The U.S. government is here to help small business owners. Here’s a list of free and low cost small business resources available from the SBA, Department of Labor, IRS, and more.

The U.S. government is here to help small business owners. Here’s a list of free and low cost small business resources available from the SBA, Department of Labor, IRS, and more.

 

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS)

What it costs: Free

What it does: The HHS is a completely free government resource for you to learn about, comment on, or file a complaint about regulations; access government grants and contracts; and connect with HHS programs and services such as emergency preparedness, food and drug safety programs that could be relevant to your business’ industry, and health insurance for small businesses.

U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)

What it costs: Free

What it does: The DOL has everything you need to know about regulations and compliance information as a small business owner. From worker’s compensation and OSHA to employment benefits and whistleblower protections, there is a treasure trove for you to explore. Being informed is the best way you can be the best boss.

Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU)

What it costs: Free

What it does: You might notice that OSDBU is a department of Veteran’s Affairs, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reap benefits from OSDBU if you haven’t served in the military. Federal agencies have to set aside a certain percentage of contracts for small businesses, and this is where you can access and apply for them.

U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)

What it costs: Free

What it does: The SBA has a lot of resources and tools for you to grow and manage your business successfully. Find information about applying for licenses and permits, opening a business bank account, registering as a veteran- or minority-owned business, hiring and managing employees, franchising or expanding your business, writing a business plan, preparing for emergencies, and so much more.

IRS Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center

What it costs: Free

What it does: We’ve written previously about this resource, but the IRS has a center for small businesses to find information about filing business taxes, record keeping, registering your business with the IRS, tax workshops, a free calculator, and more.

 

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 $700 million and helped thousands of 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

There’s a dangerous document that could ruin your financial health, and that’s called a Confession of Judgement. Learn what this is, why it is so harmful, and how you can avoid signing one.

There’s a dangerous document that could ruin your financial health, and that’s called a Confession of Judgement. Learn what this is, why it is so harmful, and how you can avoid signing one.

 

Since the recession, small businesses have had trouble getting loans from traditional banks. Businesses need working capital to survive, and smaller businesses can really struggle if they can’t get financing when they need it.

Just like most American households, when entrepreneurs are tight on cash things can get desperate. Alternative lenders know this, and some take advantage of this desperation. We’ve written about Merchant Cash Advances (MCAs) before, for-profit companies who offer lighting fast approval and super easy qualifications, even with bad credit.

The problem with MCAs is that they often aren’t transparent about how much this money will cost you. We’ve conducted industry research on these harmful practices, which you can read about here. Not only will you be stuck with high interest rates and hidden fees, leading to painful APR levels, but some MCA businesses may ask you to sign a Confession of Judgement (CoJ).

What is a Confession of Judgement?

A CoJ is an old legal document dating back hundreds of years intended to enforce debts without the hassle and enormous expense of trials. Although most states banned confessions of judgement in the nineteenth century,  they were still used in consumer loans until 1985. Even now, New York allows companies that have an office located within the state to use a CoJ.

When a borrower signs a CoJ to get an MCA, they are “giving up their right to defend themselves if the lender takes them to court. It’s like an arbitration agreement, except the borrower always loses. Armed with a confession, a lender can, without proof, accuse borrowers of not paying and legally seize their assets before they know what’s happened. Not surprisingly, some lenders have abused this power. In dozens of interviews and court pleadings, borrowers describe lenders who’ve forged documents, lied about how much they were owed, or fabricated defaults out of thin air”(Bloomberg).

To make matters worse, language pertaining to confessions of judgment are often times embedded well within the loan contract. It can be difficult to find, and borrowers end up releasing their right to arbitration without knowing.

How You Can Protect Yourself

If a lender requires you to sign a CoJ before they will give you money, that is a giant red flag. Not every lender who asks you to sign will call you with threats and drain your bank accounts overnight, but by signing a CoJ, you are giving them the freedom to seize your financial assets without warning. It is important to know your rights as a borrower, and as a small business owner you don’t want to sign those away. To learn more about your rights, read the Small Business Borrowers Bill of Rights co-authored by Opportunity Fund.

Always do your research and educate yourself about lenders and their offers before you sign anything. Arming yourself with knowledge is the best thing you can do for your business and your financial health. We created a free business loan calculator for you to figure out how much a loan – or cash advance – will really cost you.

