Why You Should Do a Cash Flow Analysis

Knowing your business’ cash flow is the most important thing about running a small business. We asked one of our Business Development Officers, Shanna McClearn, why exactly it is important, common mistakes small business owners make, how you can better manage your cash flow, and how Opportunity Fund can help you.

Here at Opportunity Fund, our goal is to help small business owners like you make better financial decisions and get the right loans to help your business thrive. One of the most important things you can do for your business is to do a cash flow analysis on your finances.

To help you understand why cash flow analysis is important and how you can better keep track of your money, we asked one of our Business Development Officers, Shanna McClearn, what advice she has for you.

Why Is Cash Flow Analysis So Important?

Cash flow analysis simply means looking at your business’ influx and outflux of money. By having a detailed analysis of all your financial transactions, you will know exactly how much money should be in the bank.

If you don’t keep track of your cash flow, you run the risk of being taken advantage of. Employees could steal supplies and you would not know. Prices of merchandise could rise without your knowledge and this would really strain your budget. For example, one client we helped by creating her first ever cash flow analysis was paying her employees about 20% more than industry average. While this is a generous action it wasn’t sustainable. She did not realize this wage discrepancy was hurting her cash flow and ability to successfully finance her small business.

Common Mistakes Small Business Owners Make

When small business owners don’t feel like they have the expertise to manage their finances they let their accountant do everything. This blind trust could lead to problems of fraud or theft. If your small business financials are handled by an accountant, double-check everything they do. You don’t have to be a tax guru to see if something doesn’t look right.

When small business owners don’t keep physical copies and records. You should keep copies of everything in a safe place for future reference and insurance. If you don’t keep copies of your tax returns, you could be unaware of money you owe. This is why the IRS may place a lien on your business that would severely damage your chances of getting a loan.

When small business owners try to tackle payroll by themselves. Payroll is going to be any business’ biggest expense. Payroll also carries a high potential for tax errors. Investing in someone to manage payroll will be a worthwhile cost.

When small business owners extend credit to customers. If you extend credit to your customers, you run the risk of them not paying what they owe. Additionally, providing a service or a product before payment hurts your cash flow because you are relying on that payment to run your business. The exception is reliable, expected industry delays. For example, Walgreens may take up to 90 days to pay.

When small business owners assume automatic transformation of inventory to cash. When you buy a new machine or order new merchandise, it does not instantly turn into profit. A lot of small business owners mistakenly overestimate how soon products will sell or how soon they will see an increase in sales.

When small business owners, especially new immigrants, misreport on their taxes. Because you don’t want to pay a lot in taxes, you may be tempted to underreport profits or overreport losses. This is a bad idea because it will hurt your chances of getting outside financing and could get you in trouble with the IRS. It is better to work with a tax specialist to minimize your tax liability.

5 Tips To Manage Your Business’ Cash Flow Better

    1. Start with creating a profit and loss statement. Just check your business’ bank statement. In a spreadsheet or with your accountant, document every financial transaction including rent, utilities, payroll, supplies, loan/credit interest, insurance, and sales. Keep copies of all these bills.
    2. Keep all your paperwork organized, such as any invoices, tax returns, receipts, etc. The first thing lenders ask for is documentation. Opportunity Fund often finds that many small business owners don’t know their monthly sales average and would have to go look it up.
    3. Always save some of your profits. Don’t reinvest it all, because you need emergency funds. We recommend reserves that can support all your expenses for at least six months. You might need more cushion if your business industry is seasonally dependent such as taxes, ice cream, tourism, gyms, jewelry, etc.
    4. On an annual or semi-annual basis, review who you’re paying and what, like vendors and employees. Shop around for the best deal – just like you would for any personal purchase.
    5. Once you’ve started looking at your cash flow, keep track of it on a monthly basis for any changes.

Opportunity Fund’s Mission Driven Lending Helps You

Traditional banks may provide the lowest interest rates, but banks are also the hardest to qualify for. Unlike banks, Opportunity Fund looks at the person behind the numbers. Our goal is your success, so we want to make sure you have the best chance to get an easy-to-get, affordable loan.

Banks only look at official income reported to the government, such as on your W-2. Opportunity Fund includes any additional income you have in our analysis. We makes sure your sales cover all business and personal expenses with a cushion to weather slow times.

