How to start a business in Oregon (10 Simple Steps)

Step 1: Plan Your Business Idea

Write a Business PlanWhile there are differing schools of thought on how much they improve financial performance, truth is that one of the very first steps to success is a proper business plan. Along with being a requirement for serious funding, they dramatically improve management and money flow.

Take Action: Check out our 100% free Business Planning Guide designed to get you from A-to-Z as pleasantly as possible. Plus, we provide access to tons of other great tools along the way.

Business Ideas: Find the Idea That Fits You Image

Don’t know what kind of business to start?

Our friends over at howtostartanllc.com have compiled a massive list of business ideas, ranging from personal styling to axe-throwing businesses.

If you’re having trouble finding the perfect business idea for you, we encourage you to check them out!

Step 2: Choose Business Structure & Register

How to Choose a Business StructureWhy wait to incorporate when it’s one of the wisest investments you can make in securing your brand’s future and protecting it, along with yourself and your personal assets. It also makes tax time far simpler and provides a plethora of benefits you can start leveraging much closer to conception.

Most entrepreneurs form an LLC because it has all the benefits of a Corporation without the disadvantages like double taxation, board of directors or corporate officers. However if you're trying to take your company public or raise substantial outside capital, you should probably form a Corporation.

Take Action: Since this step is so important and expensive if it's not done correctly, we highly recommend investing 10 minutes to go over your options through our business structure comparison guide. You'll get a better idea of the advantages and disadvantages of each while building a solid legal foundation for your business.

Step 3: Tackle Oregon Tax Obligations

Small Business TaxesOregon is a very modernized state, Portland being one of the crown jewels of the Pacific Northwest. In fact, it’s Seattle’s cousin, and the perfect middle ground tax-wise between Washington and California. Check to see if you’re intending to be in an Enterprise Zone and how many incentives/credits apply to your new business.

Take Action: Bookmark the State of Oregon’s Business Xpress page because it’s got all the answers and resources you could possible need to square this aspect of being a professional brand away.

Step 4: Obtain Licensing/Permits

Business LicensesBecause of the complexities involved here, unless you’re a 100% online operation there are likely to be licensing and permits you’ll need to legally do business in Oregon. At the end of the day you have two options:

  1. For the DIY’ers head on over to the Oregon Business Xpress License Directory Search to get started.
  2. For help finding the licenses you’ll need, a Business License Service is what we highly recommend looking into. They determine everything required on Federal, State, County and Municipal levels, get the forms, and provide step-by-step filing instructions.

Step 5: Separate Your Personal and Business Assets

Best Business Bank Account

Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.

Now that you’ve made it through registering and setting up taxes and licensing for your business, you’ll need to take steps to protect your personal assets and establish your business as an independent entity.

When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.

You can go a long way in protecting your assets with these three steps:

  1. Open a business bank account.

A business bank account separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection. A designated business bank account also makes accounting and tax filing easier.

To open up a bank account for your business, you’ll need to obtain an EIN (Employer Identification Number). You’ll use your EIN in place of your social security number so that this account is completely separate from your personal finances. After this, start doing your research on various business bank accounts. Local options and national banks, like Chase, both have their perks.

Get $200 when you open a business checking account with Chase. Learn more

  1. Get a business credit card.

A business credit card helps you separate personal and business expenses. A business credit card will also build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise capital later on.

Learn about the best small business credit cards here.

  1. Designate an authorized representative.

Make sure all documents are signed by a representative of your LLC and not by you (or other LLC members) directly. This will help separate you from liability incurred by the LLC.

  1. Keep your accounting and bookkeeping up to date

Make sure to sync up your banking and credit card accounts with an accounting software like QuickBooks as soon as you get the chance. It’s never too soon to start organizing your business’ finances!

Step 6: Pick A Stellar Oregon Location

How to Choose a Business LocationFrom the bustle of Portland and the countless amazing small towns along the coast down the 101 like Newport or Pacific City, to Klamath Falls in the south or Bend smack dab in the middle of the state, Oregon is absolutely gorgeous wherever you go. A bit on the liberal side and very hospitable to small business.

Take Action: We know picking a spot can be tough if it doesn’t somehow happen naturally through your personal/professional networks. If you’d like to brush up on everything that goes into making this decision, refer to our friendly guide on How to Choose the Perfect Location.

Step 7: Finance/Bootstrap Your Platform

How to Finance a BusinessDon’t let the prospect of securing capital intimidate you. Along with the vast networks of help available throughout Oregon, there are huge communities willing to support you outside conventional small business loans. CrowdFunding and Social Lending are two perfect examples that are thriving among Oeegonians

Take Action: The email course we mentioned in Step 1 really comes in handy here because planning and finances go together like fried chicken and biscuits/waffles. You can also browse our guide on How to Finance a Business to start generating ideas.

Step 8: Build A Business Website

Build a Business WebsiteIf you already have an effective website working for your brand, great, but if not then it’s time to get this handled. These days it’s far less expensive and complex then it was a decade ago. Remember, it’s not about hardcore complexity with tons of bells and whistles, but being easy for your potential customers to learn more about you (user-experience).

Take Action: If you could use some help in this department the first step is finding the right platform. We highly recommend checking out Wix or Weebly since they are the easiest to use while having the best prices. Zero tech-skills required.

Step 9: Market Your Business

Social Media ChannelWow, what a huge subject. Marketing has seemingly gotten more and more demanding (both time and money-wise) as time moves on. However, outside the strictly digital sphere, network marketing in Oregon still gets astounding results. There are so many niches and communities on-the-ground you can break into it’s crazy.

Take Action: Reach your demographic in more personal ways that help you stand out from the constant internet chatter, never ending social media timelines, and email sales prompts.

Step 10: Continue Learning & Stay Inspired

Sign Up For Entrepreneur InterviewsStartup Savant is aiming to become one of the best resources for entrepreneurs online. Along our journey we’ve found the most encouraging way to stay on top of your game and driven is through other like-minded change makers.

Take Action: Join the tribe by following us on Facebook and Twitter to tap into our daily feed filled with tips, lessons, and inspiring stories directly from entrepreneurs like you.

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Continue Learning. Stay Inspired!