Traditional lenders said no to Aurora when she applied for business loans, but we said yes. Read how we helped transform her business and stay on time with her payments.

Our customers inspire us every day, and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too.  This week, read about Aurora Garibay of Bridal & Tuxedo World in Watsonville. Traditional lenders said no to Aurora when she applied for business loans, but we said yes. Read how we helped transform her business and stay on time with her payments.

Formalizing the Business

Aurora Garibay started as an entrepreneur by making and selling flower arrangements in her home in Watsonville. When she heard about a bridal shop for sale through a contact at El Pajaro Community Development Center, she took a chance and purchased her first storefront business in 2010.

Aurora runs that business, Bridal & Tuxedo World on Main Street, with her sister. Aurora handles sales and rentals plus customer service while her sister does alterations for garments. Even with 10 years in the business and a highly visible shop, times were tough for Aurora.

“I needed to stock up on inventory months head of the bridal and first holy communion season,” Aurora said. “I applied at several banks. All of them said I didn’t qualify because of my low credit score.”

The Opportunity Fund micro lending team connected with her was able to provide fast financing for her business.

Opportunity Fund Says “Yes” to Small Business

Loan consultant Miguel Angel Barreras walked into Bridal & Tuxedo World shortly after Opportunity Fund expanded our lending services to Monterey County in March 2013. He was committed to working with Aurora to get the financing she needed.

“I told him I did not have good credit,” she said. “He offered to start an application for me, and then qualified me for my first loan of two thousand dollars.”

Aurora was able to purchase more dresses and materials with the micro loan and soon was making more revenue. The increase in business allowed her to catch up payments on her loans and improve her credit score.

“There were times when I chose to pay Opportunity Fund before I paid another accounts, because you believed in me,” she said. “Now my store is fully stocked and I’m caught up on all my bills.”

Aurora took out a second loan for $4,000 in January 2015 to help expand Bridal & Tuxedo World’s business to offer decorations like linens, place settings, and flower arrangements.

“My customers come in looking for a one stop shop,” Aurora said. “I want to offer that to them.”

Since then, Aurora has taken out two more loans, for $4,000 and $5,000 respectively. The working capital has helped give her business a fighting chance. She’s grateful for Miguel Angel and her current loan consultant Griselda Gil-Solis for believing in her business and for helping her build her credit.

Bridal & Tuxedo World - Aurora Garibay

Aurora shakes hands with her Opportunity Fund loan consultant, Griselda Gil-Solis (photo courtesy of Heimo Schmidt)

“I’m very happy with Opportunity Fund,” she said. “Even if I have a balance on my loan, they’re willing to consider me for another loan when I need it. Griselda is respectful and efficient and made everything go so fast.”

See how we helped Aurora grow her business in this video:

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 fiscal 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

You can have too much of a good thing. Our content partner Nav will help you figure out if you have too many business credit cards and how they could be negatively affecting your business.

You can have too much of a good thing. Our content partner Nav.com will help you figure out if you have too many business credit cards and how they could be negatively affecting your business.

 

A business credit card can be an incredibly powerful financial instrument, and some business owners wonder how they can best leverage these tools. One way to get the most value from your business credit cards is to open several different accounts for a larger line of credit or to receive the rewards and benefits offered by different cards.

But can you have too much of a good thing? And how will having multiple business credit cards affect your credit history and credit score when you apply for a loan?

If you’re wondering if you have too many credit cards for your business, ask yourself the following questions.

Am I having trouble managing my business credit card accounts? When using either business or personal credit cards, the most important consideration is paying your bills on time. When you make late payments, you will incur costly charges at the penalty interest rate, as well as expensive late fees. And if you miss multiple payments, your personal credit history will suffer. If you are unable to manage all of your business credit cards responsibly, then you definitely have too many.

Am I being surprised when I receive the statements? If you receive credit card statements with larger balances than you expected, then you might have too many small business credit cards. Being surprised each month is a symptom of not keeping close tabs on your small business credit card spending, and that of your employees. One way to mitigate this problem is to configure alerts that notify you when your spending reaches a certain level. But even if you configure alerts on all of your accounts, it will be easier to manage your spending with fewer small business cards.

