Maria Villarreal runs Cosmetica Latina, a successful cosmetology school in Downey. She is also a leader in the Latino business community. We helped her refinance a high interest predatory loan so she can focus on expanding her business.

Our customers inspire us every day, and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too. This week, read about Maria Villarreal of Cosmetica Latina in Downey. Maria runs a successful cosmetology school and is a leader in the Latino business community. We helped her refinance a high interest predatory loan so she can focus on expanding her business.

A Leader in Education

Maria started Cosmetica Latina in 2002 in Downey. The cosmetology school has strong ties to the Latino community and supports students throughout their studies with hands-on instruction, internships in the field, and real world business skills. The school has 25 employees as instructors and administrators and has graduated over 70 students with skills in barbering, cosmetology, and esthetics.

Maria has a long history as a responsible business borrower. Our non-profit community partner AMPAC Tri-State CDC helped Maria get started with a 504 Small Business Association loan to buy the building she was renting for her school.

She needed another small business loan to help expand her school through advertising, so she took out a merchant cash advance loan. Soon she found her cash flow drained under the weight of high monthly payments.

“When I signed up for that loan, I thought I was getting low interest financing,” Maria said. “I wanted to build my credit with that loan, but they didn’t report on my credit.”

Fighting for Fair Loan Practices

AMPAC connected Maria to us when she needed help refinancing her predatory MCA loan. Opportunity Fund Community Development Officer Robert Zapata helped Maria get the $50,000 loan she needed to pay off the loan. Our commitment to providing easy-to-get, fast, and affordable loans included a fight with Maria’s MCA lender.

“They offered a lower interest rate to keep me,” Maria said. “They wouldn’t release the payoff letter to Opportunity Fund either.”

Cosmetica Latina - Robert and Maria

Maria shakes hands with Opportunity Fund Community Development Officer Robert Zapata at Cosmetica Latina headquarters (photo courtesy of ROF Industries)

By refinancing Maria’s high interest MCA loan, we were able to reduce her monthly payment from $6,000 to  $1,600. The extra cash flow allows her to reinvest in marketing.

Maria is thankful to work with us as she rebuilds her business lending profile. “Opportunity Fund was completely transparent,” she said. “They helped me understand the loan process and showed me I wasn’t the only one who gets stuck with these very high interest loans.”

Maria is taking her negative lending experiences and turning them into positive actions within the community. She shares her story among her network of small business owners so they don’t fall into the traps that target entrepreneurs.

“I want to make the community aware of financing options and help them make good lending decisions,” she said.

Maria is a prime example of the borrowers we help: community leaders and responsible business borrowers. We’re honored to support Cosmetica Latina.

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 free organization tools.

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 free organization tools.

From invoices to inspiration, being a small business owner can be overwhelming. You need a way to remember and keep track of your business without going crazy. We’ve compiled this list of tools and resources that will help you organize your workload.

How much it costs: Free

What it does: Evernote is a really popular tool for creating and organizing notes in the cloud. With Evernote’s free plan, you can synch up your notes across two devices, with 60MB storage, and can even store web pages and photos for reference. Paid plans offer premium non-essential services such as forwarding emails, accessing notes across unlimited devices and even offline, scanning and storing business cards, annotating PDFs, and browsing through your notes history. If you’re the kind of person who has a million things to remember but can’t keep a list all in one place, Evernote might be the free tool for you.

How much it costs: Free

What it does: We’ve recommended a free Google product before, but here’s another one that can really benefit your small business. Google Drive is a completely free service that you can use with or without your gmail account, and you can purchase additional cloud storage space if you need. Upload files, documents, and powerpoints into your Drive and share it with anyone you want easily.

How much it costs: Free

What it does: Producteev is a great way to organize your projects. You can easily keep track of to-do lists, collaborators, priorities, and deadlines for any project your small business has. Don’t bother paying for their premium plan that only adds custom colors and online support; their free plan has everything you need to orangize and track your business operations.

How much it costs: Free

What it does: Some people love to remember things by snapping a photo of it with their smartphone and looking at it later. Genius Scan offers a business-oriented approach to this same idea. Download the app on either Android or iPhone and easily take quality photos and scans of receipts, invoices, notes, and other documents. For an affordable one-time fee, you can add on other features including exporting your scanned items to cloud storage systems if you want to access them on a desktop.

