- The State of Nebraska
Nebraska is sprawled across the Midwestern and Western regions of the United States. The state capital is Lincoln; however its largest city is Omaha. Its neighboring states are South Dakota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, and Wyoming. Its total land area is 77, 421 sq mi. The state has a total of 93 countries. It used to be considered a part of the Great American Desert, but is now a leading farming and ranching state.
The eastern half of the Nebraska follows the Central Time zone, while the western half observes Mountain Time.
As of 2008, Nebraska has an estimated population of 1, 783, 432, which is about an increase of 4.2% since the year 2000. Population density is calculated at 23.1/sq mi and the state is ranked 43rd in the nation. Eighty-nine percent of the cities in Nebraska are less than 3,000 in population. Hundreds of towns have population fewer than 1,000. Census research indicates that Nebraska has the largest Czech-American and non-Mormon Danish-American population in the United States. Ninety percent of the people in Nebraska are Christian.
Agriculture plays an important part in Nebraska’s economy, and the state is a main producer of beef, corn, pork, and soybeans. Other important sectors include rail and truck freight transport, manufacturing, information technology, insurance and telecommunications.
The state’s estimated gross product income in 2004 was $68 billion. Nebraska has a sales tax of 5.5%. Apart from the state sales tax, some Nebraska cities charge city sales and use tax of up to 1.5%.
Railroads play an important part in Nebraska’s transportation system. Located in North Platte, Nebraska is Bailey Yard, the largest railroad classification in the world. Other major operating railroads in the state are Amtrak, Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway, and the Iowa Interstate Railroad.
Nebraska is the only state in the nation that has a unicameral legislature, and the only state legislature that is nonpartisan. The Nebraska Legislature can override the governor's veto with a three-fifths majority, as opposed to the usual two-thirds majority required in some other states.
- Starting a Business in Nebraska
Now, we shall try to explain the steps and the process that most business starters and/or owners will have to undertake to establish a cleaning business in Nebraska.
- Research and Plan Your Cleaning Business. Careful research, preparation, and planning are needed in order to make your cleaning business a successful one. Well-written business plans describe in detail a business' mission and goals, and how these will be achieved. The Nebraska Business Portal provides tools and resources to help you plan and expand your cleaning business. Business.gov also offers tips on how to properly draft good business plans. The U.S. Small Business Administration, or SBA also has a Business Startup Guide, and the Nebraska Department of Economic Development has a downloadable Startup Business Plan outline.
- Get Business Training and Expert Guidance. When you are new to owning and handling business it will be smart to take advantage of free training and counseling services offered in your area. These services often include everything from preparing a business plan, to acquiring financing, to getting help with expanding and relocating your business. Make sure to also inquire if these local training services have available cleaning business training.
Some publicly funded business counseling and training services available in Nebraska are as follows:
- Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE): This is a non-profit organization that is partnered with the U.S. Small Business Administration. It offers free mentoring, business counseling and low-cost workshops.
- Nebraska Business Development Center (NBDC): NBDC provides consulting services and free start-up advice at centers throughout Nebraska.
- REAP/Rural Enterprise Assistance Project, EDGE, etc.: Entrepreneurial Training Programs; They also provide start-up assistance, research potential markets and marketing ideas, discuss management issues with experienced business specialists, and apply for a small business loan.
- Nebraska Enterprise Fund: Other Microenterprise Programs
- Choose a Location. Selecting the location of your cleaning business will be an important decision you make. While location is not the only important factor to the success of your cleaning business, it is still mostly certainly a very important one. Some will say that where you locate your business is key to the pending success or failure of your business. First of all, you must consider how dependent your product is on the location. In this case, your product is cleaning services. Apart from the obvious choice of setting up business in a commercial establishment, cleaning service businesses can actually also be operated part-time or full-time your residence. However, you must of course first determine if the locations you are considering can provide the facilities needed to run your cleaning business. Other points to consider are the availability of the location to potential clients, and the competition around the area. Also get local advice about choosing a customer friendly location and complying with zoning laws.
- Acquire Financing Your Cleaning Business. The chances that you have enough money on you for your cleaning business are slim to none so you will need to get help in financing. You will need to find investors for your cleaning business. You can learn about government guaranteed loans, grants, and venture capital so you can be well on your way to opening a cleaning business in Nebraska.
Other financing options available in Nebraska are as follows:
- Federal Grant Resources: The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) provides a number of financial assistance programs for small businesses including the Basic 7(a) Loan Program, which is mainly for starting, acquiring, and/or expanding small businesses. The SBA does not provide grants to assist you in starting a business, but their website contains information on organizations and websites that can help you find special purpose grants.
