Loans are a common way for businesses to acquire capital, but some loans are more affordable than others. Whether your small business is doing well or in need of more capital, refinancing your loan is an option to consider. Keep reading for a few signs that you might want to refinance.

Loans are a common way for businesses to acquire capital, but some loans are more affordable than others. Whether your small business is doing well or in need of more capital, refinancing your loan is an option to consider. Keep reading for a few signs that you might want to refinance.

 

You’re Not Making Profit

Two of the most common reasons small business owners refinance their loans is because they need additional working capital or because they want to lower their interest rate. Both of these reasons boil down to the issue of not making enough profit. Whether you are paying too much for an unaffordable loan or working to pay it off and needing more money, refinancing is a good option.

Keep in mind that interest rates might be higher because of updated pricing. If you now have better credit and a longer on-time payment history than when you first took out your loan, you might have the opportunity to qualify for a lower rate. This is when you should take advantage of the opportunity to pay less in the long term by refinancing.

You’re Stuck in a Debt Cycle

Merchant Cash Advances (MCAs) are dangerous and expensive ways to get fast cash. You can get the capital you need quickly, even with bad credit. The hidden costs are hidden fees, high interest rates, early payment penalties, and tricky terms that hide important information you need to know as a small business owner.

We are seeing more of our borrowers come in needing help paying off their debt cycles caused by MCAs and other predatory loans. While we try to help where we can, it’s important for you to really explore your options and demand to read the fine print before jumping on a fast, expensive loan.

That being said, refinancing your loan is one way to get out of bad loan situations. Different lenders have different terms for refinancing and consolidating debt, but having one line of credit instead of many looks better on your credit report and is less expensive in the long run. Opportunity Fund only offers refinancing if you need additional funds on top of your existing loan, but we are here to help your small business succeed in any way we can.

Holidays are Approaching, And You Need More Working Capital

Your needs as a small business owner are always changing, and often you need more working capital as holidays approach. During the summer, some of our borrowers request additional funds because they had extensions on their tax returns and now face larger bills than they expected. During autumn, we see borrowers start planning for the holiday season and need to hire more people, increase stock, and ramp up marketing efforts. Whatever the reason or season, refinancing is often an inexpensive way to get additional funding.

You’ve Come to This Blog Post

If you’ve come to Opportunity Fund looking for information about refinancing your loan, then you’re already one step ahead. It means you are a proactive entrepreneur always looking for ways to increase profitability and decrease expenditures.

Opportunity Fund prefers borrowers who have paid off at least 70% of their existing loan – or in some cases at least 6-12 months of on-time payment. We can refinance your loan, increase the loan amount, update rates and loan terms, and only charge you a loan fee for the additional funds. You don’t need to pay a fee for the existing balance.

Think you’re ready to refinance your loan? Stop and take a moment to think if your business really needs additional financing. It’s important to only take out a loan if your business really needs it. Make sure you thoroughly understand your business’ finances and funding options before accumulating debt that could be unnecessary. If refinancing will increase your interest rate by 2% or more, we recommend keeping your existing loan and look for a second, inexpensive loan.

 

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

Negative reviews are a small business owner’s nightmare. Every business gets complaints, but that doesn’t mean yours has to suffer. Read on to learn the best practice for handling bad reviews and turning them into opportunities.

Negative reviews are a small business owner’s nightmare. Every business gets complaints, but that doesn’t mean yours has to suffer. Read on to learn the best practice for handling bad reviews and turning them into opportunities.

Respond Promptly

When you receive a bad review, it might be tempting to ignore it and hope potential customers don’t notice. This won’t work. Address the complaint as soon as you become aware of it, and others will see your business in a better light. Consumers understand that every business receives criticism, but when they look at reviews they are looking to see how severe the problem was and how the business responded. Ignoring complaints or waiting more than two weeks to respond looks bad.

