Business blogs are everywhere, but which ones have the most relevant information and advice for small business owners? Our content partner Nav shares their 12 best small business blogs.

Here on our blog, we share the most relevant and informative content for small business owners. We’re proud to share this article from our partner Nav.com.

Reading small business blogs is a great way to stay up-to-date on the latest trends that could be affecting your business. But finding trusted sources for this information is no easy feat— many blogs dish out articles in an unorganized fashion that end up taking precious time away from the people whose time is arguably their greatest resource: business owners.

We’ve narrowed down the myriad of blog options to 12 that spell out information pertinent to aspiring business owners, new business owners, and seasoned business owners alike.

1Small Business Trends: Small Biz Trends has 400+ small business experts who “volunteer their knowledge, insights, successes and failures” to the business community. They offer up-to-date news as well as tips and tricks for succeeding in all areas of starting and running a business. Make sure to check out their templates and guides specific to small business owners.

2. BPlans Blog: BPlans’ main focus is the early stages of a business, but their blog offers content for aspiring, new, and seasoned business owners. What I love about the BPlans blog is that you can sort their articles based on the stage of your business, then the area of business you are looking for help with. They also offer tools, such as a cash flow calculator and break-even calculator, as well as free financial reports by industry.

3. SCORE blog: SCORE is an association of volunteer mentors that help small business owners and aspiring small business owners with all questions related to their business. SCORE has a blog written by experienced business columnists. They have pages and pages of posts including post on business plan writing, license and permit information, stress management, and customer relations, just to name a few.

4. En Mast Blog: En Mast is a community for businesses owners. Their blog section offers insights into various aspects of running a business, ranging from business survival tips, to employee retention, to avoiding burnout.

5. SBA Blogs: The SBA offers some great programs for small business owners that they feature on their blog, but the content of this blog goes beyond SBA program reports and announcements. They offer business management tips, contracting information, and many other articles from professionals within the organization and seasoned small business owners.

6. Small Biz Labs: Small Biz Labs is the blog of Emergent Research, a team which performs analysis of the small business landscape. They offer information on emerging trends in small businesses as well as links to detailed reports about the future of small businesses.

7. QuickSprout: The author of this blog is Neil Patel, a king in the world of online marketing. If your business needs help with marketing, this blog can offer some valuable insights into what you are doing wrong and best practices for improvement. He offers guides for consumer psychology, conversion optimization, growth hacking, etc.

8. Small Biz Survival: If your small business is located in a small town or rural area, this is the blog for you! Small town entrepreneurs are the focus of the “how-to” content this blog publishes, but it’s useful for many entrepreneurs. If you’re looking for inspiration or to inspire other business owners, they have a great section called the “brag basket” where they share small business’s good business news with all their readers.

9. Fit Small Business Blog: Fit Small Business’s mission is to help business owners simplify the day-to-day operations of a business, so they can spend more time on the areas of business that they are passionate about. They review and recommend new technologies and processes for simplifying business operations, and offer tips on marketing, finance, sales, as well as industry specific information.

10. Gene Marks: Gene Marks is a small business owner and entrepreneur whose content is frequently featured in the Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, Inc., etc. He is one of the columnists for the “You’re the Boss” section of the New York Times, so his content is always up-to-date and fresh.

11. Social Triggers: Social Triggers offers employable tactics regarding sales and marketing in your business. Most of what they write is based off of psychological “triggers” that convince leads and customers to buy what you are selling. In addition to regular updates, Social Triggers offers resources like “Building an Email List 101,” or “Increasing Online Sales 101.”

Last but not least…

12. Nav! Our mission is to fuel entrepreneurship and small business success in America by creating financially fit business owners. As an official “no fluff” zone, everything published on our blog gets straight to the point. We simply demystify the complexities of running a small business and deliver understandable and actionable advice. If it won’t save you time or money, you won’t find it here. As a bonus, we post a number of stories featuring small business owners who share their real world experiences—the successes, failures, challenges, as well as the rewards of running a business.

This article originally appeared on Nav.com and was re-purposed with their permission.


Opportunity Fund is California’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit lender to small businesses. Last year, we made $37M in loans to help more than 1,800 small business owners invest in their businesses.  Opportunity Fund invests in small business owners who do not have access to traditional financing. As a founding member and signatory to the Borrower’s Bill of Rights, we believe in the important role small businesses play in our community and the economy, and we aim to help owners financially succeed.

Visit us online at opportunityfundloan.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Through an unlikely combination of entrepreneurship and community activism, Emilia Otero is creating a vibrant, wholesome mobile food culture in the Fruitvale district.

Our customers inspire us every day and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too.  This week, read about Emilia Otero of La Placita Commercial Kitchen in Oakland.  Through an unlikely combination of entrepreneurship and community activism, she’s creating a vibrant, wholesome mobile food culture in the Fruitvale district. 

