How to Start a Business in Oregon

Ranked 9th for economic growth prospects and one of five states with no sales tax, starting a business in Oregon is a great choice for entrepreneurs. Start your business today with our simple step-by-step guide and get on the fast track to financial and personal independence. If you get stuck along the way, connect with a business resource in your local area for help.


To Start a Business in Oregon, follow these steps:

Step 1: Choose the Right Business Idea

The first step toward business ownership is deciding what kind of business to start. Look for an idea that suits your interests, your personal goals, and your natural abilities. This will help you stay motivated when the going gets tough and will greatly improve your odds of success. Need inspiration? Here were the most popular ideas among our Oregon visitors in 2017:

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Find the Right Business Idea for You

Our free Business Ideas Generator will help you identify great businesses that match your interests and lifestyle.

Business Ideas
Generator

Step 2: Plan Your Business

Successful businesses are built through careful planning. Before committing a significant amount of money and other resources toward your business, critically analyze your idea and create a game plan. At a minimum, you should have good answers to the following questions.

Business Name
Naming a business can be challenging. You'll want to choose a brand name that follows Oregon naming rules, resonates with your customers, and is available as a URL.

Product Development
What problem does your business solve? What will set your product or service apart from the competition?

Sales & Marketing
Who are your potential customers? How will you get their attention and convert them into buyers?

People and Partnerships
What roles will you need to hire and what professional relationships will you need to form in order to succeed?

Financial Planning
How many clients or sales will you need in order to break even? How much money will it take to get there, and where will you get the funding?

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Start Planning

  • Create a robust business plan to help navigate the early years of your business. To use this free tool sign up for the Business Center.
  • Need Help? Find organizations in your local area that can assist you with planning.
  • If you’re a solo-entrepreneur, setting up a virtual office can add credibility to your business by having a business address on Google search, protect your personal privacy, and provide you with a business phone line and a live receptionist to answer your calls. Save $200 on a virtual office today.
  • If you’re a woman in business, find funding, tools and resources with this great new series Women in Business.

Step 3: Form Your Business

Registering your Oregon company as a legal business entity, such as an LLC or a Corporation, has two major advantages:

  • Increased credibility
  • Protection from personal liability in the event your business is sued

For most small businesses, registering an LLC is a great option. In comparison to other business entities, LLCs are easier to set up and manage and they have favorable tax treatment. You can set up an LLC in Oregon for as little as $100.

If you choose not to register your company as a business entity, you will be held personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of your business. In addition, unregistered business owners may need to file a Trade Name, also known as a "DBA." Find out if your business is required to file a DBA.

Secure Your Domain

We recommend that you check online to see if your business name is available as a web domain. Even if you don't plan to create a business website today, you may want to buy the URL in order to prevent others from acquiring it

Not sure what to name your business? Check out our Business Name Generator.

Find a Domain Now

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After registering a domain name, consider setting up a professional email account (@yourcompany.com). Google's G Suite offers a business email service that comes with other useful tools, including word processing, spreadsheets, and more. Try it for free

Step 4: Register for Taxes

With limited exceptions, most businesses require an Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Tax ID Number. An EIN is used to identify a business in its federal tax filings. Without an EIN, you can't hire employees or open a business bank account.

Obtain an EIN

You should also be aware of important oregon taxes that may apply to your business:

  • If you hire employees in Oregon, you will have to register for Unemployment Insurance Tax and Employee Withholding Tax on behalf of your employees.
  • Oregon is one of five states that does not impose sales tax. Therefore, Oregon LLCs need not register for Oregon sales tax.
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Register for Oregon State Taxes

Get Started

Step 5: Create Business Banking and Credit Accounts

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

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.

Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.

You can protect your business with these two steps:

1. Opening a business bank account:

  • Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
  • Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
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Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank, credit union, business-loan friendly banks, one with many brick-and-mortar locations, and more.

2. Getting a business credit card:

  • Helps you separate personal and business expenses.
  • Builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise capital later on.

Step 6: Set Up Accounting

An accounting system helps you track the performance of your business and simplifies annual tax filings. Quality accounting software lets you download your bank and credit card transactions, making accounting fast and easy. Learn more about the importance of accounting and how to get started with accounting today.

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Recommended: QuickBooks has all the accounting features your small business will need.

Try QuickBooks for free

Step 7: Obtain Permits and Licenses

To operate your new business legally, you will need to comply with federal, state, and local government regulations. In many cases, this involves obtaining one or more business permits and/or licenses. For example, a restaurant will likely need health permits, building permits, signage permits, etc.

