Making a bad hiring decision can cost your small business precious time and money. Read these five tips for making the best hiring choice you can beyond looking for qualifications and experience.

Making a bad hiring decision can cost your small business precious time and money. Read these five tips for making the best hiring choice you can beyond looking for qualifications and experience.

 

1. Talk with a business advisor

Talking with a business advisor can really help you figure out how best to grow your small business, especially when it comes to hiring a new employee. Perhaps you are a one-person business and are looking to hire your first employee, or maybe you’ve made bad hiring decisions in the past and want to know how to do it better this time. Check out Pacific Community Ventures’ free business advising for a personal mentor to help you hire.

2. Decide what kind of help you need

As as small business owner, you don’t have unlimited funds to hire a large team of full-time employees with generous benefits and long work hours. Get creative and stretch your capital by hiring part-time workers, contractors and freelancers, and interns. If you need help with finances, consider consulting with your business advisor and outsourcing tasks to independent contractors as you need them.

3. See how well a candidate will fit in with your business

Company culture is a buzzword in the business world right now, but there is reason behind the popularity. It isn’t enough to select a candidate who qualifies for all the skills and experience you want to see, you need to make sure they will fit in with your business. If you are in the final interview stage, invite them to a team lunch and ask your other employees what they think of the candidate. Does this person believe in the same principles your business stands for? Does their working and learning style mesh with yours? It’s important to the success of your business that you have a team that respects each other and can work well together.

4. Make sure a time crunch doesn’t impact your decision

Hiring the first qualifying person who applies for your job posting because you need the position filled quickly can be a costly mistake. If you make a hasty hire, there is a risk that they don’t work out, and you will have to repeat the hiring and training process. Choose quality over quickness. Take the time to really make sure the candidate is the best fit for your small business by checking references, running a background check, interviewing other applicants for comparison, and thinking the decision over a few days before you hire them.

5. Check diversity among your employees

If you are having difficulty choosing between two really great candidates, taking a look at your current employees will help. Everyone has biases whether or not they are aware of them. Take a look around at your other employees – do you have a diverse group or are they all the same demographic? Having a diverse group of employees of different genders, ethnicities, ages, and other factors will boost the productivity and creative pool for your small business. Take a look at our blog post for a few tips on how to manage diversity and how it benefits your business.

 

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

November is full of special days dedicated to giving thanks and showing appreciation for those around us. #ChooseWomen this Women’s Entrepreneurship Day. This month, celebrate the female entrepreneurs in your community. Keep reading for small but meaningful ways to show appreciation.

November is full of special days dedicated to giving thanks and showing appreciation for those around us. #ChooseWomen this Women’s Entrepreneurship Day. This month, celebrate the female entrepreneurs in your community. Keep reading for small but meaningful ways to show appreciation.

Despite women being half of the population, they own far less businesses than men. In 2012, women own only 36% of all businesses in America. This is a ten percent increase from 1997. Let’s keep the momentum of equality in the entrepreneurial world by thanking the women who have struck out on their own and started their own businesses.

Showing your appreciation for female entrepreneurs, no matter what gender you are, will help motivate small business owners and inspire other women to become entrepreneurs.

  1. Support women-owned small businesses near you. Chances are you already frequent shops and businesses that are women-owned – you just don’t know it. Find out where they are through services and directories such as Yelp, We NYC, and your personal network. Then visit them!
  2. Donate to your local Women’s Business Development Center. For example, look into JEDI and  APISPB. Even better, if you feel like you have the expertise, volunteer to be a mentor or just help out.
  3. Join the social media movement. Share inspiring stories of female business owners, your own experiences as a women in business, local events and workshops, and just generally uplifting messages.
  4. Educate yourself. Reading news articles and blogs about women’s struggles and successes in the business world will help you better understand why Women’s Entrepreneurship Day is needed and how important it is to encourage women to start their own businesses.
  5. Be a generous tipper. Try new  women-owned restaurants and coffee shops. Support the business by tipping well and thank the owner if you see her. She will appreciate it more than you know.
  6. Check your own small business. Do you make sure to hire a diverse group of people? If you notice a lack of women in your own business, work to mitigate this problem. Women who have the opportunity to grow their careers have the opportunity to develop skills they can use to start their own businesses.
  7. Encourage your employees. As a small business owner, you have the unique position to be a role model for your employees. Worry less about your female employees leaving you to start their own businesses, and instead help them develop their career goals and aspirations. Even if they do start their own business, they will remember you and can be valuable connections.
  8. Take advantage of resources to grow your own business. If you are a women entrepreneur, there are resources out there to help you. Be proud of your accomplishments and don’t be afraid to reach out for help and opportunities to really grow your business.
  9. Volunteer to help Women’s Entrepreneurship Day. The philanthropic organization that launched this special day can use your skills and any spare time you have to give back to your community by volunteering.
  10. Spread the word. Put up a small sign in your business, start discussions with your family and friends, post to social media, and share your knowledge with employees and customers. Don’t stay silent; use your voice as a small business owner to empower and support women entrepreneurs.

