Every two weeks, we’re sharing and promoting free and affordable events that help small business owners run their businesses better. This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in Northern and Southern California. Here are the best upcoming events from May 1 through May 15.

Every two weeks, we’re sharing and promoting free and affordable events that help small business owners run their businesses better. This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in Northern and Southern California. Here are the best upcoming events from May 1 through May 15.

Northern California/Sacramento

National Small Business Week: Grow Your Business Online Workshop
Date: May 1, 2017 | 10:00 am PST – 11:00 am PST
Location: 801 R St. Suite 201 Fresno, CA 93721 (map it)
Contact: Chunny Boosa | chunny.boosa@scorevolunteer.org | (559) 492-9709
Organization: Central Valley SCORE
Fee: Free

Learn the basics of how customers find your business online and how to promote your online presence with methods like search engine optimization (SEO) and online advertising. We also introduce tools to help you run your business online, including Google Analytics and Google Apps for Work.

Click here to register for this event.

The Veterans Business Outreach Center Presents: Business Basics Seminar
Date: May 11, 2017 | 2:00 pm PST – 5:00 pm PST
Location: Veterans Business Outreach Center
4608 Duckhorn Dr. Sacramento, CA 95834 (map it)
Contact: Catrina Avila | admin@vbocix.org | (916) 527-8400
Organization: Veterans Business Outreach Center
Fee: Free for VBOC clients | $49 for non-VBOC clients: register here

This training is designed for individuals interested in starting a business or currently in business for two or less years. Course includes business evaluation, market research, licensing and permit requirements, start-up cost, financing sources, insurance, cash flow analysis, legal structure, self-employment analysis, cash management, customer profile, protecting your business idea, and the reality of operating a business.

VBOC members can register for this event here. Non-VBOC members can register here.

Business Accounting
Date: May 12, 2017 | 1:00 pm PST – 4:00 pm PST
Location: Diablo Valley College Humanities Building Room H119 (adjacent to Parking Lot 7)
321 Golf Club Rd. Pleasant Hill, CA 94523 (map it)
Contact: info@eastbayscore.org | (510) 273-6611
Organization: SCORE East Bay
Fee: $35

Financial management, including management of the inflow and outflow of money, is critical to the effective operation of any business.

In this class, we will learn and discuss:

  • Financial management concepts
  • Setting up and managing your accounts
  • Understanding the usefulness of financial reports
  • Essential financial tasks
  • Using QuickBooks templates

The course is taught by a SCORE counselor with over 40 years experience in financial management of organizations ranging in size from start-ups to Fortune 50 companies. Workshop fee includes FREE download of our 17 chapter guide “How to Start & Manage your Small Business”.

Click here to register for this event.

Southern California/San Diego

City of Azusa Small Business Week – Social Media Marketing
Date: May 3, 2017 | 6:00 pm PST – 8:30 pm PST
Location: Azusa Woman’s Club
1003 North Azusa Ave. Azusa, CA 91702 (map it)
Contact: (909) 448-1567
Organization: SBDC hosted by University of La Verne
Fee: Free

In this workshop you will learn key how-to lessons:

  • How to use Social Media Marketing platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for business
  • How to use SEO for Mobile Marketing Success
  • How to promote your online presence

Click here to register for this event.

Women in Business Breakfast Series – 5 Secrets to Bust Your Burnout
Date: May 5, 2017 | 7:30 am PST – 10:30 am PST
Location: The Center Club
650 Town Center Dr. Costa Mesa, CA 92626 (map it)
Contact: Iris McCammon | wib@score114.org | (714) 550-7369
Organization: Orange County SCORE
Fee: $35.00 advance registration before May 3, 2017 | $40 after May 3, 2017 and at the door (cash or check only)

Ever feel like you have entrepreneurial ADD? As business owners we find ourselves buried in more paperwork and “to do” lists than we can handle. It can cause us to spin our wheels, being forever busy, yet not productive. However, that does not have to be the case!

Join Dr. Elisa Magill as she shares stories of successful business owners and uncovers a formula to help you change your own perceptions, mindset, and belief systems. Let us help you set a strong foundation to be your own best leader!

Register Today and Learn How To:

 

  • Go from Distraction-to-Action: Double, triple, and 10X your business
  • Eliminate overwhelm and burnout
  • Develop new perceptions and belief systems
  • Discover new possibilities and entrepreneurial out-of-the-box thinking
  • Live life by design! Not default. Find more time for YOU!


Click here to register for this event.

