Women are more likely to start a small business than men, but they are more likely to struggle obtaining financing. Our content partner Nav.com explains why women-owned businesses hit a financial glass ceiling and how you can break it.

 

A new report released by SCORE reveals some interesting data regarding small businesses, particularly women-owned small businesses. Of the 28 million small businesses in the United States, 39% are owned by women, which increased by 45% from 2007 to 2016 and continues to rise. Women are more likely to start a business than men, enjoy equal success as measured by business starts, revenue growth, job creation, and time in business. And while men are more likely to operate in the construction and manufacturing industries, women are more likely to open businesses in healthcare or education. Women-owned businesses employ almost 9 million people and bring in over $1.6 trillion in revenue. While these figures are impressive, there are some concerns found in the data.

Despite the growth in the number of women-owned businesses, these entities have remained static in revenue shares at only 4% of the nation’s business revenues, a point which hasn’t seen much growth if any over the last 20 years. In contrast, businesses owned by men have declined in their share of U.S. enterprises since the early 2000s, but their revenue shares have stayed consistent in relation to the changing number of entities. Of the businesses that responded to the survey, 34% of men-owned businesses have been in business for more than 10 years, compared to only 28% of women-owned businesses.

These numbers certainly raise concerns about the longevity and sustainability of women-owned businesses. Could this be a product of a lack of mentorship or other barriers to success?

The Glass Ceiling of Financing

In addition to revenue and years in business, the study highlighted several key indicators to determine how successful a business is, including hiring rates and access to financing. Over the last year, a larger proportion of men-owned businesses (30%) saw an increase in hiring compared to women-owned businesses (27%). Some of the women entrepreneurs responded that they would like to hire more full-time employees, but have to stick with interns, contractors, or part-time employees because funds are low in their business.

When asked why they sought out financing, a nearly equal proportion of men and women responded that they needed financing to hire a new employee. The statistics show that 34% of men compared to 25% of women search out financing, and that 38% of men versus 31% of women who apply for financing actually obtain it.

Women-owned businesses are slightly more likely to depend on credit cards or non-SBA loans for financing as opposed to men-owned businesses, whereas men are more likely to use equity raised from investors to fund their business. While experience and networking can help find better financing options, it’s always important to make sure your business credit profile is in tip-top shape. You can check your business and personal credit score for free with Nav before you seek better financing options.

Some of the differences between men and women business owners may boil down to mentoring, a topic the study addressed. The numbers clearly suggest that small business owners who work with a mentor or are under a mentorship program enjoy more success than those who don’t. While the numbers pertaining to revenue, hiring, and access to financing show that women-owned businesses are at a disadvantage, there are indeed resources available to help them take the next step forward.

 

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

 

We look forward to helping your business succeed. Right now, if you sign up for free mentoring assistance, you’ll receive up to a 2% discount on your loan’s annual interest rate. If you have questions about this loan offer or other small-business loans for women, visit ofew.org, or contact us at ofew@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 http://opportunityfundloan.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Food trucks may be a more accessible way to get your food into hungry people’s stomachs, but information about how to run a successful one isn’t as easy to find. Stay ahead of the curve with the latest news in food trucks and the mobile food business with these free blogs.

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

Food trucks may be a more accessible way to get your food into hungry people’s stomachs, but information about how to run a successful one isn’t as easy to find. Stay ahead of the curve with the latest news in food trucks and the mobile food business with these free blogs.

National Food Trucks

What it does: Although National Food Trucks doesn’t update their blog very frequently, what they do produce are great pieces that inspire, inform, and celebrate food trucks. From location-specific success stories, to adrenaline pumping pieces about greedy event bookers – you’ll find something useful and interesting to read here.

Food Truck Operator

What it does: Food Truck Operator should be your go-to source for food truck news. They update several times a month whenever something new comes out that would be beneficial to you as a mobile food entrepreneur. There’s a little bit of everything on this helpful blog: inspiring success stories, latest news and legislation, helpful business tips, and more.

Food Truck Empire

What it does: Another frequent poster, Food Truck Empire offers interesting articles about unique food trucks, new market trends, out-of-the-box business tips, and more. Keep updated with this food truck blog for a well-rounded knowledge about what’s changing in the mobile food industry.

Roaming Hunger

What it does: Roaming Hunger boasts several topics of articles from “experiential marketing” and “recipes” to “weddings” and “the office.” Why are wedding blog posts interesting to food truck owners? This blog not only offers insightful pieces that are helpful for you to read, but they also have lots of pro-food truck articles for your own business to share on your social media to help spread the word and attract big gigs.

