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 17 through 31.

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 17 through 31.

Northern California/Sacramento

From Kitchen to Market
Date: May 17, 2018 | 1:00 pm PDT – 4:00 pm PDT
Location: College of Marin—Indian Valley Campus
1800 Ignacio Blvd. Novato, CA  94949 (map it)
Contact: (415) 485-9305
Organization: Marin SBDC
Fee: $25 (includes a take-home packet with worksheets and resource guides)

Have you thought of taking that delicious family recipe and turning it into a business? Do you already own a food manufacturing business and want to expand?

Join this workshop to gain a competitive edge and learn about the rapidly growing specialty food industry. SBDC Specialty Foods Business Advisor Anni Minuzzo presents this three hour workshop. Gain insights from her 30 years of experience in the food and beverage industry, 20 of which were spent owning a wholesale baking company.

Topics include:

  • Planning and production process
  • Contacts to help get you started
  • Capitalization options

Click here to register for this event.

Take Better Photos for Your Business With the Camera You Already Have
Date: May 18, 2018 | 8:30 am PDT – 10:00 am PDT
Location: 455 Market St. Ste. 600 San Francisco, CA 94105 (map it)
Contact: sfomail@sba.gov
Organization: SBA San Francisco District Office
Fee: Free

If you’re struggling to connect with your audience or your photography isn’t meeting the results your business needs, this free workshop can help.

Join us for a 90 minute workshop and learn how to create storytelling images that will make your brand stand out—using the equipment you already own! From cell phones to DSLRs, chances are you already own a great camera. Learn and techniques that will immediately improve the results your photos produce.

Click here to register for this event.

CCT Business Plan Workshop 2018
Date: May 22, 2018 | 10:00 am PDT – 12:00 pm PDT
Location: Seminary Campus—B.C. Lounge
4815 East Butler Ave. Fresno, CA 93727 (map it)
Contact: Carlos Huerta | Carlos.Huerta@fresno.edu | (559) 453-2374 or Jeanatte Jaurena | Jeanette.Jaurena@fresno.edu | (559) 453-2367
Organization: Center for Community Transformation—Fresno Pacific University
Fee: Free

Can you make a difference and make money?

Learn how to become financially sustainable and accomplish your social mission in this free Social Business Plan Workshop. Join like-minded entrepreneurs interested in Social Enterprise, a rapidly-growing category of business nationwide.

The best idea of the day will also win a $100 cash prize!

Click here to register for this event.

Southern California/San Diego

Time Management
Date: May 23, 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

If you’re doing more and enjoying it less, it’s time to make real choices about how and when to spend your time.

Join professional organizer Donna Buckner of Organizing Solutions and learn to analyze your day and prioritize your time based on what you really need to accomplish. Find balance, achieve your goals, and be more productive and efficient.

Click here to register for this event.

Start-Up Workshop
Date: May 24, 2018 | 3:00 pm PDT – 5:00 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: Free

If you are planning to start your business and you want to start on the right track, please join us at our next Small Business Start up workshop.

Topics include:

  • Start-up costs of your business
  • Your target audience
  • Your client base
  • 5 Cs of the loan application process
  • Business plans
  • Credit counseling
  • Loan packaging
  • Basic licenses and permits including business license, DBA, Seller’s Permit. EIN
  • Types of business entities

Click here to register for this event.

Basic Web Design
Date: May 24, 2018 | 5:00 pm PDT – 7:00 pm PDT
Location: 13420 Van Nuys Blvd. Ste. 121 Pacoima, CA 91331 (map it)
Contact: info@bscvalley.org | (818) 834-0577
Organization: VEDC
Fee: Free

Learn the basic elements of a high converting website and walk through two drag-and-drop platforms that make it easy and inexpensive to create a website your customers will love. Understand why SEO matters and website navigate settings to customize your site. Then learn how to source the royalty free images and write the content that you will plug into your template. Hit publish and you’re done!

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

Online QuickBooks for Beginners I
Date: May 18, 2018 | 9:00 am PDT – 10:30 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Shaunda Gates | shaundagates@boisestate.edu | (208) 426-3875
Organization: Idaho Small Business Development Center
Fee: $25

Join other small business owners and entrepreneurs and learn how to get started with Online QuickBooks in this webinar.

Participants in this workshop will be taught lessons on the following topics:

  • Getting Started and Setting up QuickBooks
  • Syncing Bank Accounts and Recording Transactions
  • Adding New Customers
  • Entering Sales Information (including the basics of invoicing)
  • Receiving Payments and Making Deposits

Please note: registrants will be emailed instructions on the login procedure one-day prior to the workshop. This class applies to QuickBooks for Online users only.

