How to Start a Startup in Nebraska

Outline of Nebraska with text saying, Start a Startup, over an image of entrepreneurs working at a startup office.

A startup is a business type of business that positions itself as an innovator and challenger of the status quo. Nebraska is home to numerous startups. To launch your Nebraska startup, you will need both creativity and tenacity. It’s not enough to have a great idea - you also have to have the persistence to address all the details your state requires from startups. 

Luckily, Nebraska is quite friendly to startups. It provides incentives that can help you get your enterprise off the ground. Read on to learn more about how to start your own startup in Nebraska.

Recommended: Are you ready to officially form your Nebraska startup? Check out our review of the best business formation services!

Launching a Nebraska Startup

Are you ready to start your own startup company?

If you’re reading this, you most likely are ready to be your own boss and create a Nebraska startup of your own. However, you can’t become an entrepreneur just by wanting it. If you mean business about launching your startup in Nebraska, these are the ten steps you need to take to get started.

1. Determine if You Have What It Takes to Found a Startup

Launching a startup is not for the weak at heart.

Starting and growing any business takes dedication. Launching a startup takes even more.

Although there are numerous types of entrepreneurs, there are a number of common characteristics often attributed to startup founders. Some of the most important entrepreneur characteristics are passion, creativity, motivation, and self-discipline. Entrepreneurs also have to be adaptable, observant, and willing to take risks

Creating a startup in Nebraska is not just coming up with a great idea. It also involves building your entrepreneurial network, planning your startup, funding your startup, registering your startup, setting up an accounting system, marketing your startup, and growing your startup. If this sounds like a lot, it’s because it is.

But, that shouldn’t stop you from starting the startup of your dreams. In fact, Nebraska has several advantages to offer entrepreneurs planning to start a startup in the state, such as: 

  • A skilled workforce 
  • A low cost of living 
  • Government incentives for businesses

Launching a Nebraska startup is probably going to involve you doing a lot of learning. But, don’t worry. There are a lot of resources to help you along your entrepreneurial journey. Here are some great learning resources for aspiring startup owners in Nebraska:

Also recommended: Are you ready to create a Nebraska startup and become an entrepreneur? Take the Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!

2. Choose, Develop, and Refine Your Startup Idea

If you are looking for startup ideas for your business in Nebraska, one of the first places to begin your search is by looking at what you already know. This includes your capabilities, skills, interests, and passions. The most common sources of business ideas draw from people’s work experience, education and expertise, hobbies and personal interests, and technological knowledge and skills.

You should also consider how close the startup idea is to your sweet spot. What is your sweet spot? Think of it as the place where your capabilities and skills and your interests and passions all align with an attractive opportunity. When brainstorming or searching for ideas for startups, look for those within this sweet spot.

Attractive startup opportunities, those created with rapid growth in mind, are desirable, feasible, sustainable, and timely. Feasibility indicates that you have, or can acquire, the skills and resources needed for the project. Desirability means you want to do it — the risk vs. the reward is worth it to you. Sustainability means that it will last and is economically viable, socially responsible, and environmentally friendly. Timeliness means that now is the right time for the market, the idea, and also for you.

The state of Nebraska hosts a wide range of successful industries and startup sectors. A lot of these industries have deep ties to the state and take advantage of funding opportunities made available to their specific business sector. Some of the major industries in Nebraska are:

  •  Agribusiness — Nebraska is a major agricultural center, both of crops like corn and animals like cattle. The state ranks second in the country for the production of cattle products. 
  • Insurance and Financial Services — The insurance industry in the state has grown rapidly in recent years. Two major insurance firms call Nebraska home - Berkshire Hathaway and Mutual of Omaha. 
  • IT and Data Services — The state government is focusing heavily on attracting technology industries, particularly data centers. It has already established sites for all sizes of data center operations. 
  • Manufacturing - Manufacturing makes up over 10% of the state’s output and accounts for $13 billion a year. The state has more than 1,600 manufacturing facilities.

Recommended: TRUiC’s free business ideas generator allows you to explore a curated list of business ideas according to your interests and capabilities with just three easy steps.

Analyze the Industry Landscape and Develop Your Idea

Before you launch a startup in Nebraska, analyzing the state of the industry landscape, including the funding environment, the market size, and the competitive landscape, is vital to launching a successful startup. The goal of doing this is to establish whether there is ample opportunity within the industry to support your entrepreneurial goals. 