If you have an outstanding loan and are looking to refinance it, we use your current minimum payment. Traditional banks will calculate a new minimum payment based on the maximum you can pull out. If your credit card has a limit of $10,000, the bank will assume you maxed it out. This can really limit your cash flow.

Banks will want annual tax statements after they grant you a loan to review if you are at risk of defaulting on the loan. If your business shows a decline, they may “invite” you to pay it all off immediately and find financing elsewhere. Opportunity Fund doesn’t do this. Once we approve your business for a loan, we trust you.

Opportunity Fund has proven that with less documentation and more real conversations, we can still give loans and have good repayment from our clients. We are helping the whole alternative lending industry understand that helping small business owners like you by offering responsible loan options works even if you are classified as high-risk by traditional banks.

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 $60M in loans to help more than 2,200 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 planning is the backbone of a successful enterprise. Most business owners face challenges when developing their plans. They may not know where to start, how to write their plan, or even if they need a plan in the first place. Our content partner Nav breaks down the reasons why everyone (yes, even you) needs a business plan.

Business planning is the backbone of a successful enterprise. Most business owners face challenges when developing their plans. They may know where to start, how to write their plan, or even if they need a plan in the first place. Our content partner Nav breaks down the reasons why everyone (yes, even you) needs a business plan.

A prevailing opinion in the tech community is that business plans are for dinosaurs, and nimble startups no longer need them. When I started my company about a year ago, I listened to this advice and jumped into incorporating my company and started building the product. In the process, I also recruited two co-founders who were on payroll. We found ourselves in a mess only 4 months into the venture. Our originally idea of helping business owners obtain low-cost funding through community sourced capital wasn’t really viable. The company was undercapitalized. The legal fees were piling up. One of my co-founders quit. We ended up pivoting. All our actions didn’t lead to actual progress. We lasted only due to sheer determination. If we had planned better, so many mistakes could have been avoided; so much money and agony could have been spared.

Business plans are not about the 200-page document with beautiful graphics. It’s about planning. It’s about business planning and life planning of the entrepreneurs.

Business plans are about putting down the following thoughts on paper:

What is the company doing?
Why do I want to work on a company like this?
Why am I the right person to start a company like this?
Who are my customers and how do I market to them?
How big is the market? Who are the competitors? What’s my company’s competitive advantage? What’s the end game if things work out?
What are the startup costs? What does it take to bring my product to the market?
How do I obtain the capital before my business generates enough cash flow to fund itself?
How do I support myself before the company can afford to paying me a living wage?
Even the lean startup movement doesn’t free businesses from this planning process because it takes time and money to bring something to the market people are willing to pay for. Before you quit your day job to work on your startup full-time, you should really go through the list and do some planning. At the very least, figure out how long you can afford not having an income to build your company. It’s all about not flying blind.

“What about Facebook, Yahoo! and Google? I don’t think they had a business plan when they started,” you might ask. Well, these are companies that are started as students’ side projects and the founders went full-time only when their projects started to take off and investors offered to fund them. They didn’t have a family to feed or a certain lifestyle they need to support. Their risk tolerance is high compared to most other people.

“What about WhatsApp?”. The founders had enough savings from their Yahoo! days to last a number of years and they hit the traction for Sequoia Capital to fund them two years later. If you are doing something as risky as these big consumer internet companies, you need to have the personal capacity to last long enough to see the fruits of your labor. You might still fail in the end. It’s good to mentally prepare yourself through planning.

As for my company, it is in a much better shape now. We went through the planning process and figured out a long term plan. Things are going to change and we understand it’s a tough long journey to become financially sustainable. But my team and I are on board with all the challenges. That’s the beauty of business plans. It’s all about planning and being mindful of the costs, efforts and uncertainties of starting a successful company. It is so necessary that business planning will never be out of fashion.

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 $50M in loans to help more than 2,200 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

Lia Hirtz started World Empanadas with a dream to make fresh, healthy food while working with her family. Opportunity Fund helped her buy a freezer unit and now World Empanadas is serving hungry people all around Burbank.

Our customers inspire us every day and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too. This week, read about Lia Hirtz of World Empanadas in Burbank. Lia started her business with a dream to make fresh, healthy food while working with her family but faced major problems without a freezer and with mounting expenses from high interest merchant cash advance loans. Opportunity Fund helped Lia purchase a freezer unit and now World Empanadas is serving hungry people all around Burbank.

