This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person events in California and virtual events you can join from anywhere. Here are the best upcoming events from January 15 through 31.

Every two weeks, we’re promoting affordable events that help small business owners run their businesses better. This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in California.

Here are the best upcoming events from January 15 through 31.

Northern California/Sacramento

El Pajaro CDC Commercial Kitchen Incubator Program Orientation
Date: January 17, 2019 | 6:00 pm PDT – 7:30 pm PDT
Location: El Pajaro Commercial Kitchen
412 East Riverside Dr. Watsonville, CA 95076 (map it)
Contact: (831) 722-1224
Organization: El Pajaro CDC
Fee: Free

El Pajaro Community Development’s non-profit commercial kitchen provides entrepreneurs with the opportunity to start and grow a food business with the support of professional consultants and trained staff. Attend an orientation and learn how you can benefit from our services.

Click here to register for this event. Registration is required.

Marketing on the Internet
Date: January 22, 2019 | 6:00 pm PDT – 9:00 pm PDT
Location: 234 E. Gish Rd. Suite 100 San Jose, CA 95112 (map it)
Contact: info@svscore.org | (408) 453-6237
Organization: Silicon Valley SCORE
Fee: $45 | Free for veterans

Join this class to learn key topics for top-performing professional business websites. Effective business websites must address visitors and search engines. Get started with best practices for all types of business and e-commerce websites. Key topics include:

  • Establish website goals
  • Define best platforms for different audiences
  • Deploy basic website conversion techniques
  • Explore search engines, traffic, and keywords
  • Learn search engine optimization basics
  • Optimize advertising, budgets, and testing
  • Utilize social media outlets
  • Understand the role of online reputation
  • Find connections between budget and ROI
  • And more!

Click here to register for this event.

Writing a Successful Business Plan
Date: January 24, 2019 | 6:00 pm PDT – 9:00 pm PDT
Location: Napa Valley College
2277 Napa-Vallejo Hwy Building 3300 Napa, CA 94558 (map it)
Contact: SBDCclientservices@napavalley.edu | (707) 256-7250
Organization: Napa Sonoma SBDC
Fee: $30

Join this workshop and learn how to start a successful business with a strong business plan. Learn how to establish realistic goals and objectives, determine startup costs, as well as various methods of financing your startup.

Topics include:

  • Organize your business plan
  • Understand what the bank/investor expects to see
  • Prepare projections of revenue and expenses
  • Discuss of each business plan section, step by step
  • Examine a sample business plan

Click here to register for this event. Each participant will receive a business plan checklist and sample plan template.

Southern California/San Diego

Demystifing Business Expenses
Date: January 22, 2019 | 1:00 pm PDT – 3:00 pm PDT
Location: Arlanza Public Library
8267 Philbin Ave. Riverside, CA 92503 (map it)
Contact: Mary Takavorian | mtakavorian@iesmallbusiness.com | (909) 983-0751
Organization: Inland Empire SBDC
Fee: Free

Tax season is right around the corner. Attend this free workshop to learn which business expenses you can legally deduct on your taxes, and how to file your taxes the right way from the start.

Click here to register for this event.

The Art of Networking
Date: January 28, 2019 | 5:30 pm PDT – 7:30 pm PDT
Location: VEDC Women’s Business Center
5121 Van Nuys Blvd. Suite 300A Sherman Oaks, CA 91403 (map it)
Contact: info@vedc.org | (818) 907-9922
Organization: VEDC
Fee: Free

Join this free workshop to discuss what to expect at networking events. We will focus on how to position yourself at networking events, how to prepare, the art of small talk, and give you an opportunity to network with fellow entrepreneurs.

Click here to register for this event.

Marketing 101: Strategies for Small Businesses
Date: January 31, 2019 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: Moreno Valley Employment Resource Center
12625 Frederick St. Suite K3 Moreno Valley, CA 92553 (map it)
Contact: (909) 890-1242
Organization: Inland Empire Women’s Business Center
Fee: Free

Help your small business get big results from marketing through an effective marketing plan. Join this free seminar to learn how to increase your sales and profitability while efficiently managing your marketing dollars. Learn where to spend your time and money to get the most out of your marketing budget and target your best prospects.

