Business Start-Up Checklist

You have a great idea for a new small business. Congratulations! That's the first step. But you need to do a few other things to turn that idea into a legitimate business. This page offers a checklist with step-by-step actions to get you started.

  1. Choose and register your business name. Check with the Secretary of State's office where you plan to set up shop. In Nebraska, contact the Nebraska Secretary of State office. A fee is charged for this service. For more help, call 402.471.4079. The Secretary of State's mailing address is:

    Nebraska Secretary of State
    State Capitol, Room 1301
    P.O. Box 94608
    Lincoln, NE 68509-4608

  2. Decide on a legal structure: Sole Proprietorship, LLC, Partnership, S-Corporation, etc. You may want to consult with an attorney and accountant regarding the legal and taxation ramifications.

  3. Important IRS information for Small Business Start ups. The IRS website here covers several topics of importance in understanding a Federal Tax ID number and filing procedures. They also have publications to assist you in starting and running your business.

  4. Obtain a Federal ID Number (EIN). You can learn how to do this here on the IRS website.

  5. Determine if you need to register your business with your state's Department of Revenue. Contact the Nebraska Department of Revenue here to determine if you need to register your business. The Department of Revenue's contact information is:

    Nebraska Department of Revenue
    PO Box 98903
    Lincoln, NE 68509-8903
    800.742.7474 (toll free in Nebraska and Iowa) or 402.471.5729

    You will need to complete the Nebraska Tax Application, Form 20 available at the website or at the Dept. of Revenue office. Make sure you are familiar with the Sales and Use Taxes that apply to your business.

  6. Determine if you need a Data Universal Number System (DUNS) Number. Most potential and existing US Government Contractors, Grantees and Loan Recipients are required to obtain a DUNS Number for US Government registration purposes. It verifies the legal name, physical address, and trade style (DBA) of each location and is key to starting the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) process.

    The DUNS Number is a unique nine-digit identification number provided by Dun & Bradstreet (D&B). It is randomly issued, never used twice, and is site specific. Each distinct physical location of an entity is assigned its own DUNS Number.

    You can obtain a DUNS Number in two ways. You can call a dedicated toll-free DUNS Number request line at 1.866.705.5711 (loan recipients are instructed to press option 5). Or you can request a number online using the online web form process here.

    The toll-free number is staffed from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time. The process to request number takes about 5-10 minutes. A DUNS number will be assigned at the conclusion of the call.

  7. Make sure you have all the licenses and permits you will need. Check with your local (city, county) authorities regarding zoning regulations.

  8. Start off right with financial information. Consult with a local accountant or bookkeeper to assist with setting up your books correctly.

  9. Determine your insurance needs. Discuss all your insurance needs (liability, property, etc.) with an insurance agent who is familiar with your business industry. Then explore the rules for Workman’s Compensation Insurance and the Unemployment Insurance Guide for Employers here.

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For more information, contact our Women's Business Center director at