Tracking mileage and expenses is one of the more tedious tasks for small business owners. Looking for a way to make it easier? Look no further....

Tracking mileage and expenses is one of the more tedious tasks for small business owners. Looking for a way to make it easier? Our content partner Nav.com has answers…

 

Tracking expenses can feel like a full-time job, especially if your business requires daily purchases or frequent travel expenditures. But failing to track or inaccurately track expenses can lead to a host of problems.

Without a clear view of costs, it becomes impossible to efficiently manage cash flow and prepare for the future. Further, valuable tax deductions are lost if you don’t accurately track expenses over the year.

Fortunately, the right tracking system can make a world of difference, and implementing one may be far simpler than it seems.

Whether you’re a sole proprietor or a business owner overseeing numerous employees, these tips can help you stay on top of mileage and other business expenses.

1. Separate your business and personal spending

The first step in accurate expense tracking is to limit your business spending to a specific business account. This means opening a business checking account and using it as the exclusive funding source for business purchases.

The same logic should be used when making purchases with a credit card — apply for and use a business card, not your personal credit card.

2. Use a designated checking account or credit card

In the past, business owners and consumers alike were often forced to keep meticulous logs in order to track spending. And while those logs are still an important piece of the puzzle, today’s online banking platforms often take away much of the manual labor.

In most cases, your online banking platform will provide you with all the pertinent info regarding transactions, including the amount, date, and the payee. Further, many banks and credit card companies allow online users to download an activity report, which can be used to further filter and record your expenses.

3. Log info regularly

Whatever method you choose to implement, regularity is the key to success. For some, particularly those who rely on manual entry methods, a daily log will prove to be the most efficient way to keep track of expenses.

Others, however, may find that a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly schedule is just as efficient. However, don’t wait too long. The longer the gap between spending and logging, the more likely you are to forget, lose, or omit vital information.

In your log, make sure to note the date, total amount, and nature of the purchase. Though these logs certainly don’t need to be super detailed, providing basic information will help you segment your expenses when it’s time to budget and provide documentation in the case of an audit.

4. Use an expense tracking app

While the good ol’ pen and paper combo, or even the note feature on a smartphone, can serve as an easy expense recording tool, there is certainly room for error. There are numerous apps that can help streamline and add integrity to the process, some of which even integrate with your accounting software.

As you review your app options, it’s a good idea to take note of what type of expenses you can track. For example, Expensify and TripLog both allow you to track mileage and business expenses in one place, but that’s not always the case.

In addition, it’s also important to take note of any limits that may be in place. Some apps are free for a single user but require payment for more than one user. Similarly, other apps limit the total amount of expenses, employees, or vehicles you can track.

5. Have a clear expense tracking and submission policy

If you’re responsible for reimbursing employees for their expenses, it’s essential that you create a clearly defined expense submission policy. This should include things like mileage rates, an outline of acceptable expenses, and submission deadlines (e.g., within 5 business days of the purchase).

Further, it’s important that you specify what documents should be included. At the very least, you’ll want employees to save receipts and record mileage, where applicable.

6. Set limits

In reality, limits fall into the expense policy, but the notion is important enough to merit its own section.

If you’re reimbursing employees, it’s important to explicitly state any limits or spending criteria that will dictate reimbursement. By doing so, you can set behavioral expectations (e.g., no elaborate lunches) and maintain control of your operating budget.

For instance, you may want to set limits on how much an employee can spend on meals, what type of airfare you’ll reimburse (e.g., first class vs business class), or maximum hotel stay expenses.

7. Know what’s deductible

Since taxes represent a primary reason to practice regular expense tracking, it’s helpful to know what type of expenses you can and can’t deduct.

In general, the IRS states that business owners can deduct any expense that is “both ordinary and necessary.” Of course, it can be hard to determine exactly what that means. If you’re unsure if a business expense is considered ordinary and necessary, your best bet is to consult the IRS small business deductions page as well as your accountant.  

As a business owner, tracking expenses can be a challenge, but doing so can make it easier to run your business and manage your finances. The tips above can help you create a strong process that can alleviate some of the pain points often associated with expense tracking.