Am I getting value from all the credit card annual fees that I am paying? Even when you are able to manage all of your credit card accounts successfully, you might still have too many cards if you are paying unnecessary annual fees. For example, a premium travel rewards card for small business will typically offer airport business lounge access for a $450 annual fee. But if you haven’t been regularly using the lounge access, then there’s no reason to continue to pay the fee to keep the account open, especially if you have other cards with smaller annual fees. You shouldn’t be paying an annual fee for many small business credit cards unless you are receiving value from each one of them.

Business Credit Cards and Your Credit Score

When you are thinking about how many small business credit cards you need, an important consideration is how your cards will affect your credit history and credit score. Each credit card you have, including both personal and some small business cards, adds to your personal credit history (find out which business credit cards report to personal credit here). As long as you continue to make on-time payments, each account will benefit your credit history and credit score, but with diminishing returns as the number of accounts increases.

Having multiple small business credit cards will also increase the total amount of credit available to you. And as your total credit limit is extended, it will reduce your debt-to-credit ratio for a given amount of debt. Having a lower debt-to-credit ratio is a significant factor in your credit score.

Holding several small business credit cards will offer you a strong credit history and make it easier to have a low debt-to-credit ratio, but there are other things to consider, especially when applying for a home mortgage or another major loan. After applying for a major loan, you will want to abstain from applying for any new lines of credit until the loan closes, including small business credit cards. If you’re considering applying for a major loan in the near future, it can also help your credit score to pay off as many accounts as possible.

There can be advantages to having many business credit card accounts open and in good standing. These include the ability to earn rewards and receive cardholder benefits, while increasing your personal credit history. But when you have trouble managing all of your accounts, or you are paying too much in annual fees, then it’s a good indication that you have too many small business credit cards.

 

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

The saying goes “it takes money to make money.” But what if running your business is taking too much money? Check out these creative ideas to save you money that can help curb excess spending and save for what’s important—growing your small business.

The saying goes “it takes money to make money.” But what if running your business is taking too much money? Check out these creative ideas to save you money that can help curb excess spending and save for what’s important—growing your small business.

 

42 Thrifty Ways to Save Money

  1. Look for loans that allow early payment, you can save lots on interest.
  2. Ask your personal network to refer friends to your business.
  3. Treat employees well, turn-over is expensive and happy employees are more efficient.

