This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in Northern and Southern California. Here are the best upcoming events from May 1 through 16.

Every two weeks, we’re sharing and promoting free or affordable events that help small business owners run their businesses better. This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in Northern and Southern California. Here are the best upcoming events from May 1 through 16.

Northern California/Sacramento

5th Annual Small Business Summit
Date: May 3, 2018 | 8:00 am PDT – 12:00 pm PDT
Location: Chambers of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors
70 West Hedding St. San Jose, CA 95110 (map it)
Contact: info@hccsv.org | (408) 248-4800
Organization: Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Silicon Valley
Fee: Free

Join the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Silicon Valley for the 5th Annual Small Business Summit of Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Get access to informative and inspirational workshops, networking, and resources for you and your business. Celebrate National Small Business Week with us at this free event.

Click here to register for this event.

We Thrive Together: Change Your Money Mindset
Date: May 15, 2018 | 12:00 pm PDT – 1:30 pm PDT
Location: Shasta County Office of Education
1644 Magnolia Ave. Redding, CA 96001 (map it)
Contact: info@e-jedi.org | (530) 926-6670
Organization: Jefferson Economic Development Institute
Fee: Free

How do you stop making financial decisions that sabotage what you really want? How can you navigate multiple financial priorities?

Women especially struggle with emotional responses when making financial decisions or confronting financial situations. In this free seminar, we’ll discuss the emotional aspects and equipping women to step into their power role with their finances.

Join us and learn how to:

  • Dispel your beliefs about money that have been holding you back
  • Identify your financial habits that are not aligned with what matters most to you
  • Clarify the impact that your desire to make money has in your life

Click here to register for this event.

Business Basics 101 – Oakland Small Business Week
Date: May 2, 2018 | 5:00 pm PDT – 6:30 pm PDT
Location: Oakland City Hall
1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza Oakland, CA 94612 (map it)
Contact: (510) 444-CITY
Organization: East Bay SCORE
Fee: Free

Join East Bay SCORE at Oakland Small Business Week for this free seminar on planning for success, finding money, and marketing to your audience. This session will be available in English, Spanish and Cantonese.

For the full slate of Oakland Small Business Week events, click here.

Click here to register for this event.

Southern California/San Diego

Are You Covered? Insurance Basics for Small Businesses
Date: May 9, 2018 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: 1003 E. Cooley Dr. Suite 109 Colton, CA 92324 (map it)
Contact: (909) 890-1242
Organization: Inland Empire Women’s Business Center
Fee: $20

Is your business insurance providing all the coverage you need? Join us for a discussion about the many aspects of business insurance and get the tools to help you understand and evaluate the types of coverage available. Learn how to manage your risk and make sure your policy covers what you need.

Click here to register for this event.

Business Plan Essentials
Date: Starts May 11, 2018 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: 1055 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 900B Los Angeles, CA 90017 (map it)
Contact: Daniel Ing | ding@pacela.org | (213) 353-9400
Organization: PACE Finance Corporation
Fee: $60 for 3 classes

This complete workshop will take you through the step-by-step process of developing a business plan. During this three-day workshop you will analyze your business, develop the plan, and on the last day present it to 3 bankers who will assess your plan and provide you feedback. The plan also serves as an effective communication tool for financing proposals.

Get more information on the program curriculum here.

Click here to register for this event.

3rd Fashion Entrepreneur Expo
Date: May 12, 2018 | 11:00 am PDT – 4:00 pm PDT
Location: New York Life
801 N. Brand Blvd. 3rd Floor Glendale, CA 91203 (map it)
Contact: info@vedc.org | (818) 907-9922
Organization: VEDC
Fee: Free for general admission | $30 for VIP admission (includes parking, breakfast and lunch, and VIP Mixer)

Fashion enthusiasts: Do you want to start a business in the fashion industry? Do you already have a line of products that you need help promoting? Do you want to learn how to increase your sales?

Join us for our 3rd Fashion Entrepreneur Expo! We will have dozens of booths offering their products/services; speakers on selling, blogging, and starting a fashion line, plus a runway showcase.

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

National Small Business Week Virtual Conference
Date: May 1-3, 2018 | 9:30 am PDT – 3:30 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: smallbusinessweek@sba.gov
Organization: U.S. Small Business Administration
Fee: Free

The U.S. Small Business Administration and SCORE Association will host a free 3-Day Virtual Conference during National Small Business Week May 1 through 3 starting at 9:30 am PDT each day.

The Virtual Conference offers all the best parts of an in-person conference, but without the hassle of traveling. You will also have the opportunity to meet other business owners and chat with industry experts.

