Oregon is a great state to start a business as it is one of the few states that boasts no sales tax and has a lot of room for future economic growth. However, if you’ve never started a business before, how do you even begin starting one? There are many steps to starting a successful business in Oregon, so it can be confusing.
But not to worry, this article has got you covered. This guide will cover everything you need to know about starting a business in Oregon – from choosing your idea to registering your business to marketing your business.
Step 1: Choose Your Idea
The first step in starting your business in Oregon is to develop a good idea for your business. This idea is what you will eventually build your full-fledged business on. Your business idea does not have to be wholly planned out at this stage, as you will develop this idea further as you build your business.
If you don’t have an idea already, consider asking yourself the following questions to land on a good business idea:
- Do you have any skills, passions, or hobbies?
- Can these activities be turned into a profitable business?
- Can you see yourself working in the business every day?
- Are there any businesses like yours already?
- Is there a need for your business?
- How is your business different from others?
- How does your business solve a consumer’s problem?
Your answers to these questions should let you know if your idea will work. If not, you may need to tweak it or develop a new one. You should also consult your friends and family and ask for their advice. Their insights as consumers can give you an idea of what is missing in your community.
Step 2: Pick a Name
The next step to starting a business in Oregon is to choose a good name. You must pick a catchy name that you are happy with. Although you can change your business name after you start trading, doing so can be detrimental to your marketing.
The name you choose should be easy for potential customers to pronounce and spell. It should also be unique but relevant to the industry your business is based. Finally, the name should give consumers a clue about your services or products.
In Oregon, you cannot register a business with a name already taken by another company. Conduct a search on the Oregon Secretary of State website to see if your name is available.
If you are struggling to think of a name for your business, try out some of these helpful methods:
- Create a word dump. This is a list of words that pops into your mind when you think about your business. Don’t think too hard about what to write down.
- Use an online name generator. These are free and come up with randomized names, which can be a great starting point.
- Brainstorm with friends and family.
Step 3: Write Your Business Plan
Once you have chosen a business idea and a name for the business, you will need to write your business plan. The business plan is like the blueprint of your business. It will have all your research, planning, product information, day-to-day operations, and financial information.
There are no set rules about what needs to go into your business plan, but it is a good idea to try to answer the following questions:
- Why have you started the business?
- What products or services does your business offer?
- Who are your direct competitors?
- Who is your target audience?
- How do you plan on turning your target audience into paying customers?
- How much will you need to start the business?
- Will you need to get funding from elsewhere?
- What equipment is needed?
- What type of employees will you need?
- Your financial goals and predictions?
Make sure your business plan is as thorough as possible, as it can be used as an excellent marketing tool to find funding for your business.
Step 4: Get Funding
Starting a business is not as simple as filling in some paperwork. You also need money for startup costs. If you do not have available funds to do this, you can still acquire funding through other means. The main way to get funding for your business in Oregon is through a grant, loan, or investor.
Oregon is known as one of the most pro-business states for a reason. Oregon has several different loan and grant programs for businesses. Visit Business Oregon’s Fund Your Business page to see what they have available and if your business qualifies for any of them.
The website also has plenty of small business loans. Alternatively, you can go the private route and get a loan from your bank or your friends and family. Just be sure to get any agreements in writing.
Finally, if you don’t mind parting with some shares in your business, you can have an investor pay for the startup costs of your business.
Step 5: Choose a Business Structure
Every business structure functions differently and benefit different types of business owners. Choosing the proper structure for your business is essential. Here are the different structures to choose from:
This informal business structure is simple and is made for small businesses with only one owner. There is no separation between the owner’s and the business’s assets, so the sole owner is liable for the business. This type of business structure is commonly used for low-risk businesses like businesses that start as hobbies.
A partnership is another informal business structure similar to a sole proprietorship. Like the sole proprietorship, there is no separation between the owner’s assets and the business’s. The only difference between the two structures is that there is more than one owner in a partnership, all with equal shares in the business.
