This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in Northern and Southern California. Here are the best upcoming events from April 16 through 30.

Every two weeks, we’re sharing and promoting free or affordable events that help small business owners run their businesses better. This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in Northern and Southern California. Here are the best upcoming events from April 16 through 30.

Northern California/Sacramento

Getting Your Business ACT Together
Date: April 17, 2018 | 12:00 pm PDT – 1:00 pm PDT
Location: Shasta County Office of Education, Professional Development Center
2985 Innsbruck Dr. Redding, CA 96003 (map it)
Contact: info@e-jedi.org | (530) 926-6670
Organization: Jefferson Economic Development Institute
Fee: Free

Join JEDI for this free seminar where you’ll learn how to ACT for success. ACT stands for Assessment, Creation, Traffic. Understand what is needed before you put more money into marketing your business. It’s never too late to start! Steps to take before going to market:

  • What does success/freedom look like to you? How do you obtain that?
  • Who are your competitors? You may be surprised!
  • Who are your customers? It is not usually you, or your family.
  • Who are you and why should people want to do business with you?

Join us for interactive activities:

  • What is The Freedom Formula
  • How to Find your Competitors and Customers
  • What Makes You Different? The Difference between your Unique Selling Position and Unique Mechanism

Click here to register for this event.

Business Start Up
Date: April 20, 2018 | 12:00 pm PDT – 1:00 pm PDT
Location: Tracy Chamber of Commerce
223 E. 10th St. Tracy, CA 95376 (map it)
Contact: sbdc@deltacollege.edu | (209) 954-5089
Organization: Northeastern California Small Business Development Center—San Joaquin Delta College
Fee: $15

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

Topics for this one-hour session include:

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

At the end of the workshop, you can schedule your first individualized consulting session to work specifically on your business. That session and all subsequent consulting sessions are always confidential and without charge.

Click here to register for this event.

2018 Business Xpo Silicon Valley Chambers
Date: April 25, 2018 | 5:30 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: Santa Clara Convention Center
5001 Great America Parkway Santa Clara, CA 95054 (map it)
Contact: (408) 244-8244
Organization: Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Silicon Valley
Fee: Free

Attend the 2018 Silicon Valley Chamber Business XPO, featuring over 100 exhibitors. Learn about their business while networking with other business professionals. Participate in the Passport program to enter for a chance to win prizes from local businesses and organizations!

Click here to register for this event.

Southern California/San Diego

Writing a Winning Business Plan
Date: April 23, 2018 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: Circle City Center
365 N. Main St. Corona, CA 92882 (map it)
Contact: (909) 890-1242
Organization: Inland Empire Women’s Business Center
Fee: Free for Corona residents | $20 for non residents

A well-written business plan can help focus your planning efforts and give potential lenders or investors a positive picture of your goals. Work with an experienced trainer to learn the steps to follow to make the writing process less tedious and gain insights on where to gather the information you need to write a winning plan.

Click here to register for this event.

Hollywood S.W.O.T. Analysis Workshop
Date: April 25, 2018 | 3:00 pm PDT – 4:00 pm PDT
Location: 4311 Melrose Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90026 (map it)
Contact: bsc@mcslosangeles.com | (323) 454-6115
Organization: MCS Business Source
Fee: Free

The Hollywood BusinessSource invites you to their monthly SWOT Analysis Orientation. Come join us to learn the basics of SWOT Analysis from our Business Consultant.

Need to make an important business decision? Try SWOT analysis. An acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, SWOT is an analytical framework that can help your company face its greatest challenges and find its most promising new markets.

Click here to register for this event.

Get Found on Google Search and Maps
Date: April 27, 2018 | 10:00 am PDT – 12:00 pm PDT
Location: 13420 Van Nuys Blvd. Suite 121 Pacoima, CA 91331 (map it)
Contact: info@vedc.org | (818) 834-0577
Organization: VEDC
Fee: Free

Do you want to be on the first page of Google? Do you want to grow your business brand? Do you want traffic from Google search?

Join us for a free workshop. Seats are limited.

This class is for existing businesses only. You must bring your own smartphone, tablet, or laptop.

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

Find Time and Make Time for Social and Digital Marketing
Date: April 17, 2018 | 11:00 am PDT – 12:00 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Donna Botti | donna.botti@scorevolunteer.org
Organization: Montgomery (Penn.) County SCORE
Fee: Free

Do you know that 43% of small businesses dedicate six or more hours per week to just social media?

While it’s important to engage for social visibility and key connections online, we all want to do more in less time. This session will help you save time at get back to what you love to do – running your business or organization.

You’ll also learn about the free business advice and mentoring that SCORE of Montgomery County can provide for you.

Click here to register for this event.

