Gayle founded a successful business card management company in San Diego. When she needed to complete a major software project, Opportunity Fund was there to help with a small business loan. Thanks to the working capital, BusinessCardManager.com is on the fast track to greater success.

Our customers inspire us every day, and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too.  Read about Gayle Hawks of BusinessCardManager.com in San Diego. Gayle founded a successful business card management company in San Diego. When she needed to complete a major software project, Opportunity Fund was there to help with a small business loan. Thanks to the working capital, BusinessCardManager.com is on the fast track to greater success.

Managing Success

Gayle Hawks started BusinessCardManager.com in 2002 in San Diego. The online company manages business cards for large organizations and government agencies throughout the United States. “We work with any business in the public or private sector, for profit and non-profit, that has 100 employees or more,” Gayle said.  

With the help of her business partner and husband Keith, Gayle has grown the online company into a leader in online business card management. As the business grew, she had to add staff and build a new sales office. Gayle saw the future of her company in advanced software for BusinessCardManager.com. They needed an application program interface (API) to create the upgraded business card procurement and management solutions that put the company on the map.

“The new API allows us to offer services to large organizations that no one else can,” Gayle said.

Working capital didn’t come easy for Gayle, even as BusinessCardManager.com was doing well. It’s a tough industry where many printing companies failed during the latest recession. Plus, she had waves of high-interest loan offers coming at her from every angle. Her search for the right loan was complicated.

Graduating to Better Financing

Gayle learned about Opportunity Fund through her small business lending research online. She reached out to our business development officer Adriana Williams, who helped close a $35,000 loan for BusinessCardManager.com in July 2015.

“Adriana was easy to work with,” Gayle said. “Everything was professional and quick. I never had to wait for her to call me back. I never had to wonder about a thing.”

The loan allowed Gayle and her team to complete and launch their new software.  “Without the loan from Opportunity Fund, we would be a year behind,” Gayle said.

Gayle Hawks - BCM.com

Opportunity Fund helps small business owners like Gayle “graduate” to better small business financing (photo courtesy of Heimo Schmidt)


Gayle is thankful for the working capital that gave her some breathing room while launching the best version of BusinessCardManager.com. Even better, she was able to repay the loan is less than two years. With help from our fast, easy-to-get, and affordable small business loans, her business can qualify for lower interest, longer-term loans from lenders like the U.S. Small Business Administration. We’ve helped small business owners like Gayle “graduate” to better financing.

The next level of the business is an online portal integrated with human capital management software platforms that will allow clients to manage their business cards from any platform. “That’s our future,” Gayle said. “We want to hire more sales staff and expand our marketing to get to the next level.”

We’re excited to support successful entrepreneurs like Gayle and we’re proud to watch her take the next step with her business.

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 tackling economic inequality so that hard work and perseverance means a shot at getting ahead, not just struggling to get by. Our programs are supported by a community of donors and investors whose contributions help to fund small businesses, support college students, and build stronger families and vibrant neighborhoods. Since 1994, the team has deployed $600 million and helped 20,000 families earn, save and invest in their own futures. Opportunity Fund has earned a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator, for our commitment to accountability and transparency.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Starting your small business and growing it from the ground up takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. You wouldn’t want all your hard work and hard-earned money getting stolen by an identity theft. Our content partner Nav warns how these thieves can wreck your business and how you can protect yourself.

Starting your small business and growing it from the ground up takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. You wouldn’t want all your hard work and hard-earned money getting stolen by an identity theft. Our content partner Nav.com warns how these thieves can wreck your business and how you can protect yourself.

 

What would you do if your business lost $25,000 to a scammer? How about $75,000? Would that be a serious setback, or perhaps even put you out of business? It’s a question every small business owner should contemplate because that’s the average amount lost by Arizona small business owners in just one identity-theft-related scam: Business Email Compromise (BEC). The FBI warns there has been a dramatic rise in these scams in recent years that have resulted in “massive financial losses totaling more than $2.3 billion.”

Unfortunately this is just one example of the ways crooks can steal from a business without ever setting foot in it. Here are six ways an identity thief can compromise your small business.

Hold You Hostage

We all know how frustrating it is when our Internet connection isn’t working well. Now imagine you can’t get access to your computer files— maybe any of them— unless you pony up hundreds of dollars in ransom. It happens all the time; the WannaCry ransomware attack that affected more than 300,000 computers around the world recently is just one example of how businesses of all sizes may be vulnerable.