Foodtruckr

What it does: Foodtruckr’s blog is full of motivation, inspiration, tips and tricks. This is definitely an amazing resource for you to grow your mobile food business, written by food truck experts for other entrepreneurs.

 

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 including Mobile Food Truck 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

Tin or aluminum is the traditional way to celebrate a 10 year anniversary. That doesn’t sound very impressive, does it? What’s impressive is getting your small business past the 10 year mark of success. Only around 30% of businesses last that long, keep reading to find out how you can.

Tin or aluminum is the traditional way to celebrate a 10 year anniversary. That doesn’t sound very impressive, does it? What’s impressive is getting your small business past the 10 year mark of success. Only around 30% of businesses last that long, keep reading to find out how yours can.  

 

Why do Small Businesses Fail?

The first step to ensuring your small business succeeds is to learn how you could fail. Only then do you have the knowledge and power to avoid these mistakes. Here are the most common reasons why small businesses don’t last 10 years.

Cash flow problems. By far the most common reason, 82% of small business owners say they failed because they experienced problems with cash flow. It is important to do a cash flow analysis and keep on top of your finances.

You probably didn’t become an entrepreneur because you love accounting. You have the vision, drive, and ambition to make the world a better place through your business idea. However, money is what will sink your business or float it to the top. Always be working on your financial literacy, keep physical records, know where every dollar is being spent, don’t focus only of your Profit and Loss statement (PnL), cut expenses where you can, and prioritize your money management. You won’t regret it.

There’s no demand for your product or service. Around 42% of businesses fail because there is no market need. It’s a hard lesson to learn that not every idea is a good one, and people might not want what you are offering.

It’s not smart to open an ice cream stand in the middle of December or across the street from a diabetic clinic. How do you make sure there’s enough demand for your business to make money? Do a lot of research into your target audience and community. Your business should solve a common problem that consumers have.

You don’t have the right team. About 23% of businesses fail because they don’t have the right balance of human capital. Nobody is an expert in everything, whether you are a sole proprietor or you have a business partner, so it’s important to hire good employees that can all contribute to your business’ success.

Don’t stop with the hiring process. Encourage and help your team grow with your business. Invest in training, provide support and opportunities, and lead by example. The only thing worse than incompetent employees are ones that can’t work together as a powerful team.

There is too much competition. Although a seemly small percentage, 19% of businesses fail because they lose out to their competitors. Market competition is healthy because it encourages innovation, humility, and hard work. But in any competition, there will be a loser who unfortunately did not make it.

If you open that ice cream stand on the beach in the summer next to three other ice cream stands, it is very likely that you will struggle. Identify your business’ SWOT and use that to find the best location, direction, and strategy to avoid losing out.

Don’t believe us? Listen to small business owners who have succeeded – they have advice they want you to hear.

Trust in Your Business, Even If Banks Won’t

Here at Opportunity Fund, we want to see your business thrive. It is our mission to help underbanked entrepreneurs like you get the working capital you need to see your business hit that magical 10 year anniversary.

Contact us today to get a small business loan that will help you for the next ten (and hopefully more!) years.

 

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

Business giants are making big headlines voicing their support for the LGBTQ community. Why? Read to find out and learn how you can help with your small business.

Business giants are making big headlines voicing their support for the LGBTQ community. Why? Read to find out and learn how you can help with your small business.

 

Business giants are making big headlines voicing their support for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) community. From American Express to IKEA, the business world seems to be opening its doors to inclusivity and equality. Why? Because being inclusive is better for your business. In fact, 64% of Americans would be more likely to buy from a company who supports LGBTQ individuals.

Not only will supporting this demographic benefit your bottom line, but it will boost productivity of your employees and attract top talent who cares about their employer’s mission. Employees who leave positive reviews about working for your business may mention your inclusion to others who will spread the word. Organic, word-of-mouth advertising is still the best way to grow your small business.

