Do you have an entrepreneurial spirit? Do you have an idea that could add to the commerce and personality of the Lincoln community? Do you feel empowered to take things into your own hands and seek out new opportunities? If so, you’ve probably dreamed of owning your own business and putting your spirit to the test. Is it a little intimidating? Sure it is, but if you have the dream and the spirit to follow through, why not test your ideas and give it a try? Just be certain that you are truly dedicated before taking the plunge, because starting a business can be a bit of an arduous and highly detailed process, but the rewards can cover the price of entry.
The U.S. Small Business Administration offers a 10-step plan for starting a business, which includes: conducting market research; writing a business plan; funding your business; selecting your business location; choosing a legal structure for your business; choosing your business name; registering your business; getting federal and state tax IDs; applying for licenses and permits; and opening a business bank account. As part of this entire process, we suggest working with a business coach who is a good match for you, hammer out some details and test your grit. We talked to some savvy business experts in the Lincoln area to get some tips for walking the path to business ownership and outfitting your business and employees for success.
Are you ready to be a doer and take the plunge with your next great idea? Several local businesses shared their advice for up-and-coming entrepreneurs and how they can help you make your vision a reality.
Panology Tech Solutions is a technology solutions firm, providing computers, networks and cloud to local small businesses. They serve exclusively small businesses with fewer than 100 employees. When starting a business, Panology can help you get the most out of your technology budget. Panology makes technical support and cloud services accessible to small and medium sized businesses. By lowering the barrier to cloud adoption through automation, you can begin (or accelerate) the movement of your workloads into the cloud with ease. Increase your agility and keep the technology that your business relies upon running, while you focus on what your business does best.
“Our offerings have been designed with the needs and challenges of small-businesses in mind,” said Owner Darren Lichty. “We take great pride in being able to help our clients achieve their goals for their businesses, making technical support and cloud services easily accessible and affordable. Additionally, we help to find efficiencies that can greatly
benefit a business in a number of ways.”
By educating small business owners on the options available to them, they are in the position to make an informed decision – one of many they’ll be making as they get their businesses up and running. Moving forward, Panology’s technology growth plan allows for the integration of faster
and more advanced technology as a business grows. It does this by identifying and resolving any technology deficiencies early on in order to prevent growing pains when a business decides to expand its operations.
By implementing this in the very beginning, you’re setting yourself up for success and ensuring that the technology you’ll come to rely on is always working hard for you at peak performance.
“As a business grows, so do the demands upon their technology. It is at this point that small nuances can become major problems. Worse yet, the technology that is serving your business needs fine today can (and often does) hinder your business as it grows. Using what we have learned during an assessment, we put together a technology growth plan. We identify the technology that will stunt your business’s growth, and define a concise plan to resolve those deficiencies early,” Darren explained. “Our technology growth services do not stop there. As your technology partner we keep your technology growing with your business. Your business continues to grow without having to suffer the technology ‘growing pains’ that many others do.”
At Panology Tech Solutions they value customer satisfaction, quality of service and loyalty to their customers. They pride themselves in providing comprehensive solutions that fit their client’s needs and budget. A fundamental component of these solutions is the assurance of quality at every step. Ensuring that these solutions also remain concise, preventing excess, is essential in proving their commitment to loyalty. Panology’s pledge to uphold these values is vital to their objective in building a strong relationship with the clients they are grateful to serve. The strength of these relationships will drive the success of their clients.
It Must be a Sign
Signage is a big piece of making your business known in the community and telling the public that you’re ready to provide them with your goods and services. Regardless of where you are at in your new business planning, Sign Pro of Lincoln has something to offer.
“We offer a wide variety of products for the different stages of getting a business going,” said Owner Julie Shald. “In the early stages, we can offer temporary signage such as ‘Coming Soon’ banners, yard signs, and temporary window signs. When your opening date is closer, we can give you many options for building signage, both interior and exterior. If your business is mobile or has delivery or service vehicles, we can produce a wide variety of vehicle graphics to meet any need and budget.”
Once you have the business up and running, Sign Pro can continue to help you with signage for special events, sales, or promotions. They encourage you to keep them in mind over the years as your business grows to help you keep your signage and graphics looking great.
