How to Prepare Your Business for Capital Funding

How to Prepare Your Business for Capital Funding

Financial Literacy Month

By Noah Brockman, Oregon SBDC Network Capital Access Team

There are several steps small business owners seeking funding should take to prepare for acquiring capital. In this article, you’ll find a checklist of “to-dos” for accessing capital. If you have questions or need support, the Oregon SBDC Capital Access Team is here to help!

Revisit Your Household Budget

Consider your monthly income and expenses. Have there been any changes recently? Think about how business income contributes to your household income, and make sure to review your personal and business credit. With these factors in mind, consider whether your financial profile will be acceptable to prospective lenders.

Get Clear About Your Funding Needs

Having clarity about how much you need and how funds will be used is vital as you prepare for business funding. How much cash do you already have available, and will you have sufficient personal and/or business cash reserves after your cash injection? It’s also important to think about the time frame for funding.

Create a Startup Budget

If you’re just starting your business and need funding to launch, this to-do is for you! If you haven’t already, make a startup monthly budget that indicates all revenues, cost of sales, and expenses. It’s helpful to prepare a list of any new business assets you need to get started, such as inventory and equipment.

Create a Project Budget

For those who are already in business and require capital to grow, make a project budget to outline your funding request by asset type—such as inventory, equipment, tenant improvements, and/or permanent working capital.

Evaluate Your Current Situation

Already in business? Need cash for working capital? Take a look at your business to see where you might already have some cash tied up, such as A/R or inventory. Review your fixed overhead expenses to assess any cuts you can make to reduce your cash expenditures. You may also want to look at your gross profit margin to see if it’s on par with your industry average and determine if you need to make any adjustments to COGS or pricing.

Determine Your Financial Projections and Cash Flow

Whether you’re starting or growing your business, it’s a good idea to put together at least a 12-month financial projection/cash flow budget showing anticipated revenue, cost of sales, expenses, profits, owner draws, and debt service payments to share with funders. If possible, a 24-month projection is even better. Try to be conservative, and make a list of your underlying assumptions.

Understand the Types of Funding Available to You

Familiarize yourself with different types of funding and how they fit with different scenarios. For an overview of traditional and nontraditional funding, click here.

Assess Your Position for Debt or Equity

Are you in a position to borrow? What collateral will the lender use to secure the loan? How will you pay it back? Pull your credit report to ensure that there are no hidden surprises. Consider whether you have owner equity (cash) to put in. Having at least 10% is a great start.

If you’re already in business, is the business profitable? If you’re not interested in taking on debt, are you seeking an equity investment? Ask yourself what return on investment you can offer to investors.

Develop or Update Your Business Plan

Whether you are starting or growing your business, it’s vital to develop a business plan to share alongside your financial projections to help funders understand your vision. At the Oregon SBDC Network, our business advisers can help you create a comprehensive plan to move your business forward.

Organize Your Business Documents and Paperwork

For existing businesses, make sure your financial statements are up to date, and gather past year-end business financials, as well as personal and business tax returns. For new businesses, gather your organizing documents, any industry-specific licenses, and any insurance or lease documentation.

If you are seeking guidance on the best path forward, the Oregon SBDC Network can provide assistance. Connect with your local Center and register for confidential, no-cost advising on your funding options and in all areas of your small business.

Small Business Accounting Basics

Small Business Accounting Basics

Operating your own small business and being your own boss comes with many benefits but also brings new responsibilities. One of the biggest burdens of being a small business owner is handling the accounting. This includes keeping a record of all income and expenses and accurately reporting your business financials when tax season rolls around.

This article covers the basics of how small businesses can set up an accounting system and manage their bookkeeping effectively.

What Is Small Business Accounting?

Small business accounting includes the process of tracking, recording, and analyzing your business’s financial transactions, including purchases, sales, expenses, payroll, and more. These numbers translate into a statement that provides a picture of your business’s profitability.

In short, small business accounting tracks the money that flows in and out of your business accounts and boils down to:

  • Bookkeeping (recording financial transactions)
  • Creating financial reports
  • Filing tax returns

Accounting also helps you determine the health and value of your company so you can adjust accordingly for short- and long-term success.

