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How to start a business in Oregon in 7 steps

how to start a business in oregon

If you're thinking about starting a business in Oregon, you're in the right place. From the bustling city of Portland to its scenic coast and mountains, Oregon offers a variety of resources, programs and opportunities to help you start a business.

Whether you’re in the middle of coming up with a business idea or already looking for a website builder to make your vision come to life, this article will cover the steps for succeeding in the dynamic and diverse business landscape of Oregon.

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Start a business in Oregon in 7 steps

01. Come up with a business idea

Coming up with a business idea can be an exciting and challenging process. It requires a combination of creativity, research and understanding of the market demand. Whether you plan to offer a product or a service, you’ll want to make sure that you have something that meets the needs of your target market.

Here’s a list of some leading industries in Oregon that you can consider for your unique business idea:

  • Outdoor recreation: Oregon is known for its beautiful natural landscapes, making it a great place for outdoor recreation like kayaking, hiking and camping (as well as any businesses that promote these activities). Check out these outdoor business ideas for inspiration.

  • Sustainable agriculture: With its fertile soil and mild climate, Oregon offers the resources for starting a farming or agricultural business that focuses on organic and sustainable practices and offers multiple ways to make money as a farmer.

  • Craft beer and wine: Home to a thriving craft beer and wine industry, Oregon may be an ideal place to start a brewery, winery or tasting room.

  • Eco-tourism: Given the state’s strong focus on conservation and sustainability, eco-tourism businesses (think: guided nature tours, bird watching and wildlife photography) are likely to be in high demand.

  • Health and wellness: Health and wellness services—such as yoga, massage therapy and alternative medicine (or similarly a beauty business idea like a nail business)—may be a hit among Oregon residents who enjoy a healthy, outdoorsy lifestyle.

  • Food and beverage: Within Oregon, you’ll already find a strong farm-to-table, craft food and beverage scene. Consider starting a restaurant or a mobile business, like a food truck, to cater to Oregon's bustling food scene.

  • Home renovation and remodeling: Since there are many older houses in Oregon, renovation and remodeling services are likely to be in high demand. Consider starting a handyman business, for example. You can also learn more about starting a contractor business and making money as a handyman if this niche plays into your area of skill and expertise.

how to start a business in oregon - business ideas

02. Choose your business model

Choosing a business model is a crucial step in starting any business. It sets the foundation for your entire operation, from the way you choose to structure your business, to the way it will generate revenue and relatively high net profit. There are various business types to consider:

  • Subscription-based business model: Under this business model, customers pay a recurring fee to access a product or service on a regular basis. It provides a predictable revenue stream and fosters customer loyalty.

  • Ecommerce business model: Products or services are sold online through a website or digital platform (like Amazon), enabling you to reach a wider audience, streamline transactions and reduce overhead costs.

  • Franchising business model: Franchising is when an established company (the franchisor) allows a third-party operator (the franchisee) to operate under its brand and business model.

  • Dropshipping business model: Dropshipping is a type of retail fulfillment method where your store doesn't keep the products in stock, but instead forwards customer orders and shipment details to the manufacturer, wholesaler or another retailer, who then directly ships the products to the customer.

  • Sharing economy business model: This business model involves the sharing of resources between individuals, facilitated by digital platforms. It allows for peer-to-peer sharing of assets such as cars, homes or skills, providing access to goods and services that might be otherwise unaffordable. This model works well as for small town business ideas.

  • On-demand business model: Goods or services are delivered to customers on an as-needed basis, usually through an app or website. Examples include food delivery, ride-sharing and cleaning services.

  • Service-based business model: A business provides a service—such as consulting, accounting, legal services or more practical services, like that offered by a plumbing business—to its customers.

how to start a business in oregon - type of business, service

03. Select the best name for your business in Oregon

When it comes to choosing a business name, you’ll want to get your name right from the get-go. Brainstorm, research and ask for feedback as you try to choose the right fit for your business.

start a business in oregon - business name

When choosing a business name in Oregon, it's important to consider the following:

  • Make it unique: Choose a name that’s distinctive and not easily confused with another business. You can verify that your name is available by checking the Oregon Secretary of State website.

  • Make it memorable and future-proof: Your business name should be easy for your customers to remember, spell and pronounce. It should be flexible enough to accommodate potential changes in your business operations, your business direction or growth.

  • Check for trademarks: Conduct a trademark search on the USPTO website to ensure that your name isn’t already trademarked by another company.

  • Check for domain availability: Check that your name is available as a domain name. While your domain name doesn’t have to match your business name exactly, it’s often best to get them as close as possible so that it’s easy for your customers to remember.

  • Legal requirements: Make sure to register your name with the state (note: you’ll have to pay a $100 filing fee) and to comply with Oregon’s naming laws and regulations. For example, LLCs must include either “LLC” or “L.L.C.” within its legal name.

