Portland, Oregon, has more than just great coffee and craft beer. It’s also a solid place for businesses and would-be entrepreneurs. In 2019, the Rose City topped Forbes annual’ Best Places for Businesses and Careers list. The city has a lot of highly educated millennials and lower living costs than the San Francisco Bay Area. Tech startups are so big in Portland that it’s sometimes called “Silicon Forest.” Portland is known for being quirky, but that quirkiness also makes it a good environment for people looking to start their own business. People in Portland are more open-minded and willing to consider business concepts that might not fly elsewhere. If you’re in or around the city, here are some innovative business ideas worth considering.
Environmentally-friendly business plans
Portland’s liberal reputation extends to its views about the environment. If you live in Portland, you’ve no doubt heard people complain about straws and other single-use plastics. As of October 2019, the city’s banned businesses from automatically including things like plastic straws and utensils with food orders. Customers can still receive those items if they ask for them, but you can no longer look in your to-go bag and automatically expect to see a fork with your salad, for instance. If you run a food establishment, this may require you to retrain your employees. But in the long run, it should both help the planet and save you a little bit of money. But that’s not the only way that restaurants are working to reduce their environmental footprint in the city. Many businesses are also partnering with companies like Oregon Oils for biodiesel recycling in Portland, OR. Biodiesel recycling converts used cooking oil to fuel you can put in your car. This oil is renewable and burns cleaner than standard gasoline. If you’re starting a restaurant business in the city, it’s worth looking into this service. Enrollment is free, and you’ll get a check each quarter for the amount of oil that’s collected from your used frying oil receptacle.
Beer and other beverages
Anyone who has spent even a weekend in Portland should know that the city’s residents love a good drink. The city has the eighth-most breweries per capita in the country. It’s not that Oregonians are thirstier than people in other states, but a good IPA or oatmeal stout is a big part of the city’s culture. That creates both an opening and a challenge for beverage distributors in the area. In some cities, a beverage distributor might be able to get away with focusing on a couple dozen different brands of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Yet a beverage distributor in Portland, OR, knows that its clients will expect more. It’s not a job for people who aren’t keenly interested in the ins and outs of the beverage industry.
Beverage distributors service bars and restaurants, and they have to be willing to listen to what the people running the restaurants want. If you like this business idea, you should get comfortable working closely with people on the front lines. Let’s say an IPA from Bend, Oregon, suddenly becomes all the rage in Portland. The trendiest bars in town want you to get it for them, but the brewery in Bend is having trouble keeping up with demand.
If this scenario stresses you out, then the business may not be for you. But if you get a rush of adrenaline because you like a challenge, then it’s worth considering a career in beverage distribution in Portland. There’s a lot of competition, of course, but if you follow the craft beer scene and talk about your favorite IPAs so much that you bore your friends, maybe it’s time to turn that hobby into a lucrative career.