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How To Start A Business In Nebraska

How To Start A Business In Nebraska

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How To Start A Business In Nebraska

Starting your own business in Nebraska? It’s easier than you think with a little help, and with our guide, we will get through the must-dos, including registering your business, securing funding, and more.

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Steps To Start A Business In Nebraska

Step 1: Choose a Business Idea

Starting a business in Nebraska begins with finding the right idea. Whether you’ve got a concept in mind or you’re still searching, the key is to pick a business that makes sense and has the chance to thrive. It’s about more than just what you’re passionate about; it’s also about what can bring in profits.

For those who are still brainstorming ideas or refining their current one, our business idea library can help. You’ll learn more about various types of businesses, what costs you might face when starting up, and valuable advice to get you going.

Step 2: Write a Business Plan

Once you’ve settled on the perfect idea for your new Nebraska business, the next move is to create a business plan. It’s pretty common to think that the point of a business plan is something that you do in order to get funding; the real benefit is that it’s your guide that’ll help you move from just having an idea to making your business a reality.

There are a few areas that I think are important in the business plan. First, you’ll do some homework on your market. This means figuring out who will buy your product or service, who else is selling something similar, and what makes your business different or better.

Next, you’ll look at the numbers. This includes calculating how much it’s going to cost to get the business off the ground, in addition to projecting how much money you’ll expect to make and spend. A clear view of your cash flow (the money coming in and going out) and financial statements (like a snapshot of your business’s finances) are key parts of your plan. This section is super important as you can see if the idea has the ability to make enough money to be worth your time. Anyone funding your business will want to see these numbers, too.

By putting together a solid business plan, you’re laying down the steps to turn your business dream into a successful reality.

Related: How to write a business plan

Step 3: Find the Money

You have an idea, and the business plan shows your idea is profitable. The next step is figuring out where you are going to get the money to make all of this happen. Let’s look at some of the common sources of funding.

  • Personal funds: Also known as “bootstrapping,” using personal funds is one of the most common ways to finance a new business. This can include savings, retirement accounts, home equity, or funds from the sale of personal assets.
  • Bank loan: Traditional banks and credit unions offer a variety of loan options for small businesses, including term loans, lines of credit, and commercial mortgages.
  • SBA loan guarantee: The Small Business Administration (SBA) provides loan guarantees to lenders, which reduces the lender’s risk so they are more inclined to make loans to small businesses.
  • Microloan programs: Microloans are smaller loans typically offered by non-profit organizations or economic development agencies, designed to support small businesses that may not qualify for conventional loans. A few organizations include Invest Nebraska, Midlands Latino Community Development Corporation, and the Nebraska Enterprise Fund.
  • Investors: There are several types of investors, including angel investors, venture capitalists, and equity crowdfunding platforms. These investors provide capital in exchange for ownership stakes or debt in your business.

Related: Understanding the different types of business funding

Step 4: Select a Business Structure

A business structure (also called a business entity) is the way a business is legally organized to operate. In Nebraska, there are four common types of business entities: sole proprietorship, general partnership, corporation, and Limited Liability Company (LLC), and this choice will have an impact on taxes, personal liability, and the entity’s administrative requirements.

I’ll go over each type of business structure and their pros and cons.

Sole proprietorship: This is the easiest type of business structure to form, where the owner and the business are considered the same legal entity. The owner is personally responsible for all debts and liabilities.

Pros

  • Easy and inexpensive to set up.
  • Complete control over business decisions.
  • Minimal regulatory requirements.

Cons

  • Unlimited personal liability for business debts and obligations.
  • Limited business continuity, as it ceases to exist upon the owner’s death or incapacitation.

General partnership: A general partnership consists of two or more individuals who agree to share ownership, profits, and responsibilities of a business. Similar to a sole proprietorship, each partner is personally responsible for the partnership’s debts and liabilities.

Pros

  • Easy to establish and low setup costs.
  • Shared decision-making and financial responsibilities.
  • Business income is reported on each partner’s personal tax return.

Cons

  • Unlimited personal liability for each partner.
  • Potential conflicts between partners (a partnership agreement is highly recommended).
  • Limited business continuity, as it may dissolve upon the departure or death of a partner.

Corporation: A corporation is a separate legal entity owned by shareholders, providing them with limited liability protection. It is more complex and costly to set up and maintain than other business structures.

