As a small business, your ideas and original content is essential to your success. Obtaining copyright protection for your intellectual property is one solid way to make sure others don’t steal your ideas and hurt your business. We want to help your small business be successful, so we’ve answered four common questions about copyrights so you can better protect your creativity.

As a small business, your ideas and original content is essential to your success. Obtaining copyright protection for your intellectual property is one solid way to make sure others don’t steal your ideas and hurt your business. We want to help your small business be successful, so we’ve answered four common questions about copyrights so you can better protect your creativity.

What is intellectual property?

Intellectual property is something that was created by imagination and creativity. Literature, voice recordings, video production, artistic logos, recipes, and art are only a few examples of intellectual property.

Opportunity Fund has loaned to many small businesses that create intellectual property. We have helped fund fashion designers, video producers, digital artists, photographers, and many more creative companies. Even if your small business doesn’t directly create, you may own intellectual property rights to your logos, designs, and photographs that you have paid contractors to make for you.

Protecting intellectual property from unauthorized reproduction is important for staying successful. Unfortunately some large companies steal designs and art from smaller businesses and individuals who don’t have legal protection.

Fighting to protect stolen ideas can be expensive and take a long time. That’s where a copyright is useful. Having a copyright gives you and your descendants strong legal protection against anyone stealing your intellectual property.

Do my ideas qualify for copyright protection?

Knowing what does or does not qualify for copyright protection can be confusing. Here are a few easy-to-read guidelines for you to know if you can get a copyright for your intellectual property:

  • Literary works including books, original recipes, computer programs, and poetry.
  • Musical works including scores and lyrics as long as you submit an actual recording of the performance.
  • Dramatic works including recorded choreography and accompanying music.
  • Artistic works including sculptures, architecture plans, maps, digital graphics, logos, and photographs.
  • Video works including motion pictures and other audiovisual recordings.

 

What is important to understand about what qualifies is that you must be able to provide a physical copy of the unique idea. You cannot copyright unrecorded performances, common phrases or symbols, or inventions and devices. For inventions and devices, you should get a patent instead.

For more detailed information about what can be copyrighted, click here.

How can I apply for a copyright?

Applying for a copyright is easier than it seems.

  1. Decide what specific thing you want to apply the copyright to. Determine if the type of work qualifies – if it doesn’t fit into the categories mentioned above, you may want a patent or trademark instead.
  2. Complete the application form either online or by mailing a paper form. We recommend applying online because it is faster and more affordable.
  3. Include the correct fee. The next section breaks down the fees, but if you mail in a physical application make sure you include a money order or a check. The Copyright Office will not accept credit cards or cash for physical applications.
  4. Mail copies of the work being copyrighted with the application (unless you applied online) and the fee to the appropriate mailing address. Click here for a list of mailing addresses.
  5. The Copyright Office will receive your package, process your application, and mail you a certificate of copyright within four months if everything was done correctly.

How much will getting a copyright cost?

Applying for a copyright is affordable, but any appeals, record searching, record copying, or expedited service will cost you hundreds of dollars. Some services, such as record searching, you can do yourself for free.

The online application fee is the most affordable option. If you are applying for one piece, created by you, the fee is only $35. Otherwise, the fee is $55. The application fee for mailing in a physical form is $85.

For more detailed explanation of fees and services, click here.

For more information about the copyright process, visit the U.S. Copyright Office’s 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 $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

Applying for a loan can be stressful and confusing. The alternative lending world uses a lot of words and phrases that you may not be familiar with. We created this free resource for you so you can be more educated about your options and get your small business loan faster.

Applying for a loan can be stressful and confusing. The alternative lending world uses a lot of words and phrases that you may not be familiar with. We created this free resource for you so you can be more educated about your options and get your small business loan faster.

Alternative Lending Terms Dictionary

If you would like to jump to a specific term, please click here:

A C E F I L M P S T U W

 

A

Acquirer

An acquirer is a sales agent that works for an ISO(Independent Sales Organization) to find and new merchants – small business owners like you-to sign up with their associated ISO.

Alternative Lending

Alternative lending is financing options outside of a bank or credit union. Alternative lending options include Merchant Cash Advances, CDFI loans, Crowdfunding, etc. These types of alternative lending are good for small businesses who do not qualify for traditional loans from a bank or credit union. However, because the types of businesses rejected by banks are often “riskier” because of credit history or type of industry, alternative lending options are typically more expensive than traditional bank loans.

APR (Annual Percentage Rate)

An APR is the cost of the borrower’s credit as a yearly rate. APR includes all loan fees and interest. This can be a helpful indicator when comparing loans and is important for understanding the true cost of a loan.

 

C

Cash Flow Analysis

Cash flow is the flow of money in and out of your business. Keeping detailed records of all income and expenses helps you better manage your business’ finances. Cash flow analysis requires keeping records and copies of transactions and regularly checking where your money is going to see if you can continue to afford what/who you are paying.

Check out our blog post to read why doing cash flow analysis is important for your small business.

CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution)

CDFIs are alternative lenders who are dedicated to helping small businesses and their communities. These privately-owned institutions help fund community-driven businesses and nonprofits. Opportunity Fund is a CDFI.

For more information about CDFIs, check out Opportunity Finance Network’s website here.

Collateral

Collateral is any physical asset you have available to pledge to your loan. These assets often include cars, homes or other business properties that can be collected if you default on your loan. Typically, pledging collateral increases the likelihood of your loan being approved or the loan amount increasing.

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is a type of alternative funding that pools money from a group of people interested in investing in your business. These people can consist of family, friends, private investors, customers, and anyone who hears about your financial needs and wants to help. Crowdfunding can be donations or can offer rewards, such as a product or service.