Choose the webinars that interest you the most (click here for a full description of each webinar):

  • How Changing Consumer Behavior Impacts Your Business – May 1 at 1:00 PM ET/10:00 AM PT
  • Addressing Discrimination and Harassment in the Workplace – May 1 at 2:30 PM ET/11:30 AM PT
  • Get New and Repeat Business On Autopilot with Email Marketing – May 1 at 4:00 PM ET/1:00 PM PT
  • Creating and Sustaining a Strong Social Presence – May 1 at 5:30 PM ET/2:30 PM PT
  • The U.S. Economic Outlook and Its Impact on Small Businesses – May 2 at 1:00 PM ET/10:00 AM PT
  • Managing Your Finances in the Cloud – May 2 at 2:30 PM ET/11:30 AM PT
  • Grow Your Business in 2018 – May 2 at 4:00 PM ET/1:00 PM PT
  • Simple Steps to Choosing the Right Financing – May 2 at 5:30 PM ET/2:30 PM PT
  • Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints & Keep Your Customers – May 3 at 1:00 PM ET/10:00 AM PT
  • Sharing Your Story Through Video – May 3 at 2:30 PM ET/11:30 AM PT
  • Pop & Play: How Opening a Pop-Up Shop Can Help Launch Your Retail Brand – May 3 at 4:00 PM ET/1:00 PM PT
  • Fusion Marketing: The Next Generation of Marketing – May 3 at 5:30 PM ET / 2:30 PM PT

Click here to register for this event.

Facebook Marketing for Small Business
Date: May 2, 2018 | 9:00 am PDT – 9:45 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: (678) 335-5600 Ext 120
Organization: Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs
Fee: Free

Join this free webinar to learn how to use Facebook for your small business. Increase the visibility of your business and connect with new customers through effective social media tactics:

  • 10 Do’s and Don’ts
  • Basic Fan Page Setup
  • Insider Tips and Tricks

Click here to register for this event.

Discovering What Works in Social Media
Date: May 11, 2018 | 9:00 am PDT – 10:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: John Merlino | jmerl018@live.kutztown.edu | (973) 879-3549
Organization: Kutztown (Penn.) SBDC
Fee: Free

Join John Merlino, KUSBDC social media guru, for this free webinar and learn about the 5D social media program that was developed to help existing entrepreneurs navigate the ever-changing world of social media marketing. Through the KUSBDC 5D model you will be able to develop best practices for your business by learning new ways to integrate your goals, design, and track the performance of content that is relevant in your industry. This will help ensure that you are getting your fair share of customers through your social media postings. Be the first to attend this webinar and learn about the opportunity to gain additional student internship resources to support your social media marketing campaigns.

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.

Loans are subject to credit review. Additional documentation may be required for credit approval. We are an Equal Opportunity Lender. Loans will be made or arranged pursuant to California Department of Corporations Finance Lenders License #6050609.


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

While a food truck may be small, it is just as mighty as a brick-and-mortar restaurant when it comes to health inspections. Some people think mobile food businesses are unsanitary, so keeping up with local health codes is vital. Keep reading to get familiar with the best way to prepare for health inspections.

While a food truck may be small, it is just as mighty as a brick-and-mortar restaurant when it comes to health inspections. Some people think mobile food businesses are unsanitary, so keeping up with local health codes is vital. Keep reading to get familiar with the best way to prepare for health inspections.

 

Know Local Health Codes Backwards and Forwards

As with any small business venture, you’ll need to do a lot of research to stay on top of current regulations. With health departments spanning county-wide, you’ll need to know each county’s health codes where your food truck will be operating.

Train your employees regularly and keep them up-to-date on health codes. They may be quizzed by an inspector, so they need to know as much about the food preparation, storage, and safety as you do. Here are some example questions you or your employees may be asked:

  • Do you prepare any food in advance of service? How are these foods cooked, cooled, and reheated?
  • Do you have temperature records? Who records them? Where are the thermometers? How do you calibrate them?
  • What is your hand-washing and glove-use policy?
  • Who does your pest control?
  • What is your process to train new employees? Are your managers certified in food safety?
  • Do you have a written policy for an employee reporting illness or injury?

Speaking of employee illness, make sure you send them home if they show signs of being sick. Keep records of sick days and symptoms you see – if a customer gets sick and traces the illness back to your food truck, you should be able to produce these records to the inspector. You don’t want your business to be shut down until everyone is healthy and the area is completely sanitized.

Constantly Prepare For Inspections

Because your yearly health inspections could happen unannounced – especially if they received a complaint and come in for a surprise visit – you need to always be prepared.