Pros

  • Limited liability for shareholders.
  • Easier to raise capital through the sale of stock.
  • Business continuity, as it exists independent of its owners.

Cons

  • Expensive and complex to establish and maintain.
  • More extensive regulatory and reporting requirements.

Related: How to form a Nebraska corporation

Limited Liability Company (LLC): An LLC is a hybrid business structure that combines the limited liability protection of a corporation with fewer administrative requirements.

Pros

  • Limited liability for members (owners).
  • Pass-through taxation, avoiding double taxation.
  • Flexibility in management and profit distribution.
  • Fewer formalities and reporting requirements compared to a corporation.

Cons

  • More complex and costly to set up than a sole proprietorship or general partnership.
  • Potentially higher state fees or taxes, depending on local regulations.

Related: How to form an LLC in Nebraska

Forming a corporation or LLC sounds complicated and expensive, but using an entity formation service guides you through the process so you know it was done right.


Some popular formation services include:


IncFile - Great service and free registered agent the first year.

Northwest - Privacy-Focused: Free registered agent and private business address for 1 year!

ZenBusiness - Easy to use and free registered agent for 1 year!

Step 5: Register the Business

Now that the business structure is in place, it’s important to understand the various licenses and permits that are necessary for your business to operate legally. In Nebraska, businesses may need to obtain licenses and permits depending on the location and what the business will be doing.

Here are some of the common registrations to research:

  • Business licenses: Even though the state doesn’t require a business license, in general, many cities in Nebraska will require businesses to apply for a local business license before they can open and legally operate. Depending on the type of business you plan to operate, you may also need additional licenses or permits from other local government agencies. For example, if you plan to sell food or alcohol, you’ll need additional licensing from the state’s health department or liquor control board.
  • Name registration: A sole proprietorship or general partnership will need to file a Trade Name Registration (also known as a DBA or Doing Business As) with the Secretary of State if you choose to operate under a specific business name.
  • Employer Identification Number: The Employer Identification Number or EIN (sometimes referred to as the Federal Employer Identification Number or FEIN) is a nine-digit tax identification number issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This number identifies a business operating in the U.S. and is used for paying payroll taxes, filing tax returns, and more. Much like what a social security number is to a person, the EIN is similar to a social security number for a business. While most businesses will need to get an EIN, some do not.
  • Nebraska tax application: Business registration with the Nebraska Department of Revenue for a Tax ID Number is required for all businesses. This is most commonly used to register for a Sales Tax Permit for businesses making retail sales of products and providing certain services.
  • Professional licensing: Some occupations, such as acupuncturists, barbers, contractors, and others, require licensing in Nebraska.  While this isn’t a license on the business, licensing is required in order to operate.
  • Zoning: Before starting to operate a business (even if it’s home-based), be sure to check local zoning regulations to ensure the business can legally operate at the location.

Related: What business licenses and permits are needed in Nebraska

Step 6: Open a Business Bank Account

After setting up the business structure and registering the business, it’s a good idea to set up a dedicated business bank account. This is an important step for a number of reasons.

First, it helps to ensure that you can accurately track the income and expenses associated with your business. Having separate accounts for each makes identifying discrepancies or potential problems easier.

Second, corporations and LLCs want to separate business and personal funds because of what’s called the “comingling of funds.” Since these are legally separate entities from the owners, if the business is sued and funds aren’t kept distinct, there is the potential for the entity to lose its liability protection, causing the owners to be personally liable.

Finally, having a separate business checking account can also make filing taxes easier at the end of the year. You will be able to identify which expenses were related to the business and which were personal. This will save time when preparing tax returns and ensure everything is reported correctly.

Step 7: Hire Employees

The next step will be optional for some, but if you are preparing to hire your first employee in Nebraska, there are several federal and state laws and registrations to be aware of.

In addition, employers are responsible for reporting new hires, verifying employees are eligible to work in the U.S., income tax withholding, unemployment insurance, unemployment taxes, and payroll withholding taxes, including Social Security and Medicare.

Related: Steps to hiring your first employee in Nebraska

Step 8: Obtain Business Insurance

As a small business owner in Nebraska, it is important to understand the importance of insurance and how it can help protect against financial losses due to unexpected events such as natural disasters, lawsuits, and employee injuries. Having the right type of insurance coverage can provide peace of mind, knowing that you are prepared for any potential risks that may arise.

