Starting a Business
Have you had the dream of a business startup stirring in your thoughts for a while now? Perhaps you have a business model in mind, but you’ve been holding off until the stars align. There are many people blessed with an entrepreneurial spirit, and they know they have a good product or service to offer, but they don’t feel confident in moving forward because they are unfamiliar with the necessary steps to take to actually start a business. Being knowledgeable of the process is important, especially considering all the various aspects that go into it.
If you’re serious about making your business dream a reality, we’ve gathered helpful information and talked with experts who have their hand in different areas of the business launching process, from the legalities to the commercial lease.
Make it Legal and Official
Choosing a legal structure, such as an LLC to protect your private assets, is an important initial step to take when starting a business. It’s necessary to go through all the proper channels to fill out paperwork and comply with laws and regulations for getting registered. You will also need to get federal and state tax ID numbers, permits, any necessary licenses, and trademarks, copyrights, or patents, if applicable. Though some of this may be simple enough to do on your own, the total volume of work may be overwhelming, and it’s always helpful to have the knowledge and expertise of a lawyer to ensure that you’ve covered your bases.
Partnering with a lawyer from the get-go can help protect you from future mishaps and expensive mistakes down the road. Berry Law Attorney Susan Napolitano can help ensure that you start your business on the right track.
“When somebody comes in with just an idea, I can teach them how to set up their practice or business as opposed to setting it up for them,” she shared. “That works great for small business owners. Then, as they get bigger, we work to avoid any kind of legal issues.”
Berry Law is well equipped to handle nearly all your business legal needs. Serving clients throughout Lincoln and Omaha, Berry Law can help anyone needing legal assistance at the outset of a new business venture. Partnering with Berry Law is a smart move that can give them the confidence and security of knowing they’re in good hands. The legal needs of business owners vary widely by city and state, but in all cases there are a significant number of services that a local business attorney can provide to help business owners. There are DIY options to sidestep lawyers, but given the tremendous financial consequences of correct legal work it can sometimes be a costly mistake to avoid legal help.
Secure Good Partnerships
In addition to partnering with a lawyer, you may find that there are other aspects of your business that you would benefit by outsourcing to a professional while you focus on your primary area of expertise. For example, it’s recommended for business owners to partner with a CPA in order to comply with the latest policies and legislation that affect their taxes and bottom line. Clint Hlavaty with CS Accounting explained some of the ways he helps new business owners become more secure with their accounting needs, both by providing the direct services and also by offering some educational assistance in learning about changes in accounting policies moving forward.
“CS Accounting offers services in bookkeeping, accounting, and consulting,” he said. “We can do your accounts receivables, account payables, payroll, taxes, and set up of your business for all accounting needs. Our goal is to educate you on the accounting world changes and how it affects your business. We are noticing a new trend in the small business world of contracting out services that help your business grow so you can focus on your passion of the business. That’s where we come in! We are also noticing a lot more business owners utilizing cloud storage to access information on their cell phones and manage their businesses on the run. Being able to manage time and resources is very important for today’s business owner, which is partly why outsourcing certain needs is so important.”
Since finances are such a private matter, you want to partner with an accountant or financial advisor you can trust—someone who has been in your shoes and knows what you’re going through. SP Group, P.C. has many entrepreneurially-minded accounting professionals who have experience with small businesses of their own.
“Starting a business can be an intimidating process to tackle on your own,” noted Austin Zimmerman, team accountant with SP Group. “Don’t hesitate to reach out to trusted resources within the community for advice. Starting a business can be daunting, so take the opportunity to leverage off of the experience of experts. Sitting down with a CPA with prior expertise can save you a lot of time and money in the long run and keep you on track to accomplish your goals. 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 CPA 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.”
The better you manage your budget and monitor your financial situation, the more successful your business will be. By having an accurate handle on your budget, you can measure performance against expenditure and ensure that resources are available for initiatives that support business growth and development. One of these initiatives that can’t be overlooked in the digital world we are living in is technology. Data is everything. Scott Sunderman, senior accountant at Lutz, emphasized the importance of investing in a good IT system and support when starting a business.
“Technology is critical to the success of your business operations,” he said. “It’s important to invest in solid IT equipment to help make sure processes are running efficiently. An IT professional can help you assess your business technology needs and recommend the best options for you. Our 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.”
Lutz is designed to be your one-stop service as their expertise extend beyond IT operations.
“Partnering with Lutz is always a smart move for businesses,” Scott stated. “Our 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. Our Lutz Talent division can help relieve your staffing burden by searching, vetting, and hiring the top talent your business needs.”
