You may be the captain of your destiny, but it doesn’t take a genius to uncover that when it comes to starting or growing a small business, a trusted crew of friendly experts is critical for navigating and landing on the shores of your metaphorical treasure island.
Where are all these experts and how can I learn more about them?
Well, we spent over 100 hours researching and meeting with local experts right here in Linn and Benton counties of Oregon to put together the ultimate list of local resources for the small business owner.
Regardless of what your questions are about and no matter what stage of business you’re in, this list will help you lock in on the best places to go for your needs.
It Takes A Community To Raise A Business
Why Does Every Business Owner Need This List?
Often is the case, that the modern day entrepreneur believes that success solely depends on individual strength and determination.
However, if you take the time to read the sources in the article below, you’ll find you’ve got a boat load of seasoned business men and women ready to help right here in the Willamette valley.
Do you have questions like:
- How can I find out if my business idea will work?
- What does a good business plan look like?
- How should I market my business?
- How do I access capital? Get a loan?
- Can I scale my business strategically?
- Why do I need a website, social media or digital strategy?
- Do I need insurance?
- Can you help me price my services or product?
Wouldn’t it be incredibly useful to have access to people that can answer these questions and who have helped hundreds of others overcome obstacles, break down barriers, and charge forward with getting results?
Absolutely! It’s the reason that we recommend you bookmark this web page and share it with people you know.
Know Before You Commit
Is Your Business Idea Viable?
Wouldn’t you like to know if your business will succeed or fail? Of course you would, but we’re all out of real magic eight balls. However, you can do the next best thing and commit to doing real market research.
Have an existing business idea?
If you’re looking to start a business with a product or service that is well known, ei. a flower shop, then you can start with the Linn-Benton Small Business Development Center at the Linn-Benton Community College.
Have a new business idea?
Build A Great Launchpad
Start-Ups: Starting A Local Business
Corvallis is an amazing place for start ups due to the influence of some of the nearby thought leaders have had on the local culture. There is an abundance of local programs that help entrepreneurs develop their ideas into thriving businesses.
How to register your business correctly in Oregon
Before you go crazy with excitement to make everything official, make sure that you’ve gone through the process of market research and making sure you’ve got the puzzle pieces first.
Getting tax advice before register is normally a good idea. We’ve had a great experience with John Borden’s CPA firm due to his extensive business tax knowledge to save big. Check him out at www.myaccountingsolutions.com.
Here are the tools to register your business in Oregon:
How to refine your product or idea
You may be in the stage of business where your product, service or idea needs refined to enable company growth or betterment.
There are local resources that will help you analyze any aspect of your business. The Corvallis Foundry is particularly good at working within the community to fill business needs.
We met with Bret Carpenter at the Foundry who described to us the role of supporting and training entrepreneurs to become more effective in their business. Bret is a passionate and experienced mentor and his excitement for innovation is obvious.
Alternatively, OSU offers a 4-week program dedicated to understanding things like your target market and the business model canvas. Their Accelerator program might have exactly what you are looking for if you’re willing to trade expertise for equity.
Where to get funding
According to YesCorvallis.com, it costs an average of $30,000 to start a small business. No matter how much funding your business needs, there are resources that you can tap into to help you reach the next level.
Additionally, it’s important to know all your options with the different types of funding that are commonly sought. These include Loans, Grants, State Funding, SBA (US Small Business Administration), Angel Funding, Crowdfunding, and USDA funding.
Reaching out to Oregon RAIN & The Corvallis Foundry are great places to get current and relevant options for funding based on your industry and current business development.
A good place to get a full council on funding options available to you is at the OCWCOG. I know, long name but worth the mouth full to get down there and chat with one of their experts. Visit their website to know what to expect here: Cascade West Business Lending.
A list of other funding resources:
How to market your small biz
You can have a fantastic business with operations that whistle through the air like a perfect football spiral. However, if you can’t get clear on who your customers are, what they want, and where to put your message, you might be ready for a world of headaches.
We met with Anne Whittington from the SBDC at Linn-Benton CC who’s program specializes in helping small businesses develop a marketing plan that will work for them.