2017 Free Asian Business Seminar
Date: May 10, 2017 | 8:30 am PST – 12:30 pm PST
Location: New STC Center
1040 South Otterbein Ave. Rowland Heights, CA 91748 (map it)
Contact: marketing@stcmanagement.com | (562) 695 1513 Ext. 117
Organization:  San Gabriel Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce
Fee: Free

Are you in the restaurant business? Are you an entrepreneur? Are you a small business owner? When you have a question, do you know where to find out your answers? If you say yes to any of the above questions, this seminar is for you! You will be talking face to face to the people who set and enforce the rules. Find your answers here!

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

How to Write Your Email Content in 15 Minutes or Less
Date: May 4, 2017 | 12:30 pm PST – 1:30 pm PST
Location: Online—Webinar
Organizations: U.S. Small Business Administration and SCORE
Fee: Free

Struggling to find the words, images and the right calls-to-action that make the biggest impact with your email marketing?

With just about 15 minutes and an easy-to-follow formula, you can kick writer’s block to the curb and be confident that you’ll know exactly what to say to create an effective email marketing message.

Join us for a free workshop where you will receive:

  • A worksheet to help you write your marketing email in 15 minutes or less
  • Advice on how to use your writing worksheet
  • A guide on keeping your email marketing focused on your business goals
  • A simple checklist to reference before you hit send
  • An opportunity to ask questions and interact with our workshop presenters

Click here to register for this event.

Patents, Trademarks, & Copyrights Webinar
Date: May 4, 2017| 6:00 pm PST – 7:00 pm PST
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Kim Scanlan | kscanlan@cvwbc.org
Organization: Coachella Valley Women’s Business Center
Fee: $10

Want to know how to protect your business’s intellectual property? This webinar will show you how! Discover what is considered an intellectual property of your business and the steps you need to take to protect them. Learn key concepts:

  • How to tell the difference between a trademark and copyright
  • How copyrights can produce income
  • How a patent can protect your business

Click here to register for this event.

Promote Your Business with AdWords Express
Date: May 11, 2017 | 8:00 am PST – 9:00 am PST
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Ian Rogers | rogersia@gvsu.edu | (616) 331-7262
Organization: Michigan Small Business Development Center
Fee: Free

Did you know that 97% of consumers research products online before purchasing, and 89% of consumers use Internet search engines to make purchasing decisions?

It’s important that your business appears on the search results page when potential customers are looking for you.

Join us as we introduce you to advertising on Google and show you how to promote your business online.

Click here to register for this event.


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

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


Opportunity Fund is California’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit lender to small businesses. Last year, we made $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

Getting a small business loan is more than collecting the right documents and providing financial information to your lender. Our content partner Nav explains five actions you should stop doing that will negatively impact your ability to get a loan.

Getting a small business loan is more than collecting the right documents and providing financial information to your lender. Our content partner Nav.com explains five actions you should stop doing that will negatively impact your ability to get a loan.

 

Lenders are going to looking at a number of factors to determine your eligibility for a loan, including your personal and business credit scores, your business banking information, personal and business tax returns, P&L statement and more.

If this seems overly complicated, never fear. While you can’t make all of these factors perfect overnight, you can exercise control over some, which will greatly improve your chances of getting the financing you need to make your business strong. Let’s take a look at five things you should definitely avoid before applying for a loan.

Missing a Payment

Don’t miss a payment on your personal or business credit cards, vendor accounts or any accounts that report to personal or business credit reporting agencies.

Payment history is the most important factor in both personal and business credit scores. Although it varies by score, payment history accounts for about 35% of your personal credit scores and 50% of your business credit scores. Just one late payment can bring down your scores significantly.

Most lenders are going to look at least one, if not both, credit scores. Most financing types will require you to meet a minimum credit score requirement — the SBA’s most popular loan program — the Advantage loan program, for example, has a minimum FICO SBSS score of 140 or above.

Making Large Purchases on Your Credit Cards

Large purchases can also affect your credit scores if you’re not carefully paying them off. This applies to purchases made on both your personal and business credit cards. Large purchases run up your credit utilization, which is an important factor influencing both personal and business credit scores.

Here’s a tip if you need to make large purchases on your credit cards: find out when your card provider reports to credit reporting agencies, and pay off your balance before that date so your high credit card balance is not reflected on your report. Often, this is the date your statement is issued.

Letting Your Business Bank Account Dip Below $1,000

Lenders like to see that you have enough free cash flow available to meet current debt obligations. A low balance (generally below $1,000) is a sign to lenders that maybe your business isn’t in the best shape financially.

Obviously, negative balances are even more of a red flag. Negative balances tell a lender that your business doesn’t have enough money in the bank to cover loan payments.

Here’s a tip if your business account balance is low: transfer a cushion of cash into your account, or secure a line of credit from your bank so your account doesn’t dip too low during cash-flow emergencies.

