If you are planning on hiring employees, you need to be aware that you are legally required to report any new hires to the Nebraska New Hire Reporting Center. This needs to be done within 20 days of the hire date.
Step 12: Market Your Business
The final step in starting a business in Nebraska is marketing your company; luckily, there are so many different ways to do this on any budget. When marketing your business, you want to ensure your content is relevant and consistent.
Here are some different ways to market your business:
- Promote your business and engage with customers on your business website.
- Advertise and create events for free on social media like Facebook or Instagram.
- Create a Google Business Profile and use Google ads.
- Market your business by attending business expos and networking events.
- Advertise through your local newspaper.
- Hold monthly giveaways.
- Make use of cold emailing.
You can hire someone to market your business for you if you do not have the time to do it yourself.