  4. Take advantage of free marketing resources.

  5. Turn off computers and unplug non-essential appliances at night.

  6. Keep the doors closed, save on your air conditioning and heating bill by preventing energy waste.
  7. Market on social media, it’s free!
  8. Cut back on freebies. Your customers likely won’t notice they’re gone, and will ask for the items if they want them.
  9. Revise your return/cancellation policy to prevent profit losses. Consider only offering store credit for returns, reduce the amount of time allowed for returns/cancellations, or charge a cancellation fee.
  10. Buy or rent used equipment and supplies.
  11. Reduce paper records. Scan documents and save emails to free cloud services such as Google Drive and Dropbox.
  12. Password protect your wifi. If you offer free wifi to customers, make sure to encrypt it with a password that you change regularly and only give to paying customers. Don’t let moochers run up your internet bill.
  13. If you need office furniture or shop decor, check Craigslist, local garage sales, and thrift shops.
  14. Reduce hours your business is open to during your slow hours, usually Mondays or Tuesdays.
  15. Set up automatic payments, this way you’ll never incur late fees for forgetting.
  16. Regularly perform a cash flow analysis to see where you can trim spending and prepare for slow periods. You might discover your loans and cash advances are too expensive and need to refinance—we can help you with that!
  17. Upgrade to LED light bulbs to save on your energy bill.
  18. Buy supplies in bulk to get discounts.
  19. Watch for limited-time offers from suppliers. Even if you aren’t out of stock yet, you’ll save money by taking advantage of sales when they happen.
  20. See if your energy company will conduct a free audit to make sure you aren’t overpaying.
  21. Consider hiring help by the taskTaskrabbit is a good option—this can often be cheaper than hiring handymen or other professional services.
  22. If your business is near a university, see if you can post fliers and promote on campus.
  23. Advertising in local high school yearbooks is cheap and a great way to reach local families and potential customers.
  24. Set motion-sensors for lights in areas that are not always occupied such as restrooms and stock rooms to save on your energy bill.
  25. Delegate simple maintenance and cleaning tasks to current employees instead of hiring janitors.
  26. Create your own signs and displays. Check out these free design tools and print them for cheap at your local print shop.
  27. Offer small discounts if customers bring their own cups to reduce the amount you spend on supplies.
  28. Get rid of the fax machine that nobody uses anymore and sits in the corner eating electricity.
  29. Make sure you’re getting the most tax deductions you qualify for.
  30. Keep detailed digital records of any expense you can deduct from your taxes.
  31. If you can, cut the expensive phone landline and either have clients call your mobile, email you, or communicate through internet services.
  32. Shop around and always get multiple contractor bids to make sure you get the best deal.
  33. Invest in low-flow toilets and other appliances your business may use (such as laundry machines or dishwashers) to save on your monthly water bill.
  34. Offer inexpensive rewards to employees who bring in client referrals.
  35. Tackle problems early—the longer you wait to fix that leak or crack, the more expensive it will be to fix later on.
  36. Build connections with neighboring businesses, you might be able to split bulk supply orders or share sidewalk advertising space.
  37. If you can, offer a micro business without a brick and mortar store the chance to display and sell some of their products in your store. You receive a sales commission and benefit from their marketing efforts without spending a dime.
  38. Regularly check insulation on windows and doors to prevent costly energy waste.
  39. If your landlord allows, consider planting trees and bushes along exterior walls and in front of large windows to reduce heat absorption from the sun.
  40. Ask contractors to use recycled materials in renovations and repairs.
  41. Hire consultants and temporary contractors through services like HourlyNerd or Thumbtack.
  42. Take the time to learn how to manage your own business finances instead of hiring an accountant. Check out this post for great free resources.

 

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 money 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 money management resources.

As a small business owner, you already know that the world runs on money. Financing your business is tough sometimes, and managing your capital is just as difficult. We’ve compiled this list of tools and resources that will help you understand your finances and manage your accounts.

 

How much it costs: Free

What it does: Mint is a completely free, all-in-one service for managing your finances. Not only does it allow you to connect your business bank accounts and credit cards to see your cash flow, but it offers so many helpful and easy-to-use options. With Mint, you can pay bills, see your credit report, set and track monthly budgets by spending category, receive alerts so you don’t miss a payment or incur fees, and more. This is a safe, secure application that is available online and as a mobile app.

 

How much it costs: Free with premium features like payroll services starting at $20 a month

What it does: Wave offers free accounting and invoicing software. You can easily track your cash flow so tax season is a breeze, schedule invoices and send out emails when payment is due, and scan receipts with your mobile camera directly into your accounting records. For a small monthly fee, you can also add on detailed payroll services.

 

How much it costs: Free

What it does: Tidyform has dozens of free templates for you to download. Choose from invoices, receipts, orders, contracts, budgets, timesheets, payroll, balance sheets, and many more. In addition to financial forms, you can download templates for marketing, HR, and any other paperwork your small business might need.

 

How much it costs: Free

What it does: This website has over 30 free courses to help you understand and manage your accounts. Choose to learn the basics like balance sheets and debt or enhance what you already know as a small business owner with topics such as bank reconciliation and depreciation. While a lot of this content may seem extremely detailed for everyday small business operations, educating yourself will help your business in the long run. This resource is also a good way to improve your ability to do your own finances if you don’t have an accountant.

 

How much it costs: Free

What it does: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) put together a nine-part video workshop to explain everything your small business needs to know about taxes, planning for retirement, payroll, and hiring undocumented employees. You can choose to watch any lesson independently from the others with detailed outlines and transcripts for easy review.

 

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

Have you been asked if you have Apple Pay, Square, or Google Wallet? Many of today’s customers are looking for different ways to pay for goods and services. Our content partner Nav lays out a few alternatives to cash or card that could help you draw customers with unique, modern point-of-sale experience.

Have you been asked if you have Apple Pay, Square, or Google Wallet? Many of today’s customers are looking for different ways to pay for goods and services. Our content partner Nav.com lays out a few alternatives to cash or card that could help you draw customers with unique, modern point-of-sale experience.