Financial Literacy Webinar
Date: April 18, 2018 | 10:30 am PDT – 11:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Jeremy Sanford | jeremy.sanford@sba.gov | (601) 965-4378
Organization: U.S. Small Business Association
Fee: Free

Is your business struggling in the financial department? Increase revenues and create a more effective budget with this free webinar. 

Call Jeremy Sanford at (601) 965-4378 to register for this event.

Ten Google Tools to get Your Business Started
Date: April 25, 2018 | 4:00 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

Learn about the ten no-cost software options that Google provides that can help you start your business without adding to the bottom line.

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 $600 million and helped 20,000 families earn, save and invest in their own futures. Opportunity Fund has earned a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator, for our commitment to accountability and transparency.

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

This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in Northern and Southern California. Here are the best upcoming events from April 2 through 15.

Every two weeks, we’re sharing and promoting free or affordable events that help small business owners run their businesses better. This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in Northern and Southern California. Here are the best upcoming events from April 2 through 15.

Northern California/Sacramento

It’s Your Etsy Business
Date: Starts April 10, 2018 | 5:30 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: Redding Fashion Alliance
1698 Market St. Redding, CA 96001 (map it)
Contact: info@e-jedi.org | (530) 926-6670
Organization: Jefferson Economic Development Institute
Fee: Free

In partnership with the Redding Fashion Alliance and One Shop, The Women’s Business Center at JEDI is offering a free 5 week Craft Entrepreneurship Program.

This free class meets every Tuesday starting April 10 and provides micro-business training for individuals with creative skills who would like to reach a new, larger market.

Learn the basics of starting and running an online business:

  • Pricing
  • Basic accounting
  • Product photography
  • Marketing

Click here to register for this event and contact JEDI at (530) 926-6670 for an Etsy application if interested in attending.

Women Mean Business Networking: Meet Beth Pride, BPE Global
Date: April 11, 2018 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: 275 5th St. San Francisco, CA 94103 (map it)
Contact: Fatimah Aure | faure@rencenter.org | (415) 348-6217
Organization: Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center
Fee: $15 (includes dinner)

Women Mean Business is Renaissance SoMa’s monthly women’s networking meetup. This event strives to help local business women and emerging women entrepreneurs learn from successful women business owners’ experiences, make new contacts,  build their networks and grow their businesses. Examples of topics include setting goals, accessing capital, as well as industry-specific sessions in fashion, jewelry, retail, and food.

Come enjoy a light dinner and learn from and be inspired Beth Pride, CEO of BPE Global, an import and export consulting firm. Beth is Renaissance’s 2017 “Established Entrepreneur of the Year” award winner.

Click here to register for this event.

Starting a business in Silicon Valley
Date: April 12, 2018 | 10:00 am PDT – 12:00 pm PDT
Location: 1887 Monterey St. San Jose, CA, 95112 (map it)
Contact: info@hccsv.org | (408) 248-4800
Organization: Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Silicon Valley
Fee: Free

Join the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Silicon Valley for this free workshop on how to start your business in your neighborhood: Silicon Valley.

During this workshop potential entrepreneurs will learn how key skills including:

  • How to get started
  • What special permits or licenses your business may require
  • How federal and state taxes apply to your business operations
  • What are insurance and risk management basics
  • Why is your business plan so important
  • How to hire employees
  • Where to find resources for your business

Click here to register for this event.

Southern California/San Diego

Roadmap to Entrepreneurial Success
Date: April 4, 2018 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: 5446 Sepulveda Blvd. Culver City, CA 90230 (map it)
Contact: smallbiz@apisbp.org | (213) 473-1605
Organization: Asian Pacific Islander Small Business Program (API SBP)
Fee: $10 for Filipino American Chamber of Commerce of Greater L.A. members | $20 for non-members

Join the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce of Greater L.A. (FACCGLA) with the support of API SBP and SIPA (Search to Involve Pilipino Americans) on April 4 for this event that will put you on the right track to small business success.

The Roadmap to Entrepreneurial Success features a networking mixer, membership meeting, and panel discussion. Free parking is available on the 2nd level at the event site.

Contact API SBP at (213) 473-1605 to register for this event.

Inland Prosperity Conference
Date: April 6, 2018 | 8:00 am PDT – 3:00 pm PDT
Location: Ontario Airport Hotel and Conference Center
700 N Haven Ave. Ontario, CA 91764 (map it)
Contact: Joelle Passerello | jpasserello@iewbc.org | (909) 890-1242
Organization: Inland Empire Women’s Business Center
Fee: $20 for students | $30 for non-profits | $47 for general admission

The Inland Empire and Coachella Valley Women’s Business Centers are pleased to announce the sixth annual Inland Prosperity Conference. The event mission is to bring regional focus to the opportunities available in every economy – visible to those in the right mindset.