Ask the county’s health department for a checklist so you know exactly what an inspector will be looking for when they visit. Then take that knowledge and self-inspect your truck on a regular basis. Surprise your employees with random inspections of your own for hand washing, cleanliness, food labeling, and everything else on that list. You know your vehicle better than anyone else, so make sure that the health inspector doesn’t find something that you missed.

Keep food purchase records, permits, temperature and storage processes, and any other paperwork that you may be asked for in your food truck. The more you are prepared for an inspection, the faster it will go, and the more likely it is your business will pass with flying colors.

Use a Top-Notch Food Truck

Equipment gets old and breaks down, that’s nothing new. When it comes to keeping your mobile food business sanitary and in proper working order, make sure to replace parts and equipment that are no longer up to standard.

If you’re buying your first food truck or need to upgrade to a new vehicle because your old one doesn’t meet health regulations, consider getting a food truck loan with 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.

Loans are subject to credit review. Additional documentation may be required for credit approval. We are an Equal Opportunity Lender. Loans will be made or arranged pursuant to California Department of Corporations Finance Lenders License #6050609.


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

Google may be a business super giant, but it wants to provide you with as much of a boost as it can for your own business to succeed. Here are a few resources your small business needs that don’t cost you anything but a few minutes.

Each month, we’re sharing and promoting free or affordable tools that help small business owners run their businesses better. Here are five free Google tools for your business.

Google may be a business super giant, but it wants to provide you with as much of a boost as it can for your own business to succeed. Here are a few resources your small business needs that don’t cost you anything but a few minutes.

Google My Business

How much it costs: Free

What it does: Whether you have one location or several, claiming your business on Google with help people find accurate information about you. Reviews and photos are still really important things potential customers look for before they visit or buy from a business. With this free resource, you can reply to reviews, see insights of how people are finding your business, add photos, include business hours and contact information, let people find your business on Google Maps, and even create ads!

Think With Google

How much it costs: Free

What it does: Need to keep up-to-date with market trends but don’t have enough time to dig into the research? Google created a hub of information for you to access for free. Easily find consumer trends and insights, emerging technologies that could get your business ahead of the game, marketing resources, new markets for your small business’ growth, and more.

Google Drive

How much it costs: Free

What it does: Let’s start with the most useful tool Google has in it’s business tools arsenal. We’ve written about how Google Drive is super helpful for organizing your business, but it is more than a cloud storage and collaboration tool. With Forms, you can create surveys to gain insights from your customers, manage your finance spreadsheets without paying for an expensive platform, create a free website, and more with additional free business apps that will connect to your Drive!

Google Analytics

How much it costs: Free

What it does: Having a website is vital for your small business, and knowing your online traffic is important for deciding how to be optimize your site. Google Analytics may seem complicated to navigate at first, but there are tons of easy-to-read guides that will show you the ropes. Use Analytics to see page views, how long people stay on pages, when people visit (which will help if you decide to use Google Adwords), where your site visitors come from and what they’re doing on your website. Having a website isn’t enough in today’s harsh business world, but this free tool will help you use yours best!

Get Your Business Online

How much it costs: Free

What it does: This resource is a great place to discover the world of Google services for your small business. It helps you get your business listed when potential customers search for you – which is extremely helpful for adding business hours, events, photos, contact information, and reviews! You can also build your small business website if you don’t already have one (or need a modernization), and you get access to marketing advice and workshops.

 

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.

Loans are subject to credit review. Additional documentation may be required for credit approval. We are an Equal Opportunity Lender. Loans will be made or arranged pursuant to California Department of Corporations Finance Lenders License #6050609.


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

Being ghosted means more than being ignored by friends – it can also mean that you have little to no credit. Our content partner Nav explains how getting ghosted can cost you more money when you need a loan and how to fix the problem.

Being ghosted means more than being ignored by friends – it can also mean that you have little to no credit. Our content partner Nav.com explains how getting ghosted can cost you more money when you need a loan and how to fix the problem.

 

Getting “ghosted” is never a good thing, especially when it comes to your credit scores. They can determine whether you can borrow money for your business, and how much borrowing will cost you. When you have little or no credit history, you’re essentially a “ghost” to the credit bureaus. Being a ghost can mean paying hundreds of thousands more in borrowing costs. It can also put you out of business.

Many business owners fall into the “ghost” category because they either never established a credit history, or because they immigrated to the U.S. There are more of these credit ghosts than you may think.

According to Nav’s data on 189,466 of its small business customers, 39% qualify as credit ghosts. These business owners had a personal credit score of 620 or lower, and had no or very limited credit history. In addition to personal credit, having little or no business credit history can lead to even more problems, like low business credit scores.

