Once your small business is up and running, you need to increase brand awareness and reach out to a larger audience to draw in customers. This is where marketing comes in! Read these five steps for building and executing a successful marketing plan.

Once your small business is up and running, you need to increase brand awareness and reach out to a larger audience to draw in customers. This is where marketing comes in! Read these five steps for building and executing a successful marketing plan.

 

1. Determine Your Marketing Goal and Measurable Objectives

The first step towards creating a successful marketing plan is to determine what your plan is supposed to do – what you want to achieve – get more customers, keep your customers or win back former customers.  This would be your goal.  Determine the objectives that help you achieve the goal: increase your business’ social media following, drive more sales to your ecommerce site, bring in more foot traffic to your brick-and-mortar location.  Make your objectives SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time bound).  .

If you need help figuring out what goal and objectives would best benefit your small business, take a few minutes to sit down and do a SWOT analysis for your business. Then talk to your business advisor to get an expert opinion. While a mentor won’t know your business better than you, they are industry experts who can help you figure out the best marketing goals and objectives for your small business.

2. Create a Budget

Marketing does not come free. While there are great free resources online to help you with your marketing plan, even free tools take time to learn and use effectively. Make sure to count for the time your paid employees will need to use tools and create content!

Sit down with your business mentor and your accountant to find a healthy amount of your budget to allocate to your marketing plan. You should create a budget large enough to effectively execute your plan without hurting your cash flow. If your business is struggling, pouring more money than you can afford into a desperate marketing attempt is not going to help. Always prioritize maintaining a positive cash flow.

3. Research Marketing Channels and Methods

The channel through which you advertise and promote your business will vary depending on your goals. If you want to drive traffic to your social media profiles and your ecommerce, then using inexpensive social media tools and email newsletters will be easy. If your budget allows, spend a little on ads on either Instagram, Facebook, or Google Adwords.

Don McPeck from Mess Hall Canteen considers social media to be vital to marketing, especially food trucks, because clean, creative, and consistent branding is what sticks in people’s minds.

However, if your goal is to attract in-person sales and new clients at your physical location, consider coupons or specials handed out in your store and listed online (such as on Groupon or Living Social). This way you can easily track how many sales and new clients are associated with your marketing efforts.

There are many inexpensive marketing methods you can use depending on your goals and budget. Spend some time researching different ideas online to see what you can realistically use to market your small business. Talk to your business advisor before you commit to a plan – remember that having a second opinion never hurts!

4. Create Content and Execute Plan

This is the part that can be the hardest or easiest step in your marketing plan. Once you’ve done your due diligence researching, planning, and budgeting, it is time to create your content and execute the plan.

If you aren’t a creative person or don’t have an employee who can take on this work, consider outsourcing tasks to freelancers. They can help with the legwork of creating the ads, graphics, and other content that you might need created.

Create a project timeline for when you need the work done by, when you will put your plan into action, when/if it will finish, and when you will take the time to look at the effectiveness of your marketing campaign.

5. Analyze the Outcome of Your Marketing Efforts

Analytics appeal to a very special kind of person, and you may be less inclined to pour over data and metrics. However, crunching the numbers and evaluating if your marketing plan achieved your goals is important.

If your plan didn’t achieve your goals and benefit your small business, then try a different method or a different goal. Effective marketing takes time to work, but you should see some positive effect after a few months if you’ve decided on the right way to market your small business. Talk to your mentor to dig deep into the data and see why your plan didn’t work and how to do it better.

If it did, then congratulations! We hope your small business grows and thrives.

 

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 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.

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

Acquiring a commercial vehicle for your small business is a big step in your growth, but there are a lot of hidden costs that come with your purchase beyond the price tag for the vehicle itself. It is important to know the true cost so you don’t face any surprises. Keep reading to find out more.

Acquiring a commercial vehicle for your small business is a big step in your growth, but there are a lot of hidden costs that come with your purchase beyond the price tag for the vehicle itself. It is important to know the true cost so you don’t face any surprises. Keep reading to find out more.