 

D

Debt Service Coverage Ratio (DSCR)

A DSCR is calculated by dividing your total annual income by any current liabilities[jump link] that you are expected to pay back within the year. This ratio is one way lenders evaluate your ability to pay off a loan. A DSCR greater than 1 means that your business is able to pay off all of its current obligations. The difference between your DSCR and your DTI is that banks tend to refer to DTI for mortgages and car loans, while alternative lenders like Opportunity Fund tend to refer to DSCR.

Debt to Income Ratio (DTI)

A DTI is calculated by dividing your monthly debt payments by your monthly gross income. This ratio is one way lenders evaluate your ability to pay off a loan. The higher your DTI percentage is, the less likely you are to be approved. There is no set percentage that will disqualify you from getting a loan as it varies between lenders. The difference between your DSCR and your DTI is that banks tend to refer to DTI for mortgages and car loans, while alternative lenders like Opportunity Fund tend to refer to DSCR.

 

E

Employer Identification Number (EIN)

An EIN is a number that identifies your business to the IRS.

If your small business doesn’t have an EIN yet, you can apply for one for free and learn more about EINs here.

 

F

FICO Score

A FICO score is a number assigned by credit agencies that takes into account your personal past and current debt to determine your creditworthiness. Even though your FICO score is a personal credit score, it is one of many things a lender might look at when deciding if you qualify for a loan.

Fiscal Year

A fiscal year is a year in business that is not tied to the traditional January 1 through December 31 calendar year. This happens because some businesses have cycles that don’t end when the calendar does, such as retail shops that have big sales in December and big returns in January or schools who set their fiscal year to begin when classes do. In the United States, businesses have the option of either filing taxes on a fiscal year or calendar year.

 

I

ISO (Independent Sales Organization)

An ISO is a third party company, like Opportunity Fund, that works with small business owners by providing Merchant Services. They act as the liaison between you and Merchant Processing organizations like First Data, VISA, Mastercard etc.

ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number)

An ITIN is a number used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for tax purposes. It is issued when an individual does not, or can not, have a Social Security Number (SSN). The IRS issues ITINs regardless of immigration status, as long as you are required to file taxes in the United States.

For more information, check out the IRS’s webpage here.

 

L

Liabilities

Liabilities are financial obligations your business has accrued over time and has not paid off. Liabilities are classified as either current (expected to be settled/ending within the fiscal year) or long-term (expected to take longer than a year to be settled/ended).Examples of liabilities are salaries and wages, mortgages, current unpaid debt, interest owed on debt, income taxes, lawsuits, bonds, warranty liability, and other outstanding expenses.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

An LLC is a legal entity that may own a business and assign authority to an individual to act on behalf of the business. Many people choose to set up a corporation to protect their personal assets from legal risk associated with owning a business.

Line of Credit

A line of credit is a steady stream of capital[jump link]. If your small business has a line of credit, it can pull out more money and repay it as needed. A business line of credit is similar to your personal credit card. This financing option is a good way to build credit, but it may require collateral.

 

M

MCA (Merchant Cash Advance)

A merchant cash advance is an alternative lending option. MCAs are not traditional loans because the money you receive comes from your future sales. You repay an MCA through a percentage of each sale made with a debit or credit card.

Check out our blog post here to see how MCAs are bad for your small business and contact us if you need to refinance your MCA.

Microfinance

Microfinance is an industry that provides both small and big business loans outside of traditional banks. Microfinance is also loan amounts much smaller than traditional banks. Where a bank might define small business loans as 250K or higher, microfinance can consist of loans much smaller.

The difference between microfinance and alternative lending is that alternative lending is a category of lenders, while microfinance is a type of service that may be offered by alternative lenders.

 

P

Prime Rate

A prime loan rate is a standard rate of interest set by the federal government. A lot of lending institutions will use the prime rate either as a guide for determining their own interest rates or set their interest rates to the federal standard.

Private Corporation

A private corporation is a legal entity that may own a business and assign authority to an individual to act on behalf of the business. Many people choose to set up a corporation to protect their personal assets from legal risk associated with owning a business.

Profit

Profit is the money your business makes from sales after any costs have been subtracted. Profit is also called net income. The difference between profit and revenue is that revenue is the total earnings before subtracting any costs.

 

R

Revenue

Revenue is the money your business makes from the sale of goods and services. The difference between revenue and profit is that revenue is the total earnings before subtracting any costs.

 

S

SBA (Small Business Administration)

Since 1953, the SBA has helped and protected the interests of small businesses across the United States. The SBA offers financial aid, government contracts, disaster assistance, counseling, and regional events.

Check out California’s SBA branch for more information here.

Sole Proprietor

A sole proprietor is a person who owns a small business in its entirety when they have not set up an LLC or Partnership. This individual is responsible for major decisions regarding the business’ operations and assumes all the risk is the business is in trouble. This means you!

Small Business

A small business is a company that typically generates less than 5 million dollars in revenue each year and has fewer than 100 employees. These numbers may vary between sources.

Small businesses are different from startups[jump link] because they are generally more stable, have been operating for longer, target a much smaller market, and get financing through loans rather than investors.

Small Business Borrowers Bill of Rights

This Bill of Rights was designed by Opportunity Fund and other alternative lenders to protect small business owners, like you, from predatory and irresponsible lenders. If you’re considering a loan from an alternative lender[jump link], make sure they have signed it.

Check out our blog post for specific details about what the Small Business Borrowers Bill of Rights covers.

Startup

A startup is a type of business. Definitions differ from a certain kind of company culture, a number of employees or board members, certain amounts of revenue, or even degree of innovation and impact. In general, a startup is a company that is new (from a few weeks to a few years) but aiming for rapid growth.