La Placita kitchen

Oakland mobile food vendors use La Placita to prepare their food (Photo courtesy of Christian Peacock)

Deep Roots

Emilia Otero’s roots in the mobile food business go 20 years deep, back to her first pilot project to improve community nutrition options in Oakland, by organizing local food vendors into what she calls “the new food industry on wheels.”

“I wanted bring nutrition to my community,” she said.  “I wanted to teach kids about healthy eating.”

It wasn’t easy, and there were plenty of setbacks along the way.   But there is no giving up in Emilia Otero.

She saw the potential impact of organizing the vendors to provide fresh food, but she had to work to legalize them first—at that time, mobile food businesses were not permitted in many cities, Oakland among them.   Eventually, with the support of the community and the vendors, she was able to open her first commissary in 2008 with a $75,000 grant from the city of Oakland.

Rebuilding a Dream

Unfortunately, that amount didn’t cover the necessary start-up costs, and despite doing a good business initially, she couldn’t get a bank loan because of her lack of equity.  Her struggle to find funding led her to Opportunity Fund and loan consultant Gerardo Campos who secured her a loan in 2010.  But two years later, another setback: the building hosting her commercial kitchen went into foreclosure, and Otero’s business almost went under.

“I didn’t have credit to buy the building. I lost everything, including my credit,” she said.

Otero was down, but not out.  She rebuilt her dream in Oakland’s Fruitvale district, by renovating a building no one else wanted, with volunteers and friends doing painting, cleaning, and plumbing. Another grant from the city helped rebuild the façade, but the hoods for the ovens and stoves—essential upgrades for passing city inspections—required fast financing.

 

La Placita Facade

Emilia turned an unwanted building into a business hub for Fruitvale mobile food vendors (Photo courtesy of Christian Peacock)

Again, Campos at Opportunity Fund stepped in. “Gerardo saved my business,” she said.  “He can see potential in the people looking for the opportunity that I had,” she said.  Finally, her commercial kitchen, La Placita, was born, thanks to Otero’s rich and varied background of creativity, activism, and love for her community.

And we think those are all good things worth investing in.

We hope this story has inspired you, too.  At Opportunity Fund, we offer easy-to-get, fast, and affordable small business loans to help small business owners succeed.  Visit our home page to find out more.


 Opportunity Fund is California’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit lender to small businesses.  Last year, we made $37M in loans to help more than 1,800 small business owners invest in their businesses.   Opportunity Fund invests in small business owners who do not have access to traditional financing.  As a founding member and signatory to the Borrower’s Bill of Rights, we believe in the important role small businesses play in our community and the economy, and we aim to help owners financially succeed.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

FICO scores get calculated from 5 types of data: payment history, amounts owed, length of credit history, new credit, and types of credit used. Here’s how each of these factors impacts your FICO score.

Here on our blog, we share the most relevant and informative content for small business owners.  We’re proud to share this article from our partner Nav.com.

Breaking down your FICO score

Your FICO scores paint a picture of how likely you are to repay credit accounts. More specifically, it models the likelihood of you having a 90 day late payment default in the next couple years. FICO scores get calculated from 5 types of data: payment history, amounts owed, length of credit history, new credit, and types of credit used. Note that some categories are more important than others.

The breakdown of how they influence your credit score is as follows:

creditscore_determined

Nav.com breaks down how your FICO score is determined (Photo courtesy of Nav.com)

The higher percent categories have a bigger impact on your credit score, though if you don’t have much credit history, then whatever information there is on you matters more. Next we’ll take a look at each category and basics for keeping each in a healthy state.

Payment history (35%)

Have you paid your credit accounts on time? These include credit cards, retail accounts, installment loans, finance company accounts, and mortgage loans. Late payments have a big impact on your credit score, but not all late payments are the same. The impact they have on your FICO scores depends on how late the payment is, how much is owed, and how recently it occurred. How many late payments there are also matters. You should strive to make that number zero. Always pay on time!

Amounts owed (30%)

The main question here is what your credit utilization is. Basically, how much of your total credit limit are you using up? For example, if you have just one credit card with a $10,000 credit limit, and a balance of $2,500 on it, your credit utilization is $2,500 / $10,000 = 25%. A high credit utilization is viewed as more risky. For example, if you regularly spend $2,500 of your $10,000 limit each month, and an unexpected $5,000 expense comes up, you can likely cover it without a problem. However, if you regularly spend $7,500 a month and an unexpected $5,000 comes up, you might not have enough credit to cover the expense.

Even if you pay your credit off every month, a balance could still show up on your credit report and influence your credit score. Credit gets reported to credit bureaus monthly, so it depends on whether there’s a balance on your account at the time it gets reported.