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

How to Double Your Sales (Without More Marketing!)
Date: January 16, 2019 | 12:00 pm PDT – 1:00 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: info@e-jedi.org | (530) 926-6670
Organization: Jefferson Economic Development Institute
Fee: Free

Many service-based business owners think they need to do more marketing to make more money. They end up wasting time, energy, and money on marketing efforts that don’t positively move the bottom line.

In this free webinar, you’ll learn how to turn 80% of your prospects into great, long-term clients, get off the income roller coaster, and build predictable revenue in your business – without more marketing.

In this webinar, you’ll learn:

  • 5 step framework to attract the right prospects and turn them into great long-term clients
  • Strategies to stop wasting time on people that are not fully committed to your service
  • Things you should never say in a consultation with a prospective client, and what to say instead
  • Service packages for better client results, more satisfied clients – and higher profit for you

Click here to register for this event.

How Can Small Businesses Comply with OSHA Standards?
Date: January 17, 2019 | 11:00 am PDT – 12:00 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: minneapolis@score-mn.org | (952) 938-4570
Organization: SCORE Minneapolis (Minn.)
Fee: Free

A safe and healthy workplace not only protects employees from injury and illness, but can lower costs, reduce absenteeism, boost morale, and increase productivity and quality. How can your small business stay safe? OSHA can help!

Join this free webinar to learn how The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) assures safe and healthful working conditions for U.S. workers through setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance.

Topics include:

  • An overview of OSHA
  • OSHA requirements for small businesses
  • OSHA’s no-cost, confidential On-Site Consultation Program
  • Ways to show your commitment to safety and reduce costs

Click here to register for this event.

Business Plan Overview
Date: January 23, 2019 | 9:00 am PDT – 10:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: info@TheInstituteNC.org | (919) 956-8889
Organization: The Institute (N.C.)
Fee: Free

Learn the key elements of a successful business plan, how to develop one, and why it’s important! Find out how to outline your plan, craft a mission statement, analyze the market and the industry, create a financial plan, and locate resources.

Click here to register for this event.


We’re looking for upcoming events to promote to small business owners like you. If you have an event you’d like to share with fellow business owners, contact us at sblending@opportunityfund.org.

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

Loans are subject to credit review. Additional documentation may be required for credit approval. We are an Equal Opportunity Lender. Loans will be made or arranged pursuant to California Department of Corporations Finance Lenders License #6050609.


Opportunity Fund is tackling economic inequality so that hard work and perseverance means a shot at getting ahead, not just struggling to get by. Our programs are supported by a community of donors and investors whose contributions help to fund small businesses, support college students, and build stronger families and vibrant neighborhoods. Since 1994, the team has deployed $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

Women-owned businesses are on the rise, but access to financing can be a barrier to launching and growing a business. Steer clear of risky funding options, and seek out supportive advisors who can help you get a loan that works for your business.

Women who start and grow small businesses face many barriers, particularly when it comes to funding and financing – and specifically in comparison to men who launch businesses. According to a recent study by the Federal Reserve Banks of New York and Kansas City, women-owned businesses are more likely to operate at a loss and have higher credit risk than are men-owned firms.

In addition, women-owned firms are more likely to experience financial challenges. For example, they’re less likely to receive loans, and often have to deal with “funding gaps” – that is, they don’t receive all of their requested funding. The study also shows that women entrepreneurs are also less likely to apply for loans because they fear (rightly, it turns out) getting turned down.

In spite of their financial struggles, more and more women are stepping up to launch their own businesses: Women are starting an average of 849 new businesses per day, and the number of women-owned businesses has doubled in the past 20 years, according to American Express OPEN’s State of Women-Owned Businesses report.

It’s clear that women aren’t letting roadblocks like financing and credit stand in the way of their entrepreneurial dreams. But in their quests for financing, they should avoid funding sources that could cause problems down the road, such as painfully high interest rates. In addition, some lending sources (such as Opportunity Fund) can be more helpful to women who are just starting out, since these sources will look at information beyond a credit score when considering a loan application. If you’re in the market for a small-business loans, here are some dos and don’ts to consider.

Do look beyond the big banks.

The Federal Reserve Banks study found that women-owned businesses were more likely to apply to large banks than to small banks as compared to men-owned businesses – yet, they were more likely to be approved for loans by the small banks. In addition, women who worked with small banks showed the highest levels of financing satisfaction.

