Marketing assistance, startup capital identified as top small business needs

Nebraska businesses and those who serve them have once again provided vital information about their operations. The results are included in “Their needs and thoughts: Results of the fifth biennial Small Business Needs Assessment,” a report by Dena Beck, senior project leader and loan specialist with the Center for Rural Affairs’ Rural Enterprise Assistance Project, or REAP. 

Marketing assistance and startup capital were top concerns for respondents, a result similar to past surveys. Other common concerns revealed were the cost of hiring an employee, including FICA and unemployment insurance; employee quality issues; and employee/applicant quantity issues.

Business owners responded their biggest training and assistance needs are for marketing and advertising support. Assistance with social networking, bookkeeping and succession planning all saw a rise in responses, compared to surveys in past years.

The 2016 Small Business Needs Assessment had the greatest response rate yet, with 587 respondents. The opinions of 248 existing businesses, 45 new businesses (within the first year of startup), and 47 transitioning businesses (within 10 years of exiting the business) were sampled from across rural Nebraska. The assessment also includes responses from resource providers and lenders who serve Nebraska businesses.

With technology, business needs are changing more rapidly than ever before. The information collected in each survey helps our staff react to trending needs. We are able to make programmatic changes based on results to better serve in lending, training and technical assistance.

These results are also important to policy makers, lenders and other business resource providers statewide, who use this information for focusing, planning and developing strategic partnerships. According to the Association for Enterprise Opportunity, 85 percent of Nebraska businesses have 10 or fewer full-time employees, with that number closer to 90 percent in rural areas. The needs of small businesses affect many in the state.

The report can be found at

Community or organization leaders who would like a presentation of the survey results should contact Dena at or 308.528.0060