Responding promptly also increases the chance you can remedy the situation for the disappointed customer – sometimes bad reviewers edit their reviews if they feel their complaint was sufficiently addressed and the problem corrected.

Take The Complaint Seriously

Employees can take experiences with whiny, angry customers and turn them into jokes amongst themselves. But bad reviews should not be taken lightly. As a small business owner, it is important to take complaints seriously because they can negatively impact your business.

Unsolved bad reviews are detrimental to the success of your business in the online world. It is no secret that more and more customers look at a business’ reviews before they consider making a purchase, so it is important to make sure they see good responses.

Sometimes, a complaint can be easily fixed by a sincere apology, but sometimes they are more complex and need more attention. Make sure to give each bad review the consideration and effort to remedy that’s due.

Address The Issue Privately But Post Publicly

Just as you would never argue about personal relationship problems in public, you should never carry out business relationship discussions online.

Acknowledge their bad review wherever it is located so potential customers can see you care, but prompt the reviewer to contact you directly so you can address the issue. Communicating through phone or email allows for more lengthy discussion.

Personalize Your Response

Understand as much as you can about the customer who complained. Use empathy and try to see the problem from their perspective. Look up their order information and talk to employees involved. Doing this will help you better determine what course of action will satisfy the reviewer’s issue.

If you can talk to them on the phone, they will feel better about the situation than if you just paste a generic, automated response. Use their name and talk to them as a person rather than a faceless buyer. This goes a long way for customers who feel slighted.

Create and Follow a Complaint Policy

No matter how small your business is, you should implement a complaint policy. If you haven’t experienced it yet, research best practices and templates. If you have, consolidate what worked and what didn’t work into a policy for future complaints and bad reviews. Create possible scenarios and good examples of initial responses that can be replicated. Train employees to use your policy and update it as new unique situations arise.

Learn From The Experience

Not only will you (and your staff) have gotten experience dealing with a frustrated and disappointed customer, but that complaint is an opportunity for your small business.

Take a look at what specifically caused the complaint and work hard to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Unfortunately customers rarely point out mistakes or flaws in your business operation unless they’ve had a negative experience themselves, but think of bad reviews as a spell check function. Those squiggly red lines tell you where you’ve made a mistake and show you how to write better. Bad reviews and complaints do the same for your business.

Every business receives bad reviews, but the real indicator of a good business is how it responds to problems.

 

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

As a small business owner, you want to take advantage of any opportunity to level out the playing field of competition. Minority-owned small businesses programs designed to help get equal opportunities. Our content partner Nav explains this certificate, why you should certify, and how to do it.

As a small business owner, you want to take advantage of any opportunity to level out the playing field of competition. Minority-owned small businesses programs designed to help get equal opportunities. Our content partner Nav.com explains this certificate, why you should certify, and how to do it.

 

In 2012, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that there were 8 million minority-owned businesses in the U.S. That’s a huge number of business owners looking for opportunities to achieve the American dream and make it as a successful entrepreneur.

If you own one of those businesses, becoming certified as a minority-owned business allows you to access certain government and private-sector programs that can help support your efforts. Here are three certifications/qualifications that can help minority business owners get support for their venture.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) DBE Certification

The DOT developed the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Certification to assist DBE companies that wish to compete for federally assisted highway, transit, airport and highway safety contracts. Any state or local government that receives DOT funding must maintain a DBE program that conforms to DOT standards.

Eligibility standards state that you must be in a socially and economically disadvantaged group and own 51% or more of a small business. The DOT uses the definition of “presumed groups” as defined in the next section. Other individuals may prove their disadvantaged status based on the DOT standards — these are handled on a case-by-case basis and is intended for groups that have disproportionately low incomes and high unemployment rates.

Contact your state Department of Transportation to learn how to apply for DBE Certification.