Below are some basic steps to help you to set up an effective accounting system for your small business.

Open a Business Bank Account

Once you’ve legally registered your business, you’ll need to have a separate bank account to cover all your business transactions. Not only does this make life easier come tax time, but it also protects your personal assets in the case of bankruptcy, lawsuits, or audits. Additionally, having a business bank account with detailed financial records can help you obtain funding from creditors or investors down the road.

Note that Oregon LLCs and sole proprietors don’t legally need to have a separate bank account, but it is highly recommended.

Start by opening a business checking account. It’s also a good idea to have a business savings account, which can help you organize funds and plan for taxes. For instance, if you automatically put a percentage of your business income into a savings account, you’ll have money set aside for your estimated taxes due each quarter. A good rule of thumb is to put aside 25% of your income, or perhaps more if you’re a high earner.

To open a business bank account, you’ll need a business name, and your business might have to be state-registered. Check with the individual bank on its requirements.

Consider a Business Credit Card

Having a business credit card can help build your company’s credit rating. And if you choose a card with benefits, you can earn cash-back rebates or travel points with your purchases.

Track Expenses

Accurate expense tracking is essential for monitoring business growth, developing financial statements, keeping track of deductible expenses, and preparing tax returns.

From the very beginning, your business needs to establish accounting methods for organizing receipts and other important records, which can be done manually or using accounting software.

What Expenses Do Small Businesses Need to Track?

The IRS requires that you keep documentation that proves income, credits, and deductions shown on your tax return. Although the records and receipts you need to save will depend on the nature of your business, generally you’ll want to keep the following:

  • Receipts
  • Bank and credit card statements
  • Bills
  • Canceled checks
  • Invoices
  • Proof of payments
  • Financial statements
  • Previous tax returns
  • W2 and 1099 forms
  • Any other documentation that supports an item of income, deduction, or credit shown on your tax return

The IRS does not require receipts for certain expenses under $75. You can keep digital or paper copies of receipts, and there are many apps and online storage services that make it incredibly easy to scan, organize, and store all your receipts.

Below are the types of business expenses you need to keep a record of:

  • Meals and entertainment
  • Out-of-town business travel
  • Auto-related expenses
  • Receipts for gifts
  • Home office receipts

Operating your business from your home helps keep overhead low and allows you to qualify for more tax deductions. The IRS allows you to deduct the portion of your home that’s used for business, as well as your internet and cell phone service, and transportation to and from work sites.

Any expense that’s for both business and personal use must reflect its mixed use. For instance, if you use one phone for both, you can deduct the percentage you use the device solely for business. Gas mileage costs are 100% deductible, so be sure to hold onto all records and keep a log of your business miles.

Develop a Bookkeeping System

Bookkeeping is the accounting process of recording transactions, categorizing them, and reconciling bank statements.
Accounting is the high-level process that provides an overview of your business progress and makes sense of the data compiled in your bookkeeping.

As a small business owner, you’ll need to determine how you want to manage your books:

  • You can use software like QuickBooks online or use a simple Excel spreadsheet.
  • You can outsource a part-time bookkeeper, one that’s local or cloud-based.
  • When your business grows, you can hire an in-house bookkeeper or accountant.

You also need to determine whether to use the cash or accrual accounting methods. These are the differences between the two:

  • Cash method. Revenues and expenses are recognized when they are actually received or paid.
  • Accrual method. Revenues and expenses are recognized when the transaction occurs (even if the cash hasn’t been paid or received yet), so it requires tracking accounts receivable and accounts payable.

U.S. business owners can use cash-based accounting if revenues are less than $5 million. Otherwise, the accrual method must be used.


Determine How You’ll Get Paid

Most business transactions these days are not done in cash. Therefore, you’ll need to decide on a payment solution that works best for your business. This will come down to whether you accept payments in person, through a point of sale (POS) system, or online.

  • POS system and in-person payments. If you accept both, consider getting a mobile credit card reader like Square. This is great for businesses that don’t expect to process a high volume of in-person purchases daily.
  • POS payments only. If you perform only POS sales, you can use a POS system that works with a cash register or just a credit card reader independent of any cash collection system. For the in-person payment methods—POS systems or credit card readers—you need to have a merchant account with your bank. This account acts as an intermediary between the payment system and your bank account to withdraw and deposit funds.
  • Online payments only. If you accept only online payments, PayPal and Shopify are two popular platforms for online retailers.