Limited Liability Company
A limited liability company, or an LLC, is a formal business structure and the most popular choice for small to medium-sized businesses. This is because an LLC is a combination of two business structures. It has the flexibility of a sole proprietorship or partnership and the liability protection of a corporation.
C or S Corporation
A corporation is a formal business structure used by large companies with multiple shareholders. A corporation is an entirely separate entity from its owners. The reason why this business structure is popular with large companies is that it often offers tax benefits.
Step 6: Register the Business
Once you have chosen your business structure, you may be required to register your business structure with the state of Oregon.
You do not need to register your sole proprietorship with the state of Oregon, as it is not a formal business structure. You can quite simply set up and start trading. However, if you wish, you can file a trade or assumed name with the Oregon Secretary of State.
This business structure does not need to be registered either. But, if you want an assumed name, you must file with the Oregon Secretary of State.
Additionally, while a signed partnership agreement is not a legal requirement in Oregon, it is highly recommended that you do so.
Limited Liability Company
To register your LLC in Oregon, you must complete the Articles of Organization and submit them to the Secretary of State. You will need to create a user profile on the website and then pay the filing fee of $100.
To register a corporation with the state, fill out and submit the Articles of Incorporation to the Secretary of State. The fee to register a corporation online is $100.
Step 7: Set Up Your Finances & Accounting
Before you begin doing business, it is recommended that you set up the business’s finances and accounting. To set up your finances, you can open a bank account for the business, apply for a company credit card, and set up a payment method for customers to use. An example of a payment method is a credit card machine, which you can apply for at your bank. You will also need to install a payroll system to manage employee salaries and taxes if you have employees.
Finances and accounting can get confusing as your business grows, so consider hiring an accountant to help you with this.
Step 8: Get Business Insurance
Every business owner needs to have a good insurance policy for the business. Just because it is not a legal requirement doesn’t mean you should skip it. While there are a lot of different policies to choose from, you should at least have a general liability insurance policy. This insurance policy will cover you in the event of any damage or injury on your premises. It also covers all aspects of running a business on a daily basis.
Other insurance policies you might want to get are:
- Commercial auto insurance
- Commercial property insurance
- Workers compensation insurance
- Limited liability company insurance
- Business owner’s insurance
Speak to a local insurance broker for professional advice on what is best suited for your needs.
Step 9: Obtain Any Permits or Licenses Needed
There is no general business license needed for businesses in Ohio. Each business sector, county, and city all have its own requirements for what licenses a business will need to remain compliant. You can learn more about what permits your business might need by visiting the Oregon Business Infomation Center. You can also ask your local county clerk.
There is also no need to apply for a sales tax permit, as Oregon does not collect sales tax.
Step 10: Build a Website
Every successful business needs a website, and building one has never been easier. Business owners have two options.
- You can use DIY website builders.
- You can pay someone to build your website.
If you plan to build a website yourself, keep the following points in mind:
- The domain name should be unique.
- All the fonts you use should be a good size that is clear and easy to read.
- Do not clutter your webpage with unnecessary images, videos, and graphics, as this can slow down the loading times.
- Make sure all your content is relevant.
- Include a call to action.
- Link to your other social media accounts.
Step 11: Hire Employees (If Any)
If you plan to hire employees, you must draft a job post and post it on job search websites. Or you can even kick it old school, print out a few pages and stick them up on noticeboards around your town or city. When you hear back from candidates, narrow down your top choices and invite them for interviews. Finally, offer the job to your top choice!
You must legally report all your new hires and temporary staff to the Oregon Department of Justice. You need to report hires within 20 days from the hire date. There is no fee to report new hires.
Step 12: Market Your Business
The last step in starting your business in Oregon is to market your business. Nowadays, there are many different and creative ways to market your business regardless of your budget and business industry. You can either market the business for yourself or hire someone to market it for you.
If you are marketing the business yourself, here are some good methods to use:
- Use social media like Facebook and Instagram.
- Advertise on your business website.
- Make use of pay-per-click advertising.
- Create a Google Business profile.
- Advertise in your local newspaper.
- Attend markets and expos.
- Run competitions and giveaways.
- Attend local networking events.