The Oregon SBDC Network Honors Women’s History Month

The Oregon SBDC Network Honors Women’s History Month

The Oregon Small Business Development Center Network is proud to honor Women’s History Month by inviting you to meet some of our inspiring and innovative Center directors serving Oregon’s small businesses.

Tammy Marquez-Oldham, Portland Community College SBDC

With a background in the education, healthcare, software, and food industries, Tammy Marquez-Oldham pairs her extensive business acumen with a vision of providing the highest level of business education and advising possible for the Network’s clients as the director of the SBDC at Portland Community College. Through the years, Tammy has spearheaded several initiatives for the Oregon SBDC alongside various collaborators and partners including:

CAPITAL ACCESS TEAM

Tammy co-founded the Oregon SBDC Network’s Capital Access Team (CAT) with Noah Brockman, who now leads the CAT as a regional and statewide service. The CAT helps small businesses identify the right source and use of capital through planning and loan package development. The CAT’s experienced advisers understand and leverage multiple forms and sources of capital, sometimes beyond traditional lending, in order to support the many small businesses they serve. The CAT celebrates its 10th year in 2022, and has helped more than 2,500 small businesses in Oregon successfully access more than $255 million in capital since its founding.

GLOBAL TRADE CENTER

The Oregon SBDC Network’s Global Trade Center is the only one of its kind in the state of Oregon and was co-founded by Tammy and Global Trade Center liaison and senior adviser David Kohl. An initiative that took 11 years to develop, the Center is celebrating its fifth year in 2022. This NASBITE-accredited Center offers trade assistance and advising for new-to-export-level small businesses through two training programs: the Certified Global Business Professional (CGBP) and Buying and Selling Outside the U.S. for small businesses.

GETTING YOUR RECIPE TO MARKET

The Getting Your Recipe to Market program was founded in the fall of 2006 to help small-business food entrepreneurs learn how to take their food recipe or product from idea to commercial-ready prototype. Tammy co-founded this program with the then–executive director of the Food Innovation Center, Jill Beaman; OSU staff; and members of the Portland Community College SBDC team. In partnership with the Food Innovation Center and New Seasons Market, the program has supported the development of more than 450 food entrepreneurs over 15 years. Beaman leads the program today.

RESTAURANT BUSINESS BUILDERS

The Restaurant Business Builders program was designed to support the needs of restaurateurs in the early stage of development by providing participants with instruction from top chefs in Portland. The program was developed in tandem with Leslie Hildula and is currently led by Dr. Sean Harry with support from lead adviser and organizer Terry Long.

BUSINESS DESIGN SERIES AND BUSINESS BUILDERS

The Business Design Series tailors a curriculum for businesses within their first year of operation, led by Jackie Babicky-Peterson. For businesses in their first through third years of operation, Business Builders provides specialized training and advising from Kim Allchurch-Flick. Together, they ensure that small businesses have the essential training, resources, and knowledge required for growing a healthy business.

ADVANCED SMALL BUSINESS MANAGEMENT PROGRAM

For business owners who are growing and expanding their businesses, the Advanced Small Business Management Program provides them with experienced subject matter expert trainers and advisers. This program, led by Dr. Sean Harry, has been sponsored by the Portland Business Alliance, funded by Bank of America for the past 10 years.

COLUMBIA COUNTY SBDC

One of the latest developments for the Oregon SBDC Network is the addition of its newest Center in Columbia County, which is the network’s 20th regional SBDC offering core business advising services and the 21st location in the state of Oregon.

The Columbia Economic Team, a private/public economic development organization serving Columbia County, initially launched the initiative to form the Business Resource Center and SBDC after filling grant-making and other small-business assistance gaps during the pandemic and economic downturn.

When Tammy was approached by Columbia Economic Team (CET) Executive Director Paul Vogel to support the initiative, she helped to provide the framework of the language and culture to the concept and resulting plan. With her guidance and the help of many state and local partners and investors, the Center was able to engage full local support in just nine months.

In addition to her leadership at the Portland Community College SBDC, the Centers and programs for which Tammy has helped to design and secure funding have impacted thousands of small-business clients throughout her 15 years of service at the Oregon SBDC Network.

Tammy attributes the success of the Center and its programs to the extraordinary team of program specialist Yevette Johnson, client service coordinator Sharon Quillen, business advisers, training facilitators, community partners, Portland Community College, and the Oregon SBDC Network.

“Together with Team is how we serve small businesses,” she said. “Together we are stronger!”

Ruth Swain, Rogue Community College SBDC

Rogue Community College SBDC Director Ruth Swain is passionate about supporting people and organizations to achieve their vision and goals. She is a small-business champion and award-winning marketing and design expert who has supported entrepreneurs in business growth for more than 30 years.

In her position at Rogue Community College SBDC, Ruth leads a team of advisers whose combined business ownership and management knowledge offers valuable guidance to small-business owners. In recent years, Rogue SBDC has performed in the top five Centers supporting capital access, number of clients served, new business starts, and robust training programs. She also leads a team of advisers in the Illinois Valley satellite office, which features a fully equipped commercial kitchen in support of founding food product makers.

Prior to serving as director at Rogue, Ruth served as interim director of the Mt. Hood SBDC, where she founded and led the Oregon SBDC Network’s statewide Cybersecurity program.

Cybersecurity attacks on small businesses are a grave and growing issue, with criminal activity quickly evolving along the digital landscape to affect every aspect of technology involving communication: the web as well as telephone, Bluetooth, and electronic devices. Key cybersecurity practices are simple, but many businesses know little about safety measures.

The aim of the Cybersecurity program is to offer educational awareness for businesses at different levels through workshops; training; and no-cost, one-on-one advising sessions.

Ruth led the project management of developing the program, which included teaching, conducting workshops, creating training materials, and matching small businesses with cybersecurity interns to teach principles and practices of cybersecurity in this increasingly important aspect of safeguarding small businesses.

Ruth has also served in the following capacities to further cybersecurity awareness for Oregon small businesses:

  • Appointed co-chair of the America’s SBDC Cybersecurity Interest Group
  • Represented Oregon SBDC’s Cybersecurity program and conducted certification program training at America’s SBDC national conference
  • Presented on cybersecurity and workforce at University of Illinois Critical Infrastructure Resilience Institute (CIRI)
  • Implemented the first statewide Small Business Cybersecurity Survey
  • Led the Network’s small-business franchising program, FranFit
  • Provided legislative testimony on small-business franchising to the Oregon House Interim Committee on Business and Labor

Ruth’s leadership has extended beyond the Oregon SBDC Network. Prior to joining the Oregon SBDC, she helped to raise millions of dollars in grants for organizations such as the City of West Richland’s Community and Economic Development, served as the vice president for advancement at the Columbia Basin College, and was part of the leadership team to found a new medical school at Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences in Yakima, Washington. She has also been a multi-time recipient of the Rotary International Paul Harris Award for “Service Above Self,” volunteering to help disadvantaged and underrepresented youth and women and children around the world suffering from poverty and domestic violence.

“Sharing positive ideas, energy, and encouraging others who have a dream is the most rewarding thing on the planet!” Ruth said. “Most of us just need a bit of insight to take the steps toward success.”