Anne told us that her program helped 33 new businesses launch in 2019. Among those success stories, Benny’s Donuts in Corvallis. Read more about their success story here, https://bizcenter.org/bennys-donuts.
Clark Five Design reached out to this wonderful program to get clarification on some of our marketing efforts that weren’t our specialty. (offline strategy) After only 1 hour, we felt enabled and glad to have found this wonderful small business resource.
Small businesses can also leverage the internet to grow their business. In fact, businesses that focus their efforts on creating a marketing strategy online, see twice as much growth as those that ignore it.
At Clark Five Design we are experts in the digital of small business. Our results speak volumes on our capability to leverage the web in the digital age.
Who You Know Can Change Your Life
Network For Success
Connecting with like minded people who could be that one connection that takes you to new heights is a must for growth minded business owners.
Some local networking events:
Our Top Local Recommendations
General Business Mentoring & Advice (Full List)
As a small business ourselves, we wanted to meet with each local organization and see what makes their program unique in helping entrepreneurs realize and grow their company.
We discovered that although there are some over-lapping services, they seem to all work together to serve the greater good of Corvallis and all of Linn and Benton Counties.
Small Business Development Center @ Linn-Benton
The SBDC is very structured program that can give any entrepreneur a solid team with years of experience. They offer workshops and multi-week classes for new and existing business owners of any size or service area.
Our opinion is that this program best fits a business that has a more formed idea and is ready to optimize to launch or grow.
The Corvallis Foundry
The Corvallis Foundry is a hub of entrepreneurial energy. They offer business minded people a space to collaborate, learn and thrive. Offering classes, seminars, workshops and even 1-on-1’s, the Corvallis Foundry works as a collective to support the business world.
Our opinion is that this non-profit organization is great for early idea forming entrepreneurs who are in need of expert advice and industry connections.
Oregon RAIN - Regional Accelerator & Innovation Network
Oregon RAIN is a non-profit focused on building entrepreneurial ecosystems in communities across Oregon and connecting entrepreneurs to people (founders, mentors, experts), programs (pre-accelerators, classes, incubators), physical assets (technology, coworking, labs, kitchens) and capital (angels, seed funds, lending, crowdfunding).
Our opinion of Oregon Rain is that they are a greatly connected program that excels in offering local classes and support groups as well as mentor-ship throughout the life-cycles of the startup. They are very prominent in the more rural areas but we’ve seen them everywhere.
The Willamette Innovators Network is a local leader of inspiration when in comes to exciting innovative ideas. They offer public educational events and opportunities to connect with other’s that can help your business achieve success. One of their most popular events, WiN Shark Tank, premiers annually.
We have not had the opportunity to interview anyone with WiN as of yet, however, their support and cooperation with other initiatives speaks volumes of their success and credibility.
Corvallis-Benton County Economic Development Office
Yes Corvallis is a web portal ran by the local economic development office. As one of the most forward thinking organizations, their focus is on connecting people to the right resource for them and to support the local community in it’s detailed Strategic Plan.
Our opinion is that Benton County has some strong leaders and continues to push the innovation envelope to create a thriving community for entrepreneurs.
Oregon State University Advantage Accelerator
Oregon State’s start-up accelerator program is for the entrepreneur that is ready to achieve a clear and strong path towards company growth. The program boasts a three phase process that takes someone from idea formation to rapid scaling.
We are natural fans of OSU but objectively their program seems to be aimed at high-achievers that have the right combination of a great idea and grit to see it become the next big thing. We have yet to interview someone from the program.
Chamber of Commerce
Local Chamber of Commerce centers are well connected to their respective cities and are phenomenal hubs for meeting other local business owners and representatives.
Our Conclusions and Final Advice
We have thoroughly enjoyed interviewing each of the organizations, programs and individuals involved in this article.
We take your business seriously and want to see you succeed. We believe there are enough small business resources located right here in the Willamette Valley to help any entrepreneur succeed in any stage of business.
Don’t run your business in a silo. There are too many great people out there, ready to support you towards your life goals.
If you’d like to be included in this article or you believe we’ve missed something please let us know.