How much it costs: Free

What it does: Pinterest can be used for more than recipes and DIY project ideas. Businesses sometimes use Pinterest to promote their products and blog posts, but you can also use it to organize inspiration for your small business. A unique use for this completely free website and app is to create private boards and pin instructional blog posts you want to read or ideas you like for anything from menu designs to decor for your business’ redecorating plan. Download their free tool to instantly grab content from the web for faster organization.

 

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 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

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 July 17 through July 31.

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 July 17 through July 31.

Northern California/Sacramento

Women Mean Business
Date: July 18, 2017 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: Renaissance SOMA
275 5th St. San Francisco, CA 94103 (map it)
Contact: Fatimah Aure | faure@rencenter.org | (415) 348-6217
Organization: Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center
Fee: $15

Join the Renaissance Entrepreneurship center for this networking event where women entrepreneurs will share their journeys of starting and growing their own San Francisco-based jewelry businesses. Enjoy an evening of wine, hors d’oeuvres, and a panel discussion, followed by facilitated networking. Entry fee includes light dinner.

Click here to register for this event.

Success with Facebook Ads
Date: July 19, 2017 | 1:00 pm PDT – 4:00 pm PDT
Location: 455 Market St. Suite 600 San Francisco, CA 94105 (map it)
Contact: Angelique Gosse | angelique.gosse@sfgov.org | (415) 937-7232
Organization: San Francisco SBDC
Fee: Free

During this workshop you will learn the best practices for achieving success and creating leads through Facebook Ads.

This class is designed for intermediate Facebook Ad users. Please prepare the following prerequisites before attending the seminar to get the most out of your time with us:

  • Install Facebook Pixel on your business website (Get started here)
  • Create an Ad manager Facebook account for your business Facebook page (Get started here)
  • Prepare and bring a current email client list with first name, last name, and email address
  • Prepare and bring 5-10 Images and/or video

Bring your laptop and get ready to learn! Click here to register for this event.

How to Repair or Build Your Credit
Date: July 19, 2017 | 5:30 pm PDT – 7:30 pm PDT
Location: 205 Chestnut St. Mount Shasta, California 96067 (map it)
Contact: info@e-jedi.org | (530) 926-6670
Organization: Jefferson Economic Development Institute (JEDI)
Fee: $15

Credit can be an incredible asset or a heavy burden, depending on how you use it. Your credit history is an important factor in access to capital for your business.
Join this workshop and learn:

  • Why and how to build your credit
  • How to get free credit reports
  • What makes a good credit score
  • Why you want to file taxes and show some profit
  • What NOT to do if you want a high credit score

Click here or call (503) 926-6670 to register for this event.

Southern California/San Diego

Grow Your Business: You’ve Survived, Now Thrive
Date: July 22, 2017 | 9:00 am PDT – 12:00 pm PDT
Location: United States University
7675 Mission Valley Rd. San Diego, CA 92108 (map it)
Contact: workshop0140@scorevolunteer.org | (619) 727-4874
Organization: SCORE San Diego
Fee: $20

SCORE’s Grow Your Business is an informal conversation between you and our team of qualified executives, experts in the areas of sales, marketing, finance, management, and more. The session is designed to help small business owners take their enterprise to the next level.

This discussion will address the needs and concerns of our audience. Instead of SCORE “guessing” at what the audience would like to hear, you are encouraged to bring your questions or concerns. We also encourage attendees to share their own experiences and/or solutions to questions addressed.

Click here to register for this event.

SBA Day and Lender Fair in Vista
Date: July 26, 2017 | 8:00 am PDT – 2:00 pm PDT
Location: Vista Civic Center
200 Civic Center Dr. Vista, CA 92084 (map it)
Contact: Maria Hughes | Maria.hughes@sba.gov | (619) 727-4871
Organizations: SBA San Diego District Office and Vista Chamber of Commerce
Fee: Free

The SBA San Diego District Office and the Vista Chamber of Commerce are hosting an SBA Day event and Lender Fair on Wednesday, July 26th.

