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

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

 

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

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

What Basic Insurance Does a Business Need?

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

1. Commercial Property Insurance

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

2. Liability Insurance

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

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

3. Business Vehicle Insurance

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

4. Workers’ Compensation Insurance

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

What’s a Business Owner’s Policy?

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

How Much Coverage Does My Business Need?

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

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

 

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

 

Bonanza

How much it costs: Free

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

Prestashop

How much it costs: Free

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

Woocommerce

How much it costs: Free

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

Cubecart

How much it costs: Free

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

Opencart

How much it costs: Free

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

We’re always looking for the best affordable online resources including tools to promote to small business owners like you. If you have a tool you’d like to share with fellow business owners, contact us at sblending@opportunityfund.org.

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


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

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

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

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

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

Bonanza

How much it costs: Free

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

Prestashop

How much it costs: Free

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

Woocommerce

How much it costs: Free

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

Cubecart

How much it costs: Free

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

Opencart

How much it costs: Free

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

 

We’re always looking for the best affordable online resources including tools to promote to small business owners like you. If you have a tool you’d like to share with fellow business owners, contact us at sblending@opportunityfund.org.

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


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

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

Everybody knows that a loan is not a free bundle of money. Loans come with fees and interest, and you end up paying more than the original amount you received. The true cost of a loan can get confusing and expensive. Read how much a loan really costs.

Everybody knows that a loan is not a free bundle of money. Loans come with fees and interest, and you end up paying more than the original amount you received. The true cost of a loan can get confusing and expensive. Read how much a loan really costs.

 

That’s right, you will pay more for a loan than you borrowed

As a small business owner, you have probably had some experience with loans. Whether you’ve gotten a working capital loan for your business or have a credit card you’re making payments on, you have paid interest on money you borrowed. Despite how common credit is in our culture, we don’t sit down and think about how much interest we will actually pay over time.

If we take “8% fixed interest rate” for example, you might assume they will pay 8% of the amount of money they borrowed. Interest isn’t that simple. For each month you still owe money, you will pay 8% of how much is left over that month. Good news: the amount of interest accumulated each month will go down as you pay it off.

Certain types of loans can actually hurt your business

We talk a lot about how dangerous Merchant Cash Advances (MCAs) are for small businesses, but it is important to stay away from these. MCAs or payday loans take a percentage of your sales to pay off your debt. This sounds easier than putting away a large chunk of money to pay each month, but this hurts your cash flow. Additionally, you may end up paying up to 350% APR. Bad news: this means that your loan will get extremely expensive and will really hurt your small business.

APR is a good indicator of your loan’s true cost

Your Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is calculated using your monthly interest rate as well as all the fees and additional costs of a loan. This makes APR a good indicator of how much a loan costs you each year, but it can be misleading if you pay off your loan early.

A low monthly interest rate sounds good, but it is important to be aware of any other fees that add up. Your lending institution may have early repayment fees, late payment fees, collateral collection fees, origination fees for simply getting the loan, check processing fees, and many more hidden costs! Always read the fine print closely.

Know the difference between fixed and adjustable APR. If your interest rates change, this could be bad if the economy suffers. This article by Investopedia will explain APR in more depth.

Choose a trustworthy lender

The best way to avoid an expensive loan is to educate yourself and choose a lender who is trustworthy. Opportunity Fund is transparent about fees, interest rates, and how much a loan will really cost you. Check out this easy-to-use loan calculator to find out your APR and monthly payments.

 

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


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

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

Making a bad hiring decision can cost your small business precious time and money. Read these five tips for making the best hiring choice you can beyond looking for qualifications and experience.

Making a bad hiring decision can cost your small business precious time and money. Read these five tips for making the best hiring choice you can beyond looking for qualifications and experience.

 

1. Talk with a business advisor

Talking with a business advisor can really help you figure out how best to grow your small business, especially when it comes to hiring a new employee. Perhaps you are a one-person business and are looking to hire your first employee, or maybe you’ve made bad hiring decisions in the past and want to know how to do it better this time. Check out Pacific Community Ventures’ free business advising for a personal mentor to help you hire.

2. Decide what kind of help you need

As as small business owner, you don’t have unlimited funds to hire a large team of full-time employees with generous benefits and long work hours. Get creative and stretch your capital by hiring part-time workers, contractors and freelancers, and interns. If you need help with finances, consider consulting with your business advisor and outsourcing tasks to independent contractors as you need them.