Kat Rutledge, Klamath Community College SBDC

Native Oregonian Kat Rutledge holds two positions in support of small-business owners, entrepreneurs, and those who want to be. She is the director of the Klamath Community College SBDC, where she leads a team in providing technical advice and training to the rural small-business communities of Klamath and Lake County. And she’s the director of Klamath IDEA, a community initiative focused on developing a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem in Klamath County.

The KCC SBDC is the only small business technical service provider for nearly 15,000 square miles, serving as a go-to resource for practical training and no-cost, confidential business advising to entrepreneurs on the application of best practices for success and growth in business. In her almost nine years as the director she has grown the SBDC from a one-person operation, offering only advising to a full center with standing classes for start-ups as well as a Small Business Management Program for existing business owners who are ready to grow. Meanwhile, Klamath IDEA works to foster an entrepreneurial culture through entrepreneurial ecosystem development, building a celebratory and supportive environment for entrepreneurs, and outreach to connect entrepreneurs to the right resources at the right time. While closely aligned, the varied services provided through Klamath IDEA and the SBDC provide critical support to rural entrepreneurs and have great impact when woven together.

Through her work with Klamath IDEA, Kat has been involved with the Rural Opportunity Initiative (ROI) since the program’s inception, when Klamath Falls was one of four communities initially funded by (then called REDI). Business Oregon eventually expanded the program to 20 communities in the 2021–23 biennium and ROI continues to be one of the funding streams that supports Klamath IDEA’s efforts to grow and sustain a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Klamath IDEA has recently joined the Ford Family Foundation in the Growing Rural Oregon Program, in which Klamath was selected as one of four Oregon communities working on entrepreneurial ecosystem-building to receive support for up to five years. They have received funding from the Oregon Community Foundation and are also financially supported by Klamath County and the City of Klamath Falls.

Kat believes that entrepreneurial ecosystem-building provides an amazing economic development opportunity for rural places. Rather than spending time, money, and resources exclusively on “catching the big fish” to save the day, entrepreneurship is an approach that leverages the assets that already exist and helps to highlight the gaps needed to be filled in order to grow an economy from within.

“I’m so proud to have been a part of this approach in its infancy,” Kat said. She said she looks forward to watching the approach catch on more broadly at the state and philanthropic levels.

Prior to her current roles, Kat worked in HR and financial management in both the for-profit and nonprofit worlds. Following her departure from corporate America, she ventured into owning her own HR and conflict management consulting business. She is an Oregon Certified Economic Developer and serves as a member of the South Central Oregon Regional Solutions Regional Advisory Committee. Kat holds a degree in Business and Economics. She has taught at both the high school and community college level. Kat has been involved in Oregon’s collegiate innovation scene for eight years with Oregon Tech’s Catalyze Klamath Falls Challenge, InventOR, and as a founder of KCC’s Badger Venture. She serves on the Craft3 CDE Advisory Board, as well as the board of directors for Discover Klamath. As a lifelong rural Oregonian, she is a loud and proud rural advocate!

Lisa Woods, Umpqua Community College SBDC

When Lisa Woods saw an opening for a position at the Oregon SBDC Network, she felt like the job description had been written specifically for her. Lisa spent 25 years as a small-business owner in San Diego, where she and her husband owned a martial arts center that included childcare. With an MBA and a passion for teaching, she taught business courses at a local college in San Diego County, using her gift to simplify complex subjects and helping individuals navigate their own growth and find their passion. A native Oregonian, Lisa has welcomed the opportunity to return home to Roseburg to serve as director of the Umpqua SBDC and support small-business owners in attaining their life’s goals.

“Often as a business owner you’re working in your business all day long,” she said. “We’re here to help business owners and entrepreneurs learn how to work on their business—not just in their business.”

Though she joined the SBDC in January 2020, Lisa has not let the challenges of the pandemic get in the way of providing support to Douglas County businesses. One issue that the pandemic helped to highlight was the lack of childcare providers, particularly in rural areas. Though many people were providing childcare for their immediate network—many times out of necessity—they often were not approaching it as a business, and thus were unable to take advantage of the support being provided to small-business owners at the state and federal level.

When the Ford Family Foundation approached the SBDC regarding this need, Lisa jumped at the chance to create a program designed to help entrepreneurs reposition their existing childcare services as businesses. The innovative pilot program, a collaboration between Care Connections & Education and the Umpqua SBDC, and funded through the Ford Family Foundation, launched in February 2021 and successfully completed in January 2022.

Since returning to Oregon, Lisa has found many ways to serve her community. She joined the planning commission for the city of Sutherlin, where she currently serves as the chair, she is on the city’s Urban Renewal Task Force, and she and her husband have opened a new martial arts studio as well as a church.

Whether it’s through helping to launch a business or teaching self-defense, Lisa’s passion to empower women permeates through the many facets of her life.

As she looks to the future, she is excited to be a part of transforming lives and small businesses, one relationship at a time.

In addition to these Center directors who are helping to lead the way for small businesses, the entire Oregon SBDC Network is actively engaged in supporting small businesses to grow and thrive. Connect with your local SBDC at www.OregonSBDC.org.

How to Prepare a Small-Business Marketing Plan (2022)

How to Prepare a Small-Business Marketing Plan (2022)

What a SWOT Analysis Is, and How Best to Utilize It When Creating Your Marketing Strategy

One of the most valuable tools for Oregon entrepreneurs is a comprehensive small-business marketing plan. Why is it so critical to your success? Because without potential customers having awareness of your offerings, even the best product or best service will languish.

An effective small business marketing plan is not about having a big marketing budget—it’s about determining the right marketing strategies for your business, understanding your competitive advantages, and developing tactics to support your visibility and marketing goals.

In this guide, we’ll share some tips on preparing your small-business marketing plan, including how to:

  • Evaluate your business by creating a SWOT analysis
  • Determine your small-business marketing budget
  • Identify the target audience for your small business
  • Set marketing goals and build your marketing strategies
  • Finalize your small-business marketing plan

Evaluate Your Business by Creating a SWOT Analysis

The first step to creating a small-business marketing plan is to understand where your business stands. An honest assessment of internal and external factors will help you put together a strategic direction for your business.

One way to begin is by creating a SWOT analysis, which stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

For Strengths, consider what your business does well. What qualities separate you from others in your industry? What internal resources do you have that serve as an advantage? What tangible assets do you have, such as intellectual property, capital, or proprietary technologies?

Under Weaknesses, write down what challenges you have, whether they are something your company lacks, limitations in resources, or advantages your competitors have over you.

Identify Opportunities for your business, such as underserved markets for your products or services, favorable market trends for your products or services, and other external factors that may have a positive impact on your business and industry.

For Threats, take a look at what factors can negatively impact your business and industry, such as emerging competitors, changes to laws and regulations, and changes to customer sentiment.

Generally speaking, strengths and weaknesses should speak to internal circumstances, and opportunities and threats will focus on external factors that affect your small business.

Determine Your Small-Business Marketing Budget

Marketing costs money, so once you have a clear understanding of the circumstances of your small business from creating a SWOT analysis, it’s time to set a budget for your marketing plan.

As you begin to determine your marketing budget, be realistic about what you should invest. If you own a new business that is working to establish itself, you might consider allocating a higher percentage of your gross revenue as compared with an established business.

In addition to setting a monetary budget, consider the amount of time you plan to spend marketing your business each week. Oftentimes, busy entrepreneurs put their marketing efforts on the back burner as they get bogged down by day-to-day tasks. It’s crucial to apply enough time and resources in this area to move the needle for your business.