Registration will begin at 8 a.m., followed by the main program and presentations from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m:

  • California small business permits and taxes—Presented by California Board of Equalization
  • Legal aspects of being in business—Presented by a local attorney
  • Overview of the new I-9 form and filing procedures—Presented by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
  • Cyber Security Tips—Presented by TBD
  • Our Resource Partners Can Help You Succeed in Your Business—Presented by representatives from SCORE, the Small Business Development Center, the Veteran’s Business Outreach Center, and others

The Lender Fair, networking, and one-on-one Counseling will follow presentations until 2 p.m.

Coffee and light breakfast will be available. Optional lunch is available for $5 fee, payable at registration.

Click here to register for this event. Registration is required to attend.

Marketing for Restaurants
Date: July 27, 2017 | 5:30 pm PDT – 7:30 pm PDT
Location: West Valley BusinessSource Center
18645 Sherman Wy. #114 Reseda, CA 91335 (map it)
Contact: Irene Vazquez | ivazquez@vedc.org | (818) 705-9977
Organization: VEDC
Fee: Free

Restaurateurs hear a lot of conflicting ideas about restaurant promotions. Join this free workshop to learn how to grow your business from the ground up.

Get information on these key strategies:

  • Avoid promotional ideas that might devalue your restaurant
  • Avoid unsustainable expectations from customers like getting food at half price
  • And more!

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

Using LinkedIn to Grow your Business
Date: July 19, 2017 | 9:00 am PDT – 10:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: marketingscore24@gmail.com | (973) 442-6400
Organization: Northwest New Jersey SCORE
Fee: Free

Join Northwest New Jersey SCORE for this webinar and get the most out of LinkedIn for your small business:

  • Build your professional network on LinkedIn
  • Gather intelligence and data on your prospects and customers
  • Enhance your reputation
  • Become the authoritative resource in your market segment
  • Generate new sales leads

Click here to register for this event.

Business Plan Overview
Date: July 19, 2017 | 9:00 am PDT – 10:30 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Melissa Terrell | mterrell@theinstitutenc.org | (919) 956-2335
Organization: Women’s Business Center of North Carolina
Fee: Free

Join the Women’s Business Center of North Carolina for this webinar where you’ll learn the key elements of a successful business plan. Get answers to your questions on why you need a good business plan and how to get started.

The webinar will cover:

  • Outline your plan
  • Craft a mission statement
  • Analyze the market and the industry
  • Create a financial plan
  • Locate resources

Click here to register for this event.

Marketing With Google Tools
Date: July 19, 2017| 9:00 am PDT – 10:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: njsbdcnb@business.rutgers.edu | (848) 445-8790
Organization: NJSBDC at Rutgers – New Brunswick
Fee: Free

The webinar covers three features of Google Tools to market and grow a business online:

  • Be found by local customers—How to connect with local searchers using Google My Business, a free local business listing that can help your business appear across Google Search and Maps
  • Be found everywhere, on all devices—How to optimize your website for the organic search results, focusing on making your site mobile-friendly
  • Be found with online advertising—How to promote your products and services on Google and partner websites.

Click here to register for this event. After completing your registration, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

 

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 fiscal year ‘16, 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

Our lending experts are here to answer your toughest questions about small business financing. Shanna McClearn, a business development officer here at Opportunity Fund, shares her insights on lending with this Q&A about P&L statements. Continue reading to find out what they are, why you need to create one, and how it can help you get the loan your business needs.

Our lending experts are here to answer your toughest questions about small business financing. Shanna McClearn, a business development officer here at Opportunity Fund, shares her insights on lending with this Q&A about P&L statements. Continue reading to find out what they are, why you need to create one, and how it can help you get the loan your business needs.

In our blog post about the loan application process, we talked about preparing financial documents before applying for a loan. One of the most important documents lenders want to see after tax returns and bank statements is a P&L statement.

If you aren’t finance savvy, a P&L (Profit and Loss) statement is a document that summarizes your small business’ earnings and expenditures. Sometimes referred to as an income statement, a P&L shows how your business is doing over a period of time. It’s important to have an accurate P&L statement if you want an affordable loan to grow your small business. Keep reading to learn why.

 

Q: Why should business owners create a P&L statement?

A: Profit and loss statements are used to help business owners keep track of what is going on in their business and prove to lenders they can afford a loan. Having cash in the bank doesn’t always tell the full story. An owner can have a lot of cash in the bank, but that may be because they are not paying their rent or not paying all of their taxes. There’s no way to really tell without proper financial statements.

