Only 70% of eligible voters are registered to vote in California. If you aren’t registered, go do it now! Read on to learn why voting is beneficial to your business.

According to Secretary of State Alex Padilla, only 70% of eligible voters in California are registered to vote. If you aren’t registered, go do it now! Read on to learn why voting is beneficial to your business.

Why you should vote

Contrary to popular belief, your vote does count. Your vote directly influences state representatives and initiatives, and it indirectly influences which presidential candidate receives your state’s vote.

Local and state ballot measures affect your business. Take a look at these two measures that will be on the November 2016 ballot in California:

  • Proposition 67 would ratify or dissolve the state ban on single-use plastic bags. How does this affect your business? Charging a minimum of 10 cents will offset the cost of purchasing those bags and help reduce the amount of plastic we are dumping in our oceans, but plastic bags are also a free service your customers enjoy. Whether you support the bag ban or not, this is a measure that will directly affect your business.
  • San Jose Business Tax Revenue Initiative is a proposed measure that would change the way businesses in San Jose are taxed. Instead of a flat tax, this initiative proposes a revenue-based system of taxes, with businesses making a gross annual revenue of $1 million or less exempt.  While this is an issue specific to San Jose, 26 other cities in California already have switched to a revenue-based tax system. Local measures like this example directly affect your business, and you should make your voice heard.

As a small business owner, you play an important role as a community leader and a significant influencer of your family, friends, and employees. It’s a civic duty to register and vote in both state and federal elections.  And part of that responsibility is to encourage your friends, family, and employees to do the same.  

Did you know that in California you are legally required to allow your employees time to vote on election day and post a notice of your employee’s voting rights in the workplace? To ease the strain of missing your employees for a few hours, work with them to allow time off to vote in shifts. Since business may be slower in the morning and right before closing, consider scheduling voting time at the beginning or end of the day (or whenever business is slower for you).

The rights, opportunities, and success of your small business are determined in part by state and federal policies. If you want your voice heard, it is important to register and vote for representatives and legislation that will benefit you and your community.

How to register

Registering to vote in California is easier than you might think. You can register online, by mail, or at your local DMV or county clerk’s office. The online application is available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese. The deadline to register is October 24th .

If you don’t think you will be able to leave your business to vote on election day, it’s easy to request your ballot by mail. The deadline for vote by mail is November 1st..

In order to register, you must be a citizen of the United States, be 18 years or older by election day, be a resident of California, not be found mentally incompetent by the court, and not in prison or on parole for a felony.

Most polling places should have ballots in English, Spanish, and Chinese. If you need assistance voting, you are allowed to bring someone with you as long as they are not a member of your company or union.

Registering to vote is easy, accessible, and important. If you haven’t already, go register now and encourage your employees to do the same. Your business’ future will thank you!


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 http://opportunityfundloan.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Each month, we’re sharing and promoting free or affordable online tools that help small business owners run their businesses better. This is your toolbox for five affordable website development resources.

Each month, we’re sharing free or affordable online tools that help small business owners run their businesses better. This is your toolbox for the five best website development tools.

Developing your small business is hard, but developing a good website for it can be easy. We’ve compiled this list of five affordable online tools you can use to develop your website. From tracking visitors to hosting your blog, this list has you covered.  

How much it costs: Free for standard use; from $9.95 a month for premium

What it does: The most important thing about your small business’ website is actually having one. WordPress is extremely popular for hosting websites. The interface for creating, editing, and managing your site is easy and user-friendly. Although the free version doesn’t include a custom domain name or advanced design customization and places ads on your site, it is still a useful tool for you to create an online presence for your business.

How much it costs: Free for most templates; $19.00 for premium templates

What it does: What separates a good website that generates business and a bad one that doesn’t attract customers? How it looks. If you don’t like any of the templates included in your web-hosting service, such as WordPress or Blogger, using a more unique template is the way to go. Templated is an easy-to-use resource for free templates that will make your small business’ website look professional and trendy.