Opportunity Fund considers different criteria from small-business borrowers, and we see your business in a different way than large banks typically do. We likely have the right loan* for you. Email us at loans@opportunityfund.org for more information about how we can help your small business.

Don’t get bogged down in loans that can hurt your business.

According to the bank study, women are more likely to use unsecured debt (that is, without collateral) to fund their businesses. This might include using credit cards, or Merchant Cash Advances (MCAs) and payday loans. These forms of financing can be risky because they take a percentage of your sales to pay off your debt, which can hurt cash flow.

In loans studied in the Opportunity Fund report Unaffordable and Unsustainable: The New Business Lending on Main Street, the average alternative loan carried an annual percentage rate (APR) of 94% (one loan was even at 358% interest). These lenders are not regulated as closely, and they often use deceptive marketing tactics and have hidden fees. For the health of your business, it’s best to avoid them.

Don’t be afraid to apply for loans – and do take advantage of advice and counseling.

At the moment, women-owned businesses don’t get approved as often as men-owned businesses do – but women should strive to close this gap! When women work with organizations like Opportunity Fund, they can get help at every step of the loan process. For example, we offer borrowers a loan preparation checklist so they know which documents to prepare before they apply.

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

After 30 years in the medical consulting field, Jim started a new business in addiction recovery services. He built Newport Health Services into a successful sober living program in Southern California. When he needed a small business loan to establish his company’s first sober living home, Opportunity Fund and Lending Club were there to help.

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

After 30 years in the medical consulting field, Jim started a new business in addiction recovery services. He built Newport Health Services into a successful sober living program in Southern California. When he needed a small business loan to establish his company’s first sober living home, Opportunity Fund and Lending Club were there to help.

Supportive Solutions for Recovery

Jim Parrott started Newport Health Services and Axiom Recovery in 2016. After three decades in medical practice management and consulting, he saw a need to connect recovering addicts to services that help them transition from prison to the final stages of recovery.

Newport Health Services began from Jim’s experience with addiction in his own family. Inspired by his son’s journey through incarceration and addiction recovery, Jim began his work with two business partners, also in recovery and have managed similar sober living connection programs.

“In California there’s a shortage of sober living beds, anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 across the state,” Jim said. “In 2017, we had room for 20 beds and filled all of them within 10 days.”

Newport Health Services works with everyone central to the client’s life post-prison: probation officers, court appointed attorneys, rehabilitation centers, and families to locate and gain admittance to local rehabilitation facilities best suited to help them with recovery. Newport Health Services provides no cost help to clients and their families.

“Our first year, we helped about 200 inmates primarily in the two large jails in Orange County,” Jim said.

The company established its first sober living facility under the Axiom Recovery name thanks to a small business loan from Opportunity Fund. He came to us through our partnership with Lending Club. The $21,000 loan helped establish the four unit apartment complex in Huntington Beach.

Helping Small Businesses Create Change in the Community

The working capital provided everything they needed to make the space livable. Jim and his staff took an unfurnished building and turned it into a safe place for clients to recover. The team opened a second sober living home also in Huntington Beach with space for up to 10 people, then opened a new detox center in the same town with space for six residents in March.

Newport Health Services

Newport Health Services provides addiction recovery support in safe, homey environment (photo courtesy of Michael Microulis)

With 30 years of experience as an entrepreneur with several successful enterprises under his belt, Jim knows what to look for in a small business lender. “I felt Opportunity Fund was interested in helping small businesses succeed rather than making a high interest loan and walking away,” he said. “Other lenders I talked to tried too hard to sell me a product that was too expensive and didn’t fit what we needed.”

Our business loan advisor Rexie Dumagan helped Jim get the money he needed quickly to close on the apartment unit he wanted for his business. Jim pointed to that as a key moment for his small business. “It would have been very difficult for me to write a check for $20,000 to get started on the first sober living house,” he said.

Jim hopes to expand Newport Health Services by opening an individual outpatient therapy center. Whatever new ventures the company takes in addiction recovery and sober living, Jim keeps his focus on expanding within Southern California. He’s also expressed his hope to contribute to Opportunity Fund in the future.

We’re proud to support entrepreneurs like Jim who make a positive impact in their community.