The 8(a) Business Development Program

The 8(a) Business Development Program was created by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to help disadvantaged businesses compete in the marketplace. This nine-year program provides business assistance to help disadvantaged businesses succeed in government contracting and in competing for commercial business. The goal of the program is to “graduate” companies that will thrive in today’s competitive environment. Before you can apply for the program, however, you need to qualify as a socially disadvantaged individual.

Some minority groups automatically qualify as “presumed groups,” meaning they are presumed to be socially and economically disadvantaged and can apply to the program. These groups include African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian Pacific Americans and Subcontinent Asian Americans. In addition, Alaska Native Corporations, Indian Tribes, Native Hawaiian Organizations and Community Development Corporations can also apply to the program.

Besides being in a presumed group, there are other SBA requirements that must be met by the owners of the business and the business itself. You can review the steps in the application process on the SBA website. Qualifying as a socially disadvantaged individual isn’t technically a certification, but the program is large enough that we wanted to include these standards in the article.

There are a number of benefits offered by the program. For instance, participants can receive sole-source contracts and can form joint ventures and teams to strengthen their position when bidding on contracts. In addition, the Mentor-Protégé Program pairs successful firms with companies new to the program. The mentors provide a range of assistance, including technical expertise, contracting help and more.

The National Minority Supplier Development Council’s MBE Certification

The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSC) is a trade group that supports certified minority business enterprises in obtaining new business opportunities and connects them to their network, which includes corporate members. Their goal is to help MBEs integrate into industry supply chains and to help corporate members meet the increasing call for supplier diversity. The council’s efforts match more than 12,000 MBEs to their impressive network of corporate members.

The council’s regional affiliates coordinate the MBE certification process, and you’ll want to start your application by contacting the affiliate closest to your company’s headquarters. You can visit NMSDC Central to learn more about applying for certification and completing the MBE Certification Application.

This is not a government-affiliated program like the 8(a) and DBE certification. There is an application fee for processing the application. The application process also includes a site visit and interview. The Council’s Certification Committee will review your application, and final approval is issued by the Council’s Board after a review of the committee’s recommendations.

In general, your business may apply for certification if the company is 51% owned and operated by minority individuals who are U.S. citizens. The minority ownership members must manage the company’s daily operations, and it must be a for-profit enterprise located in the U.S. or its trust territories.

 

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 September 18 through 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 September 18 through 30.

Northern California/Sacramento

Finance Your Business
Date: September 20, 2017 | 9:00 am PDT – 10:30 am PDT
Location: Business Assistance Center
270 Frank Ogawa Plaza Oakland, CA 94612 (map it)
Contact: Diana Chavez | diana@workingsolutions.org | (415) 590-0155
Organization: Working Solutions
Fee: Free

Join this panel discussion with Working Solutions, U.S. Bank, Kiva, and Opportunity Fund to learn about key resources for lending for small businesses:

  • Financing options
  • What lenders are looking for
  • Credit requirements
  • Importance of a relationship with a financial institution
  • Eligibility guidelines and loan application procedures

Click here to register for this event.

Business Basics Series
Date: September 26, 2017 | 10:00 am PDT – 1:00 pm PDT
Location: College of Marin—IVC Building 27 Room 112
1800 Ignacio Blvd. Novato, CA 94949 (map it)
Contact: Miriam Karell | miriam@marinsbdc.org | (415) 755-1100
Organization: Marin SBDC
Fee: $25

Learn what it takes to start a business and succeed! This series of 3 classes is perfect for those exploring business ownership and want more information about what it takes to run a business. This workshop series is also helpful for new business owners who want to brush up on strategic planning, finances and marketing.

Business Planning gives you the basic information on business start-up, business planning, and different types of business plans. Explore planning tools to help you define your unique business vision and develop a strategy that works.

Each class can be taken individually or as a series. You save $15 by registering for all 3 workshops.

Click here to register for this event.

