Facebook is a powerful tool for small business. Our content partner Nav shares a post on how to get the most out of the popular social media platform with a few easy pointers.

Facebook is a powerful tool for small business. Our content partner Nav shares a post on how to get the most out of the popular social media platform with a few easy pointers.

Twitter is a popular platform, but Facebook is the social media site that pushed the envelope on making social media a large part of many consumers’ lives. Find out how you can use the site and its marketing tools to attract and convert new customers.

As of June 2014, the site has 829 million daily active users, and 654 million of those users access their Facebook profiles via a mobile device, according to company data. With the site netting a large share of the market – especially after it acquired Instagram and the photo-sharing site’s unique users – you can maximize your business’s branding strategy if you take advantage of Facebook’s marketing tools. 

Utilizing a business page

Facebook has pages devoted to business uses. These pages are free to set up and customize. You can use the profile image and banner features to post logos and other brand images to the page.

The feature also allows for status updates, including text, link, video and image posts. If you have a new sale flyer, for instance, you can post it on the page to inform your customers.

One of the key functions on a business page is the free analytics tool known as “Page Insights.” You can see how many Facebook users are subscribed to the page, view charts and graphs tracking that data and see which posts had the most engagement. This information is also displayed below the page’s posts, including how many people see them and how many interact with them.

If you use Facebook’s advertising services, which come at a price and post targeted ads on users’ profiles, you can track how well your ad campaigns are performing using Page Insights.

Effectively using Facebook for branding

Facebook provides many avenues for a business to engage users. Here are some tips to use the platform to your advantage:

1. Give subscribers information. Facebook allows you to list a lot of details about your business, including location, hours and website information. Provide this data so users can find other ways to engage with your business.

2. Engage subscribers. Users may ask questions or post comments about your business on the page. Don’t leave these messages unanswered.

3. Post interesting and relevant content. If you own a business of electrical contractors, a video of a cat playing the piano may not be best for your brand image. While it is important to post often, ensure your content relates to your business. Use Page Insights to get ideas about which posts are performing well with your audience.

As with any customer-facing materials you put out, remember that it’s a reflection of your business. This comes with two caveats:

1. Don’t be afraid to let people in and show off your business’s personality. Do you throw fun events at work or take part in charitable giving? Take some action shots and have a good time with it.

2. That being said, you do want to protect your business’s reputation. Don’t put out any potentially offensive material. Generally, it’s better to err on the side of caution here.

Potential customers, the competition, suppliers and others can pull your business credit reports without your permission or knowledge to get a “true” look at how things are managed. Make sure you always know what they’ll be seeing.

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

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.


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 and follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Andrew Maisner built TV Pro Gear into a pioneer in television and digital media.  Thanks to an Opportunity Fund small business loan, TV Pro Gear has cash on hand for up-front payments to secure discounts from vendors.

Our customers inspire us every day and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too. This week, read about Andrew Maisner of TV Pro Gear in Glendale. Andrew built TV Pro Gear into a pioneer in television and digital media.  Thanks to an Opportunity Fund small business loan, TV Pro Gear has cash on hand for up-front payments to secure discounts from vendors.

A Television and Digital Media Industry Pioneer

Andrew Maisner used his 30 years of experience in television production and media to build TV Pro Gear’s two core competencies: television equipment and streaming media services.  As a pioneer in streaming media, they produce some of the most popular digital media out there, from TED Talks for ted.com to live NBC sports broadcasts via their encoding centers.

TV Pro Gear has no shortage of success, but that success often comes at a steep price for Andrew and his crew.  They’ve had as many as nine projects under construction at once, which stretches their cash flow very thin.

“The projects we do are anywhere from $50,000 to a few million dollars,” he said.  “We get progress payments but it’s not enough to cover the whole cost of one production.  It kills our cash flow, because we don’t get paid until we finish a project.”

“Cash Up-Front, Baby”

Despite his thriving company with its elite customer base and impressive project portfolio, Andrew still found it hard to get the funding he needed to help TV Pro Gear’s cash flow.  

“We have a good credit rating and our paybacks were on time, but banks don’t want to talk to small businesses,” he said.