Click here to register for this event.

Essentials for Starting a Small Business
Date: Starts May 21, 2018
Location: Online—Webinar on demand
Contact: sbdc@sunyocc.edu | (315) 498-6070
Organization: Onondaga (N.Y.) SBDC
Fee: $35

The Essentials for Starting a Small Business is an online on demand course designed to create awareness for people who are interested in starting their own business with an emphasis on risk management.

Topics include:

  • Different types of entities
  • Legalities that go along with starting a business
  • Business plan development
  • Financials associated with starting a business

This course is a 6 week (approximately 10 hour) commitment, and uses the Blackboard management learning system for anytime, anywhere learning.

Click here to register for this event.

Inspire Innovation in Your Small Business
Date: May 31, 2018 | 10:00 am PDT – 11:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: contact.northeastnj@scorevolunteer.org | (201) 336-6090
Organization: SCORE Northeast New Jersey
Fee: Free

Do you know why your company struggles with innovation? What obstacles stifle your creativity? How can you develop your next product or sell your next service?

During this webinar, award-winning inventor, entrepreneur, and author Lon Safko will show you how to get creative and inspire innovative thinking to make your small business thrive.

You will learn:

  • How your brain functions (or doesn’t)
  • Why creative thinking is difficult
  • How to use random association exercises that teach your brain to generate new ideas
  • How to overcome obstacles and excel at creativity everyday
  • How to become your own innovation thought leader

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

Sponsorships aren’t just for industry giants with big marketing budgets – even your small business can benefit from partnering with microinfluencers and locals in your community. Keep reading to find out how you can connect with new customers through sponsorships.

Sponsorships aren’t just for industry giants with big marketing budgets – even your small business can benefit from partnering with microinfluencers and locals in your community. Keep reading to find out how you can connect with new customers through sponsorships.

 

A Brief Introduction to Influencer Marketing

Even if you aren’t familiar with influencer marketing, you’ve probably seen brand logos on the sides of race cars, sports arenas, and conveniently placed in music videos. Those are examples of expensive, high caliber influencers promoting companies. While your small business might not have thousands of dollars to spend on a celebrity to post on Instagram about you, you can use less famous but equally more influential people to promote your business by recommending you to their followers and friends.

What is an influencer? Simply put, they have influence over others. Actors, models, musicians, athletes, and other experts who people trust and admire. Even a mother who writes a blog about raising her kids in a chemical-free home who has twenty-thousand engaged followers on Instagram has a lot of power to sway people to buy your products.

Why Influencers Are More Effective Than Advertising

You should have a well-rounded marketing plan for your small business, and working with influencers might be more effective than spending money on ads that might not even reach the right people.

Why is this? It’s not news that customers value word-of-mouth recommendations from their peers, so using influencers to create a buzz about you is a solid strategy. In fact, 26 percent of people use adblockers. Even if your digital ads are targeting the right people, they might never see them. But building relationships is a longer-lasting, more legitimate way to grow your business.

How to Find the Best Partnerships For Your Small Business

The easiest way to get influencers is by them reaching out to you because they love your business. But they won’t know you consider sponsorships if you don’t start the process.

Here are a few ways you can find the best opportunities for your small business:

  • Reach out to local schools, youth sports teams, and community events you can sponsor (with a small donation of money or products) in exchange for free exposure. Those involved will be grateful for your participation and will be likely to want to support your business in return.
  • Spot “Instagrammers” in your business and start a conversation. Follow them on social media, ask them to tag your business, and offer to take their picture to post on the business’ social media page. One way to attract people who naturally love to post about businesses on their social media is to create a photogenic wall or make your products worthy of influencers flocking to your store to see.
  • Follow social media influencers who belong to your customers’ demographic. Comment on their posts, build a relationship, and approach them about collaborating in exchange for free products or a small fee.
  • Team up with another small business and run a mutual campaign. You could both contribute products/services for a giveaway promoted on both of your social media. Focus on collaborating with businesses that complement yours rather than stressing out trying to outperform your competitors.

 

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

Your credit score shouldn’t be a game of limbo. Our content partner Nav explains how low credit scores work and how you can still get credit despite your low score.

Your credit score shouldn’t be a game of limbo. Our content partner Nav.com explains how low credit scores work and how you can still get credit despite your low score.

 

In the world of finance, it’s common to hear people bragging about their credit scores. These badges of money honor are one famously important indicator of how accomplished a consumer appears. The higher, the better, and so – when talked about openly – it’s most often the big numbers you’ll hear about.