How much it costs: Free for standard; from $20.00 a month for SumoMe Pro

What it does: SumoMe has a lot of tools for making the most of your small business’ website. You can choose from many different tools such as visually seeing where visitors click, popup email subscription request boxes, social media sharing buttons, content analytics to see if your visitors are actually reading what you have to say, and more. Whether you only want to share your business’ contact information and photographs or run an online retail store, this affordable online resource has something that can help your small business grow.

How much it costs: Free

What it does: Did you know that your website should load in under three seconds or visitors will leave? Finding out exactly how long your small business’ site takes to load what how you can make it faster is one of the many uses for Website Grader. Website Grader will help you optimize your site so customers will stay longer and visit again. This tool is completely free, but the information it tells you about your website is priceless.

How much it costs: Free

What it does: Google Analytics is a tool everyone who has a website should use. Not only does it allow you to track which pages are being viewed, but it also shows you where your visitors are located and how they found your site. This information, and everything else Analytics shows you, is important for targeting your small business’ audience and marketing to them better. If you aren’t sure if you want to use this resource or are overwhelmed by all of its tools, Google has a demo version you can play with and many great tutorials and videos. Google Analytics is by far the best free online tool you can use to help your small business’ website grow.

 

We’re always looking for the best affordable online resources including tools to promote to small business owners like you. If you have a tool 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. 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

Don’t like spammy phone calls and emails? Ever wonder how your contact information gets into seemingly random hands?  Our content partner Nav shares five tips for how to protect your personal contact information from predatory lenders and scams.

Protecting your contact information from predatory lenders and scams is important for the security of your small business and for not wasting your valuable time. Read this post from our partner Nav.com for five easy tips.

 

Since I started reviewing online lenders, I have filled out 30+ online business loan applications to understand the alternative lending market. The applications include direct lenders as well as loan brokers. An unintended consequence is that I am getting 10+ cold calls from loan brokers and alternative lenders on a daily basis. I don’t know how they get my phone number exactly, but I suspect someone sold my contact information as leads to lenders/brokers.

In the beginning, there’s novelty. I would answer the phone calls and try to pry more information from the “fast and easy” funding people. But after a while, it just became annoying. I stopped picking up my phone unless it’s someone from my contact list. I missed a few important phone calls from that. In retrospect, if I had known what I know, I would have taken the following steps to protect my contact information so that I don’t get spammed all the time.

  1. Get a phone number through one of the virtual phone systems such as MightyCall. This will become the number you use to register your company, and the number you use to apply all the business financing products.
  2. Get a separate email for all the spams you are going to get once you fill out a loan application.
  3. I don’t think you need a separate mailing address. But throw away all the snail mails that include a fake check or a pre-approved $50K business line of credit. These are mostly loan sharks who charge insane amount of fees no matter how much they sound like they are here to help your business.
  4. Now, don’t use your primary contact information on any corporate registration documents, yellow pages, phone directory, your website, loan applications or final loan documents. Your information will be spread around through many different ways. Some lenders/brokers might sell your information. Some of the information is available through secretary of state or business credit bureau. The best way to protect your private contact information is not to give it away in the first place.
  5. You might still want to check your messages on the VoIP phone number and emails regularly but you don’t have to worry about being harassed like me.

I have had enough. I am getting a new phone number. Be ultra protective of your primary contact information so you can get into contact with people who are important to you while avoiding spammy phone calls which are mostly counter productive.

 

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. 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 http://opportunityfundloan.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Jarrett Hughes cultivated his business with his lifelong passion for landscaping and an entrepreneurial spirit. Thanks to a working capital loan from Opportunity Fund, EarthPro Landscaping is primed for even more growth.

Our customers inspire us every day, and we want to share these stories so you get inspired too. This week, meet Jarrett Hughes of EarthPro Landscaping in San Jose. Jarrett cultivated his business with a lifelong passion for landscaping and an entrepreneurial spirit. Thanks to a working capital loan from Opportunity Fund, EarthPro Landscaping is primed for even more growth.

Growing A Business

Jarrett Hughes started mowing lawns as a child and has pursued a career in landscaping since his youth. After a few stints at large national landscaping companies, he launched EarthPro Landscaping in 2011.

This San Jose-based business has a strong client base and a solid reputation in the industry. But like many small businesses owners, Jarrett is facing challenges in finding the right financing to help expand his business.