A Rapid Rise

A first-time entrepreneur at age 55, Lia Hirtz started World Empanadas in 2012 in in the back of a liquor store.  At first, it worked out with six months of free rent.  After they started growing and making over $16,000 a month, Lia saw the need to expand World Empanadas into their own space.

Growth was the biggest challenge for Lia and her family business.  Everyone loved their fresh, handmade food, but they needed a walk-in freezer to keep up with demand.

World Empanadas - Selection

World Empanadas serves fresh, healthy food for a wide range of tastes and dietary needs (Photo courtesy of ROF Industries)

“I really needed a freezer and I didn’t have the funds to buy it,” Lia said. “I knew we couldn’t grow without a place to store our empanadas. I was stuck.  I couldn’t sell any more.”

The Business Gets Cooking

Lia was facing more than just a freezer dilemma.  Her business was also tied up in aggressive merchant cash advance loans that helped finance their move into their new space and other improvements like installing a hood for the stove.  She had some capital thanks to personal loans from friends and family, but World Empanadas needed help to get the freezer unit that could make their business really take off.

Opportunity Fund loan consultant Robert Zapata connected with Lia and offered a $15,000 loan, which helped World Empanadas purchase the walk-in freezer unit.  Lia was overwhelmed with joy at the fast and easy loan process.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Lia said. “Within a few weeks Robert called me and told me I could pick up our check. It was just like that.”

Lia and her freezer

Opportunity Fund helped Lia purchase a freezer unit for her business. Now she can make more empanadas and expand her business (photo courtesy of ROF Industries)

Thanks to the improvements in their new space, World Empanadas makes about $60,000 a month in sales. Lia is thankful for the financing she needed to boost her business, but she’s even more thankful for the relationship with a responsible lender like Opportunity Fund.

World Empanadas is poised for even bigger things, with catering connections to television studios in Burbank like Warner Bros.  We’re happy to help World Empanadas make more dough by selling their freshly made treats, and we’re happy to help them with more capital for their business.

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 $60M in loans to help more than 2,200 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

Yelp is a powerful tool for consumers. But do you know how much a well-managed Yelp presence can mean to your small business? Our content partner Nav provides a brief introduction to the platform and tells you how you can leverage Yelp to boost your business.

Yelp is a powerful tool for consumers. But do you know how much a well-managed Yelp presence can mean to your small business? Our content partner Nav provides a brief introduction to the platform and tells you how you can leverage Yelp to boost your business.

It’s a scenario familiar to almost everyone. You and your friends made an impromptu decision to eat out but have driven off without deciding on a restaurant. Chinese food sounds good, but there are tons of places to choose from and no one in the car has a favorite.

So you grab your phone, type “Chinese food” into a search engine, and press send. The search results populate with rows of restaurant review pages. Four stars or more grabs your attention first; if all else fails, you’ll try three; anything below that, and goodbye Chinese food. Mexican sounded better anyway.

What is Yelp?

Yelp is a medium for customers to publish reviews about local businesses with which they engage. Yelp lists almost all types of business, from remodelers, to fitness centers, to restaurants, cafes, and bars.

Why should your small business consider Yelp?

In an age where you can find almost anything you want or need online and order it instantly, brick and mortar businesses who don’t utilize technology are at an inherent disadvantage. Businesses that establish themselves online are constantly taking part in that vast, consumer-driven conversation called the internet. Highly successful companies are able to maintain a robust virtual and physical presence simultaneously, but at an enormous cost of money, time and personnel. Smaller businesses need to find inexpensive, practical, yet effective ways of keeping up with the online conversation while still minding the store.

One of those effective ways is establishing a Yelp page. When you type “Chinese food [your city]” into Google, it’s usually Yelp review pages that populate the first page of the results. Imagine what type of visibility that might bring your company if your business makes it into those results.

Let Yelp help

Having a Yelp page looks good for prospective customers, feels good for your customers, and is good for your business.

Looks good. The first and most obvious is that a high score on Yelp provides immediate visual confirmation that your business is worth looking at more closely. Using crowd sourced reviews inspires instant, instinctive trust from prospective customers and current customers alike. To maintain that trust is the hard part—and Yelp can help you there, too.
Feels good. Returning customers are customers who not only value what your business provides, but also how you provides it, and, most important—especially for brick and mortar businesses—who provides it. Yelp allows you to engage with your customers the same way you do your family and friends. You can thank positive reviewers in person or with Yelp’s private messaging tools, and reach out to negative reviewers the same way. This will remind your customers of why they visit a local business like yours—for the personal relationship they can build will your establishment.
Is good. This unique combination of luring a customer in through a classic rating system and keeping them around through ultramodern methods of instant feedback and detailed exchange, is now a standard feature of the great internet dialogue. Yelp allows you to jump right into that dialogue, actively participate, and still focus on the day to day needs of your business.
BONUS: Some online lenders are now starting to use Yelp to help determine a borrower’s risk level— a good looking Yelp page could make it easier for you to get small business loans or secure less expensive loans going forward.