Nav’s own co-founder and CEO, Levi King, was once a credit ghost himself. He grew up on a farm in Idaho and was taught to pay cash for everything. It wasn’t until he started his first business, a sign manufacturing company that he realized the importance of building a positive credit history.

“One of my suppliers asked why I didn’t set up credit accounts with them. I had been paying cash on delivery for everything,” says King. “When they pulled my credit report, they said there wasn’t even a record for my company. It was as though I didn’t exist. If they didn’t know me personally, they would have thought my business was a scam.”

How Credit Ghosts Lose Out

For some entrepreneurs, you may have felt the bite of being a ghost when launching your business idea. You may have looked for financing, but got continually denied because of your low credit scores. It’s no wonder that 62% of business owners rely on personal savings to fund their business.

Even if you’ve launched your business, you’ll likely need money to grow or cover cash flow bumps. Traditional lenders will almost always check your personal and business credit reports. A bad credit score will usually lead to a denial for bank loans or credit lines.

This forces many to seek out alternative forms of business lending that have exploded over the past 15 years. Unfortunately, some of these lenders charge extremely high rates and have terms that are tough to understand. Do you know how to calculate a factor rate, for example?

“There are plenty of ways to get money for your business these days, but as a credit ghost you usually only qualify for high-cost financing, which can ruin your business because it’s too expensive, or put you in cycle of reborrowing,” King says. “Most of these lenders don’t report your repayment information to the credit bureaus, so your situation never improves.”

Who’s Most Likely To Be a Ghost

When someone immigrates to the U.S., their credit history doesn’t follow them. They may have run a successful restaurant in Japan for 10 years and had pristine credit, but when they arrive in the U.S., they are essentially invisible to lenders and other creditors. That’s a problem.

Immigrants are crucial to the health of the U.S. economy. They launch more than a quarter of all U.S. businesses and an estimated $126 billion in annual wages are paid to Americans who work at immigrant-run businesses.

Some companies are trying to help solve the problem. Nova Credit has built technology that allow immigrants to transport their credit history around the world. And Nav educates business owners on how to build their credit profiles and provide tools to make it simple to do.

In addition to immigrants, studies have shown that minority entrepreneurs can have a harder time accessing the credit they need to grow their business dream. The Federal Reserve Banks of Cleveland and Atlanta recently released findings from the Small Business Credit Survey that looked at access to capital issues for minority-owned businesses.

That survey found that 58% of black-owned firms reported credit availability challenges, versus 32% of white-owned firms. The same survey also revealed that 40% of black-owned firms reported not applying for financing because they were discouraged (in essence, they felt they’d get denied), compared with 14% of white-owned companies.

How to Un-Ghost Your Credit

If you feel like a credit ghost, there are some simple ways to build your profile. As a business owner, you should be building both your personal and business credit profiles — they are separate.

For your personal credit, get a couple credit cards, even if it needs to be a secured credit card, to start establishing credit history. Always pay on time and keep your credit utilization low, below 30%. (Don’t understand what credit utilization is? Read this.)

For your business credit, ask your suppliers about setting net repayment terms and whether or not they report to the business credit bureaus. You should be able to get net 15-day terms or more if you have a solid history and relationship with the supplier.

You should also apply for a business credit line from stores like Lowes or Staples. Almost any business can get approved for a small amount at these places. Finally, you can also open business credit cards in your business name. Like personal credit cards, always pay them on time and keep your balances low.

The good news for credit ghosts is that establishing a positive credit history should help you improve your scores relatively fast. In a matter of months, you may be able to un-ghost your credit, and put your business in a position to access affordable cash whenever you need it. You can track your business and personal credit score progress for free on Nav.

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

 

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

Loans are subject to credit review. Additional documentation may be required for credit approval. We are an Equal Opportunity Lender. Loans will be made or arranged pursuant to California Department of Corporations Finance Lenders License #6050609.


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

This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in Northern and Southern California. Here are the best upcoming events from April 16 through 30.

Every two weeks, we’re sharing and promoting free or affordable events that help small business owners run their businesses better. This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in Northern and Southern California. Here are the best upcoming events from April 16 through 30.

Northern California/Sacramento

Getting Your Business ACT Together
Date: April 17, 2018 | 12:00 pm PDT – 1:00 pm PDT
Location: Shasta County Office of Education, Professional Development Center
2985 Innsbruck Dr. Redding, CA 96003 (map it)
Contact: info@e-jedi.org | (530) 926-6670
Organization: Jefferson Economic Development Institute
Fee: Free

Join JEDI for this free seminar where you’ll learn how to ACT for success. ACT stands for Assessment, Creation, Traffic. Understand what is needed before you put more money into marketing your business. It’s never too late to start! Steps to take before going to market:

  • What does success/freedom look like to you? How do you obtain that?
  • Who are your competitors? You may be surprised!
  • Who are your customers? It is not usually you, or your family.
  • Who are you and why should people want to do business with you?