 

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

 

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

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

Opportunity Fund, the nation’s leading nonprofit small business lender, believes small dollar loans help hard-working entrepreneurs make lasting change in their own lives and build stronger communities by growing businesses and creating jobs. Opportunity Fund’s community of donors and investors is creating an inclusive financial system that empowers women, immigrant, and minority small business owners. Our strategy combines microloans for small business owners and New Markets Tax Credit investments in high-impact community infrastructure projects. Since 1994, Opportunity Fund has deployed more than $750 million and helped thousands of entrepreneurs invest in their families’ futures. The organization has committed to lending an additional $1.2 billion to small business owners across the country and investing $174 million in community real estate projects by 2023.

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

It's time for spring cleaning, and your business credit report needs some help. Our content partner Nav has some tips to help tidy things up...

It’s time for spring cleaning, and your business credit report needs some help. Our content partner Nav.com has some tips to help tidy things up…

 

Spring means longer days and better weather, which often gives us the energy to tackle projects around the home we’ve been neglecting. Why not channel some of that positive energy into tackling business tasks you’ve been putting off—including working on your business credit?

Here are 7 ways to clean up your business credit.

First, Clean Up

When it comes to cleaning up your business credit, you can start by carefully reviewing your business credit reports to make sure all the information is accurate and complete. (You can get your free business credit report summaries from business credit agencies Dun & Bradstreet, Equifax and Experian through Nav.)

Here’s what to look for:

1. Check your business name and address.

If your business is a legally incorporated entity, or you have filed a fictitious name (DBA) with your state, you’ll want to make sure the full legal business name is listed correctly on your business credit reports.

2. Review your business SIC/NAICS code.

Your business credit report will list one of these codes, which is a government code designed to categorize businesses by type of business. You want yours to be accurate for a couple of reasons. First, business credit scores can compare businesses within the same industry and if your business is not categorized correctly it may not be properly evaluated. Secondly, lenders may finance certain types of businesses and not others; you don’t want yours excluded from financing opportunities due to a mistake.

3. Scrutinize payment history.

Whether your business pays its bills on time is the single most important factor in your business credit scores. But Business credit reports list payment history on individual accounts differently than consumer credit reports.

On personal credit reports you’ll see month-by-month payment history for the most recent 24-months along with a summary for the entire reported account history. With business credit, you’ll see a summary of the entire account payment history listed as the percentage of time the account has been paid on time, or has been late. So it may be confusing to try to figure out when any late payments occurred. But if you believe the payment history listed on your credit report is wrong, you can dispute it and ask the credit reporting agency for a correction or try to contact your creditor for clarification.

4. Check public record information.

If your credit report lists items such as UCC filings, tax liens or even judgments, you’ll want to check to make sure that information is accurate and complete. One thing to look for is whether the current status is reported. For example, if you have paid off a tax lien, it should indicate there is no balance. If you’ve satisfied a debt underlying a UCC filing, you’ll want to make sure that it is no longer reported as open. If any public record information is wrong, you can dispute it with the credit reporting agency. (Note: there is no time limit that negative information may be reported; instead commercial credit reporting agencies make their own determinations.)

Then, Spruce Up

After you’ve cleaned up, it’s time to spruce up. This is the business credit version of creating curb appeal: you’ll want to make your credit report look attractive to lenders, insurance companies and other companies that review business credit reports and scores. Here are several steps you can take to do that:

5. Add vendor accounts.

If you don’t have many accounts listed on your business credit report— many small businesses don’t— adding a couple of accounts can help build a stronger credit rating. Vendor accounts offer one of the simplest ways to build business credit. When you’re approved with one of these companies you’ll be able to purchase products and pay for them later, often on net-30 terms. (Here are 3 vendor accounts that don’t require personal credit checks or personal guarantees.) Pay them on time to build out your business credit.

6. Get a business credit card.

A small business credit card can help build business credit as well. It also helps to separate business and personal credit and makes it easier to keep track of business expenses.