In a ransomware attack, a scammer generally manages to insert malicious code into a user’s computer that locks files or prevents the user from booting up. According to a CyberScout white paper, “Nasty ransomware strains will threaten to delete data permanently if the ransom isn’t paid quickly.” Unless the victim has a complete unaffected backup she can use, she’ll probably pay the ransom in order to regain access to her computer or files.

Drain Your Bank Account

“Whaling” is an often-sophisticated phishing attack that targets a high-level executive with the goal of getting access to important data. In one popular version, the scammer will impersonate the executive to create fake wire transfer instructions. Those instructions will be sent to an employee who, thinking they are coming from top brass, complies. If the money is transferred, it ends up in the hands of the crook. Since cash flow problems are a top concern for small business owners, any missing money or funds lost to a scammer can be bad news.

A Mimecast survey of 500 organizations in the U.K., South Africa and Australia found that 54.5% of organizations saw an increase in the volume of whaling attacks at the end of 2015. And executives are a common way in for scammers, as 72% of whaling attackers pretended to be the CEO, while 35.5% were attributed to the CFO.

Get Credit in Your Business Name

It can be surprisingly easy for an identity thief to open accounts in the name of your business. Successful scammers fill out information using your business credentials. They may get business credit cards or get lines of credit, or purchase goods they can then resell. Many of the business details they need to commit fraud are publicly available through Secretary of State websites and other public information sources. And because many business owners don’t check their business credit reports, this crime can go undetected for a long time.

That’s a good reason for business owners to regularly monitor their business credit. A sudden change in a business credit score, new accounts or inquiries, or an unauthorized address change can all indicate potential fraud. You can check your business credit data for free every month at Nav.

Steal Your Business

While they say imitation is the biggest form of flattery, a scammer who hijacks or imitates your website can literally steal your business. They may direct your legitimate traffic to spammy offers, trick visitors into handing over personal information, or even collect payment from people who think they are purchasing from you. Losing a few customers can be the least of your worries here; if your customers become victims of identity theft or lose money, they may blame you. “It can destroy your reputation,” warns Adam Levin, founder of CyberScout and author of Swiped: How to Protect Yourself in a World Full of Scammers, Phishers, and Identity Thieves.

Compromise Your Customers

Data breaches— where an unauthorized person or company accesses confidential information — often in order to then use that information for malicious purposes, is on the rise. In 2016 there were a record 1,093 data breaches tracked, according to a report by the Identity Theft Resource Center and CyberScout.

If your customer data is compromised in this way you’ll need to take immediate action. Your business may be required under state or federal law to notify authorities. You may need to also notify those affected or potentially affected; they may expect you to pick up the tab for identity theft monitoring services. All these steps can be costly. Can your business afford it?

Use You to Get to Someone Bigger

It’s not just your own data that’s at risk, warns Levin. “You could be the gateway into hacking for a big businesses,” he says. He points out that the massive 2013 Target data breach that compromised the credit and debit card information, as well as personal information, of millions of customers was the result of a hacker who got into Target’s POS system via an HVAC contractor’s credentials.

Having solid data security practices can help you maintain good relationships with your biggest clients too. No business owner wants to be the contractor that costs a big business like Target a PR nightmare and potentially millions of customers — its not great for business.

Watch Out

With so many different types threats it is essential for small business owners to “create a culture of privacy and security,” says Levin. He urges small business owners to be especially vigilant about devices that may be connected to other devices, or used both at work and outside of work. If you share your computers or tablets with your kids, for example, make sure they aren’t unknowingly putting the business at risk by downloading apps or files that can carry malware.  “Kids can become weapons of mass destruction,” he warns.

 

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

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


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

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

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

Sometimes you don’t want to or have the capital to hire another employee for a few simple tasks. This is where contractors come in. There is a growing trend among professionals to freelance their skills to numerous companies as side-gigs instead of working a normal full-time job. We’ve compiled this list of tools and resources that will help you find the best fit freelancer for the tasks you need completed.

TaskRabbit

How much it costs: Free to sign up, pay per task

What it does: TaskRabbit is a service that connects you to certified taskers who can help you with one-time projects. Don’t want to hire a full-time gardener to clean and maintain your restaurant’s patio? Need extra hands moving to a new office space? Easily hire a contractor through TaskRabbit and avoid the hassle, extra fees, and time that comes with finding a regular contractor. It’s free to use – you only have to pay the taskers when they complete your tasks.