 

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 November 13 through 30.

Every two weeks, we’re sharing and promoting free and 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 November 13 through 30.

Northern California/Sacramento

The True Cost of IT issues
Date: November 14, 2017 |1:00 pm PDT – 2:30 pm PDT
Location: 455 Market St. Suite 600 San Francisco, CA 94105 (map it)
Contact: sfomail@sba.gov | (415) 744-6820
Organization: San Francisco SBA Entrepreneur Center
Fee: Free

This class is designed to help business owners and leaders understand the way technology can add to, or destroy their bottom line.

We’ll focus not on the technology itself, but the way we think about risk and cost associated with our choices concerning technology.

Click here to register for this event.

Small Business Meeting with Assemblymember Jim Wood
Date: November 15, 2017 | 9:00 am PDT – 10:00 am PDT
Location: Santa Rosa—Contact samantha@csba.com for location information
Organizations: California Small Business Association
Fee: Free

Assemblymember Jim Wood will be hosting his annual small business meeting in his district on November 15th in Santa Rosa. The meeting is comprised of 6 to 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.

Website Best Practices for Beginners
Date: November 16, 2017 | 6:00 pm PDT – 9:00 pm PDT
Location: College of Marin Building AC, Room 105
835 College Ave. Kentfield, CA 94909 (map it)
Contact: Miriam Karell | miriam@marinsbdc.org | (415) 755-1100
Organization: Marin SBDC
Fee: Free

Learn how to save time and frustration and create a more effective website with the basic principles of web design—no experience in web design or technical background necessary!

This workshop is for small business owners who are developing or maintaining their own website and want to understand the basic principles of effective website design. This is not a technical class nor do we discuss advanced search engine optimization. It does not require any specific background and we will avoid technical terms as much as possible so that everyone can understand.

Click here to register for this event.

Southern California/San Diego

Boots to Business Entrepreneurship Course
Date: November 15-16, 2017 | 7:30 am PDT – 4:00 pm PDT
Location: 14th and C St. Bldg 13150, Camp Pendleton, CA 92055 (map it)
Contact: Mike Sovacool | michael.sovacool@sba.gov | (619) 727-4881
Organization: SBA San Diego District Office
Fee: Free

Join the SBA for a Boots to Business Training Program, a two-day, free seminar designed for veterans interested in entrepreneurship.

The workshop is open to service members and their dependents transitioning or retiring from the U.S. military. To learn more information about Boots to Business, please email boots-to-business@sba.gov  call (202) 205-8381. For more SBA resources for veterans, visit SBA.gov/vets.

Click here to register for this event.

Murrieta Business Round table
Date: November 15, 2017 | 8:00 am PDT – 9:00 am PDT
Location: Murrieta Innovation Center
26442 Beckman Ct. Murrieta, CA 92562 (map it)
Contact: Diana Cescolini | diana.cescolini@scorevolunteer.org | (951) 652-4390
Organization: Inland Empire SCORE
Fee: Free

Come join business leaders and guest speakers in a great networking opportunities at a business round table meeting. This is a wonderful way to meet other business owners and discuss important topics crucial to the success of your business.

Don’t miss out on this great networking opportunity. Join us for this monthly meeting recurring on the third Wednesday of every month.

Click here to register for this event.

Small Business Meeting with Assemblymember Matt Dababneh
Date: November 17, 2017 | 1:30 pm PDT – 2:30 pm PDT
Location: Van Nuys, CA—Contact samantha@csba.com for location information
Contact: samantha@csba.com
Organizations: California Small Business Association
Fee: Free

Assemblymember Matt Dababneh will be hosting his annual small business meeting in his district on November 17th in Van Nuys. The meeting is comprised of 6 to 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.

Virtual

Market Research for Small Business: What is it and Why do it?
Date: November 15, 2017 | 12:00 pm PDT – 1:00 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Jenny Payton | jpayton@e-jedi.org | (530) 926-6670 ext. 10
Organization: Jefferson Economic Development Institute (JEDI)
Fee: Free

Understanding your potential customers is one of the most important keys to effective marketing. Knowing where to find them and how to speak their language translates into sales.

Before you start or expand your business, be wise and test the viability of your product or service. Learn all you can about the industry, demographics, trends, and potential customer buying habits.

This webinar is an overview of what market research is and how you can use it to start and grow your small business. We’ll cover your options to conduct market research as a small business with limited resources.

We’ll also talk about free and inexpensive ways to get research including downloading an industry report, attending an industry event, using focus groups and surveys, and crawling social media. For businesses with an international reach, we’ll also discuss resources for expanding into global markets.

The content will instantly applicable to start-ups and existing businesses. It may be especially relevant for any entrepreneur looking for funding. Empower your business decisions with data and knowledge.