Your Built Environment
So you’ve made it through all the brainstorming, paperwork, strategizing, funding, locating, building and minutia to start your business. Now it’s time to make it a place that people want to work safely and happily and customers or clients want to frequent. We know the next step: Contact AOI Corporation to ace the built environment! They offer comprehensive services for new construction, renovations and expansion, provide furniture options that leverage environments to create greater value for businesses and offer an entire line of sustainable prefabricated modular interior construction.
“AOI focuses on the built environment, whether that be in your private office, small business or a corporate tower,” said Director of Marketing Penny Johnston. “We have everything from MillerKnoll highly ergonomic task chairs to DIRTT (Doing It Right This Time) modularly constructed walls, and everything in between.”
Integrating technology needs for growth is crucial to starting a business. You’ll save a lot of time and effort down the road if you plan for long-term technology needs in spaces like huddle rooms or meeting spaces. AOI can help you strategize your built environment for now—and when you grow, considering your specific needs.
“Every buyer’s situation is so different, which is why our furniture consultants are trained on things like ergonomics and warranty, to help you make the best product decisions,” Penny said. “Our design professionals are trained on local codes and life-safety issues within the built environment, as well. To that end, we also have online planning guides available through our various manufacturers, so if you do not need personal help just yet, we have other avenues for you. We help you make the most informed decision possible, whatever your situation.”
Among AOI’s newest products are Framery Pods, which are soundproof pods that make a perfect place to have meetings, brainstorming sessions and important one-on-one conversations in private without disturbing the entire office—or the office disturbing them. This is just one example of what they deliver as Nebraska’s authorized dealer for Framery, a globally recognized brand known for offering innovative workplace solutions to many of the world’s leading companies, including Microsoft, Puma, LinkedIn and Tesla. AOI is also a certified dealer for MillerKnoll furniture, which transforms ordinary spaces into collaborative, innovative environments for the 21st century.
“AOI is the only full-service MillerKnoll dealer in the state of Nebraska,” Penny said. “As a company, AOI’s unique products and services will effectively achieve your future goals, creating an environment that fosters innovation and collaboration, while showcasing beautiful, design-driven furniture that will grow and change with your business!”
With the rise of social media and time spent staring at screens, advertising and promotion has had to shift their focus to the digital. As a business owner, you may understand your business and vision better than anyone else, but why not find a professional that can make your ideas come to life in an eye-catching, strategic video that really makes your
business shine? That’s where the pros at Altitude Motion Media come in.
“We specialize in making scroll-stopping videos to help promote businesses,” said Ryan Lindbeck, founder of Altitude Motion Media. “This is a great tool to use on social media, your website or email campaigns to put your name out there in a way that catches people’s attention. We find that most businesses commonly overlook the fact that video is extremely valuable for their initial marketing plan, but studies have shown that it increases dwell time, traffic, leads and sales – leading to a great ROI.”
If you have a smartphone, it most likely has a pretty good camera that can capture video, so you may be thinking – what’s the point of hiring a professional if I can do it myself? Most people underestimate the time and precision it takes to put together a high-quality video, and Ryan and his team are committed to making sure you have the time to focus on what you do best.
“It’s very important to hire professionals because time is the number one resource entrepreneurs have,” Ryan explained. “By hiring professionals, especially in video, it helps you worry about the things in your business that only you can do, and allows the professionals to get the other things done quicker and with their expertise.”
There are many resources online out there that may boast a quick turnaround or cheaper price for an advertisement, but the experience of working with a local, small business is the best incentive you could ask for.
“Our company is unique because we are a small, family-owned business, so we understand starting a business,” shared Ryan. “When it comes to our videos, we can operate quickly and still provide very high quality content. We love being creative and helping other businesses tell their story. We want people to know that it doesn’t have to cost as much as you might think to get a great video out there to promote yourself, and we’d love to help you in the process of building your brand!”
If you’re looking for a way to get your new business’ name out there in a way that really pops, reach out to Altitude Motion Media and make your vision a reality!
People in Your Corner
Cruise & Associates can help make sure your business gets off to the right start. Many small businesses fail within the first five years. To be successful, you need to know how to run your business efficiently. Business owners know how to do the job but don’t always understand all aspects of their business, and this can be the difference between success and failure. Cruise & Associates provide education programs to help meet your specific needs. Their staff will work with you to develop a custom strategy because what works for one business doesn’t necessarily work for everyone. What makes their programs unique is that they are oneon-one trainings. They are there to answer questions specific to your business. The Cruise & Associates team can provide education on entity structure planning, cash flow planning, business operations and documentation and employee benefits.