Startup companies are different from small businesses because they typically target a wider market, pursue rapid growth instead of stable establishment, and get financing through investors rather than loans.

 

T

Term Loan

A term loan is the most common kind of loan available to small businesses. This type of loan has fixed interest rate, fixed repayment time, and fixed number of payments. Term loans can vary in length from a few months to a few years. These are called short-term loans and long-term loans.

U

Underbanked

Being underbanked means your small business does not have the financing it needs. An underbanked business has little or no access to capital and has a significantly harder time growing.

Check out our blog post for a more in-depth definition about what being underbanked means for your small business and your community.

Underwriting

Underwriting is the process of reviewing your financial background and ability to repay a loan. This process usually begins once you’ve sent in all the documents requested by a loan officer. They then pass your loan file to a trained specialist to review and determine if it meets the lender’s requirements to issue a loan.

W

Working Capital

Working Capital is money a business needs to run the day to day operations. This money can be used for purchasing inventory or supplies, paying employees and vendors, etc.

 

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

It is hard to run your own small business, but it is easier if you have help. Networking and getting support from organizations can help you grow your business. Our content partner Nav wants to share these five resources for women who run their own businesses.

It is hard to run your own small business, but it is easier if you have help. Networking and getting support from organizations can help you grow your business. Our content partner Nav.com wants to share these five resources for women who run their own businesses.

As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to get wrapped up in your business. Yet, whether you’re starting a business or trying to take your current business to the next level, it’s important to build a strong network and take advantage of all available resources. A great way to do that is to tap into organizations for business owners.

Joining an organization can help you grow your network, connect you with a mentor, give you access to helpful tools to support your business, and can even connect you with funding sources—and help you make a greater impact on your community and beyond. Which can be so much better than going it alone.

There’s a vast number of great organizations for women business owners—and it’s likely there are many groups that cater specifically to your industry. But here are a few to consider to get you started.

  • National Association of Women Business Owners

Joining the National Association of Women Business Owners connects you with an established community of women entrepreneurs. It has 5,000 members nationally, with 60 chapters across the country. It provides resources to help you run your business day to day, and gives you tools to help grow your business.

There’s a $100 initiation fee to join, plus a tiered monthly fee.

NAWBO says 35% of its members are in the professional, scientific, and technical services sectors.

  • Center for Women and Enterprise

The Center for Women and Enterprise is a nonprofit organization that helps women start and grow their businesses. It offers education, training, technical assistance, and women’s business enterprise certification. The CWE has locations in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont, but its website also offers online courses on how to start your own business, how to get angel funding, and more.

CWE says 52% of its participants go on to start a business, 35% improve their financial situation, and 85% come away with a better understanding of business and entrepreneurship. That’s something you’ll want to get in on.

  • Women’s Venture Fund

Since 1994, the Women’s Venture Fund—which is a Certified Community Development Financial Institution—has helped women launch more than 3,200 small businesses in urban communities by offering entrepreneurial training, technical assistance, advisory services, and small loans.

The WVF notes that one challenge women entrepreneurs face is that traditional lenders, such as banks, “undervalue women’s work experience and often cite lack of adequate credit history as the basis for rejecting women for credit, especially since most women seek loans that are less than $100,000.”

Currently, the WVF works with women in the New York City metropolitan area to help them map out a plan to build and grow their businesses.

  • The SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership offers women entrepreneurs business training and counseling, as well as access to credit and capital, marketing opportunities, and federal contracts. There are thousands of locations in the U.S. where women business owners can tap into these resources.

Each center tailors its offerings to the needs of the community, but they all provide training in finance, management, and marketing, too.

  • International Women’s Forum

The International Women’s Forum is an organization of established women leaders in business, government, arts organizations, philanthropy, research, and many other sectors—on a global scale. It’s composed of more than 6,400 members from 35 countries. In addition to its annual meetings, which serve to grow leadership opportunities for women, it also offers an executive development roundtable, as well as mentoring and fellows programs.

If you want to participate in furthering women’s leadership on a global level, this is a powerful group to be involved with. Membership with IWF is by invitation only, but you can inquire about becoming a candidate.

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

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 email management resources.

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 email management resources.

One of the most used modes of communication is email, and making the most of email can help your small business attract and retain more customers. We’ve compiled this list of five affordable online tools you can use to become a master of email management. From writing emails to scheduling campaigns, this list has you covered.  

 

How much it costs: Free for up to 5,000 contacts and 15,000 emails per month

What it does: If your small business does any kind of email marketing, you will probably want a service that helps you send out lots of emails when you need them sent. Reachmail is a great tool that is affordable and easy-to-use. Up to 5,000 contacts and 15,000 emails per month should cover all of your small business email needs, but you can upgrade your account starting at $10 a month if you need more. In addition to creating and scheduling email campaigns, Reachmail offers free training webinars, instant sharing capabilities to Twitter and Facebook, simple spam checkers for your message content, and downloadable reports that let you see how your campaigns are doing.

 

How much it costs: Free

What it does: BeeFree is an easy-to-use tool for designing beautiful emails for your small business. Choose from a few layouts and customize them to your marketing needs. This tool is especially useful if you don’t send enough emails to need a separate email marketing service, like some of the other free tools shared in this post, because you can easily send out the emails you create with BeeFree from your own email. Once you design your email, click the “Send Test” button and enter in your small business email. From there you can simply forward the email (after deleting all the “Forwarded Message:” junk) to all the addresses you need to send it to. It’s that easy!