Click here to register for this event.

Apps Unleashed: Grow Your Business Using Just Your Phone
Date: November 16, 2017 | 10:00 am PDT – 11:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Organization: SCORE
Fee: Free

A smartphone or tablet is an incredibly powerful computer, communication device, and online marketing tool—right in your pocket! There are hundreds of free and inexpensive apps at your disposal that can drive sales, improve communication with your customers, and market your business. Join this free webinar to learn how to unleash the power of your mobile device:

  • How to spot the must-have apps: including both the new and the obscure you’ve never heard of
  • How to use apps for maximum impact
  • How to utilize apps in conjunction with your other marketing efforts to magnify results

This session is designed for everyone. Beginners will not feel lost, but advanced users can learn something new.

Click here to register for this event.

Blogging to Boost Your Business
Date: November 16, 2017 | 12:00 pm PDT – 2:00 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Dee Ann Chandler | deeann@iewbc.org | (909) 890-1242
Organization: Inland Empire Women’s Business Center
Fee: $10

Discover how you can generate leads with a business blog. In this online workshop, you’ll learn blogging essentials including:

  • Tips on what to post
  • Keys to creating great content
  • Ways to attract attention with powerful headlines
  • And more!

A link to join the webinar will be sent the day before the event.

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

This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in Northern and Southern California. Here are the best upcoming events from November 2 through 13.

Every two weeks, we’re sharing and promoting free and 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 November 2 through 13.

Northern California/Sacramento

Exploring Business Ownership: What Does it Takes to Start a Business?
Date: November 2, 2017 | 5:30 pm PDT – 7:30 pm PDT
Location: 205 Chestnut St. Mt. Shasta, CA 96067 (map it)
Contact: jpayton@e-jedi.org | (530) 926-6670 ext. 10
Organization: Jefferson Economic Development Institute (JEDI)
Fee: Free

Starting a business can be scary. Like any other successful adventure, the more prepared you are, the higher chance of a positive outcome. If you are considering starting a business, get informed.

Join us for this free workshop, where you’ll discover:

  • The mindset and characteristics of successful entrepreneurs
  • The different types of businesses as well as legal structures
  • Common business terminology as it applies to start-ups
  • Why conducting a feasibility study is like packing the right supplies for a trip

Click here to register for this event.

Boots to Business Reboot #MyVetBiz
Date: November 6, 2017 | 8:30 am PDT – 4:30 pm PDT
Location: SBA Fresno District Office
801 R St. Room 102 Fresno, CA 93721 (map it)
Contact: Peter Estrada | peter.estrada@sba.gov | (559) 487-5791 ext. 2703
Organizations: Fresno SBA District Office
Fee: Free

Veterans have the character, discipline, and skills needed to succeed as small business owners and entrepreneurs. Veterans can transition to entrepreneurship with help from Boots to Business Reboot.

Boots to Business Reboot is a two-step training program that provides participants with a starter kit of information for entrepreneurship:

  • Overview of business ownership as a career vocation
  • Outline and knowledge on the components of a business plan
  • Practical exercises in opportunity recognition
  • Introduction to available public and private sector resources

Step one is the Introduction to Entrepreneurship course eligible to Veterans of all eras, service members (including members of the National Guard and Reserve), and their spouses. This course is instructed by SBA and its partners, who are skilled business advisors. Step two is one of the online follow-on courses instructed by a consortium of professors and skilled business advisors from the SBA Network.

This course is also offered November 8 in Citrus Heights. Get the information here.

Click here to register for this event.

Finance Your Business
Date: November 7, 2017 | 9:00 am PDT – 10:30 am PDT
Location: U.S. Bank
1 California St. Suite 2000 San Francisco, CA 94111 (map it)
Contact: Diana Chavez | diana@workingsolutions.org | (415) 590-0155
Organization: Working Solutions
Fee: Free

Join this free panel discussion on business financing with financial experts from nonprofit lenders, banks, and community partners. Opportunity Fund is honored to join U.S Bank, Kiva, and host (and our community partner!) Working Solutions at this event.

Topics will include:

  • Financing options
  • What lenders are looking for
  • Credit requirements
  • Importance of a relationship with a financial institution
  • Eligibility guidelines and loan application procedures

Click here to register for this event.

Southern California/San Diego

Boots to Business Entrepreneurship Course
Date: November 8-9, 2017 | 7:30 am PDT – 3:00 pm PDT
Location: 32nd Street Naval Base—San Diego
3455 Senn Rd., Bldg. 3210 San Diego, CA 92136 (map it)
Contact: Mike Sovacool | michael.sovacool@sba.gov | (619) 727-4881
Organization: SBA San Diego District Office
Fee: Free

Join the SBA for a Boots to Business Training Program, a two-day, free seminar designed for veterans interested in entrepreneurship.