Funding Environment 
In order to launch a Nebraska startup, you will need some amount of funding, whether you choose to save your own money (“bootstrap”) or seek investment from venture capitalists. Answering these questions should help you establish what you need to know about the funding environment of your chosen industry. It could also potentially lead to more industry-specific questions that will provide you with the answers you need to get started, such as: 

  • What are the common startup funding sources for this industry? 
  • What type of funding will my startup need? 
  • What startup stage does my company need to be at in order to acquire adequate funding? 
  • Is funding highly competitive in this industry?

Competitive Landscape
Analyzing the competitive landscape gives you a better idea of your startup’s unique value proposition (UVP), allowing you to focus on pivoting the business model to make your startup stand out. There are two ways to conduct a competitive landscape analysis — researching your competitors and identifying the market structure. 

Analyzing Your Competitors
Start by identifying who your competitors are, the impact they have on your Nebraska startup (are they primary competitors or secondary competitors), as well as their content, marketing strategy, and social media. 

Then, evaluate the data you’ve collected to establish their strengths and weaknesses, target markets, and the threat they could pose to your startup’s success. Pay attention, additionally, to the challenges startups in the industry are currently facing and how you could approach the problem from a different angle to set your startup apart. It can also be helpful to look at innovations from different industries to identify ideas you could apply to your industry and startup.

Market Structure
Next, you need to establish the industry’s market structure. There are three distinct market structures: winner takes all (WTA), winner takes most (WTM), and fragmented. 

A winner-takes-all market (you can think of this as an oligopoly or duopoly) is when one or two companies dominate the industry or at least 80% of industry market shares, such as Google or Amazon. A WTA market is categorized as such by a few factors: scalability, global distribution capabilities, and network size that allows them to offer extremely competitive pricing smaller companies can’t offer. In addition to this, the cost to switch from a top company to a smaller competitor is high. 

A winner-takes-most market, comparatively, is defined by the top ten companies in the industry taking the largest percentage of market shares. An example is the ride-share industry, which is defined by companies like Uber, Grab, Bolt, and Lyft. This is an ideal market for venture capital-focused startups because it offers high scalability and more opportunity. A WTM market is categorized as such by a few factors: multiple services or products are able to operate simultaneously (such as Facebook and Twitter), the network is more localized and less global, and there are antitrust regulations in place. 

A fragmented market means no company owns a majority share of the market, and therefore, no company has market influence. Typically, these businesses will not grow to venture scale. A few of the common industries of this type are creative businesses, retail, and distribution. Industries that are part of fragmented markets tend to have low entry barriers and scalability isn’t a focus as it's not necessarily beneficial to these startups. 

Market Size and Demographics
Market size varies greatly by industry. It is critical to understand the market your Nebraska startup has available to it, including the market size as well as consumer locations and demographics such as age, gender, and average income. 

An effective analysis of a startup’s potential market makes it easier to assess the opportunity available (or lack of opportunity) and plan more effective marketing and product development strategies. Consider industry trends and where there may be creating new pain points, new sources of demand, or new/underserved market segments. 

An effective tool to establish market potential for your startup is studying Nebraska demographic information provided by the most recent Nebraska census. For example, if you’re developing a product that is geared toward younger people, you know the percentage of the population that is under 18 years old in Nebraska is roughly 25%.

Projected Growth
The value of your industry today is essential information to understand the state of the market and the industry’s impact. But, what does research show about the industry’s projected growth? If the industry is growing fast, do some research to identify the factors that are driving that growth. 

Additionally, try to recognize a segment of the industry where existing products or services aren’t meeting the needs of the market. Pain points in the industry that aren’t being addressed (or addressed well) offer an opportunity for you to make your stamp on the industry. 

Research and Refine Your Idea

Now that you’ve got a basic understanding of your industry, competitors, and the industry’s projected growth, your next step is to research and refine your startup idea. There are two common rules of thumb you should keep in mind when refining your startup idea:

  • The product or service should be 10 times better than the existing solution.
  • The product or service should solve the problem, not simply supplement it. (i.e., a painkiller instead of a vitamin)

If your product or service will cost more than existing solutions, you are going to need to work harder to get customers to adopt the new product or service you’ve created. It can be difficult and expensive to gain traction with an “evolutionary” innovation; however, it isn’t impossible. And, while this is especially true for higher-cost products, it can still apply to cheaper products that aren’t necessarily easy for consumers to adopt. 