7. Get credit for your payments.

Most small businesses find that some of the bills they pay don’t appear on their business credit reports. You may be able to get some of them added to your credit history by using a service like eCredable to verify and report those accounts. You may be able to get up to two year’s worth of payment history reported for certain accounts, such as internet, power and cell phone accounts that you use for your business.

None of these tasks should take more than an hour, tops. Many can be completed faster than that. Invest a little time now cleaning up your business credit and watch it pay off.

 

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

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

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

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

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

You’re looking for the right location for your business. Or you’re getting ready to move in. Or you’ve been there for a while and the costs are starting to add up. Here’s a list of things related to your business location that can drain your cash flow, and how to get back on track.

You’re looking for the right location for your business. Or you’re getting ready to move in. Or you’ve been there for a while and the costs are starting to add up. Here’s a list of things related to your business location that can drain your cash flow, and how to get back on track.

 

Here are 6 things to consider when selecting your business location

Your business’ physical  location can affect your rent, utilities, and insurance. Your business’ proximity to a creek or fault line can mean paying extra for disaster insurance. If your store’s floor-to-ceiling front windows face direct sunlight during the summer, you will need to pay more for air conditioning. Commercial property values can change dramatically depending on what neighborhood you set up shop.

Is street traffic or easy parking a necessity to gain customers? If you run a staffing agency or an HVAC installation service, paying expensive rent for a busy, pedestrian-oriented street might not be the best use of your money. Likewise, if you’re a small fashion boutique, it might be worth the cost to find somewhere better for your foot traffic than a suburban shopping center where people just want to go to the grocery store or gas station.

If you are located in a business park or shopping center, keep Common Area Maintenance (CAM) costs in mind. You could also be pressured into signing unsavory Tenant Improvement (TI) packages that pass on expensive maintenance, renovation, and damage costs onto you. Always check with your landlord or real estate agent before you sign for your new location.

Your business address can affect the minimum wage you have to pay employees and other localized employment rules. Taxes, minimum wages, and more can vary depending on in which city or county your business address is located.

Local zoning ordinances and historical designations can add costs to your start-up or renovation costs. Some neighborhoods have expensive permits and strict restrictions on what type of businesses can operate and where. You might also have restrictions on what your business can look like (or have to pay for regular restoration efforts) for historically designated neighborhoods and buildings.

Your could qualify for federal incentives if you are located in a Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone). The government prioritizes awarding contracts to businesses that operate in a HUBZone. If your industry fits and you have some flexibility in choosing where to locate your primary office, you could have preferential access to government contracts.

 

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

Each month, we’re promoting affordable events that help small business owners run their businesses better. This is your monthly calendar for in-person events in California and virtual events you can join from anywhere. Here are the best upcoming events in April.

Each month, we’re promoting affordable events that help small business owners run their businesses better. This is your monthly calendar for in-person events in California and virtual events you can join from anywhere. Here are the best upcoming events in April.

 

Northern California/Sacramento

Financial Statement Basics
Date: April 12, 2019 | 9:30 am PDT – 12:00 pm PDT
Location: 234 E. Gish Road, Suite 100 San Jose, CA 95112  
Contact: info@svscore.org | 408-453-6237
Organization: Silicon Valley SCORE
Fee: $45

The financial health of your business can be better diagnosed, if you have a good understanding of basic financial terms and the purpose of key financial statements. Learn basic financial concepts and gain insight into the interpretation of your Balance Sheet, Cash Flow Statement and Profit and Loss Statement. Knowing these concepts will improve your business planning and the conversations you have with your financial professionals.

Key Topics:

  • Balance Sheet
  • Profit and Loss Statement
  • Cash Flow Statement
  • Break even point
  • Financial Statement analysis and comparisons.

Learning Outcomes:

  • important  financial terms: assets, liabilities, payables, receivables, gross income, net income.
  • how to read Balance Sheets, Cash Flow Statements, Profit and Loss Statements
  • how to analyze Balance Sheets, Cash Flow Statements, Profit and Loss Statements

Click here to register for this event.