The workshop is open to service members and their dependents transitioning or retiring from the U.S. military. To learn more information about Boots to Business, please email boots-to-business@sba.gov  call (202) 205-8381. For more SBA resources for veterans, visit SBA.gov/vets.

Click here to register for this event.

Disaster Recovery
Date: November 8, 2017 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:30 pm PDT
Location: Microsoft Store—The Shops at Mission Viejo
555 The Shops at Mission Viejo Mission Viejo, CA 92691 (map it)
Contact: workshops@score114.org | (714) 550-7369
Organization: Orange County SCORE
Fee: Free

Join Orange County SCORE for this free workshop on disaster recovery for small businesses. Prepare for the workshop with the following agenda:

  • 6:00 pm – 6:30 pm | Registration
  • 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm | Workshop and presentation
  • 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm | Networking and raffle (bring business cards!)

Click here to register for this event.

Women’s Networking Breakfast
Date: November 10, 2017 | 7:45 am PDT – 11:00 am PDT
Location: The Jacobs Center
404 Euclid Ave. San Diego, CA 92114 (map it)
Contact: score0140@scorevolunteer.org | (619) 727-4874
Organization: SCORE San Diego
Fee: $20 through November 2 | $25 after November 2 and at the door

Join San Diego SCORE for this women’s networking breakfast. This event’s theme is Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile for Profit. Your registration fee includes networking, lecture, and hors d’oeuvres, with no host bar.

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

5 Cheap Ways to Market Your Business Online
Date: November 7, 2017 | 12:00 pm PDT – 12:30 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Kimberly Donahue | kimberly.donahue@sba.gov | (304) 347-5220
Organization: U.S. Small Business Administration West Virginia District Office
Fee: Free

Getting your business online isn’t as complicated or expensive as you’ve been told. Join us as we discuss some ways to promote your business online without breaking the bank—or driving yourself crazy.

Click here to register for this event.

Small Business Owner Tax Workshop
Date: November 9, 2017 | 10:15 am PDT – 12:15 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: (206) 553-7310
Organization: U.S. Small Business Administration Seattle District Office
Fee: Free

Learn the basics of small business taxes in this free webinar. Tax professionals will help you understand your tax reporting responsibilities.

Topics covered include:

  • Types of entities
  • Record keeping
  • Accounting methods
  • Travel and entertainment expenses
  • Business use of home
  • Self-employment taxes
  • Estimated taxes
  • Independent contractors
  • Choosing a tax preparer

The SBA Seattle District Office offers free workshops the second and fourth Tuesday of each month, except for the 4th Thursdays in November and December. Classes held on the 2nd Thursday of the month are online webinars only.

Here’s an upcoming slate of free November events:
Live webinar | November 9 | 9 – 10 a.m. | Make the World’s Biggest Buyer Your Customer Through Government Contracts
Live webinar | November 9 | 12:30 – 2 p.m. | Choosing the Right Business Structure
Live webinar | November 9 | 2:15 – 3:45 p.m. | Register, License, Go!

Click here to register for this event and to get more information on upcoming seminars from the SBA Seattle District office.

After Lunch Webinar Series: Effective Human Resources for Small Businesses
Date: November 9, 2017 | 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

This webinar will focus on building an HR infrastructure within your company.  Topics include:

  • Effective interview questions
  • Content of an onboarding program
  • Value of performance appraisals
  • Rationale for implementing progressive discipline  

Participants will also learn the best practices for ending an employment relationship and how an Employee Handbook can assist in making HR decisions.

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

Starting your small business and growing it from the ground up takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. You wouldn’t want all your hard work and hard-earned money getting stolen by an identity theft. Our content partner Nav warns how these thieves can wreck your business and how you can protect yourself.

Starting your small business and growing it from the ground up takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. You wouldn’t want all your hard work and hard-earned money getting stolen by an identity theft. Our content partner Nav.com warns how these thieves can wreck your business and how you can protect yourself.

 

What would you do if your business lost $25,000 to a scammer? How about $75,000? Would that be a serious setback, or perhaps even put you out of business? It’s a question every small business owner should contemplate because that’s the average amount lost by Arizona small business owners in just one identity-theft-related scam: Business Email Compromise (BEC). The FBI warns there has been a dramatic rise in these scams in recent years that have resulted in “massive financial losses totaling more than $2.3 billion.”

Unfortunately this is just one example of the ways crooks can steal from a business without ever setting foot in it. Here are six ways an identity thief can compromise your small business.

Hold You Hostage

We all know how frustrating it is when our Internet connection isn’t working well. Now imagine you can’t get access to your computer files— maybe any of them— unless you pony up hundreds of dollars in ransom. It happens all the time; the WannaCry ransomware attack that affected more than 300,000 computers around the world recently is just one example of how businesses of all sizes may be vulnerable.