Andrew worked with his assistant Daniel O’Reilly to find a better financing option, and that’s when Opportunity Fund business development officer Alex Esquivias was able to help.

Alex helped TV Pro Gear with two loans: first for $40,000 and another for $60,000.  The loans allow them to make up-front cash payments to their vendors so they can secure discounts, which also helps their cash flow.

TV Pro Gear - Andrew and Alex

Andrew shakes hands with Alex Esquivias, his Opportunity Fund business development officer (Photo courtesy of ROF Industries)

“You’ve heard of COD—Cash on delivery,” Andrew said.  “I’ve got a new term. CUF—Cash up-front, or CUFB—Cash up-front, baby. [The discounts] are the difference between breaking even and being very profitable.”

Andrew and Daniel chose Opportunity Fund for their small business financing needs because of our fast funding and great service.  We’re happy to help TV Pro Gear stay in the black.

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

Don’t let these common mistakes trip up your small business. Our partner Nav shares a guest post from business accounting expert Chris Baskerville on how to avoid common pitfalls in small business management.

Sometimes the best lessons are learned by making mistakes, but you can skip the growing pains and avoid mistakes by reading this article about the common pitfalls in small business management. Our content partner Nav.com features a guest post by Chris Baskerville from his response to a question on Quora – What are the most common mistakes made by small to medium business owners?

Follow Chris on twitter @ChrisBaskervil

Speaking from my experience as a Chartered Accountant with over 10+ years experience in business reconstruction, insolvency, bankruptcy and liquidation, I can say that there are some common recurring mistakes made by Small to Medium Enterprises (SME).

The most common mistakes I see are:

1. Undercapitalization – this is like building a Boeing 747 airplane and leaving the tail off. You may not leave the ground on take off, or you may crash and burn shortly after achieving flight. I see too many businesses begin with very little capital and fall heavily reliant on debt with no alternate sources of equity. Without sufficient capital behind your business, you will fail.

2. Not reinvesting early year profits to achieve stabilization –another observation I have seen over many years is that all too soon, after a business starts to gain momentum, business owners want to upgrade their personal lifestyles (bigger cars, bigger houses, bigger holidays etc.) and not take those profits and reinvest them in the business to secure its long-term performance. In effect, business owners strip away the businesses’ precious resources that could be used for vital operations, or expansion.

3. Expanding too soon – this concept took me a while to understand as to why expanding a business could be a bad idea. I mean, is this not what the nature of business ought to be? What I have found is that expanding your business before it has the key resources (cash, access to equity, access to credit) or key structure in place (I.e., key staff or management, well entrenched business systems, secured supply lines in place) can lead to disaster. Don’t underestimate organic growth. It may appear slow at first, but it is solid growth.

4. Chasing turnover at the expense of profits – I have seen this many times in industries that are highly competitive (i.e., construction). Businesses that chase turnover “just to keep the boys employed” can lead to business failure, unless you are properly capitalized to weather the shortfall in work until more profitable contacts emerge. Take for instance employee costs; what some SMEs fail to realize is that employing staff incurs many costs that are not obvious (accrued annual leave, accrued long services leave, leave loading (extra money when you take holidays), work place injury insurance, payroll tax, to name a few). Such costs can be overlooked when pricing a job.

5. Failure to seek (and listen to) proper advice – many SMEs subscribe to the lyrics in Frank Sinatra’s song (My Way) of “…I did it my way”. This concept has merit and is an obvious driver of commerce in an economy, but not seeking advice from someone with a different perspective, or someone that is very knowledgeable in business transactions (accountants, lawyers, financial planners, strategy experts) can be deadly. Good business owners that I see, always seek counsel from someone with a bigger perspective and surround themselves with the right people and advisers.

6. Failure to deal with people – if people don’t like you, they won’t do business with you. Regardless of your personality type, it is a must to learn basic people skills. Without it, you can be “Hung by the Tongue”. This goes the same for dealing with your staff (who are your biggest asset) as they perform the tasks that business owners don’t want to do, or shouldn’t do on the quest to grow your business.