Applying For Certain Types of Loans

A Merchant Cash Advance (MCA) has been described as a “payday loan” for small businesses. How it works is an MCA provider pays a one-time lump sum, often instantly or the same day as the application, to a merchant in exchange for a percentage of future credit or debit card sales.

Fast money comes at a price, however, and MCAs usually charge high interest rates of 50% or more. If a business has outstanding MCAs it’s a sign to lenders of financial volatility, similar to the way a personal lender might view you as an individual if you’ve take out multiple payday loans.

Here’s a tip to avoid taking out an MCA: Consider applying for a business credit card before any potential cash emergency so you’re prepared should that time come.

Not Checking Your Business Credit

You’ll want to check your business credit scores and reports before you apply for any business financing so you know where you stand. If your scores are bad, and making a couple of small moves like paying off a credit card or asking for a credit limit increase will improve them, you could score better interest rates and terms. (You can check your personal and business credit scores for free on Nav.com.)

Also, checking your credit report ensures the data is accurate and up to date. Some negative items may still be on your report causing headaches despite the fact they should have dropped off. UCC filings are a good example of this.

When you take on financing that requires collateral, the lender places a legal document called a UCC filing on your business credit file, which signals to other creditors that they have a legal right to your collateral specified in the filing if you fail to pay your bills to the lender.

If you already have a loan that required collateral and are looking for another loan, you’ll find that many lenders are unwilling to lend to your business if they are second in line to the creditor that placed the initial UCC filing. UCC filings can last for 5 years (or more if the lender files a continuation of the UCC).

 

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

Our lending experts are here to answer your toughest questions about small business financing. Sonia Muñoz, a collections officer here at Opportunity Fund, shares her insights on the loan payment process with this Q&A about how to work with your lender if you have a late payment   . Continue reading to find out what to expect if you are late making a payment and how you can avoid negatively affecting your credit.

Our lending experts are here to answer your toughest questions about small business financing. Sonia Muñoz, a collections officer here at Opportunity Fund, shares her insights on the loan payment process with this Q&A about late payments. Continue reading to find out what to expect if you are late making a payment and how you can avoid negatively affecting your credit.

When you have a business loan, making payments on time can be difficult. Emergencies, hardships, and forgetfulness can all delay sending in that monthly payment. Fortunately, there are many opportunities to solve this problem without hurting your credit.

 

Q: What happens is a borrower is late making a payment by a few days?

A: If a borrower is late by only a few days, they will not be liable for a late fee. Opportunity Fund has a grace period of 10 days to help small business owners avoid late fees. Sometimes a check gets delayed in the mail or you just forget. However, after these 10 days borrowers will accrue interest for each day they are late.

 

Q: How will borrowers be contacted about late payments?

A: If the payment is late by less than 5 days, the borrower will receive a courtesy call from our collections department as a reminder. After that, a second reminder will be mailed to your business address. If the payment is late by more than two weeks, a collections officer will try to visit the borrower to find out what’s wrong. It is only after a month of these reminders that serious action – such as calling references or repossessing collateral – will be taken.

 

Q: How will late payments affect a borrower’s credit and business?

A: Late payments will only affect the borrower’s credit with Opportunity Fund but not with the credit bureaus. Since we automatically send reports once a month, payments late by 29 days or less will not have any effect on your credit. The chance of getting approved for a repeat loan with us will decrease depending on how late payments are and how frequently a borrower misses a payment deadline.

While a late payment will not significantly harm your credit, it can have a negative effect on your small business. Paying late fees and interest hurts your income because you end up paying more than originally planned for. Paying on time is good for your working capital, and Opportunity Fund does not penalize for early payments.

 

Q: What can a borrower do if they cannot make their payment on time?

A: Borrowers can avoid affecting their credit with us and with credit bureaus by paying on time every month, but if they are unable to do so due to financial hardship there are options. Opportunity Fund offers different kinds of assistance in cases of financial hardship. Borrowers should keep open communication and reach out if they need help.

 

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

Our lending experts are here to answer your toughest questions about small business financing. Gerardo Campos, a loan consultant here at Opportunity Fund, shares his insights on lending with this Q&A about applying for a loan. Continue reading to find out what to expect when applying for loans and how you can be better prepared.

Our lending experts are here to answer your toughest questions about small business financing. Gerardo Campos, a loan consultant here at Opportunity Fund, shares his insights on lending with this Q&A about applying for a loan. Continue reading to find out what to expect when applying for loans and how you can be better prepared.

 

Q: What can borrowers expect in the application process?