In a ransomware attack, a scammer generally manages to insert malicious code into a user’s computer that locks files or prevents the user from booting up. According to a CyberScout white paper, “Nasty ransomware strains will threaten to delete data permanently if the ransom isn’t paid quickly.” Unless the victim has a complete unaffected backup she can use, she’ll probably pay the ransom in order to regain access to her computer or files.

Drain Your Bank Account

“Whaling” is an often-sophisticated phishing attack that targets a high-level executive with the goal of getting access to important data. In one popular version, the scammer will impersonate the executive to create fake wire transfer instructions. Those instructions will be sent to an employee who, thinking they are coming from top brass, complies. If the money is transferred, it ends up in the hands of the crook. Since cash flow problems are a top concern for small business owners, any missing money or funds lost to a scammer can be bad news.

A Mimecast survey of 500 organizations in the U.K., South Africa and Australia found that 54.5% of organizations saw an increase in the volume of whaling attacks at the end of 2015. And executives are a common way in for scammers, as 72% of whaling attackers pretended to be the CEO, while 35.5% were attributed to the CFO.

Get Credit in Your Business Name

It can be surprisingly easy for an identity thief to open accounts in the name of your business. Successful scammers fill out information using your business credentials. They may get business credit cards or get lines of credit, or purchase goods they can then resell. Many of the business details they need to commit fraud are publicly available through Secretary of State websites and other public information sources. And because many business owners don’t check their business credit reports, this crime can go undetected for a long time.

That’s a good reason for business owners to regularly monitor their business credit. A sudden change in a business credit score, new accounts or inquiries, or an unauthorized address change can all indicate potential fraud. You can check your business credit data for free every month at Nav.

Steal Your Business

While they say imitation is the biggest form of flattery, a scammer who hijacks or imitates your website can literally steal your business. They may direct your legitimate traffic to spammy offers, trick visitors into handing over personal information, or even collect payment from people who think they are purchasing from you. Losing a few customers can be the least of your worries here; if your customers become victims of identity theft or lose money, they may blame you. “It can destroy your reputation,” warns Adam Levin, founder of CyberScout and author of Swiped: How to Protect Yourself in a World Full of Scammers, Phishers, and Identity Thieves.

Compromise Your Customers

Data breaches— where an unauthorized person or company accesses confidential information — often in order to then use that information for malicious purposes, is on the rise. In 2016 there were a record 1,093 data breaches tracked, according to a report by the Identity Theft Resource Center and CyberScout.

If your customer data is compromised in this way you’ll need to take immediate action. Your business may be required under state or federal law to notify authorities. You may need to also notify those affected or potentially affected; they may expect you to pick up the tab for identity theft monitoring services. All these steps can be costly. Can your business afford it?

Use You to Get to Someone Bigger

It’s not just your own data that’s at risk, warns Levin. “You could be the gateway into hacking for a big businesses,” he says. He points out that the massive 2013 Target data breach that compromised the credit and debit card information, as well as personal information, of millions of customers was the result of a hacker who got into Target’s POS system via an HVAC contractor’s credentials.

Having solid data security practices can help you maintain good relationships with your biggest clients too. No business owner wants to be the contractor that costs a big business like Target a PR nightmare and potentially millions of customers — its not great for business.

Watch Out

With so many different types threats it is essential for small business owners to “create a culture of privacy and security,” says Levin. He urges small business owners to be especially vigilant about devices that may be connected to other devices, or used both at work and outside of work. If you share your computers or tablets with your kids, for example, make sure they aren’t unknowingly putting the business at risk by downloading apps or files that can carry malware.  “Kids can become weapons of mass destruction,” he warns.

 

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.


Opportunity Fund is California’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit lender to small businesses. In FY16, we made $60M in loans to help more than 2,200 small business owners invest in their businesses.  Opportunity Fund invests in small business owners who do not have access to traditional financing. As a founding member and signatory to the Borrower’s Bill of Rights, we believe in the important role small businesses play in our community and the economy, and we aim to help owners financially succeed.

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 October 17 through 31.

Every two weeks, we’re sharing and promoting free and 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 October 17 through 31.

Northern California/Sacramento

CPUC/PacifiCorp Redding Small/Diverse Business Expo
Date: October 19, 2017 | 7:30 am PDT – 1:30 pm PDT
Location: Holiday Inn Hotel & Convention Center
1900 Hilltop Dr. Redding, CA 96002 (map it)
Contact: smallbiz@cpuc.ca.gov | (800) 253-0500
Organization: Jefferson Economic Development Institute (JEDI)
Fee: Free

California and its utility companies: PacifiCorp, PG&E, Southern California Edison, Sempra Utilities, AT&T, Comcast, Frontier, T-Mobile, California Water Association, and more want your business.

Join us to learn of opportunities and how to get contracts. Start networking with public agencies, utility companies, prime contractors, and business resource centers at this all-day event.