 

8 Steps to Master Your Cash Flow – A Workshop for Women Business Owners
Date: April 18, 2019 | 6:30 pm PDT – 9:00 pm PDT
Location: 2060 West College Ave., 2nd Floor Santa Rosa, CA 95401
Contact: Sandy Tradewell | sandy.tradewell@score450.org | 707-548-5814
Organization: SCORE North Coast
Fee: $35

Women-owned business is the fastest growing segment of the economy in Sonoma County. This workshop for women provides cash flow strategies and support for addressing women’s unique relationship to money and how they do business. Break through limiting beliefs around money that are holding you back from making money.

Click here to register for this event.

 

Facebook Ads 101
Date: April 23, 2019 | 2:00 pm PDT – 3:00 pm PDT
Location: 33 New Montgomery Street Suite 750, CA 94105
Contact: Erin Morris | emorris@rencenter.org | (415) 348-6227
Organization: Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center
Fee: Free

Renaissance has partnered with Shopify to bring you up-to-date information about online marketing. This workshop will focus specifically on Facebook Ads, and how you can utilize them to market your small business and make more sales.

Click here to register for this event.

 

Southern California/San Diego

Hire and Manage Great Employees
Date: April 12, 2019 | 9:00 am PDT – 12:00 pm PDT
Location: 8825 Aero Drive, Suite 102
Contact: workshop0140@scorevolunteer.org | (858) 283-1100
Organization: SCORE San Diego
Fee: Free

Upon completion of this course, you should be able to

  • Identify your hiring needs
  • Write a job description
  • Understand the process for selecting and hiring employees
  • Acquire the skill set for interviewing candidates
  • Conduct performance review
  • Know how to be a mentor and coach

    Click here to register for this event.

Writing a Winning Business Plan
Date: April 22, 2019 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: 365 N Main St. Corona, CA 92880
Contact: (909) 890-1242
Organization: Inland Empire Women’s Business Center
Fee: $20

Find out what goes into crafting a great business plan. Spend time with an experienced trainer to learn the steps to follow to make the writing process less tedious and discover where to gather the information you need to write a winning plan.

Click here to register for this event.

 

Are You Covered? Insurance Basics for Small Businesses
Date: April 25, 2019 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: 12625 Frederick Street, Suite K3 Moreno Valley, CA 92553
Contact: (909) 890-1242
Organization: Inland Empire Women’s Business Center
 Fee: Free

Is your business insurance providing all the coverage you need? Join us for a discussion about the many aspects of business insurance and get the tools to help you understand and evaluate the types of coverage available. Learn how to manage your risk and make sure your policy covers what you need.

Click here to register for this event.

 

Virtual

Employee vs. Independent Contractor: What California Companies Need to Know

Date: April 24, 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

Workers come in many varieties. This workshop will provide key insights into the differences between employees, interns, volunteers independent contractors. We will specifically discuss the new CA ABC independent contractor test and how you can grow your company while complying with the myriad of state and federal regulations.

Join us!

  • Gain a thorough understanding of the difference between employees and contractors.
  • Practice applying the new ABC Independent Contractor test.
  • Find out about resources for hiring employees and contractors.
  • Receive a comprehensive handout showing the laws.

Click here to register for this event.

 

Women/Veteran-Owned Small Business Certifications

Date: April 10, 2019 | 1:00 pm MDT – 2:30 pm MDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Peggy Baker | pbaker@uwyo.edu
Organization: Wyoming SBDC Network
Fee: Free

This webinar will cover the basics of both of these two socioeconomic certification programs and their advantages. Emphasis will be placed on the qualifications and application process for each program. We’ll also cover:

  • The types of documentation needed
  • How and when to prepare detailed letters of explanation
  • The difference between the types of Veteran-Owned Small Business certifications and how the VA set-asides differ from the rest of the federal government
  • Formal certification vs self-certification for Women-Owned Small Businesses
  • How to maintain these certifications
  • How to use the certifications as a marketing tool
  • And more!

Click here to register for this event.