- Nebraska Microenterprise Programs: NEF grantee programs are located across Nebraska with businesses in all counties having access to training, technical assistance and loans.
- Invest Nebraska Corporation: A venture development organization that advises and invests in companies and early stage business ideas in Nebraska.
- Rural Enterprise Assistance Project: REAP not only provides direct loans to small businesses in Nebraska, they also provide technical assistance and counseling services.
- Northeast Economic Development, Inc.: Focused mostly on helping businesses located in Northeast Nebraska. Loans may be used for a variety of business activities such as purchasing land, buildings, etc.
- West Central Nebraska Development District, Inc.: WCNDD has loan programs offering direct financing to small business micro enterprises with total financing need of less than $105,000 of which they can provide loans up to $35,000 and with maturities up to 6 years.
- Nebraska Angels: A non-profit group organized to exchange information about investment opportunities in early-stage and emerging growth companies with ties to the state of Nebraska.
- Getting a Business Name
The business name you decide on is important as it is the initial introduction potential customers have of your cleaning business. It creates primary identification with the products and services you are offering; therefore the business name you choose must clearly reflect and spell out the cleaning services you are selling.
- Select a Name for your Cleaning Business. First of all, the name you choose for your cleaning business must be memorable, easily recognizable, and easy to spell.
Names that are hard to pronounce might initially stand out, but in the long run, it is not really so beneficial. The name of your cleaning business must also easily stick in the heads of potential clients, and they must also very clearly associate it with cleaning.
You also have to consider how the potential name will look (on business cards, promotional/advertising materials, etc.), and sound (i.e. how it will sound when said out loud).
Also remember to be careful in choosing a name that is already taken, or sounds like a business name that is already taken and registered. The Trademark Law not only prohibits businesses from using names that are already taken, it also prevents businesses from using names that are likely to be mistaken for the name of an existing competitor. Violating this law may cause in legal issues and may end up with you paying monetary reparations and changing your business name.
For more help in selecting a business name, business.gov offers a How to Name Your Business guide.
- Register the Selected Business Name. Once you're sure about your selected cleaning business name, you have to register it. Registering your business name ensures that nobody else can use the name you have chosen. Registering for trademark is not required but it usually provides further protection of your business name. Just as you cautiously did not infringe on other's trademark names, others must do the same with you and your business. Registration also provides public notice as to who owns or stands behind a business entity. If your business is not registered, you cannot file a lawsuit in court as a business.
A fictitious name filing, also known as Doing Business As (DBAs), allows you to create name for your business that is different than your personal name. Application for Registration of Trade Name should be files with the Nebraska Secretary of State.
- Design a Logo For Your Cleaning Business. The logo is the visual partner of the business name you have chosen. Like the business name, the business logo will create an initial identification of your business, and the products and services you are selling. Basically, the business logo you design will be the visual image potential customers will associate with your cleaning business, and so should be designed according to the name of the company and the business product.
Unique logos will help positively promote the business in the market. A well-designed business logo can be counted on to be a highly effective marketing tool in promoting your cleaning business. A well-made and stylish business logo also helps attract potential clients and gives a distinctive identity to your cleaning business.
Some things to remember when designing your business logo are:
- The design must be eye-catching, yet simple – easy to the eye, and not unnecessarily flamboyant.
- Make sure that the color palette and shapes you choose would draw out positive effects in your cleaning business and not the opposite.
- It should not appear cheap or showy; it should be just the right amount of elegant and professional.
- Observe the type of logos your competition sports. Of course you will want your own to stand out among them.
- Business logos do not necessarily need to be a graphic or picture icon. A graphically customized business name can also serve (maybe even better serve) the same purpose.
- Make sure the logo will look good on various marketing and promotional materials, including, but not limited to: business cards, fliers, stickers, letterheads.
- Get feedback (preferably by someone from your target market) on the logo, and continue revising based on the response given.
You can always pay for the services of good graphic artists to design a logo for you. Just make sure to provide them critical information about your cleaning business, its name and other important particulars that they can use as their foundation for coming up with the logo design.
- Acquiring an Online Identity for your Cleaning Business
Having a domain and an online presence is highly recommended. Nowadays, an online presence is one of the prerequisites of running a modern business and during these times, people will more likely peruse the internet for whatever information they need instead of opening the phone directory, information on your cleaning business included.
As much as possible, your website name should also be your domain name/address. If possible a form of your business name should be incorporated somehow into the domain name. The most important thing is that your domain name reflects your cleaning business.