 

How much it costs: Free for up to 300 contacts and 4,000 emails per month

What it does: VerticalResponse is another great email marketing service that helps you send out automated campaigns. Unlike Reachmail, this tool’s free option is a lot smaller but has different additional services. VerticalResponse could be a better option is you don’t need to send thousands of emails every month. These other features include subscriber buttons and welcome emails for your newsletters, automatic resizing to different device screens, easy-to-read reports to check the success of your email campaigns, and a detailed drag-and-drop email designer.

 

How much it costs: Free

What it does: Boomerang is an amazing plugin for Gmail. What this means is that if you use Google as your small business’ email client, you can add Boomerang and seamlessly integrate its services directly to your Gmail. Boomerang offers three big services. You can send emails later, selecting when exactly you want the email to be sent, which is useful for small marketing campaigns and sending emails exactly when you need them to be read. You can also set reminders to follow up with emails if you haven’t heard back from them within your specified time frame – no more emails that get buried in your inbox! If you need to reply an email at a later date, this awesome tool will send it back to your inbox marked
“Unread” when you need it.

 

How much it costs: Free for up to 1,000 contacts and unlimited emails

What it does: Unlike other email marketing services, MailerLite gives you access to all of its features in the free basic package. The upgradable options only increase how many contacts you can send emails to. This free tool is best if your small business sends out a lot of emails every month to a limited number of contacts. Mailerlite works on both desktop and mobile devices. Extra features that really make this service amazing include options to resend emails to contacts that didn’t open their email, AB testing for different layouts, autoresponder emails, click maps to see where your contacts click on your emails, campaign reports, embedded webforms to get your customers to easily fill out forms, subscribe pop-ups for your small business website, lots of customizable templates, free photo editor, and advanced RSS campaigns if you’re tech savvy.

 

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

If your small business is not properly licensed to operate, you may be in legal trouble. It can be stressful and confusing to find accurate information about licensing. Our content partner Nav shares a comprehensive list of resources for each state along with a useful helpfulness rating.

If your small business is not properly licensed to operate, you may be in legal trouble. It can be stressful and confusing to find accurate information about licensing. Our content partner Nav.com shares a comprehensive list of resources for each state as of February 2015 along with a useful helpfulness rating.

Earlier this week we wrote a Review of License123, and determined that in California (where our business is located), it was not worth the $99 fee that License123 charges for business licensing information. Instead, business owners in California can use CalGold to get even more business licensing requirements than License123 offers. In fact, License123 actually gave us incomplete information.

After testing License123 and our discovery of the CalGold website, we were interested in finding out if every state offers something similar to CalGold. We found out that most states don’t have such a comprehensive business licensing search website. Some do (such as New York and Oregon), others have a “one-stop” business registration website that includes permitting and licenses, and still others have a dedicated page directing business owners to contact their local town or city clerk for business licensing information.

We decided to compile a list of business licensing resources by state to get business owners across the country going in the right direction. Along the way we found a few other licensing resources worth mentioning:

  • CityApplications.com: City Applications has contact info at the city-level for business license and permitting information. This is helpful because the licenses your business will might all be local requirements!
  • SBA.com: SmallBusinessAdvice.com has information on starting and running a business, including business permitting and licensing information by state. For some states the information isn’t available, but others, SBA.com will direct you to the appropriate state website for permitting and licensing information.
  • SBA.gov: The Small Business Administration has a link to each state’s permitting information. This wasn’t very useful in our case — some of the links are broken, others just lead you to a general state government website, but it does seem useful for some states.
  • Your local SBDC or town/city clerk: If you ask a SCORE mentor, they will likely tell you that this is the best place to start, and in many cases this is true. Many of the licenses/permits you may need to start your business are city-level permits. Your city clerk should have a full list of licenses you will need, and this is the best way to make sure you have covered all your bases.

Here are the business licensing resources we compiled for each state:

 

  • Extremely helpful: this is “CalGold” standard — a website along the lines of a searchable database that gives you all the permits you will need for your business.
  • Very helpful: offer a “one-stop” launch your business portal with licensing information included.
  • Helpful: offer many licenses/permits online, but are not complete — see your local city clerk for complete license information.
  • Somewhat helpful: most-likely only helpful for businesses that know what they are looking for — some of these sites offer contact information for your local state department authorities.
  • Not very helpful: there are very few or no online resources offered — for these websites it’s best to go straight to the county or city clerk.

 

State Resource URLs Helpful?* What does the resources offer?
Alabama Alabama Revenue Website: Licensing Not very helpful This site just links to other websites or resources. Not comprehensive, need to visit or contact local city clerk’s office
Alaska Alaska Commerce Department: Licensing

Alaska Professional Licensing

Helpful This Commerce Department website does not have permit forms listed. It tells you that you will need a business license that is specific to your NAICS code. The second link is for professional licensing — it is comprehensive, with licensing info for ~50 different professions, and links to the appropriate license.
Arizona AZcommerce.com Helpful This is a small business checklist. It is pretty useful. There is a drop-down menu directing you to choose what aspect of your business you need help with: starting, operating, or growing your business. They offer quick links to licensing offices at the state, county, and city level. They also have FAQs
Arkansas Arkansas.gov: Professional Licensing Not very helpful This provides links to downloadable professional license applications — it is a resource for business owners that already know what licenses their businesses need. For beginners seeking Arkansas permits, we would suggest contacting your local city or county clerk for permiting and license information.
California CalGold Extremely helpful CalGold is wonderful. It is a comprehensive, searchable database of what your business will need to operate in a specific county of California. We would recommend using this but also double checking with a county/city authority once you are done to make sure you have all your bases covered.
Colorado Colorado Occupational License Database Helpful This is pretty comprehensive — select your industry and this site will give you a full list of what you will need at the federal, state, and local level.
Connecticut CT’s Business Response Center Helpful This is pretty comprehensive — search by keyword, agency, or trade. Shows a list of what permits/licenses you will need and what department requires the permit.
Delaware Delaware One Stop Business Registration & Licensing Very helpful This is a one-stop business registration and licensing website — 100% online.
Florida Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation Somewhat helpful This allows you to see permit/license requirements via links. You must choose your business category, this site will not tell you exactly what you need based on your business. Some business categories have an online application process.
Georgia Georgia USA SMB Resource Directory Helpful The Georgia Secretary of State has an online licensing application process for many types of businesses. This allows you to do professional (personal) or business (physical) permits online. There is also a small business help website (georgia.org). This is pretty helpful, but a bit confusing (many links to many different pages, unclear what they exactly want, etc).
Hawaii Hawai’i Professional and Vocational Licensing