 

Cybersecurity for Small Businesses

Date: April 10, 2019 | 8:00 am PDT – 9:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Derek E. Diaz | ddiaz@ftc.gov | (216) 263-3421
Organization: Federal Trade Commission
Fee: Free

The FTC deals with issues that touch the economic life of every Business Owner and every American.

In this webinar you will learn about New Resources directly from a lawyer of the FTC.

The Mission of FTC: Protecting consumers and competition by preventing anticompetitive, deceptive, and unfair business    practices through law enforcement, advocacy, and education without unduly burdening legitimate business activity.

The Vision of FTC: A vibrant economy characterized by vigorous competition and consumer access to accurate information.

One of the Strategic Goals of the FTC: Protect consumers from unfair and deceptive practices in the marketplace.

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

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!

Watch This to Learn More

Bloomberg made this short video accompanying the breakthrough article they published earlier (linked above). It is informative and insightful. Take a look to learn more about Confessions of Judgement and how they’re harming business owners like you.

 

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

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 February 15 through 28.

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 February 15 through 28.

Northern California/Sacramento

Women Mentoring Women
Date: February 19, 2019 | 4:00 pm PDT – 5:00 pm PDT
Location: 1470 Fruitvale Ave. Oakland, CA 94601 (map it)
Contact: Iveeth Valerio | ivalerio@anewamerica.org | (510) 532-5240
Organization: AnewAmerica Community Corporation
Fee: Free

Join the conversation: Women Mentoring Women Business Start-Up with Laura R. Gardea at AnewAmerica Community Corporation.

For questions or to register please call (510) 532-5240.

Legal Essentials for Doing Business Online
Date: February 20, 2019 | 12:00 pm PDT – 1:00 pm PDT
Location: 455 Market St. #600 San Francisco, CA 94105 (map it)
Contact: mauna@startsmallthinkbig.org | (415) 966-2187
Organization: Start Small Think Big
Fee: $20

Join attorneys from Cooley LLP for a conversation on the legal basis in operating a business online.

Topics include:

  • Website Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policies, including whether and when you need to use them, what you should include, and what they mean
  • Copyright infringement issues when adding textual and photographic content to your business website and how to avoid problems
  • Social media intersection with business and law, including website comments sections and employee privacy

Click here to register for this event.

Intellectual Property: Protecting Your Ideas, Brands, Designs
Date: February 20, 2019 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:00 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

You may have the right to protect your unique business name, ideas, or creations from being tarnished or knocked off by a competitor, but how do you do that affordably on a tight budget?

This workshop is an introduction to different types of intellectual property (focused primarily on copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets), and will provide you with self-help resource information to start building a simple but solid foundation of protection through rights searches, NDA’s, registrations, licenses and other tools.

Although taught by an experienced business attorney and presented by the San Francisco Community Business Law Center, this class does not constitute legal advice.

Click here to register for this event.

Southern California/San Diego

Effective Digital Marketing: Plan, Push, & Promote
Date: Starts February 19, 2019 | 6:00 pm PDT – 9:00 pm PDT
Location: Gardena Valley JCI—2nd Floor
1964 W. 162nd St. Gardena, CA 90247 (map it)
Contact: Mariko Lochridge | MarikoLochridge@ltsc.org | (213) 473-1658
Organization: Asian Pacific Islander Small Business Program
Fee: Free

Join APISBP for this free 8-part workshop series for entrepreneurs and social media managers and receive hands-on training to start, improve, and build their digital marketing campaigns.  

Learn how to create an effective Kickstarter campaign and make your goal or launch a brand on Instagram and create effective digital footprints, and more!

Classes meet weekly on Tuesdays starting February 19th through April 2nd at the Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute.

Click here to register for this event.

Drive New Business with Social Media
Date: February 21, 2019 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: 1003 East Cooley Dr. Suite 109 Colton, CA 92324 (map it)
Contact: (909) 890-1242
Organization: Inland Empire Women’s Business Center
Fee: $20

From understanding the different social media platforms, to choosing what to say and where to say it, this workshop will give you the keys to the most effective social media marketing for you.

Let instructor Joan Stanford of Jazzy Pen make social media easy so you can capture likes, shares, and customers!