Meetup: Escape the Bootstrap Trap with Jenny Kassan
Date: September 27, 2017 | 6:30 pm PDT – 8:30 pm PDT
Location: 1500 MacDonald Ave. Richmond, CA 94801 (map it)
Contact: Bret Sweet | bsweet@rencenter.org | (510) 221-2002
Organizations: Renaissance Richmond
Fee: Free

Join business coach Jenny Kassan for Escape the Bootstrap Trap: How to Get the Money You Need to Grow Your Business Without Maxing Out Your Credit Cards or Putting Your Personal Assets at Risk.

Are you:

  • Tired of not having the resources you need to do what you want with your business?
  • Wearing a million hats in your business instead of getting the right help?
  • Worried about how much of your personal assets you’re investing in your business?

This talk will teach you:

  • Three keys to get clear on your path for bringing the resources you need into your business
  • Ways to find the right investors that allow you to grow your business on your terms
  • Strategies to create a sustainable business that fits with your chosen lifestyle, goals, and values

Click here to register for this event.

Southern California/San Diego

San Diego Small Business Expo
Date: September 21, 2017 | 9:00 am PDT – 5:00 pm PDT
Location: San Diego Convention Center—Hall H
111 W. Harbor Dr. San Diego, CA 92101 (map it)
Contact: clientservices@theshowproducers.com | (212) 404-2345
Organization: Small Business Expo
Fee: Free (upgraded services are available starting at $20)

Small Business Expo is America’s biggest and most anticipated business-to-business networking event, trade show, and conference for business owners, entrepreneurs, start-ups, and decision-makers.

Why you should attend:

  • Network with thousands of business owners, entrepreneurs and start-ups
  • Access to 25+ Business Critical workshops and seminars to help your business grow
  • Join speed networking sessions to make new contacts quickly
  • Learn about new cutting-edge products and services
  • Establish hundreds of new and valuable contacts
  • Interact with the movers and shakers of your industry
  • Leave the show with hundreds of qualified sales leads

Your free admission badge gives you access to the following areas of the Expo:

  • Exhibitor Hall
  • Workshops and seminars
  • ‘Get Dotted’ Business Networking Areas
  • Speed Networking Sessions
  • Business Card Showcase and Exchange
  • #smallbizselfie Contest
  • eLounge
  • Inspiration2020 Theatre Business Presentations, including Bill Walsh – The 7 Keys to Build a 7-Figure Business Presentation from 4:30 PM-6PM, Google’s Main Stage Presentations, the Free Bonus Small Business Workshop presented by our Titanium Sponsor, Powerteam International

Upgraded services are available for additional fees starting at $20. For more information about these services, click here.

Click here to register for this event.

Veteran-Owned Small Business Risk Education Workshop
Date: September 26, 2017 | 8:30 am PDT – 11:00 am PDT
Location: Bob Hope Patriotic Hall
1816 S. Figueroa St. Los Angeles, CA 90015 (map it)
Contact: info@wbc-la.org | (818) 907-9922
Organization: VEDC Women’s Business Center
Fee: Free

DID YOU KNOW you could be held liable for the auto accident of an employee? WHAT WOULD YOU DO if your supplier couldn’t deliver an item you use in your end product? COULD YOUR BUSINESS STAY OPEN if there was a natural disaster or if you had major surgery?

VEDC has partnered with Travelers to bring you this Small Business Risk Education workshop. Join us and learn how to better protect your small business. If you are a veteran or service-disabled veteran entrepreneur, we will teach you safety and loss prevention strategies, and develop a plan to address your business risks.

Topics covered in this workshop:

  • Managing business relationship risk
  • Keeping your business up and running
  • Establishing driver and vehicle safety

Minorities and women-owned businesses are encouraged to participate. Complimentary breakfast and networking begin at 8:30 am with the class following at 9:00 am.

Click here to register for this event.