When picking out insurance, it’s important to look at what your business does and the specific risks you face. This will help you choose the best coverage for your situation. Here are some common types of insurance that many businesses need:

  • General liability insurance: This is a common type of insurance for most businesses. It covers you if someone gets hurt at your place of business or if there’s damage to someone else’s property. It also protects you from lawsuits over things like slander or false advertising.
  • Workers’ compensation insurance: If you have employees in Nebraska, this insurance is required by the state. It covers medical costs and lost wages if an employee gets hurt while working for you.
  • Commercial auto insurance: If your business uses vehicles, this insurance is often necessary. Personal auto insurance usually doesn’t cover vehicles used for business, so this policy keeps you protected if there’s an accident.
  • Professional liability insurance: This is also known as errors and omissions (E&O) insurance. It can protect you from lawsuits claiming you made a mistake or didn’t fulfill your service as promised.

Related: Types of insurance your business may need

Step 9: Track Income & Expenses

Setting up bookkeeping is an important part of running a small business and is the next step to cover. Bookkeeping involves tracking and recording all financial transactions to ensure accurate reporting of the company’s financial position. By keeping accurate records, businesses can correctly report taxes and make informed decisions about their operations.

There are several ways to organize and record all of this information efficiently. One option is to use a more manual process by establishing a paper filing system or spreadsheet. Another is to use accounting software such as QuickBooksWave Accounting, and Xero, which can help automate the bookkeeping process. Additionally, you can outsource the bookkeeping process to an experienced accountant or bookkeeper.

Related: Setting up accounting for a business

This material is property of StartingYourBusiness.com

Common questions when starting a business in Nebraska

What are the steps to starting an LLC in Nebraska?

There are three main steps to starting an LLC in Nebraska. These include:

1. Making sure the LLC name is available
2. Appointing a Nebraska Registered Agent
3. Filing the Certificate of Organization

See the full details with our guide on how to start an LLC in Nebraska.

How much does it cost to start an LLC in Nebraska?

The Nebraska Secretary of State filing fee to start an LLC in Nebraska is $100.

Does a sole proprietor need a business license in Nebraska?

In Nebraska, whether a sole proprietor needs a business license depends on the type of business they are running and where it’s located, not on the type of business structure.

There’s no catch-all business license, but many small business owners need to obtain several permits or licenses based on their business activities or the services they offer. For example, if you’re in a profession that requires a state license, like a contractor, hairstylist, or real estate agent, you must get that license to operate legally.

Additionally, local regulations can vary. Some cities or counties require businesses, including sole proprietors, to have a local business license or permit. Check with your local city or county clerk’s office to find out what’s required in your area as they can tell you about any local licenses or permits you might need.

Nebraska Small Business Resources

There are 181,742 small businesses in Nebraska, which is 99.1% of all businesses in the state,1 and 48.3% of Nebraska employees work for a small business.2 Because of the economic impact of small businesses, there are a number of small business resources to help Nebraska businesses start and grow. Some of these include:

  • GROW Nebraska: A nonprofit educational organization providing marketing and training to small business owners across Nebraska.
    Nebraska Business Development Center: The NBDC aids in business planning and market analysis and provides training for both new and established businesses.
  • SourceLink Nebraska: SourceLink Nebraska helps entrepreneurs find resources for starting and growing a business.
  • Veterans Business Outreach Centers: The VBOB assists U.S. Armed Forces veterans in achieving their dream of owning and successfully running their own businesses
  • Women’s Business Center: The GNWBC provides training and support for women looking into starting a business in the Greater Omaha Metro area.

Sources

  1. Small Business Administration ↩︎
  2. Census Bureau ↩︎

How To Start A Business In Nebraska

How To Start A Business In Nebraska

Greg Bouhl

Greg Bouhl

Welcome! My name is Greg Bouhl, and I am a serial entrepreneur, educator, business advisor, and investor.

StartingYourBusiness.com is here because of the many clients I worked with who made decisions based on inaccurate and outdated information.

Starting a business is hard, but here you will find the practical tools, resources, and insider tips to help you successfully start a business.

If there is a question about starting a business or help finding a resource, I'm here to help!

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