Step by step guide to start a business

Small Business

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Want to start the business of your dreams and don’t know where to begin? Take a look at these steps, then let the Center for Rural Affairs staff guide you through this process. Give us a call at 402.687.2100 or email loans@cfra.org.

Step 1: Develop the concept

What is the concept of the business? What will it offer? Business name? What is the benefit to the customer? What assistance will you need?

Step 2: Business plan

A business plan establishes a guide or map from startup stage to business
administration, marketing, financial, and operational needs. When you complete the steps below, you will have a good foundation for a business plan.

Step 3: Business identity

How will you craft the business identity/develop the brand, the logo, and the slogan? How will your business stand out or be recognized?

Step 4: Target market

Who is your target market? How will you determine your target market? How will you reach your target market?

Step 5: Structure and registration

  • Determine the legal structure.
  • Register trade name or business with the Nebraska Secretary of State.
  • If registered as a “trade name” and it’s approved, newspaper publication within 45 days, and send proof to the Secretary of State.
  • Obtain EIN with IRS.
  • Unemployment Insurance Tax (UI Form 1).
  • Register the NE Sales Tax (Form 20).
  • Local or state records (if applicable: contractor, electrician, transportation).

Step 6: Location

Location is just as important as the identity of the business. Check: lease agreement or purchase conditions; zoning; building inspection by the city, fire department, and health department (if applicable).

Step 7: Permits and licenses

Industry-relevant licenses of the business (if applicable): onestop.nebraska.gov.

The most common are:

  • Restaurants/food trucks,
  • Food stores,
  • Liquor (liquor store or bars),
  • Department of Health and Human Services,
  • Day care centers,
  • Department of Agriculture, and
  • Department of Motor Vehicles.

Step 8: Commercial insurance

Protect your investment. Consider what type(s) of insurance you will need. Talk to an insurance agent about the type of business and all pertinent information to determine the type of coverage you will need.

Step 9: Commercial bank account

Keep your accounts separate, personal and commercial banking. The requirements for opening a business account vary from bank to bank. Check with your bank to see what you will need to open a business account.

Step 10: Financing

Will you need a loan? Before looking for a loan:

  • Calculate how much money you will need.
  • Decide what type of loan best suits your business needs.
  • Check your credit score.
  • Gather the required documents.
  • Assess the value of the collateral.
  • Compare the best terms for business loans.
  • Apply for a business loan.

Start with your bank. If it doesn’t grant you the loan, visit our website, or contact a loan specialist: cfra.org/loans.

Step 11: Training, coaching, and assistance

Consider taking business classes or training to expand your business knowledge. Seek help, business advice, and/or coaching. Check out our classes at cfra.org/events.

Step 12: Financial statements

Taking basic accounting classes can help you better understand your business finances. You don’t need to be an expert, but classes will help you better understand the financial statements. Three important financial statements:

  • Balance sheet,
  • Profit and loss statement, and
  • Cash flow.

Step 13: Marketing

Do you have a marketing strategy and plan? How will consumers know about your product or service? Marketing is a long-term investment.

Step 14: Record keeping

Having a good system for keeping track of documents is the first step toward organizing. The most common are:

  • Legal,
  • Financial,
  • General business documents,
  • Workforce records, and
  • Taxes.

Step 15: Taxes

Remember federal, state, and local tax deadlines. You must collect and pay taxes on time. The most common taxes are:

  • Income,
  • Sales,
  • Payroll,
  • Occupation tax (local), and
  • Autonomous.

Always seek the help of a reputable, trusted, and certified accountant.

Step 16: Security

Protecting your assets is key to a good security system. This includes: software, security cameras, protection of sensible personal and customer information, and cybersecurity.

Step 17: Emergency planning

Having an emergency, continuity, and recovery plan is essential. This will ensure all protocols are in place in the event of an emergency.

Step 18: Networking

One way to build connections and present your business is joining Chamber of Commerce events, volunteering, tutoring, or attending community events.

Step 19: Community support

A business that supports its community builds community support. Show support by sponsoring community events, sports, schools, and/or organizations, etc.

Step 20: Update your business plan

Review and update your business plan every three years. Make changes or adjustments. Ask yourself, what has changed or what changes need to be made.

This guide is considered best practices and opinions. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be construed as such.