What about those who are hanging out at the bottom? Their credit history may not be a sign of good times or wise decisions. Perhaps, they suffered from a horrible loss (such as a medical disaster or business failure) and their credit took the worst kind of hit. If everything that could go wrong, did go wrong, what kind of credit score numbers would we be talking about? When we open our dark, skeleton-filled financial closets, what is the lowest credit score that could be lurking there?

How Low Can FICO Go?

One of the scoring options used for evaluating personal credit, FICO (Fair Isaac Corporation), is used in over 90% of credit decisions, and it ranges from 300 (the lowest) to 850 (the highest). But just because you’re hanging out well above the 300 mark, doesn’t make your credit “good.” In fact, most lenders consider anything below 600 in the “poor” range, and you’ll find it hard to qualify for the best credit, mortgage, and loan offers available.

If you’re sitting at a 579 or lower, Experian lumps you into this substandard group. They have determined that 61% of consumers in this category are likely to become seriously delinquent, or even default on a loan, in the future. So, even if you aren’t anywhere near the 300’s, you could still have problems getting good rates, an adequate credit line, or access to the better utility plans offered in your area.

Who determines what is a “bad” or “poor” score? It’s not FICO or the other reporting companies. They just supply the number, which is an indication of your risk to lenders. It’s the lenders themselves that make the determination of whether a score can pass their lending rules. So, a consumer who can’t get a mortgage from one bank with a 620 score, may be able to get one with another lender. While the scores are standard, how they are interpreted isn’t.

What Creates a Low Credit Score?

Responsibility with payments is just one factor that affects your score. A serious delinquency, history of late payments, bankruptcy, or default will certainly lower your score. Most people at the bottom of the score range have had at least one of these, and possibly more. You can also have a lower score if you are paying responsibly but are using up most of the credit available to you. (Keeping your ratio of debt to available credit below 30% is key to keeping your score from dragging at the bottom.)

These aren’t the only things responsible for a lower score, however. Having a no credit or only very new credit can also lead to a poor rating. A recent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau report revealed that 26 million adults in the United States don’t even have a credit record, placing them in the same position as those with delinquencies when it comes to accessing credit services.

This is also why experts recommend that you participate in consumer behaviors that contribute to a score, even if you don’t personally favor the use of credit. You can start with a secured credit card that only allows you to charge what you’ve put as a deposit on your account. Asking your rental landlord to report your on-time payments to a reporting bureau can also help.

Can I Get Credit With a Low Score?

The short answer is “yes.” In fact, there is a whole suite of services, loans, and cards designed for the consumer with a low score. While it’s not likely to get access to much with the absolute worst score of 300, anyone in the poor range can benefit from a secured credit card, getting a co-signer, or being added as an authorized user on an existing credit card account. Just be sure you treat these options seriously, pay on time, and do the things needed to raise your score and get access to better credit solutions over time.

Another thing to remember is that banks aren’t limited to just using your credit score in qualifying you for credit. While one important factor, they also rely on your wages, job history, and income sources such as child support or alimony. The score is just part of a whole picture lenders look at to determine credit worthiness.

What’s Next For Credit Scores?

Despite feeling like having a low credit score is a lonely place to be, it’s not. While less than 5% of consumers have a FICO score at the 300-499 level, 20% still fall in the range under 599 – considered “poor” by most lenders. This shows that credit is still an issue for a good portion of the population and one that will take years to correct.

It’s not a reason to lose hope, however. The trend is pointing up, showing that the average credit score hit 700 for the first time ever in April of 2017. This may be because consumers have unprecedented access to see their scores through free or low-cost platforms (including as part of the FICO Open Accessprogram or their credit card statements.) The U.S. economy is also credited for much of the gain, with Experian noting an upward trend since the end of the Great Recession. This same Experian study reported that scores above 800 finally outnumbered those below 600 – a first for U.S. credit holders.  

Maybe, then, we are asking the wrong question. Instead of asking “how low can I go?” we should look at how high we must reach to live the life we seek. Often, the difference in getting what we need is a matter of a few easily attainable points.

 

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

Bust a Nut is a snacking hotspot at one of the largest swap meets in Southern California. When owner Hector Sandoval needed to purchase a trailer for his roasted nuts business, Opportunity Fund was there to help with our fast, easy-to-get, and affordable small business loans.

 

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

Bust a Nut is a snacking hotspot at one of the largest swap meets in Southern California. When owner Hector Sandoval needed to purchase a trailer for his roasted nuts business, Opportunity Fund was there to help with our fast, easy-to-get, and affordable small business loans.