Fortunately, there are ways to prepare for pitching your product or service to potential customers: 

  • Conduct interviews with customers you think might buy this product. Ideally, you will be able to use this insight to refine your value proposition or target market, if necessary. 
  • Use tools and software available to discover, organize, and learn from industry and market data. Some popular tools are Statistica, Think With Google, KNIME, and PickFu
  • Utilize startup incubators or startup accelerators in Nebraska to network with other entrepreneurs that can help with brainstorming and fine-tuning startup ideas. 

3. Craft Your Story

Create a Business Model Canvas

Once you have zeroed in on a startup idea, you will then need to develop your idea into a viable startup in Nebraska. This is the process of business planning. And, one of the first steps in business planning is writing it down.

Whether you begin with an informal or formal business plan, the process of writing your business plans down requires you to think through all of the key elements of your Nebraska business. It allows you to take an in-depth look at your industry, market, and competitive position. It helps you set goals, determine your keys to success, and plan your strategies. It requires you to explore your financial projections and manage cash.

There are many different types of business plans, depending on the stage of your Nebraska venture and the purpose of your business plan. In the earliest stages of your business idea, you may want to start with an informal business plan such as the business model canvas

Once you are ready to begin seeking investments, you will most likely be required to provide a formal business plan to lenders and potential investors.

The business model canvas, created by Eric Ries in his book The Lean Startup, helps map out the nine key areas of a startup. These nine areas include:

  • Customer Segments — describes your target market(s)
  • Value Proposition — depicts the value that your product or service provides
  • Channels — summarizes how you will communicate with and reach each customer segment 
  • Customer Relationships — describes the types of relationships (and how) you will establish with each customer segment
  • Revenue Streams — reports on how you plan to generate income from each customer segment 
  • Key Resources — describes the assets required to make your business model work
  • Key Activities — describes the most important activities your business in Nebraska must do to make your business model work
  • Key Partnerships — identifies who you will be forming relationships with in order to maintain customer relationships, reach customers, acquire resources, and complete key activities
  • Cost Structure — provides an overview of the cost structure to operate your business model

Create a Pitch Deck

Before you secure funding, there are a few things you need to have in place to increase the likelihood that your pitch is successful, whether you’re reaching out to angel investors or attempting to acquire a small business loan. The most important being your pitch deck. 

Crafting a compelling story is essential, not only to the success of your startup but also to creating an impactful pitch deck. This is one of the most important differences between a pitch deck and a business plan. The latter is more of a business execution plan than a depiction of the company’s vision. Additionally, you should also think about your elevator pitch, a 30-second pitch that includes the pertinent information about your company in Nebraska that will appeal to an investor. 

A startup’s pitch deck should include the following: 

  • An introduction to your startup
  • Examples of problems or issues your startup aims to solve 
  • Examples of the solutions your product or service provides 
  • The size of the market and opportunity
  • A clear description of your startup’s product or service 
  • An outline of the projected growth, major goals, and future steps 
  • An introduction to your core team members 
  • Define your competitors and establish your competitive advantage
  • Prove your financial planning and management ability 
  • A description of how investment funds will be used and why you need them

A few business planning resources in Nebraska include the following:

4. Build Your Founding Team and Entrepreneurial Network

Find Co-Founders

Startups with two founders are 19% less likely to scale prematurely than solo founders. Research shows that entrepreneurs launching a startup without a co-founder take 3.6 times longer to see significant growth — enough to outgrow the volatile startup stage. 

Despite these statistics, not all entrepreneurs need a co-founder to be successful. Bringing on co-founders is all about filling important gaps to ensure all of the company’s needs are met, such as: 

  • Skills gaps
  • Leadership experience 
  • Industry knowledge gaps
  • Startup experience 
  • Fundraising experience
  • Personality gaps 

If you do choose to bring on a co-founder, you need to have a founders’ agreement. This document outlines all expectations now and in the future — including roles and responsibilities, vesting, anticipated roles (i.e., CEO), expected capital contribution, equity or compensation, and time commitment. For example, if you are going to utilize venture capital, you will most likely want founders to agree to a full-time commitment. 

