Starting a Business



Write your Business Plan

Creating a business plan is your first step. This document will help you understand the viability of your business, including startup costs, competition, and revenue strategies. Start with a simple plan and add to it as you go along. A business plan is often required by investors and lenders to consider financial support, check their requirements as you apply. For help writing your plan, visit the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) website at SBA’s business planning guide.

Choose a Business Structure

Deciding how your business is organized is important for taxes and legal reasons. The most common legal structures for a small business are:

  • Sole Proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC)
  • Corporation

Learn about the different business structures at SBA’s guide to choosing a business structure.

Choose your Name

Sole proprietorships and partnerships may file a Trade Name Application with the Nebraska Secretary of State (SOS) to use a business name different from the owner’s or partners’ names. Trade names are valid for ten years.

For LLCs and corporations, ensure your business name is unique by doing a search on the Nebraska SOS website. Your business name must meet specific requirements, such as including “LLC” for limited liability companies or “Company” for corporations.

Create your Business Entity

As mentioned in choosing a business structure, you should select the appropriate entity for your business operations. Here is what to expect based on business structure designation and how to get started creating the business entity:

Apply for Licenses and Permits

If you’ll have employees, sell things, rent property, or provide taxable services in Nebraska, register your business with the Nebraska Department of Revenue (DOR). Fill out Form 20 on their website and follow the instructions. Call 1-800-742-7474 or check their FAQ if you have questions.

Businesses with employees or separate taxation needs must file for a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. An EIN facilitates business banking and transactions; an EIN is obtainable through a fee-free online application. Call 1-800-829-4933 or visit the IRS website for more information on applying online.

For compliance with health, safety, environmental, and specific industry regulations, refer to Nebraska’s Business Licensing Resources for state-level licenses and permits, and local city or county websites for local requirements.

Professionals in fields such as healthcare, law, accounting, architecture, and engineering should consult the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) for licensing information or visit specific Nebraska regulatory board websites for professions not covered by DHHS (for example, the Nebraska Board of Engineers and Architects).

Pick a Business Location and Check Zoning

Choose a business location wisely, ensuring it aligns with your budget and business plan, especially considering initial costs like rent and utilities. Confirm the location is zoned for your business type by consulting local ordinances and contacting Lincoln’s Planning Department for guidance.

Alternatively, consider operating your business from home, but first verify compliance with local zoning laws. If you rent, check your lease for any restrictions on running a business, and if you’re part of a homeowners association, review their rules as some may restrict or prohibit home-based businesses.

Determine Needed Insurance

Business insurance protects your company and personal assets from unforeseen events like lawsuits or natural disasters. Consulting with an insurance agent can help you understand your coverage options, including general liability insurance, which covers claims of bodily injury or property damage. Contact the Nebraska Department of Labor (DOL) at 402-471-9898 or visit their website to learn about necessary insurance, like Unemployment Insurance and New Hire reporting.

Open a Business Checking Account

Regardless of your business structure, opening a separate business bank account is recommended for easier tracking of income and expenses. For entities like LLCs and corporations, it’s crucial to maintain liability protection. To see more, visit SBA’s open a business bank account.

File and Report Taxes

In Nebraska, all businesses are subject to state taxation:

  • Sole Proprietorships: Income is taxed through the owner’s personal state tax return (Form 1040N).
  • Partnerships: Partners report their income on personal tax returns, with some required to file Form 1065N, Nebraska Return of Partnership Income.
  • LLCs: Members report income on personal returns; LLCs file a biennial report in odd-numbered years. Those taxed as corporations file a state corporation tax return. Further details can be found under Nebraska LLC Biennial Report and Tax Requirements.
  • Corporations: Shareholders pay taxes on dividends, and employee-shareholders on salaries through personal tax returns. Corporations face Nebraska corporation taxes and must file a biennial report with the Nebraska SOS in even-numbered years, including a corporate occupation tax.

Businesses with employees must handle state employer taxes. Additionally, businesses must comply with federal income and employer taxes. More information in IRS Publications 334, Tax Guide for Small Business, and 583, Taxpayers Starting a Business.

Additional Resources

DEI policies

Understand the impact of diversity and inclusion on business innovation and customer reach. Learn how to create a welcoming workplace.

Marketing

Discover key marketing strategies to better connect with your audience and enhance your brand’s visibility. Find out how to craft campaigns that make an impact.

Supporting yourself

Running a business comes with challenges. Learn strategies for stress management and maintaining a balance between work and personal life.

Online business

Learn the essentials of taking your business online, from setting up an e-commerce platform to engaging customers through digital marketing.

Contacts

Below are contacts who can offer personalized guidance throughout your entrepreneurial journey.


ECHO Collective connects and empowers refugee and immigrant women by providing opportunities for personal growth and building cross-cultural relationships in a nurturing environment.

Contact: hello@echocollectivene.org

Sandra helps entrepreneurs or current business owners in rural Nebraska with educational trainings, one-on-one technical assistance, and free consultation. Some of services she provides include business plan development, marketing plan development, references and resources, networking, and support in complying with legal and financial requirements for small businesses. She is able to provide services in Spanish and English.

Contact: sandra.barrera@unl.edu

Raul Sarmiento is a Colombian-born immigrant, currently serving as the Multicultural Banking Officer at UBT. A bilingual advocate for immigrants, Raul uses his life experience and business and banking acumen to help immigrants and multicultural businesses get the right tools to be successful. He recently developed a lending program for non-resident individuals at the bank, making it possible for UBT to offer any type of loan product for individuals possessing a work permit. He is able to provide services in Spanish and English.

Contact: raul.sarmiento@ubt.com