7. Not setting up the structure of the business correctly from inception – this is an extension of not “beginning with the end in mind” [Stephen Covey author of “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”] and of failing to seek proper advice. A good accountant or lawyer will be able to advise you of the best way to structure your business to achieve your business goals. It may initially cost a few thousand to get this right, but it is one of the best insurance policies you will take. Understanding the pros and cons of being a sole trader, company, trading trust, limited liability partnership is vital to know at the beginning of a business’ life. Good accountants and lawyers know this and will guide you here.

8. Failing to adapt to change – I have seen many multi-generational companies (i.e., companies that were handed down from father to son, or grandfather to son to grandson), with the newer generation failing to adapt to the changes in their industry. Instead, they adopted the thinking of the previous generation which is: “that is how we always did things”. Now with the rise of the digital age, businesses that fail to embrace technology or to see how to exploit it in their business are falling behind.

9. Taking on to too much – some major corporate failures have occurred as a result of taking on too much work. This is liken to promising too much and delivering too little. It may seem weird that taking on more work than you can handle can be a bad thing, but this can get you into trouble. You may have a short term win when you eventually complete the work, but at the expense of long term repeat, referral work. Not to mention the impact on staff working under high stress demand to complete work. I have seen some restructuring occur where we had to strip the business back to its core offering in order to survive, which did mean reducing the amount of work taken on.

10. Reliance on one key customer – this can be deadly, especially if that one key client is the government. This is because a change of government or government policy can mean the end of your business. Outside of government, if your one key customer fails in their business dealings, it is almost inevitably mean that you too will fail. Not to mention that business analysts see reliance on one key customer as ‘high risk’.

11. Greed – you could just about paint a brush across many business failures as being attributable to greed. Greed could be encompassed in a number of forms; treating the business as a personal piggy bank; fraud by officers; avoiding a low-flying life; or simply, shooting for a project, job or file that is well outside the capability and available resources of the business. Over extension due to greed places undue stress on the business assets which may lead to ultimate failure.

12. Loggerheads at management – a lot of business failure can be put down to a break down of relationships between the key managers of an organisation. This can include disputes between family members, disputes between partners, disputes between the relevant spouses of the directors of a business, the list goes on. Good businesses have agreements between the directors and shareholders (particularly in the SME space) as to how the relationship should work. I have always advised that agreements are not there for the good times, they are there for the bad times.

13. Failure to prepare a business plan – again this comes back to the teachings of Stephen Covey in not “beginning with the end in mind”. A business plan prepared prior to starting up a business makes you think about all the areas of the business and plan for those outcomes. Planning and mapping out the process will provide clarity and a sense of urgency to achieve your business goals. We don’t plan to fail, but we do fail to plan. There is a direct nexus and correlation between businesses that fail and the lack of business planning.

14. Failure to manage cash flow – cash flow is vital for all business operations. I liken cash to blood within our bodies. When you run out of blood, you die. It is all very good to appear profitable in your accounts, but it is not good if those profits don’t convert to cash in your bank account.

15. Inexperienced business people operating a business – I have often thought that putting potential directors of a company through a training and assessment system before entering into business would be a good idea. There is a ‘Grand Canyon sized gap’ between being an employee, mastering your trade craft and becoming a business owner. Those skills are mutually exclusive. You could almost be better off putting an experienced business person in charge of a plumbing business, rather than having an experienced plumber in charge of that same business.

Small Business Survival Rates

The odds are often against small business owners, especially at the beginning – but with these tips, you can avoid becoming a statistic (Photo courtesy of Small Business Planned)

Small Business Failure Rate: 9 out of 10?

Poor management is the number one reason for most SME failure. The economy has certainly added its contribution to failed businesses. Sadly, with most SMEs, the fate of the business is directly tied to the fate of the business owners’ family’s wealth, meaning that a collapse of the business almost inevitably leads to a loss of a family’s hard earned wealth. This also has knock on effects on domestic relationships.

Another sad observation is the SMEs can be reluctant to seek proper advice early when the signs of failure rear their ugly head, meaning that by the time advice is sought, it is almost inevitably too late. I call this “ostrich syndrome” (bury the head in the sand, hoping the problem will go away).

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

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.