“Cruise & Associates can also provide bookkeeping, accounting and payroll services. Our bookkeepers will make sure your employees get paid, payroll taxes filed and handle the filing of payroll reports to the federal, state and local agencies. We can take care of accounts payable and receivable, create invoices and send out statements,” said Robert F. Cruise, president of Cruise & Associates. “This will free up the business owner to focus on running his or her business and not having to worry about paying employees and making sure the correct taxes get filed. If this is more than you need just getting started, we can also do Quickbooks consulting where we log in and make sure things are being entered correctly and if not make adjustments.”
One of the most challenging parts of starting a business is estimating your income. Business owners tend to overestimate their income and underestimate their expenses. It is better to take a conservative approach. That is why it is important to make sure you have enough cash to start up. It could take a while for the business to start making money and having a little cushion will help take some of the stress off. When starting a business, you need to know what you want to accomplish and how you plan to do it. A good business plan can be a determining factor if a business succeeds or fails. This will also help you stay on track and keep the business moving in the right direction.
“A professional will help ensure that all the steps through the business startup are being handled correctly. People know that employees need to be paid, however, they may not know how to file payroll taxes or payroll reports. Even relatively simple things like setting up a separate checking account for the business are not often thought about,” explained Robert. “People think it is my company, so it doesn’t matter if my personal and business accounts are the same. This is where an accountant would be a tremendous resource to make sure a new business owner knows all the hoops that need to be completed and how to best set things up for tax purposes. A lawyer is another key person to make sure you and your business are protected.”
Overall, Cruise & Associates thrives on knowing that your business is successful because of the things they taught you. They want to know that you will carry your new found learnings with you throughout your business journey and beyond.
“Cruise & Associates does not want to be there just to help you get started. We want to help educate you to be a better business owner. We realize that what you need when you first start out will be completely different than what you need in three years,” said Robert. “We will be there every step of the way to provide you with guidance to help make
your business succeed.”
Fill the Gaps
Technology is critical to the success of your business operations, and Lutz emphasizes that it’s important to invest in solid IT equipment to help make sure processes are running efficiently. Their IT professionals can offer support in assessing your business technology needs and recommend the best options for you. Furthermore, the Lutz Tech team can provide your startup with everything from managed network and IT services to custom software and application development to help your organization optimally function.
They are designed to be your one-stop service as their expertise extends beyond IT operations. The Lutz Accounting and Financial teams can help you not only manage but optimize your financials so that you can focus on what truly matters—running your business. The Lutz Talent division can help relieve your staffing burden by searching, vetting and hiring the top talent your business needs. In addition, the Lutz M&A division can help market your company for sale, recapitalization or new investment as well as assist you in assessing future transactions through Quality of Earnings (QoE) reporting and transaction structuring.
“Starting a business is exciting but can also be overwhelming. There are many decisions to be made along the way, and engaging professional partners from the start is very beneficial. As a business solutions firm, we help our start-up clients with decisio
n points in the areas of tax, accounting, technology and talent,” shared Client Advisory Services Manager Lauren Harris. “Tax considerations include selecting an entity type and understanding the related income tax impact as well as understanding the applicability of other taxes for their business, such as payroll tax, sales tax, personal property tax and more. We also consult in the areas of software selection, technology infrastructure and building the right team – whether that is hiring internally or determining what could be outsourced to a third party.”
Ultimately, Lutz can work with new business owners to fill the gaps and ensure they have considered these items that are crucial for their business’s success.
Taking Steps Forward Together
Starting and growing a business come with extensive responsibilities. With this in mind, it’s important that you focus on your strengths and hire the right experts to handle the parts of starting a business that are highly specialized. Luckily, the team at SP Group, PC, is ready to be by your side during the beginning stages of your business and beyond.
“Starting a business can be an intimidating process to tackle on your own,” said SP Group CPA Erica Vossler. “We strive to alleviate some of the headaches that come with getting started, including business planning, entity selection, payroll management and bookkeeping, and financial-statement preparation. Having a trusted accounting firm at your disposal will let you focus your time on the things you truly do best, instead of getting bogged down in the details.”
One of the crucial steps in the process of starting a business is choosing an entity type, and it’s a step that often is missed by first-time business owners. You must choose whether your business is a sole proprietorship, limited-liability company, partnership or corporation.
