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Feb-06-2021 13:06printcomments

Starting a Business in Salem in 2021

Many spirited small business owners are looking to start afresh- online.

(SALEM, Ore.) - The pandemic has hit the people of Salem hard. With Oregon Governor Kate Brown extending the “state of emergency” through to March, Salem's key industries, including manufacturing, continue to fight on against the unpredictable economy.

Other sectors including tourism, and bricks & mortar retail, have been devastated by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Many small business owners have decided to cut their losses and close their businesses. As Oregon’s unemployment rate rises and restaurant owners and hoteliers are forced to shut their doors, perhaps for good, is there any silver lining to the dark cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic?

While a significantly-sized silver lining has yet to show itself, many spirited small business owners are looking to start afresh.

Now that the remote-working infrastructure is in place and proven to work efficiently, many previous bricks & mortar business owners are looking to capitalize on the opportunities provisioned by the surge in the use of the internet.

Starting a Business from Home – Research & Plan

The good thing about starting a business from home is that overheads are low. Despite a possible increase in gas and electric bills, remote working saves on office rent and commuting-costs.

If you are unsure where to start, perhaps consider your skillset and how they might complement Oregon's key industries, including manufacturing, logistics, and technology. Whilst working online means that you can do business across the world, many business models still rely on the local economy.

Make a list of your work-related experience and skills. Then research the related industries, any online opportunities and potential competitors.

You could start by searching on Google Maps for competitors, looking at reviews and ratings to see if there is a gap in the market for a superior product or service.

You can also use Wordtracker and Google Trends tools to see the type of search volume and demand for particular services online.

Finally, it can be worth visiting several job websites and freelancer websites such as Upwork to get a feel for how much you might be able to charge for your given skillset. For example, if you are training to be a graphic designer, look on UpWork to see how much US-based graphic designers charge per hour.

Local Organizations

Business Xpress is a cooperative project and establishment, put together by various local agencies to help people get started when opening a business. They can help you with permits and registrations. The number of forms to fill in can be a little overwhelming, but they are relatively simple to fill in if you take them one at a time.

You will need to register your business with and provide tax information, as well as ensuring that you have completed all the necessary paperwork in terms of licensing.

Business Xpress has a startup toolkit that can take you to step by step through the registration process. They also have many guides that will help you get your business idea off the ground.

If you are seriously considering starting your own business, then this full guide provided by take you through everything you need to know. If video is more your thing, they even have a comprehensive video series which you can find on YouTube.

Outsourcing & Remote Working

Many people working from home and starting up a business could be described as “solopreneurs”. In that, they work for themselves and do not employ anyone else. These solopreneurs are often freelancers, that charge companies per hour or per project to complete given tasks.

Whilst this can provide a very comfortable income, there will always be a bottleneck - a limiting factor to your income. It is only possible to work so many hours per day or week, to earn more money, you may need other people working for your company.

To break through this limit to your income, you can also look to charge more. When that option has been explored, outsourcing can grow an ambitious project and business.

If you are working to your maximum capacity, you could, for example, outsource email filtering and phone answering to a virtual PA or a company such as Moneypenny.

Famous author Tim Ferris discusses this in his book The 4-Hour Work Week. The key is to take advantage of geo-arbitrage and hire a PA in an overseas economy such as the Philippines. By doing this, you can hire a highly competent PA for less than $10 per hour, sometimes less than $5. It can often be a good idea to hire 2 or 3 PAs to begin with and then continue with the best 1 for the longer term.

Freelancers of all descriptions can be found on websites such as, and You can also find many freelancers on Facebook groups such as the Cult of Copy.

Again, you can take advantage of the US dollar's strength against some other currencies, by hiring overseas talent to deliver high-quality work for your business, at an affordable price.

The hardest part is finding a reliable freelancer in each skillset. It can also be a good idea to have a freelancer, just as back up, if you need help with certain projects. For example, you might be a digital marketing expert, but sometimes need help with coding websites or setting up feeds for eCommerce ads. Being able to reach out to a freelance developer can save a lot of time and stress.

Exodus to the Suburbs

Whilst the obvious way to start a business during lockdown is to make sure of the internet, areas such as Salem may experience a commercial real estate renaissance to some measure once COVID has been and gone.

As city dwellers with COVID cabin fever lead a race to relocate outside major city centers, some property experts have proposed that large businesses will look to maintain a city center headquarters, coupled with small local offices in the suburbs.

With this in mind, property investors and developers may consider investing in commercial property now that the demand and, therefore, the cost is so low.

Pandemics Don’t Last Forever

While it may be a challenging time for Salem at the moment, it is hoped and predicted that the pandemic would come to an end by the summer – according to this CNBC report at least.

It is unlikely that the remote-working genie will be ostracized once COVID-19 has run its course. Remote-working could mean a whole new lifestyle for many office workers and entrepreneurs.

The absence of a long daily commute will allow more time for leisure activities, which could benefit the local economy.

Corporate giants such as Facebook have declared that they will be looking to hire much of their future workforce remotely. It seems likely that areas including Salem, which lie within an hour of a major city, could benefit from a new wave of growth as the country’s wealth is distributed more evenly away from the major metro areas.

Salem is also relatively close to the beautiful Oregon coast, the international airport, and stunning Silver Falls. With several great farmers markets providing organic, high quality produce, Salem may well be the most sought after place to live in Oregon by the end of 2021!

Source: Special Features Dept.


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