Set Up a Payroll System

When it makes sense for your small business to hire more help, you’ll need to determine whether you hire an employee or an independent contractor.

If you have employees, you’ll have to set up a payroll schedule and make sure you’re withholding the correct taxes. There are many services available to help with this, and if you use accounting software, many offer a payroll feature.

If you hire independent contractors, keep track of your payments to them, as you’ll be required to file a 1099 form for each contractor at the end of the year.

Tax Filing Obligations

The legal structure of your business determines your business’s tax obligations. If you’re a sole proprietor or your business is registered as an LLC or partnership, you’ll likely claim business income on your personal tax return. If you run a corporation, it’s considered a separate tax entity, and the income you receive from the corporation will be taxed independently, as though you were an employee.

Self-employed individuals need to withhold income tax the same way an employer withholds taxes from an employee’s paycheck. If you owe more than $1,000 in taxes for the year, you will need to pay quarterly estimated taxes four times a year.

When tax season comes around, technology is your friend! Understanding what business expenses you can deduct and using technology to track them will help to ensure you don’t pay more than you owe.

Be sure to have a program intended for business purposes, like QuickBooks, Sage, or Great Plains. While there are many “free” programs out there to track mileage and expenses, “Free is not free” when your data is lost!

Consider software that can help track:

  • Mileage
  • Travel and meal expenses
  • Personal use of a dedicated home office space
  • Receipts
  • Time

If your needs are more comprehensive, the Oregon SBDC Network provides classes on small business accounting, budgeting, cash flow management, and QuickBooks—one of the most extensive financial reporting and management programs on the market for small business accounting purposes.

If you’re new to QuickBooks, you can learn how to set up new customer and vendor accounts, create invoices, record sales, and enter payments. If you are already using the basic features of QuickBooks but want to master its other offerings, advanced classes are offered throughout the state.

QuickBooks training is available through your local Small Business Development Center and taught by experienced professionals who understand the software inside and out. To find a QuickBooks or small business accounting class near you, contact your local Center today.

How Small Businesses Can Leverage Social Media

How Small Businesses Can Leverage Social Media

Having a presence on social media can reap big rewards for your small business. Social networking sites allow you to reach your target audience in a cost-effective way while engaging current and past customers and attracting new business opportunities.

Social media users span all demographics, but the key is identifying which platforms your customers are using and how best to promote your product or service through those specific channels.

Let’s take a look at the benefits small business owners can gain through social media marketing and dive into the differences among the top sites, so you can determine which ones are the best fit for your company.

Top 3 Benefits of Using Social Media for Your Small Business

Social media offers free access to a vast audience of potential customers, providing endless opportunities to spread brand awareness, increase traffic to your business website, and generate sales.

If you’re a small business owner on a tight budget, or if your business is brand-new, having a presence on one or more social media platforms is a marketing tactic that makes sense. While there are many benefits to leveraging social media, we outline the top three benefits for small businesses below:

1. Boost Brand Awareness

When it comes to marketing, social media has a massive advantage over traditional media platforms like TV, radio, and print. With one social media post, you can immediately spread information about your business and potentially reach millions of people.

If you’re an online retailer or service-based business, you can expand your audience to people all over the country who could potentially be buyers of your product or services. If you’re a brick-and-mortar business, you can target people who live in, or travel through, your specific Oregon location. There is no other form of advertising that can give you this type of reach for the cost.

2. Bring Traffic to Your Business Website

Another benefit of social media is that it’s easy to direct traffic to your own website by simply including a call to action in your posts, like “Visit our website to sign up now!” or “Get 10% off when you purchase online today!”

Encouraging social media followers to visit your website can improve the quality and quantity of your inbound traffic. Also, it’s an effective way to generate traffic without having to rely on SEO and Google Search.

3. Gain New Customers and Increase Sales

Another significant benefit for small businesses using social media is the ability to target your posts. You can take advantage of advertising tools that get your posts directly in front of your target audience and gain exposure to potential customers. With retargeting ads offered by most platforms, you can make sure your content is being seen by those who are most likely to patronize your business, based on demographics like age, gender, location, personal interests, and more.