UpWork

How much it costs: Free to sign up, pay per task

What it does: UpWork is geared towards electronic tasks as opposed to more manual labor through TaskRabbit. This outsourcing tool is best used for hiring part-time contractors, but you can also post one-time tasks that need doing. If you need something done for IT, legal, graphic design, web development, writing, or anything else done on a computer, you can find a freelance contractor to help you. You can pay electronically, download or print an official invoice for your records, and not worry about tax forms for your contractors.

Fiverr

How much it costs: Free to sign up, pay per task

What it does: Fiverr is another online-oriented outsourcing tool. With their easy-to-use navigation and categories, you can narrow down results to find the best freelancer you think can do your task. Browse by your budget, the time you need it done by, and any other specifications you need. See examples of contractors’ work and their rates before you contact them with your task.

Guru

How much it costs: Free to sign up, pay per task

What it does: With Guru, you can either search through freelancers or post a job for them to bid on. This free outsourcing resource is targeted towards business tasks such as web development, finance management, marketing, legal, and admin support. What’s great about this tool is how detailed their support is and their ease of use.

Thumbtack

How much it costs: Free to sign up, pay per task

What it does: Thumbtack is a great, mobile-friendly outsourcing tool for special tasks that your small business might need help with. From photography and landscaping to accounting and tax preparation, there are a huge variety of different kinds of jobs you can hire a contractor to help you with. Answer a few questions, and Thumbtack will match your request with freelancers who can take it on.

 

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

Some business owners find it hard to ask for help because it may look as if they aren’t running their business as well as they could. However, considering a business mentor is worth asking for help. Business advising can really help you run your small business better in areas that might not be your strong suit.

Some business owners find it hard to ask for help because it may look as if they aren’t running their business as well as they could. However, considering a business mentor is worth asking for help. Business advising can really help you run your small business better in areas that might not be your strong suit.

 

Back in September 2017, Opportunity Fund partnered with Pacific Community Ventures (PCV) to provide you with free small business advising. With their Business Advising program, you can easily get a mentor to help you in your industry, on your schedule, and with your goals in mind. For free!

Now that we’ve gotten your interest, keep reading for reasons a small business mentor can really help.

Get Personalized Help For Your Specific Challenges

Nobody expects you to be an expert in all areas of running a business. You started your small business because of a passion you had, not because you knew everything about the business world. This is where having a business advisor can really help you work on your business, not in your business.

A mentor can offer advice for challenging areas you face as a small business owner. Online resources and group workshops can only help so much. Business advisers focus on your specific business challenges. Do you have a great product but not sure how to best market it? Have you hired new contractors but don’t know how you’re supposed to document and pay taxes for them? A business adviser can answer these questions for you.

Business Advising Can Actually Grow Your Business

Companies that go through PCV’s Business Advising program have shown a 20% revenue growth and job growth at eight times the national average. The reason why their program is successful is because they recruit hundreds of professional mentors that are industry experts to volunteer their time. These mentors aren’t doing it to get a paycheck, they genuinely want to help you grow your business. That is the recipe for real success.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, only 30% of businesses last 10 years. But for small business owners with a mentor, 70% survive ten years – double the rate of those without a mentor. If you’re invested in your small business for the long-haul, you’ll want to work with a mentor.

Think You Don’t Have Time? Think Again!

Small business owners are entrepreneurs and are naturally extremely busy. Business seminars, workshops, and community center programs often require a significant amount of your time and prior planning to attend. You might feel that you don’t have the time to meet with a business advisor in person.

However, online business advising with PCV is the perfect solution. With the option of meeting with an adviser online, you cut out the problem of geography and meet instantly wherever you are. Enrolling is easy and doesn’t take more than a few minutes out of your day. Meet with your personal adviser when you need the help.

Get started today!

Enrollment only takes a few minutes.  Visit now 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

This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in Northern and Southern California. Here are the best upcoming events from October 17 through 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 October 17 through 31.

Northern California/Sacramento

CPUC/PacifiCorp Redding Small/Diverse Business Expo
Date: October 19, 2017 | 7:30 am PDT – 1:30 pm PDT
Location: Holiday Inn Hotel & Convention Center
1900 Hilltop Dr. Redding, CA 96002 (map it)
Contact: smallbiz@cpuc.ca.gov | (800) 253-0500
Organization: Jefferson Economic Development Institute (JEDI)
Fee: Free

California and its utility companies: PacifiCorp, PG&E, Southern California Edison, Sempra Utilities, AT&T, Comcast, Frontier, T-Mobile, California Water Association, and more want your business.