It is highly advisable if you are buying, for example, a .com domain (nebraskacleaningbusiness.com), that you also buy the other main Top Level Domains or TLDs (e.g. nebraskacleaningbusiness.net, nebraskacleaningbusiness.org, etc.) to avoid confusion. If you do a domain name search and fine that only one of the TLDs is available, it is recommended (and it is especially beneficial if you consider the long run) that you choose another domain name instead. However, if you are really decided on getting it, one option is to offer to buy the domain name from its current owner. You can find out who the owner is by checking up the “whois” information available for the domain and get in touch with the person or company listed as the current owner. If they are willing to sell, be prepared to pay more than if you are getting a new domain name.
Keeping your domain name short and simple is also suggested, so that clients can more easily remember it.
As for web content, make sure that you cover all the basics: the name of your company, the type of cleaning services and rates you are offering, and most importantly the location of your business, and the different ways the potential customer can contact you.
- Deciding on a Legal Structure for your Cleaning Business
When starting your cleaning business, it is important to immediately determine what form or structure it will have. It can play an important role when you want to make loans, or borrow money, or attract more investors. It will also determine the kind of tax return form you will have to file.
The most common forms of legal business structures are the following:
- Sole Proprietorship: This is the simplest, most basic business structure. As its name implies, the business is under the name of a single person who is in full control of all the business assets and liabilities.
- General Partnership: This is an association between two or more parties who share control of all business decisions. All partners also share management of all business earnings and assets, but are all also liable for all business debts and obligations.
- Limited Partnership: This is made up of partners who run the business with personal liability, and partners who are basically just investors, and mostly just have their personal investments at risk. This kind of business structure is mostly useful for incurring a startup capital since it allows investors to participate without being personally liable for anything.
- Corporation: In corporations, shareholders exchange money and/or property for the corporation’s capital stock. Corporations are most common amongst big companies. They are separate from their owners, and generally, shareholders are only accountable for their investments in the company.
- S Corporation: A kind of corporation created through a tax election. This structure is not subjected to double taxation, and forming an S Corporation allows you to benefit from the limited liability of a corporate shareholder, but pay taxes like you have sole ownership of the business.
- Limited Liability Company (LLC): This is a fairly new business structure allowed by state statute. Similar to corporations, owners have limited personal liability for the actions of the company. However, other features are closer to a partnership, like pass-through taxation and management flexibility.
In Nebraska, if your cleaning business is a corporation, an LLC, or a partnership, then you must register with the Nebraska Secretary of State. Sole proprietorship businesses do not have to register with the state.
- Getting an Employer Identification Number (EIN)
An Employer Identification Number, or EIN, is also known as the Federal Tax Identification Number. It will be used to identify your cleaning business as an entity. All businesses are required to have an EIN, and the business owner must obtain one from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. There are a number of ways you can apply for an EIN for your cleaning business:
- Apply Online. You can apply for an EIN at the Internal Revenue Service website. As soon as the application is completed and validated during the online session, an EIN is issued immediately. This is the recommended method of applying for EIN.
- Apply By Telephone. By calling the IRS Toll-Free Business and Specialty Tax Line at (800) 829-4933, from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm local time, Monday through Friday. An assistor will take your information, assign you an EIN and then provide the number to an authorized individual over the phone.
- Apply By Fax. Taxpayers can send the accomplished Form S-4 to the IRS State FAX number. If you provide your FAX number, they will send your EIN to you within four business days, assuming there are no problems with your Form S-4.
- Apply By Mail. Processing time for this method usually takes around four weeks, so one must especially ensure that the Form S-4 contains all of the required information.
- Registering for State Taxes in Nebraska.
Businesses are usually required to register for one or more tax-specific identification numbers, permits, and/or licenses, including (but not limited to) income tax withholding, sales and use tax, and unemployment insurance tax.
Starting your cleaning business in Nebraska, you may have to register with the Nebraska Department of Revenue. Registration is a must if:
- You're going to hire employees;
- You intend to engage in retail sales;
- You are renting/leasing substantial personal property; or
- You will be providing services which are subject to sales tax.
Note that companies registering for Nebraska Withholding Tax must supply their EIN.
Also, companies that do not have employees and just provides service do not have to register. For more information about this, see "Sales Tax on Services" and Regulation 1-082, Labor Charges.
To register, you must complete the Nebraska Tax Application, Form 20, and mail it to the Department at:
Nebraska Department of Revenue
PO Box 98903
Lincoln, NE 68509-8903
If you have access to a FAX machine, you can also just FAX it to: (402) 471-5927. You can also request to get the packet in person at any of the Department's Taxpayer Assistance Offices.