A Breakout Success

Hector Sandoval started Bust a Nut, his roasted peanut cart, in 2012. Hector takes his cart to the Vineland Swap Meet in La Puente, Calif. six days a week to sell fresh roasted peanuts. The well known swap meet has been a major key in Bust a Nut’s success, with large crowds every weekend and entertainment like live music every day.

Hector took his chance to become an entrepreneur following the latest recession. After working in road construction for several years with opportunities dwindling, he chose to go into business for himself.

“I was always interested in selling,” Hector said. “I picked this business because not many people do what I do in mobile food.”

Hector buys raw peanuts in bulk and roasts them on the spot at his nut cart. The fresh, hot peanuts are a huge hit at every stop he makes: the swap meet and church events, where he donates all profits to his church.

Bust a Nut was a success from the start, but Hector still had some roadblocks to growth. “When I started roasting peanuts I had a lot of problems with the health department,” he said. “They required me to build a trailer and put my machines inside the trailer. It was a huge project.”

Primed for Growth

The new direction for Bust a Nut was difficult for Hector to handle alone. “It was too much for me to afford all at once,” he said.

Working with Kareem Carts helped Hector what he needed: a new trailer for his business and a financing connection. Our mobile food vehicle partner Kareem Carts connected Hector to Opportunity Fund loan consultant Salvador Lopez, who helped close a $26,000 loan for the trailer purchase in November 2013.

Hector - Bust a Nut

Our small business loans helped Hector upgrade his roasted nut business (photo courtesy of Michael Microulis)

“Salvador made everything easy,” Hector said. “There was never any pressure to get into a loan. Salvador explained everything and the terms were reasonable.”

With the new trailer, Bust a Nut can go anywhere and do anything. Hector is planning to purchase a second trailer to travel to special events around Los Angeles and hire help to run the new trailer.

“I’m nothing but grateful for Opportunity Fund for giving me that kick start I needed,” he said.

We’re happy to support entrepreneurs like Hector and we’re proud to watch 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

Sharing the burden of starting a business can be a smart decision for entrepreneurs who share the same dream, but the wrong partner can cost the business more than they are worth. Read how much choosing the wrong business partner really costs.

Sharing the burden of starting a business can be a smart decision for entrepreneurs who share the same dream, but the wrong partner can cost the business more than they are worth. Read how much choosing the wrong business partner really costs.

 

The Benefits of Having a Business Partner

Let’s be honest when we say that nobody can do everything. You may have a creative vision for your small business but lack the financial skills to get it up and running, or vice versa. Having a business partner can really benefit the business by combining the skills and management of two entrepreneurs.

If you’ve been considering structuring your business as a partnership, you could save yourself money and risk when it comes to taxes or liabilities because you aren’t the only one responsible for the entire business – if you have the right partner.

If You and Your Partner Aren’t Compatible

Kids dream of starting a business with their best friend, but in reality it is so much more important to develop a level of trust and compatibility beyond being friends. If your potential business partner wants the business to go a different direction or doesn’t put in as much effort into running it as you do, you could lose time and money that could have been spent building your business.

If your business partner has poor credit, huge personal debt, a gambling problem, or generally gives you a bad vibe about their financial capabilities – you can avoid a costly problem if you decline the partnership. An untrustworthy partner can cost you more than missed profits – think about embezzlement, tax fraud, misallocation of capital, theft. Don’t risk your business and your reputation on the wrong partner.

How to Choose the Right Partner

Finding the right business partner is much harder than finding a wrong one, simply because you have to do your due diligence analyzing them as a person and as a long-term potential partner. Ask yourself these questions to help you decide if your potential business partner is a good choice:

  • How well do you know them? If you don’t know them beyond their career history, then this might be a sign that you don’t know them well enough to truly trust them.
  • Have you worked together in the past? It’s good to have a trial run with a business partner – similar to how you test if you should move in with a romantic partner – whether you were coworkers, classmates, or successfully ran a low-risk project.
  • Does their personality and working style complement yours? You don’t have to be best friends forever to be good business partners, but you shouldn’t be bickering over every business decision.
  • Have you had the money talk yet? This one is so important – if you argue or they don’t want to talk about how to divide the money at length, that’s a bad sign.
  • Have you spent time together outside of work? Are they fun to be with? Can you have deep conversations about your dreams and aspiration together? You might learn more about them than you’d think!
  • Can you really let go of control? It’s important not to get into a partnership just because you can’t afford to hire someone. A business partner isn’t an employee, they are an equal owner. You need to be able to trust them with making business decisions with or without you.
  • Have you decided on a “way out” contract? If the partnership goes south, there needs to be a predetermined agreement for buying out your partner or dividing assets.

 

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

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