If marketing is not your forte and you don’t have time to focus on executing marketing strategies on your own (or don’t have a dedicated staff member to help you), your budget might include hiring specialists to assist with your marketing efforts.

Identify the Target Audience for Your Small Business

With your SWOT analysis complete and a marketing budget in mind, the next step in how to prepare your small-business marketing plan is to identify who you will target through your marketing efforts.

A small business’s target market is determined by many factors. You can consider specific demographics such as:

  • Geographic location
  • Business type
  • Gender
  • Income level
  • Marital or family status

You can also consider the psychographics of your target audience, which include:

  • Values
  • Interests and hobbies
  • Lifestyles
  • Behaviors

When you know who your target is, you can then determine which channels you will focus your marketing strategy on.

Set Marketing Goals and Determine Your Marketing Strategies

You’ve conducted a SWOT analysis. You know who your ideal customers are. Now it’s time to determine how you’ll reach them and set some benchmarks.

Some common examples of marketing goals include:

  • Increasing website traffic
  • Generating leads
  • Increasing social media followers
  • Growing an email list
  • Improving conversion rates

While setting specific goals is a vital aspect of the strategic planning process, it’s just as important to break down each objective into small, actionable steps to help you reach your goals.

Many small-business owners implement the SMART method (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-based), which can clarify each goal, focus your efforts, and efficiently allocate time and resources.

Consider these questions as you create your goals:

  • What is the goal? Be Specific.
  • How can my progress be Measured?
  • Do I have the skills and resources for this goal to be Attainable?
  • Why is this goal Relevant to my business needs?
  • What is the Timeframe for achieving this goal?

Once you have your goals in place, you can determine the best channels and marketing tactics to reach your target audience and make progress toward reaching your goal.

Here’s an example of a SMART goal, and some marketing tactics that can be employed:

Goal:
Increase unique website visitors by 10% in 2022.

Marketing Tactics:

  • Create a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.
  • Create a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign to drive new users to your website.
  • Implement a social media advertising campaign to create awareness and increase traffic.
  • Review progress on a monthly basis.
  • Finalize Your Small-Business Marketing Plan

The final task in the planning process of your small-business marketing plan is to prioritize the tasks you want to accomplish. Having a to-do list to reference takes the guesswork out of deploying your marketing initiatives while running your business.

As you finalize your plan, you may wish to have a mentor review your small-business marketing plan, particularly if you are a new business owner. The Oregon SBDC Network offers no-cost, confidential advising services in all areas of business to help Oregon entrepreneurs succeed.

For established businesses that anticipate growth, the network’s Market Research Institute provides customized, data-based reports to help business owners build a customized marketing plan based on their needs and goals at no direct cost.

Contact your local Center to get started!

Small Business Development Center Approved for Columbia County, Oregon

The Center will be the Oregon Small Business Development Center’s 21st location in the state

The Oregon Small Business Development Center Network (Oregon SBDC) announced the approval of a new Small Business Development Center in Columbia County, Oregon. The Columbia County Small Business Development Center (Columbia County SBDC) is the first new center formed in Oregon since 2013. It marks the network’s 20th Center offering core business advising services in the state of Oregon.

The Columbia County SBDC will combine with a newly formed Business Resource Center (BRC), co-locating small business advising and coaching with economic development, business retention, recruitment and expansion, and tourism. The Center and staff will have access to all programs, protocols, systems, training, and software within the Oregon SBDC to enhance its already considerable capacity.

In addition, the new Columbia County SBDC will collaborate with BRC partners to conduct outreach and client recruitment that will serve every community throughout Columbia County. The advising services provided will be consistent with the other Oregon SBDC offerings, which include—as mandated by the federal Small Business Administration—no-cost advising and coaching to any business.

The Columbia County SBDC will be operated under the direction of Columbia Economic Team (CET) Executive Director Paul Vogel.

“This exciting development really is all about timing, and the timing is just right,” said Vogel. “Historically, our county has been difficult to serve by the Portland Community College SBDC due to geography and population factors. We’ve been experiencing significant growth, however, and the COVID pandemic both underscored the glaring need for business support and provided funding sources to make it possible,” Vogel added.

The Columbia Economic Team, a private/public membership organization serving Columbia County launched an initiative to form the Business Resource Center and SBDC after filling grant making and other small business assistance gaps during the pandemic and economic downturn.

“On the road to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Columbia County SBDC is a much-needed and anticipated resource for local small-business owners,” said Mark Gregory, state director for the Oregon SBDC. “With the new SBDC’s presence in Columbia County, there will be opportunities to expand and create new businesses, and provide business support solutions for the many challenges Oregon’s small-business communities face as they emerge from the pandemic in 2022.”

The Oregon SBDC would like to thank several state and local partners and investors. These partners include:

  • Columbia County Board of Commissioners
  • Columbia Pacific Economic Development District (Col-Pac)
  • The City of St. Helens
  • The City of Scappoose
  • The City of Clatskanie
  • The City of Vernonia
  • The City of Columbia City, Oregon
  • Sen. Betsy Johnson
  • U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici
  • The Columbia Economic Team
  • CET Executive Director Paul Vogel
  • Tammy Marquez-Oldham, PCC SBDC Director

For all press inquiries please contact Paul Vogel at paulvogel@columbiacountyoregon.com.

Tips on How to Start a Small Business in Oregon in 2022

Tips on How to Start a Small Business in Oregon in 2022

Everything You Need to Know About Starting a Small Business

In order to become a successful entrepreneur in Oregon, it’s important to first understand how to start a small business.

While some of the steps to bring your small-business idea to market will depend on the type of industry you choose and the products or services you will be providing, every business will need to follow these essential steps:

  1. Identify your business idea.
  2. Research your idea.
  3. Refine and test your idea.
  4. Set up your business.
  5. Write your business plan.
  6. Get your finances in order.
  7. Choose a business location.
  8. Build your website.
  9. Find your customer base.
  10. Prepare for challenges.

Read on to learn more.

Identify Your Business Idea

When considering how to start a small business, it’s important to remember that a great business starts with a great idea. However, even in the ideation stage, there are several approaches you can consider.

When developing your small-business ideas, you can take something you’re passionate about—like a hobby—and turn it into a business. For example, if you love puzzles and care about quality and design, you might consider manufacturing your own brand of puzzles. If you love to bake, perhaps you have a dream to open your own bakery.

Another way to approach your small-business idea is by solving a problem. Perhaps your area is growing in tourism but doesn’t have enough accommodations. If you have extra space at your home or can buy an investment property, this may be an opportunity for you to explore hospitality as a business venture. Finding a need in your community is a fantastic place to start.

You can also generate small-business ideas through brainstorming. Write down any idea that comes to mind—big or small—and refine your idea in the next phase.

No matter how your business idea comes to mind, remember to be realistic about the demand and scalability of your potential business.

Research Your Idea

The next step in how to start a small business is to do some market research and take a hard look at the demand for your business idea in order to ensure that it’s viable before you spend time and money developing your business.

Questions you should seek answers to during this phase include:

  • Is there a need for this product or service?
  • What is currently available in the market?
  • How competitive is this industry, and who are my top competitors?
  • What is needed to turn my idea into a reality?