 

Consumers can use a variety of payment methods for purchases at small, medium, and large businesses across the United States and globally across the world. Among the options are the more traditional or conventional payment methods, as well as what’s known as alternative payment methods. Offering more payment methods to your customers might translate into more sales for you, so it might be worthwhile to consider which options appeal most to your customer base.

I’ve defined an alternative payment as a payment method that’s outside of the traditional or conventional payment method marketplace. I consider the traditional/conventional payment methods to be the most popular and most used forms of payment methods today across the United States and global markets. This includes: cash or checks at point of sale or sent through the mail; credit or debit cards processed through landline, wireless, computer, or internet terminals; and ACH and wire transfers.

If you’re wondering whether other payment options would work for your business, here are some options you might want to incorporate to provide your customers the ultimate experience in point-of-sale convenience.

Consumer Installment Programs

This is a payment method where, as a merchant, you can set up partnerships with various consumer lending platforms which can help you close bigger sales with customers. You sign up with one or multiple consumer lending platforms, which requires approval, then when customers seek to make a purchase for let’s say $2,000, they would fill out a very short online loan application while at the point-of-sale at your location.

Approval (or decline) comes from one or more consumer lending platforms within seconds. Once approved, the terms would be provided and the customer can decide to accept or decline the terms, including how much interest they’ll pay. The loan would then be used to pay for the related $2,000 product or service from your location. This program helps you close larger ticket items as well as provides additional convenience to customers, allowing them to spread out payments for your products or services over six-, nine-, 12-, or 24-month terms.

Cash on Delivery

  • For this payment method, a customer orders a product, but payment for said product does not occur until a mail carrier delivers the items to the customer. The customer would pay at delivery instead of providing payment upfront. This provides additional convenience to customers who might want to inspect items before making purchase.
  • Some customers might prefer this type of transaction over credit or debit cards. However, keep in mind that accepting c.o.d. payments means your payment is delayed. You should also consider the costs of paying for a courier service that collects c.o.d., and the possibility of a higher rate of returns or cancelled orders. However, you might find that the benefits outweigh the risks if this model is popular with, and makes sense for, your customers.

Mobile Payments

Mobile payments include a diverse category of methods, but the most central categories are Near Field Communication (NFC) as well as digital wallets.

With NFC, you’ll have a contactless terminal that allows a customer to wave their Apple or Android phone or device in front of the equipment to process transactions. For in-person transactions, the business should set up a contactless payment terminal through their payment provider.

The customer’s credit card information is already stored in their device, so the transaction can be processed without the customer having to hand over their card, or having to carry their cards around in a physical wallet or purse.

Digital wallets are programs such as Google Wallet, which are online programs that allow customers to register using their telephone number or email. Once registered, the customer receives a PIN code and is allowed to input their credit card information into the online program for storage.

While at various merchant websites or in person, the customer would be able to make payments using the digital wallet by verifying said payments with their unique PIN code.

Cryptocurrencies

A cryptocurrency is an alternative digital currency that operates on a decentralized transaction database, which is a much different type of operation than traditional money, which operates on centralized banking systems. Accepting cryptocurrency payments provides additional convenience to customers who might carry around these types of currencies. Bitcoin (created in 2009) is the most popular type of cryptocurrency, with a market cap in the $12 billion dollar range. Besides Bitcoin, there are a number of other types of cryptocurrencies including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Litecoin
  • Namecoin
  • Peercoin
  • Freicoin
  • Primecoin
  • Ripple
  • Sexcoin
  • Quark
  • Mastercoin
  • NXT
  • Dogecoin
  • Monero
  • BlackCoin
  • Dash
  • Auroracoin
  • Ethereum
  • Zcash

Accepting cryptocurrencies can potentially increase your sales, especially if your customers, or potential customers, prefer this payment method. The cryptocurrency market comes with its own special set of risks—particularly in terms of security and the volatility of the exchange rate. It’s important to become well versed in how to manage those risks before you make this an option for your customers.

 

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

Don started a food truck business with nothing but a dream and concept for military-styled food. After winning a Food Network competition, Mess Hall Canteen needed financing to buy their custom built food truck. A loan from Opportunity Fund helped cover the purchase and now Mess Hall Canteen is rolling to bigger success all over Orange County.  