Questions and concerns

With all of this focus on the beauty of stars when they come in fours and fives, the question of what happens if you can’t maintain such a standard becomes important. Assuming that you do everything you can to keep your customers happy, the likeliest way for that to occur would be a disgruntled former employee, irrationally embittered customer (they exist!), or dishonest competitor manipulating your rating on purpose to reflect low levels of customer satisfaction.

The best way to identify and counteract such behavior is to keep current. Check your reviews daily, so that you can respond quickly to customer complaints. Many Yelp merchants have found that identifying mistakes, apologizing for them and taking them into consideration next time a customer walks in is enough to change a sour review. If your overall score takes a sudden dive, look for telltale signs of bad faith such as people posting under aliases rather than their real names. You can also search a reviewer’s Yelp history for evidence of trolling. If you do find evidence of wrongdoing, report it to Yelp; they cite having a vested interest in preventing this stuff.

A study performed by economics professor Zhongmin Wang of Northeastern University suggests that Yelp’s reviews are more balanced overall than those of its main competitors. 80 percent of all Yelp reviews, Wang discovered, are three stars or above. Combine that with the fact that Yelp reviewers are an active bunch—Yelp’s once-and-done review crowd stands at only 9 percent. Yelp is a good organic way to hear customer feedback and tell a buzzing community of potential customers about your business.

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 $50M in loans to help more than 2,200 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

Our lending experts are here to answer your toughest questions about small business financing. Sometimes it’s not easy for small business owners to get the financing they need, especially if they apply for a bank loan. Opportunity Fund Director of Microlending Daniel Fernandez shares his perspective on bank lending and how small business owners can prepare to become bank loan ready in the future.

Our lending experts are here to answer your toughest questions about small business financing. Sometimes it’s not easy for small business owners to get the financing they need, especially if they apply for a bank loan. Opportunity Fund Director of Microlending Daniel Fernandez shares his perspective on bank lending and how small business owners can prepare their financials to become bank loan ready in the future.

Q: What should borrowers know about the bank loan process?

A: You can’t walk into a bank, sign your name on the dotted line, and get a $100,000 line of credit anymore. Banks are looking for specific things: time in business, FICO score, and overall profitability of a business.

Q: How long does it take to build a good business profile for a bank loan?

A: Banks are looking for at least three years in business, plus traditional profitability, year over year growth, and no major landmines in your credit history like bankruptcies and loan modifications. Many times defaults on a bank product, like a checking account or a credit card, are instant disqualifiers. If you have a small business with annual revenues below one million dollars, you must personally guarantee any loan you have.

Q: What are some other key attributes that bank loan officers look for in a successful candidate?

A: Industry plays a big role. Small business owners in high risk industries like restaurants, manufacturing, trucking, and construction face challenges in bank financing. An ideal candidate for a bank loan comes from professional industries, like medical. A clean balance sheet with a business profile gives a business owner the best chance of getting a bank loan.

Q: Can you share some do’s and don’ts for borrowers who are trying to become ready for a bank loan?

A: Do:

  • Know your credit score and your recent credit history very well. It’s a major determining factor for loan eligibility and building credit worthiness.
  • Understand the type of financing that you’re looking for: term financing, a line of credit, or equipment financing, for example.
  • Do your research on available loans and how it connects to the type of credit profile that you have.
  • Set expectations for yourself and your business. A borrower who wants a low interest rate loan but has a bankruptcy within the last five years will likely have better chances with an alternative lender versus a bank. Alternative lending doesn’t necessarily mean high risk or cost, or even predatory. It means that you must be open to paying a little more as your business risk profile is higher than average.
  • Take advantage of resources to help prepare your financials. Work with someone who knows what banks are looking for in small business lending. A good CPA or even a bookkeeper can help. Other nonprofit and community resources, like the Small Business Development Centers, have programs specifically for small business owners. You can get credit counseling or information on lending through these resources.