3. See how well a candidate will fit in with your business

Company culture is a buzzword in the business world right now, but there is reason behind the popularity. It isn’t enough to select a candidate who qualifies for all the skills and experience you want to see, you need to make sure they will fit in with your business. If you are in the final interview stage, invite them to a team lunch and ask your other employees what they think of the candidate. Does this person believe in the same principles your business stands for? Does their working and learning style mesh with yours? It’s important to the success of your business that you have a team that respects each other and can work well together.

4. Make sure a time crunch doesn’t impact your decision

Hiring the first qualifying person who applies for your job posting because you need the position filled quickly can be a costly mistake. If you make a hasty hire, there is a risk that they don’t work out, and you will have to repeat the hiring and training process. Choose quality over quickness. Take the time to really make sure the candidate is the best fit for your small business by checking references, running a background check, interviewing other applicants for comparison, and thinking the decision over a few days before you hire them.

5. Check diversity among your employees

If you are having difficulty choosing between two really great candidates, taking a look at your current employees will help. Everyone has biases whether or not they are aware of them. Take a look around at your other employees – do you have a diverse group or are they all the same demographic? Having a diverse group of employees of different genders, ethnicities, ages, and other factors will boost the productivity and creative pool for your small business. Take a look at our blog post for a few tips on how to manage diversity and how it benefits your business.

 

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


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

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

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

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

 

You’ve put your heart and soul into launching your small business. Now you have to help customers find you. In addition to investing in sales and marketing efforts, you can get your business in front of your prospects via a variety of online sources, many of which are offer free basic listings. Here are nine essential places to start.

1. Google My Business

Your business needs to show up in Google when consumers do a local search for it. You can create a free business listing with Google My Business, Google’s official business listing process. Your business listing provides key information about your company, including hours of operation. It will also allow it to show up in Google Maps. You can add photos, printable coupons and much more. Register it online or call 1-844-491-9665. (Note that creating a business listing is different than building a website and trying to get it found in search results for specific search terms you may want to target like “Minneapolis hair salons” or “San Jose manufacturers”.)

2. Bing

Don’t overlook Bing, another popular search engine. You can list your business for free. Check first to see if Bing has already listed your business, complete your profile, then verify your listing. You’ll find complete instructions on bingplaces.com.

3. Facebook

Your business doesn’t have to have a Facebook Page, but with more than 2 billion active daily users, you may be missing out if you don’t have one. When you create your Facebook business page, you will be able to include your business location and hours, add photos and events, and interact with individuals who comment on your page. (It’s also a great way to separate your personal activity on this popular platform from that of your business.) You can create a business page on Facebook for free.

4. LinkedIn

Create a presence for your business with a LinkedIn company page which allows you to  publish information about your company, industry news and articles. It can also help with job recruitment and business development. You’ll need a verified email address to get started. There’s no cost to create the page.

5. Trip Advisor

A popular site for those planning vacations or looking for something fun to do, TripAdvisor has more than 60 million consumers search its site each month. While it’s perhaps best known for listing hotels and restaurants, many other businesses appear under the attractions category, including classes, outdoor activities, venues for indoor activities and more. Read their guidelines to see if your business qualifies, and if it does, list your business on TripAdvisor at TripAdvisor.com/GetListedNew.

6. Yelp

Millions of mobile visitors each month turn to Yelp on their mobile devices to find restaurants, local services and more. These seekers often turn into customers. Your business may already have a Yelp listing, but you want to verify yours so you can interact with them and more. You can claim your free business listing on biz.yelp.com.

7. Manta

Manta’s small business directory gets more than 15 million page views per month from customers looking for local businesses. Your free Manta company profile will allow you to add photos to your business listing and improve the appearance of your Manta profile, boost search engine rankings with consistent business listings and links from your Manta profile to your business website and get statistics on how many customers are visiting your Manta profile.

8. Dun & Bradstreet

Dun & Bradstreet is a business credit bureau. You can request a free D-U-N-S number, the identifying number for your business in D&B’s database. Getting a DUNS number won’t automatically establish a business credit rating, though. To build business credit you’ll need to also open accounts with lenders or vendors that report to D&B. Still, this is a good first step. (Once you’ve established business credit, you can check your scores for free on Nav and track your progress every month.)