“The sales are there,” he said. “Sometimes in commercial landscaping, it’s harder to capitalize on the sales and have the funds in the bank when you’re waiting up to 90 days to get paid.”

Jarrett looked into several funding options to help purchase the equipment he needed to meet the demands of the business and expand, including loans from the Small Business Administration and even merchant cash advances.

The available funding options were fast, but came at a high cost that eventually would become more of a burden than an opportunity for growth. EarthPro needed alternative business lending.

Seeding Success

Jarrett found Opportunity Fund through Wells Fargo, where his representative advised him on our organization’s easy-to-get, fast, and affordable lending options that could make a significant difference in his search for funding.

“Traditional lenders often have tougher restrictions for small business borrowers,” he said. “Opportunity Fund appreciates my track record and understands my business plan, so my loan was easier to get in a shorter time frame.”

Opportunity Fund business development officer Shanna McClearn worked with Jarrett to secure a $78,000 loan to help pay for equipment and staffing costs. This loan has allowed EarthPro Landscaping to take on bigger projects around the South Bay Area.

Jarrett Hughes - EarthPro Landscaping

Jarrett got a working capital loan to help with expenses for equipment and staffing (photo courtesy of Christian Peacock)

“Shanna looked at all the variables and was able to package the deal in a way that made it look more attractive to the underwriters,” Jarrett said. “I appreciate everything Opportunity Fund has done for me.”

Jarrett hopes to continue his partnership with Opportunity Fund with a future loan to buy more trucks and add more equipment and employees. When he’s ready to plant more seeds, we’ll be there to provide the green.

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 homepage 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

Business to business fraud is unfortunately a big problem that could cost your small business a lot of money. Our content partner Nav explains why checking the credit of the companies you do business with is so important, how to do it, and how this quick check can save you money.

Business to business fraud is unfortunately a big problem that could cost your small business a lot of money. Our content partner Nav.com explains why checking the credit of the companies you do business with is so important, how to do it, and how this quick check can save you money.

 

Let’s start with a story that’s frustrating, true, and all too common.

Gerri is a independent consultant with years of experience. One day, she’s introduced to a potential business partner (let’s call him Mike) through a friend. Mike publishes information for the mortgage industry, and is interested in developing a credit training program for loan originators. Gerri and Mike decide to work together, and agree that Gerri will write the program, Mike will market it, and they’ll split the proceeds 50/50.

Gerri works hard and delivers the program. Mike begins the marketing process, and reports back to Gerri that her program is being well received and that she’ll be getting a check for $10,000 for the initial sales, with more to come as sales continue. But the check never comes. Mike assures Gerri that all is well, and asks her to wait just a few more days. So she waits.

And waits.

And waits.

You can probably predict the ending: Mike stops responding to Gerri’s calls, Mike’s office manager leaves, Gerri never sees a penny for her hard work, and an attorney advises her that it might be in her best interest  to cut her losses and move on. Which is what Gerri did.

We’re used to hearing stories about consumers being defrauded, but how often do we hear about businesses defrauding other businesses?

According to leading credit reporting agency Experian, business-to-business (or B2B) fraud is a multi-billion dollar per year problem for U.S. businesses. And you can bet that as more and more small businesses turn to e-commerce and virtual transactions to keep their cash flow flowing, that number will only go up.

Fortunately, the same technology that emboldens and expands B2B fraud simultaneously provides tools to avoid it. One of the most effective of these tools is tracking a business’s credit information.

While personal credit scores are protected by the FCRA, anyone can pull a business’s credit report anytime, without permission from the business. If Gerri had run a business credit check on Mike’s company, she might have saved herself a lot of stress and wasted time and money.

But even if fraud weren’t part of the equation, checking another business’s credit report is an important tool that should be used when you extend terms to another business, or make a large sale before collecting full payment up front. As a small business owner, your success depends your on customers’ ability to pay their bills on time. If your customers can’t pay their bills on time, keeping your cash flow at consistently healthy levels becomes difficult, and it can eventually force you to go under.