Targeted posts are considered paid advertising on social media, but the good news is that on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, you can choose between CPC (cost-per-click) or CPM (cost-per-thousand-impressions) models and set your own daily budget. It’s a great tool to attract new clients and help grow your small business.

Social Media for Small Business: 5 Major Platforms

One of the struggles small businesses have with social media is figuring out which platforms are right for the business and will provide the most value. Not every social networking site is a good fit, and trying to master each one is too time-consuming. Instead, it’s best to consider which one your target audience uses and focus your efforts there.

Facebook

Facebook is the world’s largest social media network, with over 2.9 billion active monthly users in 2021. Having a presence on Facebook is a must for every small business, regardless of what products or services your company offers.

Facebook statistics:

  • 200 million small companies are on Facebook.
  • 63% of Americans over 12 say they have a Facebook account.
  • 78% of consumers have found a product through Facebook.

Creating a business profile page is free, and you can customize your page with images and list your website URL, contact information, hours of operation, and the products and services your company offers. Once your profile is set up, you can create posts that share information, photos, videos, infographics, company news, blogs, and more. And with a Facebook Business account, you’ll gain access to advertising tools and in-depth analytics.

Instagram

Instagram is incredibly popular, with around 1.1 billion active users in 2021. What sets Instagram apart from other social media sites is that it is a visual platform dominated by photo and video posts. Therefore, it’s best for small businesses that have appealing visual content to share. Just ensure that your images and video are high quality.

Instagram statistics:

  • More than half of the global Instagram population worldwide is age 34 or younger, and it is especially popular with teens.
  • Instagram is also one of the most influential advertising channels among female Gen Z users when making purchasing decisions.
  • 90% of people on Instagram follow a business account.

From Instagram Live to Instagram Stories, small businesses can use Instagram’s tools to promote their offerings. It’s important to note that this platform is almost entirely mobile. It doesn’t allow you to take photos or create new posts on the desktop version unless you use a special social media management tool.

Twitter

Twitter currently has 396.5 million users and is best for sharing brief updates, engaging with followers, and sharing links to blog posts. You can share tweets—which are posts containing 240 characters or fewer—photos, videos, links, and more. You can also interact with others on the platform by mentioning users in your posts and liking and retweeting tweets from other users.

Twitter statistics:

  • 206 million users access Twitter daily.
  • Twitter is most popular among users age 25 to 34.
  • Worldwide, men use Twitter more than women.

If you have engaging content to share and can voice that content in a captivating way, Twitter can be a valuable platform for quickly spreading the word about your business. To boost your tweets, you can use hashtags, and when users retweet your posts, your content could go viral. When using Twitter, it’s essential to strike a balance between sharing your own content and retweeting relevant content from other users.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn has 260 million monthly users and is the prime platform for professional social networking. This is the best social media channel to find and recruit talent for your company, position yourself as an industry leader, and promote your business to other professionals.

LinkedIn statistics:

  • Women account for 43.1% of LinkedIn users, while 56.9% of LinkedIn users are men.
  • The age group with the most LinkedIn users is between 25 and 34 at 60.1%.
  • 50% of internet users with a college degree or higher use LinkedIn.

Users on LinkedIn create their own profiles that showcase their skills and professional experience, similar to a resume. Businesses can create a company profile that showcases their offerings. LinkedIn is effective for posting job openings, information about your company culture, blogs related to your industry, and other content that would interest professionals. You can also join industry-specific LinkedIn Groups, which can help with brand recognition and introduce others to your company profile and website.

TikTok

TikTok is relatively new to the social media arena. On this platform, its 100 million active users can create and share short videos. It is mainly dominated by Gen Z users, and as it skews toward a younger audience, it may not be the right fit for your small business.

TikTok statistics:

  • 53% of TikTok users are male; and 47% are female.
  • Roughly 50% of TikTok’s global audience is under 34, with 32.5% between 10 and 19 years old.
  • TikTok was the most downloaded app in 2021, with 656 million downloads.