Join us for interactive activities:

  • What is The Freedom Formula
  • How to Find your Competitors and Customers
  • What Makes You Different? The Difference between your Unique Selling Position and Unique Mechanism

Click here to register for this event.

Business Start Up
Date: April 20, 2018 | 12:00 pm PDT – 1:00 pm PDT
Location: Tracy Chamber of Commerce
223 E. 10th St. Tracy, CA 95376 (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.

2018 Business Xpo Silicon Valley Chambers
Date: April 25, 2018 | 5:30 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: Santa Clara Convention Center
5001 Great America Parkway Santa Clara, CA 95054 (map it)
Contact: (408) 244-8244
Organization: Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Silicon Valley
Fee: Free

Attend the 2018 Silicon Valley Chamber Business XPO, featuring over 100 exhibitors. Learn about their business while networking with other business professionals. Participate in the Passport program to enter for a chance to win prizes from local businesses and organizations!

Click here to register for this event.

Southern California/San Diego

Writing a Winning Business Plan
Date: April 23, 2018 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: Circle City Center
365 N. Main St. Corona, CA 92882 (map it)
Contact: (909) 890-1242
Organization: Inland Empire Women’s Business Center
Fee: Free for Corona residents | $20 for non residents

A well-written business plan can help focus your planning efforts and give potential lenders or investors a positive picture of your goals. Work with an experienced trainer to learn the steps to follow to make the writing process less tedious and gain insights on where to gather the information you need to write a winning plan.

Click here to register for this event.

Hollywood S.W.O.T. Analysis Workshop
Date: April 25, 2018 | 3:00 pm PDT – 4:00 pm PDT
Location: 4311 Melrose Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90026 (map it)
Contact: bsc@mcslosangeles.com | (323) 454-6115
Organization: MCS Business Source
Fee: Free

The Hollywood BusinessSource invites you to their monthly SWOT Analysis Orientation. Come join us to learn the basics of SWOT Analysis from our Business Consultant.

Need to make an important business decision? Try SWOT analysis. An acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, SWOT is an analytical framework that can help your company face its greatest challenges and find its most promising new markets.

Click here to register for this event.

Get Found on Google Search and Maps
Date: April 27, 2018 | 10:00 am PDT – 12:00 pm PDT
Location: 13420 Van Nuys Blvd. Suite 121 Pacoima, CA 91331 (map it)
Contact: info@vedc.org | (818) 834-0577
Organization: VEDC
Fee: Free

Do you want to be on the first page of Google? Do you want to grow your business brand? Do you want traffic from Google search?

Join us for a free workshop. Seats are limited.

This class is for existing businesses only. You must bring your own smartphone, tablet, or laptop.

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

Find Time and Make Time for Social and Digital Marketing
Date: April 17, 2018 | 11:00 am PDT – 12:00 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Donna Botti | donna.botti@scorevolunteer.org
Organization: Montgomery (Penn.) County SCORE
Fee: Free

Do you know that 43% of small businesses dedicate six or more hours per week to just social media?

While it’s important to engage for social visibility and key connections online, we all want to do more in less time. This session will help you save time at get back to what you love to do – running your business or organization.

You’ll also learn about the free business advice and mentoring that SCORE of Montgomery County can provide for you.

Click here to register for this event.

Financial Literacy Webinar
Date: April 18, 2018 | 10:30 am PDT – 11:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Jeremy Sanford | jeremy.sanford@sba.gov | (601) 965-4378
Organization: U.S. Small Business Association
Fee: Free

Is your business struggling in the financial department? Increase revenues and create a more effective budget with this free webinar. 

Call Jeremy Sanford at (601) 965-4378 to register for this event.

Ten Google Tools to get Your Business Started
Date: April 25, 2018 | 4:00 pm PDT – 5:00 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Sarah Espinosa | sespinos@uncfsu.edu | (910) 672-2683
Organization: Fayetteville State University Veterans Business Outreach Center
Fee: Free

Learn about the ten no-cost software options that Google provides that can help you start your business without adding to the bottom line.

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.

Loans are subject to credit review. Additional documentation may be required for credit approval. We are an Equal Opportunity Lender. Loans will be made or arranged pursuant to California Department of Corporations Finance Lenders License #6050609.


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

Lance started his own business after years working in the protective auto coating trade as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps. Clear Pro has grown into a thriving business with two Inland Empire locations. A small business loan from Opportunity Fund helped Clear Pro get their second location ready for business.