Click here to register for this event.

Hollywood Building Blocks Workshop Series – Week One: Entrepreneur Overview
Date: April 7, 2018 | 10:00 am PDT – 12:00 pm PDT
Location: 4311 Melrose Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90029 (map it)
Contact: bsc@mcslosangeles.com | (323) 454-6115
Organization: MCS Business Source
Fee: Free

Learn about the different business structure options and which one is best for your business. Review and go over the permits and licenses needed for your business in the city of Los Angeles.

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

Ten Mistakes to Avoid with Mobile Sites for Small Business
Date: April 4, 2018 | 4:00 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

A small business website needs to be optimized for the best mobile viewing to receive maximum effect. This presentation will discuss what to avoid and the requirements for a good mobile site.

Click here to register for this event.

Cracking the Credit Code: Credit Reports & Scores Explained
Date: April 5, 2018 | 8:30 am PDT – 9:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Kimberly Donahue | kimberly.donahue@sba.gov | (304) 347-5220
Organization: SBA 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? John Jackson of Consumer Credit Counseling Services of the Mid-Ohio Valley will explain factors that influence credit scores, how to dispute errors, and more.

Click here to register for this event.

After Lunch Webinar Series: Website & Social Media Strategies
Date: April 5, 2018 | 1:00 pm PDT – 2:30 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: rnsbdc@business.rutgers.edu | (973) 353-5950
Organization: Rutgers Newark (N.J.) SBDC
Fee: Free

In today’s market, your website and social media are must-haves to grow your business and brand. It is vital to position yourself with a strong online presence that reassures and strengthens the consumer’s trust in your business and motivates them to engage with your business.

This free webinar will provide tools and actionable strategies to optimize your website and online infrastructures, plus how to use social media to promote and grow your business.

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.


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

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

Every entrepreneur wants the best advice for business success. The best advice comes from other entrepreneurs. Read some of the things our small business owners want you to know about growing your business.

Every entrepreneur wants the best advice for business success. The best advice comes from other entrepreneurs. Read some of the things our small business owners want you to know about growing your business.

 

“Do research. Do your homework.”

Sarah Garcia of Allegiance Employee Perks really believes in doing research and knowing as much as you can about what you’re going to do before you do it. Before she started her small business, she was a criminal justice dispatcher and a corporate event planner. She knew nothing about how to start a business and had very few resources available to her.

Through diligence and hard work, she was able to find a reputable lender to help kick start her business and run it so successfully that her company has been partnered with Major League Baseball (MLB) for over ten years!

“Never feel fear to ask.”

Adolfo Ortiz of Two Amigos Western Wear wants you to know that if you “want to be successful in a business never feel fear to ask companies like Opportunity Fund to help and grow together. Sometimes people think of, yeah but I’d have to pay in to own it … and I mean nobody’s gonna give you free money.”

As an immigrant, Ortiz is used to pulling himself up by his bootstraps, and he knows that growing your own business requires asking for help. Since he got a loan with Opportunity Fund, his cash flow has improved allowing him to build inventory and hire more help from his local community.

“Focus on getting yourself bankable.”

Corey Rennell of CORE Foods looks at business the same way he looks at healthy food – in order to solve the problem, you need to look at the bigger picture. For his health foods business, this means having values around sustainability and getting his Oakland community access to better food options. For running the business, this means getting access to affordable working capital.

Rennell attributes a lot of his success to affordable financing and believes that bank loans are the cheapest and best option. Being able to get a bank loan is hard. He thinks that going for a more expensive loan from Opportunity Fund was a necessary step, “but don’t just take the money, focus on getting yourself bankable, and using those microlender’s expertise and strength to be able to work with a professional bank.”

“Be patient with the borrowing that you do”

A never ending fountain of good advice, Corey Rennell urges other small business owners to be patient because “the more money you take is just more money to screw up. So be patient with the borrowing that you do, and make sure that when you do it, it’s gonna return fast enough that you can repay it. It’s easy to spend money, and it’s hard to pay it back.”

That means avoiding equity sales, merchant cash advances that lead to compounding debt cycles, and waiting until the right time to get the most affordable loan you can.

“If you have a good feeling about what you’re doing or pretending to do, definitely look into Opportunity Fund for advice and for a loan.”

Hector Sandoval of Bust a Nut hates feeling pressured, especially when it comes to getting a loan he isn’t comfortable being able to pay back. When he started his business roasting peanuts at swap meets, the economy was hit hard by the recession. It was difficult for him to get financing because everyone was suffering.

While small business were hit especially hard during the recession and were approved dramatically less for bank loans, Sandoval avoided falling into debt with expensive loans from predatory lenders and found success with Opportunity Fund.

