How To Start & Grow Your Business

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How to Start a Business in Oregon

If you’re looking to start a new business in the state of Oregon, look no further! We have free software and how-to content to help you start and grow your business.

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It rains an average of 155 days a year in Portland, Oregon. This Pacific Northwest State offers natural beauty, especially for the outdoor enthusiasts — kayaking, hiking, and skiing are well practiced throughout the state. And, Portland has more breweries than any other city in the world, and is known for its coffee — Portland has over 40 coffee roasters within the city limits alone! But it’s not just lattes and beer that make Oregon desirable — Oregon has an economy with a diverse manufacturing base and significant growth in high-tech hardware, software development, food processing, and outdoor gear. Though Oregon does have a higher cost of living, it has relatively low costs of doing business, and doesn’t levy sales and use tax.

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How to Start a Business

Starting a business can be both exhilarating and challenging. It requires your full attention and energy. It all begins with an idea, an observation that there is a problem and the belief that you have a new solution – or a better one. Allow us to walk you through the steps in this free guide: How to Start A Business.

General resources for starting a business in Oregon

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Fun facts about starting a business in Oregon

Famous business founded in Oregon Nike

Nike, Inc. is a multinational corporation founded in Eugene, Oregon in 1964. Nike is engaged in the design, development, manufacturing, and worldwide marketing and sales of footwear, apparel, equipment, accessories, and services. Nike is headquartered near Beaverton, Oregon, in the Portland metropolitan area. It is one of the world’s largest suppliers of athletic shoes and apparel, and a major manufacturer of sports equipment.

Famous entrepreneur born in Oregon Bill Bowerman

Bill Bowerman (1911-1999) was an American track and field coach born in Portland, Oregon. He co-founded Nike, Inc. Over his career, he trained 31 Olympic athletes, and during his 24 years as coach at the University of Oregon, the Ducks track and field team had a winning season every season but one, attained four NCAA titles, and finished in the top 10 in the nation 16 times.

“The idea that the harder you work, the better you’re going to be is just garbage. The greatest improvement is made by the man or woman who works most intelligently.”

Bill Bowerman
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Which type of legal structure is best for my business in Oregon?

We strongly recommend you incorporate, but you must consider the tax, legal, and liability implications carefully before deciding on the best structure.

Here are five helpful steps to determine what is the best legal structure for your business:

Click one of the buttons below to learn more about the different types of business legal structures and how to start them in the state of Oregon.
LLC (Limited Liability Company)
An LLC is a specific form of a private limited company. It is a business structure that combines the pass-through taxation of a partnership or sole proprietorship with the limited liability of a corporation.

Steps to starting an LLC in Oregon:

  • Step 1 — Choose a name for your LLC.
  • Step 2 — File Articles of Organization.
  • Step 3 — Appoint a Registered Agent.
  • Step 4 — Prepare an Operating Agreement.
  • Step 5 — Comply with any publication requirements.
  • Step 6 — Comply with other tax and regulatory requirements.
  • Step 7 — File Annual Reports.
  • Step 8 — Register foreign LLCs doing business in Oregon.

For help forming your LLC in Oregon we recommend CorpNet (they have fees for their service).

Alternatively, visit the Oregon Secretary of State website.

Other Oregon resources for LLCs:

Secretary of State Business Name Database: Search for the availability of your LLC name here.
File your “Application for Name Reservation” here.
File your “Articles of Organization” here.
File your “Annual Report” here.

Business Licenses: Search this site for licenses that may be required of your business.

IRS EIN Online: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your LLC here. If your LLC has more than one member, you must get an EIN, even if you have no employees.

Oregon Department of Revenue: If you will have employees or will be selling goods, you’ll need to register with this site.

Sole Proprietorship
A sole proprietorship is an unincorporated business with one owner who pays personal income tax on profits from the business. With little government regulation, they are the simplest business to set up or take apart, making them popular among individual self contractors or business owners.

Steps to starting Sole Proprietorship in Oregon:

  • Step 1 — Choose a business name.
  • Step 2 — File an assumed business name with the Secretary of State.
  • Step 3 — Obtain licenses, permits, and zoning clearance.
  • Step 4 — Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

For help forming your sole proprietorship in Oregon we recommend CorpNet (there are fees for their service).

Or, visit the Oregon Secretary of State website.

Other Oregon resources for Sole Proprietorship:

Secretary of State Business Name Search: Search for the availability of your business name here. A sole proprietor may use his or her given name, or an assumed business name.
File your “Application for Name Reservation” here.

U.S. Patent & Trademark Office: Federal database for existing trademark registrations. Click on the “TESS” link to conduct a search.

Business Licenses: Search this site for licenses that may be required of your business.

IRS EIN Online: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your sole proprietorship here. If you hire employees, you will need an EIN.

Oregon Department of Revenue: If you will have employees or will be selling goods, you’ll need to register with this site.

Partnership
A partnership is created whenever two or more people do business together for profit and share ownership, even if there is no written agreement to form the partnership. Each partner contributes to all aspects of the business, and each partner shares in the profits and losses of the business.