Hawai’i Business Express

Helpful Hawai’i PVL allows you to request professional licenses by industry. There is also Hawai’i Business Express, which allows you to register your business online. They have a technical support chat room available, which was pretty helpful to me. For more info on local permits, they suggest contacting the Business Action Center at 808-586-2545.
Idaho Idaho Biz Help Very helpful This page contains a link to Idaho’s “Biz Wizard,” which takes you through a survey about your business, ending in a checklist of items you will need to open your business’s door. NOTE: they mention that their list may not be comprehensive, so it’s best to check with local city clerk as well.
Illinois Illinois.gov: Registration, LIcenses, & Permits Not very helpful There is no search function here, just a bunch of links. A lot of the links direct you to city-level websites that contain more specific permit/license information
Indiana Indiana.gov: Starting your Business Requirements Not very helpful Indiana has this long, wordy PDF about business licensing information, which may or may not be up-to-date. We would suggest going straight to your city/county clerk for more information about starting a business in your area.
Iowa Iowa Source Link Helpful This is a searchable list of license information with links to department contact information.
Kansas NetWork Kansas: Registering a business Helpful Kansas has a website sponsored by the Kansas Department of Commerce that is meant to help people start a business. They have a PDF of contact information (by department) for many types of business activities
Kentucky Kentucky One-Stop Business Portal Helpful This is a one-stop business registration and licensing website — 100% online.
Louisiana Louisiana.gov: Professional & Occupational LIcenses Helpful Searchable list of professional and occupational licenses, with links to the department’s website that requires the license, and the application form if available online.
Maine Maine.gov: Business Licensing Somewhat helpful This site has a lot of useful permit and licensing resources. They have links to some common general licenses on the page, as well as a link to the local government portal for local licenses, and a link to business resources by profession.
Maryland Maryland Business License Information System Helpful This is pretty comprehensive — search by keyword, industry, or local county resources. Shows a list of what permits/licenses you will need and what department requires the permit.
Massachusetts Mass.gov: Division of Professional Licensure Not very helpful These Massachusetts websites essentially direct you to local departments for license and permitting information. There is a link for professional licensing contact information (by department) and local city hall contact information.
Michigan Michigan State License Search Very helpful Michigan has a searchable licensing website – start typing the category your business falls under in the search bar and you will see results. The results page will also tell you what other possible licenses you might need.
Minnesota License Minnesota Very helpful Select what type of license you need from the drop-down menu (options contain both business and professional licensing) and select your subtopics. The end result is a list of forms you will need and in some cases an online application process.
Mississippi Mississippi Small Business Development Center Not very helpful MIssissippi’s online resources aren’t very straight forward — we would suggest going to a Mississippi SBDC office or your town/city clerk.
Missouri Missouri Business Development Program: Licenses and Registration Checklist Somewhat helpful Missouri also has limited online information, although they do have a bunch of “business profiles” detailing what license + permits you may need for your specific business. After checking the profiles, make sure to go to your local town clerk to check that you’ve filled out all the right licenses.
Montana Montana E-Stop Business Licenses Not very helpful Montana offers a few general state licenses that you can apply to online, but for local/county permits and licenses you will need to visit your local city clerk.
Nebraska Nebraska One-Stop Business Registration Information Very helpful This is a one-stop business registration website.
Nevada Nevada Silver Flume Business Portal Very helpful This is a one-stop business registration website.
New Hampshire New Hampshire Business One Stop Very helpful This is a one-stop business registration website. It takes you through a questionnaire to complete your business registration and permitting.
New Jersey New Jersey Business Portal Somewhat helpful There is no information about specific permits on this website, but for many popular business types this is an easy way to find exactly who to contact in your local city about licenses and permits.
New Mexico New Mexico Regulation & Licensing Department Not very helpful This website offers general state-level online permit/license applications, but local -level permitting will need to be done at the city clerk’s office.
New York New York License Center: Business Wizard Extremely helpful New York’s Business Wizard is great, an easy way to search for New York’s business requirements in your area.
North Carolina Business Link North Carolina Somewhat helpful Business Link North Carolina just says that the best way to access business licensing info is to contact one of their reps via the phone. Also offers a variety of links by department and a planning checklist.
North Dakota NDSBDC: Starting a Biz in ND