Our customers inspire us every day, and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too.  This week, read about Don McPeck of Mess Hall Canteen in Orange County. Don started a food truck business with nothing but a dream and concept for military-styled food. After winning a Food Network competition, Mess Hall Canteen needed financing to buy their custom built food truck. A loan from Opportunity Fund helped cover the purchase and now Mess Hall Canteen is rolling to bigger success all over Orange County.  

Starting (& Cooking) From Scratch

Don McPeck started his business with only an idea. His gourmet food truck, Mess Hall Canteen, got started thanks to The Food Network. An appearance on the show Food Truck Faceoff gave Mess Hall Canteen a vehicle—in more ways than one.

Don and his son Jake drew on their dreams and goals of starting a business together based on Don’s military service and Jake’s expertise as a chef. They took their idea for mess hall styled munchies to Food Network’s show in 2014 and won the two-day competition against another food truck in Venice Beach.

Their prize was a one-year lease on the custom-built truck provided by the competition. After the lease was up, Don needed financing to purchase the truck. Their truck came from food truck manufacturer Kareem Carts, also one of Opportunity Fund’s food truck manufacturer and vendor partners. Kareem Carts connected Don to us to talk financing.

“Opportunity Fund helped us continue our business,” Don said. “We didn’t have the money to buy the truck outright. Opportunity Fund made it happen for us.”

Fueling Success

Our loan consultant Salvador Lopez started working with Don in June 2016 to secure the $77,000 loan he needed to purchase his truck. Don and Salvador working together was the perfect pairing.

“Salvador made it really easy to get financing,” Don said. “It was almost seamless. The next thing we knew, the loan was approved.”

Mess Hall Canteen’s food speaks for itself, with loaded tater tots and stacked grilled cheese sandwiches that are almost larger than life. Don credits their success not just to Chef Jake’s impeccable palate, but also to a social media blitz that put Mess Hall Canteen on the map.

Mess Hall Canteen - menu

Don shows off the Mess Hall Canteen menu (photo courtesy of ROF Industries)

Don used his Army background to brand his business. He also uses his veteran status to reach out to veterans in Orange County. Mess Hall Canteen hires veterans to work in the business and provides fundraising for veterans organizations like Patriots & Paws through donations from their tip jar and proceeds from T-shirt sales.

Mess Hall Canteen is looking to expand in the next year with at least one new food truck and several exciting opportunities, including a potential spot at Downtown Disney. “I hope Opportunity Fund will help us in the next step of our operation,” Don said.

We’re honored to serve hardworking, mission-oriented veteran entrepreneurs like Don with our easy-to-get, fast, and affordable small business loans.

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 fiscal 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 businesses depend on their local communities to survive, and it’s time to give back by sourcing your produce and products from other local businesses. Keep reading to find out how sourcing locally can bring in loyal customers, help the environment, and foster community pride.

Small businesses depend on their local communities to survive, and it’s time to give back by sourcing your produce and products from other local businesses. Keep reading to find out how sourcing locally can bring in loyal customers, help the environment, and foster community pride.

 

There is a growing demand for local products. People across the country are jumping on the trend for local products, especially food and beverages. Customers are more concerned about their health, the environment, supporting local shops, and many other factors other than big brand name products. As a small business owner who caters to a local clientele, you can really capitalize on the growing desire for locally sourced and sold products.

A Better World For Little Cost Difference

Sourcing products locally is not just a trend, it is also an important step towards sustainable business practices. Sustainable business depends on balancing sales with the ability to maintain growth.

When talking about sustainability, it is important to look at the Three P’s: Planet, People, Profit. Keeping these in mind when making decisions about your business will help you ensure that you can minimize your environmental impact, make your customers and community happy, and make money.

Sourcing your products and materials locally has benefits in all three areas.