You should strive to keep your credit utilization under 30%. The lower your utilization, the better. The exception is that having low credit utilization can be better than none at all, so long as you pay it off:

credit utilization

Credit utilization makes a huge difference when calculating your FICO score (photo courtesy of Credit Karma)

Having low credit utilization gives you flexibility when unexpected things occur. For example, if you lose your job or have a big medical expense, it can be hugely helpful to have unused credit on credit cards to tap into. Paying down an installment loan (such as a car loan) is also a positive sign of your ability to repay debt. Note that both your individual account credit utilization per account and your overall credit utilization are used in calculating your FICO scores.

Length of credit history (15%)

The length of your credit history is determined by the age of your credit accounts. The age of an account is how long it’s been since it was originally established. The age of your oldest account has a big impact here. It’s what’s used for the age of your overall credit report, representing how much credit history you have. More is better. They also look at the age of your newest account and the average age of all accounts.

A common misconception is that once you close an account, it gets removed from your credit history. This is not true. Closed accounts remain on your credit history, for up to 10 years after they’ve been closed.

Another myth is that you shouldn’t leave credit card accounts open. While you should be judicious about opening new accounts, there’s no harm in keeping existing ones open. In fact, they help your credit utilization (they help you have a higher total credit limit).

New credit (10%)

Opening too many new accounts around the same time can hurt your credit score. One reason is that they lower your average age of accounts. Also, if you suddenly try to open a bunch of accounts, it’s a signal that you may be expecting financial trouble ahead.

Also be aware that when you apply to open a credit account (e.g. – credit cards, mortgages), a hard inquiry is made against your credit report. Hard inquiries made in the past 6 months will bring your credit score down a little bit, but usually won’t cause significant damage. They remain on your credit report for 2 years, but have no impact after 12 months. Soft inquiries are used for background checks, credit pre-approvals, regular monitoring of your credit by lenders who you have an active account with, or when you request your own credit score. These do not impact your credit score.

Types of credit used (10%)

Types of credit used refers to your mix of credit types, such as credit cards, retail accounts, finance company accounts, installment loans, and mortgage loans. You don’t need to have each type of credit, and it’s not recommended to open accounts that you don’t intend to use. Credit card and installment loans with good repayment history raise your score. The optimal number of credit card accounts to hold is 5-9. Experience with both revolving credit (e.g. – credit cards, home equity lines of credit) and installment accounts (mortgages, auto loans, student loans) helps. Finance company accounts are only good for credit if there is nothing better on your report, otherwise they aren’t great for your credit.

Now that you have an idea of how your credit score is determined, you should become familiar with your personal credit reports and credit scores. You can now look at your credit report with a more informed eye, and take actions to help improve your credit score. If you want to see how different events affect your credit score, check out Credit Karma’s Credit Score Simulator.

This article originally appeared on Nav.com and was repurposed with their permission.


 

Opportunity Fund is California’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit lender to small businesses. Last year, we made $37M in loans to help more than 1,800 small business owners invest in their businesses.  Opportunity Fund invests in small business owners who do not have access to traditional financing. As a founding member and signatory to the Borrower’s Bill of Rights, we believe in the important role small businesses play in our community and the economy, and we aim to help owners financially succeed.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Opportunity Fund is launching a brand new small business blog to speak to our most important audience: you – the small business owner.

Get to know Opportunity Fund Small Business

For over 20 years, Opportunity Fund has worked closely with hundreds of small business owners and we understand the needs, questions, and challenges you face.  We wanted to create a resource that shares what we’ve learned working with small businesses.  Read on to get the full slate of upcoming content.

Featured Content

Opportunity Fund will feature subjects like small business finance, how to manage your business better, networking opportunities so you can exchange ideas with other small business owners, and provide access to other business resources.  We’ll also produce stories featuring Opportunity Fund’s most successful borrowers—so our readers can see Opportunity Fund’s mission-oriented small business lending in action.

The Not-so-Fine Print

This blog, our social media, and our newsletters are sources of great information aimed directly at small business owners. We encourage our readers to connect with us about our content.  Please contact the editorial team at sblending@opportunityfund.org for feedback on the content here, including suggestions for future ideas.

For information about Opportunity Fund’s small business loans, please contact us at 866-299-8173 or loans@opportunityfund.org.  For questions about your existing loan or other customer service questions, please contact us at 866-299-8173 or sbhelp@opportunityfund.org.

Stay Connected

Stay tuned for the blog roll out starting this week, visit our new small business lending website, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook!


Opportunity Fund is California’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit lender to small businesses. Last year, we made $37M in loans to help more than 1,800 small business owners invest in their businesses.  Opportunity Fund invests in small business owners who do not have access to traditional financing. As a founding member and signatory to the Borrower’s Bill of Rights, we believe in the important role small businesses play in our community and the economy, and we aim to help owners financially succeed.

Opportunity Fund. Working Capital for Working People. opportunityfund.org