Take your time to find a lender who is trustworthy, transparent, and upfront. Confessions of Judgement are potentially dangerous to your business – borrowers beware!

 

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 $700 million and helped thousands of 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

You need business insurance, bottom line. But do you know what type of coverage? How much coverage to buy? Start planning for success with an idea of how to approach the insurance buy with confidence.

You need business insurance, bottom line. But do you know what type of coverage? How much coverage to buy? Start planning for success with an idea of how to approach the insurance buy with confidence.

 

What Basic Insurance Does a Small Business Need?

There are so many insurance products and offers out there that it can start to feel overwhelming. You want to make sure your business is covered, but you don’t want to pay for anything unnecessary.

The four types of insurance every business needs are property insurance, liability insurance, business vehicle insurance and workers’ compensation insurance.

Commercial property insurance will protect you from theft and damages, and it is good to have even if your business operates out of your home. Homeowners insurance might not cover everything your business needs.

Liability insurance is necessary to protect you from negligence lawsuits in case someone gets hurt.

If your business uses a car, van, or truck, you’ll need business vehicle insurance. Most standard vehicle insurance policies don’t cover commercial vehicles, so make sure yours will be covered by your existing policy or a new one.

Lastly, if you have employees you will need to have workers’ compensation insurance in case there is a workplace accident.

You can read more in detail about each of these types of business insurance here. It may seem like a lot to keep track of, but if you bundle your insurance policies under a Business Owner’s Policy, you can often get lower premiums which will save you money upfront.

Do You Really Need All That Business Insurance?

Insurance premiums can add up, especially with all the kinds of policies and range of coverage your business may need, but it is worth it down the road. If you forgo buying business insurance, it will cost you much more out of pocket when something bad happens.

Specialty policies for natural disasters (such as earthquakes, forest fires, tornadoes, etc.) add more cost in the short term on top of the basics, but when an emergency happens you’ll save your business thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. If you don’t live in a vulnerable area, you might not need specialty disaster coverage – always talk with a business advisor to determine the right coverage for your business.

The good news: business insurance is tax deductible! You can save a lot of money by writing off your business insurance during tax season. Remember to talk to your certified accountant before attempting to deduct any of these – we are not tax professionals and are not offering tax advice. If you need help doing your taxes or would like free tools, check out these 5 affordable tax tools.

 

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 $700 million and helped thousands of 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

As a business owner, it is imperative to stay on top of new laws and any changes to labor codes. Here is a short list of California laws that take effect this year, so you can stay in compliance.

As a business owner, it is imperative to stay on top of new laws and any changes to labor codes. Here is a short list of California laws that take effect this year, so you can stay in compliance.

 

When new laws are made, it is your duty to keep yourself informed. This short list captures some of what went into effect recently. Remember to always consult your legal advisor about how laws affect your business specifically and how to best comply with them, Opportunity Fund is not a legal expert.

New Laws Taking Effect In California This Year

SB 1235 requires commercial lenders’ to disclose accurate and honest information about business loans. Opportunity Fund helped pass the nation’s first Truth-in-Lending bill for small businesses (SB 1235) in Sacramento.  This bill provides a common-sense solution to the problem of misleading disclosures on high-cost business financing by requiring all lenders to clearly and consistently communicate their terms to small businesses seeking financing. Read more about the bill here to know your rights as an entrepreneur.

“Until now, our Truth in Lending laws have applied only to consumer finance. This law will make California a leader in placing the interests of small business owners on par with the big players in the financial industry. Opportunity Fund played an important role in highlighting the need for this law and helping us draft and pass the bill that made it a reality.” – Steve Glazer, California Senator.

AB 1976 expands required accommodations for lactation in the workplace. Existing law requires employers to provide a reasonable amount of break time for lactating employees to pump or breastfeed their infants in a private place other than a toilet stall. Now, your business must make reasonable efforts to provide a private location within close proximity to the workplace other than a bathroom. There are additional details regarding temporary locations and agricultural businesses which you can read here.

SB 1343 expands sexual harassment training requirements from businesses who employ 50 or more people to include those who employ 5 or more. If your small business meets this new requirement, you must provide 2 hours of harassment training to all employees before January 1, 2020 and every two years thereafter. If you have already trained your employees after January 1, 2019 then you do not need to repeat it this year. Take a look here for all the details, including minimum components of the training, posters regarding transgender rights, and more.