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 and follow us on Facebook and Twitter

There are countless articles and ideas on how to make your business more eco-friendly. Here at Opportunity Fund, we know you don’t have the time to sift through dozens of websites, so we pulled together the easiest and most affordable tips for you.

As a small business owner in California, you have probably heard of the growing need for “going green” and contribute towards saving the environment. Making your business eco-friendly is a responsibility to both your local and global community. However, that does not mean you need to spend a lot of time and money.

We created a list of green tips for making your business more eco-friendly. These 20 ideas are relatively easy and inexpensive to implement—and make a big difference.

Here are 20 ideas for making your small business more environmentally friendly

  1. Go paperless. Bills, taxes, scheduling, and notices can all be done digitally. This will save you money on one-use paper and time with instant communication.
  2. Save on your energy bill and set your building’s thermostat to turn off at the end of the day. Unless you have staff or customers around all night, there should be no reason to waste energy.
  3. Stop including unnecessary “freebies” for customers. Only include condiments, napkins, and bags upon request. This will save your supplies, and most of it ends up in the trash anyways.
  4. Turn off all non-essential electronics and appliances at the end of the day. Computers and lights suck energy that is only being wasted. You can also install inexpensive motion detectors to do the same.
  5. Look into digital advertising. Try to avoid paper mail and flyers. There are plenty of effective online marketing tools at your disposal.
  6. Tack up a sign that asks customers to close the door behind them during the summer. Keeping in the cool air as much as possible will save you on your energy bill and cut down on energy waste.
  7. Install compost and recycling bins. It takes a minimal amount of effort but really makes a difference. Did you know that 99% of California’s 31.2 million tons of waste goes directly into local landfills? [source: CalRecycle.ca.gov]
  8. Switch out chemical cleaning supplies for natural products. In addition to being hazardous for your employees’ health, chemical runoff pollutes our precious groundwater.
  9. Source locally whenever you can. By doing this you support other local business owners such as yourself, cut down on transportation costs, and cut down on non-renewable fossil fuel pollution.
  10. Source sustainable and organic products whenever you can. This one might be a little more costly, but your customers will appreciate knowing you care about what they consume. Look for labels such as USDA Organic, the Non-GMO Project, MSC Sustainable Seafood, and Fair Trade Certified.
  11. Switch to post-consumer waste paper products and packaging. It can be fairly inexpensive to switch suppliers when you run out of your current paper products.
  12. Switch to biodegradable straws, cups, lids, plates, and napkins. See #11.
  13. Check your light bulbs. Try to switch out energy-guzzlers for LED or compact-fluorescent light bulbs.
  14. Look into eco-routing for deliveries and other tasks on the road. Whether you want to invest in GPS devices that have eco-route options or not, simply instructing your driver on more fuel-efficient driving methods will greatly reduce fuel consumption, pollution, and cost. Here are some quick ideas: drive slower to reduce fuel use, avoid stop-and-go traffic areas, let the car slow a little when going uphill instead of pushing the gas pedal, and organize/prioritize stops that reduce redundant back-and-forth driving.
  15. Motivate employees to reduce their waste. Plastic pens, gloves, notepads, and toilet paper add up over time. For example, implement a supply savings goal and reward employees with the saved money with small gift cards for coffee or sandwiches.
  16. Think outside of the box for recycling. Reuse shipping boxes for your own outgoing shipments, use both sides of the page for office memos, use reclaimed wood, and ask employees to bring in unused envelopes they receive from junk mail.
  17. Take a few minutes to make sure all windows are properly insulated. Caulk costs very little from your local home renovation store. Doing it yourself (or having an employee do it) will save money on hiring a professional and save on your energy bill from leakage.
  18. Eliminate water bottles. Bottling companies commit morally ambiguous practices around the world, diverting local water sources from residents, and sometimes even just using tap water. Cutting back on water bottles will also reduce the massive amounts of plastic in the oceans that strangle sea life. Instead of offering your employees or customers water bottles, offer free tap water in biodegradable cups or their own reusable containers.
  19. Buy indoor plants. This is another one that can be as inexpensive- or expensive – as you want. Simply placing a few plants inside your business will freshen up the space, filter out air pollutants, and recycle carbon dioxide into oxygen.
  20. Be a role model for your employees. Call them out for wasting resources and supplies. Sometimes people only need a little encouragement.

