At last count, Oregon is home to nearly 403,000 small businesses. With many thriving industries in the Beaver State, your small business could soon help that number grow.
Starting a small business takes time and effort. Planning and strategy can help set you up for success by creating a strong foundation to build upon. It also helps ensure that you are operating within the law and protected against as many potential risks as possible.
- Choose an idea and research the market
- Write an Oregon business plan
- Choose a business structure
- Register your business name
- Permits and licenses
- Apply for an EIN
- Register for state taxes
- Consider business insurance in Oregon
- Accounting and finances
- Marketing and advertising
10 Steps to start a business in Oregon
Here are 10 steps to starting a business in Oregon. We’ll cover setting up a business in Oregon, creating a plan for success, and protecting yourself with business insurance.
1. Choose a business idea & research the market
The first step is to decide on the type of business you want to start. But beyond that, it’s wise to understand how your business will serve your local area.
Research the market demand, competition, and feasibility of your business idea. You may find gaps in the market that your future competitors are not covering. These could be opportunities for you and your small business.
Competitor research can also help you decide how to price your products and services. They may also give you ideas for how to advertise your business and help it stand out in the market.
2. Write a business plan
It never hurts to have a plan, especially when starting a new business in Oregon. A business plan serves as a roadmap for your success. It covers every part of your business, from its structure and goals to marketing strategy and financial projections.
There are many online tutorials and templates for writing a comprehensive business plan. You may also enlist the assistance of an accountant or small business expert to help you write portions of your business plan. Banks and investors will typically ask to see your business plan as part of your business loan application or investment proposal.
3. Choose a business structure
Oregon business owners must choose a legal structure for their small businesses. There are several options to choose from, each with its own legal and tax obligations. An accountant or lawyer can help you pick the right legal structure for your small business.
Small businesses in Oregon can choose from the following business structures:
- Sole proprietorship
- Limited liability company (LLC)
- Limited partnership (LP)
- General partnership
- Limited liability partnership (LLP)
4. Register your business name
The name you choose for your business is an important part of your branding. It not only tells customers who you are but may also imply what you do or set your business tone.
Business names should be unique. You can check the Oregon Business Registry Database to see if your name idea is available. Depending on your business structure, you may also be able to register it with the Oregon Secretary of State’s Corporation Division. Sole proprietors can do business under their own name (i.e., Jane Smith – Attorney) or choose an assumed business name (i.e., Portland Attorneys for Hire).
5. Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Depending on the type of business you’re starting, you may need to obtain permits and licenses to operate legally in Oregon. These may be granted by federal, state, and/or local governments. Without the required paperwork, you could face penalties such as fines or time in prison.
Oregon business owners can search the Business Xpress License Directory to find relevant permit and license requirements at the state level. You may also want to check with your local county and city governments, as well as industry oversight boards or organizations.
6. Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN)
If your business has employees or you plan to form a partnership or corporation, you’ll need to obtain an EIN from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This number identifies your business. It may be necessary to open a business bank account and file your taxes each year.
You can apply for free on the IRS website and receive an EIN immediately. Applications are also accepted by fax or mail, though expect delays in the delivery of your EIN with these methods.
7. Register for state taxes
If your business has employees, you’ll need to register for state payroll taxes with the Oregon Department of Revenue. If you plan to sell goods or services that are subject to sales tax, you’ll also need to register for a seller’s permit.
The Oregon Department of Revenue website has more information on tax obligations for small businesses, including payroll withholding and other business taxes.
8. Buy business insurance
Many small businesses in Oregon choose business insurance to help protect them, their employees, and their finances. You may even be required to have certain types of insurance depending on the work you do and how your business operates.
When you start a business in Oregon, you might consider insurance policies such as:
- General Liability – This insurance can protect your business against bodily injury or property damage lawsuits from outside parties. You may be required to have a General Liability policy to work with specific clients or to lease commercial business space.
- Professional Liability – This insurance protects your business against claims of negligence, misrepresentation or mistake, as well as document or paperwork errors. You may be required to have a Professional Liability policy to obtain a professional license or to work in certain fields.
- Business Owner’s Policy (BOP) – This is a combination of policies, combining covers such as General Liability insurance and business personal property coverage, to help protect small businesses from costly interruptions to service.
- Workers’ Compensation – This insurance provides protection for employers if an employee suffers a work-related illness or injury. The state of Oregon requires most businesses with one or more employees to have a Workers’ Compensation policy.
9. Set up accounting and financial systems
Accurately tracking your finances is an important part of running any small business. It’s crucial to understand how successful your business is in terms of turning a profit and sticking to budgets.
Establish a system to track your business finances, including bookkeeping, record keeping, and tax reporting. There are many apps and software available to help small businesses do this. Many offer additional services, such as automatic invoicing, that may benefit your business.
If accounting and finance are beyond your current skillset, consider taking a crash course in small business accounting or hiring a professional accountant to help manage your financials. Even part-time or freelance assistance could free up your time for other tasks that you’re better suited for.
10. Market your business
With your business set up, it’s time to find customers. Develop a marketing strategy to promote your business and attract potential customers looking for the products or services you offer.
Most marketing strategies use a variety of methods to reach potential customers. This may include creating a website, setting up social media accounts, running advertising campaigns, and engaging in other marketing activities. You will likely need to experiment to find what works best for your business.
Here’s to your new business in Oregon!
With planning and strategy, you can create a small business that goes the distance. Whether you’re starting a business in Portland, Oregon, Eugene, Medford, or elsewhere in the state, remember that these early stages are crucial. Take your time and launch your business when you’ve completed the necessary steps to ensure you are operating safely, legally, and wisely.
Find business insurance in Oregon with BizInsure
No matter what type of business you’re planning, you may want to protect it with business insurance. BizInsure understands the needs of Oregon business owners and has made buying insurance quick and simple.
Compare business insurance online and get instant coverage in minutes. Not sure which types of insurance are right for your business? Simply speak with one of BizInsure’s licensed agents. They can talk you through your coverage options and help you find policies that fit your business’ unique needs.
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**This information is a general guide only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Always check with your local licensing board when getting or renewing your electrician’s license to ensure you are meeting their current licensing requirements.
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