Steps to starting Partnership in Oregon:

  • Step 1 — Choose a partnership name.
  • Step 2 — File an assumed business name.
  • Step 3 — Create a partnership agreement.
  • Step 4 — Obtain licenses, permits, and zoning clearance.
  • Step 5 — Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

For help forming your partnership in Oregon we recommend CorpNet (they have fees for their service).

Alternatively, visit the Oregon Secretary of State website.

Other Oregon resources for Partnership:

Secretary of State Business Name Search: Search for the availability of your business name here. A partnership may use the surnames of the individual partners, or a fictitious business name.
File your Assumed Business Name here.

U.S. Patent & Trademark Office: Federal database for existing trademark registrations. Click on the “TESS” link to conduct a search.

Business Licenses: Search this site for licenses that may be required of your business.

IRS EIN Online: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your partnership here. Partnerships must have an EIN, whether you have employees or not.

Oregon Department of Revenue: If you will have employees or will be selling goods, you’ll need to register with this site.

S Corporation
An S corporation (or S Corp for short), is a special type of corporation created through an IRS tax election. An eligible domestic corporation can avoid double taxation (once to the corporation and a gain to the shareholders) by electing to be treated as an S corporation. In general, S corporations do not pay any federal income taxes. Instead, the corporation's income or losses are divided among and passed through to its shareholders. The shareholders must then report the income or loss on their own individual income tax returns.

Steps to starting S Corporation in Oregon:

  • Step 1 — Choose a corporate name.
  • Step 2 — File Articles of Incorporation.
  • Step 3 — Find a registered agent.
  • Step 4 — Set up a corporate records book.
  • Step 5 — Prepare corporate bylaws.
  • Step 6 — Appoint initial corporate directors.
  • Step 7 — Hold your first Board of Directors meeting.
  • Step 8 — Issue stock.
  • Step 9 — Comply with Oregon annual report requirements.
  • Step 10 — Comply with other tax and regulatory requirements.
  • Step 11 — Register foreign corporations doing business in Oregon.

For help forming your S corporation in Oregon we recommend CorpNet (they have fees for their service).

Alternatively visit the Oregon Secretary of State website.

Other Oregon resources for S Corporation:

Secretary of State Business Name Search: Search for the availability of your corporate name here.
File your “Application for Name Reservation” here.
File your “Articles of Incorporation” here.
File your “Annual Report” here.

Business Licenses: Search this site for licenses that may be required of your corporation.

IRS EIN Online: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your corporation here.

IRS S corporations: Specific instructions for your tax requirements as an S corp.

Oregon Department of Revenue: If you will have employees or will be selling goods, you’ll need to register with this site.

C Corporation
A C corporation (or C corp for short), under U.S. federal income tax law, refers to any corporation that is taxed separately from its owners. A C corporation is distinguished from an S corporation, which generally is not taxed separately.

Steps to starting C Corporation in Oregon:

  • Step 1 — Choose a corporate name.
  • Step 2 — File Articles of Incorporation.
  • Step 3 — Appoint a registered agent.
  • Step 4 — Set up a corporate records book.
  • Step 5 — Prepare corporate bylaws.
  • Step 6 — Appoint initial corporate directors.
  • Step 7 — Hold your first Board of Directors meeting.
  • Step 8 — Issue stock.
  • Step 9 — Comply with Oregon annual report requirements.
  • Step 10 — Comply with other tax and regulatory requirements.
  • Step 11 — Register foreign corporations doing business in Oregon.

For help forming your C corporation in Oregon we recommend CorpNet (there are fees for their service).

Or, you can visit the Oregon Secretary of State website.

Other Oregon resources for C Corporation:

Secretary of State Business Name Search: Search for the availability of your business name here.
File your “Application for Name Reservation” here.
File your “Articles of Incorporation” here.
File your “Annual Report” here.

Business Licenses: Search this site for licenses that may be required of your business.

IRS EIN Online: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your corporation here.

Oregon Department of Revenue: If you will have employees or will be selling goods, you’ll need to register with this site.

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Why choose Oregon for my business?

  • 1

    CBS Money Watch “The 10 Best States for Entrepreneurs” (2015)
    Oregon ranks #5. “Oregon scored well for small business lending due to its high ratio of 80.2 loans per 1,000 small business employees. This ratio indicates that entrepreneurs can gain easier access to funding in Oregon than they would in most states. Oregon small businesses also benefit from low business taxes, and a higher-than-average GDP per capita indicates a strong local economy with high productivity.”

  • 2

    GoBanking Rates "10 Best States for Entrepreneurs" (2015)
    Oregon ranks #5. “Oregon scored well for small business lending due to its high ratio of 80.2 loans per 1,000 small business employees. This ratio indicates that entrepreneurs can gain easier access to funding in Oregon than they would in most states. Oregon small businesses also benefit from low business taxes, and a higher-than-average GDP per capita indicates a strong local economy with high productivity.”

  • 3

    Oregon Tax and Business Incentives
    Comprehensive list of financial incentives and tax credits for new businesses.

  • 4

    Business Expansion Program
    “This incentive program is available to existing companies expanding operations in Oregon or new companies coming into the state. The Oregon Business Expansion Program (BEP) is a cash-based incentive (forgivable loan) equivalent to the estimated increase in income tax revenue from the new hiring.”

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