 

Whether you are looking to expand your business into the food truck world or you are seeking a delivery van, commercial vehicle costs add up. It is not as simple as buying a personal car. There are more regulations and fees you have to consider as a small business owner.

Permits and Licenses

As an entrepreneur, you are well aware of all the red tape that is involved with running your business. The regulation dance is not over!

Depending on the size, type, and use of your vehicle, you may need to apply for commercial driver’s license (CDL) for you or whoever you are employing to drive. Check the DMV for more information for your state. The cost for getting a CDL is minimal but can add up depending on what you’ll be using the vehicle for such as Hazmat materials or passengers. You should calculate initial and renewal costs for your specific state, but look at the California DMV’s cost sheet for a rough estimate.

Here is a handy guide provided by the DMV for additional permits and licenses you may be required to obtain for your vehicle. Make sure to select which state you are in for accurate information. If you plan on driving over state lines, you’ll need to also research permits for each state your vehicle will operate in, even if you are just passing through!

Food trucks are gaining popularity all across America, and they seem like a low-cost alternative to opening a full restaurant. However, there are a lot more permits that you will need to apply and pay for in order to operate a mobile food vehicle: commercial kitchen space, health inspections, parking, off-hours storage, and more.

Lifetime Costs

The costs for maintaining a commercial vehicle throughout its lifetime is where you will spend the most money after initially buying it. For example, auto insurance for a commercial vehicle varies widely and is substantially more expensive than for personal cars – sometimes several thousands of dollars a year.

Turbotax offers a good resource for things to consider regarding tax deductions for a vehicle used for business. Always consult your tax professional for accurate deduction qualifications, and take advantage of these free tax tools to help you calculate tax costs and deductions.

Keep a spreadsheet with estimated costs for taxes, fuel, repairs and maintenance, vehicle registration, cleaning, parking/storage, tolls, and any permits and licenses. Update real costs and projections each year once you get started and include these numbers in your cash flow analysis.

Paying For Your Vehicle

The initial purchase expense can cost you roughly between $10,000 and $150,000 – less if you find an inexpensive used one. This can be difficult for small businesses to cover with only working capital, so applying for a loan eases the upfront cost. Read the first installment of our “true cost” series to know how much a loan really costs.

Opportunity Fund offers loans for commercial vehicles and for mobile food trucks. Our commercial vehicle loans are only available in California, but our mobile food truck loans are also available in Florida, Texas, Ohio, and North Carolina. What is unique about getting a loan with us? A lot of commercial vehicle loans only cover purchasing the vehicle, but Opportunity Fund’s loans are applicable to use for vehicle maintenance and repairs.

 

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 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.

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

Adolfo is a champion horse trainer and western wear retail entrepreneur. When he needed to increase inventory for his store in Oakley, Calif., Opportunity Fund was there to help with a small business loan. Two Amigos Western Wear has become one of our most successful repeat borrowers with eight loans.

Our customers inspire us every day, and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too.  Adolfo is a champion horse trainer and western wear retail entrepreneur. When he needed to increase inventory for his store in Oakley, Calif., Opportunity Fund was there to help with a small business loan. Two Amigos Western Wear has become one of our most successful repeat borrowers with eight loans.

Riding Toward Success

Adolfo Ortiz started Two Amigos Western Wear in 2006. Shortly after moving to Oakley, a small Northern California town on the edge of Central Valley farmland, Adolfo saw the need for a store catering to local farmers, ranchers, and cowboys.

Adolfo has been a self-starter his whole life, from the time he came to the U.S. from Mexico to find work at 14, to his other passion: training horses. As a state champion horse trainer, Adolfo knows what his fellow riders and ranchers need to stay in style and competition. It was an easy fit for him to transition from 20-plus years in the restaurant business to a retail entrepreneur.

“I race quarter horses at California fairs,” he said. “Every time we needed something, like riding boots, nice hats, outfits for riding, or accessories, there were no places to shop around here.”

Two Amigos Western Wear has grown to a one stop shop with riding gear such as saddles, hats, boots, livestock feed, and horse care supplies. “It makes me happy when my customers walk in and say, ‘Look at how much inventory you have! This is a beautiful store’,” Adolfo said.