A: After completing a loan application form, a loan consultant will pull your personal credit and call you with any questions. Sometimes additional documentation may be required to be sent in after your application is reviewed.

Q: How long should the process take from start to finish?

A: It depends on the lending institution and the amount of money requested, but it should take between two and thirty days. Here at Opportunity Fund, you can get funds in as few as two to five business days.

Q: How will credit scores impact the application process?

A: Your credit score is not the sole determining factor in whether or not you get a loan, but some lenders are stricter about minimum scores than others. Credit scores are indicators of creditworthiness and past payment history. When we pull your credit score, it will have a small impact on your credit score because it indicates you are looking for a loan.

Q: Why is time in business important?

A: As a responsible lender, we require that you’ve been in business for a minimum of one year because we want to make sure you already know how to run a business. We also want to make sure there is a profitable margin large enough to repay your loan.

Q: What are options for making payments?

A: The easiest way to make payments is to set up automatic payments. You can have it taken out weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Other options for paying include at your bank, at a 7-11, by mailing in a check or money order, or over the phone if your bank account information was provided at the time your loan was approved.

Q: What happens if a borrower has trouble repaying their loan?

A: Always talk to your lender if you are having problems repaying your loan. We can always work something out if you have proof of hardship such as a death in the family, medical problem, or natural disaster.

Q: What documents should a borrower have ready before applying for a loan?

A: Take a look at this handy, easy-to-use checklist for all the documents you need when applying for a loan.

Download the PDF here:

Loan Preparation Checklist

 

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

Every two weeks, we’re sharing and promoting free and affordable events that help small business owners run their businesses better. This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in Northern and Southern California. Here are the best upcoming events from April 18 through April 30.

Every two weeks, we’re sharing and promoting free and affordable events that help small business owners run their businesses better. This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in Northern and Southern California. Here are the best upcoming events from April 18 through April 30.

Northern California/Sacramento

San Francisco Paid Parental Leave Ordinance Fundamentals
Date: April 20, 2017 | 3:30 pm PST – 5:00 pm PST
Location: 455 Market Street, Suite 600 San Francisco, CA 94105 (map it)
Contact: sfomail@sba.gov | (415) 744-6777
Organization: Small Business Administration
Fee: Free

Come learn about the newly enacted San Francisco Paid Parental Leave Ordinance, requiring employers to provide paid leave for new parents.

Topics include:

  • Who is covered
  • Employer responsibilities
  • How to apply
  • How to calculate benefit amount
  • Interaction with related state and federal law
  • And more!

Click here to register for this event.

Disruption Recovery Plan for Your Business
Date: April 27, 2017 | 9:00 am PST – 12:00 pm PST
Location: NEC SBDC at Butte College
202 Mira Loma, Oroville CA 95965 (map it)
Contact: Sophie Konuwa | konuwaso@butte.edu | (530) 895-9017
Organization: Northeastern California SBDC
Fee: Free

These are the times! With upswings in cyberattacks, and natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricane, business continuity planing has suddenly moved to the front of the line as more businesses are being forced to complete their disaster recovery plans.

This training will help you complete a workable plan that you and your employees can easily follow and visit regularly to ensure usefulness, relax from the stress of unplanned activities that cause your profit to drop, teach you how to complete a plan to address your business operation for disruption, and prepare you for funding when available.

To register for this event, click here.

10 Best Practices for Business Success on Facebook & Twitter
Date: April 27, 2017 | 1:00 pm PST – 4:00 pm PST
Location: 455 Market Street, Suite 600 San Francisco, CA 94105 (map it)
Contact: (415) 937-7232
Organization: San Francisco SBDC
Fee: Free

In this class, you will learn how Facebook and Twitter work, best practices, success stories from other businesses who are winning it, and tools to save you time. Connect the dots from social media to sales! This class is part of a series called “Social Media and Online Marketing Made Simple.”

Click here to register for this event.

Southern California/San Diego

Leveraging Video Marketing to Engage Your Target Audience, Drive Traffic, and Generate Leads
Date: April 18, 2017 | 9:00 am PST – 12:00 pm PST
Location: United States University
7675 Mission Valley Road San Diego, CA 92108 (map it)
Contact: workshop0140@scorevolunteer.org | (619) 727-4874
Organization: SCORE San Diego
Fee: $20

Nearly all business owners understand the need to have a digital or online presence. But did you know:

  • Online video has increased 8-fold in the past 5 years
  • Video content is shared 1200% more often on Facebook alone than traditional posts or graphics
  • The average website visitor will stay 5 times longer on a site with video
  • Nearly 80% of consumers say watching online videos influence their decision making

Other than face-to-face meetings, video is by far the strongest connection you can make with your target audience. This workshop goes far beyond simple video production to helping your videos reach your audience and engage them. You will learn key skills and strategies like:

 

  • Essential research in pre-production
  • Basic equipment to start on a small budget
  • Scripting your videos for greatest impact and conversion
  • Optimizing videos to rank and be found on Google, YouTube, and major social media channels
  • Social video marketing vs. search
  • Live video streaming
  • Copywriting and creating a video Call-To-Action (CTA)
  • Lead generation with video
  • Video data and analytics: measuring your video campaigns


Click here to register for this event.