Don’t:

  • Don’t rush into the process. It’s easier than ever to find financing right now, but there are high cost and predatory type lenders out there looking for borrowers who are willing to take the path of least resistance. Most of the time it’s against their own best interests as a borrower.
  • Don’t expect that a personal connection to a bank will help you get a business loan. Start rethinking the way banks lend to people and the banking relationship as it relates to the bank lending requirements we discussed here.

Q: Can you share your background in banking and where your perspective comes from?

A: Before coming to Opportunity Fund, I spent almost 10 years in commercial finance as a business banker at Wells Fargo and a relationship manager at JPMorgan Chase in Northern California. I worked at Wells Fargo during the financial crisis of 2008 and saw how the credit crunch impacted small businesses looking for access to capital. At Chase, I had many clients asking about what they could do to become bank loan ready. At that time there weren’t many options for these borrowers and they lacked a clear path to growth. I was part of a group that started working with Opportunity Fund. For the first time ever, we had a way to help our clients who didn’t qualify for a bank loan. It made me think about how cool it is to do what a traditional financial institution can’t.

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 $50M in loans to help more than 2,200 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

As a small business owner, you deserve protection against mistreatment from lenders. Opportunity Fund worked together with a coalition of other responsible small business lenders to create a Small Business Borrowers Bill of Rights to protect your interests.

Small Business Borrowers Bill of Rights Checklist

  1. The Right to Transparent Pricing And Terms – Lenders are expected to communicate clearly and be upfront about any fees and penalties.
  2. The Right to Non-Abusive Products – You have a right to lending options that will not pressure you, penalize you for prepayment, or trap you in a debt cycle.
  3. The Right to Responsible Underwriting – Lenders are responsible for ensuring that borrowers are capable of paying off appropriately-sized loans instead of maximizing profit from defaulted loans and fees.
  4. The Right to Fair Treatment from Brokers – You have the right to transparent and honest fees, results, options, and conflicts of interest from brokers.
  5. The Right to Inclusive Credit Access – You have the right to non-discrimination from lenders on the basis of any protected class such as gender, religion, sexual orientation, age, etc.
  6. The Right to Fair Collection Practices – Lenders are expected to treat small business owners with respect and provide fair treatment, responsible oversight, and accurate information throughout the debt collections process.

 

Why the BBOR is Important For Your Business

When the financial crisis of 2008-2009 hit small businesses, business owners were suddenly strapped for cash. Alternative lenders started gaining popularity as a quick way to get working capital. However, some of these alternative loan options—such as MCAs,read more on those in our blog post here—are irresponsible and take advantage of small business owners’ need for fast cash.

Opportunity Fund and other members of Responsible Business Lending Coalition decided that business owners need a way to protect themselves from irresponsible lenders. The Small Business Borrowers Bill of Rights was born. The BBOR protects business owners, enables economic growth and opportunity, encourages responsible lending, and fosters investment into local communities.

For more information about the details of the Small Business Borrowers Bill of Rights and which lenders have signed, check out the official Small Business Borrowers Bill of Rights website.

 

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 $50M in loans to help more than 2,200 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

Olivia overcame illness and adversity to do what she loves, and become one of Opportunity Fund’s most unique and inspiring business owners.

Our customers inspire us every day and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too. This week, read about Olivia Colt of Salt & Honey Catering in Berkeley.  Olivia overcame illness and adversity to do what she loves, and become one of Opportunity Fund’s most unique and inspiring business owners.

A Life Changing Moment

Olivia’s life changed on December 27, 2010. The 27-year-old was on her way to baggage claim at San Francisco International Airport when she suffered a stroke. “At the top of the escalators, I knew where I was,” Olivia said. “When I got to the bottom I had no idea where I was. I had a pounding headache, tunnel vision and was utterly confused.”

Another stroke during her hospital stay forced her to reconsider what she was doing with her life. She had been dabbling in catering, just small events and parties in her spare time, but facing an uncertain future forced her hand.

“I told my parents that if could cook every day for the rest of my life, I’d be a happy girl,” Olivia said.

Over the next six weeks, her parents nursed her through her recovery and helped her launch what would become Salt & Honey Catering. They started in Olivia’s apartment with fancy dress dinners, complete with entertainment provided by her parents, who also helped prepare and serve the three-course plated service.