 

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


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

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

Access to small business resources and advice can make a major difference for your business. The key to getting started on the right path is knowing where to look for the tools and help you need. Spanish speaking small business owners have options among several organizations around California that provide tailor-made services and all are free to join. 

Each month, we’re sharing and promoting free or affordable tools that help small business owners run their businesses better. Here are five of the best resource centers for Spanish speaking small business owners.

Access to small business resources and advice can make a major difference for your business. The key to getting started on the right path is knowing where to look for the tools and help you need. Spanish speaking small business owners have options among several organizations around California that provide tailor-made services and all are free to join.

English speaking entrepreneurs can help support Spanish speaking business owners in their communities by promoting and sharing these bilingual organizations. Each organization listed below offers full service small business resources in both English and Spanish.

SBDC East Los Angeles Initiative

How much it costs: Free to join | No cost one-on-one consulting services | Free and low-cost workshops and webinars

What it does: Like the other Small Business Development Centers around the state and the U.S., the SBDC East L.A. Initiative supports local small business owners by providing no cost assistance in business planning, management, marketing, sales, procurement, and strategic planning as well as access to financing.

SBDC East L.A. hosts free and low cost in-person and online workshops and seminars throughout the month to give small business owners hands-on experience with key business ownership skills like business plans, taxes, legal, and more. The East L.A. Initiative also offers several workshops in Spanish each month.

Join them for new client orientations every month and learn how the SBDC can help your small business grow. If you’re not in the Los Angeles area, click here to find the SBDC near you. Many centers in California offer bilingual English/Spanish services!

Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center

How much it costs: Free to join | No cost consulting services for women entrepreneurs | Free and low-cost workshops and webinars with scholarships and financial assistance available

What it does: The Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center helps women and minority small business owners start and grow their businesses with specialized programs based on the needs of their clients. Their four locations in the San Francisco Bay Area—two in San Francisco, one in East Palo Alto, one in Richmond—offer a variety of services for small business owners like a business incubator, monthly networking meetups, and workshops and seminars with many programs geared specifically for women small business owners.

The Richmond location offers Renaissance Center’s bilingual English/Spanish programs. The organization also features financial assistance and scholarships to help all business owners afford the help they need to succeed.

La Cocina

How much it costs: No cost orientation and office hours for incubator applicants

What it does: La Cocina’s incubator kitchen in San Francisco has launched some of the Bay Area’s most exciting food microbusinesses, including Opportunity Funded Onigilly and Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas.

The program provides a year long business incubator program for qualified applicants that features technical assistance to establish to launch their business and kitchen space to develop their business skills. Upon graduation from the program, incubator candidates will have mastered the entrepreneurial skills necessary to continue business development on their own. Orientation and office hours to prepare for the incubator’s application are free.

La Cocina specifically serves low-income microbusiness entrepreneurs with less than 5 employees and $35,000 in assets. The program has a focus on helping women and people of color launch their food-based businesses and all services are available in both English and Spanish.

Get in Motion

How much it costs: Free to join | Free and low-cost workshops and webinars

What it does: Get in Motion’s focus is helping Latino small business owners in the Inland Empire with free and low cost business consulting and events. Through a mix of low-cost events—in person, webinars, and videos—Get in Motion provides the help small business owners need to get ahead.

Get in Motion also features seminars and programs for women small business owners and is a great place to start for Latino business owners in the Inland Empire, whether they’re a startup or looking to get to the next phase of their growth.

Get in Motion’s website is available in both English and Spanish, with many events available primarily in Spanish. Contact Get in Motion for more information.

El Pájaro CDC

How much it costs: Free to join | Low-cost consulting services | Free and low-cost workshops

What it does: El Pájaro CDC supports microbusiness entrepreneurs in Santa Cruz, San Benito, and Monterey counties. The organization focuses on small business owners with access to limited resources by providing business consulting, training, incubuation, and consulting services in English and Spanish.

El Pájaro CDC offers some industry specific programs for microbusiness entrepreneurs like a commercial kitchen incubator and child care. One of our most successful borrowers got started on her road to success with El Pájaro CDC: Aurora Garibay of Bridal & Tuxedo World.

Keep up with El Pájaro CDC’s schedule of events on their Eventbrite page.


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

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


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

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

REJ Electric is a green energy leader in the Bay Area. When CEO Steven Phillips needed working capital to help complete key projects, Opportunity Fund was there with easy-to-get, fast, and affordable small business loans.

Our customers inspire us every day, and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too. REJ Electric is a green energy leader in the Bay Area. When CEO Steven Phillips needed working capital to help complete key projects, Opportunity Fund was there with easy-to-get, fast, and affordable small business loans.