  • Planet: Buying from local vendors and manufacturers cuts down on fuel emissions because it takes less fuel to transport goods than it would to transport them across the country or across continents. Purchasing produce locally encourages biodiversity. Instead of a region specializing in one or two crops and exporting long distances, local farms and orchards that grow many different varieties will benefit. Biodiversity is good for healthy soil and preventing widespread plant disease.
  • People: You support your local economy and foster community pride when you source locally. It is easier to build lasting, trustworthy partnerships with vendors when you can meet them face-to-face. Customers will appreciate the patriotism and local pride when they find locally sourced products. Lastly, it can help reduce our contribution to slave labor and unfair treatment of factory workers when we buy supplies from vendors that hire local workers who are protected by strict regulations.
  • Profit: It is easy to see how sourcing locally will boost the profits of your vendors, but how will it increase your sales? People are willing to pay a little bit more for a product or service if they know their purchase supports local, environmental, or social causes. These emotional ties to causes will imprint your business inside their heads and can foster brand loyalty. Customers may love sales, but when the prices increase they will go to another brand unless they have an emotional connection.

 

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

If your small business needs financing, you will need to be able to describe what kind of business entity you own. Our content partner Nav explains the differences between the main types of business entities.

If your small business needs financing, you will need to be able to describe what kind of business entity you own. Our content partner Nav.com explains the differences between the main types of business entities.

 

Late comedian and actor Milton Berle famously said: “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” While about 124 million Americans are classified as full-time employees, over 23 million Americans have decided to operate their own business, which is basically “building their own door” rather than waiting for opportunity to knock.

As you set out to “build your own door,” you will be faced with a variety of tasks that must be completed upfront, such setting up your business bank account, finalizing your business plan, making growth projections, constructing your capital structure, and more. You must also decide which business entity to use to structure your business.

Some entities protect you from the liabilities of the business, while some don’t, so understanding all of the business entities are essential to your planning. Here’s a look at sole proprietorships, partnerships, corporations, LLCs, nonprofits, and co-ops.

The Sole Proprietorship

The sole proprietorship is a business entity that actually does not require incorporation, state filings, etc., which makes the accounting-related expenses for this entity very low. This entity structure is basically set up the moment a business owner just “decides” they are ready to go into business (unless there is any specific industry licensing that’s required). There’s only one owner in this entity, and all profits/losses are passed through to the owner’s tax return. However, there’s no liability protection for the owner against potential debts, lawsuits, and other obligations of the business, which means the owner can be sued personally for said commercial obligations.

The General Partnership and Spin-off Partnerships

The general partnership is a business entity that does not require incorporation, state filings, etc., which makes the accounting-related expenses for this entity very low. The structure is set up the moment two business owners decide they are ready to go into business (unless there is any specific industry licensing that’s required). All profits and losses are passed through to the tax return of the owners, based on their share of ownership. There’s no liability protection for the owners against potential debts, lawsuits, and other obligations of the business, which means one owner can be sued personally for wrongdoing coming from the acts of the other owner. There are also two additional types of partnerships:

  • The Limited Partnership has just about all of the general partnership characteristics, except that it also allows for the addition of what’s known as “limited partners” who can invest in the business model to share in profits, but have no say in the day-to-day operations of the business, nor are they liable for any debts/obligations. The actual general partners would still run the day-to-day operations and still be held liable for the debts/obligations of the organization, just like in the traditional general partnership structure.
  • The Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) has most of the characteristics of the general partnership, except the general partners are actually afforded liability protection from the debts and obligations of the organization. Creating this entity requires state registration.

The C-Corporation

The C-corporation is a traditional incorporation structure, with no limit on the number of shareholders and is the best entity to use if you might issue stock later on. The entity provides liability protection to the directors, shareholders, and officers, along with excellent tax benefits and higher levels of credibility with prospective suppliers/financiers. However, the C-corporation is the most expensive entity to start, there’s a potential of double taxation, and required corporate formalities are extensive, which increases accounting-related costs.

Owners of the C-corporation can be non-U.S. citizens, and the C-corporation can be owned by another business. You should use this structure if you have growth projections of sales going over or near $7 million to $10 million in revenue, and if you might potentially issue stock for further growth.

The S-Corporation

The S-corporation brings liability protection with excellent tax benefits, without having the owners of the corporation go through potential double taxation as the C-corporation, because profits/losses are passed through to the owners (shareholders) of the S-corporation. However, unlike the C-corporation, there can only be up to 100 shareholders within the S-corporation at one time and issuing stock isn’t as efficient with this entity as it is with the C-corporation.