We hope this story has inspired you, too.  At Opportunity Fund, we offer easy-to-get, fast, and affordable small business loans to help small business owners succeed.  Visit our home page to find out more.


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.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in California. Here are the best upcoming events from December 17 through 31.

Every two weeks, we’re promoting affordable events that help small business owners run their businesses better. This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in California.

Here are the best upcoming events from December 17 through 31.

Northern California/Sacramento

Website Building Basics—Building and Publishing Your Very Own Website
Date: December 18, 2018 | 9:00 am PDT – 12:00 pm PDT
Location: 300 Ellinwood Way—Bodega Room
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523 (map it)
Contact: Oscar Dominguez | (925) 671-4570
Organization: Contra Costa SBDC
Fee: Free

Join this interactive workshop for an introduction to building and publishing your very own website. The workshop is suitable for any level of experience or ability.

Bring your laptop and start working on topics like:

  • Introduction to WordPress
  • WordPress website set-up
  • WordPress Themes, plugins, and menus
  • Page and blog article creation and editing
  • Security, performance, and backup features
  • WordPress website placement on the internet
  • WordPress maintenance
  • Domain names and hosting
  • Content management system (CMS)
  • Mobile friendly and customer-centric design
  • SEO copywriting
  • Photos and videos for your website
  • Compelling calls-to-action
  • List building
  • Contact information on your site
  • Traffic measurement through analytics

Click here to register for this event.

Franchising 101 – How to Select, Finance, and Operate a Franchise
Date: December 19, 2018 | 11:00 am PDT – 12:30 pm PDT
Location: 455 Market St. Suite 600 San Francisco, CA 94105 (map it)
Contact: (415) 744-4244 | sfomail@sba.gov
Organization: U.S. Small Business Administration San Francisco District Office
Fee: Free

With so many different franchises for sale today, figuring out which franchise opportunity is the right business opportunity can be daunting and difficult. In this class, learn about the franchise buying process and how to successfully get into business for yourself.

We’ll cover:

  • Franchising basics
  • Factors to consider when selecting a franchise
  • Trends for today’s expanding economy
  • Franchise myths and misconceptions
  • Financing your new business
  • Average investment for franchises in the Bay Area
  • Strategies for finding the best business system for you and your family
  • Due diligence
  • Your franchise as a tangible asset
  • And more!

If you’re exploring franchise ownership, looking to become your own boss, curious about financing options, or interested in building long-term equity, this free event is a great place to start.

Click here to register for this event.

Starting a Small Business
Date: December 20, 2018 | 12:00 pm PDT – 1:00 pm PDT
Location: Lodi District Chamber of Commerce
35 S. School St. Lodi, CA 95240 (map it)
Contact: (209) 954-5089
Organization: NEC Small Business Development Center—San Joaquin Delta College
Fee: $15

This informative workshop is a great place to start planning and get your business started on the right foot.

Topics for this one-hour session include:

  • Legal requirements and regulations
  • Sources of financing
  • Free business resources
  • And more

Click here to register for this event.

Southern California/San Diego

Financial Projections
Date: December 17, 2018 | 5:30 pm PDT – 7:30 pm PDT
Location: VEDC Women’s Business Center
5121 Van Nuys Blvd. Ste. 300A Sherman Oaks, CA 91403 (map it)
Contact: info@vedc.org | (818) 907-9922
Organization: VEDC
Fee: Free

Join us for this free workshop on financial projections and learn the importance of key concepts for better financial management such as:

  • Record keeping
  • Assumptions for the projection
  • Financial statements, including income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements
  • Spreadsheets
  • Tips for success
  • And more

Click here to register for this event.

Common Legal Questions For Businesses
Date: December 20, 2018 | 6:00 pm PDT – 9:00 pm PDT
Location: Fullerton Public Library Main Branch
353 W. Commonwealth Ave. Fullerton, CA 92832 (map it)
Contact: score114csm@gmail.com | (714) 550-7369
Organization: Orange County SCORE
Fee: Free

New business owners often have questions regarding the formalities required to get their business off the ground. Join this free seminar to help you determine the best legal structure for your business. Learn about the common types of contracts in small business with tips for entering contracts. We’ll also discuss how to protect the intellectual property of your small business.

Click here to register for this event.

