Making sure your employees feel safe working at your business is not only polite, but it is your moral responsibility and a business owner. Our content partner Nav explains why a sexual harassment policy is important for everyone and how you can create one easily.

Making sure your employees feel safe working at your business is not only polite, but it is your moral responsibility and a business owner. Our content partner Nav.com explains why a sexual harassment policy is important for everyone and how you can create one easily.

 

Sexual harassment is big in the news, and has led to the end of long careers in Hollywood, Washington and large businesses around the nation. While your business may not be a multi-billion-dollar juggernaut where a sexual harassment claim would make national headlines, that doesn’t mean you can simply ignore sexual harassment.

Not only does creating a sexual harassment protect your employees and set a clear line in the sand for your company culture’s sake, it also protects your business from potential lawsuits that can be costly, time-consuming, hurt recruiting efforts and leave you vulnerable to personal liability depending on how your company is structured and what kinds of business insurance you have. Especially when small businesses are first getting started and profit margins are slim, the cost of a lawsuit could not only derail goals to grow the business, it could put you into business debt or even sink the company. Ensure your business has a clear sexual harassment policy in place to protect everyone at your workplace with these tips.

Understand sexual harassment policies.

Attitudes towards sexual harassment, gender equality and what is and isn’t appropriate in the workplace have changed over time. This generational issue is glaringly obvious when discussing recent harassment claims with Baby Boomers and Millennials at the same time. Just think of Don Draper and the behavior that was acceptable in the “Mad Men” era to get a better understanding of how sexual harassment attitude and acceptance has changed over time.

Harvey Weinstein’s accusers opened up a floodgate of workplace sexual harassment policy updates that were long overdue. Before you start working on your small business sexual harassment policy, understand what these policies do and how they work. A sexual harassment policy should clearly explain what behavior is considered sexual harassment, the repercussions for engaging in unacceptable behavior, and how you will train employees to avoid sexual harassment. The policy should also include information on how employees can report sexual harassment and what will happen if sexual harassment is reported.

Find your workplace’s unique scenarios.

While most offices should be able to easily and clearly identify and explain sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior, that is not always the case in every business. And even within other business categories, it may not always be so cut and dry.

For example, at a restaurant it is inappropriate for any managers, coworkers, or guests to comment on female staffer’s appearance beyond remarking on following uniform guidelines and wearing professional attire. But at restaurants like Hooters, Twin Peaks and The Tilted Kilt, the uniform requires sexually provocative attire. In those cases, the companies must create custom tailored policies that protect their wait staff while maintaining the company’s culture and brand.

While it may be tempting to follow an “I know it when I see it” definition of sexual harassment, it is vital to write extremely clear guidelines to protect your staff from unwanted sexual advances and your business from sexual harassment lawsuits.

Find and review a policy template.

When writing your policy, you don’t have to start from scratch. For many businesses, a pre-written template will cover everything you need. If not, it may get you well on the way to a custom policy for your business.

Templates are great for any legal need, as most businesses have similar requirements and can get something together much faster and at a bargain price. But don’t just take a template and assume everything is perfect. It will still likely require some level of customization to fit your business.

Customize to your business needs.

Depending on your background, you may be able to start the customization process on your own. Read the template, update the glaringly obvious fixes you need, and then read through again with a fine-tooth comb looking for areas where the template does not match your business or leaves something out.

While most contracts are written by lawyers, there is no rule saying you can’t write in sections for your small business sexual harassment policy yourself. Do research on what similar businesses include in their workplace harassment policies and use them as a guide while tweaking the template to best match your business needs.

Hire a lawyer for legal review.

In the last section, you learned that you can write your own sections in your sexual harassment policy. But you can’t just assume everything you wrote is up to snuff with the law. Now it’s time to bite the bullet and hire a lawyer.

A legal review will ensure you are doing all of the right things to protect your employees, yourself and your business from sexual harassment and sexual harassment claims. Nothing is every 100% effective when it comes to sexual harassment prevention, but doing your due diligence does help you protect your team and your company and limits liability in the event of a claim.

Do not ignore sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment is no longer something that can sit at the back of your mind when running a business. Whether your company employs two workers or two hundred, it is time to put a strong sexual harassment policy in place and update older documents.

If you take the steps to protect yourself today, you will have little to worry about in the future. But if you ignore sexual harassment, you are sitting on a ticking time bomb. You never know when a claim may arise that could take down your business. Do the smart thing and put a policy in place as soon as possible.

 

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

If you don’t have a large budget with enough capital to invest in professional cyber security software, you should at least take the minimum precautions to make your small business operate as safely as possible. Here are a few resources your small business should try 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 three free cyber security tools for your business.

If you don’t have a large budget with enough capital to invest in professional cyber security software, you should at least take the minimum precautions to make your small business operate as safely as possible. You can take a look at the FCC’s Cyber Security Tips list for a few free ways you can operate your business securely.

LastPass

How much it costs: Free for individuals, paid plans starting at $2 a month

What it does: Never remember your complex passwords for dozens of websites? Always remember because you use the same, weak password? LastPass is a trustworthy site that will generate secure passwords for each website, account, and email you need. It will safely store your passwords for future use. If you want to upgrade to premium personal or a business account, you have even more security features at your disposal such as emergency access, passwords for applications, access to team passwords, and more.