Owners need to know their numbers.  They should know their monthly/quarterly/annual sales and expenses. This helps owners track trends in their profits and spending. You need to know when and where to make adjustments before you’re running a deficit. Without a P&L, neither the business owner nor a lender will accurately know if the business is actually making money in the long-term.

Q: How does a P&L work with other financial documents? What’s the difference?

A: The P&L, Balance Sheet, and Cash Flow Statements are all interrelated. For example, the net income from the P&L is reported in the equity section of the balance sheet. If a business owner prepares the P&L on a cash basis versus an accrual basis, then cash flow from operating activities (i.e. cash from sales and cash paid to vendors or employees) would be included in the cash flow statement. Even if it may seem redundant, all of these financial documents paints a complete, detailed picture of how your business is doing.

Q: How will preparing financial documents help me get an affordable loan?

A: Besides a tax return, a profit and loss statement is the only other document that can tell a lender how the business is doing. Lenders need to be able to determine if the business is generating enough cash flow to pay the business expenses plus the proposed loan payment. Without a P&L, lenders won’t be able to calculate if the business is able to support a loan payment. If a lender doesn’t ask to see financial statements, chances are high that they are preying on you with an unaffordable loan that will cripple your business.

Q: What makes a stellar P&L statement stand out?

A: The more detailed, the better. Lenders want to know the source of the sales revenues. These type of details help lender truly understand the operations of the company. P&Ls that only show total sales and total expenses, with no itemization, are not really helpful. Here are a few examples of good itemization:

  • For a restaurant: breakdown your revenues from food sales versus liquor, beverages, or other merchandise.  
  • For a service company: breakdown your revenues from ongoing contracts versus one-time customers.
  • In general: it’s important to itemize your expenses so that lenders can see detailed cost of goods sold (COGS) and operating expenses like rent, payroll, and advertising.  It’s also good to note if there were any one-time expenses included on the P&L, like legal fees related to a lawsuit or start-up costs for a new product line.

From a lender’s perspective, accrual based accounting is better than cash based accounting because it’s a more accurate way of recording when revenues and expenses are recognized instead of paid. Discuss this with your accountant to see if this is possible for your business.

Q: What mistakes do borrowers make when preparing their financial statements and can borrowers avoid those mistakes?

A: The biggest mistake that small business owners make with their financial statements is taking a hands-off approach.  It’s understandable that small business owners are busy, and financial statements may not be their core competency. Many owners just pass along information to their bookkeeper or accountant and leave it up to that person to take care of all the financials. However, it’s important to take the time to understand what the numbers on the statements mean. You should learn how to read the financial statements to decipher things like how products are selling period-over-period, how product pricing may compare to expenses, and how expenses are trending each period.

Another big mistake small business owners make is only creating financial statements once a year. If you are only tracking revenues and expenses on a yearly basis, it’s hard to keep track of things because you are referring to outdated information. For instance, if adjustments to pricing need to be made or if the rental contract needs to be renegotiated, it’s difficult to know what adjustments to make if you don’t know and track the company’s numbers.  

Q: How do I get started?

A: Start by having a discussion with your accountant or bookkeeper. Collect your records of sales and expenses, calculate net income, and fill out a formatted document that will cleanly show your net income.

For a detailed guide on creating a P&L statement, check out this handbook by Zions Bank:

How to Prepare a Profit and Loss (Income) Statement

 

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

Nelda and Gammie Vargas had all the right tools to start their own Filipino restaurant, but couldn’t get funding. Opportunity Fund helped GNC Kusina Atbp grow with two small business loans.

Our customers inspire us every day, and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too. Get to know Nelda and Gammie Vargas of GNC Kusina Atbp in Sacramento. Nelda and Gammie had all the right tools to start their own Filipino restaurant, but couldn’t get funding. Read how we helped them grow their business with two small business loans.

A Fresh Business Idea

Nelda and Gammie Vargas started their own Filipino restaurant, GNC Kusina Atpb, in 2014. Gammie has over 30 years of experience as a professional chef at restaurants like Morton’s The Steakhouse. Nelda studied accounting in the Philippines. The time was right for them to start a business.