 

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.


 

Opportunity Fund is California’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit lender to small businesses. In FY16, 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

Business credit means everything in managing your small business. Those with less than stellar credit often face obstacles to getting the financing they need to expand their business. If you fall into that category, this post from our content partner Nav can help you get your credit back on track.

Business credit means everything in managing your small business. Those with less than stellar credit often face obstacles to getting the financing they need to expand their business. If you fall into that category, this post from our content partner Nav.com can help you get your credit back on track.

Even though credit is an important factor in both personal and business finances, the true magnitude of its importance is not always realized until it’s needed.  If you’re a business owner with a less than desirable credit score, one of your first questions may be “How can I improve my credit quickly?”

The is truth is, there is no magic solution. You can’t improve your credit overnight; in fact, it often takes months or years to reach the level of business credit that banks require to begin working with you. However, there are a few things you can start doing today to help give your credit a boost as quickly as possible.

Register Your Company

You can’t build business credit until your business is officially recognized as such. If you haven’t done so already, you need to register your company with the IRS and obtain a tax ID number (EIN).  You’ll also want to obtain a D&B D-U-N-S number which you can obtain straight from your Nav account.

Check For Mistakes and Fix Them

Monitor your personal and business credit reports to make sure they are accurate. If information in your one of your reports is wrong, any credit scores calculated from that information will also be wrong. If you find mistakes, dispute them.  The Credit Sweeper tool in your Nav account can help.

Decrease Debt Utilization

If you already have a business credit card or trade lines established, check your report to see what your total credit utilization is like. Your credit utilization ratio is an indicator for creditors that shows how well your business manages your available credit, and you should aim to keep your business credit utilization under 50%.

If you don’t yet have a payment account attached to your business, starting one now can be a step towards establishing your business credit history.

Ask Suppliers to Report Your Payments

Do you have a good relationship with your key suppliers? If so, it’d be in your best interest to start  utilizing your regular payments to build your business credit. Similar to making regular payments on a loan, showing creditors that you can maintain regular payments to your suppliers also signifies that you are a responsible and trustworthy business.

In order to do this, you’ll need to verify that your suppliers do and will report payments to the credit bureaus. If you’re just starting to shop around for the best suppliers, inquire about whether or not they report to business credit bureaus, and try to form a working relationship with a supplier who does. You can also find a list of companies that report to business credit reporting agencies in the Business Launcher tool of your Nav account.

Build a Solid Relationship with A Financial Institution

Building a positive relationship with your bank or credit union is important for a couple of reasons. If you apply for a loan or other types of financing, you may have to provide financial information, including account statements. You’ll want to be able to demonstrate a record of solid cash flow in a business account.

One way to build credit and prove your company as trustworthy is to obtain a business credit card or line of credit and pay it back early. These payments will be reported to the credit bureaus, you will start building a solid payment history, and it will prove that, as a business, you’re likely to pay back larger loans in the future. If your business is too young to qualify for a loan, ask your financial institution whether a secured loan is a possibility.

Take Care of Your Personal Credit

For small business owners, personal credit can have a huge impact on your business credit.  In fact, the FICO SBSS Score, which is the business credit score that the SBA uses to prequalify many of their loan applicants, uses personal credit as a major factor in its scoring model.

It’s easy to focus all your time and energy on your business, but don’t let your personal credit suffer. Maintaining good personal credit will help you build or maintain good business credit. Read about the main personal credit scoring factors here.

Establish an Emergency Fund Before You Need It

One of the most frustrating situations a business owner can encounter is one where you need funds quickly but can’t access them. Thus, it’s always best to apply for things like credit cards and credit lines before you need them.  Having access to emergency cash can help you avoid the stress that comes when you need it the most.

Check your SIC and NAICS Codes

Did you know that your industry’s risk is a factor influencing your business credit score? And TONS of businesses have the wrong SIC or NAICS code associated with their business. If your business is falsely listed under a riskier industry, now would be a great time to correct that code.