Opportunity Fund Keeps Two Amigos Western Wear in the Race

Adolfo started working with Opportunity Fund as his small business lender in August 2013. His first loan of $47,000 helped keep inventory fresh. Since then, Two Amigos Western Wear has become a 7-time repeat borrower with loans of $40,000 each time.

Opportunity Fund small business officer Shanna McClearn recently approved the latest loan for Two Amigos Western Wear in October 2017. The new loan is helping Two Amigos Western Wear purchase stock for the upcoming holiday shopping rush.

Adolfo Ortiz - Two Amigos Western Wear

Adolfo is able to keep his store stocked with the best inventory for his customers thanks to our small business loans (photo courtesy of Christian Peacock)

“Since working with Opportunity Fund, my cash flow has improved so much,” he said. “The loans give me the push to do more things with my business. The money is right there within 2 to 3 days.”

The success of his store allows Adolfo to reach out to his community and apply his expertise in horses and retail to help others. “People come to me when they need anything,” he said. “I help them fill out paperwork to buy horses, or provide items for giveaways and fundraisers. Anything they need, like hats or boots, I tell them to come in and pick it out.”

Two Amigos Western Wear has grown so much that Adolfo had to add more staff. He’s also looking to open a second location in the next year. We’ll be there to help with another round of fast, easy-to-get, and affordable funding.

We’re happy to help Adolfo get the working capital he needs to keep up in the race for success, and we’re pleased to see his business grow.

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

This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in Northern and Southern California. Here are the best upcoming events from December 15 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 December 15 through 31.

Northern California/Sacramento

CommUNITY Cafe
Date: December 19, 2017 | 9:30 am PDT – 10:30 am PDT
Location: 2150 Allston Way Suite 400 Berkeley, CA 94704 (map it)
Contact: Berkeley@Impacthubbayarea.com | (510) 649-7700
Organizations: Impact Hub Berkeley
Fee: Free

Impact Hub Berkeley is excited to announce CommUNITY Cafe, on the first and third Tuesdays of each month at 9:30am.

Each CommUNITY Cafe session will allow one group to present about their business or project and receive feedback, suggestions, and connection with the wider community. The main purpose is to get everyone to know the projects that are going on in the area, gain new connections, and discover new opportunities.

All are welcome and we look forward to seeing you there. RSVP to reserve your spot and make sure there are enough doughnuts for everyone.

Click here to register for this event.

Financial Literacy Workshop
Date: December 19, 2017 | 7:00 pm PDT – 9:00 pm PDT
Location: Oakland Financial Center
7901 Oakport St. Suite 2800 Oakland, CA 94621 (map it)
Contact: info@worldsystembuilder.com | (408) 941-1838
Organization: World System Builder
Fee: Free

World System Builder is a community of financial professionals on a mission to deliver the best financial education and revolutionize the financial service industry through a reliable, build-able system.

Join the World System Builder team for a free financial literacy workshop every Tuesday. Topics rotate each week and include:

  • Increase cash flow, debt management, emergency funds
  • Build strong financial foundation, proper protection
  • Build wealth, asset accumulation, saving for your child’s education
  • Retirement planning
  • Long-term care, Medicare basic, wealth preservation

Click here to register for this event.

Starting a Small Business – Lodi
Date: December 21, 2017 | 12:00 pm PDT – 1:00 pm PDT
Location: Lodi Chamber of Commerce
35 S. School St. Lodi, CA 95240 (map it)
Contact: sbdc@deltacollege.edu | (209) 954-5089
Organization: Northeastern California Small Business Development Center – San Joaquin Delta College
Fee: $15

This informative workshop is a great place to start planning and getting your business started on the right foot.

Topics for this one-hour session include:

  • Legal requirements and regulations
  • Sources of financing
  • Free business resources

At the end of the workshop, you can schedule your first individualized consulting session to work specifically on your business. That session and all subsequent consulting sessions are always confidential and without charge.