Click here to register for this event.

Understanding Legal Structures
Date: February 5, 2019 | 5:30 pm PDT – 7:30 pm PDT
Location: BusinessSource Center North Valley
13420 Van Nuys Blvd. Ste. 121 Pacoima, CA 91331 (map it)
Contact: info@vedc.org | (818) 834-0577
Organization: VEDC
Fee: Free

This class will help you learn about the different business structures and the required licenses and permits your business may need.

Topics include:

  • Corporations & LLC’s
  • Copyrights
  • Trademarks
  • DBA Definition

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

Turning Your Passion Into A Business On Etsy
Date: February 19, 2019 | 3:00 pm PDT – 5:00 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Sarah Espinosa | sespinos@uncfsu.edu | (910) 672-2683
Organization: Fayetteville State University Veterans Business Outreach Center
Fee: Free

Etsy is a rapidly growing online marketplace for selling handmade goods, vintage items, and craft supplies. With more than 54 million members, there’s no better place to launch your own creative small business. In fact, sellers took home over 34 billion in sales in 2017 alone.

Attend this class to learn how to sell your artwork, jewelry, crafts, and vintage items.

How-to topics include:

  • Grow your brand and reach new customers with SEO tools
  • Register and start selling on Etsy
  • Share the story of your craft in your profile, item photos, and shop banner
  • Escape the 9-5 grind and focus on your passion
  • Understand the basics of your small business strategy with an in-depth look at Etsy’s tools to help you succeed online

Click here to register for this event.

Build & Protect Your Business Credit Score Webinar
Date: February 26, 2019 | 8:00 am PDT – 9:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: atu@asbtdc.org | (479) 356-2067
Organization: Arkansas Tech University Small Business and Technology Development Center
Fee: Free

Like individuals, businesses have their own credit scores. However, the way they are reported and your ability to freeze them is quite different. Strong business credit can open up opportunities to grow your business, including attractive financing options. You need to be proactive to build and protect your commercial credit ratings.

Join credit expert Gerri Detweiler, education director for Nav, on this free webinar as she explains how to build, leverage and protect your business credit.

Topics include:

  • The different credit bureaus compile these reports and how they are used
  • Business credit scores and the factors that help build strong scores
  • Key ways business credit is different from personal
  • Quick steps you can take now to build business credit
  • Free ways to monitor your business credit

Click here to register for this event.

Your 2019 Marketing Tune-Up: Save Time and Money with Inquiry
Date: February 27, 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

Are you ready to really rock your marketing in 2019? Join this interactive webinar to gain clarity and next steps for your 2019 marketing visions and plans.

Before spending time or money on marketing strategies, get clear on who you serve, your industry resources, and potential collaborators. You’ll learn how to do your due diligence before spending a dime on efforts that don’t work.

Small business owners can learn the basics behind great marketing to engage and attract clients all year long. Join us to gain new skills in creating content, designing posts, developing marketing collateral, and updating your website.

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

To get your business started, you might lean on family and friends for small investments. But once your business takes off, what are your options for getting money to grow the business? Venture capital might be out of reach, but crowdfunding and grants can give you the financial boost you need.

To get your business started, you might lean on family and friends for small investments. But once your business takes off, what are your options for getting money to grow the business? Venture capital might be out of reach, but crowdfunding and grants can give you the financial boost you need.

How to find business funding, even when you’re starting small

When you launch a business, sometimes you have little more than a vision and a willingness to work hard. For seed money, you might do what many small-business owners do: Look to family members and friends for the funds needed to open your doors and create your first products. But once your business gets off the ground and you’re ready to expand, what’s the next funding source beyond family and friends? Can you find investment besides what loan providers offer?

In a recent blog post, we looked at the barriers that women face when trying to obtain loans, especially when compared to male entrepreneurs. As it turns out, this is also a problem in the area of business funding – even in the venture capital (VC) world, where women are usually well-connected to business leaders. The percentage of women-owned businesses receiving venture capital hit 17 percent in 2012, and hasn’t budged higher since, according to research from Crunchbase. The percentage of VC-backed, women-led firms has remained stagnant since 2012. In addition, women entrepreneurs raise $82 on average for every $100 raised by a business founded by a man.