Access to Capital
Date: December 27, 2018 | 10:00 am PDT – 12:00 pm PDT
Location: JVS
5446 Sepulveda Blvd. Culver City, CA 90230 (map it)
Contact: Nate Nguon | nnguon@pacela.org | (323) 293-6284
Organization: PACE Finance Corporation
Fee: Free

Join this free workshop to learn more about where to get capital for your young business. If you’re confused by all the options, or you’re an entrepreneur or owner of a startup or growing small businesses, this seminar will help you navigate the complex world of access to capital.

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

Gain More Positive Online Reviews and Manage the Negative Ones
Date: December 18, 2018 | 8:00 am PDT – 9:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: uppervalleyscore@gmail.com | (603) 448-3491
Organization: SCORE Upper Valley (N.H.)
Fee: Free

Online reviews for your business are important now more than ever. As the digital world shapes consumer behavior, reviews on sites like Google, Facebook, and Yelp have a huge impact on your ability to grow your business.

Join this free webinar to learn how to generate 5-star reviews and how to handle negative reviews. Get started with exercises to manage your online reputation.

Click here to register for this event.

The Nuts & Bolts of Podcasting for Business Success
Date: December 20, 2018 | 10:00 am PDT – 11:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: uppervalleyscore@gmail.com | (603) 448-3491
Organization: SCORE Upper Valley (N.H.)
Fee: Free

Have you considered launching a podcast for your business, but thought it would take too much time? Do you hate the sound of your own voice? Does the idea of learning new technology make you break out in hives? If you answered yes to any of these questions, this presentation is for you!

Join this free webinar to discover actionable steps for creating a podcast in less time. Learn through real-world examples, along with proven techniques for repurposing content, and understand how to incorporate podcasting into your existing marketing and outreach activities.

Don’t worry: this won’t be be a tech-heavy conversation. We’ll discuss innovative techniques for launching and managing a podcast—and loving your own voice!

Join this session to learn:

  • Why a podcast is beneficial addition to your existing marketing strategies
  • How to launch a podcast, using simple on-the-go tools such as a smartphone
  • What are time-saving hacks for creating content quickly
  • Which tools are best to identify and engage an audience for your podcast
  • How to use a podcast as a networking tool at live events
  • And more!

Click here to register for this event.

Money Now, Money Later: Wealth-Building Tactics for Small Business Owners
Date: December 23, 2018 | 12:00 pm PDT – 1:00 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Bianca Blomquist
Organization: Small Business Majority
Fee: Free

How are you building wealth for you and your workers? Are you considering establishing a retirement plan for yourself and your workers? Through this free webinar with Working Solutions, Small Business Majority will help you navigate the retirement landscape in California and help you sort through your options to secure your future.

Topics include:

  • An overview of the U.S. retirement savings gap, how small business is part of the solution
  • Common retirement options for small businesses in California
  • Tips to help determine the best option for your business
  • Questions you can ask prospective plan providers or brokers

A question and answer period with Working Solutions will follow.

Click here to register for this event.

We’re looking for upcoming events to promote to small business owners like you. If you have an event you’d like to share with fellow business owners, contact us at sblending@opportunityfund.org.


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

Loans are subject to credit review. Additional documentation may be required for credit approval. We are an Equal Opportunity Lender. Loans will be made or arranged pursuant to California Department of Corporations Finance Lenders License #6050609.


Opportunity Fund is tackling economic inequality so that hard work and perseverance means a shot at getting ahead, not just struggling to get by. Our programs are supported by a community of donors and investors whose contributions help to fund small businesses, support college students, and build stronger families and vibrant neighborhoods. Since 1994, the team has deployed $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

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

This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in California. Here are the best upcoming events from December 1 through 16.

Every two weeks, we’re promoting affordable events that help small business owners run their businesses better. This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in California.

Here are the best upcoming events from December 1 through 16.

Northern California/Sacramento

Coffee with a Business Adviser
Date: December 3, 2018 | 2:00 pm PDT – 4:00 pm PDT
Location: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library—SJPL Works 3rd Floor
150 E. San Fernando St. San Jose, CA 95112 (map it)
Contact: sjplworks@sjlibrary.org | (408) 808-2310
Organization: SJPL Works: Career & Business
Fee: Free

Come and meet with expert business advisers with real world experience who help local businesses. These advisers are here to answer any questions and to provide guidance and feedback. Attendees will be seen on a first-come, first-served basis.