Step 8: Get Insured

Business insurance helps you manage risks and focus on growing your business. The most common types of business insurance you should consider are:

We recommend that all small businesses, including home based businesses, purchase a general liability policy. Businesses selling professional advice or services, such as consulting and accounting firms, should also consider a professional liability policy. In Oregon, businesses with one or more employees, including LLC members and corporate officers, are required by law to have workers compensation insurance.

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Our recommended insurance provider can set you up with an insurance policy that is right for your business

Get a Quote

Step 9: Define Your Brand

The strongest and most memorable businesses are built on a solid brand.

When developing your brand, think about what your business stands for. What are the core values that drive your business? Customers and clients are looking for companies that have a compelling brand, as much as they are shopping for high-quality products and services.

Your business name is the cornerstone of good branding and a successful business. To learn more about creating the best name for your business, read our How to Name a Business guide.

Creating a logo for your business is vital for increasing brand awareness. You can design your own unique logo using our Free Logo Generator. Our free tool can help you design your own unique logo for your new business idea.

Step 10: Establish a Web Presence

A professional website is critical to the long-term success of your business, regardless of what industry you are in. A website allows potential customers to find your business online and discover the products or services you offer, and it also enhances your business’s credibility.

In addition to a website, you should also consider other avenues for promoting your business online:

  • Setting up social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter, etc)
  • Creating accounts on review sites (Yelp, Google Reviews, etc)
  • Registering for a local Google profile

Oregon Formation Guides

Get Help From Local Resources

To help you start your business, we have identified the best resources across the state of Oregon that can support you in your entrepreneurial endeavors.

Select your Region

Bend Local Resources

Starve Ups

Here are the Principle Service Areas:

  • Mentoring
  • Business Planning
  • Fundraising
  • Networking

Description

Starve Ups is Oregon's only scalerator (an end-to-end accelerator). They provide mentoring, funding, networking, and classes for entrepreneurs, and some of their events are also open to the public. Starve Ups also has branches in other parts of Oregon. 

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See more business resources in Bend

Bend Resources

Eugene Local Resources

Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation

Here are the Principle Service Areas:

  • Mentoring
  • Business Planning
  • Financial
  • Product Development

Description

NEDCO offers workshops and financial counseling, which are unlimited once you pay the membership fee. They also offer training and coaching for business owners who want their employers to learn more about subjects like financial literacy. 

CONTACT INFORMATION:

212 Main St.
Springfield, OR 97477
541-345-7106

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Eugene Resources

Medford Local Resources

Southern Oregon University SBDC

Here are the Principle Service Areas:

  • Mentoring
  • Business Planning
  • Financial

Offers Free Service

Description

The greatest strength of the SBDC is their free, confidential, 1-on-1 business mentoring for anyone who seeks it. Sometimes in order to be considered for mentoring from one of their professional business advisors, you may have to attend a class/workshop or at least present your business plan. SBDC's are located all throughout the state and you should use the SBDC closest to your location if possible, but you can often transfer to a different location if they do not fit your needs.

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See more business resources in Medford

Medford Resources

Pendleton Local Resources

HatchLab

Here are the Principle Service Areas:

  • Business Planning
  • Coworking
  • Networking

Accepts Walks In

Description

HatchLab is an accelerator and coworking space. They host events and workshops at discounted rates for members of their coworking space, though the events are open to anyone. They also offer courses on financial planning, marketing, and other business subjects relevant to entrepreneurs. 

CONTACT INFORMATION:

2019 A Main St.
Baker City, OR 97814
541-519-5377
bryan@hatchthefuture.org

HOURS OF OPERATION:

MON - FRI: 10 am - 3 pm

 

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Pendleton Resources

Portland Local Resources

Food Innovation Center

Here are the Principle Service Areas:

  • Business Planning
  • Product Development
  • Sales & Marketing

Description

The FIC is associated with Oregon State University and provides entrepreneurs with one-on-one consulting, food photography, product packaging, shelf life testing, sensory testing labs, and training in food safety practices. You can take classes on a wide variety of subjects including nutrition labeling, flavor, and more. 

Restrictions

Businesses in the food industry only. 

CONTACT INFORMATION:

1207 NW Naito Pkwy.
Portland, OR 97209
503-872-6680

HOURS OF OPERATION:

MON - FRI: 8 am - 5 pm

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Portland Resources

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