GNC Kusina Atbp is unique in Sacramento: a restaurant/grocery store where you can pop in for a freshly cooked traditional Filipino breakfast or pick up staples like house-made pork rinds for your home pantry.

As a first time business owner, Nelda has worked through challenges to make her restaurant successful. “It was hard at first starting because we had no background with starting a restaurant business,” she said.  “We’re doing better now. We’re focused on introducing our food to new customers.”

Nelda Vargas - GNC Kusina

Nelda proudly serves authentic Filipino food (photo courtesy of Heimo Schmidt)

GNC Kusina Atbp is the only source of income for Nelda and Gammie. “This is our bread and butter,” she said. “Our business helps us pay our bills, our house payments, our utilities, everything. We’re doing well.”

Soon Nelda started looking for small business loans to help secure cash flow for the business. A unique business like GNC Kusina Atbp required a unique funding source. Opportunity Fund was the right fit.

Funding A Family Restaurant

Nelda went to her Wells Fargo business banker, who connected her to Opportunity Fund. Once she talked to loan consultant Madieu Shyllon, she knew we were the right choice for her business.

“Madieu came to my business and approved my first loan,” she said. “My credit wasn’t good when I first applied for loans. It’s hard to get approved for a small business loan without a business profile. I just started my business and couldn’t pay to hire someone to prepare my profile.”

The $10,000 loan helped Nelda purchase a new freezer unit in August 2015. Madieu closed a second loan in January 2017 for $15,000 to help with cash flow.

Nelda values her working relationship with Madieu. “He’s there whenever I call him,” she said. “Sometimes he comes all the way from the Bay Area just to visit us and see how we’re doing, even if he doesn’t have business in the area.”

Nelda is looking to the future of her restaurant. She hopes to call on us again when she needs working capital. We’ll be there to help GNC Kusina Atbp serve up fresh Filipino favorites.

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

Search engine optimization (SEO) is vital for maximum online impact for your small business. It’s also one of the hardest skills for busy entrepreneurs to master. Our content partner Nav makes it simple for you to get started with 3 easy tips for managing local SEO.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is vital for maximum online impact for your small business. It’s also one of the hardest skills for busy entrepreneurs to master. Our content partner Nav.com makes it simple for you to get started with 3 easy tips for managing local SEO.

Did you know that nearly half of all Google searches are local? Or that the 50% of consumers who perform a local search from their mobile device end up visiting that store within a day? Local search is on the rise, and for most smartphone wielding consumers, that’s probably not a surprise.

Many of us turn to our smartphones to help guide our purchasing decisions, whether that’s finding the perfect place to dine or to locate a good or service we need. Just type a few keywords into the Google search bar, and contact information, maps, reviews, and even some photos are at our fingertips, helping us decide where to go. Of course, chances are that if a business hasn’t taken the time to optimize their local search efforts, then they’ll go unnoticed by the tech savvy consumer. And that’s a shame.

Optimizing your Google local listing and capitalizing on the growing consumer base that relies on local searches is easy and yields big results, especially when it comes to foot traffic and conversions. Here’s a few simple ways to make sure your business is visible to all the customers near you.

Sign up for a Google My Business Account

In today’s mobile based economy, signing up for a Google My Business account is as important as unlocking your doors every morning or getting a telephone number. It’s essential for success.

The free service allows businesses to list all relevant details, making their info readily available for consumers searching within your geographic location. This listing includes vital contact information (address, phone number, website) as well as reviews.  It also will place your business on the map, literally, at least on Google Maps and any app that utilizes Google Maps (Yelp, for example).

Provide thorough and precise information about your business

Google uses search algorithms to serve its users with the most accurate results it can, and for those hoping to optimize their local search efforts, that means including all relevant info. Business owners must provide accurate information for their business (phone number, address, hours of operations, and any URLs available (for example, if you’re a restaurant, you’d want to link to your menu where applicable) if they want to increase the their chances of appearing in top search results.

It also means choosing terms to accurately describe your business. Take for example a furniture store that specializes in vintage or refurbished pieces. It’s not enough to simply describe your store as a “furniture store.”  Instead, specific words, like “vintage furniture” can improve search results by funneling relevant traffic to your listing, putting your store information in front of the exact consumer base you want to reach.