If your business structure requires processing large ticket transactions, particularly in regards to credit card processing fees, CurrencyPay, a partner of Sandhills Global has an innovative new solution. CurrencyPay helps you unlock your business potential as the first payment platform designed for buying and selling large-ticket items. With CurrencyPay’s payment processing system, you can optimize large-ticket transactions with ease through multiple payment options so your customers always have a way to pay for larger purchases. In addition to traditional payment methods such as credit, debit, and ACH, CurrencyPay allows you to offer your customers flexible financing at the point of sale. There are no long- term commitments with CurrencyPay—you can process payments on your terms so you can focus on growing your business. Finally, CurrencyPay provides exclusive inventory finance programs for you, allowing you to take advantage of a custom-tailored finance package based on your business goals, including 0% interest for 90 days and more.
Location, Location, Location
Ask yourself if your business needs a storefront or a physical location to carry out operations. If so, finding the right location can make all the difference in attracting customers and also allowing you to function efficiently with optimum access to the resources you need to keep your business running.
To help you find the right location for your business, it is important to look to experts who know the current real estate market and the best available offerings. Krueger Development excels in helping their clients find locations to suit their unique businesses. Stephanie Krueger Ponce, director of business development at Krueger Development, is continually taking note of trends in the current marketplace and the demands for different types of business locations.
“Startups tailored to niche markets are very common anymore,” she shared. “In the last year, we have worked with:
- The Joshua Collingsworth Memorial Foundation and its Float 4 Life training center—an organization specifically focused on water safety education and one-on-one float training for children
- Victress—a functional-movement based gym specifically focused on helping women stay fit through all stages of life, including pre, post, and during pregnancy
- Triniti Athletics—a youth gymnastics center that also features Ninja Warrior training specifically for adults
- Movin’ Up—a pole fitness studio that focuses on fun yet effective full body workouts through pole dance, with supplemental classes to help with conditioning, flexibility, and choreography.”
Stephanie explained that Krueger Development makes it a priority to help businesses find a location that suits their needs and preferences, whatever their area of focus may be.
“Krueger Development offers commercial spaces that a business can call home,” she said. “Finding home can be a stressful process. Any potential business owner can take advantage of our free commercial space drafting and cost estimating, with no obligation. We cover which of our locations can best serve a business’s needs—including interior design— and at what cost, all before ever asking a client to put down capital. Cost is always the bottom line but oftentimes more so with startups, and we are very conscious of that.”
John Linscott with Greenleaf Properties has also observed what an important role cost plays in business startups. John shared that one important service real estate agents offer clients is representing the tenant’s interests during lease negotiations so they are paying a fair price for their business space.
“Because of the intricacies of leasing a space, you certainly have to understand what you are getting into,” he cautioned. “You need a representative who can help locate the best options available on the market and help ensure you are being leased a space at a fair market rate. One of the most important details in a leasing transaction is who will pay for maintenance and repairs. Unless you deal with leases all the time, you might not realize, for example, that you are responsible for equipment replacement, which can lead to costs of $5,000 to $6,000 in some instances.”
Partnering with an experienced agent can help you avoid expensive pitfalls. Even with the help of a great agent, however, a new business owner is at a disadvantage if they don’t allow sufficient time in advance for finding the best location for their new business. Cathy Kottwitz with Guiderock Commercial Realty shared her experience of working with new business owners to find the best location for their new ventures.
“One of my primary roles as an agent is to help clients select a site that aligns with their current needs and future goals,” she said. “Whether that’s finding a flexible space, upgrading to a better location, or moving from a leased space to one the business owns, that’s where I come in. I commonly see business owners not giving themselves enough time to find a location. I typically recommend getting some general ideas for locations and costs about a year in advance and planning to start actively looking six months in advance of projected opening time. This allows time to assess options, negotiate terms, and remodel a space if needed.”
For business owners who want the benefits of a professional space but are unsure about the costs, HIP Realty offers an excellent alternative to the more expensive and traditional route of leasing or purchasing a standalone location.
HIP OffiCenters offered by Holroyd Investment Properties is a very low-risk way of getting your business started. They offer a wide range of lease terms to meet your commitment level. They have a variety of office sizes and styles, with the option of furnishing the office for you if you desire. Tenants of HIP OffiCenters enjoy the assistance of a full-time receptionist, conference room, and modern office equipment. HIP OffiCenters is a great way to convey a professional image to your clients without the financial commitment of staffing an office yourself.
For business owners that are looking for flexible and customizable options, Chateau Development offers move in-ready office suites ranging from 550 to 885 square feet through The Suites @ Park One, a commercial building specifically designed for small businesses and startups. The spaces are ideal for small creative teams or solo practitioners, with short, flexible leasing terms to make it easy to adjust during the early days of business. The offices are ALLO fiber ready, and they are beautifully designed with open floorplans customizable for different business needs.
No matter where you carry out your operations, whether that be your home or one of Lincoln’s prime commercial spaces, you will need fast and reliable internet and phone service.