9. MapQuest

Will customers need directions to your business? Make sure your business location is correct in MapQuest to reach customers that use it. You can get a free basic business listing, but to add additional information like photos or hours of operation, you’ll need to upgrade to a premium package through partner Yext.

And There’s More

There may be additional sites it will be useful for your business to appear on, depending on the type of business you own; for example, Angie’s List, Thumbtack, NextDoor.com, ConsumerAffairs.com, the Better Business Bureau and others. Just make sure you focus on those most relevant to your business. It’s easy to waste time and money on efforts that don’t produce results.

Stay In Touch

Note that once you’ve established your listings on these sites, you’ll want to monitor them regularly for corrections, comments and complaints. Many consumers make purchasing decisions based on online reviews, so don’t let negative reviews or comments go unanswered. In addition, some small business lenders are looking to online reviews as a source of valuable intelligence about a business that’s applying for small business financing with them, and negative reviews could even get you turned down for a small business loan with some sources.

Your Turn

Have you listed your business with these sites, or are there one’s we’ve missed? We’d like to hear about your experience.

 

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

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


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

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

November is full of special days dedicated to giving thanks and showing appreciation for those around us. #ChooseWomen this Women’s Entrepreneurship Day. This month, celebrate the female entrepreneurs in your community. Keep reading for small but meaningful ways to show appreciation.

November is full of special days dedicated to giving thanks and showing appreciation for those around us. #ChooseWomen this Women’s Entrepreneurship Day. This month, celebrate the female entrepreneurs in your community. Keep reading for small but meaningful ways to show appreciation.

Despite women being half of the population, they own far less businesses than men. In 2012, women own only 36% of all businesses in America. This is a ten percent increase from 1997. Let’s keep the momentum of equality in the entrepreneurial world by thanking the women who have struck out on their own and started their own businesses.

Showing your appreciation for female entrepreneurs, no matter what gender you are, will help motivate small business owners and inspire other women to become entrepreneurs.

  1. Support women-owned small businesses near you. Chances are you already frequent shops and businesses that are women-owned – you just don’t know it. Find out where they are through services and directories such as Yelp, We NYC, and your personal network. Then visit them!
  2. Donate to your local Women’s Business Development Center. For example, look into JEDI and  APISPB. Even better, if you feel like you have the expertise, volunteer to be a mentor or just help out.
  3. Join the social media movement. Share inspiring stories of female business owners, your own experiences as a women in business, local events and workshops, and just generally uplifting messages.
  4. Educate yourself. Reading news articles and blogs about women’s struggles and successes in the business world will help you better understand why Women’s Entrepreneurship Day is needed and how important it is to encourage women to start their own businesses.
  5. Be a generous tipper. Try new  women-owned restaurants and coffee shops. Support the business by tipping well and thank the owner if you see her. She will appreciate it more than you know.
  6. Check your own small business. Do you make sure to hire a diverse group of people? If you notice a lack of women in your own business, work to mitigate this problem. Women who have the opportunity to grow their careers have the opportunity to develop skills they can use to start their own businesses.
  7. Encourage your employees. As a small business owner, you have the unique position to be a role model for your employees. Worry less about your female employees leaving you to start their own businesses, and instead help them develop their career goals and aspirations. Even if they do start their own business, they will remember you and can be valuable connections.
  8. Take advantage of resources to grow your own business. If you are a women entrepreneur, there are resources out there to help you. Be proud of your accomplishments and don’t be afraid to reach out for help and opportunities to really grow your business.
  9. Volunteer to help Women’s Entrepreneurship Day. The philanthropic organization that launched this special day can use your skills and any spare time you have to give back to your community by volunteering.
  10. Spread the word. Put up a small sign in your business, start discussions with your family and friends, post to social media, and share your knowledge with employees and customers. Don’t stay silent; use your voice as a small business owner to empower and support women entrepreneurs.

 

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


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

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

Opening a brick-and-mortar location for your small business, whether it’s your first time or fifth time, can be daunting. Read these reminders for things to know and look out for before you sign on a property.

Opening a brick-and-mortar location for your small business, whether it’s your first time or fifth time, can be daunting. Read these reminders for things to know and look out for before you sign on a property.

Are you thinking about buying or renting commercial space for your small business? It’s an exciting step forward in your growth! Before the excitement (or the stress) gets to you, take the time to do your research. Investing in commercial property can get confusing and potentially expensive.