A Successful Transformation

REJ Electric is a successful energy company based in Alameda. After going through some changes in leadership and service sector, the company is doing better than ever. CEO Steven Phillips spearheaded the most ambitious changes for REJ and built his company into a Bay Area green energy leader.

Steven joined REJ in 2007 and led an initiative to target the commercial energy market, which meant moving away from the company’s previous core of residential customers to focus on cities, municipalities, and corporations. Two years later, Steven took over the company and invested in electric vehicle charging stations. By 2016, the company was solely focused on green energy services for commercial customers.

Some of REJ’s clients include the City of Oakland, Alameda County, and John Muir Health. In addition to providing excellent service for their clients, REJ is a community leader. Steven focuses on hiring local people, including many youths looking for job training or others who wish to develop their administrative skills.

REJ Electric needed small business working capital to help provide excellent service to their clients and continue to pay competitive salaries to employees. Steven credits REJ’s success on his staff, so retention is key.

“We were looking to manage our projects, expand our staff, and buy more assets for the business,” Steven said.

A Bright Funding Idea

Steven has been on the cutting edge of his industry since he began at REJ, so his business required a different kind of funding resource. Traditional sources like banks didn’t work out, so Steven turned to Opportunity Fund.

Our business development officer Alex Esquivias closed a $20,000 loan for REJ in December 2016. The working capital helped REJ complete three projects and pay vendors.  

“We were able to finish the projects faster with the loan,” he said. “We’d been looking for a partner in this industry. Working with Opportunity Fund relieved a lot of stress for us.”

Steven Phillips - REJ Electric

Steven helps cities, counties, and corporations go green. We’re helping his company keep up with contracts. (Photo courtesy of Heimo Schmidt)

Steven was so impressed with the speed and ease of our loan process that he applied for a second loan in October 2017 for $50,000. The new wave of working capital is helping support some major projects for REJ. “We’re aiming for a quarter million dollars worth of projects by the end of 2017,” Steven said. “Then start off the new year at 25% above what we did last year. Then continue to grow from there.”

The financial support means a lot to REJ. Steven is also thankful for us standing by him as his company grows in a fledgling industry. “We’re still new to this kind of technology,” he said. “Everyone here knows how important is it to have a company like Opportunity Fund supporting us.”

We’re proud to work with hardworking entrepreneurs like Steven who are making a difference in his community and for the environment.

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.


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 Northern and Southern California. Here are the best upcoming events from March 16 through 31.

Every two weeks, we’re sharing and promoting free or affordable events that help small business owners run their businesses better. This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in Northern and Southern California. Here are the best upcoming events from March 16 through 31.

Northern California/Sacramento

Managing Yes: Creating the Space for What Matters Most
Date: March 20, 2018 | 12:00 pm PDT – 1:30 pm PDT
Location: Shasta County Office of Education, Professional Development Center
2985 Innsbruck Dr. Redding, CA 96003 (map it)
Contact: info@e-jedi.org | (530) 926-6670
Organization: Jefferson Economic Development Institute
Fee: Free

Gain the confidence and the skills to set priorities and follow through with them. Too often people say yes when they want to say no, leading to stress and feeling overextended and exhausted. Health, well-being, and relationships suffer and productivity eventually declines. Learning to communicate “no” with respect is an intuitive art that comes with practice.

Participants will discover:

  • How to set priorities aligned with your values
  • What are specific techniques for saying no with poise, clarity, and respect
  • Why it is essential to create open space in your calendar for surprises and for you

Click here to register for this event.

Build a Marketing Plan to Attract and Keep Your Ideal Customers
Date: March 21, 2018 | 1:30 pm PDT – 3:00 am PDT
Location: Simpkins Family Swim Center
979 17th Ave. Santa Cruz, CA 95062 (map it)
Contact: John Yost | jyost@santacruzscore.org | (831) 621-3735
Organization: Santa Cruz County SCORE
Fee: $20

Learn how to characterize your ideal target customer and use that knowledge to find, sell to, and build loyalty with them. In this class you will define your ideal customer, develop an elevator pitch, and develop a draft marketing plan.

Key points we’ll cover:

  • What are the characteristics of an ideal target customer?
  • Who is NOT your ideal customer?
  • What are common customer pain points?
  • What experience do you provide for your customer?
  • How do you put together your value proposition and a summary elevator pitch?
  • What do you need to establish your brand?
  • What are marketing tactics for reaching your customers?
  • How do you build customer loyalty?

Click here to register for this event.