Conducting market research for your small-business idea will be helpful when you begin writing your business plan.

Refine and Test Your Idea

Testing your idea is a crucial aspect of starting your business. You can provide your service to a few people and get valuable feedback on how it’s working. If you are manufacturing a product, you can create a prototype and learn what works—and, just as importantly, what doesn’t. You can also find out how much potential customers might pay for your product or service. From there, you can refine your business idea.

Set Up Your Business

Next, it’s time to set up your small business, which has several steps within this phase.

You will first want to choose a business name. It’s important to choose a business name that is available for use in Oregon, which you can check through the Oregon Secretary of State’s website. Businesses can also obtain a federal trademark, so it’s a good idea to search the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for similar business names to yours.

Next, you will need to choose your business structure. Your business structure will influence your registration requirements, your tax responsibilities, and your personal liability. Choosing the right business structure will provide the right balance of legal protections and benefits.

Common business structures include:

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • Limited liability company (LLC)
  • C corporation (C corp)
  • S corporation (S corp)
  • Benefit corporation (B corp)
  • Close corporation
  • Nonprofit corporation
  • Cooperative

Once you have identified your business name and business structure, you can apply online for your business’s federal employer identification number (EIN) through the IRS and register your business in Oregon. This will allow you to apply for the necessary business licenses and permits.

Write Your Business Plan

Writing a business plan is a crucial step to starting any business. It’s a foundational tool that helps to map out your plan for success and guides you through the stages of beginning and operating your business.

There is no right or wrong way to write a business plan—it simply needs to meet your needs and the needs of your business. It can cover anything from high-level overviews about various aspects of your business to more detailed information such as your operational plans and finances.

Topics you may consider including in your business plan include:

  • Executive summary
  • Overview of the company and its objectives
  • Market analysis
  • Company organization
  • Overview of services or products
  • Marketing and sales strategy
  • Logistics and operations
  • Financial projections

You should think of your business plan as a living document, designed to be reviewed and adjusted over time.

Get Your Finances in Order

Being able to manage your finances well will be critical to the success of your small business. One way to get off to the right start is to ensure that you separate your personal and business expenses.

Open a separate business checking account, which can be used to receive payments and to pay for business-related expenses and overhead. LLCs, partnerships, and corporations are required by law to have a separate bank account for business. While sole proprietors are not legally required to have a separate account, it’s highly recommended, and your future self will thank you come tax season!

You may also want to consider opening a business credit card and will be required to do so if your business structure is a corporation or an LLC. Building credit is important for having the ability to secure future funding should you need it.

You’ll then need to develop a bookkeeping system and set up important processes, such as how you’ll get paid by your customers.

At this stage, consider your knowledge, skills, and abilities to:

  • Keep accurate records
  • Analyze timely financial reports
  • Prepare sales forecasts and budgets
  • Track and analyze key financial indicators
  • Structure debt effectively

If you’re unsure about how to manage the day-to-day bookkeeping and accounting responsibilities for your business, you should know that the Oregon SBDC offers resources and ongoing classes for small-business owners to get a handle on their finances and accounting basics, including the Small Business Management Program, which provides a combination of a classroom setting and one-on-one coaching to help make you and your business more successful.

Additionally, businesses will need to secure external business financing through a line of credit, a small-business loan, or other means. The Oregon SBDC’s Capital Access Team can help you access the funding your business will need through specialized business advising.

Choose a Business Location

If you are planning to operate a brick-and-mortar business, choosing a business location is one of the most important decisions you will make before launch, because it will determine the taxes, zoning laws, and regulations your small business will be subject to.

Consider your business’s target market, your personal preferences, and the costs, benefits, and restrictions of different government agencies.

Costs that can vary significantly by location include:

  • Standard salaries
  • Minimum wages
  • Property values
  • Rental rates
  • Business insurance rates
  • Utilities
  • Government licenses and fees

Additionally, local zoning ordinances, taxes, and government incentives will also vary.

Build Your Website

Regardless of what type of small business you’ll be operating, having a website as part of your online presence will be important in building your credibility with your customer base.

As you prepare to build your business website, the first step is to obtain a good domain name. That means finding a URL that is easy to spell, as short as possible, and memorable. Be sure to research the domain name to see if a similar web address already exists. Additionally, check with the USPTO to ensure that you haven’t included any registered trademarks.

Your website should clearly showcase your business products or services in an memorable and engaging way that drives results. Beautiful graphics that are compressed and optimized for fast loading, easily accessible calls to action (such as “Buy now” or “Call now” buttons), and an intuitive navigation system should all be considered as you create your site. Implementing search engine optimization (SEO) practices to ensure that search engines index and rank your website will also help with your business’s visibility.

Find Your Customer Base

Now that the groundwork of how to start a small business has been laid out, it’s time to find your potential customers.

Before you can build your customer base, you will need to know who your ideal customers are. Develop a plan for acquiring customers by understanding how your typical customer would find a product or service like yours. This may include building a presence on social media, using email marketing, working with local newspapers, or finding in-person networking opportunities.

It’s also helpful to research successful competitors to see where they advertise and other strategies they use, as those may be beneficial for your own business efforts.

Prepare for Challenges

When you’re learning how to start a small business, one thing to keep in mind is that there will always be unforeseen obstacles. The market and technology are constantly changing, and the most successful entrepreneurs are ones who are flexible and willing to adapt to their customers’ needs.

As a new business owner, you may also learn that there are aspects of your business that you aren’t sure how to manage. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! The Oregon SBDC is here to support entrepreneurs as they prepare to start their own businesses and can provide crucial business advising at no cost.

No matter the type of challenge you may be facing with opening your small business, the Oregon Small Business Development Center Network can help you turn your small-business idea into a reality! Connect with your local SBDC to learn more at OregonSBDC.org.

How to Use SBDC Small-Business Mentoring to Start or Grow a Business

How to Use SBDC Small-Business Mentoring to Start or Grow a Business

Advising and mentorship at the Oregon Small Business Development Center Network

A business mentor is an experienced and trusted adviser who can provide support and advice when it’s needed. Whether they’re starting or growing your small business, entrepreneurs can benefit from small-business mentoring and can put a small business on the right track toward success.

Luckily, finding an experienced small-business mentor is as simple as connecting with the Oregon Small Business Development Center Network.

Free advising services

Our mission at the Oregon SBDC is to provide expert advice, training, and resources for small-business owners through 20 conveniently located centers throughout Oregon.

One of the many benefits of connecting with your local Small Business Development Center is the free advising services for business owners.

Tap into the insight of our knowledgeable team of advisers, and receive valuable small-business mentoring through this no-cost service.

Advising is confidential and can cover a variety of topics, including:

  • Strategic planning
  • Business support
  • Understanding and analyzing business financials
  • Hiring and scaling your operations
  • Intellectual property concerns

Our advisers understand how to start a small business in Oregon—and how to scale it when you’re ready. They can support you with individualized advice at every stage of your small-business venture.

Starting a company

It’s one thing to have a great business idea and another to actually start a business. Often, first-time entrepreneurs are unsure where to begin.

The Oregon SBDC has several tools available that help to streamline the process of creating and running your business, and one such tool is LivePlan.

This business planning software can simplify:

  • Creating your business plan
  • Budgeting and forecasting
  • Tracking performance

With customizable functions, hundreds of sample plans, and the ability to connect to other accounting software like QuickBooks, LivePlan can help you plan, fund, and grow your business.