Join us to learn of opportunities and how to get contracts. Start networking with public agencies, utility companies, prime contractors, and business resource centers at this all-day event.

This event will include:

  • One-on-one business matchmaking (pre-scheduled basis only)
  • Buyer meetings
  • Vendor and resource fair
  • Educational workshops
  • And more!

Click here to register for this event.

Developing Powerful Presentation Skills—What Women Entrepreneurs Need to Know
Date: October 25, 2017 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:45 pm PDT
Location: James Irvine Center—A Room
353 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza Oakland, CA 94612 (map it)
Contact: Lee Lambert | lee@acsbdc.org | (510) 208-0410
Organizations: Alameda County SBDC
Fee: Free

This seminar will teach the core principles of highly effective business presentations for women entrepreneurs. This skill is critical for all women business owners to help secure funding, to attract customer and business partners, and to share their products and services in a community forum.

Skills covered will include:

  • Effective body language and visual attributes that engage the audience
  • Effective presentation development including visual, vocal and verbal skills
  • Presentation content development
  • Incorporation of the authentic self into presentations
  • Common pitfalls women encounter when presenting

Click here to register for this event.

Livermore Small Business Fair
Date: October 26, 2017 | 9:00 am PDT – 12:00 pm PDT
Location: Livermore Public Library —Civic Center
1188 S. Livermore Ave. Livermore, CA 94550 (map it)
Contact: Ellen Dean | eedean@livermore.lib.ca.us | (925) 373-5500
Organization: City of Livermore
Fee: Free

Join the Livermore Small Business Fair to get information and resources you need to help grow your business, like:

  • A business resource exhibit
  • One-on-one consultations
  • Workshop sessions including Financing Your Business, Growing Your Business Online, and Overview of SCORE services for small business

This training event is presented by local small business organizations and supporters: Livermore Public Library, Livermore Valley Chamber of Commerce, East Bay SCORE, Alameda County SBDC, and UNCLE Credit Union.

Click here to register for this event.

Southern California/San Diego

Legal Forms of Organization
Date: October 17, 2017 | 6:30 pm PDT – 8:30 pm PDT
Location: 3780 Market St. Riverside, CA 92501 (map it)
Contact: Dee Ann Chandler | deeann@iewbc.org | (909) 890-1242
Organization: Inland Empire Women’s Business Center
Fee: $20

Join this workshop to learn about the forms of business organization. Get the word straight from a lawyer to clarify your key questions:

  • What is the most beneficial business structure for my business?
  • What are the the tax consequences and benefits of each business structure?
  • How can I protect my personal assets and property from lawsuits?
  • How do I prevent piercing the “corporate veil” of protection?
  • What do I have to know about business law from start up to success?

Click here to register for this event.

MyVetBiz: 2017 Veteran and Military Entrepreneur Conference & Awards
Date: October 25, 2017 | 10:00 am PDT – 7:30 pm PDT
Location: Hyatt Regency La Jolla at Aventine
3777 La Jolla Village Dr. San Diego, CA 92122 (map it)
Contact: Audrey Marlow | amarlow@sdbj.com | (858) 277-6359
Organization: San Diego Business Journal
Fee: $65—$150 (free for Veterans, Active Duty and Military Spouses with valid military identification)

With its proud military history and presence, San Diego boasts one of the most robust markets for veteran or military spouse-owned businesses in the United States. Join the San Diego Business Journal, in partnership with The Rosie Network, to celebrate and support local veteran entrepreneurs and military spouses with this new awards program and educational conference. Winners and finalists will be honored in a special San Diego Business Journal supplement.

Conference and Lunch
10:00 – 10:30 am Registration
10:30 am – 10:45 am Welcome: Stephanie Brown, The Rosie Network & Huntley Paton, San Diego Business Journal
10:45 – 11:15 am Keynote from Jerry Sanders, President and CEO, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce
11:30 am – 12:15 pm Breakout Session #1
12:15 – 1:15 pm Lunch with the Experts
1:30 – 2:15 pm Breakout Session #2
2:30 – 3:30 pm Breakout Session #3

Special Awards Reception and Dinner
4:00 – 5:00 pm Networking
5:00 – 6:30 pm Dinner and Awards Program
6:30 – 7:30 pm Networking

General Admission tickets for the 2017 Veteran and Military Entrepreneur Conference are $65.00 per person. The conference is free for Veterans, Active Duty, and Military Spouses (present valid military identification at registration check in). General Admission tickets for the 2017 Veteran and Military Entrepreneur Awards are $150.00 per person.