The Form 20 is used to register for the following taxes and permits:
- Sales and Use Tax
- Income Tax Withholding
- Corporate Income Tax
- Partnership Income Tax
- Fiduciary Income Tax
- Financial Institution Tax
- Other Miscellaneous Taxes
The regular time for processing the Form 20 is an estimate of around 2 weeks. To avoid delays, make sure that all the necessary information is complete and accurate, and that all the required personnel (business owners, partners, etc.) have signed the document.
For additional information, you can contact the Nebraska Department of Revenue by calling (800) 742-7474 (toll free if you are in Nebraska or Iowa) or (402) 471-5729.
- Obtaining Business Licenses and Permits in Nebraska
Before you can legally start operating your cleaning business in Nebraska, you will to obtain proper licensing and permits from the state. Not all businesses require a license, but in general most do. Some Nebraska businesses may need only a local business license or permit, but some might also need to follow federal licensing requirements.
You can check out the following resources to learn more about your licensing requirements:
- Operating a Business in Nebraska
There are a few things you need to accomplish before you can start smoothly and legally operating your cleaning business in Nebraska.
- Pay Your Taxes. Businesses in Nebraska are charged by the Nebraska Department of Revenue to pay business taxes. You can visit the following resources to find out more about filing and paying business taxes in Nebraska:
Business employers in Nebraska are also required to pay Workers' Compensation Insurance and Unemployment Insurance Tax.
- Keep Your Licenses and Permits in Good Standing. The Licenses and Permits page contains links to more information regarding applying and renewing Nebraska licenses and permits.
- Hire and Manage Employees For Your Business. Starting out your new cleaning business makes you a new employer. You can check out the Ten Steps to Hiring a New Employee page to learn more about complying with state and federal labor laws.
You can also compare the difference between employees and independent contractors, so as to help you decide on whether or not you should hire independent contractors.
All Nebraska employers must obey federal and state labor laws and follow equal employment opportunity laws that ban employment discrimination. You can visit the following websites to learn more about these requirements:
- Report All New Hires and Re-hires. Federal and State laws require that employers report newly hired and re-hired employees in the state of Nebraska to the Nebraska State Directory of New Hires. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 require that employers do this within 20 days of hiring or re-hiring.
You can report the hiring of your cleaning business employees in a variety of ways:
- Online Reporting. Use the Nebraska State Directory of New Hires website to report your new employees. Register to begin reporting.
- Printed List. The list should contain all of the needed information (see instructions here). The document should be written in at least 10-point font size, and have the employer’s name and EIN clearly displayed at the top.
- New Hire Reporting Form. Downloadable at the Nebraska State Directory of New Hires website. Print, fill out, and then mail or FAX to the department.
- Display Required Notices in the Workplace. Employers are also required by federals and state laws to put up in the workplace specific posters that inform employees of their rights and the employer responsibilities under labor laws. These posters are available for free from federal and state labor agencies.
- Implement Safety Standards in the Workplace. Employers are answerable for the health and safety of their employees. They are responsible for following rules and standards set by the Occupational Safe and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA offers free on-site, consulting services that help employers identify and remove workplace hazards.
- Follow Environmental Regulations. Depending on the type of business you have, you may be required to follow specific environmental regulations and acquire environmental permits. If your business could release pollutants into air, land and/or water; or if you store, treat and/or dispose of hazardous or solid wastes, then this is needed. Disregarding this requirement can cost you hefty fines.
- Insure Your Business. Getting your business insured is a way to lessen the blow when certain unavoidable events happen that might affect your business financially in a negative way. Examples of such events include (but are not limited to) an injured employee, a lawsuit, or a natural disaster. Furthermore, most states require businesses with employees to pay for workers' compensation insurance, unemployment insurance, and state disability insurance. Other types of insurance you might consider getting for your business are:
- Property insurance for buildings.
- General liability insurance for damage your cleaning business might do to someone else's property as a result of the insured entity's negligence.
- Life insurance in the event that something happens to the owner or other key person.
The Nebraska Department of Insurance offers more information regarding this issue.
- Manage and Maintain Good Business Records. Keeping good business records is good practice. Some states may require you to maintain business records though, especially tax and employment records. The following websites contain more information about how to maintain tax records and other needed documents such as payroll, etc.:
- Starting Your Cleaning Business in Nebraska
People who set up and start a business more or less have the same single objective – to profit and earn money from said business. While it is certainly lucky that some people manage to set up businesses revolving around something they love and are passionate about, in essence, you don’t really have to feel like so about cleaning to set up a successful cleaning business. As long as you don't mind getting your hands dirty and as long as you just appreciate the sense of a job well done, then a cleaning service business is a pretty good business opportunity. As long as you do careful and thorough research, you can even start without any sort of initial knowledge about cleaning businesses.