Also, accounting-related expenses will be high with this entity, as S-corporations have many of the same required corporate formalities as the C-corporation. You should use the S-corporation if you believe you will mainly operate a small business without the need to issue stock, with under $5 million in annual revenue, and with less than 100 owners of the organization.

The Limited Liability Company (LLC)

The LLC provides liability protection to the owners along with excellent tax benefits, and without the potential of double taxation as profits/losses are passed through to the owners of the LLC. However, unlike the C- or S-corporations, an LLC does has few required corporate formalities, such as the need to record minutes or hold meetings, thus, using this structure will save you significantly on accounting costs. In addition, there’s no limit on the number of owners within an LLC, owners can be non-U.S. Citizens, and the LLC can be owned by another business. You should use the LLC if you believe you will mainly operate a small business with under $5 million in annual revenue and without the need to issue stock. There’s also another type of LLC structure in existence, called The Series LLC.

  • The Series LLC is basically multiple, independent, and separate LLCs filed under one main business entity structure (hence the name, “Series LLC”). This structure might be used by holders of real estate where the owner wants to hold each individual property in its own separate LLC, so the debts/obligations of one property doesn’t do harm to the other properties.

The Nonprofit

The nonprofit is an organization that’s formed not to generate profit, but instead to carry out some intended purpose within either an educational, religious, charitable, literary, or scientific category. If a nonprofit applies for and is approved as a 501(c)3, then it will be exempt from taxation. Nonprofits raise money for their intended causes through seeking foundation or other sources of grant money, as well as through requesting direct donations from a donor base in which said donors can deduct their donations if the nonprofit is a 501(c)3. If your business is one that looks to carry out a specific type of community development-related cause rather than generate a profit, then the nonprofit is the best entity choice–especially if you can achieve 501(c)3 tax-exempt status.

The Co-op

With a co-op, the operators of the business, along with members or clientele of the business, all share in a portion of the profit stream. The organization is seen more as a “let’s work together” type of deal, with a focus on sharing the success of the organization with all those involved in its progression.

 

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 and/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 March.

Each month, we’re sharing and promoting the free and/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 March.

Northern California/Sacramento

Protect Your Business – Understand Employment Law
Date: March 9, 2017 | 6:00 pm PST – 9:00 pm PST
Location: Simpkins Family Swim Center
979 17th Avenue Santa Cruz, CA 95062  (map it)
Contact: John Yost | score0688@santacruzscore.org | (831) 621-3735
Organization: Santa Cruz SCORE
Fee: $35

Are you considering hiring employees? Don’t let yourself get caught on the wrong side of legal issues regarding employment. Join SCORE and employment Law Attorney Carmela Woll to learn about the following important legal issues in employment:

  • Hiring
  • Terminating
  • Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid
  • And more!

Click here to register for this event.

Money Matters: Cash Flow
Date: March 16, 2017 | 1:30 pm PST – 3:30 pm PST
Location: 455 Market Street 6th Floor San Francisco, CA 94105 (map it)
Contact: Angelique Gosse | angelique.gosse@sfgov.org | (415) 937-7232
Organization: San Francisco SBDC
Fee: Free

The second class of this three part training provides an in-depth coverage of business finances. Using adult learning techniques with the most modern tools the course will explain the four parts of a Cash Flow Statement and how to use it to run your business. The outcome of this training will allow the participants to make better informed business decision based on clear understanding of money matters and be able to increase profitability.

To register for this event, click here.

Small Business Tax and Record Keeping Workshop
Date: March 30, 2017 | 9:00 am PST – 12:00 pm PST
Location: 4990 Stockton Blvd Sacramento, CA 95820 (map it)
Contact: DHA-Stockton-Blvd-BIC@saccounty.net |(916) 875-3280

Organization: Sacramento County DHA Business Information Center
Fee: Free

Join Brenda Duran EA, BS Principal Tax Advisor BD Tax & Finance Group, Inc. for this free workshop on how to improve your tax and record keeping strategies.

Topics covered will include:

  • Setting up and running your business the right way
  • Federal taxes and your new business
  • Deductions and business related expenses
  • Filing and paying your taxes on time to avoid penalties
  • Essentials of running your home based business
  • Federal Unemployment Taxes

Click here to register for this event.