ALLO provides internet, TV, and phone services to businesses ranging from coffee shops to large corporations. Their fiber optic network was built to future-proof your business for the constantly evolving world of technology. As your business needs grow, your ALLO connection won’t just keep up, it will stay light years ahead of the curve. Sixteen years ago, ALLO was founded to bring the most modern network possible to people across the Midwest. Since that time, they’ve grown to provide faster, friendlier service to Fort Morgan and Breckenridge, CO, and ten Nebraska communities: Alliance, Ashland, Bridgeport, Gering, Hastings, Imperial, Lincoln, North Platte, Ogallala, and Scottsbluff. Their team is committed to showing the ALLO difference through faster, more reliable service but also with a genuinely caring, local support team, available to you 24/7.
Kinetic by Windstream is another leading provider of advanced network communications and technology solutions for businesses. They’re not just your internet service provider, their employees are your neighbors, friends, church members, and team parents. The Windstream team is a part of the communities they serve and are proud to offer the service that can keep them connected.
As more companies, both small and large, are transitioning to remote work, Kinetic by Windsteam is the trusted partner to keep business running securely. Kinetic has been building the digital foundation to help small businesses succeed, and also been building a business-grade high-speed Internet network for residential customers, too, to work remotely and stay connected. Businesses can migrate operations to new satellite workspaces with no new hardware purchases or big capital outlays.
Windstream’s commitment to their customers remains clear, to keep you living connected to the things that are important to your life, regardless of where you live.
Networking and Advertising
With your business up and running, it’s important to make continued connections in the community to spread awareness of your brand and build relationships that will grow your business. Center Sphere is one great outlet in Lincoln that provides excellent opportunities for networking and building relationships. Center Sphere is an established network that any business owner, manager, salesperson, account representative, etc. can join. New members are encouraged to visit a few different chapters to find a group, time, and location that works best for them. These chapters are made up of about 10–35 other professionals from different industries. Becoming involved in a chapter is a great way to get to know influential people and begin establishing yourself in the business community.
The Lincoln Chamber of Commerce is another great connection tool. The chamber is a key player in the efforts to grow businesses in Lincoln. They work with lawmakers and local officials to advance important policies affecting the business community and start conversations for needed changes. The Lincoln Chamber of Commerce hosts monthly events to bring business leaders together and ignite collaboration. Through networking opportunities before and after work such as The HIVE and The LNK, members of the business community are given the chance to share their mission and ideas with like-minded individuals.
While networking and making personal connections can’t be replaced, it’s impossible to get out and shake all the hands you want to shake while also running other major functions of your business. This is why it is important to invest in a marketing strategy that works for you. Savvy business owners understand that marketing creates brand awareness and gets the business name out to the public. People may not even remember when or where they’ve seen your name, but if you utilize effective marketing and advertising, they’ll simply know they’ve heard of you, which puts your business in a good position. Steve Maly with Maly Marketing shared how they help new businesses market themselves.
“Typically we help new businesses starting up with anything from helping to name the new company to establishing a brand, diving into market research, or finding the distinct messaging and visuals to use in the promotion of the company,” he said. “It is important to partner with an experienced marketing agency for the experience they bring to the table. Too many times people fall into the trap of falling in love with a new trend or technology when the tried and true will work even better,” Steve shared. “One great example is TikTok. People are excited about this new social media channel and want to leverage it for their company. However, unless you have a minimum of $10,000 to invest in ads, TikTok won’t allow you to advertise. Also, for most businesses, the audience on TikTok doesn’t match up with who their actual buyers are. At Maly Marketing, we watch rising trends to see what works and what doesn’t. Partnering with us can offer you an edge in your marketing plan.”
Ultimiately, you have to figure out what works best for you and your business. Signage and promotional items will forever be great ways to put your name and branding in front of people. Sign Pro of Lincoln has been providing local businesses with the best in signs and graphics for more than 25 years. Many businesses throughout southeastern Nebraska have benefited from the eye-catching signs they deliver. Whether you require something for a one-time event, signage for a construction site, or if you are opening a new business, you can depend on Sign Pro to meet your needs. For promotional items, turn to Flicker Promotions. Locally owned by Amy Doele, Flicker Promotions can keep you stocked with swag. Handing out fun, useful items with your logo on it is a fool-proof way to let people know about your new business.
At Strictly Business, we obviously believe in the power of marketing and brand awareness. We have experience working with business startups and helping them maximize their dollars to reach their target audience. We can work with companies that have limited budgets. When we meet with business owners, they are often surprised by how reasonable our rates are, especially considering we go out to over 10,000 businesses in Lincoln every month and have such a strong online presence. We make sure our clients are being seen! Our goal is to present our clients as the experts in their fields. We get to know them and their needs so we can take a personal approach to spreading awareness of their business and the products/services they offer in a way that builds not only name awareness, but credibility.
Our community is filled with great people and resources to help you get your business off the ground. Whatever your business dream may be, if you do your research and partner with the best, you can’t go wrong.