Click here to register for this event. This workshop is also offered in Stockton on December 27. Registration is $25. Click here for more information.

Southern California/San Diego

Work Smarter, Not Harder – WordPress for Small Business
Date: December 18, 2017 | 10:30 am PDT – 1:30 pm PDT
Location: Webster University
32 Discovery #250 Irvine, CA 92618 (map it)
Contact: workshops@score114.org | 714-550-7369
Organization: Orange County SCORE
Fee: Free

WordPress is the fastest growing and most popular website platform for all levels of business, but especially small business. The amazing selection of features, options and benefits that attracted Samsung, Ford, EBay, GM and CNN to WordPress are the same for Small Business Owners everywhere.

We will discuss the following topics during our fact filled WordPress presentation:

  • What is WordPress?
  • Why is WordPress Perfect for Small Businesses?
  • What is Responsive Design & Why Do You Need It?
  • What are Website Best Practices?
  • Why Convert Your Site to WordPress?
  • What is Google Analytics?—An Overview
  • How to “Do it Right”?—Case Studies
  • What are the Top 10 WordPress Plugins?

Click here to register for this event.

Small Business Meeting with State Senator Joel Anderson
Date: December 20, 2017 | 9:00 am PDT – 10:00 am PDT
Location: El Cajon—Contact samantha@csba.com for location information
Contact: samantha@csba.com
Organization: California Small Business Association
Fee: Free

State senator Joel Anderson will be hosting his annual small business meeting in his district on December 20 in El Cajon. The meeting is comprised of 6 to 8 local small business owners from within the district from a variety of industries. The purpose of the meeting is give small business a voice and to work with the Member to make small businesses in California stronger.

If you live or have a business in the district and would like to attend this meeting please email Samantha@csba.com.

Costing, Pricing, & Break Even
Date: December 7, 2017 | 6:00 pm PDT – 9:00 pm PDT
Location: Fullerton Public Library Main Branch
353 W. Commonwealth Ave. Fullerton, CA 92832 (map it)
Contact: (714) 550-7369
Organization: Orange County SCORE
Fee: Free

How do you price your product or service? Is it at a level that generates a profit or are you losing money and burning through cash?

All businesses face this challenge. Before establishing prices it is necessary to understand your specific marketing goals, the factors that influence pricing strategy, and all possible pricing strategies.

Pricing is only part of the issue. Are you aware of the costs of your product or service?  How much do your employees cost and how do they impact pricing? How do your costs behave as sales increase or decrease?  

This workshop also addresses the following questions:

  • What annual sales level is required to achieve a sustainable cash flow position?
  • What annual or monthly sales do I need to achieve my targeted cash flow?
  • Is it a good idea to invest in a larger or nicer facility?
  • Should I hire full time or part time employees?  

This workshop is designed for entrepreneurs who are preparing business plans or financial projections.  Information from this workshop is also helpful if you are introducing a new product or service and want a more thorough understanding of pricing strategy.  Knowledge of financial statements would be useful but not necessary.

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

Been There, Done That! Podcast # 54 Maximize Twitter Advertising ROI
Date: On Demand Download
Location: Online—Podcast
Organization: SCORE
Fee: Free

Learn how to increase website clicks and conversions by tweeting during live events and by tapping into followers of thought leaders for a particular genre that resonates with your target audience.

In this episode, Mical Johnson of Omen Interactive, a veteran of the Navy and nearly two decades in digital marketing, shares best practices to maximize the return on your Twitter advertising investment including geo-targeting, use of Twitter Cards, automatic bids, and more.

SCORE is proud to partner with Sarasota County Libraries and Historical Resources and the speaker to offer this program. FREE to download and listen.

Click here to listen and download.

Simplifying Social Media for Solopreneurs – Live Webinar
Date: December 19, 2017 | 10:00 am PDT – 11:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Organization: SCORE
Fee: Free

Social media might be the last thing on the minds of time-strapped solopreneurs and freelancers. But with a well-planned strategy, even the self-employed can make the most of these powerful and free marketing tools.