SCORE’s 5th Annual Women Business Owners Conference
Date: September 28, 2017 | 7:30 am PDT – 4:00 pm PDT
Location: The Great Wolf Lodge
12681 Harbor Blvd., Garden Grove, CA 92840 (map it)
Contact: Debbie Molino | Debbie.Molino@score114.org | (714) 550-7369
Organization: Orange County SCORE
Fee: $79

Dare to Stand Out! Join SCORE for the annual Women Business Owners Conference: an interactive event for the savvy entrepreneur. Learn marketing strategies from women entrepreneurs scheduled to speak:

  • Keynote speaker Nellie Akalp, CorpNet CEO: How to Embrace the “Small” in Small Business
  • Liz Goodgold, REDFire Branding
  • Lisa T.D. Nguyen, Senhoa Jewelry Founder
  • Roni Ramos: Harmony 3 Productions, Founder

Your $79 admission fee includes breakfast, lunch, and parking. Please register before the Sept. 26 deadline.  

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

50 Ways to Get More Customers
Date: September 19, 2017 | 9:00 am PDT – 10:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: score.fairfieldcounty@gmail.com | (203) 831-0065
Organization: Fairfield County (Conn.) SCORE
Fee: Free

Join this free webinar to learn simple techniques and discover tools to increase your customer base in the age of the Internet. Together we’ll cover how to develop your presence and showcase your expertise to bring customers to you using a pre-sales nurturing campaign, social media, and email marketing. Get started with free tools and techniques plus get basic templates and then hit the ground running to boost your business.

Topics will include:

  • Learn how sales has changed with the Internet
  • Create to create credibility, authority and trust
  • Set up your device (laptop, tablet, or Chromebook) with the Chrome browser and a Gmail account
  • Get started with Google Analytics for a WordPress website and other website building apps
  • Create nurturing email campaigns with tracking in a Google Sheet with canned emails
  • Understand how to repurpose and plan content for use on social media sites and in email marketing campaigns
  • Discover tools to help research potential clients

Click here to register for this event.

Targets of Opportunity: Recent Study Reveals Best Potentials for Economic Growth in our Region
Date: September 20, 2017 | 12:00 pm PDT – 1:00 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: info@e-jedi.org | (530) 926-6670
Organization: Jefferson Economic Development Institute
Fee: Free

What could you and your business do if you knew:

  • Which industries show strong economic growth?
  • What occupations will be growing in the future?
  • What entrepreneurial activity will look like in our region?

Start using data to make your business decisions. Join this webinar to learn how the far mountains region of Northern California (specifically Siskiyou, Shasta, Trinity, and Humboldt Counties) fared in the last national recession and which industry areas defied the recession and saw growth. We’ll uncover the industry groups which showed a combination of business growth, job growth, wage growth, and job opportunities. We’ll understand the trends in our region’s entrepreneurial growth and how that growth ties into the region’s industries.

Targets of Opportunity Study:

  • Which industries in your area show economic strength and competitive advantage
  • Which areas of the economy provide growing entrepreneurial opportunities, emerging businesses, increasing employment and rising wages
  • How your local economy links with the larger regional economy
  • Which businesses are economically interdependent yet have common supply chains, labor needs, technologies, and markets

This webinar will be useful for potential entrepreneurs, business owners, and economic development or workforce professionals.

All who register will receive a confirmation email containing information on how to join the webinar, plus a recording of the live event.

Click here to register for this event.

Improve Your Online Presence to Attract More Customers
Date: September 28, 2017 | 10:00 am PDT – 11:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: webinars@score.org
Organization: SCORE
Fee: Free

Can customers easily find your small business online? Is all the information on your website, business listings, reviews, and social media correct and current? Inaccuracy can be costly and detrimental to your business and reputation.

Join this webinar to get started with immediate steps to building an accurate online presence.

You’ll learn:

  • What is an online presence, and why is it important to manage?
  • How to check your online data across the web (website, listing, reviews, social media)
  • How incorrect data can have a negative impact on your business
  • How to correct online business data immediately

Click here to register for this event.