Know Your Lease Inside and Out

Take as much time as you need to review and read through any commercial real estate lease you’re considering. If a landlord is pushing you to sign right away, this is a red flag that you really should pay attention to the fine print.

Landlords and real estate agents may try to trick you into paying more than just rent. Be aware of shiny Tenant Improvement (TI) packages for improvements and physical upgrades that passes on the actual cost onto you over time. Ask about fees and costs for Common Area Maintenance (CAM) that you would be responsible for regarding hallways, parking lots, lobbies, and other shared spaces.

Learn real estate terms ahead of time and be prepared to get a second opinion from your business advisor.

Most importantly, know that you have the power to negotiate. You may not end up getting the space, but you should never buy commercial real estate that will cripple your small business with hidden fees and terms.

Visit the Property In-Person

Just as you would never buy a house or rent an apartment before you visit the place, you should know exactly what your commercial space looks and feels like before you sign the lease.

Your customers and employees may not have any parking close to your location, the real estate agent may be fudging the real square footage (don’t pay for unusable space, take your own measurements!), listing photos may have been altered, you might have a really noisy business neighbor, and many other factors that you should know before you buy.

Plan For the Future

When you are looking to for commercial real estate, you’re probably thinking about your immediate business growth needs. However, it is also important to plan for the future of your business and of the property you want to lease or buy.

One thing you should consider is if you sell your small business. If the business is assigned a new owner, will your lease transfer to the new owner? If your landlord has the right to terminate the lease in this event, that might hurt the business and your chance for a profitable sale. For brick-and-mortar small businesses, often your location is a big part of your success.

Another thing to know is liability and insurance for natural disasters and acts of vandalism. We wrote a comprehensive blog post about how to prepare and protect your small business in the event of an emergency, and it’s important to be clear what your responsibility as a tenant or new property owner is.

Make Sure You Have Enough Capital

Renting or buying commercial real estate can be much more expensive than small business owners initially think. Unexpected costs can add up fast, and it is important to maintain a positive cash flow for the success of your business. If you think you need a loan to cover the cost of expanding your business, Opportunity Fund can help.

 

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


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

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

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

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

Whether you’ve just left the service and are looking to start your own small business or are already a business owner and just need a little help, there are free resources out there for you. We’ve compiled this list of tools and resources that will help you find mentoring, networking, workshops, and a solid foundation of knowledge to successfully grow your small business as a veteran.

Veterans Business Resource Center

How much it costs: Free

What it does: The Veterans Business Resource Center is just that – an online center for resources. You can find information about the Boots to Business program, which offers instructional courses and support located online and at military bases. Other resources available through Vetbiz include training, networking events, small business counseling, and even a blog.

Bunker Labs

How much it costs: Free

What it does: With about a dozen locations across the country, Bunker Labs is a veteran-owned hotspot for helpful networking, workshops, and programs designed to help you and the military community. They also offer a community mobile app to stay connected with event calendars, business collaboration, messaging, and more. If you’re tired of dusty, government-operated organizations, Bunker Labs is perfect for your entrepreneurial style.

Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans

How much it costs: Free for post 9/11 disabled veterans and families

What it does: The Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with disabilities (EBV) is a three-part program designed to help you succeed in starting and running your own business. This immersive bootcamp is focused on training through a higher education setting. Phase one is an online course, phase two is a short residency at a participating EBV university, and phase three is year-long mentorship and support through the program’s mentors, network, and partners.

Veteran’s Affairs

How much it costs: Free

What it does: If you’re a vet, you are probably already familiar with Veteran’s Affairs. But did you know they have an office dedicated to helping you start and grow your small business. Their Veteran’s Entrepreneur Portal offers contracting assistance, workshops, interactive online tools, training, certification as a veteran-owned business, and many more tools and resources for you!

Honor, Courage, Commitment

How much it costs: Free

What it does: Honor, Courage, Commitment (HCC) is a Texas-based, veteran-run organization designed to empower veteran entrepreneurs and keep you connected to the military community even after you’ve left the service. They offer training and mentoring, workshops and networking opportunities, and reintegration programs through community service. Take a look at what HCC offers and see if they can help you and your small business.

 

We’re always looking for the best affordable online resources including tools to promote to small business owners like you. If you have a tool you’d like to share with fellow business owners, contact us at sblending@opportunityfund.org.

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


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

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

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