Join us for this seminar where we will discuss:

  • Which social media platforms to use if you are crunched for time
  • How to get the most out of your social media activities
  • How to align your social goals to business goals

Click here to register for this event.

Access to Capital 101: Funding Options to Start and Grow Your Business
Date: December 27, 2017 | 11:00 am PDT – 12:00 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contacto: Xiomara Peña
Organización: Small Business Majority
Fee: Free

Are you having trouble obtaining funding for your business? Join Small Business Majority for a free national webinar where we will help you navigate the funding landscape and connect you with resources to help you obtain the capital you need to start and grow your business.

For entrepreneurs, getting a loan could mean the difference between success and failure, whether it’s used for renovation, purchasing equipment or working capital. However, one of the biggest challenges facing small business owners and entrepreneurs has been and continues to be the inability to access sufficient credit and capital. If you’ve been turned down by a bank, don’t feel bad. You’re far from alone.

Topics of discussion include:

  • An overview of alternative lending options including microloans, SBA’s loan guarantee program, community banks and credit unions, CDFIs, reputable online lenders and crowdfunding
  • Small Business Borrowers’ Bill of Rights
  • Key questions to consider when seeking funding
  • Tips to help determine the best option for your small business
  • Helpful tools and resources

A question and answer period will follow.

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 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.

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

Just like you protect your home, personal car, and belongings with insurance, you should protect your small business with insurance. Our content partner Nav explains four basic types of insurance every business should get.

Just like you protect your home, personal car, and belongings with insurance, you should protect your small business with insurance. Our content partner Nav.com explains four basic types of insurance every business should get.

 

There are a few things every business needs just to get by: a solid business plan, adequate startup capital, good credit (personal and business-wise, which you can check for free on Nav), and, yes, comprehensive insurance.

Of course, depending on the size and type of business you’re running, “comprehensive” can mean a number of things. There’s a boatload of business insurance policies on the market; not to mention, if you have employees, state law comes into play. But there are some ways to boil down the basics. Here’s a primer on insuring your business.

What Basic Insurance Does a Business Need?

Per the Insurance Information Institute, most businesses need, at a minimum, four types of coverage: property insurance, liability insurance, business vehicle insurance and workers’ compensation insurance.

1. Commercial Property Insurance

Property insurance covers (you guessed it) the property your business operates out of and any vital items inside (think office furniture, equipment, the products in stock, computers, etc.). Property insurance provides compensation if the covered location or items are lost, damaged or stolen. Note: It’s a good idea to carry business property insurance even if you’re operating out of your garage or home office, since your homeowners’ insurance likely doesn’t provide adequate coverage — even if you add a rider that covers business property losses.

2. Liability Insurance

Liability insurance protects you in the event your business gets sued for negligence. Liability insurance covers legal expenses, damages (should you lose the case) and medical bills incurred by someone hurt by your business.

There are specialized types of liability insurance you might need, again, depending on the size and scope of your business. That includes professional liability insurance — commonly known as errors and omissions insurance (E&O) — which covers you against malpractice. (So physicians or lawyers, for instance, would likely opt for an E&O policy.) There’s also specialized product liability insurance designed to cover you if a defective product causes someone harm.

3. Business Vehicle Insurance

This policy covers any vehicles you use for operations. Keep in mind, you likely need business vehicle insurance, even if the only ride you’re using is your own. Most standard auto insurance policies won’t cover cars used primarily for business.

4. Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Workers’ compensation insurance covers medical expenses and lost wages if an employee is injured on the job. Laws vary by state, but almost all of them (excluding Texas) require hiring businesses to carry workers’ compensation coverage. Most companies are also required by law to pay unemployment insurance taxes. And, in some states, you’ll need disability insurance if you have employees as well. The Small Business Administration (SBA) suggests visitings your local Workers’ Compensation Office to find out exactly what insurance your state requires.

What’s a Business Owner’s Policy?