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

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


Opportunity Fund is California’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit lender to small businesses. In 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

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 collaboration 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 collaboration tools.

It is hard to run a small business by yourself. That’s why you hire employees to delegate tasks to and work on bigger projects with – but this can get complicated. We’ve compiled this list of tools and resources that will help you manage and track team projects and shared tasks.

Hipchat

How much it costs: Free with a $2.00 a month premium plan

What it does: Hipchat is more than just a chat room for your employees. With their free, easy-to-use interface, you can also share files securely and create group chats or talk with members one-on-one. Their premium paid plan gives you unlimited file sharing storage and includes video conferencing capabilities. An amazing feature is the ability to search through conversations to find that one message you need.

MeisterTask

How much it costs: Free with paid premium plans

What it does: MeisterTask is a project management application that centers around collaboration and team coordination. This app offers mobile integration, checklists, deadline notifications, file sharing, and instant communication between team members. Simply open your dashboard in the morning, see what progress has been made on projects, and focus on what is important to running your business.

Trello

How much it costs: Free with paid premium plans

What it does: Trello is a simple way to track projects among your staff. Easily create projects and subtasks, add as many people who are involved, attach photos and files to projects, set deadlines, and start conversations through project comments. The free plan also allows for one “Power-up” which can sync an outside application or add a special feature your Trello account.

Producteev

How much it costs: Free with paid premium plan

What it does: With unlimited users, tasks, and projects, Producteev is a great task management service for collaborating. You can connect employees to shared projects with to-do lists, deadlines, auditing, priorities, and notifications. Easily turn work emails into tasks by forwarding them to Producteev. The premium plan only offers two additional services: personalized support and customization of the interface with your small business’ colors and logo.

Dropbox

How much it costs: Free

What it does: Dropbox is a really popular file-sharing service. Store your files in the cloud and sync with the people you want to share with. You also have the ability to collaborate with others on slides already uploaded into Dropbox. No more hassle of downloading, editing, and re-uploading files hundreds of times!

 

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

Small businesses that get ongoing business advice are more likely to sustainably manage or grow their business and achieve long-term success. That’s why Opportunity Fund has joined with Pacific Community Ventures to provide you with free business advising through Pacific Community Venture’s BusinessAdvising.org program.

Small businesses that get ongoing business advice are more likely to sustainably manage or grow their business and achieve long-term success. That’s why Opportunity Fund has joined with Pacific Community Ventures to provide you with free business advising through Pacific Community Venture’s BusinessAdvising.org program.

 

Opportunity Fund has partnered with PCV to offer you free business advising for your small business. You know how to run your business, but this business advising program can help you run it better. Learn how to scale up your business to take advantage of diversity supplier programs, expand your business’ products and services, generate profit beyond just breaking even, and more.

Business Advising That Fits Your Schedule and Needs

With our Business Advising program, you will be matched with a mentor who is an experienced, knowledgeable expert in your industry. These pro bono experts come from major banks, consulting firms, and Fortune 500 companies – and they want to help you!

Meet with them in person, over the phone, or online whenever your schedule works. Set goals that meet your short-term and long-term business goals.

Your advisor can help you with:

  • Marketing
  • Finance and accounting
  • Executive coaching
  • Business planning
  • Scaling up for large contracts
  • Operations (supply chains, B2B, B2C)
  • And more!

Get started today. Visit BusinessAdvising.org/opportunity-fund or call 415-442-4300 and reference this special offer from Opportunity Fund to get matched up with your business mentor. You don’t have to go it alone — make Pacific Community Ventures Business Advising program a part of your long-term business success!

Who is Pacific Community Ventures?

Pacific Community Ventures is a nonprofit that works with small businesses, investors, and policymakers to build an economy that helps entrepreneurs succeed. Located in Northern California, they offer small business owners financial and business coaching, access to community networks, and a unified voice to policymakers on their behalf.