Easy Ideas To Support The LGBTQ Community

As a small business, you don’t have millions of extra capital on fancy awareness campaigns. Here are a few realistic ways you can celebrate diversity and support the LGBTQ community:

  1. Have a conversation with your employees. You shouldn’t expect anyone to come forward with their sexuality, but make sure you foster an open workplace where employees feel safe. Invest in tolerance training and check your bias when hiring.
  2. Do your research. It’s easier to stereotype, but it is more important to spend a little time learning about this demographic. Read about their experiences, discrimination, struggles, and passions. People are unique no matter what their sexual orientation, and you can best support them when you do your research.
  3. Hire and train managers who reflect your commitment. Having bad managers on your team will cost your business in reputation, employee satisfaction, worker productivity, and profits.
  4. Consider hanging up a small sign of your support. You can find lots of stickers, decals, and signs that you can post in your business – customers won’t think it is out of place next to your Yelp and Trip Advisor stickers.
  5. Check the diversity of your ads and marketing materials. Do you only show photos of heterosexual couples? Consider showing different types of families and couples for your promotional materials.
  6. Offer health insurance to your full time employees that covers gender reassignment surgery. As a small business, you may not have employees take advantage of this like big businesses do, but that you do will be noticed and appreciated.
  7. Support other LGBTQ businesses. Whether you’re looking for a new supplier or wholesaler, a community partner for a local event, or have personal shopping to do, consider looking specifically for LGBTQ-owned businesses.
  8. Donate profits to organizations that help the LGBTQ community. Your business doesn’t need to lose a large portion of revenue, but even choosing to donate a small percentage during Pride Month will go a long way towards showing your local community that you care.
  9. Sponsor an event. Check with local LGBTQ youth centers, non-profits, civil rights groups, and clubs for small events your business could sponsor.
  10. If your business has a single-stall restroom, make it gender neutral. Everyone just uses the “wrong” restroom when there’s a line anyways.

 

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

Is your small business booming, and you are looking into expanding? Franchising your business can be a great opportunity, but it could get expensive. Read how much franchising really costs.

Is your small business booming, and you are looking into expanding? Franchising your business can be a great opportunity, but it could get expensive. Read how much franchising really costs.

 

So You Think You Want To Franchise

If you’re looking to expand your successful small business after a few years of sky-high sales and customer demand you can no longer meet, franchising may be a good idea. It can also be a great opportunity you can give to current employees or family members who you know you can trust.

When you sell a franchise, you will receive a franchise fee, but you won’t retain much of that fee after all your expenses. You really make your money from ongoing royalties.

This is where it is important to choose the right person to be your franchisee. Similar to choosing a good business partner, you need to be able to trust this person to successfully run a business and work well with you. If you allow the wrong person to franchise your business, you could lose money and your business’ good reputation.

Once you decide that franchising is the direction you want to take, consider hiring a consultant. Being a business owner-operator is very different from managing and opening franchises. This is a complicated process legally and financially, so you’ll want someone who is already an expert to help you.

 

Who Pays For What?

It may be confusing at first to understand your costs as the franchisor versus what your franchisee will pay for themselves. Here is a brief rundown of who pays for what:

You will cover:

  • Marketing materials and collateral: You need to attract franchise buyers, develop a cohesive handbook for your franchisee, and advertise to your community that a new location is opening once everything is settled. Depending on your own skill level versus hiring professionals to help, this could cost a few thousand dollars.
  • Training and supporting your franchisee: You want to maintain quality control and your business’ reputation, so you will need to spend a considerable amount of your time to train them and support them when the franchise is open. You may also need to pay current employees to mentor and train future employees for the new location.
  • Hiring a franchise lawyer: Hiring a specialist lawyer can cost you upwards of $25,000 to set up the franchise and keep them on retainer for at least a couple of years. You may even need to change your business structure. As the laws and taxes surrounding franchises are incredibly complicated, this is a step you should not skip unless you have a law background yourself.
  • Legal and regulatory fees: In addition to filing initial paperwork with your state’s attorney general – which can range from $1,000 to $2,000 depending on where you are located – you will have yearly costs. The FTC requires a lot of compliance for franchising. Take a look here for a guide on how to comply. Have your lawyer go over it with you.
  • Taxes and Audits: Taxes are never fun or easy, especially when you have a business and are making changes. Franchised businesses must be audited every year, so your accountant fees will probably increase as well as possibly thousands of dollars in extra taxes. Look through your state’s Franchise Tax Board for more information.

They will cover:

  • Initial franchise fee: When you sell a franchise, you will charge them a fee (which averages around $30,000 and will go towards helping you cover all your initial costs).
  • Real estate: While you may want to help when selecting where the new franchise will be, the franchisee typically pays for all real estate and related costs including insurance, rent, property taxes, maintenance, etc.
  • Startup costs and working capital: When it comes to all the usual costs associated with starting a business, you shouldn’t pay any of that. The franchisee pays all expenses for hiring and training new employees, decoration not already provided by you (according to your guideline that you will need to create), inventory, taxes, payroll, and more. You started your own small business, you know these expenses like the back of your hand.
  • Ongoing royalties: This is where you make up for all your costs and start making a profit from your expansion. Carefully calculate the percentage you’ll charge, because over time the difference between 5% and 6% will add up in missed profits.