As part of our small-business mentoring services, small-business owners can access this valuable software through their adviser.

Growing your business

If your small business is ready for growth, the Oregon SBDC can help guide you through the process of expanding it to the next stage.

GrowthWheel is a visual toolbox for decision-making and action planning for start-ups and small businesses, designed to build your business in a simple, action-oriented process that stays true to the way most entrepreneurs think and work.

It tackles the ongoing challenges that businesses across industries face in each stage of their life cycle and helps to map out business decisions.

The best part? It’s available at no cost to clients who work with our advisers as part of the benefits of small-business mentoring through the SBDC.

Understanding your market

When you work with a small-business mentor at the Oregon SBDC, their expertise in your local area will help you understand the market in which you operate.

For a more in-depth look, the Network’s Market Research Institute provides customized research reports and market intelligence for established businesses that anticipate growth.

Small-business owners will have access to data that will help them:

  • Identify opportunities
  • Better understand the competitive landscape
  • Refine business plans
  • Make smarter, more informed business decisions.

Based on your individual needs and goals, the institute’s market research report will encompass a range of topics and market analyses for a customized marketing plan with no direct cost to you!

Your adviser can help you understand and create a plan around your custom report, from industry trends and statistics to geographic analysis and supply chain information.

Finding and securing financing

When it comes to funding for your business, you want to ensure that any advice you receive is relevant to you and will help you succeed.

The Oregon SBDC’s Capital Access Team (CAT) is made up of specialized advisers located throughout the state who provide expert advice on accessing capital to foster economic growth and resilience.

When you connect with the CAT, you’ll be mentored by experts to help you:

  • Assess readiness for funding to determine next steps
  • Advise on business planning and projections to be “funder-ready”
  • Discuss and advise on different finance strategies
  • Provide financial analysis and feedback as needed
  • Advise on funding package documentation
  • Assist clients with funder relations and connections

The Capital Access Team has helped Oregon businesses successfully access more than $255 million in capital since its founding in 2010.

Small-business mentoring is available at each of our 20 Centers. To learn more about our network and how we can help you start a business or grow your existing small business, visit www.OregonSBDC.org.

Here’s Your Business Tax Preparation Checklist

Everything You Need to Know to Maximize Business Tax Deductions

Business tax preparation can seem daunting, especially for small-business owners filing for the first time. To ensure that you’re ready when tax time comes, start early! Follow this checklist to prepare for your small-business taxes and know how to maximize your business tax deductions.

If you need further guidance on current and future business tax preparation, check out the Oregon Small Business Development Center’s resources at the end of this guide.

Business Tax Preparation Checklist

Know the types of taxes applicable to your business.
Choose the forms you’ll need.
Collect the necessary financial documents.
Understand tax deductions and tax credits.
Get your 1099s in order by collecting W-9s now.
Look at I-9s for expiring documents and request new ones at least two months in advance—plus, be sure to sign the renewal section.
Request new W-4s (state and federal) from employees.
Review your loan, credit card, and accounts payable balances, and check that they match the balance sheet.
Review your profit and loss and consider tax-saving strategies.
Check in with your tax preparer, or select a tax preparer accountant now.
Request a tax-filing extension well before your filing deadline.

Know the Types of Taxes Applicable to Your Business

There are various types of taxes that Oregon small-business owners are required to pay to the IRS and state tax authorities. The six main types of taxes your business may be responsible for include:

  1. Income tax: Taxes paid on the profits of the business (individual/self-employment and corporate). The Corporate Activity Tax (CAT) applies to businesses that earn $750,000 in gross income or more in a year.
  2. Estimated taxes: Quarterly tax payments, if you are a sole proprietor/sole member limited liability company (LLC) filing a Schedule C, Schedule E, Schedule F, or Form 1065 as a partnership/ multi-member LLC partnership return for your business. If you are a Sub S, be sure to consult your tax professional for your specific election and filing requirements.
  3. Self-employment tax: Social Security and Medicare for self-employed earnings.
  4. Employment taxes: Social Security, Medicare, federal and state unemployment taxes, and Workers’ Benefit Fund (Forms 941, 940/ Form OQ, Oregon Schedule B, Form 132, Form QA).
  5. Business personal property taxes: Filed by each individual, partnership, firm, or corporation, this tax varies based on your locality. Taxable property includes items such as machinery, equipment, and furniture used previously or presently in a business.
  6. Excise tax: Depending on your business structure, you may be assessed an excise tax. Corporate excise taxes are typically imposed only on a small business set up as a C corporation or LLC that elects to be treated as a corporation; this is an additional tax charged on goods and services. For S corporations and LLCs, a minimum excise tax is typically assessed, and the business owner pays personal income tax on the income that passes through from the business. Also, if employees work in the TriMet or Lane Transit Districts, an excise tax will be due.

Be sure to consult with your tax preparer to ensure that you meet all your tax obligations.

Choose the Forms You’ll Need

Once you understand the types of business taxes that are assessed, it’s time to choose the forms you’ll need.

The most common tax forms small businesses need include:

  • Schedule C: For sole proprietors and sole-member LLC owners, this form is attached to your personal income tax return.
  • Schedule E: Used by landlords and property owners to report business income and expenses on their properties.
    Schedule F: Used by farmers/ranchers and others with agricultural businesses.
  • 1099-MISC: Used to report other income or rent paid to a landlord.
  • 1099-NEC: Used to report payments to individuals and businesses for amounts equal to or more than $600 in the year (services and goods).
  • Form 1120: Used to report income from a C corporation.
  • Form 1120S: Used for companies with S corporation status, this form should be filed separately from your personal income tax return.
  • Schedule K-1: Prepared for each individual partner in a partnership, to be included with their personal tax return.

If you are unsure which tax forms you need, be sure to consult with your tax preparer.

Collect the Necessary Financial Documents

Among the most important steps of business tax preparation is collecting pertinent financial information for your taxes. Having the following essential documents readily available will help to make filing your taxes less time-consuming:

General information:

  • Federal tax ID number, also known as an EIN
  • Business Registry Number for Oregon
  • Social Security number
  • NAICS Code for your business
  • Previous year’s tax return

Business documentation:

  • Income statement (be sure to provide information either as cash-based or accrual)
  • Balance sheet (be sure to provide information either as cash-based or accrual)
  • Transactional supporting documents, such as bank and credit card statements, invoices received and paid, and bank deposit slips
  • Accounting documents
  • Asset purchase information, including the sale of facilities, vehicles, equipment, and stock or inventory
  • Sale of assets (provide the date of sale and net book value to determine gain or loss)
  • Depreciation schedule of assets
  • Mileage log for each vehicle
  • A statement on capitalization criteria for assets
  • Information on any fringe benefits paid to employees

Employment and vendor tax documentation:

  • Employee forms: W-9, I-9, W-2
  • Subcontractor forms: 1099, 1099-MISC, 1099-NEC
  • Payroll documents

Home office documentation:

For business owners who use part of their home for business purposes, expenses may be deductible for the business use of your home. Document the square footage of your home office and the total square footage of your home, as well as how much you paid for mortgage interest or rent; utilities; homeowners or renters insurance; property taxes; repairs to the home; and any separate phone line you maintain. Also, if you use the internet and/or cable, such as for watching YouTube videos or to communicate with customers, include this with your home office documentation.