Get started today!

Enrollment only takes a few minutes.  Visit BusinessAdvising.org/opportunity-fund or call 415-442-4300 and reference this special offer from Opportunity Fund.

 

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

Roan wanted to grow her art studio into a hub for local artists. Thanks to three small business loans from Opportunity Fund, The Arsenal is opening a new studio and gallery in San Jose’s Japantown.

Our customers inspire us every day, and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too. Get to know Roan Victor of The Arsenal in San Jose. Roan wanted to grow her art studio into a hub for local artists. Thanks to three small business loans from Opportunity Fund, The Arsenal is opening a new studio and gallery in San Jose’s Japantown.

Creating Connections in the San Jose Art Community

Roan Victor started The Arsenal in the summer of 2011. Roan and her husband Sean Boyles, both artists based in San Jose, chose to open an art studio and gallery in their hometown.

The Arsenal offers art classes and workshops to artists in the community of all ages and skill levels. “We work with all kinds of people,” Roan said. “Seniors would come in to buy oil paints, and at the same time, younger guys would come in to buy spray paint. They would all interact with each other. It was fun to bring different cultures and ages together.”

Roan’s vision for her business included a move to their dream location in San Jose’s Japantown, for the community art connections, walkable neighborhood, and strong small business network. First, she needed a small business loan to help The Arsenal grow.

Her business banker at Bank of America was focused more on the financial success of The Arsenal, which didn’t meet her needs as a small business owner. “Our goal is to have a significant contribution to the art community in San Jose,” she said.

Opportunity Fund Helps The Arsenal Stay in the Picture

Bank of America connected Roan to Opportunity Fund loan consultant Laly Velazquez, who was able to close a $4,000 loan in September 2014 for The Arsenal. The funds helped Roan set up a new classroom space with proper lighting. Roan paid off the loan in less than a year and applied for a second loan of $8,000 in June 2015, which helped replace and maintain equipment like their silk screen machine.

Roan came back for a third loan this January for $8,000 to help move The Arsenal to Japantown. Roan and Sean are working with Roan’s sister Regine to prepare their new space for a grand re-opening this summer. With their new space, The Arsenal can offer studio space to local artists, plus more classes and workshops featuring artists from the area and a brand new art gallery.

Roan Victor - The Arsenal

Roan is a teacher, a business leader, and an advocate for her community arts scene (photo courtesy of Heimo Schmidt)

Laly’s help through the loan process made a difference for Roan. “Sean and I both went to school for art so we don’t have a business background,” Roan said. “Working with Laly is like talking to a friend. She shows me what to do and how Opportunity Fund can help.”

Roan sees The Arsenal as a part of Japantown’s thriving arts scene and business community. “Our goal is to have a great studio with everything artists need, like what I had when I was studying painting at San Jose State,” she said. “I want to build a hub where artists with different experiences can work together.”

We’re proud to support Roan’s dreams to build The Arsenal into a community hub for artists and creators.

We hope this story has inspired you, too.  At Opportunity Fund, we offer easy-to-get, fast, and affordable small business loans to help small business owners succeed.  Visit our home page to find out more.


Opportunity Fund is California’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit lender to small businesses. Last year, we made $60M in loans to help more than 2,200 small business owners invest in their businesses.  Opportunity Fund invests in small business owners who do not have access to traditional financing. As a founding member and signatory to the Borrower’s Bill of Rights, we believe in the important role small businesses play in our community and the economy, and we aim to help owners financially succeed.

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You want to get the most affordable loan possible to grow your small business, but your NAICS code could be hurting you. Our content partner Nav explains how and why you should look at your classification.

You want to get the most affordable loan possible to grow your small business, but your NAICS code could be hurting you. Our content partner Nav.com explains how and why you should look at your classification.