“This is a critical decision from a legal and ownership standpoint, but it can also have far-reaching implications from a tax perspective,” Erica said. “Consulting with both an attorney and an accountant about your entity selection before you start your business is a wise step in the planning stages of your new business.”
Engaging an accountant in the planning stages of a new business allows an entrepreneur to leverage that professional’s experience and knowledge to address both short- and long-term concerns. An accountant that serves business clients is aware of the potential pitfalls and blind spots that a new business owner may face and helps navigate the complexities of the tax code and tax planning, as well as, the day-to-day tasks of bookkeeping and payroll processing.
“SP Group, PC, has a wealth of experience assisting business owners at every stage, from initial startup, through the growth years, and into succession planning or sale of a business,” Erica explained. “We provide a complete array of services including entity selection and business advisory, payroll and accounting, audit and assurance and tax compliance and planning. SP Group values long-term relationships. Our strength is knowing you and your business over many, many years. We provide you advice based on a complete understanding of your personal, family and business goals, and taking that journey together. We succeed when you succeed.”
A Personal Touch to Payroll Services
TAC Payroll Solutions provides full-service payroll solutions, bookkeeping services and more while keeping up with the ever changing payroll laws and regulations at a fair and reasonable cost. They are dedicated to providing your business with the personal attention it deserves.
Owner and Manager Terry Clark has over 20 years of experience in multi-state payroll and bookkeeping. With the latest software technology available, Terry’s attention to detail and experience, plus being a member of the Lincoln community, all set TAC Payroll Solutions apart from the big box companies.
As a small business owner herself, Terry has some advice for those just getting started on their own journey.
“I found that it was a little more expensive to get things set up than expected, and I hadn’t budgeted for that. Sitting down with a professional before making big decisions would have saved me a lot of time and money,” said Terry. “Hiring an accountant and attorney first is key to getting your business set up correctly.”
Terry and her team bring a personal approach to providing payroll and bookkeeping services at a fair and reasonable cost. They love being a part of the Lincoln community and pride themselves on bringing good customer service to every interaction they have.
Work with Experts Who Care
Getting advice from your peers can be a great tool, but finding an expert that can see your goals and help you realize them takes things to another level.
Fiserv enables money movement for thousands of financial institutions and millions of people and businesses. They
help you make smart decisions and set realistic goals financially. We spoke to National Senior Sales Advisor Dan Rau, who everyone knows as Rowdy, to learn more about the services Fiserv has to offer, and the bits of advice you need to
take your business to new heights.
“My greatest value add to a business is my vast network and expertise and experience in Financial Technology (FinTech) solutions,” explained Rowdy. “My income and success is directly connected to the growth and success of my clients and portfolio. My network allows businesses easier opportunities to build long lasting partnership and vendor relationships.”
Finding the small ways that could be saving your business money is one of the things Rowdy knows best. He shared a tip with us for new businesses that are trying to save an extra buck.
“Businesses now more than ever can gain back all, some, or none of their fees with merchant processing,” Rowdy said. “Merchant processing fees are tax deductible operating costs, so passing the 3-4% fee to customers when inflation is set this time at 7.7% allows the business to increase deductions while paying less or zero in merchant processing fees.”
One thing Rowdy expressed is something that everyone can take with them, no matter what their next venture is.
“I will end with a quote from Muhammad Ali, ‘Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth,’” shared Rowdy. Remember to take care of the people around you!
Connect with the Community
The Lincoln Chamber of Commerce serves as Lincoln’s lead business organization championing our innovative, bustling business community. They are a convener and collaborator who bring all voices together to grow our city and move it forward.
There is no better time to join the Chamber than as a brand new business. The Lincoln Chamber works hard to help you develop new contacts and make the business community aware of your arrival on the scene through raising awareness with members and potentially hosting a ribbon cutting/public relations event once you are ready. Chamber membership and sponsorship should be part of your budget to start growing brand awareness of your business in Lincoln.
It comes down to dollars and cents. The Chamber’s activities should reduce your cost of doing business, leaving more dollars in your pocket. The Chamber connects you to new customers who will potentially buy your product and increase your business revenue. Join the Chamber and you will grow!
Find the Right Home for Your Business
For smaller businesses looking into moving or finding an office space, an affordable, convenient option is renting a space from OneTEQ Office Suites. OneTEQ gives you the leverage you need to pursue new opportunities without committing to a long-term lease. You don’t need to purchase expensive equipment or hire a full-time staff. Their offices are available by the hour, day, month or year.