An EZ Trip Through Your Financial Statements
Date: April 24, 2017 | 6:00 pm PST – 9:00 pm PST
Location: Orange Public Library
407 E. Chapman Ave., Orange, CA 92866 (map it)
Contact: (714) 550-7369
Organization: Orange County SCORE
Fee: Free

If you’ve ever wanted to know where financial statements come from and how to make them work for you, this workshop is for you. The session includes basic accounting principles and an interactive case study where you’ll learn about the following tools and skills to create a healthy, profitable business:

  • Balance sheets
  • Income statement
  • Cash flow
  • Ratio analysis

Click here to register for this event.

Business Communications
Date: April 26, 2017 | 6:00 pm PST – 8:00 pm PST
Location: 6160 Van Nuys Blvd  Van Nuys, CA 91401 (map it)
Contact: (818) 894-8800
Organization: ICON CDC
Fee: Free

This workshop will help you develop and refine your brand and practice your sales pitch. This training will give everybody the opportunity to practice their pitch before the SFV Marketplace event on May 2.

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

Process Improvement & Working Smarter
Date: April 18, 2017 | 2:00 pm PST – 3:30 pm PST
Location: Online—Webinar
Organization: Women’s Business Center
Contact: Martha Ocasio | mocasio@thecentre.org | (813) 251-8437
Organization: The Helen Gordon David Centre for Women
Fee: Free

How do you improve the work processes in your office or small business? This class focuses on applying “lean” process improvement to add efficiencies to your business and improve your bottom line potential. You’ll learn ideas to make your work processes flow better, faster, and cheaper, plus problem solving and identifying “value added” activities.

“Lean” thinking applies to any business process, regardless of your industry. In many cases, this can result in improved customer service, saved labor, better inventory control, and reduction of expenses.

Click here to register for this event.

Radio Show: Business Basics VEDC
Date: April 20, 2017| 5:00 pm PST -5:30 pm PST
Location: Radio show on KKVV Las Vegas (Nev.)
Organization: VEDC Nevada Business Opportunity Fund
Fee: Free

Do you want to become an ENTREPRENEUR? Need FUNDING for your business? Have questions about MANAGING your business? Tune into “Business Basics VEDC Radio Show” on KKVV Radio 1060AM at 5:00pm to listen and learn about the basics of being a business owner. Listen via LIVE stream at www.kkvv.com.

Click here to register for this event.

Get Found on Google Search and Maps
Date: April 26, 2017 | 8:00 am PST – 9:00 am PST
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Ian Rogers | rogersia@gvsu.edu | (616) 331-7262
Organization: Michigan Small Business Development Center
Fee: Free

It’s important your business’ information appears correctly when people search online. Did you know:

  • 4 out of 5 people use search engines to find local info like business hours and directions
  • Businesses with complete listings (with updated photos and hours of operations) are twice as likely to be considered reputable by customers
  • 37% of businesses have claimed a local business listing on a search engine

This workshop will explain how to setup Google My Business as your one-stop-shop for managing your business info as it appears across Google Search and Maps. Your potential customers will find important info for your business like your phone numbers, hours of operation, and driving directions.

Click here to register for this event.


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

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


Opportunity Fund is California’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit lender to small businesses. Last year, we made $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

Training your employees will improve efficiency, foster company loyalty, and increase the skills your business can utilize. Investing in your employees’ knowledge doesn’t have to dig a hole in your budget. Our content partner Nav offers four affordable online resources for inexpensive training.

Training your employees will improve efficiency, foster company loyalty, and increase the skills your business can utilize. Investing in your employees’ knowledge doesn’t have to dig a hole in your budget. Our content partner Nav.com offers four affordable online resources for inexpensive training.

It’s likely that you’ve hired your employees based on their skill set and experience, and sometimes that past experience is enough to make the perfect fit. But more often than not, even the best employees can benefit from training opportunities, and those benefits will extend into the product or service your company provides.

In the past, training wasn’t always financially feasible, and the costs may have outweighed those benefits. Fortunately, today’s employers can tap into online education services that are offered for free or next to nothing.