You can choose to start a very small cleaning business operated from your home, with just yourself as the primary boss and employee, or, depending on your starting capital, start out big, choosing to locate your business headquarters in a commercial area, and hiring more than a handful of qualified cleaning professionals and employees.
The cleaning business has two major target market groups: consumer and commercial. The consumer market group mostly hires more localized cleaning services such as residential maid services, carpet cleaners, window cleaners – generally cleaning services required on a less-frequent basis. The commercial market group is more big scale and mostly hires a wide range of janitorial services. This group is mostly comprised of major business establishments. While it is recommended, especially while you are just starting your cleaning business, that you decide on a particular target at first so you can concentrate on building a business that will serve your chosen market, it is also most definitely realistic to expect to eventually be able to serve multiple markets successfully.
The following are recommended steps when starting a cleaning business in Nebraska:
- Determine the type(s) of cleaning service(s) you will offer. You need to decide which target market you want to focus on first. Whether or not you choose to do home-cleaning services first, or already offer more large-scale cleaning services for bigger business establishments. You also have to specify what kind of cleaning services you intend to offer – such as vacuuming, making beds, window cleaning, etc.
- Price your cleaning service(s) appropriately. You have to decide on fair rates for your services. To do this, you have to find out what the competing rates are in your local area. For this you will have to scout the competition. You can simply consult the local telephone directory and/or check out the local newspaper’s classified ads section. As you are just starting your cleaning business and are relatively new to the game, you can consider offering slightly lower prices to attract potential new clients.
- Compute your startup cost. List down all the materials, products, tools, etc. you think you will need to use when starting out your cleaning business. This includes advertising, transportation, and insurance. Research the amount these items will cost you, preferably at the cheapest rates, but with also the least blow to the quality of service you will be offering. Once the list is done, just add everything up to get your startup cost.
- Pick a name your cleaning business. Like already explained above, choosing the name of your cleaning business is very important as it is fundamental to your marketing strategy. Carefully choose a catchy name that spells out the cleaning services you are offering, hopefully one that stands out among the competition. Make sure that no one else is using the name so as to avoid legal problems.
- Learn the zoning regulations and other cleaning business regulations of the local area where you are going to set up your cleaning business. Make sure that all the local zoning regulations are clear to you. Some areas have zoning regulations that do not allow home-based businesses, so if you set up headquarters in your residential home you might have legal problems just shortly after you being business. Also find out about your local area’s cleaning service requirements and cleaning business laws. There might be rules and regulations that can affect your cleaning business operations in the short and long run.
- Offer some initial cleaning jobs for free. As you are just starting out, you will first need to gain credibility and dependability. To do this you might want to offer free cleaning services or at least majorly lowered rates during the first few weeks of initial operation. This will not really be free, because as long as you do your job properly and adequately, this will earn you positive feedback and a good reputation, leading to potential paying (and returning) customers. You might want to consider doing this first on your friends, relatives or local non-profit groups (i.e. churches, shelters, etc.) in your area.
- Advertise your cleaning business through various media in the local area. You can start by advertising in local bulletins, or even creating tie-ups with other local business establishments such as groceries and/or restaurants. You can also considering handing out fliers and putting up ads in the local newspapers.
- Start getting your first paying client. Once you're all set, you can expect to just wait for your first paying client to come along and avail your cleaning services. Hopefully that client will eventually become a regular one.
The target market for cleaning businesses is steadily increasing. A lot of workers are busy the entire week and so have no more time for cleaning their houses and putting their household in order. Some opt to use their weekends for doing these chores, but for people who prefer to just relax during the weekend, or spend quality time with their families, hiring outside cleaning services is a good alternative.
Starting a cleaning business from home is turning out to be very lucrative and a good profit-earner. The job seeming like it is dull and unglamorous, but in reality cleaners and housekeepers have ceased to be regarded as simple hired help. They have actually reached a well-deserved level of respectability, and their services are much-appreciated.
Starting a cleaning business is also something most people can do because there is a very small start up cost required. The earnings are great and on top of that you establish your own work hours and choose the people you work with. You will have fun being your own boss. The people on the community where you will set up your cleaning business will not run out of jobs for you and who knows, you might enjoy your work environment more than you ever expected. So long as you have the determination, setting up a cleaning business in Nebraska should be very worth the while.