It Takes More Than Just a Good Recipe

Word of mouth from dinner guests, combined with the company’s website and Yelp profile grew Salt & Honey’s buzz, allowing Olivia to expand into a small commissary at Oakland’s Clarion Hotel.

Salt & Honey staff

Salt & Honey’s kitchen executives discuss the day’s work (Photo courtesy of Christian Peacock)

While building the business for the next two-plus years, but before Olivia could get the financing to expand again, she had another stroke. This time she was diagnosed with an extremely rare, chronic condition, and needed one of the world’s most expensive drugs to control it. The only way she could afford that was to be on MediCal to qualify for disability, which would not make her a good candidate for a loan.

But Shanna McClearn, an Opportunity Fund loan consultant, disagreed and helped Colt get approved for a loan of $15,000. “Shanna worked to find a way through the challenges,” Colt said. “Lenders who are willing to support entrepreneurs are wonderful for the community.”

Thanks to Opportunity Fund, Olivia has been able to boost Salt & Honey’s cash flow, which has helped with working capital, equipment, and payroll. She sees the partnership as more than a source of funds—it’s a chance to build a relationship with a trustworthy lender who shares her values. Which we find very satisfying.

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 $60M in loans to help more than 2,200 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

Small business owners are always looking to save money. Fortunately there are many free education resources out there that can help you run your business better. Our partner Nav outlines five of the best free online resources for small business owners.

Get FREE educational resources to help you run your business better – read more in this post from our partner Nav.com.

We believe that knowledge is one of the most powerful tool for business owners. The following 5 websites have great educational content for small business owners and most of them are completely free.

1) Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs)

SBDC advisors provide aspiring and current small business owners free counseling, business seminars, and a variety of events like access to capital events and more. They have hundreds of locations, you can find your local SBDC here.

2) SBA Small Business Learning Center

The SBA has established a learning center for small business owners and has a lot of free relevant content — from starting a business, business financing, to government contracting. If you are interested in any SBA-related program, this is a great learning resource.

3) Coursera

Coursera is THE place for free online courses. They offer hundreds of college level courses for free, and they offer a lot of great business courses taught by great professors across the country. They currently offer over 70 business courses. It’s a great place to learn foundational knowledge for economics, finance, and accounting.

4) Udemy

Udemy is a marketplace for online video courses. A lot of industry experts offer their courses for a low price (Udemy regularly offers coupons for 50+% off), and there are also a lot of free courses. It takes a little of bit of effort to find the right business courses, but there are some great gems, such as the Basics of Starting an Online Business course.

5) Khan Academy

Khan Academy is another great free online resource for business classes. They are known for their math and science education, but they also have pretty good content for economics and finance, as well as entrepreneur interviews.

Lastly, don’t forget about the Nav blog. As an official “no fluff” zone, everything our team publishes gets straight to the point while remaining objective. We simply demystify the complexities of running a small business and deliver understandable and actionable advice.

Do you have suggestions for other great free online courses for entrepreneurs? Drop us a line at sblending@opportunityfund.org with your tips on the best free education resources for small business.

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

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 August.

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 events in Northern and Southern California and virtual events. Here are the best upcoming events in August.

Northern California/Bay Area

Financing your Small Business Workshop

Date: August 3, 2016 | 9:00 am PDT – 11:00 am PDT

Location: Veterans Business Outreach Center
4608 Duckhorn Drive Sacramento, CA 95834 (map it)

Contact: (916) 527-8400

Organization: Veterans Business Outreach Center

Fee: Free

This class reviews potential sources of capital to start, operate, and expand a small business. You will learn how to prepare for applying for a small business loan plus sources with expert help to guide you through the process. The class will also include insight into the most important conditions to a lender’s decision to approve or decline a loan request. The seminar will also cover how banks and other lenders operate with the impact of the current recession on their lending programs and how it all affects your ability to obtaining financing.

Click here for more information about this event.

Legal Issues for Small Businesses

Date: August 11, 2016 | 6:00 pm PDT – 9:00 pm PDT

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

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

Organization: Silicon Valley SCORE

Fee: $45 – Veterans can access a FREE promo code for the class here

This small business legal seminar is designed for startups as well as those already in business. When your business changes and grows, you must be prepared to respond to those changes. This is a unique seminar for business owner concerned about tricky legal issues when starting and managing a business. Key topics include how to choose of the type of legal business entity, protecting your identity, business contracts and leases, and many more legal issues that small businesses encounter every day.

Click here to register for this event.