Find Advisors if Needed

Startup advisors can be especially helpful during the beginning stages of startup ownership if you aren’t fully confident in a specific aspect of business ownership, such as legal and compliance requirements, marketing, or manufacturing. Additionally, startup advisors are helpful in making key introductions to help your Nebraska startup grow as well as helping develop ideas and concepts for the company. 

Depending on the type of startup you’re launching, there are two common methods for finding a startup advisor. For high-scale startups, investors (venture capitalists or angel investors, typically) are often great startup advisors. However, if you’re launching a business that doesn’t have high growth in mind, you can find startup advisors through resources such as Nebraska SCORE or the Nebraska Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

Keep in mind that it’s important for all parties involved that you create an advisor agreement. This document solidifies the terms of your relationship, whether that means solidifying that the advisor is compensated with equity or simply outlining the time commitment and method of communication. 

Hire a Lawyer if Needed

The next step is learning how to find a great lawyer for your startup. What makes a good startup lawyer, essentially, is understanding the nuances of startups, such as establishing deal terms with venture capital firms and applicable business taxes. 

Every company should build a relationship with a lawyer to help with all of the legal requirements associated with forming and operating a business. Not only will your lawyer be essential in ensuring that your startup in Nebraska is legally formed without a hitch, they can help ensure that your business stays compliant if you plan to implement customized vesting schedules or share allocations. 

To find a lawyer for your Nebraska startup, you first need to establish your startup’s legal needs. Once you know this, you can move on to finding the right lawyer for your startup using these resources.

Network Network Network

Networking is one of the most impactful tools for startup entrepreneurs to grow and support their businesses. There are many different networking resources available to Nebraska entrepreneurs, such as startup incubators, networking events, and local entrepreneur communities to make connections. To develop the most impactful networking strategy, you need to connect with a wide range of people, such as: 

  • Fellow entrepreneurs or founders
  • Advisors or mentors
  • Potential customers 
  • Industry leaders
  • Investors
  • Members of your local startup community
  • Training programs
  • Hackerspaces and makerspaces
  • Connections to investors
  • Online communities

One place to expand your entrepreneurial network is within your local startup community in Nebraska. Many communities have thriving entrepreneurial ecosystems, with numerous opportunities to network within your local community. 

Check out TRUiC’s page on Local Resources to find out more about resources near you. A few areas to consider in Nebraska are Omaha, Lincoln, and Kearney.

In addition to providing opportunities to build your entrepreneurial network, your local startup community in Nebraska may provide additional resources, including training programs, mentoring, the use of hackerspaces and makerspaces, and connections to investors.

Another place many entrepreneurs turn to for advice is local SCORE mentor programs. SCORE is a network of more than 10,000 expert business mentors across the US that provides free mentoring to startup and small business owners. Find a mentor by visiting the Nebraska SCORE website.

Some startup networking resources in the state of Nebraska include the following:

Wherever you decide to turn, it is never too early to work on building your entrepreneurial network and getting involved in the conversation. 

5. Formally Establish Your Nebraska Startup

Name Your Startup

Naming your Nebraska startup is a very important consideration. Choosing an optimal name depends on the type of business, industry, and target market. 

The Nebraska Secretary of State requires businesses to follow specific name procedures. You can make an inquiry about the availability of a business name with the Secretary of State’s office in writing by fax, email, or a letter. The office will write you back with information on the availability of the name. 

The Nebraska government website states that it is important that you register your business name if you are doing business as anything other than yourself. Make sure you include the correct fee for your specific filing needs.

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If the name you were hoping to use is already in use, you will have to come up with another. If you end up having trouble coming up with a name, here are a few tools that might help:

  • How to Name a Startup: TRUiC’s How to Name a Startup guide discusses how to choose a name for your startup, register your startup’s name, and find a domain name for your business. 
  • Business Name Generator: TRUiC’s free business name generator allows you to search for available startup names by keyword, location, and industry.
  • Business Name Generator by Industry: TRUiC’s business name generator provides names for a variety of industries so you can find an available startup name that aligns with your business goals.
  • Business Name Generator for Local SEO: TRUiC’s business name generator for local SEO fine tunes your startup name options to optimize your site traffic locally using your city in Nebraska and keywords.

Choose a Business Structure

One of the first things you will need to do to establish your startup in Nebraska as an actual business is to choose your business structure (i.e., the legal form of your startup). 