 

Even if you didn’t choose a NAICS code for your business (or have no idea what an NAICS code is), you probably have one.

North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes are six-digit codes used by the federal government to classify businesses into an industry. The system was created for statistical purposes but is also used for non-statistical purposes, including determining eligibility to bid on government contracts and the risk level associated with your business for some loans and financing options. There are 20 sectors and more than 1,000 industries in the U.S. NAICS system.

Because there is no agency that governs how NAICS codes are assigned to businesses, these codes are largely self-assigned or assigned to your business by an agency collecting information on businesses. For example, the U.S. Census Bureau may assign an NAICS code to your business based on a survey you took. If you applied for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) on the IRS website, information from your application can be used to assign your business a code. This code will also show up on your business credit reports.

 

How Your NAICS Affects Your Wallet

How risky your business is determines whether or not you qualify for the best loans and financing options. Some industries, as determined by NAICS codes, are riskier than others, and your NAICS code tells a lot about how risky your business is in the eyes of a lender.

There are a number of ways your industry code can cost you money.

1. By bringing down your business credit scores

NAICS and SIC codes are recorded in business credit reports. The industry in which your business is classified can have an impact on your business credit score — for example, Experian’s business credit score uses your industry code as one factor determining your score. If you are incorrectly classified in a higher risk industry than the one in which you operate, it could be bringing down your business credit scores. These scores are then used by lenders, vendors and suppliers to qualify your business for trade terms, loans, and lines of credit.

2. By lenders determining your eligibility and rates for a loan

Lenders are going to want to know your NAICS code to qualify your business for a loan. Any given lender may deem some industries too risky to work with. Typical “high risk” industries include gambling, political lobbying and businesses involved in pyramid sale distributions, but the list goes on. The Small Business Administration, for example, has a long list of ineligible businesses that they will not work with for their popular 7(a) loan program based on operating activities.

3. Determining whether your business is “small”

The SBA uses size standards to determine if you are a “small” business. Only “small” businesses can qualify for government programs designated for small business, including the SBA’s loan programs and certain government contracting opportunities.

If your business is classified under the incorrect industry, it could make a difference whether or not you are classified as small because different industries have different size standards.

For example, let’s say you are a residential remodeler, but you started your business specializing in roofing. Your NAICS code may be 238160 for Roofing Contractors, when it in fact should be 236118 for Residential Remodeler.  This might seem like it’s not worth the hassle of changing, but depending on your annual receipts, it could determine whether you are a small business. Roofing Contractors must have annual receipts of less than $15 million to be considered small, whereas Residential Remodelers can have annual receipts of up to $36.5 million.

The industry code may also determine how many opportunities are available for your business — in the case of our remodeling example, residential remodelers tend to have more opportunities available than specialized industries do.

4. Whether you qualify for contracting opportunities

Business opportunities presented by the federal government are offered to specific industries based on what the government buyer is looking for. The government uses NAICS codes to classify these solicitations for a business.

Here’s an example of where the industry code might show up on a solicitation form through fbo.gov:

This opportunity is set aside for NAICS code 236118, Residential Remodelers. If you are classified, instead, under NAICS code 236115, New Single-Family Housing Construction (except For-Sale Builders), you might miss this opportunity.

Although NAICS codes may seem a dry, complicated subject, taking the time to make sure (a) that your business has received one, and (b) that it’s accurate, could mean the difference between growing your business and being hung out to dry. You can check your business’s DUNS number, and your NAICS and SIC codes for free at Nav.

 

This article originally appeared on Nav.com and was re-purposed with their permission.

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


Opportunity Fund is California’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit lender to small businesses. In FY16, we made $60M in loans to help more than 2,200 small business owners invest in their businesses.  Opportunity Fund invests in small business owners who do not have access to traditional financing. As a founding member and signatory to the Borrower’s Bill of Rights, we believe in the important role small businesses play in our community and the economy, and we aim to help owners financially succeed.

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

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