This event will include:

  • One-on-one business matchmaking (pre-scheduled basis only)
  • Buyer meetings
  • Vendor and resource fair
  • Educational workshops
  • And more!

Click here to register for this event.

Developing Powerful Presentation Skills—What Women Entrepreneurs Need to Know
Date: October 25, 2017 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:45 pm PDT
Location: James Irvine Center—A Room
353 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza Oakland, CA 94612 (map it)
Contact: Lee Lambert | lee@acsbdc.org | (510) 208-0410
Organizations: Alameda County SBDC
Fee: Free

This seminar will teach the core principles of highly effective business presentations for women entrepreneurs. This skill is critical for all women business owners to help secure funding, to attract customer and business partners, and to share their products and services in a community forum.

Skills covered will include:

  • Effective body language and visual attributes that engage the audience
  • Effective presentation development including visual, vocal and verbal skills
  • Presentation content development
  • Incorporation of the authentic self into presentations
  • Common pitfalls women encounter when presenting

Click here to register for this event.

Livermore Small Business Fair
Date: October 26, 2017 | 9:00 am PDT – 12:00 pm PDT
Location: Livermore Public Library —Civic Center
1188 S. Livermore Ave. Livermore, CA 94550 (map it)
Contact: Ellen Dean | eedean@livermore.lib.ca.us | (925) 373-5500
Organization: City of Livermore
Fee: Free

Join the Livermore Small Business Fair to get information and resources you need to help grow your business, like:

  • A business resource exhibit
  • One-on-one consultations
  • Workshop sessions including Financing Your Business, Growing Your Business Online, and Overview of SCORE services for small business

This training event is presented by local small business organizations and supporters: Livermore Public Library, Livermore Valley Chamber of Commerce, East Bay SCORE, Alameda County SBDC, and UNCLE Credit Union.

Click here to register for this event.

Southern California/San Diego

Legal Forms of Organization
Date: October 17, 2017 | 6:30 pm PDT – 8:30 pm PDT
Location: 3780 Market St. Riverside, CA 92501 (map it)
Contact: Dee Ann Chandler | deeann@iewbc.org | (909) 890-1242
Organization: Inland Empire Women’s Business Center
Fee: $20

Join this workshop to learn about the forms of business organization. Get the word straight from a lawyer to clarify your key questions:

  • What is the most beneficial business structure for my business?
  • What are the the tax consequences and benefits of each business structure?
  • How can I protect my personal assets and property from lawsuits?
  • How do I prevent piercing the “corporate veil” of protection?
  • What do I have to know about business law from start up to success?

Click here to register for this event.

MyVetBiz: 2017 Veteran and Military Entrepreneur Conference & Awards
Date: October 25, 2017 | 10:00 am PDT – 7:30 pm PDT
Location: Hyatt Regency La Jolla at Aventine
3777 La Jolla Village Dr. San Diego, CA 92122 (map it)
Contact: Audrey Marlow | amarlow@sdbj.com | (858) 277-6359
Organization: San Diego Business Journal
Fee: $65—$150 (free for Veterans, Active Duty and Military Spouses with valid military identification)

With its proud military history and presence, San Diego boasts one of the most robust markets for veteran or military spouse-owned businesses in the United States. Join the San Diego Business Journal, in partnership with The Rosie Network, to celebrate and support local veteran entrepreneurs and military spouses with this new awards program and educational conference. Winners and finalists will be honored in a special San Diego Business Journal supplement.

Conference and Lunch
10:00 – 10:30 am Registration
10:30 am – 10:45 am Welcome: Stephanie Brown, The Rosie Network & Huntley Paton, San Diego Business Journal
10:45 – 11:15 am Keynote from Jerry Sanders, President and CEO, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce
11:30 am – 12:15 pm Breakout Session #1
12:15 – 1:15 pm Lunch with the Experts
1:30 – 2:15 pm Breakout Session #2
2:30 – 3:30 pm Breakout Session #3

Special Awards Reception and Dinner
4:00 – 5:00 pm Networking
5:00 – 6:30 pm Dinner and Awards Program
6:30 – 7:30 pm Networking

General Admission tickets for the 2017 Veteran and Military Entrepreneur Conference are $65.00 per person. The conference is free for Veterans, Active Duty, and Military Spouses (present valid military identification at registration check in). General Admission tickets for the 2017 Veteran and Military Entrepreneur Awards are $150.00 per person.

Click here to register for this event.

Small Business Resource Expo
Date: October 27, 2017 | 10:30 am PDT – 2:30 pm PDT
Location: 501 S. Bixel St. Los Angeles, CA 90017 (map it)
Contact: info@laccnp.org | (213) 482-8618
Organization: Central City Neighborhood Partners
Fee: Free

The Los Angeles Alliance for Economic Inclusion is hosting a Small Business Resource Expo that will offer small business workshops on the basics of financing in English and Spanish. Join Opportunity Fund at the resource expo featuring nonprofits, CDFIs, and government agencies that offer lending and technical assistance resources.