The big issue here is that women are underrepresented in VC firms (64 female partners out of 752 at the top 100 firms). Fortunately, some venture firms are trying to address the funding/gender gap, such as Female Founders Fund and Rethink Impact, and they seek out women-owned businesses in which to invest.

If you’re not ready to ask for a large VC investment, there are other options. Crowdfunding – where many people give you small amounts of money that can add up to a big investment – is one option. According to a recent study by PwC and The Crowdfunding Center, women were 32 percent more successful at reaching their fundraising targets than men were. “Female crowdfunders also tend to use more emotional and inclusive language in their videos and pitch descriptions than men [do],” the study says. “This language is more appealing both to female and to male backers, and positively correlated with fundraising success.”

There are many options for crowdsourced funding, including Kickstarter and GoFundMe. iFundWomen is aimed specifically at women-led startups and small businesses, and also offers advice on how to conduct a successful crowdfunding campaign. Their website features hundreds of campaigns launched by women-owned businesses of all kinds, from cookies to coding.

Grants might also be an option for getting money for your business. This NerdWallet list summarizes many federal and state grant programs for women, as well as some grants from nonprofits and corporate programs. Keep in mind that grants are competitive: You’ll be in competition with lots of other applicants, and if you receive a grant, you’ll often need to account for spending and show business results.


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.

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


Opportunity Fund is tackling economic inequality so that hard work and perseverance means a shot at getting ahead, not just struggling to get by. Our programs are supported by a community of donors and investors whose contributions help to fund small businesses, support college students, and build stronger families and vibrant neighborhoods. Since 1994, the team has deployed $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 events in California and virtual events you can join from anywhere. Here are the best upcoming events from February 1 through 14.

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 February 1 through 14.

Northern California/Sacramento

Other People’s Money
Date: February 6, 2019 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: 1325-B Evans Ave. San Francisco, CA 94124 (map it)
Contact: bayview@rencenter.org | (415) 647-3728
Organization: Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center
Fee: Free

Whether you are using loans, equity, trade credit, prepaid revenue, donations, or some combination of funding sources, using other people’s money to launch or grow your business carries risk of unpleasant surprises and legal disputes.

This workshop will survey the risks and opportunities of different small business funding types, and help you understand how to clearly define your legal rights and obligations in advance in writing to protect yourself against future problems with business creditors and investors.

Although taught by an experienced business attorney and presented by The San Francisco Community Business Law Center,  this class does not constitute legal advice.

Click here to register for this event.

Master Your Business Financials and Make Them Work for You—A 3 Part Series
Date: Starts February 11, 2019 | 12:00 pm PDT – 1:00 pm PDT
Location: 1670 Market St. Ste. #112 Redding, CA 96001 (map it)
Contact: info@e-jedi.org | (530) 926-6670
Organization: Jefferson Economic Development Institute
Fee: $20

Join this three-part workshop to learn how to master your business financials and make them work for you—even if you break into a sweat just thinking about them! The hour-long class meets every Monday for three weeks starting February 11.

This series of accounting/financial classes will help you get peace of mind and the confidence to manage your business financials:

The Basics of Bookkeeping: Demystify and simplify the duties of bookkeeping and accounting for your business:

  • Demystify the bookkeeping process:
  • Learn the best and quickest ways to automate your bookkeeping processes, creating tons of time to get back to working “on” your business
  • Gain techniques and tools to relieve the headache of bookkeeping without hiring a full-time bookkeeper

The Power of Metrics: Analyze the health and efficiency of your business through the use of financial metrics:

  • Gain the tools to easily analyze and project income and expenses
  • Learn how to calculate gross and net profitability accurately and with confidence
  • Understand what a financial metric is and how it’s used to value a business

Succession Planning: Ensure the longevity of your business:

  • Learn how to properly value your business
  • Understand what an EBITDA Multiplier is and how to determine yours
  • Start developing your exit plan to secure your business (even if you never plan on leaving it)

Click here to register for this event. A webinar version of this course is also available starting Wednesday, February 13 at 6pm.