NDSU: Licenses required of businesses in the state of ND

Somewhat helpful North Dakota has a “business checklist” that directs you to different governmental sites for each step in establishing your business, including a new business registration and licensing site. North Dakota State University also offers a list of license requirements and contact information by governmental department.
Ohio Ohio.gov: Starting a Business Somewhat helpful This site has 2 downloadable PDFs to get you started launching your business. You are encouraged to also contact a local Small Business Developement Center.
Oklahoma Oklahoma State Business Registration System Very helpful Oklahoma has an online system for you to create an account, answer some questions about your business and determine what licenses and permits you will need.
Oregon LicenseInfo.Oregon.gov Very helpful This site allows you to search by keyword for licenses you seek, search popular licenses
Pennsylvania PA Biz Online Very helpful This is a one-stop business registration and service licensing website — 100% online.
Rhode Island Rhode Island Dept of Business Regulation Helpful Rhode Island has an online licensing process for certain businesses and repair shops, but not all. If you do not find your specified business, you will need to visit a local city clerk’s office for forms and registration.
South Carolina South Carolina Business One Stop Very helpful This site offers a business portal for registering your business, as well as a page about licensing information.
South Dakota SDReadyToWork.com: Licensing and Registering Your Business Helpful South Dakota has a 60-page business licensing and permitting guide, organized by the department that requires the license. There are no license applications in this document. For applications you will need to contact the department and a local city clerk.
Tennessee Tennessee Smart Start Small Business Guide Somewhat helpful Tennessee offers a lengthy, but useful small business guide for new and existing businesses. For licensing, it directs you to a local city clerk’s office for more information.
Texas Texas.gov: Occupational LIcenses & Permits Not very helpful This Texas website has occupational licenses and permits for a variety of occupations. The links on this site direct you to a specific state department page with more information.
Utah Utah Once Stop Online Business Registration Extremely helpful This is a business “one stop” registration shop, which allows you to organize all registration forms. This is very helpful, because it also provides local licensing information and forms that must be returned to your municipality.
Vermont Vermont Permitting & Compliance Somewhat helpful This Vermont resources is a list of professions that require state or federal licenses. Be sure to check with your local clerk to check if there are any additional requirements!
Virginia Virginia Business One Stop Somewhat helpful This is a business “one stop” shop, but instead of a questionnaire sheet, this just contains links and step-by-step instructions on how to establish a business.
Washington Washington DOL: Business & Professional Licenses Not very helpful This site has “how-to’s” for getting and renewing various professional licenses, although the number of professions they offer information for is limited. We suggest that businesses in Washington go to their local city or town clerk for more information on business licenses.
West Virginia Business4WestVirginia.com Very helpful This site allows you to search professional and occupational licenses by category, regulatory permits by category, and all types of licenses and permits by keyword. It is pretty helpful, but it’s not government affiliated so it might not be up-to-date. It’s best to check with your local city clerk after going through this site.
Wisconsin Wisconsin Dept. of Safety and Professional Services: License/Permit/Registration Somewhat helpful This Wisconsin website offers professional licensing information, but for your actual business licenses you will need to visit a local city clerk for more information.
Wyoming Wyoming Business Permit Booklet Very helpful Wyoming has a 60-page business licensing and permitting guide with a whole slew of contact information for every department and local county offices.

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 $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

Merchant Cash Advances can debilitate your small business and keep you trapped in a debt cycle. NerdWallet explains how this cycle happens, how you can get your small business out of the cycle, and how to find affordable and trustworthy loans.

By Teddy Nykiel, Nerdwallet

Merchant Cash Advances can debilitate your small business and keep you trapped in a debt cycle. NerdWallet explains how this cycle happens, how you can get your small business out of the cycle, and how to find affordable and trustworthy loans.

Jasmine Wolf, owner of the Los Angeles mobile food vendor The Lobos Truck, was in a common predicament for many small-business owners. She couldn’t get a bank loan, but she desperately needed cash to keep up with her growing business, which went from one truck to four in a single year.

She started taking out merchant cash advances, a form of financing in which the lender advances a certain amount of cash in exchange for a percentage of future sales. But the high daily and weekly payments bogged down her business finances.

“It was really difficult for me to ever get enough ahead to be able to do anything fast,” Wolf says.

So she found a middle ground between traditional bank loans and MCAs: online small-business loans. She refinanced several high-interest debts with a six-figure small-business loan and line of credit from online lender Dealstruck. She got a lower interest rate, a longer term and more financing to purchase a new truck and launch a retail line of The Lobos Truck signature hot sauces.

Photo credit to BBQ Bus

The Lobos Truck in Los Angeles serves up angel wings. Owner Jasmine Wolf refinanced a merchant cash advance with funding from Dealstruck.

Small business owners like Wolf are getting rid of MCAs and other expensive loans by refinancing their debt with online small-business loans. Small-business owners with merchant cash advances in particular have a big incentive to refinance because MCAs often have triple-digit annual percentage rates. (Read more about why merchant cash advances can be bad for your business.)

Around one-third of Dealstruck’s borrowers use their loans to refinance business debt, says Candace Klein, the lender’s chief strategy officer. And up to a fourth of Fundation’s loans go toward debt refinancing, a spokesman said in an email. SmartBiz, an online lender offering SBA loans, has noticed more borrowers using loans to refinance business debt, including merchant cash advances, general manager Evan Singer said in an email.

If you have a merchant cash advance, here are some reasons to refinance and tips on how to do it.

Reasons to refinance a merchant cash advance

Lowering your borrowing cost: MCAs are a fast form of financing, but they’re also extremely expensive. The annual percentage rates can range from 60% to 200%, according to a 2014 white paper by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. Online small-business loans are still more expensive than bank loans, but they’re a lot less expensive than MCAs. APRs for online small-business loans range from 7% to 113%.

Lengthening your term: Merchant cash advances typically have short terms, from three to 24 months. But short-term financing solutions shouldn’t be used for long- or even medium-term business investments, says Caitlin McShane, marketing and communications director at the California nonprofit lender Opportunity Fund. California-based businesses can refinance merchant cash advances through Opportunity Fund’s EasyPay loan program, which offers 36-month terms.

Boosting your business credit: Merchant cash advance companies can’t report to credit bureaus because MCAs aren’t structured as loans, according to an Opportunity Fund article published by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco in 2015. So even if you repay your MCAs on time, your business credit score won’t improve. Some online small-business lenders, but not all, report to business credit bureaus. If you want to build your business credit with small-business loans, work with a lender that reports and make all your payments on time.