Avira

How much it costs: Free

What it does: Avira Free Security Suite is a free antivirus tool perfect for low-budget small businesses like yours. Avira offers a free VPN, password manager, anonymous web browsing extension, safe shopping tools, third-party tracking blocker, and even a tool to check up your computer so see what’s slowing you down and what is a security issue. The only problem? Avira is available for Windows only.

Avast 

How much it costs: Free with paid premium plans

What it does: Available for Windows, Mac, and Android, Avast is another great antivirus software. In addition to standard antivirus features, Avast will inspect your Wi-Fi for weaknesses, automatically scan downloads, and keep an eye on your applications for suspicious behavior before you run into trouble. Paid premium business plans offer additional security features such as webcam shield, a secure VPN, permanent data shredder, and access to the software on all your small business devices.

 

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

Running a successful food truck is challenging, but attracting customers can be especially difficult. List your mobile food business on these mobile applications to get your food truck discovered.

Running a successful food truck is challenging, but attracting customers can be especially difficult. List your mobile food business on these mobile applications to get your food truck discovered.

Owning and operating a mobile food business has its unique benefits and challenges. Because of the nature of food trucks, you don’t have the luxury of a brick-and-mortar location for customers to visit on a regular basis. You miss out on that easy consistency because you move around frequently – unless you list your food truck on apps that let hungry people find you when they need food.

Even if you’re active on social media, it’s always good to add yourself to your city’s local business directory, bonus if you can find an area-specific food truck website. Here are some good apps for you to list your food truck on.

Roaming Hunger

Where you can download the app: App Store and Google Play

Roaming Hunger is a country-wide app that allows vendors to list their food trucks and hungry people to easily find food. Create your profile and get discovered easily. You can even book catering opportunities right through the app. That’s not all – if you need a new food truck or need to sell your old one, you can also do that through Roaming Hunger.

Street Food Finder

Where you can download the app: App Store and Google Play

Another country-wide app, Street Food Finder may not look super polished and fancy, but it is easy to use with its map view and “Who’s Open” versus “Vendors” tabs for people looking to discover new food trucks for later. One great feature is that you authenticate using your small business’ Twitter account and can schedule location tweets from the app.

Thumbtack

Where you can download the app: App Store and Google Play

We’ve written about Thumbtack before, but this freelance finder service is useful for more than just finding contractors for your business. When you list your food truck, people looking to book someone for a party or corporate event can easily find you.

Off The Grid

Where you can download the app: App Store and Google Play

If you own a San Francisco Bay Area food truck, Off the Grid is for you! If you operate somewhere else, take a look at this app and see if you can find a similar app near you. How it works is that this service curates events with different food trucks to offer a marketplace for large crowds. If someone buys tacos from one food truck at a festival, they’ll quench their thirst with your craft lemonade. Work with your peers, not against them!

 

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

“People don’t quit jobs, they quit managers.” Being (or hiring) a poor manager can cost your small business more than you think. Read how much bad management really costs.

“People don’t quit jobs, they quit managers.” Being (or hiring) a poor manager can cost your small business more than you think. Read how much bad management really costs.

What it Means to be a Bad Boss

Some entrepreneurs have a difficult time delegating tasks to their employees and letting go of the business they worked so hard to build. Your business is like a baby, and it may be hard for you to relinquish control.

This can make you a bad boss and cost you business if you aren’t aware of the problem and how to better manage your employees.

Gone are the days of bosses who give orders and micromanage every aspect of their employees’ work. Today, people want to work for managers who lead by example, inspire them to grow, and enable them to take charge of their own responsibilities.

Creating the Wrong Work Atmosphere

We’ve written before about how important it is to hire the right employees that will be productive and work well with the team, but it is just as important for you or the managers you’ve hired to be responsible for setting the right work atmosphere.

Managers set the tone for the whole team. Even the most dedicated, hard-working employee will feel burned out and unappreciated if management is poor. Your business can lose productivity and revenue if your employees no longer feel motivated to work hard for a boss who they feel doesn’t deserve the loyalty.

High turnover is costly for businesses, in terms of wasted money, time, and reputation –  Glassdoor is the Yelp for job seekers. If a qualified candidate sees a review of your small business saying the managers are bad, they’ll look elsewhere.

Invest in Better Management

Here are a few important characteristics to develop in yourself or look for when hiring a new manager:

  • Being able to be wrong. Employees say it is important to them that a boss can own up to their mistakes. When they see this kind of behavior, they don’t feel safe to take innovative leaps in their work and may learn to hide their own costly mistakes.
  • Express gratitude and share success. It’s easy to criticize someone for their mistakes, but not remembering to acknowledge their success will lower morale and productivity. The same applies to pointing out their errors in front of others more often than publicly praising them.
  • Not micromanaging their work. You hired someone because you think they’ll do their job well, so let them prove you right. Give them some freedom to do their work in a way that makes them the most productive they can be. You don’t need to dictate their schedules down to the minute or demand that they count cash a certain way.
  • Respecting work-life balance. When employees aren’t on the clock, don’t reach out to them with work matters. Your employees need time off to recharge and will be more productive when they come in to work.
  • Listening to problems or new ideas. If they disagree that your new idea will bring in more sales, listen to them! Value their advice and they’ll want to come up with new cost-saving or sales-generating ideas.

 

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

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

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

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

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