Be mindful of your reviews

According to a recent Pew study, 82% of consumers consult reviews before making a purchase. And almost 50% of consumers are using their mobile devices to check reviews while they’re in the store. Reviews are integral to the overall success of a business, and that’s true when it comes to attracting customers via local search results.

Remember that Google algorithm we talked about briefly above? Reviews are factored into that algorithm and impact rankings; good reviews bode well for businesses and help establish themselves as top in search results.

Great reviews do help businesses gain traction in search results, but reviews are important for another reason. Reviews create unique content that is often, by proxy, filled with keywords that help you rank better. Google sees unique and relevant content as a major plus, so reviews can help drive your campaign (so can your responses).

To leverage the power of reviews, be sure to stay engaged with your customers. You can even consider developing a campaign that incentivizes your clients to leave reviews.

I know what you’re thinking: what about bad reviews? Despite the fact that there will always be customers who are simply impossible to please, responding to poor reviews is important, and over time, customers can see that you’ve made attempts to reach out and remedy any issues (you’ll also be creating more unique content); they may even consider changing their review once you’ve addressed their concerns.

For businesses that rely on local clientele and regular foot traffic, local SEO is essential for success and must be part of long- and short-term marketing strategies.  While some facets of online marketing, particularly SEO, may seem daunting, these three simple yet powerful local SEO tips can help any business stake a claim in their local economy.

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

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 July 3 through July 16.

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 July 3 through July 16.

Northern California/Sacramento

Drive New Business with Social Media
Date: July 6, 2017 | 10:00 am PDT – 12:00 pm PDT
Location: Simpkins Family Swim Center
979 17th St. Santa Cruz, CA 95062 (map it)
Contact: John Yost | jyost@santacruz.score.org | (831) 621-3735
Organization: Santa Cruz SCORE
Fee: $35

Join Santa Cruz SCORE for this workshop that will teach you how to get started with social media for your business or non-profit.

This session will answer your key questions, including:

  • Which social media platform(s) will have the biggest bang for your buck?
  • How to create content to grow your followers?
  • How to advertise on social media?
  • And more!

Click here to register for this event.

How Smart Business Owners Use Credit Cards
Date: July 13, 2017 | 9:30 am PDT – 10:30 am PDT
Location: 455 Market St. Suite 600 San Francisco, CA 94105 (map it)
Contact: sfomail@sba.gov | (415) 744-6820
Organization: U.S. Small Business Association
Fee: Free

Credit cards can be a great tool for managing cash flow or can be helpful as a short-term loan option. Join the SBA for this free seminar to learn how to use credit cards for your business to earn some sweet rewards while avoiding costly pitfalls.

We’ll discuss:

  • Pros and cons of credit cards for entrepreneurs
  • Different types of credit cards and how they can affect your credit scores
  • Common credit card mistakes many small business owners make
  • The one piece of plastic you should not use in your business
  • Key differences between personal and business cards
  • Qualifying for the best business credit cards
  • And more!

Click here to register for this event.

Meet the Lenders Workshop
Date: July 13, 2017 | 12:30 pm PDT – 3:30 pm PDT
Location: Mt. Shasta Community Building
629 Alder St. Mt. Shasta, CA 96067 (map it)
Contact: info@e-jedi.org | (530) 926-6670
Organization: Jefferson Economic Development Institute (JEDI)
Fee: Free

Join us at Meet the Lenders and get answers to your questions on financing options for startups and expanding businesses, veteran entrepreneurs, and others through local and JEDI partner organizations.

We will cover:

  • Financing options available to small businesses
  • Loans for real estate, equipment, or machinery
  • Funding sources and services for veterans

Find the financing that fits your business needs! Click here or call (503) 926-6670 to register for this event.

Southern California/San Diego

Introduction to QuickBooks
Date: July 6, 2017 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: 1003 East Cooley Dr. Suite 109 Colton, CA 92324 (map it)
Contact: Dee Anna Chandler | deeann@iewbc.org | (909) 890-1242
Organization: Inland Empire Women’s Business Center
Fee: Free

Learning a new software package can be scary. Join this free seminar and replace the fear with excitement.