SB 946 decriminalizes street vendors and issues requirements for local authorities’ street vendor regulation programs. What this means is that now street vendors cannot be charged with criminal offenses for operating their business, they can only receive fines. If you are currently facing or have faced criminal charges for vending on sidewalks, you are now able to petition for dismissal of those charges. For more information regarding the specifics of this bill, please read the full text here.

Labor Code 226 was amended to clarify employee’s rights to access their payroll records. Now, as an employer, you must provide copies of requested records within 21 days or incur penalty fees. What this means is that it is not the responsibility of your employee to make the physical copies of such records at your business – it is clarified that as the employer, it is yours. This is not a big change to the way your small business operates, but it is important to be aware of any labor law changes.

California will see minimum wage increases. Across the country, 19 states and 24 cities will see higher minimum wage thresholds this year. Currently in California, small businesses are required to pay a minimum of $11.00 an hour (with certain exceptions for students, new employees under age twenty, etc.) Click here to see if your city’s minimum wage will be raised this year, so you can be prepared and make sure your business is in compliance.

 

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

Networking is often a blind spot for small business owners. It’s also essential for personal and professional growth. Here are some free and low cost resources to help you get started with networking and to build your new skill.

Networking is often a blind spot for small business owners. It’s also essential for personal and professional growth. Here are some free and low cost resources to help you get started with networking and to build your new skill.

 

Meetup

What it costs: Free

What it does: Meetup is a free social networking website that allows you to join groups of all different kinds: hobbies, classes, and of course, business networking events! Join local groups and meet up with other entrepreneurs near you.

eWomenNetwork

What it costs: Free to join

What it does: With over 500,000 members and 100+ local chapters, eWomenNetwork has workshops and events all across the country for you to meet with other women entrepreneurs. Women small business owners have many resources available to them, and you can check some others out here.

Linkedin

What it costs: Free

What it does: Linkedin is the largest social networking site specifically oriented towards business. Follow hashtags and join groups to discover other entrepreneurs (and future talent!) Post insightful business tips or updates from your own account to get your name out to small business owners who might want to connect and network with you.

YEC Next

What it costs: Free to apply

What it does: If you’re a more established small business owner younger than 45 with at least 250k in annual revenue, you should apply to join YEC Next. You get access to great online networking resources, including an entrepreneurial think tank, increased business exposure, business mentors, exclusive events, and members-only discounts on lots of business products and software.

Opportunity Fund Blog

What it costs: Free

What it does: You are probably already aware that we have a blog dedicated to our small business readers if you’re reading this, but did you know that we publish bi-weekly event roundups? Find local and online networking events and workshops that interest you.

 

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 $700 million and helped thousands of 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

So you are considering starting a landscape business. You’ll need more than a lawnmower and a neighborhood kid in need of pocket change. Read how much starting a landscape business really costs.

So you are considering starting a landscape business. You’ll need more than a lawnmower and a neighborhood kid in need of pocket change. Read how much starting a landscape business really costs.

 

Whether you came from working as a landscaper and want to branch out with your own company or you are starting from scratch with no professional landscaping experience, this venture may end up costing you a lot more than you think. But you’ll do fine as long as you do your research, set realistic expectations, and do your due diligence with planning and business strategy.

What makes a landscape business different than any other kind?

A lot about starting a landscape business is the same as any other new business idea. You need a solid business plan, starting capital, and a lot of elbow grease. Running the business and managing employees is the same. Meticulously calculating the correct amount to charge clients and keeping exact records for your taxes is the same. But many aspects will also be different.

You won’t need real estate or a complicated e-commerce store.

Odds are you will just need a truck or van – at least to start. The bad news: Just because you don’t have any costs associated with a brick-and-mortar business, vehicles may cost more if you aren’t careful. They require individual insurance, maintenance and repairs, branding stickers and storage systems, and more. If you don’t have a backup vehicle, a breakdown could completely halt your business. The good news: The cost of commercial vehicles as well as the gas and mileage you drive them between clients are tax deductible.

Your marketing plan depends on word-of-mouth and a stunning portfolio.

Without the street traffic of restaurants and physical stores, it is vital that you get reviews and testimonials. The bad news: Negative reviews – especially when your business is new – will cost you in lost business. Investing in professional photography and a nice website to build an online portfolio can cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars. The good news: Word-of-mouth costs absolutely nothing.