Parking validation for 4th St. garage will be provided at the program.

Click here to register for this event.

Before You Sign That Lease
Date: December 5, 2018 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:30 pm PDT
Location: 275 5th St. San Francisco, CA 94103 (map it)
Contact: Erin Morris | emorris@rencenter.org | (415) 348-6227
Organization: Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center
Fee: Free

An experienced business and real estate attorney will help you learn how to make well-informed commercial tenant decisions and prepare for landlord negotiations. Please note: this class does not constitute legal advice.

Click here to register for this event.

Ideas to Assets—A Practical Guide to Patents and Trademarks
Date: December 6, 2018 | 1:00 pm PDT – 3:00 pm PDT
Location: 1887 Monterey Rd.—2nd Floor San Jose, CA 95112 (map it)
Contact: Emily Navarra | emily.navarra@sba.gov | (415) 744-6805
Organization: U.S. Small Business Administration San Francisco District Office
Fee: Free

Join this free workshop to learn legal principles and considerations for converting ideas into assets. Topics include:

  • Understanding requirements and procedures associated with protecting an invention (patent) and a brand (trademark)
  • Securing intellectual property rights (acquiring or conveying ownership or use rights by assignment or license)
  • Working with others in the process, such as manufacturers and distributors
  • Enforcing (or defending against) claims of possible infringement

Please note: this class does not constitute legal advice.

Click here to register for this event. Registration is required.

Southern California/San Diego

Are You an Entrepreneur?
Date: December 4, 2018 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: Moreno Valley Employment Resource Center
12625 Frederick St. Suite K3 Moreno Valley, CA 92553 (map it)
Contact: (909) 890-1242
Organization: Inland Empire Women’s Business Center
Fee: Free

Do you have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur? It’s more than business savvy—it also takes time, commitment, and the willingness to take risks. Join this free workshop to discuss all of the above and help you determine if you’re ready to start a business.

Click here to register for this event.

Women in Business Leadership Series: Making Your Voices Heard by Policymakers
Date: December 6, 2018 | 8:30 am PDT – 10:00 am PDT
Location: San Diego SBDC
880 National City Blvd. National City, CA 91950 (map it)
Contact: Claudia Moreno
Organization: Small Business Majority
Fee: Free

Have you ever wanted to engage in local or statewide policy as a small business owner? Are there issues you’re interested in speaking out about as a small business or community advocate?

The San Diego’s Women Business Center and Small Business Majority invite you to join us for a free presentation on how to become a small business advocate and how entrepreneurs can use their voices to impact local and statewide change.

Learn about ways small business owners have partnered with Small Business Majority and other business groups to move the needle on important legislation. Topics include:

  • Best practices for reaching out to policymakers and legislators
  • Media engagement
  • Tips on tying in your small business story/perspective
  • Current legislation and issues to get involved with, including healthcare, retirement, and access to capital
  • And more

Click here to register for this event.

Taxes
Date: December 13, 2018 | 5:30 pm PDT – 7:30 pm PDT
Location: 5121 Van Nuys Blvd. Ste. 300A Sherman Oaks, CA 91403 (map it)
Contact: info@vedc.org | (818) 907-9922
Organization: VEDC
Fee: Free

Join us for this free session will cover a wide range of state and federal tax issues that confront small businesses. Learn how different types of business entities are taxed (sole proprietorship, partnership, C Corporation, or S Corporation), and the tax consequences of classifying workers as employees or independent contractors. The presentation will also review specific tax and filing requirements imposed by California and the federal government, and how small businesses can comply.

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

What’s Next for Digital Marketing
Date: December 4, 2018 | 9:00 am PDT – 10:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Donna Botti | donna.botti@scorevolunteer.org | (215) 391-1305
Organization: Montgomery County (Penn.) SCORE
Fee: Free

Join this free webinar to discuss digital marketing trends of the past year and take a look ahead to 2019. Learn strategies and tactics to include in your new year marketing plans. Start the new year off right by understanding the the hottest trends to take advantage of to grow your business or nonprofit.

Topics include:

  • Mobile
  • Social media
  • Live video
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Personalization
  • Automation
  • And more

Click here to register for this event.