Financial Analysis for Small Businesses

Date: August 18, 2016 | 1:30 pm PDT – 3:30 pm PDT

Location: 455 Market St 6th Floor San Francisco, CA 94105  (map it)

Contact: Angel Cardoz (415) 937-7232 or angel.cardoz@sfgov.org

Organization: San Francisco SBDC

Fee: Free

This workshop will cover different financial analysis methods. You will learn how to analyze your profit and loss report and how budgeting and cash flow forecasting can be used to track and project future monthly cash needs. Small business owners will learn how to use these reports to identify areas where they can increase their profits and business performance plus improve their cash flow management skills.

Click here to register for this event.

Southern California

Develop a Winning Business Plan

Date: August 9, 2016 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:45 pm PDT

Location: Newport Beach Public Library Friends Room
1000 Avocado Avenue Newport Beach, CA 92660 (map it)

Contact: workshops@score114.org

Organization: Orange County SCORE

Fee: Free

A Business Plan is an important document for raising capital, helping you to monitor progress, and achieving your goals. When done correctly, it is a “living” document and tool that will help you manage the business beyond the start-up phase. We will help you prepare a realistic plan that will document your vision, goals, and strategy. No business should be started or maintained without a business plan.  You will learn the three financial statements and how they relate to risk and performance, taking the mystery out of forecasting. Pre-registration is recommended.

Click here to register for this event.

Why Do Small Businesses Need an Accountant?

Date: August 17, 2016 | 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm PDT

Location: Rancho Santiago Community College District
2323 N. Broadway, Room 107 Santa Ana, CA 92706 (map it)

Contact: David Calderon (714) 564-5200 | calderon_david@rsccd.edu

Organization: Orange County SBDC

Fee: Free

This interactive workshop led by CPA professionals from Mendoza & McDuffie, LLP will cover the basics of what small business owners need to know about accounting for their business. Get answers on why you need an accountant/CPA for the different phases of your business, which areas of expertise you need at each phase of your business, how to select an accountant/CPA, and more.

Click here to register for this event.

Loans for Your Small Business

Date: August 23, 2016 | 9:00 am – 12:00 pm PDT

Location: Menifee Chamber of Commerce – Upstairs Conference Room
29737 New Hub Drive Menifee, CA 92586 (map it)

Contact: Mary Takavorian (909) 983-0751 | Mtakavorian@iesmallbusiness.com

Organization: Santa Ana District SBDC

Fee: Free

Business owners have many options for securing capital for the business needs. Opportunity Fund Director of Microlending Daniel Fernandez and Carla Ulloa, CDC Small Business Finance, shed light on how business lending is changing and how not all lenders are playing by the rules. The seminar will provide information on Micro Loans under $50,000, how to identify the right type of loan for your type of business, and lending practices to be aware of so that you can be sure to avoid them. ADDED BONUS: If you are interested in getting pre-screened for a micro-loan, please bring supporting documentation to the event. You can access a list of the documents here.

To get more information about this event or to register, click here.

Virtual

5 Strategies to Boost Your Business Networking Skills

Date: August 10, 2016 | 10:30 am PDT – 11:15 am PDT

Location: Online – Webinar

Contact: Larry Batten (304) 623-7447 | larry.batten@sba.gov

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

Fee: Free

Business networking is more than bumping into a potential customer.  This webinar will introduce you to 5 fundamental strategies that will kick start your ability to target and grow your client base.  Learn tips on building business relations, maximizing networking events, effective communications skills, and using social media.

Click here to register for this event.

Getting a Bank Loan: Fact v. Fiction

Date: August 19, 2016 | 8:30 am PDT – 9:00 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

What are the keys to walking into a bank and walking out with a business loan? SBA’s Leo Lopez, a former loan officer, breaks through the myths and tells you how to make the lender say “Yes” in this online seminar.

Click here to register for this event.

The Business Plan and Strategic Planning Webinar

Date: August 25, 2016 | 9:00 am PDT – 1:30 pm PDT

Location: Online – Webinar

Contact: (916) 527-8400 | admin@vbocix.org

Organization:  Veterans Business Outreach Center

Fee: Free

This online seminar can help small business owners understand how to write a viable business plan. The workshop discusses key components of developing and usage of a business plan. Topic matter includes executive summary, marketing strategy, financial strategy, competitive comparison, financial management, legal structure, tools to forecast business needs, cash management, and much more.

Click here to register for this event.

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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