Take the “Work” Out of Networking: A Business Networking Workshop
Date: March 29, 2018 | 6:30 pm PDT – 7:30 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: San Jose Public Library Works
Fee: Free

Walking into a room filled with people you don’t know and creating a relationship out of thin air can be very exciting! On the other hand, few activities in the business world create as much apprehension as networking does. Networking can be a very powerful tool when approached with preparation and the right goals in mind.

This workshop presented by Jerome Dees, Director of Sales and Operations of Le Boulanger, will help you identify the types of events you should attend, craft your elevator pitch, share a creative way to introduce yourself to others, and ultimately help you express your value to others.

Co-Sponsored by Silicon Valley Talent Partnership and SCORE.

Click here to register for this event.

Southern California/San Diego

Building Successful Brands with Amazon.com
Date: March 19, 2018 | 5:30 pm PDT – 7:30 pm PDT
Location: Los Angeles Women’s Business Center
5121 Van Nuys Blvd. Sherman Oaks, CA 91403 (map it)
Contact: info@wbc-la.org | (818) 907-9922
Organization: VEDC
Fee: Free

Looking to start a business? Or already have a business and looking to grow? Learn how to effectively build cash flow, gain a loyal audience, and create a killer brand so you can be that kick-butt entrepreneur you always dreamed of becoming utilizing Amazon’s seller tools and resources.

Click here to register for this event.

Legal Forms of Organization
Date: March 21, 2018 | 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

Learn from an attorney about which form of organization is most beneficial to your business plus the tax consequences and benefits of each type of formation. We’ll also discuss how to protect your personal assets and property from lawsuits and how to prevent piercing of the corporate veil of protection.

Click here to register for this event.

Marketing 101
Date: March 28, 2018 | 2:30 pm PDT – 4:00 pm PDT
Location: Contact PACE at (213) 363-9400 for location information
Organization: PACE Finance Corporation
Fee: Free

This workshop will describe the fundamentals of the most important aspect of any business: marketing.

Learn how to simplify your marketing to generate the revenue you need to make your business a success. Packed with practical tips and realistic strategies for the small business owner, this workshop will show you how to use competition to your advantage, set pricing, and clearly communicate your company’s unique benefit or product.

There are a number of ways to market yourself and your business online, but it is only effective if you’re doing it right. Can potential customers understand why they need your product or service? A lack of clarity may already be costing you a great deal.

Topics covered generally include (but are not limited to):

  • Advertising terms and initial steps
  • Determining your target market
  • Developing your market strategy
  • Creating your brand and message
  • Utilizing social media tools

Contact PACE at (213) 363-9400 for more information or to register for this event.

Virtual

Ten Tips to Get the Most Out of Facebook for Small Businesses
Date: March 20, 2018 | 4:00 pm PDT – 5:00 pm PDT
Contact: Sarah Espinosa | sespinos@uncfsu.edu | (910) 672-2683
Organization: Fayetteville State University Veterans Business Outreach Center
Fee: Free

Virtually every small business is using Facebook in their marketing. Discover ten quick ways you can set your business ahead of the pack by using Facebook.

Click here to register for this event.

Small Business Legal Structures
Date: March 21, 2018 | 6:00 am PDT – 8:30 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: SouthCarolinaDO@sba.gov | (803) 765-5377
Organization: SBA South Carolina District Office
Fee: Free

Money Smart for Small Business (MSSB) provides a practical introduction to topics related to starting and managing a business. Developed jointly by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), this instructor-led curriculum consists of 13 modules.

This module, “Organizational Types” is the fifth module of the series. Participants do not need to complete previous modules to participate in future modules.

After completing this module, you will be able to:

  • Explain general characteristics, pros, and cons of these five common organizational types: Sole proprietor, partnerships, limited liability company (LLC), C-corporation, and S-corporation
  • Understand how to decide your organization types
  • Identify which organization types can benefit your business

Click here to register for this event.

Land More Referrals (Without Asking for Them)
Date: March 22, 2018 | 10:00 am PDT – 11:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: help@score.org | (800) 634-0245
Organization: SCORE
Fee: Free

Are you stuck in the old way of getting customer referrals one by one? Break from this unpredictable and inconsistent method of securing your most valuable source of leads with help from this free webinar. Steve Gordon, Founder of the Unstoppable CEO, will provide a new way to get referrals—by leveraging content. You could gain 10 to 50 times more referrals by applying his blueprint.

You’ll discover:

  • Why almost everything you’ve been taught about prospecting is a lie
  • How to “home grow” clients at will, for attracting, growing and converting new clients
  • What is the secret to getting out of the “feast or famine” cycle of a full client docket today, but none tomorrow
  • What is the most common phrase nearly everyone says to their clients that is a mistake
  • When is the perfect time to ask for a referral, how you should ask, and what you should say

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.