Click here to register for this event.

Small Business Resource Expo
Date: October 27, 2017 | 10:30 am PDT – 2:30 pm PDT
Location: 501 S. Bixel St. Los Angeles, CA 90017 (map it)
Contact: info@laccnp.org | (213) 482-8618
Organization: Central City Neighborhood Partners
Fee: Free

The Los Angeles Alliance for Economic Inclusion is hosting a Small Business Resource Expo that will offer small business workshops on the basics of financing in English and Spanish. Join Opportunity Fund at the resource expo featuring nonprofits, CDFIs, and government agencies that offer lending and technical assistance resources.

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

Ask SCORE: Business Plans
Date: October 17, 2017 | 11:00 am PDT – 12:00 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: monmouthscore@gmail.com | (732) 224-2573
Organization: Monmouth (N.J.) Score
Fee: Free

Did you know: You are twice as likely to grow your business or get funding if you have a business plan. In this live Q&A session, SCORE mentor and business plan expert Hal Shelton will devote the entire hour to answering attendees’ questions about the business plan. Attendees can submit questions in the registration form and during the live webinar.

Click here to register for this event.

How to Have the Best Holiday Season Ever
Date: October 18, 2017 | 10:00 am PDT – 11:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Diana Cescolini | diana.cescolini@scorevolunteer.org | (951) 652-4390
Organization: Inland Empire SCORE
Fee: $15

It’s no secret that holiday spending is higher than any other time of year. Don’t miss out on your piece of the holiday pie! Let us show you how to influence your potential customers’ purchases by making an offer they can’t resist.

During this webinar, you’ll learn how to:

  • Select the right offer for your ideal audience
  • Create a quick and effective promotional plan
  • Design an offer that stands out, especially on mobile
  • Reach new customers and spread the word using social media

If you’re hoping to make this your best holiday season yet, you won’t want to miss this event. Join us to find out exactly how to achieve and exceed your holiday goals.

Click here to register for this event.

How to Steer Clear of Accidental Discrimination When Hiring
Date: October 19, 2017 | 10:00 am PDT – 11:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: (800) 634-0245
Organization: SCORE
Fee: Free

With every new hire, your objective is to select the most qualified person for the job. You’re also responsible for supporting a fair and diverse workforce – and for upholding anti-discrimination laws by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Whether intentional or not, hiring practices that discriminate against protected applicants could lead to serious legal trouble.

Are you aware of the various federal and state laws that prevent discrimination? Just as important, are you confident your hiring process treats every job seeker equally and fairly?

Attend this webinar for a discussion of the oversights that can hurt your hiring efforts – and what you can say, do and ask each step of the way to avoid accidental discrimination.

You will learn:

  • Major anti-discrimination laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Language to avoid when advertising and recruiting
  • Checklist of right and wrong interview questions
  • Precautions with background/criminal checks
  • Dos and don’ts of accessing social media accounts

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

Disasters and emergency situations are not glamorous things to prepare for when running a business. You may feel the urge to put off planning for disasters because you don’t feel an immediate need and your work day is busy, but it is vital to spend the time to plan in order to protect your business in a disaster.

Disasters and emergency situations are not glamorous things to prepare for when running a business. You may feel the urge to put off planning for disasters because you don’t feel an immediate need and your work day is busy, but it is vital to spend the time to plan in order to protect your business in a disaster.

 

Real world disasters are often less dramatic and more emotionally devastating than Hollywood movies portray them. When a disaster hits your community, you might feel hopeless and overwhelmed. As a small business owner, you have to prepare for emergency scenarios with your business in addition to your personal life.

The way to prevent that black hole feeling when you see your store damaged or destroyed is by planning. Think about all the potential emergencies that your business type and your local environment could experience and create solid plans.

Before Disaster Strikes

Having a plan in place is key to being well prepared. Below is a short list of things you need to consider in your emergency plan. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and SCORE have comprehensive lists of detailed checklists and resources for free. Rehearse and disseminate your plan with your employees and keep copies of all important documents and contact information in a secure, offsite location for quick retrieval.