If all this insurance lingo is stressing you out, take a deep breath. Sure, you might need a multitude of policies, but insurance companies offer what’s known as a business owner’s policy (BOP), which packages coverage. According to the SBA, BOPs commonly include property insurance, general liability insurance and business interruption insurance, which covers loss of income if a company can’t operate due to disaster, and other common policies. (Workers’ compensation insurance and other employee-centric insurance policies are generally sold separately.)  And, just like with personal insurance policies, bundling can lead to lower premiums. Of course, your business may need more coverage than a BOP provides.

How Much Coverage Does My Business Need?

That depends, of course, but you’ll want enough to at least cover all your assets. You can get an idea of what amount of property insurance you’ll need by calculating the cost of your property, product equipment, etc., the Insurance Information Institute says.

Beyond that, a reputable insurance broker or agent can help you assess your business’s risk and recommend what policies you’ll need and how much coverage you should opt for. Shopping around and comparing quotes will help you get an idea of fair-market value.

 

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

Sarah sets up business owners with employee perks packages. She needed working capital to help grow her business. Thanks to a small business loan from Opportunity Fund, Sarah can focus on her clients instead of worrying about her bottom line.

Our customers inspire us every day, and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too.  Read about Sarah Garcia of Allegiance Employee Perks in San Diego. Sarah sets up business owners with employee perks packages. She needed working capital to help grow her business. Thanks to a small business loan from Opportunity Fund, Sarah can focus on her clients instead of worrying about her bottom line

Making Work Fun

Sarah Garcia established Allegiance Employee Perks in the Kearny Mesa area of San Diego in 2015. She got her start in corporate events coordination in after switching jobs as a dispatcher for a security company in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Allegiance Employee Perks specializes in offering employee discounts to business owners and scheduling employee appreciation days featuring local clients, including popular restaurants, sports teams, and golf courses. They also provide connections to these local clients as fundraisers for nonprofits like Susan G. Komen and the La Jolla VA Hospital.

Sarah had a vision for success in San Diego. She took advantage of a new opportunity when her company signed the Major League Baseball San Diego Padres as a client.

“I saw myself as a business owner,” she said. “Once we acquired the Padres as a client, I had the opportunity to open our office here.”

Sarah works with a small but mighty team of four women who coordinate the connections to sports teams and other hot tickets in the San Diego area. As Sarah grows her business, she needs access to working capital to retain her staff. Her natural networking ability led her to Opportunity Fund.

Starting a Lending Relationship

Sarah got a referral to Opportunity Fund after meeting with an advisor at the San Diego district office of the U.S. Small Business Association. She called loan consultant Byron Escobar, who helped close a $2,600 loan in February 2017 for Allegiance Employee Perks.

The working capital helped her incorporate the company and made it easy to start marketing and recruiting projects to grow her business.

“There were lots of high interest loans from other lenders available,” she said. “I wasn’t interested.”

Sarah and Byron - Allegiance Employee Perks

Sarah and Byron celebrate a successful loan deal (photo courtesy of Heimo Schmidt)

The connection to Opportunity Fund has allowed Sarah to build a long-term lending relationship that fits the needs of her business. “Without Opportunity Fund, I would have struggled a lot longer,” she said. “Before, I didn’t have access to many resources. Opportunity Fund is the right place to go.”

Sarah’s next goal is to sign more San Diego area clients and eventually expand to the Sacramento market. We’ll be there to help Sarah keep her entrepreneurial dreams alive and kicking with our easy-to-get, fast, and affordable small business loans.

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


Opportunity Fund is 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.

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 ecommerce 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 ecommerce tools.

Online retail is an important, exciting step in the growth of your small business. Once you’ve decided how you want to start selling online, look for free resources that will fit your needs.We’ve compiled this list of tools and resources that will help you build, manage, and sell your products online.

 

Bonanza

How much it costs: Free

What it does: Whether or not you are already selling online, Bonanza is an easy way to get your items out to an even greater market with minimal effort. You can start selling immediately for free or upload an inventory list from your current ecommerce platform. This service only charges fees when you sell your item, you don’t have to front any money just to get your items listed. Their 9% fee is low-cost compared to other bigger ecommerce platforms, and it includes Google advertising!