Need more information or want to find a franchise consultant? Check out the International Franchise Association. Need a small business loan to cover some of these costs before the royalties start rolling in? Call Opportunity Fund today.

 

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

There are a lot of laws and regulations surrounding businesses and consumer protection. The Federal Trade Commission has free resources for you to make sure your small business is in compliance. Here are a few resources for your small business from the FTC.

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

There are a lot of laws and regulations surrounding businesses and consumer protection. The Federal Trade Commission has free resources for you to make sure your small business is in compliance. Here are a few resources for your small business from the FTC.

Competition Policy Guidance

What it does: All businesses want to succeed, and that usually means trying to attract customers away from your competitors. US antitrust laws ensure that market competition is fair for everyone, but it can get confusing to know if your business or your competitor is following all the rules. Take a look at the FTC’s useful guides and documents for your education. Think that another business is in violation? You can file a report easily here.

Advertising and Marketing

What it does: Marketing your business is more complicated than sharing photos of your products on social media. Whether you already have a robust marketing plan or are just getting your toes wet, read through the FTC’s guides for circumstances such as advertising children’s products, health care, using endorsements, telemarketing, “Made in USA” claims, and more.

Privacy and Security

What it does: Does your small business have a privacy policy? (Hint: if you don’t, you should implement one now.) Privacy and online security, including identity theft credit reporting, are very important to understand and comply with. The FTC offers helpful resources for all things related to personal information.

Credit and Finance

What it does: Whether you want to read up on your rights regarding getting a small business loan or you want to make sure you comply with all the rules about processing customers’ payments, the FTC’s center for credit and finance will have all you need to know.

FTC Blogs

What it does: In addition to helpful guides with easy categories, the FTC runs a blog. Here you can read up-to-date information and alerts. It would be a good idea to subscribe to get their blog newsletter, along with Opportunity Fund’s, so you can always read the latest tips for 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.

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

Retire? As a small business owner? Yes, this is entirely possible and easier than you might think with a little bit of patience and a lot of planning. Read to find out how you can feel confident about successfully retiring from your small business.

Retire? As a small business owner? Yes, this is entirely possible and easier than you might think with a little bit of patience and a lot of planning. Read to find out how you can feel confident about successfully retiring from your small business.

 

Are you uneasy about the thought of retiring? Whether or not you are planning on retiring from your business soon, life is unpredictable and you should have a retirement plan and healthy savings built up.

The road through life as an entrepreneur is bumpy and unpaved. You might not have the same path as people who work a 9 to 5 job, but you can still retire as a small business owner. This concept might seem strange and unobtainable for you, especially if you aren’t as young as you used to be and haven’t thought about how to be comfortable leaving your business.

Retirement as a Small Business Owner Might Look Very Different

As a business owner, there is no one above you to hold your hand. Unless you took over your business and started out as an employee with a retirement plan already established and you are confident it will continue to be profitable until you die, you’ll need to develop an alternative retirement plan.

If you’re particularly good with numbers and smart about gambling, you could learn to invest in the stock market and live off your earnings once you retire. You could also live off your social security and current savings. But these aren’t reliable plans for everyone, so here are some more feasible retirement plans for entrepreneurs.

Set Goals For Yourself and Your Business

The easiest way to plan for retirement is to save money. You may not be 20 anymore, just starting out in the world with little financial responsibility and decades to save, but it’s never too late to start. Determine how much you can realistically live on once you retire. Set savings goals with a financial advisor and start today.

Also set goals for your business. Set a timeline for retirement and how you plan on letting go. Do you have a younger business partner who can buy you out or take over? Do you plan to sell to a new owner? Will you pass on your business to family? Or do you want to just close up shop and sell your assets? Any of these are acceptable – decide what plan is best for you.

Decide Which Retirement Investment Plan is Best For You

There are many different investment options for you as an employer. From Simplified Employee Pensions (SEPs) to Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and 401(k) plans, educate yourself on your different options and which sounds like the best fit for you and your company. The IRS has a handy comparison chart for all kinds of plans. They also have a guide for calculating your own contributions as a self-employed individual. Take a look and talk it over with your business financial advisor.

 

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

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

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