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

Ask SCORE: Business Plans
Date: October 17, 2017 | 11:00 am PDT – 12:00 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: monmouthscore@gmail.com | (732) 224-2573
Organization: Monmouth (N.J.) Score
Fee: Free

Did you know: You are twice as likely to grow your business or get funding if you have a business plan. In this live Q&A session, SCORE mentor and business plan expert Hal Shelton will devote the entire hour to answering attendees’ questions about the business plan. Attendees can submit questions in the registration form and during the live webinar.

Click here to register for this event.

How to Have the Best Holiday Season Ever
Date: October 18, 2017 | 10:00 am PDT – 11:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Diana Cescolini | diana.cescolini@scorevolunteer.org | (951) 652-4390
Organization: Inland Empire SCORE
Fee: $15

It’s no secret that holiday spending is higher than any other time of year. Don’t miss out on your piece of the holiday pie! Let us show you how to influence your potential customers’ purchases by making an offer they can’t resist.

During this webinar, you’ll learn how to:

  • Select the right offer for your ideal audience
  • Create a quick and effective promotional plan
  • Design an offer that stands out, especially on mobile
  • Reach new customers and spread the word using social media

If you’re hoping to make this your best holiday season yet, you won’t want to miss this event. Join us to find out exactly how to achieve and exceed your holiday goals.

Click here to register for this event.

How to Steer Clear of Accidental Discrimination When Hiring
Date: October 19, 2017 | 10:00 am PDT – 11:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: (800) 634-0245
Organization: SCORE
Fee: Free

With every new hire, your objective is to select the most qualified person for the job. You’re also responsible for supporting a fair and diverse workforce – and for upholding anti-discrimination laws by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Whether intentional or not, hiring practices that discriminate against protected applicants could lead to serious legal trouble.

Are you aware of the various federal and state laws that prevent discrimination? Just as important, are you confident your hiring process treats every job seeker equally and fairly?

Attend this webinar for a discussion of the oversights that can hurt your hiring efforts – and what you can say, do and ask each step of the way to avoid accidental discrimination.

You will learn:

  • Major anti-discrimination laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Language to avoid when advertising and recruiting
  • Checklist of right and wrong interview questions
  • Precautions with background/criminal checks
  • Dos and don’ts of accessing social media accounts

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 California’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit lender to small businesses. In fiscal year ‘16, we made $60M in loans to help more than 2,200 small business owners invest in their businesses.  Opportunity Fund invests in small business owners who do not have access to traditional financing. As a founding member and signatory to the Borrower’s Bill of Rights, we believe in the important role small businesses play in our community and the economy, and we aim to help owners financially succeed.

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

Disasters and emergency situations are not glamorous things to prepare for when running a business. You may feel the urge to put off planning for disasters because you don’t feel an immediate need and your work day is busy, but it is vital to spend the time to plan in order to protect your business in a disaster.

Disasters and emergency situations are not glamorous things to prepare for when running a business. You may feel the urge to put off planning for disasters because you don’t feel an immediate need and your work day is busy, but it is vital to spend the time to plan in order to protect your business in a disaster.

 

Real world disasters are often less dramatic and more emotionally devastating than Hollywood movies portray them. When a disaster hits your community, you might feel hopeless and overwhelmed. As a small business owner, you have to prepare for emergency scenarios with your business in addition to your personal life.

The way to prevent that black hole feeling when you see your store damaged or destroyed is by planning. Think about all the potential emergencies that your business type and your local environment could experience and create solid plans.

Before Disaster Strikes

Having a plan in place is key to being well prepared. Below is a short list of things you need to consider in your emergency plan. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and SCORE have comprehensive lists of detailed checklists and resources for free. Rehearse and disseminate your plan with your employees and keep copies of all important documents and contact information in a secure, offsite location for quick retrieval.

  • Insurance. Make sure you have all the information and paperwork you need ahead of time for your insurance provider. If your business is located in a particularly vulnerable location, consider additional coverage for natural disasters. Not all standard insurance plans cover these emergencies, so be sure to comb through your terms to be familiar with what damage is covered and what isn’t in the case of a disaster.
  • Inventory. If you aren’t already conducting regular inventory checks for business growth, then you should start doing it for the sake of recovery. Try to keep inventory records in different ways such as digital, physical, and photographic if possible. Insurance companies will want to know exactly what was damaged or destroyed. Police will need to know what was stolen in cases of looting. Knowing what you have will also help you get back to business once the disaster is over.
  • Communication. Keep updated records of employees’ contact information. If you need to reach them during or after an emergency, make sure all parties are aware how this communication will happen.
  • Business Continuity Plan. Do you have backup payroll, supply chain, and standard procedure for disasters? Your employees need to know specifically what the procedure is for evacuations and returning to work once the emergency has ended. Be flexible but aware – people panic in emergencies and may just disappear if there is no clear plan.
  • Supplies. While keeping a fire extinguisher and first aid kit onsite is obvious, do you have an easy-to-access supply of water, flashlights, blankets, nonperishable food items, and protective gear if the workplace needs to become a temporary shelter?
  • Personnel Safety. Conduct regular drills for common emergencies with your employees. Encourage or provide CPR training and certification. Establish a safe meeting place outside the workplace for small emergencies such as a building fire and learn where local shelter and evacuation points are for larger disasters. Make sure exits are not blocked, windows can open, and tall furniture or machinery are properly secured to the walls.