And, as Gerri learned the hard way, outward appearances don’t count for a lot when push come to shove in the business world. Recent financial disasters have proved that it’s sometimes the biggest and best-looking companies that end up collapsing and taking everyone down with them. No matter how good you think your relationship with a potential business partner is, you should always keep in mind that what you see on the outside is what they want you to see. Their credit history may very well reveal a different picture.

If you’re convinced that you need to perform a credit check on any company with whom you’re considering doing business, Nav’s premium plus plan allows you to track detailed credit information on up to five different businesses at once. (Obtaining a single business credit report on another business would cost $40+ elsewhere.)

Growing a successful small business entails taking precautions as well as risks. (For a more complete breakdown of B2B scams and how to protect yourself, see here.) Checking the credit of the companies you do business with is one more step toward making your story a happy one.

 

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. 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 http://opportunityfundloan.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Running a business is hard, but SWOT can help you find where it can grow. Opportunity Fund Director of Small Business Marketing Anna Suarez shares her expertise on marketing your business and how small business owners like you can optimize your business operations.

Running a business is hard, but SWOT can help you find where it can grow. Opportunity Fund Director of Small Business Marketing Anna Suarez shares her expertise on marketing your business and how small business owners like you can optimize your business operations.

What is a SWOT analysis and why is it important?

SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. By looking at these aspects of your business, you can see a comprehensive view of your business and where it can grow. As a small business owner, you probably already have a general idea about your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, but putting them down on paper and seeing it all laid out allows you see where you can take action.

This helps you come up with how to develop more relevant marketing messages, how you can compensate for weak spots, how you can take advantage of open niches in the marketplace, how to define or refine your products or services to sell better, and how to most effectively deliver those products or services to your customers.

How to find your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats?

Developing your business’ SWOT is easy, but it takes some honest reflection and dedicated research.

Finding your strengths is the easiest one. What makes your product or service unique? What are you good at and in what areas does your business make the most profit? Why do your customers love your company? Ask them! Talking with your customers builds relationships that will foster loyalty, and they will give you an outside perspective on what they like about your business.

Talking with your customers can also be a harsh, but necessary, reality check when it comes to your weaknesses. It’s often said that the people who leave reviews are the ones with something to complain about. Read those reviews and analyze how you can address those issues in the future. Are you understaffed or underfunded? What areas are you making the least profit? Does your location hinder foot traffic? Is your niche market too small? Are you a new immigrant and do not have business credit? (Check out our blog post[http://opportunityfundloan.org/how-to-build-business-credit-if-youre-a-new-u-s-immigrant/] about how you can)Some things are out of your control, but identifying these interior and exterior weaknesses can help you compensate and work around them.

Your opportunities are where an action plan begins. Research on the internet or by talking with customers and industry experts to find out where your market is going. Food trucks are gaining popularity all over California; if you own a restaurant, can you open a food truck as well? Social media is the key to reaching younger customers; do you have and maintain a social media presence for your business? Knowing what opportunities are available to your small business makes it easier to go after them.

Lastly, knowing your threats is important. Figure out who your competitors are, what they do better than you, and how you can differentiate yourself from them to keep your customers. Are competitors offering lower prices? Is their service faster? Is your neighborhood being gentrified and filled with big chains and a different customer base? Knowing any threats to your business’ success is important for preventing potential roadblocks and standing out from the crowd.

Even if you are too busy running your business to do a SWOT yourself, you can hire a consultant to do the time-consuming research and analysis. You will be happy when you do, because knowing your SWOT can really help you identify how your small business can grow.


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.

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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

Alysia Vallas started SOMI as a way to support female empowerment. Thanks to a working capital loan from Opportunity Fund, SOMI can now sell more quality undergarments online and at fine retailers, and raise more money to help women internationally.

Our customers inspire us every day, and we want to share these stories so you get inspired too. This week, read about Alysia Vallas of SOMI in San Francisco.  Alysia Vallas started SOMI as a way to support female empowerment. Thanks to a working capital loan from Opportunity Fund, SOMI can now sell more quality undergarments online and at fine retailers, and raise more money to help women internationally.