There are four main types of legal structures for startup ventures: sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies (LLCs), and corporations

Choosing the legal structure of your Nebraska startup, in part, depends on (1) whether you are launching your startup alone or with co-founders and (2) the stage and growth plans of the venture.

Many startups begin as sole proprietorships and general partnerships. They begin as an idea, or a hobby, or as a low risk way to test and validate an idea. 

Sole proprietorships and general partnerships are informal business structures. In informal legal structures, the startup is considered an extension of the owners, and the owners bear the tax and liability burdens of the business. 

However, as the idea evolves and launching a startup begins to look more likely, the need for a formal business structure emerges.

LLCs and corporations are the two primary types of formal business structures. These forms of legal structures require registering your venture with the state as an independent entity. Because the venture is an independent entity from its owners, formal legal structures provide liability protection for the owners and unique tax benefits for the business.

The most popular business structure for startups with aspirations of high growth is the C corporation. This is because most investors prefer C corporations. A C corporation (C corp) has investor-friendly taxation rules, simple transfers of ownership, and natural exit strategies, and many angel investors and venture capitalists will not invest in ventures that are not incorporated.

To start a corporation in Nebraska, take the following steps:

  1. Create a Name For Your Nebraska Corporation
  2. Choose a Nebraska Registered Agent
  3. Choose Your Nebraska Corporation’s Initial Directors
  4. File the Articles of Incorporation

Read our full guide on how to form a corporation in Nebraska or have a professional service take care of the formation process for you.

If you decide an LLC is the best choice for your startup, you can start an LLC in Nebraska by following these steps:

  1. Name Your Nebraska LLC
  2. Choose A Registered Agent
  3. File Certificate of Formation
  4. Complete Nebraska LLC Publication Requirements
  5. Create an Operating Agreement
  6. Get an EIN

Read our full guide on how to form an LLC in Nebraska or hire a professional LLC formation service.

For more information on business structures, read our guide on How to Choose a Business Structure.

Choose a Location

Generally, the best location to start your startup is the state you’re already located in. Starting a business in a state other than the one you’re located in requires more complicated paperwork and complex tax requirements. However, if you’re thinking of starting your startup in a state other than Nebraska, some states are more business-friendly than others. 

For example, many founders choose to incorporate their startups in Delaware due to their immense business-friendly policies. Startups that form in Delaware are able to do business in other states and therefore bypass the state income tax — a huge tax advantage for any business. However, this isn’t the case in every state. We recommend consulting with a tax professional or attorney before deciding to do business in another state. 

Choosing the right location to start your Nebraska startup is crucial to its success. Nebraska boasts several great places to start your business, whether it is an established startup hub or an up-and-coming locale that offers incentives for new startups. 

  • Omaha — One of the prospering tech scenes in Nebraska is located in Omaha. Entrepreneurs can find a skilled workforce and low cost of living. 
  • Lincoln — The other Nebraska tech hub, Lincoln, is also home to a growing economy and educated workforce.

Create a Founder Employment Agreement and Vesting Agreement

Startup founders aren’t typically bound by severance agreements that would be applicable to other employees. Instead, founder employment agreements represent the legal agreement between the founder and company. 

A vesting agreement is an agreement between the company and a shareholder (typically an employee) that provides restrictions for the shareholder’s ownership of the company. In short, the employee will not be granted their share until the vesting requirements are satisfied. 

Formalize Advisory Agreement 

If your Nebraska startup chooses to involve advisors and equity is involved in the relationship, you will need to also formalize an advisory agreement. Essentially, this means that all the requirements and stipulations of the relationship between your company and the advisor are outlined, including terms of equity and confidentiality. 

Create Cap Table and Issue Shares/Certificates

A capitalization table, otherwise known as a cap table, is a document (such as a spreadsheet) that outlines the equity capitalization of your startup company. The cap table outlines your startup company’s securities (e.g., stocks, warrants, certificates, etc.), who owns each security, and the percentage of ownership they have. 

Next, you will want to issue shares or certificates of your company to each party based on the cap table you’ve created. 

Establish Corporate Governance

Corporate governance is essentially the rules, regulations, and guiding principles that govern a company. Not only does the corporate governance provide much-needed structure to help the startup obtain its goals and objectives, it balances the needs of each company participant. From shareholders to employees and the community, corporate governance ensures every need is balanced and met. 