From coding classes to writing courses, these four sites can offer your employees quality skill building opportunities that will have a big impact in the workplace.

 

Microsoft Virtual Academy

Microsoft programs are so widely used that it seems commonplace to see things like “proficient in Microsoft Office” on a resume.  It’s also fairly common to find varying definitions of “proficiency.”  At the Microsoft Virtual Academy, students can hone those skills and truly become proficient at programs like Excel and Word.

Of course, the course offerings extend well past the Office suite, and are available for most Microsoft products including Exchange, Visual Studio, and SharePoint.  More in-depth courses for IT pros and developers are available as well.  The best part? They are all free.

edX

As someone who has opted to use edX in my quest for professional development, I can say that edX is a favorite; most critics agree. The open source operation makes it possible for schools like MIT, Harvard, Berkeley, and Boston University to provide willing students with quality instruction.

From business management and data analysis to the humanities and language development, students have the opportunity to engage in 4 to 12 week courses. Courses can be self-paced or users can commit to a schedule.  Many classes are free, but those wishing to receive a certificate to validate completion can typically expect to pay between $49 and $90 (although it does vary).

Coursera

Similar to edX, Coursera has a significant course catalog that spans a wide range of disciplines and includes top schools like Duke, UC Davis, Stanford, and U Penn.

Though Coursera does offer free access to course material, users do need to pay for access to the complete course offering, which includes graded assessments and certificates. Additionally, most courses are offered during scheduled sessions, meaning users need to complete them during the posted dates.

Employers interested in providing multiple employees with access to courses can pay for their enterprise service, which caters to both small and large businesses.  Small business owners can expect to pay between $100/pp (1 course each) to $400/pp (6 courses each). A free trail that provides access to enterprise level features is available.

Codeacademy

Once upon a time, coding was something left to developers, but simple skills, like HTML, can be extremely useful (formatting emails, making quick fixes to website, etc.). Codeacademy offers users the opportunity to become proficient in 12 coding languages including Java, Python, and SQL as well as common markup languages like HTML and CSS.

Those looking to utilize Codeacademy for free have access to the lessons and exercises as well as active forums.  However, employers looking for something a bit more structured can opt for a paid Pro account which runs $16.67 for individuals and $25 for teams of 5 or more.  This allows for program monitoring and directed learning experiences.

Growing your employees skill set can be great for everyone involved, and the great news is that it doesn’t need to cost you an arm and a leg. These websites can help you track down robust course offerings that can take your employees and your company to the next level.

 

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

Barbara Sullivan started Sullivan International over 30 years ago. Her firm is a leader in workforce development for other businesses in Southern California. Two working capital loans from Opportunity Fund are helping Barbara reach more businesses in need of human resources support.

Our customers inspire us every day, and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too.  This week, read about Barbara Sullivan of Sullivan International in Long Beach. Sullivan International is a leader in workforce development for other businesses in Southern California. Two working capital loans from Opportunity Fund are helping Barbara reach more businesses in need of human resources support.

Inspiring Success

Barbara Sullivan loves business. Inspired by the self-made African-American business man A.G. Gaston in her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, Barbara started her human resources and workforce development firm Sullivan International in Long Beach over 30 years ago.

Sullivan International serves business clients in need of support in human resources, training, and supplier diversity. They work with large companies like Southern California Edison and PG&E as well as vendors for clients who need help with business infrastructure and workforce development.

As a hard working, savvy businesswoman, Barbara has many resources to choose from to grow her business. She found a new resource in business lending while working with a client, MCS California.

“I want to grow my company and take it to the next level,” Barbara said. “I had some new contracts in workforce development coming in and I needed some money to help service those contracts.”

Her contacts at MCS offered her a connection to Opportunity Fund. Once Barbara started talking to us, she knew she was on the right path to grow Sullivan International.

A Passion for Progress

Opportunity Fund loan consultant Armando Cruz got Barbara started with a $7,000 loan in September 2015. The capital helped secure those incoming contracts. The loan also established us an easy-to-use resource for Sullivan International.

“Opportunity Fund is great because of how they handle paperwork and how they handle my business,” Barbara said. “There was no drama. It was simple.”

Sullivan International - staff

Barbara meets with her staff at company headquarters (photo courtesy of ROF Industries)

Barbara came back for a second loan for $15,000 in November 2016. “The terms were always favorable for me,” she said. “Armando always got back to me in a timely manner, and he never said no. He always had options for me. Opportunity Fund has more options and more flexibility than most loan companies.”

Sullivan International allows Barbara to serve fellow business owners and turn her passion into progress for companies. Her firm also provides workforce development. This program helps people seeking entry-level jobs by providing them with training and other resources to support their progress in the workforce.