TikTok is known for posting memes, dance challenges, and viral moments. It can be a successful marketing platform for small businesses, but only if used properly. The good thing about TikTok is that it doesn’t just show you videos from those you follow. Instead, it offers a continuous stream of content, including videos from people you don’t follow but that the app thinks you might like. This means potential customers can see your content without going directly to your profile.

Get Started with Social Media for Your Small Business

Learning how to leverage social media for your small business can set you up for success.

The Oregon SBDC Network is here to help small business owners. Find the SBDC closest to you to access the resources you need to help your Oregon small business grow and thrive by visiting OregonSBDC.org.

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.

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.

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.

How to Get a Business Loan in Oregon

How to Get a Business Loan in Oregon

Oregon is packed with over 320,000 small businesses. Many of these ventures started with a great idea. But to turn a concept into reality, you need money. An Oregon small-business loan can help you get your business off the ground or take an existing one to the next level. Keep reading to learn how you can get lines of credit for the working capital you need to make sure your company is one of the strongest small businesses in the state.

How to Use an Oregon Small Business Development Center (SBDC)

If you’re starting or expanding a small business in Oregon, you don’t have to go it alone. Both new and existing business owners can approach an Oregon Small Business Development Center for guidance and resources. Even if all you have is an idea, a Small Business Development Center can help you get everything in place so you’re ready to approach lenders about getting a loan.

An Oregon Small Business Development Center can help you transform your business idea—no matter how well-developed it is—into a solid plan designed to secure the funding you need.

For Existing Businesses

If you’re applying for funding for an existing business and you need your first loan, a Small Business Development Center can help ensure that your plan has the right content and structure. For example, they can make sure it emphasizes your current earnings—and those you will get as a result of the new funding—in a way that’s honest, realistic, and compelling for a lender.

Also, as a seasoned business owner, your organization may have some qualities that can make it more appealing to a lender. An Oregon Small Business Development Center can help you identify attributes that can enhance the appeal of your business.

For New Businesses

A business plan is essential, and many new business ideas may not have one already in place. But don’t worry: SBDCs specialize in helping you formulate thorough plans that can get you the funding you need.
A strong business plan outlines several key elements of your business model, marketing strategy, product or service development, and structure. A plan needs to include the following:

  • A detailed description of products or services, including their strengths, weaknesses, and plans for upgrading or adjusting them
  • Profiles of your target customers
  • Marketing strategies for each kind of customer
  • Sales techniques and tools you will need
  • Product development life cycle plans, including future phases of development for each product or service you provide
  • A plan for how you will spend the money you borrow
  • A financial plan outlining when and how you will repay your funds
  • Your business structure (LLC, corporation, etc.)
  • A detailed outline of each principal’s responsibilities
  • A description of the physical resources, equipment, inventory, and other items needed to support your business
  • Any real estate requirements, such as a shop or office space rental

Once this is accomplished, you can approach a lender with the kind of plan that inspires confidence in your success. Oregon SBDCs have access to LivePlan, an online business plan resource that makes sure your plan is complete and suits your kind of business.

Options for Getting Loans

To get a loan for your business, you have a few different options, including:

  • A Small Business Administration (SBA) loan. While the SBA itself doesn’t lend money, it works with lenders and has standards you have to meet to qualify for the loans its lenders offer.
  • A private lender. A private lender can be anyone from a friend or relative to a venture capitalist. Regardless, you will need to have a business plan in place before approaching any private party about funding.
  • The Entrepreneurial Development Loan Fund (EDLF) from Business Oregon. This organization provides direct loans for start-ups and small businesses that made less than $1.5 million in the past 12 months or are owned by a severely disabled individual.
  • An Economic Development District entity set up by the Economic Development Administration (EDA). The EDA has districts across the country that support the development of economies in those areas. In some cases when a bank can give you only some of the funds you need, the EDD may be able to help you find the rest.

Does the Government Hand Out Business Loans?

The short answer is “Sometimes”—but only to people who have strong business plans that address a pressing need the government has. Generally speaking, unless your business solves a specific problem the government is facing, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to get a loan from any state, local, or national governmental entity.

With a strong business plan in hand, you have plenty of options for securing a loan to fund your new or existing venture. To locate an Oregon SBDC near you, visit our website.