  • Insurance. Make sure you have all the information and paperwork you need ahead of time for your insurance provider. If your business is located in a particularly vulnerable location, consider additional coverage for natural disasters. Not all standard insurance plans cover these emergencies, so be sure to comb through your terms to be familiar with what damage is covered and what isn’t in the case of a disaster.
  • Inventory. If you aren’t already conducting regular inventory checks for business growth, then you should start doing it for the sake of recovery. Try to keep inventory records in different ways such as digital, physical, and photographic if possible. Insurance companies will want to know exactly what was damaged or destroyed. Police will need to know what was stolen in cases of looting. Knowing what you have will also help you get back to business once the disaster is over.
  • Communication. Keep updated records of employees’ contact information. If you need to reach them during or after an emergency, make sure all parties are aware how this communication will happen.
  • Business Continuity Plan. Do you have backup payroll, supply chain, and standard procedure for disasters? Your employees need to know specifically what the procedure is for evacuations and returning to work once the emergency has ended. Be flexible but aware – people panic in emergencies and may just disappear if there is no clear plan.
  • Supplies. While keeping a fire extinguisher and first aid kit onsite is obvious, do you have an easy-to-access supply of water, flashlights, blankets, nonperishable food items, and protective gear if the workplace needs to become a temporary shelter?
  • Personnel Safety. Conduct regular drills for common emergencies with your employees. Encourage or provide CPR training and certification. Establish a safe meeting place outside the workplace for small emergencies such as a building fire and learn where local shelter and evacuation points are for larger disasters. Make sure exits are not blocked, windows can open, and tall furniture or machinery are properly secured to the walls.

The American Red Cross has a handy, easy-to-read PDF checklist that you can download for free:

Small Business Emergency Checklist

In the Eye of the Storm

Now that you’ve created plans, copied documents, and practiced for different scenarios, it is time for you to put it all to good use.

In an emergency, you will need to be a leader not a manager. As a small business owner, your employees will look to management for guidance and assurance. If you are not calm and decisive, then they will panic and people could get hurt.

Once the Dust Clears

Make safety your top priority! Listen to law enforcement and emergency responders to know when you can safely return to the workplace for cleanup and resuming business operations. Don’t rush in until you know you and your employees are safe. Depending on your industry and the kind of disaster, there may be chemical leaks, mold, smoke damage, and other health risks.

Once you get back, take pictures of everything. Take detailed photos of damage and inventory for insurance claims. Don’t start repairs or cleanup until you have taken care of insurance, or you may pay more out of pocket than you need. Keep track of any expenses related to recovery. If insurance isn’t enough to cover damages, seek outside help from reputable organizations and business recovery centers.

Contact your bank, lenders, suppliers, clients, and anyone else who needs to be kept up to date with missed payments or deadlines. Most people will be understandable if you respond promptly.

 

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

Javier Rodriguez needed a small business loan to improve his Colombian restaurant in San Diego. Thanks to a small business loan from Opportunity Fund, Javier was able to buy inventory from Colombia and new equipment for Antojitos Colombianos.

Our customers inspire us every day, and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too.  Read about Javier Rodriguez of Antojitos Colombianos in San Diego. Opportunity Fund helped Javier get the loan he needed to buy inventory from Colombia and new equipment for his Colombian restaurant.

Serving Up Success

Javier Rodriguez opened the first Colombian restaurant in San Diego in 2011. Six years later, Antojitos Colombianos has grown into an essential neighborhood spot for authentic Colombian food and good times with friends.

Javier came to the United States from Colombia to study business. After studying at San Diego City College, he worked in the hospitality and restaurant management industry for over two decades. Before long, he followed through with his dream to start his own business.

“I didn’t want to work for someone else,” he said. “I wanted time for my family and to set my own schedule.”

Family is a big part of Javier’s life, both at home and the restaurant. Antojitos Colombianos staff is mostly family members, from Javier’s wife and kids to cousins and nephews. “I’m thankful for my business,” he said. “We can pay the bills and rent, and we can put some money aside to travel to Colombia.”

With 20 years of success in the industry and two Small Business of the Year awards from California State Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, Javier is no stranger to success. He found he needed a little help to keep Antojitos Colombianos on top for his customers. “I needed to buy merchandise from Colombia, which is very expensive,” he said. “I needed new equipment too.”

Helping Entrepreneurs Engage Their Communities

Javier followed a tip from a friend and fellow business owner about Opportunity Fund. When Javier met loan officer Byron Escobar, he knew it was the right connection.

“Byron came to my house to help me get started with the loan process,” Javier said. “The money was in my bank account 72 hours after I signed the application.”