Understand Tax Deductions and Tax Credits

As a small-business owner, you have access to advantageous tax deductions and tax credits to reduce how much you owe, but you will need to prove that you qualify for them.

A tax deduction reduces a business’s taxable income, while a tax credit reduces the business’s tax bill.

Some of the deductions that small-business owners may qualify for include:

  • Supplies
  • Professional fees, such as attorneys, accountants, and bookkeepers
  • Operational costs, such as rent and utilities
  • Home office expenses (not deducted directly on the P&L; done on your tax return only)
  • Marketing costs to promote your business
  • Entertainment and travel expenses
  • Mileage
  • Healthcare and employee benefit expenses
  • Company vehicle insurance
  • Asset depreciation
  • Loan amortization of points
  • Goodwill deduction, if you purchased the business
  • Employee salaries and benefits
  • Training and education expenses
  • Qualified business income (QBI) deduction, up to 20% reduction in net income

Tax credits are awarded to businesses that engage in a particular type of business action that is helpful to the economy or society. Some common small-business tax credits include:

  • Small-business health insurance premiums, for businesses with fewer than 25 employees
  • Employer credit for Paid Family and Medical Leave
  • Investment credit for qualifying environmental and energy projects
  • Disabled access credit, for expenses to make your business more accessible to those with disabilities
  • Work Opportunity Tax Credit, applying to businesses that hire employees from underserved populations, such as veterans, ex-felons, or recipients of family assistance or food stamps, among others
  • Alternative motor vehicle credit, for electric and hybrid vehicles used for business purposes
  • Information on all grants, PPPs and other incentives provided during COVID

Get Your 1099s in Order

You may have incoming or outgoing 1099 forms for your business, and it’s a good idea to get these in order in advance.

If your small business works with independent contractors, you must file Form 1099-NEC for each non-employee whom you have paid at least $600 for services performed. If the independent contractor also provided supplies/materials/goods to your business, those are included on the 1099-NEC. In cases where the amount you paid is below $600, you will not need to file a form. Be sure to collect a new W-9 from each independent contractor annually, as their business information may have changed.

If you are a service-based small business that has received payments, you will have incoming 1099s. If you are expecting a Form 1099 and have not received one, be sure to include this in the gross income of your tax return. If the information on the Form 1099 is incorrect, be sure to contact the payer to get it corrected, and if you are unable to do so, attach an explanation to your tax return.

Look at I-9s for Expiring Documents

Form I-9 verifies the identity and employment authorization for new employees who have been hired to work in the United States (citizens and non-citizens). Employers are expected to reverify should an employee’s employment authorization documentation expire.

If you have any questions about completing and managing Form I-9, be sure to speak with your tax preparer and/or payroll provider.

Request New W-4s from Employees

Form W-4 is used to withhold income tax from employees’ pay. Employers should ensure that they have new W-4s for:

  • New employees
  • Employees who had a change in their personal or financial situation
  • Employees who are claiming exemption from withholding

Employers are encouraged to remind employees to submit a new W-4 form if their withholding allowances have changed or will change next year.

Review Balances, and Check That They Match the Balance Sheet

When recording loan balances, small-business owners should record payments to their loan principal and interest separately, as only payments on the loan interest are tax-deductible.

Verify that credit card purchases have been entered, and reconcile the credit card at year-end.

Accounts and trade payables need to be verified to ensure that balances that show due for unpaid taxes, vendor invoices, and trade invoices match the detail in the accounts payable.

As part of your business tax preparation, it’s important to review your loan, credit card, and vendor statements with your bookkeeper at the end of the year to ensure that the loan balances on your balance sheet are accurate and match the balances on your statements.

Plan to take this as part of your paperwork for your tax preparer.

Review Your Profit and Loss, and Consider Tax-Saving Strategies

Your profit and loss (P&L) statement, also called the income statement, summarizes your revenue and expenses throughout the year. Your P&L will include much of the information you’ll need during your business tax preparation.

As you review your P&L statement, you may be able to lower your total taxes by considering strategies such as:

  • Updating the corporate structure of your business
  • Establishing a retirement plan
  • Claiming first-year bonus depreciation (a tax break for assets purchased)
  • Deferring or accelerating income depending on your tax situation (for those who use pass-through entities)

Be sure to run both the balance sheet and P&L, or income statement as it is known on most software packages, using the same method—cash or accrual.

Remember to consult your tax preparer to be proactive with your tax planning and see if you qualify for potential savings.

Check In with Your Tax Preparer

In addition to providing you with information and advice on key tax decisions, having a professional prepare your tax forms can ease the pain of tax season, and in many cases the deductions and recommendations they make can save their fee and more!

A tax professional will help ensure that your business taxes are filed correctly and that you are maximizing any deductions or credits available to your small business.

To avoid needing multiple appointments with your tax preparer, ask for a client organizer or guidance on what to prepare in advance of your appointment.

If you haven’t yet hired a tax professional, here are some tips to help you find the right tax preparer:

  • Consider requiring a CPA, law license, or Enrolled Agent designation. It is relatively easy to obtain a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN), which is required of all paid tax preparers, so credentials that require varying amounts of study and ongoing education can help in finding the right person to help with your taxes.
  • Check their qualifications using the IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications.
  • Check their history through the Better Business Bureau.
  • Ask to e-file. E-filing is required for those who prepare more than 10 returns. If your tax preparer does not offer e-filing, it may indicate that they do not do a lot of tax preparation.

Request a Tax-Filing Extension if Necessary

If you’ve already begun to think about business tax preparation, you’re likely ahead of the game, but there are times when an extension may be necessary.

If you don’t think you’ll be able to file your taxes by the deadline, it’s possible to request an extension from the IRS, which will give you until the fall to file your tax return.

It’s important to note that, even if the filing deadline is extended, you must pay your taxes by the original deadline to ensure that you don’t get penalized.

Business Tax Preparation at the Oregon SBDC

The Oregon Small Business Development Center Network is committed to building Oregon’s best businesses. Our 19 centers assist small businesses throughout Oregon with advising, classes, and access to the resources they need to be successful, including business tax preparation. Each center is backed by our statewide network of support, helping small businesses access the right assistance wherever they are in Oregon.

A few of our services that help small-business owners with business tax preparation include:

Oregon’s small businesses are as unique as our state, and our knowledgeable team of advisers can help you with any challenges you face while preparing for tax season. If you have any questions about preparing for your business taxes, connect with your local SBDC at OregonSBDC.org.

6 Strategies for Successful Business Planning

6 Strategies for Successful Business Planning

Running a small business is never easy. Whether you’re just starting out or have been running your own company for years, whether you have a few loyal clients or a whole lot, whether your overhead is minimal or substantial, running a successful and profitable business takes a lot of work—rewarding work for sure, but hard work nonetheless.

Luckily, there are some ways to make it easier. While the Oregon Small Business Development Center (SBDC) has loads of resources—some we’ll tell you about here—that can help small-business owners, the best step you can take to improve your odds of success is to plan properly. In this article, we’re outlining six strategies you can implement for successful business planning.

1. Start Planning Early

It’s never too early to start planning. Never. Whether you have an idea you want to turn into a business, you have a business ready to launch, or you already have a successful business and are thinking of what to do next, a strategic plan is crucial.