Working for Women

Alysia started SOMI in San Francisco in 2013. Alysia, inspired by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, authors of Half the Sky, carried that message of building female empowerment in some of the world’s most underdeveloped areas into her entrepreneurial idea — and formed a collaboration with the Harpswell Foundation in Cambodia.

“I asked myself how I could help,” she said. “I decided to produce women’s garments and use a percentage of the proceeds to help women’s development groups.”

Female empowerment is a major hallmark of the SOMI brand, from the connection to women’s groups to the message of comfortable, accessible undergarments. Alysia had sold her intimate apparel solely as an e-commerce venture for almost two years before looking to expand. In 2016, SOMI started offering products in pop-up shops in San Francisco and New Jersey, and recently entered the wholesale market with products sold at Anthropologie.

The shift to producing garments for wholesale meant Alysia had to think differently about financing her business. “I got production orders that required thousands of dollars immediately,” she said. “I couldn’t get the money I needed from sales up front, sometimes not until 30 days after production.”

A Supportive Lending Connection

Alysia looked for financing to boost SOMI’s cash flow through her bank and the Small Business Administration. Those options didn’t fit her needs as a new entrepreneur in business for less than two years.

“It felt like jumping through a lot of hoops for a lot of uncertainty,” she said. “It was insurmountable for me to put together a business plan, pitch it, and then maybe not get funding. We had already gone so far into production that I was hoping to get a loan within a smaller time frame.”

Alysia learned about Opportunity Fund thanks to a tip from a friend. Loan consultant Sergei Minets began working with Alysia to get her loan package together, and delivered SOMI’s first small business loan of $3,000 in 2015.

She chose Opportunity Fund because of our track record as a transparent lender that provides easy-to-get, fast, and affordable loans. Sergei’s support made a difference for her as well.

“Sergei answered all my questions,” she said. “He helped me get the best rate. The entire process took a few weeks, which means a lot to us and our production schedule.”

Alysia is looking forward to more growth for SOMI thanks to the financial support from Opportunity Fund. As SOMI continues to spin more threads into sales, we’ll be there to cover her small business lending needs.

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 homepage 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

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 September.

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 September.

Northern California/Bay Area

Discover and Use Your Super Powers in Your Business

Date: September 12, 2016 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT

Location: San Francisco SBA Entrepreneur Center
455 Market Street, Suite 600, San Francisco, CA, 94105 (map it)

Contact: San Francisco SBA Entrepreneur Center | sfomail@sba.gov

Organization: SBA San Francisco District Office

Fee: Free

Have you ever wondered if you have Super Powers?  Why they matter, what are they, and if you’re using them in your business?  Join this fun and lively discussion facilitated by Kristen Carey, Catalyst Moxie, Inc., to learn what Super Powers are, how you benefit from knowing them, and the impact that using your Super Powers can have in your business and life!  Registration is required.

Click here to register for this event.

Business Accounting

Date: September 12, 2016 | 1:00 pm PDT – 4:00 pm PDT

Location: Cal State Center East Bay
1000 Broadway, Suite 109, Oakland, CA, 94607 (map it)

Contact: East Bay SCORE | info@eastbayscore.org

Organization: East Bay SCORE

Fee: $35

Join SCORE business professional and instructor Sid Landman for an overview of the principles of financial management for your business. You’ll learn financial management concepts, Quickbooks templates, and much more. Your $35 registration fee also includes a free download of SCORE’s 17 chapter guide: How to Start & Manage your Small Business.

Click here to register for this event.

Access to Capital / Lender’s Fair

Date: September 28, 2016 | 8:00 am PDT – 4:00 pm PDT

Location: College of San Mateo, 1700 West Hillsdale Blvd., College Center Building 10, Bayview Dining Room, San Mateo, CA 94402 (map it)

Contact: Robert Shoffner (650) 574-6402 |shoffnerr@smccd.edu

Organization: San Mateo SBDC

Fee: $10 (early bird before 9/27)/$15 (general admission)

Join the San Mateo Small Business Development Center and ten different San Mateo County Chambers of Commerce at this event to learn more about how small business owners can access capital for your business—regardless of the size—and network with other business owners. Elizabeth Laderman, Senior Economic Outreach Economist from the San Francisco Federal Reserve, and Mark Quinn, Director of the SBA San Francisco District Office will be in attendance.