“I’ve done all that, now what?”  

First of all, congratulations on taking the most important steps in building good business credit.  If you’ve managed to check off every item on the list and still find that your business credit scores aren’t rising  as fast as you’d like, don’t give up.

Building credit is process that takes time, and while there are things you can do to expedite some aspects of it, others will just take time.

Building a credit rating takes time, but tools like Nav can make the process easier and more effective. And while it may seem like it takes forever, if you are proactive, you can make significant process in as little as a year or two.

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

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.


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 and follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Elyse Thogerson crafted her raw juice mixology into RAW, a thriving San Francisco-based business. Thanks to a strong business lending relationship with Opportunity Fund, RAW is expanding to serve new neighborhoods with a second location.

Our customers inspire us every day, and we want to share these stories so you get inspired too. This week, read about Elyse Thogerson of RAW in San Francisco.  Elyse crafted her raw juice mixology into RAW, her thriving juice business. Thanks to a strong business lending relationship with Opportunity Fund, RAW is expanding to serve new neighborhoods with a second location.

Fruit for Thought

Elyse Thogerson started juicing for her health. Her interest in raw, organic juice became a business thanks to her outlook on demographics. “Everyone needs juice,” she said with a smile.

RAW began in San Francisco in 2012, in a small space at the Second Act theatre on Haight Street. After a successful first year in business, the demand for her raw juices and cleanses was quickly taxing the business budgets. That, on top of a slowdown in business, made her look for funding to support RAW.

RAW - Elyse at work

Elyse shows off her workspace at RAW (photo courtesy of Heimo Schmidt)

“My rainy day money ran out,” she said. “My juicers were breaking down every few months plus I needed a point-of-sale system. It cost me so much money.”

Elyse had Opportunity Fund in the back of her mind after a visit to the Small Business Administration office in San Francisco. She decided to take a closer look at our small business loans after a tip from her banking connections at Wells Fargo.

A Fresh Take on Financing

Opportunity Fund loan consultant Sergei Minets started working with Elyse and closed RAW’s first loan in November 2014. The $3,000 loan helped replace the broken juicers, and more importantly, it started a good lending relationship for her business. “I was able to pay it back without hassle,” she said. “It was just one affordable monthly bill.”

Elyse stresses why it’s so important for her business to have access to easy-to-get, fast, and affordable small business loans. “It’s almost like when you start a business, online lenders can smell you,” she said. “They seem like they’re for small businesses. Then you read their APR and it can be almost 200 percent.”

She decided to stick with Opportunity Fund and got two more loans in 2015 and 2016, for $7,000 and $10,000 respectively. With the influx of new working capital, Elyse is on her way to opening a second RAW location in the city’s Castro District, with a new point-of-sale system, a new juicer, and remodeled floors and countertops.

Elyse has big plans for RAW, including expansion into a retail storefront with a cafe and a kitchen. Her strong relationship with Sergei made her believe in Opportunity Fund’s ability to help her business grow.

RAW - Elyse and Sergei

Elyse shakes hands with her Opportunity Fund loan consultant Sergei Minets (photo courtesy of Heimo Schmidt)


“He supports my business,” Elyse said. “Sometimes he just calls to see how I’m doing. He’s helped me through some of my most stressful moments as a business owner. Plus he comes in with his wife to buy juice. He’s awesome.”

We’re happy to support RAW’s big moves with our small business loans. We’ll be there to help Elyse serve her juices and cleanses to everyone who needs some refreshment.

See how we helped Elyse expand her raw organic juice business into a popular spot in the Castro in our latest video success story:

We hope this story has inspired you.  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

Each month, we’re sharing and promoting free or affordable events that help small business owners run their businesses better. This is your monthly calendar for in-person and virtual events in Northern and Southern California. Here are the best upcoming events in July.

Each month, we’re sharing and promoting the free or affordable events that help small business owners run their businesses better. This is your monthly calendar for in-person and virtual events in Northern and Southern California. Here are the best upcoming events in July.