Moving comes with a lot of expenses that can be eliminated by renting through OneTEQ. If this is your business’s first space, it may be wise to cut costs in the early stages. The expenses of a new building or vacant space can add up quickly and you want to be sure you have the funds to keep advancing the business and needs of your company, rather than the needs of the building. Each office space comes with a variety of amenities such as common area copiers and color printers, reception and kitchen areas, wireless internet, cleaning service, IT assistance and free parking. The spaces also come fully furnished.
OneTEQ makes it easy to find and book offices on terms that fit your budget and schedule. The 10 offices and 15 cubicles available at their downtown location provide productive environments for small teams or individuals needing something that a traditional office lease can provide.
“We have business owners who have been utilizing our office suites for over eight years now,” said Kevin Knudson,
owner. “OneTEQ is a desirable office environment for short-or-long-term small business owners.”
Their leasing options include short-term month-to-month rentals, long-term leases for 6-24 months, short-term office rental for day or week rentals, day-of move in with one hour notice and conference room rental for non-leasing businesses at an hourly rate. The flexibility these leasing options provide is unmatched in the Lincoln real estate market. Make your business’s dreams come true for a fraction of the cost with OneTEQ Office Suites!
Pioneer Printing, Inc. is a full-service printer, which means they can do just about anything. In addition to printing, they provide graphic design services, bindery and finishing, engineering copies, book and booklet binding and posters and banners.
The team at Pioneer Printing has high standards, and their goal is to sell the highest-quality printed products they possibly can. They define quality by evaluating the finest papers, purchasing earthfriendly inks and consumable products, hiring talented employees and building reliable workflow systems that enables them to hit demanding deadlines. Pioneer Printing goes to extraordinary lengths to satisfy and delight their customers. They earnestly try
to meet or exceed your expectations on every single printed document you purchase from them. They know that by doing so, their customers will become an advocate for the business. Advocates do more than just buy printing; they talk about it with their friends and business associates.
If you aren’t the best creative, Pioneer Printing’s professionally trained graphic designers are computer artists who know how to use their creative abilities to improve the look of your printed projects. Creative use of color, typography, photos and illustration can dramatically improve the effectiveness of your project. Good design can help create a favorable impression that makes your company and its products stand out in the crowd. The designers are skilled at creating attention-getting brochures, sell sheets, booklets, manuals and newsletters. They also specialize in the creation of business forms and all types of workplace documents.
The Newest Tech to Drive Your Success
Yost Network Solutions is a locally owned and operated technology firm. They serve Lincoln, Nebraska and the surrounding communities. Yost believes in a proactive support model – they want to reduce your system management and support costs by helping to prevent problems before they happen. They do this by scheduled maintenance plans, active system monitoring and good diagnostics. Yost Network Solutions will help build and keep your systems running at their optimum level to ensure you are able to do the things in life that matter most to you.
If your business relies on the newest technology, make sure you have the best tools for your type of work. Yost Network Solutions provides IT consulting and implementation for commercial clients in the Lincoln and the surrounding communities. Their IT solutions are designed with you in mind. They will work with you to determine
your business needs and find areas where technology can make your work even better.
The IT solutions offer a range of benefits for your business. Yost can help your business increase your internet speed, implement system automaton and create a data monitoring system.
Your network is vital to your business’s success. If your network is slow, your production will be slow. Trust Yost Network Solutions to create a pathway that helps you work well. Yost’s network design services are customized to every client and their needs. They will work with you to determine your needs and ensure your new network can handle the workload. Wireless network design is a breeze with the right people on the job. When getting network design services, you need to know about your needs and plans.
The crew asks the right questions so that you get the right services:
• What type of services do you provide?
• What types of clients do you support?
• What are your data needs?
• What level of bandwidth will you need?
With the right wireless network design, you can serve your customers well and avoid the pitfalls of a bad network.
Yost offers traditional access control systems as well as systems designed specifically for businesses and other properties. With their access control service, you can utilize the convenience of a traditional RFID fob, key card system or app. Tenants can use a single app to open doors, pay their bills and communicate with their property management.
Contact Yost today to find out how they can help your business.
It’s an exciting time when your entrepreneurial spirit gives you that push to go forward with your dream of opening your own business. We encourage you to reach out to these local businesses and professionals to ensure your vision can be made a reality.