Prestashop

How much it costs: Free

What it does: Prestashop is really great for launching your small business’ own ecommerce website. If you don’t want to pay another company to host your items, this is a good route to go. Choose from shop templates and tools to build your ecommerce site through Prestashop, accept credit cards and Paypal securely, capture customers on mobile, take advantage of built-in SEO tools, track stock inventory, get the latest legal and tax changes, and even more. Here are some free design tools to help you build your ecommerce site. Everything is free with no selling fees, but you can pay for additional widgets to expand your selling power.

Woocommerce

How much it costs: Free

What it does: Woocommerce is a plugin for WordPress to enable you to sell on your business’ existing website. In addition to standard hosting features, you get to keep control of your customer’s data with secure passcodes. This free service also offers a storefront template so you don’t have to worry about your WordPress theme conflicting with optional paid widgets that you can add to your account.

Cubecart

How much it costs: Free

What it does: Cubecart is a completely free, open source ecommerce tool for more tech-savvy business owners. However, if you like what they offer but don’t know how to set it up, look into hiring a low-cost freelancer to help you out. Cubecart’s free features are extensive with fully customizable code for coupons, catalogs, template skins, social plugins, item categories, shipping quotes, sales statistics, language options, newsletters, Google Analytics, foreign currency support, contact forms, database backup, affiliate program trackers, and dozens more!

Opencart

How much it costs: Free

What it does: Opencart is an open source tool with easy setup for business owners with limited coding knowledge. Set up your shop with multiple languages and currencies, built-in affiliate programs, basic sales reporting and analytics, automatic mobile responsiveness, and more extensions that you can buy in their marketplace to advance your ecommerce site or integrate your brick-and-mortar business with your online storefront.

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 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.

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 ecommerce 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 ecommerce tools.

Online retail is an important, exciting step in the growth of your small business. Once you’ve decided how you want to start selling online, look for free resources that will fit your needs. We’ve compiled this list of tools and resources that will help you build, manage, and sell your products online.

Bonanza

How much it costs: Free

What it does: Whether or not you are already selling online, Bonanza is an easy way to get your items out to an even greater market with minimal effort. You can start selling immediately for free or upload an inventory list from your current ecommerce platform. This service only charges fees when you sell your item, you don’t have to front any money just to get your items listed. Their 9% fee is low-cost compared to other bigger ecommerce platforms, and it includes Google advertising!

Prestashop

How much it costs: Free

What it does: Prestashop is really great for launching your small business’ own ecommerce website. If you don’t want to pay another company to host your items, this is a good route to go. Choose from shop templates and tools to build your ecommerce site through Prestashop, accept credit cards and Paypal securely, capture customers on mobile, take advantage of built-in SEO tools, track stock inventory, get the latest legal and tax changes, and even more. Here are some free design tools to help you build your ecommerce site. Everything is free with no selling fees, but you can pay for additional widgets to expand your selling power.

Woocommerce

How much it costs: Free

What it does: Woocommerce is a plugin for WordPress to enable you to conveniently sell on your business’ existing website. In addition to standard hosting features, you get to keep control of your customer’s data with secure passcodes. This free service also offers a storefront template so you don’t have to worry about your WordPress theme conflicting with optional paid widgets that you can add to your account.

Cubecart

How much it costs: Free

What it does: Cubecart is a completely free, open source ecommerce tool for more tech-savvy business owners. However, if you like what they offer but don’t know how to set it up, look into hiring a low-cost freelancer to help you out. Cubecart’s free features are extensive with fully customizable code for coupons, catalogs, template skins, social plugins, item categories, shipping quotes, sales statistics, language options, newsletters, Google Analytics, foreign currency support, contact forms, database backup, affiliate program trackers, and dozens more!

Opencart

How much it costs: Free

What it does: Opencart is an open source tool with easy setup for business owners with limited coding knowledge. Set up your shop with multiple languages and currencies, built-in affiliate programs, basic sales reporting and analytics, automatic mobile responsiveness, and more extensions that you can buy in their marketplace to advance your ecommerce site or integrate your brick-and-mortar business with your online storefront.

 

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 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.

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

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