Javier and Byron - Antojitos Colombianos

Javier works with Byron to improve his business and to reach out to entrepreneurs in his neighborhood (photo courtesy of Heimo Schmidt)


Byron helped close the $10,000 loan in September 2016. The fast, easy-to-get, and affordable capital made a difference in Javier’s business right away. The regulars from the Imperial Avenue neighborhood mix with customers from the nearby military base to create a fun atmosphere with live music and delicious food.

Javier is grateful for the connection to Opportunity Fund, not just for the working capital but also to build a relationship with a lender that understands his needs.

“I tried other lenders,” he said. “There were so many requirements. Unfortunately I didn’t meet some of them.”

See how we’re helping Javier grow his business in this video:


Javier gives back to the small business community by hosting meetings at his restaurant for local entrepreneurs to meet Byron and get answers to their questions about financing.

We’re proud to support outstanding small business owners like Javier and we’re glad to assist him with building a network for local entrepreneurs.

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. 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.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Here’s your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in Northern and Southern California from October 2 through 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 October 2 through 16.

Northern California/Sacramento

Business Basics Series: Finance and Legal
Date: October 3, 2017 | 10:00 am PDT – 1:30 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 if you register for all 3 workshops.

Click here to register for this event.

Intellectual Property Strategies for Your Business
Date: October 10, 2017 | 6:00 pm PDT – 9:00 pm PDT
Location: Fremont Public Library
2400 Stevenson Blvd. Fremont, CA 94538 (map it)
Contact: Lee Lambert | lee@acsbdc.org | (510) 208-0410
Organizations: Alameda County SBDC
Fee: Free

Intellectual property (IP) is a critical asset of almost every company. A good IP strategy must include practical defensive and offensive tools and remain flexible to address issues as they arise. It is never too early to create an IP-conscious plan for exploiting your company’s IP assets and resources to gain and maintain your competitive advantage.

This program will provide an overview of the various forms of IP, how to identify potential pitfalls, and practical Dos and Don’ts that you, the entrepreneur, has control over.

We will cover patents, trademarks, copyrights, licensing, and branding. Topics include:

  • Why not every invention is qualified for a provisional application
  • Why showing your product design at tradeshows may be harmful
  • How to mitigate having your app taken down from app stores
  • Why using unlicensed images can cost you thousands of dollars
  • Why that magic “work for hire” clause in your contractor agreements may not work to protect your rights
  • Whether that licensing contract really protects your long term business interests

Click here to register for this event.

The Veterans Business Outreach Center Presents: Business Basics Seminar
Date: October 12, 2017 | 2:00 pm PDT – 5:00 pm PDT
Location: 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

This training is designed for individuals interested in starting a business or currently in business for less than two years. The course includes information on:

  • Business evaluation
  • Market research
  • Licensing and permit requirements
  • Start-up costs
  • Financing sources
  • Insurance
  • Cash flow analysis and cash management
  • Legal structure
  • Self-employment analysis
  • Customer profile
  • Protecting your business idea
  • The reality of operating a business

Click here to register for this event. If you can’t make it to the in-person event, attend the webinar! Click here for more information.

Southern California/San Diego

The Bottom Line: Introduction to Business Financials
Date: October 5, 2017 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: 1003 E. Cooley Dr.  Suite 109 Colton, CA 92324 (map it)
Contact: Nicole Kinney | (909) 890-1242
Organization: Inland Empire Women’s Business Center
Fee: $20

Understanding financial statements and knowing how those numbers affect your bottom line is the key to starting or growing your business. Get an overview of financial statements and take the mystery out of creating or expanding the financial portion of your business plan with this interactive, straightforward guide to your bottom line.

We’ll cover:

  • Financial statements: What do they mean and why are they important?
  • Cost structures: What do I need to know?
  • Guide to the financial portion of your business plan: How do I get started?

Click here to register for this event.

10th Annual Anniversary Summit Connecting Faith and Business
Date: October 12, 2017 | 3:00 pm PDT – 9:00 pm PDT
Location: Riverside Convention Center
3637 5th St. Riverside, CA 92501 (map it)
Contact: info@ampac.com | (909) 915-1706
Organization: AmPac Tri-State CDC
Fee: $65

The 10th Annual Connecting Faith and Business Summit will be like none other. Join us for workshops on winning in business and inspirational messages on winning for life, along with information and resource-rich vendors:

  • Get Inspired to Be Courageous in Business
  • Learn Tools for Making Their Business an Instrument for God’s Glory
  • Hear Testimonies from Businesses who Thrive with God as Their CEO
  • And more!

Following the speakers, the Summit will feature a networking reception and a celebratory dinner reflecting on the winners of the past Connecting Faith & Business Awards and the announcement of the 2017 winners.