Our customers inspire us every day, and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too.

Lance started his own business after years working in the protective auto coating trade as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps. Clear Pro has grown into a thriving business with two Inland Empire locations. A small business loan from Opportunity Fund helped Clear Pro get their second location ready for business.

From Trade to Business Ownership

Lance Pugh started Clear Pro LLC in 2004. His business installs clear protective film on auto paint jobs to prevent chips and scratches to the paint. Clear Pro serves clients in need of protection for their auto paint jobs, from the everyday driver to high performance vehicle owners.

Lance learned the protective auto coating trade while serving in the United States Marine Corps. His military service saw him move back and forth between California and his home state of Michigan, all the while working for car dealerships providing protective auto coating services. After completing his military service, Lance decided to settle down in the Inland Empire and start his own business.

“I don’t have a college education,” Lance said. “I wanted to start my own business. I found a niche market that wasn’t as popular at first, and today it’s grown into something in demand.”

Lance began Clear Pro in Murrieta, where his business had the runway it needed to grow. When it came time to expand to a second location in Cathedral City, he knew it was the right move for his business.

“One of our manufacturers had a shop out there and they asked us if we could take over,” Lance said. “They’re based in Texas. It was challenging for them to have their business here.”

It wasn’t easy for Clear Pro to expand right away either. Lance needed a small business loan to complete the transition to a multi-location business.

Growing from the Inside Out

Opportunity Fund business development officer Adriana Williams reached out to Lance to help with his small business financing needs. “She really wanted to help us out,” Lance said. “It was a good fit for us. It was easy to get the paperwork done and get the loan we needed. The funding was quick too.”

Lance Pugh - Clear Pro

Thanks to a small business loan from Opportunity Fund, Lance has two Clear Pro locations in the Inland Empire (photo courtesy of Michael Microulis)

Adriana helped close a $80,000 loan in August 2017, which allowed Lance and his team to clean up the Cathedral City location and make it a long-term part of Clear Pro’s success.

“Working with Opportunity Fund has let me put everything I need for both shops in one central location,” Lance said. “It makes it easy to take care of everything over time rather than all at once.”

With five employees and a new location, the future of Clear Pro is bright. “We’re working on promoting our second location as well as growing our first location,” Lance said, “Then we’ll go from here.”

Watch Lance’s story in this video:

We’re proud to support entrepreneurs like Lance who build their businesses from the ground up, and we’re honored to be a funding solution for veteran small business owners.

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.

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Determining how much to charge for a product or service is tricky – price too high and it might not sell, price too low and you aren’t making enough profits. Read how much incorrect pricing really costs.

Determining how much to charge for a product or service is tricky – price too high and it might not sell, price too low and you aren’t making enough profits. Read how much incorrect pricing really costs.

 

How does pricing incorrectly affect your bottom line?

Whether you’re a first-time entrepreneur or you’ve been in business for years, figuring out what to charge for your products and services may seem like a big, ambiguous mystery. Nevertheless, over or under-charging can hurt your business.

If you aren’t charging enough to cover the creation costs and overhead expenses, plus a profit margin, then you aren’t going to be improving your business’ cash flow. If you’re charging too much, customers will go to your competitors and you lose out on a sale.

The secret lies in figuring out through experience how to set prices that attract your target audience and knowing when to adjust them.

Don’t sell yourself short!

Why is underpricing dangerous? Trying to get initial sales and market recognition through low prices right out the door is actually harmful to your business. If you charge too little and learn that you are losing money on that product, raising that price later is going to be even more tricky to retain those customers.

Not only does underpricing your products or services cut into your bottom line, but you should take consumer psychology into account. What this means is that the perception of a cheap product can turn away the customers you hope to attract by lowering prices.

What you really want to do is create the perception of great value for a good deal. Depending on what kind of customer you want to attract, you need to address what makes them feel like they are getting their money’s worth:

  • If you want to be known as a premium product, don’t mention “sale”, “discount”, or “clearance.” Instead, choose words such as “promotion”, “limited time offer”, and “exclusive.”
  • Prices that end with .99 will seem less expensive than a whole number, but ending with .90 is even better. Losing those 9 cents is worth a customer feeling like your product is inexpensive but not cheap.
  • If you want to attract the type of customer who never buys full price, make sure to increase your prices so that you can afford to mark them down frequently, issue regular coupons, and offer special military or student discounts.
  • If you can’t lower your prices to beat a competitor, focus on selling your value and customer service.

Find the magic middle numbers

Take a look at your annual P&L statements to see where you need to charge more and where you could cut back on inventory. If you haven’t created a P&L statement before or haven’t been in business long enough to have yearly records, research online for pricing best practices.