The Oregon SBDC is here to help with your business planning at any stage. From startup to scaling, our advisers have the tools to help you build a solid foundation for your business. Tools like LivePlan simplify business planning, budgeting, forecasting, and performance tracking for our clients.

GrowthWheel is another tool our advisers use that provides a visual toolbox to help business owners make better decisions and take action in their businesses. Both of these tools are offered free of charge exclusively to Oregon SBDC clients.

2. Set Your Goals

Your strategic business plan needs to include more than just ideas. While the vision of a business is an important component, a key factor to success is setting SMART goals—specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.

Oftentimes a big goal is tied to several smaller goals you need to achieve along the way. For this reason, some business owners set goals by month or quarter, while others set goals for the year. The right timeline to choose depends on you and your business goals.

3. Identify Your Staffing Needs

When people think about goals for businesses, they typically think about financial targets they want to hit, potential physical expansions, new strategies for upcoming product launches, and the like. But another factor that merits consideration and forward planning is your business’s future staffing needs, especially in today’s climate.

If your business goals include expanding your operations, the number of full-time, part-time, and/or contracted workers will likely change. The cost and time it will take to hire for your staffing needs requires planning.

4. Understand Your Financials

Awareness of your business and personal finances is a vital part of successful business planning. Even if you’re “in the black” and seeing profits, understanding your finances is important when making decisions and planning for the future of your business. And this means knowing more than just what’s in your bank account.

Understanding how much money is coming in and going out each month, product costs, the cost to manufacture, the cost of goods sold, labor costs, fixed and variable costs—these are all numbers you need to know so you can make decisions for your business. Your financial indicators are the drivers of your business, and if you don’t understand them, it can be easy to make a costly mistake.

5. Put Together Your Marketing Plan

A marketing plan may sound like the kind of thing that only big businesses with their own massive internal marketing departments need to do. But small, local businesses need a marketing plan, too. And just like any other part of running a business, your marketing requires a carefully thought out and meticulously detailed plan.

From the channels you will use to the creative you want to deploy to your monthly marketing budget—write it down. Building and implementing a successful marketing plan can help your business grow exposure and revenue.

6. Evaluate the Previous Year

When you’re running a small business, there are times when you’ll need to look back in order to move forward. Looking back can be fun, especially if you’ve experienced growth in your business and can count your wins over the year. It can also be hard, if you’ve experienced a challenging year that didn’t live up to your expectations.

What It Takes to Be a Successful Entrepreneur in 2021

What It Takes to Be a Successful Entrepreneur in 2021

For many, the American dream includes owning a business. At the Oregon Small Business Development Center, our mission is to help entrepreneurs realize that dream and their full potential by providing services like small business advising, business planning, and a variety of specialty programs that can help entrepreneurs in every area of business. But the first step in creating a profitable and thriving business is understanding what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur in 2021.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as reported by Fundera, approximately 20% of small businesses fail within the first year. By the end of the second year, it’s 30% of businesses, and by the end of the fifth year, about half will have failed. That’s why it’s smart to think through your business plan and consult with professionals who can help guide you before you start your business.

So what do you need to know before you set out on your first, or next, business venture?

Create a Business Plan

A business plan is crucial to the success of any small business. Whether you are a freelance graphic designer who contracts with different companies or a brick-and-mortar store with 15 employees, having a written plan for where you’re going and how you’re going to get there is a MUST!

At the Oregon SBDC, we use a tool called LivePlan to help business owners from start-up to scaling. LivePlan breaks the business planning process down into simple steps with instructions and examples and is fully customizable. LivePlan also makes budgeting and forecasting easy. All you have to do is enter your projected sales along with your anticipated expenses, and LivePlan will automatically create your financial statements.

SET S.M.A.R.T. Goals

The art of goal-setting doesn’t just take into account the end goal. It’s about breaking down that end goal into small, actionable steps that you implement daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly. A common goal-setting method for small-business owners is the S.M.A.R.T. method (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-based).

S.M.A.R.T. goals help you clarify your goal, focus your efforts, and use your time and resources productively to increase your chances of success.

If you’re having trouble achieving your goals by the time frame you’ve set, make sure to go back and review them. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is this goal too broad?
  2. Does the goal need to be broken down more?
  3. Do I have the capacity to achieve this goal?
  4. Is this goal still a focus for my business?

As your business grows and changes, so will your goals—and that’s OK! There is nothing wrong with adjusting your goals as you move throughout the year.

Do Your Research

Market Research Institute to help with this process.
The Market Research Institute provides customized research reports and market intelligence for established businesses that anticipate growth. This data helps businesses identify opportunities, better understand the competitive landscape, refine their business plans, and make more informed business decisions.

Secure Funding

Although you can start some businesses on a scrappy budget with very little overhead and cost, having funding in place is a strategic move for businesses that require more capital to get off the ground. This is where small-business funding can help. Resources like business loans and crowdfunding can help alleviate the stress of startup costs. There are a range of options for accessing capital:

  • Government-funded small business loans (SBA)
  • Private business loans (banks, credit unions, etc.)
  • Angel investors
  • Crowdfunding
  • Income from a 9-to-5 job
  • Grants
  • Lines of credit

Each of these options will have its pros and cons and different requirements. Figure out which are best for you at each stage of your business and entrepreneurship journey.

Leverage Your Network

How can your network affect your net worth? Whether you’re launching a product- or service-based business, tapping into your network is one of the best ways to get it off the ground.

You never know what opportunities will come out of connecting with the people who already know, like, and trust you. Here are a few ways to leverage your network:

  • Attend networking events (virtual and in person) to meet potential clients.
  • Get the message out about your business by email.
  • Share about your business venture on social media.
  • Join organizations that complement your product or service.
  • Ask acquaintances for introductions to others in their network.

Be sure to be genuine and professional in these business relationships. Also, don’t forget that you need to add value to the lives of the other people in your professional network as well!

Seek Advice and Mentorship

Seeking professional advice and mentorship can help cut down on the hard lessons small-business owners often have to learn and help get your business started on the right foot. Connecting with the right business adviser or mentor can be an invaluable move for your business.

Oregon SBDC advisers are knowledgeable business professionals experienced in a variety of topics, including writing a business plan, analyzing cash flow, marketing, hiring, and intellectual property concerns. Our advisers understand how to do business in Oregon, and they can support you with valuable, relevant advice at every stage of your business venture.

Each of our 19 centers provides confidential, no-cost business advising to help you succeed. Advising requires filling out our online intake form and, at some centers, attending a free introductory workshop to see if advising is right for you.

Now that you understand what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur, it’s time to put the wheels into motion. Whether you’re at the beginning stages of planning your business, ready to launch, or a few months in, the Oregon Small Business Development Center is here to assist you. To learn more about our services, click here.

Oregon Resources for Veteran-Owned Businesses (2021 Guide)

Oregon Resources for Veteran-Owned Businesses (2021 Guide)

Our nation shows its appreciation to the men and women who’ve worn the uniform of our armed forces in many ways. From the wide range of discounts for military families to free grub on Veterans Day, your selfless military service has earned you some perks and assistance. If you happen to be a veteran who owns an Oregon business—or is thinking of starting one—you should be sure to take advantage of the state, regional, and national resources that apply directly to you. Here are some of the best Oregon resources for veteran-owned businesses.