In addition, there will be four panel discussions on “Traditional Sources of Capital”, “Emerging and Alternative Sources of Capital”, “Global Access: Export Financing and Services” and “Pre-IPO Funding, Seed Capital, Angel Investors, Venture Capital and Growth Equity”. Throughout the day there will be a resource fair where attendees will be able to interface with resource providers regarding products and services. The workshop represents an excellent opportunity to meet resource partners and lenders that may be able to provide you with the capital to grow you business, invest in capital equipment, or hire new employees.

Click here to register for this event.

Southern California

B2B Networking Breakfast—L.A. South Chamber of Commerce

Date: September 8, 2016 | 7:00 am PDT – 9:00 am PDT

Location: Carrows Restaurant
1638 W. Redondo Beach Blvd. Gardena, CA 90247 (map it)

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

Organization: Los Angeles South Chamber of Commerce

Fee: $15 members/$20 non-members

Small business owners are invited to the Los Angeles South Chamber of Commerce (LASCC) B2B Networking Breakfast. Mix and mingle with local companies and entrepreneurs representing a variety of industries and services in the South L.A. area. This is a great opportunity to meet new prospects and learn how the LASCC can help your business grow and connect with the community. You’ll also hear from guest speaker: Deborah Deras of Synergy Unlimited. Full breakfast, beverages, and tips are included in your registration fee.

Click here to register for this event.

Guided Entrepreneurship for Vets & Military Spouses (Part 1 of 4)

Date: September 12, 2016 | 5:00 pm PDT – 8:30 pm PDT

Location: Pacific Coast Regional SBDC
3255 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 1501 Los Angeles, CA 90010 (map it)

Contact: (213) 674-2696

Organization: Pacific Coast Regional SBDC

Fee: $30

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) hosted by Pacific Coast Regional is proud to host its first course designed for veterans—ideal for those with little to no entrepreneurial experience. The $30 course fee includes four weekly classes, snacks, and the GUIDED Business Plan (TM) Military CEO (chief everything officer) book. The four week series meets Sept. 12, 19, 26, and October 3.

Click here to register for this event.

Access to Capital: Small Business Workshop

Date: September 20, 2016 | 10:00 am PDT – 2:00 pm PDT

Location: Los Angeles City Hall
200 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012 (map it)

Organization: The Center for Strategic Economic Studies and Institutional Development

Fee: Free

Join Opportunity Fund at “Access to Capital – Small Business Workshop.” Sessions will include Cash Flow Analysis for Lending, Financial Decisioning for Your Business, and Managing Your Personal and Business Credit. Participants will receive take-home bags with items from our sponsors, pre-scheduled one-on-one consultations, and the opportunity to earn a grant of up to $2,500 to help with business advancement. Parking is free for registered guests. There are only 150 seats available so be sure to reserve your ticket quickly.

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

Access to Capital 101: Funding Options to Start and Grow Your Business

Date: September 7, 2016 | 11:00 am EDT – 12:00 pm PDT

Location: Online – Webinar

Organization: Small Business Majority

Fee: Free

This free national webinar presented by Small Business Majority and Acción will help small business owners navigate the funding landscape and connect with resources to help you obtain the capital you need to start and grow your business. You will get an overview of alternative lending options including microloans, SBA’s loan guarantee program, community banks and credit unions, CDFIs, reputable online lenders, crowdfunding, the Small Business Borrowers’ Bill of Rights, and much more.

To register for this webinar, click here.

California Small Business Insurance Requirements Webinar

Date: September 26, 2016 | 2:00 pm EDT – 3:00 pm PDT

Location: Online – Webinar

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

Organization: Veterans Business Outreach Center

Fee: Free

The Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) in collaboration with Trusted American Insurance Agency will present the California Small Business Insurance Requirements Webinar. Learn about the insurance requirements when owning a business. California law mandates employers to have certain types of insurance: workers’ compensation, unemployment, and contingent on the business location disability insurance. Learn about taxes business owners are required to pay and registration requirements. Other topics will include errors and omissions, surety bonds, commercial general liability, commercial vehicle coverage, and medical health insurance.

