Doing business in Oregon is a straightforward process that involves coming up with a business idea, filing the proper documents, and separating your personal assets from the business. Many of the steps you'll need to take involve the Oregon Secretary of State.

How to Start a Business in Oregon

Before starting a business in any state, you must first come up with a suitable idea. Carefully analyze the idea with a critical eye to explore its potential as a full business plan. Once you know you've got a solid, marketable idea, you can formally organize the business.

Most business owners start a limited liability company (LLC) because it's the simplest business structure with plenty of benefits. To file an LLC in Oregon, you must complete key formation steps such as:

  • Obtaining a business license
  • Getting the necessary permits
  • Registering for state taxes
  • Opening a business bank account

It's also important to build a website to further develop your brand, so you may want to reserve a domain name when registering your LLC name.

Tips for Naming Your Business in Oregon

The first official step toward registering your business in Oregon is to come up with a suitable name. Don't take this step lightly; your business name represents your brand and should be memorable and easily searchable by potential clients.

When establishing an LLC in Oregon, the business name must contain the phrase “limited liability company” or one of its abbreviations (i.e., “LLC,” “L.L.C.,” etc.). Restricted and prohibited words include those requiring additional licenses (i.e., “university” or “bank”) or those that would confuse your business with a state or federal agency (i.e., “secret service,” “treasury,” etc.).

Once you've come up with an appropriate name, make sure it's available to use in Oregon. You can search existing names on the State of Oregon website.

Choose a Registered Agent

Your LLC is required to have a registered agent in Oregon. A registered agent is a person or business entity that agrees to receive legal documents on behalf of your business. These documents include state filings and court documents if the LLC is ever sued.

File Your LLC's Articles of Organization

To officially register your LLC in Oregon, you must file an Articles of Organization either online or via mail. At this point, decide whether your LLC will be member-managed (meaning that the LLC owner or owners handle daily operations) or manager-managed (an outside manager conducts daily operations).

Filing your Articles of Organization online is easiest because the forms are available to download on the Oregon Secretary of State's website. You will also need to pay a $100 non-refundable fee through the website or make your check or money order payable to “Corporate Division” if sending your registration in the mail.

Create an Operating Agreement

After you've registered your LLC with the state, create an operating agreement. Oregon doesn't require you to file this document, but it's still good practice to have one along with your other business records.

An operating agreement is a legal document which outlines your LLC's ownership and operating procedures.

Obtain an EIN

Your LLC will need an Employer Identification Number (EIN) or Federal Tax Identification Number to conduct business in Oregon. This number is used to identify your business entity, effectively serving as a social security number for businesses.

In addition to needing an EIN to file state and federal taxes, banks may also require an EIN to open a business bank account. You can obtain an EIN free of charge from the IRS after forming your company. Simply apply online or download the appropriate form and mail it to the Internal Revenue Service.

Key Steps After Forming Your LLC

After creating your business, you'll need to separate your personal assets from the company. LLCs provide limited liability to owners, but you'll need to keep your money separate in order to enjoy that personal asset protection. Plus, having a separate business account makes it easier to file taxes.

Consider getting a business credit card to build your LLC's credit history, which can help raise company funds down the road.

Register your LLC for Oregon state tax if you plan to hire employees. Fortunately, Oregon doesn't impose a sales tax, so you don't need to register for sales tax.

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