As she grows her company, she’s also helping us grow by spreading the word about our easy-to-get, fast, and affordable small business loans to other business owners.

We’re happy to support Barbara’s goals for Sullivan International, and we’re proud to serve a key member of California’s African-American business community.

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

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

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

Sometimes the advice you find online just isn’t right for the unique challenges your small business faces. There are many organizations with locations all over the country that can give you personalized assistance. We’ve compiled this list of tools and resources that will help you find local events, advice, and opportunities.

 

How much it costs: Free

What it does: SCORE is a nonprofit resource for accessing business advice. They offer free webinars, local workshops, and a service to find a mentor near you. You can either meet your member in-person at a local chapter or through various digital communication channels. All meetings are confidential, and they won’t charge you no matter how many times you meet with your mentor.

 

How much it costs: Free

What it does: The Small Business Association (SBA) is always a good place to look for small business advice and assistance, but did you know they have local offices? Look up your regional or district office for local workshops and seminars. The SBA also offers lots of resources for information and advice.

 

How much it costs: Free

What it does: Small Business Development Centers are also local offices that are available to small business owners. The main website offers special members-only deals from partner companies such as Quickbooks and Square. Looking up your local SBDC chapter will show you workshops, training, advisors, and events near you. Sign up to become a member for free.

 

How much it costs: Free

What it does: Our blog features free or low-cost events each month. The in-person workshops and seminars are only located in California at this time, but we also showcase online webinars that anyone can join.

 

How much it costs: Free

What it does: Your local chamber is the best place to go for representation. As a small business owner, you deserve to have your voice heard by local government officials and community investors. Use this resource to keep up-to-date on city and county level laws that might affect your business. Your chamber might also host networking opportunities and workshops. Additionally, check out the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Nation for newsletters, mentors, ebooks, articles, tax calendars, and more.

 

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

This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in Northern and Southern California. Here are the best upcoming events from April 3 through April 17.

Every two weeks, we’re sharing and promoting free and affordable events that help small business owners run their businesses better. This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in Northern and Southern California. Here are the best upcoming events from April 3 through April 17.

Northern California/Sacramento

Food Business Entrepreneur Training Academy
Date: April 3, 2017 | 6:30 pm PST – 8:30 pm PST
Location: Dublin Library—Community Room
200 Civic Plaza Dublin, CA 94568 (map it)
Contact: (510) 208-0410
Organization: Alameda County SBDC
Fee: Free

The Alameda County SBDC and the Alameda County Community Development Agency offer a free ten-part seminar on “Running Your Own Food Business” for participants interested in launching and growing food businesses in Alameda County.

In this series, you will learn the basics to start and grow your own food business. Do you have a great idea and a burning desire to start a food product or restaurant/cafe business, but don’t know how? This series will help turn your idea into reality.

Starting with Session 1 – Defining Your Concept on April 3, we will discuss how to begin to take an idea for a new food company, and begin to explore how you can expand an idea into a business plan. We will also discuss other important factors in your business like:

  • Product – What (distribution channel options)
  • Target market – Who
  • Unique Selling Proposition (USP) – Why
  • Defining Success – Bottom line, triple bottom line, environmental and community impact
  • People
  • Shareholders/Stakeholders

Click here to register for this event.

SimpleSTEPS for Starting Your Business
Date: April 13, 2017 | 6:30 pm PST – 9:0 pm PST
Location: Simpkins Family Swim Center
979 17th Ave Santa Cruz, CA 95062 (map it)
Contact: Edward Fordyce | (831) 621-3735 | efordyce@santacruzscore.org
Organization: Santa Cruz County SCORE
Fee: $35

This SCORE workshop will give attendees an appreciation of what it takes to successfully start and grow a small business.  Drawn from the actual experiences of seasoned entrepreneurs and business leaders, this workshop is designed to help new and early-stage businesses by presenting a broad overview of the issues that may impact their success or failure, such as:

  • Start-up Myths
  • Critical Factors to Success
  • Business Opportunities
  • Marketing
  • Structure, DBA, Licenses, Insurance
  • Record Keeping & Taxes
  • The Goal
  • Cash Needs & Sources
  • Business Plans
  • Next Steps

To register for this event, click here.

The Veterans Business Outreach Center Presents: Business Basics Seminar
Date: April 13, 2017 | 2:00 pm PST – 5:00 pm PST
Location: Veterans Business Outreach Center
4608 Duckhorn Dr Sacramento, CA, 95834 (map it)
Contact: Catrina Avila | admin@vbocix.org | (916) 527-8400
Organization: Veteran Business Outreach Program
Fee: Free for veterans and military | $49 for non-VBOC clients

This training is designed for individuals interested in starting a business or currently in business for two or less years. Course includes business evaluation, market research, licensing and permit requirements, start-up cost, financing sources, insurance, cash flow analysis, legal structure, self-employment analysis, cash management, customer profile, protecting your business idea, and the reality of operating a business.