To register for this webinar, click here.

Is Your Business in the Black or In The Dark?

Date: September 29, 2016 | 11:00 am EDT – 12:00 pm PDT

Location: Online – Webinar

Contact: webinars@score.org

Organization: SCORE Association

Fee: Free

Whether your business is just starting out, fast growing, or well established, its long-term viability requires diligent management of its finances. Poor financial management and decision-making remain one of the strongest drivers of small business failure, impeding owners from reaching the crucial five-year milestone. This webinar, lead by Internationally recognized Quickbooks expert Stacy Kidal, will help you identify the key numbers on which the success – or failure – of your business turns. And then show you how to use those numbers to guide your day-to-day activities and decision-making. Stacy will also share her list of critical financial indicators and explain how successful business owners stay on top of them.

To register for this webinar, click here.

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 $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

If your small business is not on LinkedIn, it should be. Our content partner Nav explains why promoting your small business on LinkedIn is so important and how it can help expand your company’s audience and engagement.

If your small business is not on LinkedIn, it should be. Our content partner Nav.com explains why promoting your small business on LinkedIn is so important and how it can help expand your company’s audience and engagement.

Among social media platforms, LinkedIn is typically seen as the most professional one.

The site boasts more than 380 million users spread out across 200 countries and territories.  Unlike Twitter and Facebook, this platform is strictly business for most members. LinkedIn users see a business’s or individual’s profile as a Web-based resume.

With this in mind, as well as LinkedIn’s goal of connecting professionals, your branding strategy for the site has unique demands. So how can you use LinkedIn to build business relationships across the world without the stepping outside your office?

LinkedIn is your company’s resume

Like your business credit report, a LinkedIn profile can tell potential customers and partners a lot about your company. For business-to-business organizations, it is particularly important to keep an updated company profile and succinct descriptions amongst your employees — this will signal to potential customers that your company is well organized and worth considering.

The site allows for the creation of company pages for free, which can include basic information about the business — such as location, founding date and website — as well as different modules for posting content and status updates. Once your company page is active, employees can include a link in their personal profile to the company one, indicating that they work for your organization. Through your employee’s connections, you can further build your audience and connect other professionals with your business.

Lead and They Will Follow

Increasing brand awareness involves acquiring “followers”. These followers will become your company advocates and will play a key role in spreading your content as a means of online word-of-mouth marketing. Here are two simple ways to utilize tools you already have to boost your follower count:

  1. Leverage your employees. Encourage your employees to post to their network about your business, linking back to the business’s profile page.
  2. Add a “follow” button to your website. Your best LinkedIn advocates will likely be the ones who already love your brand. Let your frequent website visitors know that you are on LinkedIn by adding a simple follow button to your website.

LinkedIn has a paid advertising service that can be used to gain these followers or promote any content you post to your company page. If your business can spare room in the budget, these ads can allow you to target campaigns to individuals in specific industries and job functions. The site includes a number of packages that are priced based on the level of engagement you want to drive for your business.

Social Media Branding in the Professional Sphere

After you’ve done what you can to convert your employees and current brand advocates on LinkedIn, you can use LinkedIn to connect with various other professionals. This is particularly useful if you sell to B2B clients. Here are some tips for engaging with these companies:

Join LinkedIn groups. This social media platform has various groups that are networks of users with similar interests and career experiences. For example, if you own a marketing agency, join the digital marketing group. Find ones that relate to your business and join to connect with other users.

Start, join and respond to discussions. Users engage in discussions in the groups they join. Take an active role in these conversations. Doing so presents an opportunity to show your subject-matter expertise and give possible connections a view into your company’s mission and goals.

Post content. There are various ways to create posts on LinkedIn, from embedded slide presentations to links. Consider posting pictures and short videos of day-to-day operations at your business so users can have a virtual tour. You can also post job openings and company news.

Publish content. In addition to posting content to your LinkedIn page, you can also publish articles that will show up in LinkedIn Pulse. Check out the content channels for LinkedIn Pulse to see if any of them relate to your business, and target those audiences.

 

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. 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 http://opportunityfundloan.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter

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