Southern California/San Diego

Free Small Business Seminar
Date: March 9, 2017 | 8:00 am PST – 1:00 pm PST
Location: Centro Maravilla Service Center
4716 East Cesar E Chavez Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90022 (map it)
Contact: Xiomara Peña | (818) 470-0377
Organization: Small Business Majority
Fee: Free

The Small Business Development Center in East LA, Small Business Majority, and the Small Business Finance CDC invite you to participate in this one-of-a-kind event. Join several business experts and speakers on topics that can help you grow and expand your business, including Opportunity Fund loan consultant Osbaldo Velazquez.

This FREE resource fair and event will include information about procurement opportunities, access to capital, social media and marketing, human resources and much more!

Multiple workshops will be offered during various time frames so that you can join the topics most important to your small business! Complimentary breakfast & lunch will be provided.

Click here to register for this event.

Guided Business Plan
Date: March 13, 2017 | 10:00 am PST – 2:00 pm PST
Location: 3255 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 1501, Los Angeles, CA 90010 (map it)
Contact: (213) 674-2696
Organization: SBDC Pacific Coast Regional
Fee: $75

Is your banker, investor, or partner requesting your business plan? Attend the GUIDED Business Plan™ workshop to write a plan that engages your reader.

During the 4-hour session, you will write the first draft of the Executive Summary of your business plan. We prompt you to write the first words that come to mind. We remove the focus of trying to craft the perfect sentence for your business plan via brainstorming.

Our facilitators are able to quickly analyze a range of business models to provide constructive advice. Create your business plan the easy, simple and GUIDED way.

Click here to register for this event.

Credit Recovery
Date: March 21, 2017 | 1:00 pm PST – 3:00 pm PST
Location: 2075 Las Palmas Drive, Carlsbad CA 92011 (map it)
Contact: centerinfo@miracosta.edu | (760) 795-8740
Organization: North San Diego SBDC
Fee: Free

Join North San Diego SBDC for this workshop especially intended for anyone who has questions about their credit and credit reports.

Here’s how this seminar can help you:

  • Reading and interpreting your credit report
  • Defining and improving your credit scores
  • Identifying and correcting errors in your credit information.
  • Repairing your credit
  • Understanding the use of credit in the loan process
  • Taking next steps after being denied credit

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

Two-Page Business Plan
Date: March 8, 2017 | 8:00 am PST – 9:00 am PST
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Stephen Konkle | stephen.konkle@sba.gov | (312) 886-4208
Organization: SBA Illinois District Office
Fee: Free

Writing a business plan might seem intimidating, but it’s an essential tool for any entrepreneur. Attend this webinar to learn how to craft and hone your two-page business plan. We’ll share best practices and answer your questions. Join SBA Economic Development Specialist Stephen Konkle for this webinar.

Click here to register for this event.

How Business Owners Can Get and Keep Strong Personal Credit Scores
Date: March 8, 2017| 8:00 am PST – 9:00 am PST
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Ian Rogers | rogersia@gvsu.edu | (616) 331-7262
Organization: Michigan SBDC
Fee: Free

When you’re a business owner, strong personal credit scores can be an asset by helping you qualify for a business credit card, an SBA loan, or other types of funding that take the owner’s personal credit into account. But if you’re not careful, your business can hurt your credit scores.

Join Nav Head of Market Education Gerri Detweiler for this webinar, where you’ll learn:

  • The big credit score mistake many small business owners make
  • The ways to protect your credit from your business
  • The fastest ways to boost your personal credit scores
  • And much more!

Click here to register for this event.

Basically Business: Social Media Know-How
Date: March 9, 2017 | 12:00 pm PST – 12:30 pm PST
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Kimberly Donahue | kimberly.donahue@sba.gov | 304-347-5220
Organization: SBA
Fee: Free

This basic webinar helps you choose social media platforms, and get the most out of them while securing your privacy, connecting with peers, and showcasing your expertise. You do it anyway, so let us help you do it right!

Click here to register for this event.

 

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

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


Opportunity Fund is California’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit lender to small businesses. 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. Working Capital for Working People. opportunityfund.org