Business licenses and permits will be different,

especially if you plan to work in multiple cities. The bad news: Permits take time and money to file. Work with your legal advisor (remember their fees when you budget) to make sure you have every one you need filed correctly. The good news: Making sure your business is legitimate is worth the cost. Not only will proper paperwork establish trust with potential clients, but getting caught without them will cost you much more.

Health insurance and workers compensation are more important.

With dangerous equipment and exposure to the elements, just keep the costs in mind. The bad news: Landscaping is more physically demanding and potentially dangerous than an office or retail position. Whether you’re a solo operation or your employ a team, insurance will be more expensive. Expect higher insurance premiums, more stringent OSHA requirements, and higher workers compensation if there is an accident. The good news: There are multiple kinds of insurance your business might need, but any insurance you purchase for your business is tax deductible. Always talk with your licensed tax preparer.

Landscaping is a seasonal business.

Mild climates mean you will have business year-round, but if your area has real seasons your business will dry up in the autumn. The bad news: Droughts, recessions, and fierce competition can all cost your business a lot of money if you don’t keep a healthy reserve of working capital and regularly watch your cash flow. The good news: If you diversify your services – such as adding snow removal during the winter – you won’t lose as much in the off-season. Storms are destructive for homeowners but great for you.

Products and equipment.

Don’t fall down the slippery slope of charging a credit card and personal bank accounts to pre-purchase the things you need to complete a job. The bad news: Landscaping equipment can get expensive, and oftentimes a deposit from one client isn’t going to cover the whole cost of a new piece of equipment you need to get a job done.  The good news: In this industry, you need to ask for a deposit before any job you take on. This keeps your cash flow steady and protects your business from job cancellations.

This is when you need to look into an affordable loan from Opportunity Fund for your equipment, commercial vehicle, or working capital.

 

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 $700 million and helped thousands of 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

Balancing your life and your small business is hard enough, and keeping to a business budget can be difficult. Balance your accounts easily with these five free tools.

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

Balancing your life and your small business is hard enough, and keeping to a business budget can be difficult. Balance your accounts easily with these five free tools.

Microsoft Office Business Expense Template

What it costs: Free

What it does: If your small business uses Microsoft Excel, here is a budget template for you to easily download and edit yourself. While this template focuses on expenses versus income, it is extremely detailed and includes graphs and charts to help you visualize your business expenses.

Intuit QuickBooks Annual Budget Template

What it costs: Free

What it does: If you are familiar with using spreadsheets but want to keep your budget accessible in the cloud, this easy-to-use template has all the formulas set up for you. Just enter your information, and this completely free template will do the rest. Remember to add it to your own Google Drive first so you can edit the file.

GnuCash

What it costs: Free

What it does: Using GnuCash’s open source software is a great stepping block for small businesses who want something more sophisticated and error-proof than using Excel spreadsheets but don’t have the budget to pay for fancy software. It will take some technical skill to install, but it is completely free to use and has a detailed Wiki full of instructions. GnuCash is available in several different languages and currencies; on Windows, Mac, and Linux; and as a complimentary mobile app. Highlighted features of the tool include double-entry accounting, stock/bond/mutual fund accounts,small-business accounting, reports, graphs, QIF/OFX/HBCI import, transaction matching, scheduled transactions, and financial calculations.

Mint

What it costs: Free

What it does: We’ve mentioned Intuit’s Mint before, but it really is a useful free tool for budgeting. While the service is more geared towards personal finance, it can be used for small businesses. Connect your business bank accounts and create trackable, real-time budget categories. Bonus: you can get free money tips, credit scores, bill schedules, and more.

Metabase

What it costs: Free

What it does: Metabase is an excellent open source software for business owners who want simple, clean, and useful tools. You don’t need to know any coding to set it up, visuals are more clean and modern than most open source tools, and it can be easily used by multiple team members in your business. The catch? It is a little more difficult to set up if you aren’t on a Mac.

 

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 $700 million and helped thousands of 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

There are many reasons to choose to run a home-based business: balancing a family, lack of capital for real estate, or even just the newness of your business. Whatever the reason, technology is making it easier to successfully run your small business from your home.

There are many reasons to choose to run a home-based business: balancing a family, lack of capital for real estate, or even just the newness of your business. Whatever the reason, technology is making it easier to successfully run your small business from your home.