Once you’ve calculated expenses, figured out the how much profit you need to make for growth, looked at your competitors’ prices in the market, and developed a good marketing plan… you’re ready to stamp that price tag and start selling!

 

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.

Loans are subject to credit review. Additional documentation may be required for credit approval. We are an Equal Opportunity Lender. Loans will be made or arranged pursuant to California Department of Corporations Finance Lenders License #6050609.


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

Vladimir and Jim started their business partnership when they took over Alan Desk Business Interiors in Los Angeles. Despite working together at Alan Desk for years, they had trouble finding business loans as new business owners. Opportunity Fund’s partnership with Lending Club helped them get their showroom ready for new customers.

Our customers inspire us every day, and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too.

Vladimir and Jim started their business partnership when they took over Alan Desk Business Interiors in Los Angeles. Despite working together at Alan Desk for years, they had trouble finding business loans as new business owners. Opportunity Fund’s partnership with Lending Club helped them get their showroom ready for new customers.

A New Business Partnership

Vladimir Alvarez and Jim Meltzer worked together for years at Alan Desk Business Interiors in Los Angeles. They made their dream of business ownership a reality when they took over the formerly family owned business in 2016.

Alan Desk Business Interiors provides design for commercial office spaces by supplying office furniture and designs to their clients. Vladimir and Jim serve as the only employees at Alan Desk, and their connections within the Los Angeles community have landed them several high profile clients like Magic Johnson and the Jimmy Kimmel Show.

Alan Desk - Jim

Jim is the creative and design brain of Alan Desk (photo courtesy of Michael Microulis)


The dynamic duo covers all the functions of the business. Vladimir handles accounting, marketing, and purchasing while Jim is the creative brain and buyer behind the interior design.

Late in 2017, Alan Desk opened a new 1,700 square foot showroom in Los Angeles. Vladimir and Jim needed a small business loan to help them renovate and stock the showroom. Although Alan Desk has been around since 1941, Vladimir and Jim’s new partnership meant starting over.

“We tried the major banks but because we are considered a new business with only a two year history, we were not approved,” Vladimir said. They needed a small business lending solution that recognized their experience and potential.

New Paths to Success

Vladimir and Jim came to Opportunity Fund through our partnership with Lending Club. Our business loan advisor Rexie Dumagan helped close a $40,000 loan in October 2017 to help Alan Desk purchase the floor samples they needed to best serve their clients.

“We’re in a high profile design area here in Los Angeles,” Jim said. “We’re working to get this showroom established so we can start growing our business.”

Alan Desk - Vladimir

Vladimir works on business operations at Alan Desk (photo courtesy of Michael Microulis)

Vladimir and Jim were determined to get the funds they needed to establish their new business together. Opportunity Fund was the right fit based on our customer service and fair pricing.

“Rexie was very helpful,” Vladimir said. “He provided the terms and helped us through the entire process. I talked with other lenders but their interest rates were through the roof.”

Vladimir and Jim are looking to the future of Alan Desk as co-owners. “The next step is growing this space,” Jim said. “We want to work with Opportunity Fund again when we start to expand.”

We’re proud to support hard working entrepreneurs who are determined to make their dreams come true like Vladimir and Jim.

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.

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This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in Northern and Southern California. Here are the best upcoming events from April 2 through 15.

Every two weeks, we’re sharing and promoting free or affordable events that help small business owners run their businesses better. This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in Northern and Southern California. Here are the best upcoming events from April 2 through 15.

Northern California/Sacramento

It’s Your Etsy Business
Date: Starts April 10, 2018 | 5:30 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: Redding Fashion Alliance
1698 Market St. Redding, CA 96001 (map it)
Contact: info@e-jedi.org | (530) 926-6670
Organization: Jefferson Economic Development Institute
Fee: Free

In partnership with the Redding Fashion Alliance and One Shop, The Women’s Business Center at JEDI is offering a free 5 week Craft Entrepreneurship Program.

This free class meets every Tuesday starting April 10 and provides micro-business training for individuals with creative skills who would like to reach a new, larger market.

Learn the basics of starting and running an online business:

  • Pricing
  • Basic accounting
  • Product photography
  • Marketing

Click here to register for this event and contact JEDI at (530) 926-6670 for an Etsy application if interested in attending.