How to refinance a merchant cash advance

Although banks offer the lowest-rate small-business loans, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to get a bank loan to refinance an MCA. After all, if you’ve turned to a merchant cash advance, you probably wouldn’t qualify for a bank loan in the first place. Plus, banks consider the use of MCAs a “red flag” for a business, Klein says.

Online lenders that offer term loans are typically willing to help you refinance even if you’ve had an MCA or two. But having more than three at a time is a possible red flag for Dealstruck, Klein says. Having multiple MCAs can also count as a strike against you when applying for a loan from online small-business lenders Fundation and Lighter Capital.

Once you choose a lender, the process of refinancing is very similar to getting a small-business loan from scratch. The lender will underwrite you based on your creditworthiness and ability to repay the new loan. In most cases, if you’re approved, the lender will use the term loan to pay off your outstanding MCA balance. Dealstruck typically supplements the term loan with a line of credit to give borrowers extra cash to cover the expenses they used the MCA to pay for in the first place.

Photo credit to BBQ Bus

Green dragon “wachos” (waffle fry nachos) are also on offer at The Lobos Truck.

Next March, Wolf will celebrate four years in business with The Lobos Truck. She hopes to get a bank loan someday, and the Dealstruck loans have been a step in that direction. Still, she doesn’t regret taking the MCAs because they gave her money to grow when she needed it.

“We’re where we are today is because we took those risks,” she says. “I don’t like paying [more] for my money, but if I have to, I will.”

Find and compare small-business loans

If you’re looking for business debt refinancing options, NerdWallet has come up with a list of the best small-business loans to meet your needs and goals. We gauged lender trustworthiness, market scope and user experience, among other factors, and arranged them by categories that include your revenue and how long you’ve been in business.

Compare business loans

To get more information about funding options and compare them for your small business, visit NerdWallet’s small-business loans page. For free, personalized answers to questions about financing your business, visit the Small Business section of NerdWallet’s Ask an Advisor page.

 

This article originally appeared on Nerdwallet.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

Rosa Lara started a daycare business to support her family and care for the children in her hometown of Harbor City. Thanks to three small business loans from Opportunity Fund, Loving Day Care has grown into a thriving home-based daycare with big plans to expand.

Our customers inspire us every day, and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too.  This week, read about Rosa Lara of Loving Day Care in Harbor City. Rosa started her daycare business to support her family and care for the children in her hometown. Thanks to three small business loans from Opportunity Fund, Loving Day Care has grown into a thriving home-based daycare with big plans to expand.

Working Toward a Better Life

Rosa Lara came to America with a dream to make a better life for her and her children. She put everything she had into her plans to build a daycare business.

Rosa sent her young daughter to daycare while she worked as a housekeeper at the church where she lived. Working, taking night classes at UCLA Extension, and learning English while caring for her daughter was a grind, but it set Rosa up for success in starting her own business.

“I thought that I could start a business,” she said. “My own business could help me bring my other kids to America from El Salvador.”

She moved into her current home six years ago, where she established Loving Day Care. The house had space for her and her four children, as well as for 14 children in the daycare, but the property needed a lot of work to provide top notch home-based childcare. That’s when Rosa called Opportunity Fund.

Caring For Kids in Her Community

Rosa started Loving Day Care with credit cards and her own savings. When she needed additional capital for improvements to the house and grounds, she was met with little cooperation.

“No matter how well my business was doing, my bank didn’t want to help me,” she said. “They denied my request for credit. Other institutions asked for too much collateral. Everyone denied me for one reason or another.”

Rosa got in touch with Opportunity Fund loan consultant Armando Cruz, who gave her an opportunity where other funding sources could not. Together they worked on her loan documents and Armando was able to approve Loving Day Care’s first loan of $6,000 for improvements to the daycare kitchen and living room.

Rosa Lara - Loving Day Care

Rosa poses in the living room at her in-home daycare (photo courtesy of ROF Industries)

“I called Armando and two days later he was here at my door,” she said. ‘He approved my loan in one week.”

Rosa was able to pay off her first loan quickly and applied for a second loan of $10,000 for more improvements, including a playground and a swimming pool in the backyard. The successful lending partnership continues with a third loan of $20,000, which helped pay for educational software, a computer and tablet, and cribs for the babies.

Loving Day Care is a family business: Rosa runs the business with her four children and one assistant. Rosa sees the next stage of the day care’s growth as a dance studio where her three daughters can teach free dance lessons for children in the neighborhood. She hopes to work with us again to build the studio.

“I am very thankful for Opportunity Fund,” she said. “They are helping me give my kids a better life.”

We’re happy to help Rosa care for Harbor City kids and honored to help her family business grow.

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 Saturday is a special day dedicated to supporting small businesses like yours. The day after Black Friday is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the surge of holiday shopping and boost your sales. Read more for some easy tips to help you prepare for the start of the holiday season.

Small Business Saturday is a special day dedicated to supporting small businesses like yours. The day after Black Friday is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the surge of holiday shopping and boost your sales. Read more for some easy tips to help you prepare for the start of the holiday season.

For the past six years, small businesses have been celebrating their own version of Black Friday. Joining in Small Business Saturday as a marketing strategy has been very successful at bringing in sales and new customers who want to buy local and support their communities.

Whether you sell artisan gifts, run a restaurant or cafe, provide daycare services, or style people’s hair, taking advantage of Small Business Saturday will be beneficial to growing your small business. All industries can benefit. After all, tired shoppers need somewhere to take a lunch break!