Northern California/Bay Area

Build Your Business: Writing Your Best Business Plan

Date: July 12, 2016 | 2:00 pm PDT – 5:00 pm PDT

Location: Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, Tony Hill ABC Room
307 Church St. Santa Cruz, CA 95060 (map it)

Contact: (831) 479-6136

Organization: Santa Cruz SBDC

Fee: Free

This seminar will help you identify the most appropriate business planning format for starting or expanding a business, marketing basics, and a strategic plan to put your business on the road to success. Learn how to establish realistic goals and objectives, determine costs, and get solutions for financing your business.

Click here for more information about this event.

Small Business Boot Camp

Date: July 20, 2016 | 8:30 am PDT – 5:00 pm PDT

Location: 234 E. Gish Road, Suite 100 San Jose, CA 95112  (map it)

Contact: (408) 453-6237 or info@svscore.org

Organization: Silicon Valley SCORE

Fee: $90 – Veterans can access a FREE promo code for the class here

Let’s get down to business! This full-day workshop provides an overview of all the important aspects required to ensure control and success in business. Attendees will hear from a variety of SCORE and outside business professionals. Topics included in this workshop: the business plan, business law, access to capital, and more. This monthly event will also be held August 17 and September 17.

Click here to register for this event.

Southern California

Get Your Business Online: WordPress 101

Date: July 14, 2016 | 5:30 pm PDT – 7:30 pm PDT

Location: El Camino College Business Training Center
13430 Hawthorne Blvd. Hawthorne, CA 90250 (map it)

Contact: Martha Cisneros (310) 973-3177

Organization: South Bay SBDC

Fee: $10

Having a website online is as important as having an ‘Open for Business’ sign on your front door because it notifies the public that you have a product or service that potentially meets their needs. With WordPress it is possible to have an effective and optimized website that is easy to use and update. WordPress is an effective content management system that is used to run everything from simple blogs to CNN.com. With WordPress currently running over 75 million websites, come learn the basics about WordPress, Themes, and Plugins for your business.

Click here to register for this event.

The Art and Science of Creating a Successful Business Plan

Date: July 21, 2016 | 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm PDT

Location: Norman P. Murray Center
24932 Veterans Way, Jacaranda A, Mission Viejo CA 92691 (map it)

Contact: David Calderon (714) 564-5200

Organization: Orange County SBDC

Fee: $25

It’s your journey…shouldn’t you create the map? Successful business planning leads to successful business results. Take the most important step and build your business solidly from the very beginning or use it to guide an existing enterprise. In this interactive workshop you will learn the foundation of creating a business plan that works for you.

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

7 Things to Know Before You Go Into Business

Date: July 15, 2016 | 8:30 am PDT – 9:30 am PDT

Location: Online – Webinar

Contact: Kimberly Donahue (304) 347-5220 | kimberly.donahue@sba.gov

Organization: U.S. Small Business Administration and SCORE Association

Fee: Free

All small business owners want to build a successful business. Success rests on a solid foundation of knowledge. Join us to learn what you may not know. An experienced business team from SBA and IRS talk about legal organization, recordkeeping, hiring, financing choices, and no-cost resources available to you, wherever you live.   

Click here to register for this event.

Beyond the Business Card

Date: July 26, 2016 | 10:00 am PDT – 11:00 am PDT

Location: Online – Webinar

Contact: Amber Lopez (661) 632-5900 | sbdc@canyons.edu

Organization: Los Angeles Regional SBDC

Fee: Free

Relationships = New & Ongoing Business = Success!!! Are you relying on referrals and/or luck to grow your business? Are you meeting new contacts, but not able to take it to the next step? You made new contacts at a networking / social event and got business card(s), and/or you’ve added new connections via social media (such as LinkedIn or Facebook). Now what do you do? Developing and maintaining productive professional relationships with new contacts/connections as well as your existing clients and strategic partners is ESSENTIAL to your ongoing SUCCESS in gaining new clients and building your business! So often, one makes new connections, but doesn’t know how to cultivate new relationships and ultimately acquire new business.

Click here to register for this event.

We’re looking for upcoming events to promote to small business owners like you. If you have an event you’d like to share with fellow business owners, contact us at sblending@opportunityfund.org.

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.


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

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