04. Write your business plan

A business plan acts as a roadmap that outlines the goals, strategies and financial projections for your business. A well-crafted business plan helps identify potential challenges and opportunities, assess the feasibility of your business idea and develop a solid understanding of your target market and competition. By taking the time to create a comprehensive business plan, you can improve your chances of success and effectively manage your resources.

how to start a business in oregon - business plan

05. License and register your business in Oregon

To register a business in Oregon, you’ll need to follow these steps:

  • Choose a business structure: Decide on the business type you want to create, be it a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC or corporation.

  • Register your business name and DBA: As mentioned earlier, you’ll need to register your name with the state. If you’re not using your legal business name as your trade name (for example, you might want to drop the “LLC” in your marketing, or use a different name entirely when interacting with clients) you will need to register a "doing business as" (DBA) name with the Oregon Secretary of State. A DBA will cost an additional $50 to file.

  • Register your business: Submit the appropriate paperwork for officially registering your business with the Oregon Secretary of State. This can be done online or by mail.

  • Register for taxes: You will need to register for state and federal taxes, such as sales tax, income tax and employment taxes.

  • File for an EIN: Obtain Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS free of charge. An EIN is required if you’re planning to hire employees or open a business bank account with most banks.

  • Register with the Oregon Department of Revenue: Most businesses in Oregon will have to register with the Department of Revenue to obtain Oregon Business Identification Number (BIN), which is used for tax purposes (i.e., collecting and remitting sales tax).

  • Obtain any necessary licenses and permits: Depending on your line of business, you may need to obtain certain licenses (such as a business or occupational license) and permits from the state or county government.

  • Explore your insurance options: If you plan to hire employees, you’ll need to get workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance. You may also want to consider other insurance coverage—learn more on Oregon’s Division of Financial Regulation (DFR) site.

how to register a business in oregon

06. Secure business funding for your business in Oregon

Oregon is home to a vibrant entrepreneurial community and several resources that can help your business secure funding, such as grants, loans and venture capital. Understanding which is the right way to raise money for your business is an important decision.

Explore the various government-backed programs available to your business:

  • Oregon Small Business Development Center (OSBDC): OSBDC offers counseling, training and resources to help small businesses get started and grow.

  • Oregon Innovation Council (Oregon InC): Oregon InC provides funding and resources to support innovation and technology-based startups.

  • The Small Business Administration (SBA): The SBA offers a variety of loan programs, like the 7(a) loan program dedicated to small businesses.

  • Oregon Venture Fund: The Oregon Venture Fund invests in early-stage, high-growth companies, specifically in Oregon, who help create more jobs in the state.

  • Oregon Growth Board (OGB): The OGB manages the Oregon Growth Fund and Oregon Growth Account—two sources of capital meant to support business development within the state.

  • The Oregon Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program: The CDBG Program provides funding for small businesses to expand economic opportunities in low-income areas of the state.

07. Create a business website

In today's digital age, creating a business website has become crucial for any business that wants to succeed and stay competitive. A website serves as a virtual storefront that is accessible to customers 24/7, providing them with valuable information about your business, products and/or services and a way to contact you.

Get started by picking a business website template that resonates with you. Customize it according to your needs, and study how to make a business website that not only looks good, but brings in the right visitors.

Make sure to have a plan in place for actively driving traffic to your website. By investing in a well-designed and well-promoted website, you can expand the reach of your business, attract new customers and ultimately, drive growth and revenue.

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Business examples in Oregon

Looking for some more inspiration? Check out these business examples in Oregon that all use a Wix website to promote their brand.

AutoMedia Solution

This media and data company is a great example of an innovative business idea. AutoMedia Solution specializes in photo, video and 360 capture of automotive dealership inventory. Among other services, it delivers three-dimensional views of vehicles and customizable overlays to help dealerships stand out and drive leads.

Chateau de Harpe

A gorgeous wedding and event venue nestled in the hills of West Linn, Oregon, Chateau de Harpe makes the most of the natural landscapes of the state. The business attracts a wide range of customers through its well-designed website that acts as a virtual front with valuable information about the property, a picture gallery and an easy-to-find contact us form.

Albany MX Park

A family-friendly and sustainable multi-use motor sport park, Albany MX Park provides facilities for a range of motorsport disciplines, driver education and compatible events, thereby maximizing the commercial benefits of the business model.

República & Co.

República & Co. started as a humble little restaurant in Oregon. But within a span of two years, their business has expanded into a group of restaurants, coffee shops, a coffee roastery and a bakery.

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start a business in oregon review

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How to start a business in Oregon FAQ

Is Oregon a good place to start a small business?

It can be, as Oregon has experienced significant economic growth in recent years. The state's diverse economy includes sectors like technology, manufacturing, healthcare, tourism, and agriculture. Oregon's favorable business climate and strategic location on the West Coast contribute to its economic strength.

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