These tips will help you prepare for Small Business Saturday

  1. Take a look at last year’s sales for Black Friday weekend. Doing this simple step will help you better prepare for Small Business Saturday so you don’t overestimate or under prepare for this year. You don’t want to find yourself understaffed during a big rush or paying for holiday marketing that doesn’t bring in enough customers.
  2. Planning early saves money. If you put off holiday preparations, you are more stressful. This can lower your productivity, increase the chance of something getting forgotten, and potentially cost you money for last-minute purchases. It’s much cheaper to order holiday marketing materials and decorations when your vendors don’t need to rush your order.
  3. Consider hiring holiday help. If your business is especially busy during the holidays and need extra help, make sure to hire and train them before Small Business Saturday. If they are trained before the big rush of Black Friday weekend, you will also be able to better serve the early shoppers! Hiring temporary workers will alleviate the stress of the holidays, and you’ll be able to spend more time with your family.
  4. Have a Small Business Saturday sale. Your small business may not be able to offer deep discounts like big chains can for Black Friday, but small discounts or coupons will improve sales. Everyone likes a good deal! Emphasize the urgency of your limited time offer to push potential customers that last inch.
  5. Start promoting now. Posting on your Facebook page the week of Small Business Saturday isn’t going to help much. Start queuing up your social media posts, reaching out to local shopping bloggers for a feature, and advertising your Small Business Saturday sales now. This will reach a wider audience and remind people to come support you on Small Business Saturday before they already make plans.
  6. Keep a countdown. Whether you mark the days down to Small Business Saturday on social media or in your place of business, remind customers of the upcoming sales during the whole month of November. Getting involved in the Small Business Saturday hype will spread awareness to new customers and entice them to come back!
  7. Stock up on inventory and supplies. There’s nothing more discouraging to a customer than finding out that what they want is out of stock. Calculate how much additional stock you’ll need to meet demand from previous years’ performance. This includes leasing additional equipment. Order early so everything arrives on time. If you need a loan to make sure you have the working capital you need for the holidays, contact us today for fast, easy-to-get loans.

 

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

Opportunity Fund loan consultant Osbaldo Velazquez was recently featured on KLAA Community Cares, an Anaheim-based radio program that addresses issues and organizations from the Southern California area that impact the community. KLAA Community Cares host Tammy Trujillo featured Osbaldo and one of the small business borrowers he’s helped with financing, David Anderson. David sells products at home shows, events, and convention centers.

Opportunity Fund loan consultant Osbaldo Velazquez was recently featured on KLAA Community Cares, an Anaheim-based radio program that addresses issues and organizations from the Southern California area that impact the community. KLAA Community Cares host Tammy Trujillo featured Osbaldo and one of the small business borrowers he’s helped with financing, David Anderson. David sells products at home shows, events, and convention centers.

Here are some highlights from the broadcast:

The importance of shopping local

David Anderson: Opportunity Fund can help because having a little bit of access to just some capital, to maybe make some new signs, you know? If I want to make some signs, they cost a few hundred dollars and on a given week I may not have that few hundred dollars to invest in some new signs.

If I can get some working capital, a small loan from somebody, like Opportunity Fund, then I’m more able to invest that extra hundred bucks this week, an extra two hundred bucks that week, in growing my marketing presence. I can reallocate my resources a little bit.

It gives you a little breathing room and a little flexibility to make different decisions that maybe you wouldn’t be able to make because otherwise you’re hand to mouth to a certain degree.

Tammy Trujillo: Where would we be without small businesses? They’re everywhere. I love going to family owned owned businesses because you get a lot of great attention from them. They have products you don’t find sometimes. I like it because I know when I buy [something], I’m helping them out.

David: I often say, if you want a strong economy, spend some dollars locally. I live in Huntington Beach and when I do our street fair there, the income I get goes back to the restaurants and the shops in town because that’s where I get my coffee on a Tuesday morning.

How to get started in small business

Tammy:  Is [now] a good time to start a small business?

Osbaldo Velazquez: I think it’s always a good time to start a business if it’s something that you like and that you want to do. I think you should pursue your dreams. This is the beauty about our country. There are a lot of resources here that support the growth of a small business. It’s easy to start a business, compared to some other countries. In Latin America, to start a business, formally and officially, it might take more than a month. Here, you can go to the county recorder, file a fictitious business name and start a business that way. Depending on the type of business you’re going to start, [you might need] a permit at the city where you’re going to operate, depending on the product or service that you’re going to sell. If you’re going to purchase products for resale, then you’re going to want to get a reseller’s permit with the state.

Those permits are relatively easy to get. The processes are simple. Again, it comes back to the fact that our country supports entrepreneurship because of the economic impact it has in all of us, in all of our local communities and the city and the state and the country.

It’s what makes this country great, to be able to sell and create. It is always a good time to start. There are seasons during the year or during different economic cycles that it might become harder, [like] after the recession. In some instances, it’s even a necessity. Here in southern California, where we have a lot of immigration, especially from Mexico and Latin America, there are a lot of immigrants that come here and start a business because out of need. They might not know the language but they know they have some skill to start a small food business, [for example]. [Many] businesses that have been started by immigrants become big businesses [and even] become corporations.

What to look for in a lender

Osbaldo: The important thing is to go to the resources that support small businesses and avoid other “opportunities” that can provide quick money without a lot of process and paperwork. In the small print or no print at all, [they find out that they signed up for] high cost loans.

You must navigate the waters carefully. Follow your passion and access [community] resources like Opportunity Fund. Do your comparison between the different types of products [for] capital. Compare the lending costs and make an informed decision so that you can have the best resources available to support the growth of your business.

Listen to the full broadcast on our SoundCloud channel here.


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

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