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

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

Women own more than a third of all US businesses but have significantly less access to capital than male entrepreneurs. Why is that? Read more to get the facts straight about women business owners.

Women own more than a third of all US businesses but have significantly less access to capital than male entrepreneurs. Why is that? Read more to get the facts straight about women business owners.

 

The Number of Female Entrepreneurs is Growing Faster Than Ever

Since the Great Recession, the number of women-owned businesses increased by 45% compared to only 9% of all businesses. Only 40 years ago, women owned less than 10% of firms – now they own more than 30%! With the increase in programs, grants, and access to education, more women are deciding to open their own businesses, and hopefully these numbers will continue to climb.

Not only are women-owned businesses growing faster than male-owned businesses, but women of color are the fastest-growing business segment. Women of color made up 78% of all net-new women-owned businesses between 2007 and 2016.

Women-owned businesses are crucial to the US economy. They had a better recovery rate after financial crises, and they contributed more job growth than all but publicly traded companies.This means that women are contributing way more than they are credited and surpass all stereotypes about women in business leadership.

Women are too often associated with being less credible, less legitimate, and incapable of being powerful leaders in business. However, these stereotypes are simply incorrect and are damaging to the opportunities women need in order to succeed in the business world.

Women Entrepreneurs Have Less Access to Capital

Gender bias is one of the reasons why women have less access to capital. Since a big part of getting funding is based on pitching your business, gender bias plays a big role in the perception of investors towards female entrepreneurs. Women start their businesses with half as much funding than men do, and they receive only 7% of venture funding, less than 5% of federal contract dollars, and 16% of small business loans.

It’s Time to Break the Glass Ceiling

The good news? Innovation is more strongly and positively associated with women than men. Innovation is what can drive the country to break the glass ceiling. So get out there and network with other female entrepreneurs to improve your own skills and help each other succeed. Develop your leadership as a small business owner, inspire other young women to start their own businesses, and put yourself out there with confidence.

Opportunity Fund stands with women entrepreneurs, with 30% of our loans going towards women-owned businesses.

 

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


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

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

This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in Northern and Southern California. Here are the best upcoming events from March 1 through 15.

Every two weeks, we’re sharing and promoting free or affordable events that help small business owners run their businesses better. This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in Northern and Southern California. Here are the best upcoming events from March 1 through 15.

Northern California/Sacramento

Small Business Classes – 10 Weeks
Date: Begins March 2, 2018 | 6:00 pm PDT – 9:00 pm PDT
Location: CTC Room #1
7881 Murray Ave. Gilroy, CA 95020 (map it)
Contact: (408) 852-2824
Organization: El Pájaro CDC
Fee: Free

Learn how to start and run a small business in this free 10 week class from El Pájaro CDC. 10 hours of free one-on-one counseling is included.

For more information or to register for this series of courses, call (408) 852-2824.

Small Business Meeting with Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula
Date: March 9, 2018 | 9:30 am PDT – 10:30 am PDT
Location: Fresno—Contact samantha@csba.com for location information
Organization: California Small Business Association
Fee: Free

Assemblymember Dr. Joaquin Arambula will be hosting his first annual small business meeting in his district on March 9th in Fresno. The meeting is comprised of 6-8 local small business owners from within the district from a variety of industries. The purpose of the meeting is give small business a voice and to work with the Member to make small businesses in California stronger.

If you live or have a business in the district and would like to attend this meeting please email Samantha@csba.com.

Women Mean Business Networking Series
Date: March 14, 2018 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: 275 5th St. San Francisco, CA 94103 (map it)
Contact: Fatimah Aure | faure@rencenter.org | (415) 348-6217
Organization: Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center
Fee: $15 (includes dinner)

Come enjoy a light dinner and learn from and be inspired by successful women business owners, industry experts, and thought leaders.

Women Mean Business is Renaissance SoMa’s monthly women’s networking meetup. This event strives to help local business women and emerging women entrepreneurs learn from successful women business owners’ experiences, make new contacts,  build their networks and grow their businesses. Examples of topics include setting goals, accessing capital, as well as industry-specific sessions in fashion, jewelry, retail, and food.

Click here to register for this event.

Southern California/San Diego

Small Business Meeting with Assemblymember Brian Maienschein
Date: March 2, 2018 | 11:00 am PDT – 12:00 pm PDT
Location: San Diego—Contact samantha@csba.com for location information
Organization: California Small Business Association
Fee: Free

Assemblymember Brian Maienschein will be hosting his annual small business meeting in his district on March 2nd in San Diego. The meeting is comprised of 6-8 local small business owners from within the district from a variety of industries. The purpose of the meeting is give small business a voice and to work with the Member to make small businesses in California stronger.

If you live or have a business in the district and would like to attend this meeting please email Samantha@csba.com.