Women Mean Business Networking: Meet Beth Pride, BPE Global
Date: April 11, 2018 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: 275 5th St. San Francisco, CA 94103 (map it)
Contact: Fatimah Aure | faure@rencenter.org | (415) 348-6217
Organization: Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center
Fee: $15 (includes dinner)

Women Mean Business is Renaissance SoMa’s monthly women’s networking meetup. This event strives to help local business women and emerging women entrepreneurs learn from successful women business owners’ experiences, make new contacts,  build their networks and grow their businesses. Examples of topics include setting goals, accessing capital, as well as industry-specific sessions in fashion, jewelry, retail, and food.

Come enjoy a light dinner and learn from and be inspired Beth Pride, CEO of BPE Global, an import and export consulting firm. Beth is Renaissance’s 2017 “Established Entrepreneur of the Year” award winner.

Click here to register for this event.

Starting a business in Silicon Valley
Date: April 12, 2018 | 10:00 am PDT – 12:00 pm PDT
Location: 1887 Monterey St. San Jose, CA, 95112 (map it)
Contact: info@hccsv.org | (408) 248-4800
Organization: Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Silicon Valley
Fee: Free

Join the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Silicon Valley for this free workshop on how to start your business in your neighborhood: Silicon Valley.

During this workshop potential entrepreneurs will learn how key skills including:

  • How to get started
  • What special permits or licenses your business may require
  • How federal and state taxes apply to your business operations
  • What are insurance and risk management basics
  • Why is your business plan so important
  • How to hire employees
  • Where to find resources for your business

Click here to register for this event.

Southern California/San Diego

Roadmap to Entrepreneurial Success
Date: April 4, 2018 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: 5446 Sepulveda Blvd. Culver City, CA 90230 (map it)
Contact: smallbiz@apisbp.org | (213) 473-1605
Organization: Asian Pacific Islander Small Business Program (API SBP)
Fee: $10 for Filipino American Chamber of Commerce of Greater L.A. members | $20 for non-members

Join the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce of Greater L.A. (FACCGLA) with the support of API SBP and SIPA (Search to Involve Pilipino Americans) on April 4 for this event that will put you on the right track to small business success.

The Roadmap to Entrepreneurial Success features a networking mixer, membership meeting, and panel discussion. Free parking is available on the 2nd level at the event site.

Contact API SBP at (213) 473-1605 to register for this event.

Inland Prosperity Conference
Date: April 6, 2018 | 8:00 am PDT – 3:00 pm PDT
Location: Ontario Airport Hotel and Conference Center
700 N Haven Ave. Ontario, CA 91764 (map it)
Contact: Joelle Passerello | jpasserello@iewbc.org | (909) 890-1242
Organization: Inland Empire Women’s Business Center
Fee: $20 for students | $30 for non-profits | $47 for general admission

The Inland Empire and Coachella Valley Women’s Business Centers are pleased to announce the sixth annual Inland Prosperity Conference. The event mission is to bring regional focus to the opportunities available in every economy – visible to those in the right mindset.

Click here to register for this event.

Hollywood Building Blocks Workshop Series – Week One: Entrepreneur Overview
Date: April 7, 2018 | 10:00 am PDT – 12:00 pm PDT
Location: 4311 Melrose Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90029 (map it)
Contact: bsc@mcslosangeles.com | (323) 454-6115
Organization: MCS Business Source
Fee: Free

Learn about the different business structure options and which one is best for your business. Review and go over the permits and licenses needed for your business in the city of Los Angeles.

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

Ten Mistakes to Avoid with Mobile Sites for Small Business
Date: April 4, 2018 | 4:00 pm PDT – 5:00 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Sarah Espinosa | sespinos@uncfsu.edu | (910) 672-2683
Organization: Fayetteville State University Veterans Business Outreach Center
Fee: Free

A small business website needs to be optimized for the best mobile viewing to receive maximum effect. This presentation will discuss what to avoid and the requirements for a good mobile site.

Click here to register for this event.

Cracking the Credit Code: Credit Reports & Scores Explained
Date: April 5, 2018 | 8:30 am PDT – 9:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Kimberly Donahue | kimberly.donahue@sba.gov | (304) 347-5220
Organization: SBA West Virginia District Office
Fee: Free

Your credit score can impact everything from where you live to how much you pay for insurance. Isn’t it about time you learned 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.

After Lunch Webinar Series: Website & Social Media Strategies
Date: April 5, 2018 | 1:00 pm PDT – 2:30 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: rnsbdc@business.rutgers.edu | (973) 353-5950
Organization: Rutgers Newark (N.J.) SBDC
Fee: Free

In today’s market, your website and social media are must-haves to grow your business and brand. It is vital to position yourself with a strong online presence that reassures and strengthens the consumer’s trust in your business and motivates them to engage with your business.

This free webinar will provide tools and actionable strategies to optimize your website and online infrastructures, plus how to use social media to promote and grow your business.

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

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