Payroll Taxes 101
Date: February 6, 2019 | 11:00 am PDT – 1:00 pm PDT
Location: 234 E. Gish Rd. Ste 100 San Jose, CA 95112 (map it)
Contact: info@svscore.org | (408) 453-6237
Organization: Silicon Valley SCORE
Fee: $45 for general admission | $20 for students | Free for veterans

You’ve hired your first employee! Now what? They need to get paid and you want to stay in compliance.  

This is an introductory course in understanding payroll taxes, workers compensation, and how to go about paying them.  In this course, you will get a checklist of all payroll requirements and learn key topics such as:

  • Steps for hiring your first employee and paying them
  • Payroll taxes
  • Workers comp integration with payroll
  • Payroll liabilities: a chart
  • Methods for handling payroll
  • Workers comp audits
  • Compliance with California laws

Click here to register for this event.

Southern California/San Diego

Podcasting for Small Businesses
Date: February 5, 2019 | 1:00 pm PDT – 3:00 pm PDT
Location: El Camino College Business Training Center
13430 Hawthorne Blvd. Hawthorne, CA 90250 (map it)
Contact: Martha Cisneros | mcisneros@elcamino.edu | (310) 225-8277
Organization: South Bay SBDC
Fee: Free

With more time in the car stuck in traffic commuting and the decline of good music on the radio we are forced with a dilemma of what to do in the car. According to Edison Research, online radio including podcasts has grown 61% in the past ten years and NPR data reported in last two years has risen from 3.5 to 5.4 million listeners.

Entrepreneurs can strategically use podcasting to position their brands and build rapport with prospects to convert more sales.

Join this free seminar led by Deborah Deras, creator of the Be A Paid Speaker Now Podcast, and learn how Deborah started her podcast how you can too. Topics include:

  • Why podcasting is a great tool for your business
  • What equipment to get
  • What are the steps to go from concept to actually podcasting
  • Who will host your podcast
  • How to edit the podcast
  • How to avoid amateur mistakes
  • How to get your podcast to the ears of your listeners

Click here to register for this event.

The Keys to Effective Guest Complaint Management
Date: February 5, 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 and learn how to manage customer complaints effectively. Topics include:

  • The true cost of guest complaints for your business
  • Typical restaurant or food service complaints
  • Strategies for crafting responses to complaints that will build loyal customers
  • Methods for effectively responding to online feedback

Click here to register for this event.

Business Plan Boot Camp: Introduction to Business Planning
Date: February 12, 2019 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: 1003 East Cooley Dr. Suite 109 Colton, CA 92324 (map it)
Contact: (909) 890-1242
Organization: Inland Empire Women’s Business Center
Fee: $20

Shape up your business plan! Get started with an overview of the plan elements and a discussion of your business description and how to conduct an analysis of your industry.

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

How to Start a Home-Based Business
Date: February 5, 2019 | 3:00 pm PDT – 4:30 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: info@TheInstituteNC.org | (919) 956-8889
Organization: The Institute (N.C.)
Fee: Free

Learn the requirements for getting started with a home-based business, including finding your niche, legal requirements, and developing a business plan. This free webinar is presented in partnership with the Veterans Business Outreach Center.

Click here to register for this event.

Credit Reports & Scores Explained
Date: February 7, 2019 | 8:30 am PDT – 9:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Kimberly.Donahue@sba.gov | (304) 623-5631
Organization: U.S. Small Business Administration West Virginia District Office
Fee: Free

Your credit score can impact everything from where you live to how much you pay for insurance. Isn’t it about time you learned how credit reports and scores really work? This free webinar covers the factors that influence credit scores, how to dispute errors, and more.

Click here to register for this event.

Marketing with Snapchat
Date: February 11, 2019 | 6:30 am PDT – 8:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: entrectr@hartford.edu | (919) 956-8889
Organization: University of Hartford Entrepreneurial Center & Women’s Business Center
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

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