AmPac Tri-State CDC, the SBA’s only faith-based, mission-based fixed asset lender in the country, has teamed up with the U.S. Small Business Administration and SBA partners to bring like-minded business leaders together to learn together, encourage each other, and network.

Click here to register for this event.

18th Annual Asian Small Business Expo
Date: October 14, 2017 | 9:00 pm PDT – 1:00 pm PDT
Location: Almansor Court Conference Center
700 S. Almansor St. Alhambra, CA 91801 (map it)
Contact: smallbiz@apisbp.org
Organization: Asian Pacific Islander Small Business Program
Fee: Free

The Asian Small Business Expo is the only business-to-business expo that engages the Asian business community and brings this growing economic force into the mainstream to connect and utilize your company and its services. Join Opportunity Fund at this free event!

Don’t miss the opportunity to connect with small businesses, market your organization and tap into a network of entrepreneurs, service providers, financial organizations, franchises and governmental and legislative representatives.

Event highlights:

  • Network with hundreds of business owners, entrepreneurs, and start-ups
  • Catch displays from over 40 exhibitors
  • Establish valuable new contacts
  • Learn about new start-up opportunities
  • Discover new and useful business services and methods
  • Get free business advice

Join our guest speakers on this year’s theme “Ingredients for Growth”

  • Jonny Hwang, Founder, 626 Night Market (featured guest speaker)
  • Judy Han, Owner—EkoEats (women entrepreneurs panel guest)
  • Noree Pla, Owner and Chef—Luv2Eat Thai Bistro (women entrepreneurs panel guest)
  • Kristine de la Cruz, Owner—Creme Caramel (women entrepreneurs panel guest)

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

Form I-9 & E-Verify Training
Date: October 3, 2017 | 10:00 am PDT – 11:30 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: sfomail@sba.gov | (415) 744-6820
Organization: San Francisco SBA Entrepreneur Center
Fee: Free

This free virtual workshop, hosted by the San Francisco SBA Office and conducted by officers with the Verifications Division of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), will teach business owners, employers, HR professionals, and others how to use Form I-9 and E-Verify to ensure they only hire employees who can legally work in the United States.

Together we’ll review the Form I-9 process, including step by step instructions on how to complete each section, form retention and information storage. You’ll learn how E-Verify Program works through a demonstration of functions like:

  • Key features
  • Enrollment
  • Employer responsibilities

The webinar will conclude with a question and answer period with information on how to get additional information and assistance.

Click here to register for this event.

Cracking the Credit Code: Credit Reports and Scores Explained
Date: October 5, 2017 | 8:30 am PDT – 9:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Kimberly Donahue | kimberly.donahue@sba.gov | (304) 347-5220
Organization: U.S. Small Business Administration West Virginia District Office
Fee: Free

Your credit score can impact everything from where you live to how much you pay for insurance. Join this free webinar to learn how credit reports and scores really work.

John Jackson of Consumer Credit Counseling Services of the Mid Ohio Valley will explain factors that influence credit scores, how to dispute errors, and more.

Click here to register for this event.

Have You Prepared for the Holidays?
Date: October 12, 2017 | 11:30 am PDT – 1:00 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: (206) 553-7310
Organization: U.S. Small Business Administration Seattle District Office
Fee: Free

Marketing is the critical factor to your business success. Discover powerful, cost-effective techniques to build your business. In this workshop, you’ll get an intro to planning an integrated communications campaign across all of your communication channels to effectively promote your products or services as the perfect holiday gift.

The SBA Seattle District Office offers free workshops the second and fourth Tuesday of each month. Here’s an upcoming slate of free October events:

Live webinar | October 12 | 9:00 am— 10 am | Make the World’s Biggest Buyer Your Customer Through Government Contracts
Live webinar | October 12 | 10:15 am — 11:15 am | How to Get Money for Your Small Business
Live webinar | October 12| 1:15 pm – 2:45 pm | Beyond Google: Free Market Research at Your Library
Seattle (in-person event) | October 26 | 9:00 am – 10:30 am | Maximize Sales on Small Business Saturday
Seattle (in-person event) | October 26 | 11:00 am – 12:30 pm | Nurture Your Network—Creating Social Media that Sells!
Seattle (in-person event)  | October 26 | 9:00 am – 10:30 am | How to Buy or Sell a Business

Click here to register for this event and to get more information on upcoming seminars from the SBA Seattle District office.


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

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