State, Regional, and National Resources for Veteran Business Owners

The Veteran Entrepreneur Portal

Easily access the resources you need to help your business succeed via the VA’s Veteran Entrepreneur Portal (VEP). With a layout that’s simple to understand and use, this website should be one of your very first stops as a military veteran looking to start a business in Oregon.

Veteran Business Outreach Center

From pre-business planning workshops to classes on how to expand into international exports, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Veteran Business Outreach Center (VBOC) offers training and expertise to those at every stage of getting a company off the ground. Whether you’re a vet long out of uniform, a reservist, or a military spouse, they’re here to offer help in building, maintaining, and expanding your business.

Vets First Verification Program

An initiative of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Vets First Verification Program is more than just a certification system. Any enterprise that qualifies as a veteran-owned small business (VOSB) or service-disabled veteran-owned small business (SDVOSB) and receives certification through Vets First will be considered first for contracts with the VA. It’s a great way to make sure you get priority access to any VA work your company may be able to carry out.

Business Impact NW

A nonprofit dedicated to helping people in traditionally underrepresented communities—including military veterans—to successfully create and run small businesses, Business Impact NW is a great resource for veterans in Oregon and throughout the Pacific Northwest. It provides both training and advice for entrepreneurs, as well as technical and financial support, and it works directly with the VBOC, serving as their regional partner. So while this is a regional organization, it has national support and connections to help Oregon veterans build businesses.

Oregon COBID

Oregon’s Certification Office for Business Inclusion and Diversity is a statewide initiative that mirrors parts of the Vets First Verification program, providing those who qualify with special access to government contracts. It also shares Business Impact NW’s goal of helping business owners from underrepresented communities. For a veteran-owned business to qualify for assistance, the owner must have a VA disability rating letter demonstrating any percentage of disability, between 0% and 100%. Learn more about the application process and get yours started at Oregon’s Service Disabled Veteran (SDV) Certification site.

Make the Most of the Benefits You Earned

This is by no means a comprehensive list. There are many other organizations and resources, both national and regional, aimed at helping small-business owners succeed. Some are targeted at veterans or other specific communities like these; others are available to anyone with that quintessential American dream of running their own business. So take these tips as just a starting point to seeking out all the Oregon resources for veteran-owned businesses—and remember that you’ve earned this assistance through your selfless service.

How to Write a Business Plan for Your Oregon Startup

How to Write a Business Plan for Your Oregon Startup

If you’re not sure how to write a business plan for your Oregon startup, it’s pretty simple once you know the general structure it should have. As for why you should take the time to write a business plan, well, think of it as a framework to guide you through the stages of beginning and operating your business.

Plus, a business plan shows people that you’re prepared with a plan for the future of your business, and that’s important for everyone from potential investors to employees to partners.

A well-written business plan is just one tool for building a successful business, but it’s a really important one for the foundation of your business.

There’s no right way or wrong way to write a business plan for your Oregon startup. The most important thing is to craft a document that meets your needs and the needs of your business. Here are some things you might consider including in your plan.

Executive Summary

An executive summary is an eagle’s eye view of the company—think of it as the CliffsNotes version of your business plan. It should include:

  • An outline of the company’s goals
  • An outline of the company’s goals
  • A summary of the products and services the company offers
  • A brief description of the market the company serves
  • A projection of the company’s potential growth
  • Basic info about your leadership team and employees, as well as the business’s owners
  • Any plans related to asking for financing or pitching the company to investors

Overview of Company and Objectives

Now, it’s time to dive in and talk about the problem your company solves. Who do you serve and how do you meet their needs? What advantages do you have that will make you a success? It’s time to boast about your strengths and what makes your company a valuable addition to the business landscape.

If you’re already in operation, it’s a little easier to talk about what you do and how you do it. If not, summarize what you hope to accomplish and how you’ll get it done. This is where you should talk about goals, listing milestones with specific steps you’ll be taking in the future.

Market Analysis

Here’s where you let all that market research shine to show you understand what businesses similar to yours are doing. What are their strengths, and why do their businesses work? What are you doing better, and what are you bringing to the market that doesn’t already exist?

Summarize your market demographics and talk about how those demographics fit into what your business sells. Give an overview of your target market’s purchasing habits, buying cycles, and willingness to adopt new products and services. What is the trajectory of your target market—is it growing, stable, or in decline? Quantify your market with as many details as you can.

Ideally, you’re focusing on segments that can support the growth of your business. It’s much easier to serve a market you can define than to have nothing but a vague idea of who your market is.

Company Organization

Describe your type of business—are you a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a corporation, or a limited liability company? Mention your registered agent here, as well (if you have one).

Next, create an organizational chart that shows who holds each position in the company and how their experiences are a key part of the business. If you want, you could include resumes or key stats for each member of your team (this could be helpful if you are presenting the business plan to a possible investor).

It’s also helpful to include a breakdown of what each member of the team does—a basic job description works well here.

Overview of Services or Products

What is your service or product? What is the lifecycle of that service or product? Discuss how what you sell benefits your customers. How is it different from what’s already on the market? If no market for your product or service currently exists, define the opportunity for entering the market and explain why you believe people want what you will sell.

Do you have any research or development in progress? If you’re planning to offer new products or services, give an overview of the timeline and implementation needed to make that happen.

Last, list any trademarks, patents, or copyrights the company owns.

Marketing and Sales Strategy

Your business’s marketing and sales strategy will evolve to fit the needs of your business and your offerings as you grow and as marketing trends change, but it’s good to have a starting point. This section should discuss how you’ll attract customers, retain them, and upsell them. Here are some important talking points when discussing a marketing and sales strategy:

  • What’s your budget for marketing?
  • How will you know if your marketing is successful and how will you adapt if it isn’t successful?
  • What platforms will you be on and how are they relevant to your audience?
  • What will you do for advertising and how will you get the word out?
  • How will you measure return on investment (ROI)?
  • Do you need people to promote your products? How will you form these partnerships?

Logistics and Operations

Provide an overview of the workflows you need to run your business smoothly. Cover all the components you think you need for your planned business operations (or document them, if you’re already in operation), including things like:

Facilities: Where will you work? Do you have actual retail space, and where is it?
Suppliers: For products, where do you get the materials you need for production (if you produce them yourself)?
Production: How are your products produced? How will you handle spikes in demand?
Equipment: What equipment do you need to run your business?
Inventory: Do you have an inventory management system?
Shipping: Do you have a fulfillment process for shipping products to customers?

This section of your business plan shows that you have a solid understanding of your supply chain and have a plan in the event of any spikes in business or sudden growth.

Financial Projections

Here’s where you talk about the projected financial success of your business. If you’re already up and running, include income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow documents. You may also want to include any relevant information about capital expenditures.

If you’re just getting started and don’t have historical information, you may want to get more specific with your projections. You could project quarterly or even monthly information for your first year after starting the business.

A Final Note

Know that although a business plan is an important map, it isn’t meant to be perfect or permanent. It’s designed to be reviewed and adjusted regularly so you can stay on track. Without this baseline, it will be much more difficult to adjust and have a historical reference for making decisions. A business plan shows you where you’re going and where you’ve already been, and that’s key for building a successful business.

If you have any questions about how to write a business plan for your Oregon startup, get in touch with your local SBDC at OregonSBDC.org.