Quickbooks can help you build, maintain, and grow your business by providing automated bookkeeping and accounting procedures that help you stay on top. Learn ways to customize the software to your specific needs and create quality reports that keep you on track, including:

  • Tracking income and expenses
  • Maintaining your accounts receivables and payables
  • Creating quality financial statements

Want more Quickbooks? Register for the 3-part hands-on Quickbooks training at IWEB, which starts July 27. Call Dee Anna Chandler at (909) 890-1242 for more information.

Click here to register for this event.

Bring Attention To Your Website and Your Business With Video!
Date: July 11, 2017 6:00 pm PDT – 9:00 pm PDT
Location: Bellflower City Hall
16600 Civic Center Dr. Bellflower, CA 90706 (map it)
Contact: (714) 550-7369
Organization: Orange County SCORE
Fee: Free

Video is becoming the content of choice to showcase your business, your product, or your service online! Learn how to create and publish do-it-yourself video throughout your website, social media, and email with the tools you already have!

Haven’t you always wanted to direct? Join us for this free workshop and learn: 

  • Brand standards and consistency on your website, social media, and video.
  • Tools and techniques for making your own videos look polished and professional.
  • Information on apps that make it easy.
  • Actionable steps to market your video online with email and social media.

Click here to register for this event.

Access to Capital Workshop
Date: July 12, 2017 | 5:00 pm PDT – 8:30 pm PDT
Location: Downtown Anaheim Community Center—Assembly Hall
250 E. Center St. Anaheim, CA 92805 (map it)
Contact: Martha Cisneros | mcisneros@elcamino.edu |(310) 973-3177
Organization: The Center and Orange County SBDC
Fee: Free

Join Opportunity Fund at Access to Capital Small Business Workshop, hosted by The Center and the Orange County Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

Come meet non-profit and government organizations committed to supporting small business:

  • Orange County SBDC
  • SBA
  • Anaheim Small Business Organization
  • CIELO
  • Opportunity Fund
  • And more!

These organizations can help you with challenges ranging from lowering your cost of capital to preparing your loan application package.

Enter to win a $1,500 Business Advancement Grant! At registration, simply tell us your story—why you run a small business & some of your challenges and successes—to be eligible.

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

Small Business Owners: Access Financial Resources to Boost Your Bottom Line
Date: July 6, 2017 | 9:00 am PDT – 10:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Mary Overbey
Organization: Small Business Majority
Fee: Free

If you need help accessing financial, health, or retirement resources to boost your bottom line and provide robust employee benefits, join this free webinar to learn about resources that can benefit your small business.

This free interactive event series will expand your knowledge of various topics such as optimizing your credit score, improving your health literacy, and exploring convenient retirement saving options. Register for one event, or sign up for the whole series for the most impact on your business!

  • Presentation #1 – Financial Resources (7/6/2017)
    Optimize your credit score, spot signs of predatory and payday lending, and easily access capital for your business.
  • Presentation #2 – Retirement Resources (7/13/2017)
    Discover the U.S. retirement savings gap and a summary of common retirement paths for entrepreneurs to help you and your employees save for the future and secure your finances.
  • Presentation #3 – Health Resources (7/20/2017)
    Learn what healthcare laws means for small businesses, and how repealing the ACA (or “Obamacare”) could impact employer-sponsored coverage for small firms and individual coverage for the self-employed. Additionally, we’ll provide examples of easy and affordable wellness programs that can benefit the health of your business and employees, and provide you with a guide to increase your health literacy.

Click here to register for this event.

Financial Calculations That Answer Key Business Questions
Date: July 11, 2017 | 10:00 am PDT – 11:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: (626) 585-3106
Organization: Pasadena SBDC
Fee: $25

Business owners can struggle with questions that affect the financial health of the company:

  • Are we selling at the right price?
  • Are we making money?
  • Can we afford to hire someone?

In this webinar, learn about Performance Measurements—simple mathematical calculations that can monitor sales, overhead, and profitability. Use them for business, independent of size and scope.

Click here to register for this event.

5 Cheap Ways to Market Your Business Online
Date: July 13, 2017| 10:30 am PDT – 11:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Kimberly Donahue | kimberly.donahue@sba.gov | (304) 347-5220
Organization: U.S. Small Business Administration
Fee: Free

Getting your business online isn’t as complicated—or expensive—as you might think. Join this free webinar and discuss ways to promote your business online without breaking the bank or driving yourself crazy.

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