Register Your Nebraska Business With the IRS

It is recommended that one of the first things you should do is register your business with the IRS by obtaining an Employer Identification Number (EIN). An EIN is the IRS’s way to identify a business. 

There are several reasons you may need an EIN for your Nebraska business:

  • EINs are required for many business structures such as corporations, partnerships, and multi-member LLCs. 
  • EINs are also required if you have any employees. 
  • Most banks require you to have an EIN to open a business bank account.

You can apply for an EIN for free on the IRS website or by mail, by fax, or by phone. For more information on how to apply, read our guide on How to Get an EIN (For Free).

Register Your Business for Sales Tax

Depending on the nature of the product or service you are offering in Nebraska, you may need to collect a sales tax.

Sales tax, or "Sales and Use Tax," is a tax charged by states, counties, and municipalities on the sale of certain taxable goods or services. Each state, and certain counties and municipalities, has its own set of rules and rates on what is taxable within that jurisdiction.

Read the sales tax nexus information from the Nebraska Department of Revenue as well as the information for retailers and sellers to understand the sales tax requirements. If you are going to collect sales tax, you will need to register your business online with the Department of Revenue. 

If sales tax applies to products or services you provide, you will be required to collect sales tax from customers and submit tax payments to the appropriate agency.

Obtain Permits and Licenses

In addition to registering your business, you will likely need to obtain a number of licenses and permits from your local, state, and federal government.

Federal Permits and Licenses
If your business falls under the regulation of any federal agency, you will likely need to obtain the appropriate permits from that agency. These include commercial activities in:

  • Agriculture
  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Aviation
  • Firearms, Ammunition, and Explosives
  • Fish and Wildlife
  • Commercial Fisheries
  • Maritime Transportation
  • Mining and Drilling
  • Nuclear Energy
  • Radio and TV Broadcasting
  • Transportation and Logistics

For more information on federal licensing, visit the Federal Licenses and Permits page on the sba.gov website.

State Permits and Licenses
The Nebraska state government produced a video that explains the basics of online business registration. It also explains all the factors to consider about registration on the Starting a Business in Nebraska page, including links to various business licenses and permits.

The Nebraska One-Stop Business Registration Information System is also useful. It will ask you questions to help you determine what you need as far as registration, licenses, and permits. 

To find out more about the permits and licenses in your state, use TRUiC’s Business License guide to find business license resources for your state.

Local Permits and Licenses
Most businesses will need some kind of local license or permit to legally conduct business within their town, city, or county. These may include anything from occupancy permits and food and beverage permits to special permits and licenses for signage, lighting, and noise. 

You will need to check with your local county clerk’s office about the types of licenses and permits required.

Get Insurance for Your Nebraska Startup

Most startups will need insurance in one form or another. Nebraska requires all employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance. There are some exceptions, but in most cases, you will need to have workers’ compensation insurance if you have one or more employees. Other forms of insurance may be optional but are important to protect you and your company from disaster.

You may choose to carry several types of additional insurance, such as general liability, professional liability, property, or auto, among many others. Or, you may choose to bundle several types of insurance together in what is known as a business owner’s policy

To learn more about the types of business insurance you may need, or search for our specific guides on business insurance recommendations in over 650 types of small businesses, make sure to read our Small Business Insurance guide.

When you are ready to start shopping for business insurance, read our guide on the Best Small Business Insurance Companies.

Protect Intellectual Property (IP)

Protecting your Nebraska startup’s competitive advantage means you need to obtain the proper patents, copyrights, and trademarks to ensure your intellectual property (IP) is protected. By registering ownership of intellectual property, you mitigate the risk of competitors utilizing the ideas, designs, or concepts that are protected. 

Furthermore, developing a Founder Intellectual Property Assignment Agreement essentially transfers the founder’s IP rights to the company, allowing the startup to utilize the IP while still maintaining its protection. Since founders are typically also shareholders in the company, they still benefit financially from their IP.

6. Get Startup Funding

It is worthwhile to consider fundraising when you are starting your business - but also at critical stages in the future. Once you know what you need and when you will need it, you can determine where to get the funding. Are you at the right stage to seek venture capital funding? Perhaps seeking funding from friends and family would be better? 

Investors are going to want to see your business plan - which is why you should always have your documents in order before seeking funding. But, investors may not be willing to go through the whole document at first. That’s where a pitch deck comes in. It’s a brief presentation that gives an overview of your business plan. Develop a pitch deck before you step out and start knocking on doors. 