 

5 Ways Tech Can Help Your Home-Based Business

  • Selling your products has never been easier with ecommerce. Starting an ecommerce website for your business is the best way to sell as a home-based business. Without a store-front of your own, online is the way to go. Most major shipping services also allow you to schedule package pickups from your house at no extra charge, all from the convenience of your home computer.
  • Collaborating with remote employees can be more efficient with tech tools. If you base your business out of your home, there’s a good chance you don’t have physical space for employees. Using affordable technology to collaborate with employees can help you streamline work even when you aren’t in the same room.
  • Outsource tasks to freelancers. Your home-based business needs a lot of tasks completed, often by people who you can’t afford to hire full time. The internet allows you to reach experienced professionals from all over the country to help with your projects.
  • Use Voice Assistant Technology (VAT) to manage your home business. VAT products, such as Google Home and Amazon Echo, can help you keep track of your hectic schedule. You can set appointments and task reminders, manage your home’s security (which is extremely important if your run your business out of your personal residence), track packages and shipments, dictate emails, manage finances, pull inventory and order information, order supplies, and much more.
  • Set up your “mobile office” so you can work anywhere. If you need a break and want to do work or meet clients at a coffee shop, technology can help you here too. You can buy inexpensive portable wifi routers so you have secure access to the internet, keep your files in the cloud to access them anywhere, and so much more.

 

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 $700 million and helped thousands of 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

We know that finances can be tricky and hard to develop confidence when it comes to accounting, but knowing the profitability of your small business is key to its success. Learn what the different types of profit margins are, how to identify problems, and how to increase your business’ profits.

We know that finances can be tricky and hard to develop confidence when it comes to accounting, but knowing the profitability of your small business is key to its success. Learn what the different types of profit margins are, how to identify problems, and how to increase your business’ profits.

 

What is a Profit Margin?

There are two kinds of profit margins. Gross profit measures the profitability of a single product line or service. This is calculated by subtracting the costs associated with that product from the selling price. When calculating your gross profit margins, take into account the costs of product development, manufacturing, transportation, packaging, and preparation.

Net profit measures the profitability of your business. This is calculated by subtracting your business expenses from your total revenue. Business costs include rent, utilities, taxes, employee benefits and wages, insurance, cost of goods sold, capital expenses such as equipment depreciation, and much more. Work closely with your accountant to accurately calculate your small business’ net profit margin.

There is no “ideal profit margin” because each industry differs in profitability. For example, one of the highest industries in 2017 was accounting and other professional finance services, with net profits averaging around 18.4%. Compare that with grocery stores and automobile dealerships, two of the lowest profitable industries in 2016, which average at around 2%.

Identifying the Problems

If you don’t keep a close eye on your profit margins and regularly recalculate them, you could run into trouble with your working capital. Doing a cash flow analysis is equally important, so that you don’t get taken advantage of and you know exactly how much money should be in the bank.

When you notice that you aren’t making enough money to grow or are losing money each month, it’s time to take a long look at why your profit margins are low and what you can do to increase them.

How to Increase Your Small Business Profit Margins

Once you’ve done your calculations, you notice some of your products have a low gross profit margin and your business’ net profit margin could be a little higher. What do you do now?

First, take a look at your costs. See if there is anywhere you can cut back, or if you can increase the price. Sometimes lower sales due to higher prices can equalize with a higher gross profit.

Second, make the tough call about cutting unprofitable products or services. If there’s no way you can increase your profit margin and the overall cost of production, selling, overhead, and after-sale customer service is hurting your business, it may be time to discontinue something. However, some key products or services might be worth the sacrifice when it is core to your customers’ satisfaction. Your restaurant might make the most profit off of alcoholic beverages and charging $1.00 for a dollop of BBQ sauce, but that doesn’t mean you should get rid of the free bread. Trust your intuition and business sense. You’re an entrepreneur and know your small business better than anyone.

Finally, see if there are any long-term costs you can reduce by upgrading your old equipment, purchasing a more fuel-efficient vehicle, or paying off your high-interest, predatory merchant cash advance. Need to refinance your unaffordable loan or get additional working capital to help your business in the long term? Talk to us about getting an affordable, trustworthy loan 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 $700 million and helped thousands of families earn, save and invest in their own futures. Opportunity Fund has earned a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator, for our commitment to accountability and transparency.

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

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