How to Register a Business in Oregon

The first thing you need to know about how to register a business in Oregon is that I’m not a lawyer. Nor do I work for the Oregon Secretary of State’s office. In other words, you’ll get the most definitive, up-to-date information on how to register your business from them. What I’m going to walk you through is how I set-up my business with the guiding hand of my CPA.

4 Steps to Registering Your Business

  1. Go here and click on ‘Register a Business’.

    Take the steps it gives you. It’ll cost you $100 to register your business and $100 to renew it every year on your anniversary. And yes, this is where you register your business name.

    I really can’t tell you what kind of entity you should register as (LLC, S Corporation, Sole Proprietor, etc.), but the majority of freelancers I know are registered as either an LLC (Limited Liability Company) or S Corporation. Do a little research and see which option is best for you. They each come with legal and financial requirements. You can change your entity organization later on if you decide something else will work better for you. Your CPA/attorney can help you with that or you can do it yourself. It requires some more money and more paperwork.

    The U.S. Small Business Administration has a lot of useful information about incorporation (i.e. business entity options).

  2. You’ll need to get an IRS employer identification number (EIN), which is a social security number for your business. Go here to fill out the application.

  3. Once you’ve done steps 1 and 2, go to the bank of your choice and set-up a business checking account.

    A lot of banks require a minimum monthly account balance (of $1,000 usually) or else they charge you a fee of $10 or so per month. My business checking account is with Rivermark Community Credit Union and they don’t have that minimum charge for the basic checking account (which is really all you need). Pretty sweet. I recommend shopping around for a bank that doesn’t charge you for not having a lot of money in your account. Talk about hurting the little guy.

    You’ll need to bring the State business registration and EIN paperwork with you when you set-up the account.

  4. Work with an attorney or use services like Docracy or Legal Zoom to get a contractor agreement drawn up.

    This is what you’ll have your clients sign before you work with them. Sometimes you’ll sign theirs instead. As long as all your interests are covered, that’s not a problem. To learn more about attorneys and CPAs, read my previous blog post about your legal and financial team.

And that’s how you register a business in Oregon. Steps 1 and 2 are really the only legal ones you have to take to do business in Oregon, but steps 3 and 4 are HIGHLY recommended by legal and financial professionals, and experienced business professionals. Having a business bank account shows the IRS very clearly what are business expenses/income and what’s personal. The contractor agreement will help you set expectations with clients, and protect you against scope creep and any legal situations that might come up. Katie Lane, Conclave friend and freelancer attorney, writes about these and other legal topics that affect freelancers.

If you don’t live in Oregon, I’m going to ASSUME the same steps need to be followed in your state as well. I mentioned that I’m not an attorney right? I’m not an attorney.

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