The Bottom Line: Introduction to Business Financials
Date: March 7, 2018 | 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

Understanding financial statements and knowing how those numbers affect your bottom line is the key to starting or growing your business. Get an overview of financial statements and take the stress out of creating or expanding the financial portion of your business plan with this interactive, straightforward guide to your bottom line.

Click here to register for this event.

How To Start Your Food Truck Business
Date: March 14, 2018 | 5:00 pm PDT – 7:00 pm PDT
Location: 18645 Sherman Way #114 Reseda, CA 91335 (map it)
Contact: Irene Vazquez | ivazquez@vedc.org | (818) 705-9977
Organization: VEDC
Fee: Free

Have you ever thought about starting your own food truck business? In this class we’ll dive into everything you need to know to get your business rolling!

Topics include:

  • Permits
  • Buying or renting a food truck
  • Start up costs
  • Tools to sustain a successful food truck business

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

Time Management for Small Business
Date: March 7, 2018 | 8:00 am PDT – 9:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Larry Batten | larry.batten@sba.gov | (304) 623-7447
Organization: West Virginia SCORE
Fee: Free

We have all heard it. “Time is money.” Poor time management can have a negative impact on your business as well as your personal life. Join Larry Batten with the SBA to learn tips on how to produce more in less time for a better business and work life balance.

Click here to register for this event.

After Lunch Webinar Series: The Art of Closing A Sale
Date: March 8, 2018 | 1:00 pm PDT – 2:30 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: rnsbdc@business.rutgers.edu | (973) 353-5950
Organization: Rutgers Newark (N.J.) SBDC
Fee: Free

During this webinar you will learn how to handle any objection and close the sale with professionalism, confidence, and skill.  You will also learn techniques used in one of the most important activity in business: sales!

Click here to register for this event.

Cybersecurity: Protect your Business and your Clients
Date: March 14, 2018 | 7:30 am PDT – 8:30 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Carole Harris | caroleharris@sba.gov | (312) 353-4003
Organization: SBA Illinois District Office
Fee: Free

While big companies make headlines, small businesses are increasingly being targeted by cybercriminals seeking economic gain through the exploitation of cyber systems. Recent reports indicate upwards of 50 percent of small businesses have had their data breached in the last year. These efforts place a small business owner at risk of losing customers’ information, loss of reputation, and loss of intellectual property – all of which have real financial consequences.

This webinar discusses best practices devised by the public and private sectors to help you mitigate the risk of a cyber-breach and the associated issues that represents. Topics include sources of threats, types of countermeasures, and additional resources. Take the first step to secure your business by participating in this webinar.

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.


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

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

Finding a good team of employees can be hard and take a long time, but it hurts your business more if you hire the wrong person. The true cost of a bad hire goes beyond wasted wages. Read how much hiring the wrong person really costs.

Finding a good team of employees can be hard and take a long time, but it hurts your business more if you hire the wrong person. The true cost of a bad hire goes beyond wasted wages. Read how much hiring the wrong person really costs.

 

What makes a hire the wrong decision?

Whether you want to hire a seasonal worker or add a permanent team member to your small business, there are many ways that a candidate could be a wrong fit for your company and team. If this person can’t work well with your team, doesn’t do their job well, or isn’t trustworthy, you’ll waste money from wages, training, lost productivity, and potentially even more.

Team Morale and Productivity Suffers

One of the most common effects of a bad hire is what happens to your team. If there is tension between coworkers because someone isn’t pulling their weight or not meshing well with the team dynamic, everyone in a small business can feel it. Employees who aren’t happy at work are less productive, make more mistakes, and may quit.

Consider incorporating a casual meeting other employees – such as a team lunch or a chat during a slow period – into your hiring process. Ask your employees if they think the candidate would work well with everyone. They will be working even more closely with this person than you will.

All these things reduce your business’ profitability, and even more costly mistakes or stealing can hurt your business even more.

You Could Lose Customers and Cash

If you’re in a rush to find someone to fill an open position, you might be tempted to skip over calling references and validating qualifications. Just because someone sounds amazing on their resume and can sweet talk through an interview doesn’t mean they are the perfect candidate. Do your due diligence to make sure their education, skills, certifications, references, background check, and job history are accurate.

Hiring someone who isn’t truly qualified to do their job can make mistakes that could lose you customers, your business’ reputation, or even cause physical damage to goods or equipment. Nobody wants to suspect their employees of stealing money or products, but someone without positive references or lied on their resume is not trustworthy.

How can you pick the right person?

We’ve written this handy checklist of a few key things to consider when hiring to in order to help you pick the right candidate. Taking the time to go through applications thoroughly will benefit your business and potentially save you money.

 

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


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

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

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