Nine Key Elements of Success
Date: December 6, 2018 | 1:00 pm PDT – 2:00 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Cindy Doyl | cdoyl@wsu.edu | (509) 358-7890
Organization: Washington Small Business Development Center
Fee: Free

Join us for this interactive talk where we’ll discuss the nine crucial elements of creating success and how to do it a smart manner. Apply specific concepts from the webinar into your business world and draw connections between the modifications in your current actions and increased future success in business.

Click here to register for this event.

What the Healthcare Law Means for your Small Business
Date: December 6, 2018 | 3:00 pm PDT – 4:00 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Xiomara Peña
Organization: Small Business Majority
Fee: Free

This webinar will focus on what the Affordable Care Act means for small businesses and the federal provisions available to help small business owners understand how the law will affect your business. A question and answer period will follow the presentation.

Topics include:

  • Small business tax credits (available to businesses and tax-exempt non-profits)— who’s eligible for them and how to claim them
  • Marketplace updates
  • Shared responsibility
  • Cost containment
  • Tools and resources available for small businesses interested in learning more about the law

Click here to register for this event.

We’re looking for upcoming events to promote to small business owners like you. If you have an event you’d like to share with fellow business owners, contact us at sblending@opportunityfund.org.


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

Loans are subject to credit review. Additional documentation may be required for credit approval. We are an Equal Opportunity Lender. Loans will be made or arranged pursuant to California Department of Corporations Finance Lenders License #6050609.


Opportunity Fund is tackling economic inequality so that hard work and perseverance means a shot at getting ahead, not just struggling to get by. Our programs are supported by a community of donors and investors whose contributions help to fund small businesses, support college students, and build stronger families and vibrant neighborhoods. Since 1994, the team has deployed $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

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

Your small business’ website is crucial to success. Your potential customers will judge your business by the website, so make sure to make it the best it can be. Read how much building a professional business website really costs and learn what to expect from your different options.

Your small business’ website is crucial to success. Your potential customers will judge your business by the website, so make sure to make it the best it can be. Read how much building a professional business website really costs and learn what to expect from your different options.

 

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Business Website?

Well, that depends on what you want to use your site for and how much you want to pay for it. Once you’ve determined what your website needs and what you aren’t prioritizing,  you can decide if you want to go the DIY route or if you want to invest in a professional designer.

Building a Website Yourself – The DIY Route

If you’ve got some time on your hands and have a shoestring budget, building a website yourself using free templates and a little personalization might be the way to go. But that doesn’t mean it will be free – creating a professional business website will cost money, unlike personal blogs that don’t represent your company’s reputation.

We’ve compiled a short list of free website tools, from resources for optimizing your site to design templates. You can find templates from as little as $20 and can be as easy as copying and pasting the code into your website’s back end. Where and how you decide to host your website can make the cost vary. Never settle for a free web host, it’s worth it to pay a couple hundred a year for paid hosting: you’ll have ads on your website for your competitors; you won’t have a professional, custom domain name; and you are limited to a small bandwidth that will not be able to accommodate a content-heavy website or an ecommerce store.

In addition to the framework, you’ll need to come up with content for your business’ website. When it comes to content, you get what you pay for. Professional photography or videography, logos, ecommerce functions, blog content, cybersecurity, and other add-ons can eat up your project budget. If you can’t afford to hire an expensive agency, see if any of your employees have the skill sets you need or consider hiring a freelancer.

Hiring a Professional Web Designer and Developer

If you don’t have time but your budget has some wiggle room, consider hiring a professional. You can either contract a freelancer to implement and customize a fancy template you found or even find an agency to completely build a custom website from scratch.

Hiring a professional will cost anywhere from $3,000 – $50,000 before any of the web hosting and extras mentioned previously. This can cost so much because you are paying for the skills and time of a computer programmer, designer, and tester. Not to mention their overhead costs to run their own business. You get what you pay for, so take your time researching who you decide to hire to build your business’ website. Support fellow entrepreneurs and look for another small business or freelancer to hire.

What Does Your Budget Look Like?

Whether you decide to spend $500 or $50,000 on your shiny new website, never bankrupt your business trying to build a perfect site. Only invest in your site what fits into your business’ budget. If you’re a little short on working capital but know you should upgrade for the benefit of your small business, talk to us about getting an affordable working capital loan.

 

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