Don’t be too discouraged if you hear “no” the first few times you seek funding. Even if it takes a hundred requests before you get what you need, it’s still good that you are putting yourself out there. The more you network, the more opportunities are likely to come your way.

The most common types of business funding are:

Keep in mind that your Nebraska startup will require different funding sources during different stages of development. For example, during the seed stage, bootstrapping or friends and family loans may be the best funding choice. However, as your startup becomes more established and reaches the growth stage, venture capital or angel investors are more likely to want to invest. 

That isn’t the only factor you need to consider, however. The type of startup you’re operating also plays an important role in determining the right funding source. 

Finding Investors 

Before you get to know potential investors, you need a pitch deck or similar material in place that details who you are, what your startup is about, and why it is a good investment. 

Then, you need to put yourself out there. Networking is the best way to generate startup funding — a warm introduction goes a long way with potential investors. But, keep in mind that you probably won’t be successful right away. The road to starting a successful startup isn’t easy, and securing funding is no exception. Prepare yourself for potential pitfalls, rejection, and be ready to combat demoralization to keep your momentum going. 

The goal early on in this process is to learn to sell yourself and your startup and to leverage each meeting for new connections.

The best way to meet potential investors is without a doubt networking and a warm introduction; the more you put yourself out there to get to know investors such as VC firms, the more likely you are to find funding. There are also plenty of business resources in Nebraska that can help you explore financing options and secure funding. Here are a few to consider:

  • Nebraska Resources to Start Your Business - Here you will find several different funding resources for startups, including the Nebraska Seed Investment Program and the Nebraska Innovation Fund Prototype Grants. 
  • USGrants.gov Nebraska Government Grants - There are numerous government funding opportunities in Nebraska. This is where you can find most of them. 
  • Invest Nebraska - This firm focuses on supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses by providing guidance and facilitating funding. 
  • Nebraska Angels - This angel investment firm supports local economic development. You can contact Nebraska Angels to learn more about various funding opportunities, including grants, angel capital, and venture capital.

Recommended: Establish financial credibility for your Nebraska startup with a business bank account and a business credit card.

7. Set Up Accounting for Your Startup in Nebraska

Business accounting is an important (and required) aspect of operating a startup in Nebraska. Accounting allows you to know how you are performing financially, track benchmarks and goals, and lets you know how much your startup is worth. In addition to serving legal and tax-related purposes, you also need an accounting system in place to accept payments, pay your employees, and manage your startup’s finances. 

There are a number of options for handling your business accounting, including hiring an in-house accountant, hiring a bookkeeper, using a payroll service, or using small business accounting software. However, no matter how you handle your Nebraska startup’s accounting, you will need to have an accounting system in place.

Recommended: Schedule a consultation with a business accountant today to find out how much time and money your business could save on tax, payroll, and bookkeeping services.

8. Establish Your Brand and Business Presence

Just because you build an awesome product, service, or experience does not mean that customers are going to show up at your door. You are most likely going to need to find them first and let them know about your startup in Nebraska. You will need to build your brand.

Design a Logo

One of the first things you will need to do is to design a logo for your brand to begin building awareness and recognition. A well-designed logo helps people to identify and remember your brand and builds trust. 

Try our free logo maker to generate thousands of professional, high-resolution, downloadable logo options for no charge. You can also find alternatives by reading our review of the Best Logo Makers

Build a Business Website

Every legitimate business needs a website. And sooner than later, your startup in Nebraska is going to need its own website too. 

If you have never built a website before, don’t worry. It is easier than ever, and TRUiC’s How to Build a Website guide walks you through it.

When choosing a website builder, there are many to choose from depending on your needs. Website builders like GoDaddy offer a multitude of features, functions, abilities, and applications based on your company’s needs. 

One thing to keep in mind when designing and writing content for your website is your search engine optimization strategy. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing your website traffic (and your brand) by designing your site’s content to rank higher in search engine results.

Recommended: To learn more about how to implement SEO on your startup’s website, check out our beginner’s guide to SEO: How Do People Find Your Website - SEO 101.

Establish a Social Media Presence

In addition to building a website, you will also likely need a social media presence to establish your brand and grow your startup in Nebraska. Social media provides a way to reach, connect, and engage with customers and potential clients. 

