As you take the steps to nurture your brainchild into a full- fledged business, it’s a good idea to make sure you have your bases covered so you don’t sputter on start up.
And if your business is already up and running, it can’t hurt to consider these tips and see if there’s anything to shore up.
Ensure your “business” is a business
There’s nothing more disheartening than trying to turn your dream into a reality … and then realize someone beat you to your name or identity.
Use the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s trademark search tool to see if your business name is in use. If it’s available, pounce! Apply for trademark protection right away.
Then check website domain availability and file your business in the state your business is located to make everything official.
Not sure if your side project counts as a business?
“Once someone is spending 20 hours a week on a project and counting on the revenue to make up as much as 50 percent of their personal income, it’s definitely a business for financial and tax purposes,” says Kathryn Ameta, a San Francisco-based financial advisor.
Organize and clean up financial details
Building your business on stable ground from the beginning is much easier than scrambling to sort financials later in the game.
One expert recommends “reviewing and working on your credit, saving money, and [getting] up-to-date on your finances, including taxes,” as soon as possible before launch. 
Not to mention, financial stability signals reliability to potential lenders and banks. Most banks will look specifically for a good credit score and a detailed budget in your business plan. If they see that, you have a better chance of receiving more funding to start your business as well as better terms and lower interest on loans.
Look to the future
While it’s easy to get buried in the “right now,” seasoned entrepreneurs recommend looking ahead, especially when it comes to choosing a bank. Be on the lookout for a bank that offers both free checking and services like financial advising, as you may need help with investments and cash flow in the future.
Relationship-forward customer service and added benefits such as financial wellness programs and online banking abilities can go a long way as well.
In 10 years, do you hope to expand? Make sure to look into banks that have a community-building focus, as they may be more likely to lend to small businesses.
“Investing in local businesses allows us to build up our communities. It’s something we are very passionate about as a bank, so we work closely with our business customers and support them as much as we can,” says Clint Sporhase, Managing Director of Small Business Banking at First National Bank.
Have a plan
Your business needs a business plan. It will help get you through early stages of your business and force you to think important components. Not to mention that it’s necessary in order to get funding.
You can start by writing down the general what and why of your organization. From there, you should show you have an understanding of the marketplace — where you fit and what your competitors are up to. Lastly, have a plan for how much funding you need and project where you can take your business in the next five to 10 years.
Writing your business plan isn’t easy. Check out the U.S. Small Business Association’s (SBA) websitefor great resources on planning and running your business. You can also find local SBA branches and seek help there.
With your business plan in hand, you may also want to seek out a bank that’s a preferred SBA lender for a loan. That will save you time in getting your loan approved, and you’ll sleep easy knowing your lender has a proven track record.
“We truly believe in the Small Business Association’s mission, and as a preferred SBA lender, we’re able to offer very favorable terms to a young business and help get them up and running,” said First National Bank’s Clint Sporhase.
Still have questions? Visit fnbneb.com/smallbusiness to learn more and connect with a business banker.
 “How to Choose the Right Bank for Your Small Business.” Lagorio, Chafkin, Christine. Inc. https://www.inc.com/guides/choosing-the-right-bank-for-business.html
 “14 Startup Tips From Small Business Pros.” Detweiler, Gerri. Dec. 17, 2017. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/allbusiness/2017/12/17/14-startup-tips-from-small-business-pros/#41e20efb6c0e