Click here to register for this event (non-VBOC members).

Southern California/San Diego

Keeping the Books: Business Accounting Basics
Date: April 4, 2017 | 12:00 pm PST – 2:00 pm PST
Location: LA Law Library
301 W. 1st St Los Angeles, CA 90012 (map it)
Contact: 213-785-2516
Organization: LA Law Library
Fee: Free

Every business decision must be made with an eye toward the bottom line. Learn to accurately assess your business’ financial outlook and plan for the future by understanding the basics of business accounting and finance.

This class covers:

  • How to apply the fundamentals of financial modeling to set realistic, achievable goals
  • How to apply basic accounting concepts to ensure an accurate financial snapshot of your business
  • How to use key financial statements like income, balance sheet, and cash flow

Click here to register for this event.

QuickBooks Boot Camp
Date: April 7, 2017 | 9:30 am PST – 4:00 pm PST
Location: 26455 Rockwell Canyon Rd Santa Clarita, CA 91355 (map it)
Contact: Lora Nelson | lora.nelson@canyons.edu | (661) 362-5900
Organization: SBDC hosted by College of the Canyons
Fee: $139

In this day long, fast-paced, and all inclusive workshop, participants will get a running start with QuickBooks 2016. You’ll learn many valuable skills, such as:

  • How to set up their company file from scratch
  • How to create a quality chart of accounts
  • How to create new vendors, customer, items, and accounts
  • How to pay bills, invoice customers, receive payments, make deposits and reconcile bank accounts

An introduction to the report center will be covered, including how to create a Profit & Loss Statement and a Balance Sheet.

This course is Ideal for business owners, office managers, and bookkeepers who are brand new to QuickBooks, as well as, existing users who would like some formal education in one of these QuickBooks features. Training held in a computer lab with limited seating. Please note that there will be a half an hour break lunch break. Lunch is not provided.

Click here to register for this event.

Retirement Planning For Small Business Owners
Date: April 12, 2017 | 5:30 pm PST – 8:30 pm PST
Location: La Habra Community Center—El Camino Room
101 W La Habra Blvd La Habra, CA 90631 (map it)
Contact: (714) 550-7369
Organization: Orange County SCORE
Fee: Free

Small businesses have generally not been very successful in terms of providing opportunities for their employees to save for retirement. Only 44% of small businesses offer retirement plans. Lots of business owners are so busy working in their businesses they haven’t even taken time to plan for their own retirement, let alone keep up with the constant tax law changes which affect retirement planning in general.

This workshop will help you understand which retirement plans you should use for the best results.

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

Profitable Growth Through Smarter Business Choices
Date: April 5, 2017 | 11:00 am PST – 12:00 pm PST
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: njsbdcnb@business.rutgers.edu | (848) 445-8790 or (848) 445-8796
Organization: NJSBDC at Rutgers-New Brunswick
Fee: Free

This free webinar from SBDC-Rutgers New Brunswick will teach you best practices for expense reduction and optimum cash flow management through better business decision making. You’ll learn how to lead your staff to key success outcomes like:

  • Make your business leaner and hyper efficient while improving quality of service
  • Negotiate bigger discounts and better terms with suppliers
  • Improve your cash flow
  • Help your business support staff focus on other more critical revenue generating business functions.

Click here to register for this event.

Your Plan for Your Business Plan
Date: April 5, 2017| 4:00 pm PST -5:00 pm PST
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Barry Black | midflorida@scorevolunteer.org | (352) 399-0050
Organization: Mid-Florida SCORE
Fee: Free

Nothing is more crucial to business success than planning. Learn how you can best develop your plan for your business.  A small business is like a gemstone – all the facets have to work together to make it brilliant.

Click here to register for this event.

Three Easy Steps to Being A Better Boss
Date: April 6, 2017 | 10:30 am PST – 11:30 am PST
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Larry Batten | larry.batten@sba.gov | (304) 623-7447
Organization: SCORE
Fee: Free

Times are changing. Retaining employees has become more difficult, customers have become more selective, and change seems to have become the only constant in business. Developing our leadership skills can dramatically improve our odds at not just managing business and its uncertainties, but feeling empowered around it all. Come learn three effective, yet easy to learn strategies to becoming a better boss.

Click here to register for this event.

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

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


Opportunity Fund is California’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit lender to small businesses. Last year, we made $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