The most popular social media platforms include Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. However, additional platforms such as Yelp, Reddit, and Quora all have large followings of niche users. The social media platforms and strategy you choose to establish your startup will depend on the nature of your product or service and your target market.

To learn more about establishing your Nebraska startup’s presence on social media, feel free to read our Social Media Guide for Small Businesses.

Distribute Press Releases

Another way to let people know about your startup in Nebraska is by creating your own publicity by writing press releases. Press releases create visibility and help you establish your brand.

So, what is a press release? A press release is an official statement by your company written by you and distributed to the press to provide public knowledge and promote your Nebraska business and brand.

Of course, you can hire professional press release writers or press releases distribution services such as Sitetrail, but if you choose to write your own press releases, you can read our guide on How to Write a Press Release.

9. Build a Team

It’s simple: a startup is only as strong as its team. Hiring the right people to run, support, and grow the company alongside you is vital to the success of your company in Nebraska. A successful startup team is motivated, talented, and passionate; however, a positive and supportive company culture is arguably the most important factor. 

Typically, an early-stage startup will need to hire or assign the following roles: 

  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO) 
  • Chief Operations Officer (COO) or Chief Technology Officer (CTO)
  • Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
  • Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) or Director of Marketing 
  • Product Manager or Designer
  • Product Developer or Engineer 
  • Sales Manager
  • Customer Service Representative

It is common for a startup’s founder(s) to choose to fill one of these positions themselves, typically one of the chief positions, depending on their time commitment and skill level. Outside of these assignments, you’ll need to find people with the talent, personality, and dedication to help make your Nebraska startup successful. 

If you’re not sure where to start, there’s good news. Fortunately, there are several ways to find talent for your company such as word-of-mouth recruiting, online job boards, or even working with a professional recruiter. 

Additionally, you can find state-specific employer resources for everything from the tax credits you’re eligible for to information about where and how to hire talented professionals on the Nebraska Department of Labor website.

Before you expand your team, however, you need to establish your startup’s mission and values. This will not only help you navigate through the candidate pool — it will increase your chances of attracting the right candidates for your startup. Furthermore, an effective job description can go a long way in securing the right candidate for the role. 

Registering for Employer Taxes 

In Nebraska, if you have employees, you will have two taxes you’ll need to register for in order to stay compliant with the state. The first is Unemployment Insurance Tax through the Nebraska Department of Labor. Second is Employee Withholding Tax through the Nebraska Department of Revenue.

Setting up Payroll

We have no doubt that your company is great; however, in addition to providing a great workplace, you will need to compensate employees for their time and efforts. If you have hired employees, you’ll need to set up payroll. Using a payroll service such as ADP makes issuing paychecks easy, saving you time and helping you navigate employee withholding taxes and state compliance requirements. 

10. Launch and Scale Your Nebraska Startup

The work doesn’t end at launch or after your first sale. You will then need to focus on carrying out your plan and growing your business in Nebraska. This will require dedication, perseverance, and the willingness to seize opportunities to grow.

These opportunities might include expanding to new regions, seeking additional target markets, or expanding your product or service offerings. 

Opportunities for growth also might come along in the form of innovation, quality improvement, customer-focused development, and streamlining your business model. 

Or, opportunities for growth might include internal growth factors such as building your entrepreneurial network, growing your team, and building a strong company culture. 

Create a Strategy to Motivate Growth

While growth can happen organically, you are more likely to reach your Nebraska startup’s desired objectives if you create a strategy for growth. Once you’ve captured initial customers, expand your reach beyond early adopters and existing customers to establish a sustainable growth trajectory that includes tactics for both profitable and sustainable growth. 

Start by asking yourself the following questions: 

  • If you plan to raise more funds in the future, what milestones will you need to hit in order to justify a new round of funding? 
  • How long will it take to get to the stage where you will need another funding round? 
  • What kind of “burn rate” is rational for your Nebraska startup's expected growth and current operation needs? 

Additionally, you will need to work toward not only understanding but improving unit economics such as your payback period, customer retention rate, lifetime customer value (LCV), and customer acquisition cost (CAC). These unit economics can be measured by channel, customer segment, and product line. By developing strong measurements to better track and understand this data, you’ll be able to more easily develop strategies to grow your customer base and product line as needed. 

Recommended: Read our guide on How to Grow Your Business for tips on seeking and finding opportunities for growth.

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