The American Red Cross has a handy, easy-to-read PDF checklist that you can download for free:

Small Business Emergency Checklist

In the Eye of the Storm

Now that you’ve created plans, copied documents, and practiced for different scenarios, it is time for you to put it all to good use.

In an emergency, you will need to be a leader not a manager. As a small business owner, your employees will look to management for guidance and assurance. If you are not calm and decisive, then they will panic and people could get hurt.

Once the Dust Clears

Make safety your top priority! Listen to law enforcement and emergency responders to know when you can safely return to the workplace for cleanup and resuming business operations. Don’t rush in until you know you and your employees are safe. Depending on your industry and the kind of disaster, there may be chemical leaks, mold, smoke damage, and other health risks.

Once you get back, take pictures of everything. Take detailed photos of damage and inventory for insurance claims. Don’t start repairs or cleanup until you have taken care of insurance, or you may pay more out of pocket than you need. Keep track of any expenses related to recovery. If insurance isn’t enough to cover damages, seek outside help from reputable organizations and business recovery centers.

Contact your bank, lenders, suppliers, clients, and anyone else who needs to be kept up to date with missed payments or deadlines. Most people will be understandable if you respond promptly.

 

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 California’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit lender to small businesses. In FY16, we made $60M in loans to help more than 2,200 small business owners invest in their businesses.  Opportunity Fund invests in small business owners who do not have access to traditional financing. As a founding member and signatory to the Borrower’s Bill of Rights, we believe in the important role small businesses play in our community and the economy, and we aim to help owners financially succeed.

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

Here’s your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in Northern and Southern California from October 2 through 16.

Every two weeks, we’re sharing and promoting free and 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 October 2 through 16.

Northern California/Sacramento

Business Basics Series: Finance and Legal
Date: October 3, 2017 | 10:00 am PDT – 1:30 pm PDT
Location: College of Marin—IVC Building 27 Room 112
1800 Ignacio Blvd. Novato, CA 94949 (map it)
Contact: Miriam Karell | miriam@marinsbdc.org | (415) 755-1100
Organization: Marin SBDC
Fee: $25

Learn what it takes to start a business and succeed! This series of 3 classes is perfect for those exploring business ownership and want more information about what it takes to run a business. This workshop series is also helpful for new business owners who want to brush up on strategic planning, finances and marketing.

Business planning gives you the basic information on business start-up, business planning, and different types of business plans. Explore planning tools to help you define your unique business vision and develop a strategy that works.

Each class can be taken individually or as a series. You save $15 if you register for all 3 workshops.

Click here to register for this event.

Intellectual Property Strategies for Your Business
Date: October 10, 2017 | 6:00 pm PDT – 9:00 pm PDT
Location: Fremont Public Library
2400 Stevenson Blvd. Fremont, CA 94538 (map it)
Contact: Lee Lambert | lee@acsbdc.org | (510) 208-0410
Organizations: Alameda County SBDC
Fee: Free

Intellectual property (IP) is a critical asset of almost every company. A good IP strategy must include practical defensive and offensive tools and remain flexible to address issues as they arise. It is never too early to create an IP-conscious plan for exploiting your company’s IP assets and resources to gain and maintain your competitive advantage.

This program will provide an overview of the various forms of IP, how to identify potential pitfalls, and practical Dos and Don’ts that you, the entrepreneur, has control over.

We will cover patents, trademarks, copyrights, licensing, and branding. Topics include:

  • Why not every invention is qualified for a provisional application
  • Why showing your product design at tradeshows may be harmful
  • How to mitigate having your app taken down from app stores
  • Why using unlicensed images can cost you thousands of dollars
  • Why that magic “work for hire” clause in your contractor agreements may not work to protect your rights
  • Whether that licensing contract really protects your long term business interests

Click here to register for this event.

The Veterans Business Outreach Center Presents: Business Basics Seminar
Date: October 12, 2017 | 2:00 pm PDT – 5:00 pm PDT
Location: 4608 Duckhorn Dr. Sacramento, CA 95834 (map it)
Contact: Catrina Avila | admin@vbocix.org | (916) 527-8400
Organization: Veterans Business Outreach Center
Fee: Free for VBOC Clients | $49 for non-VBOC clients

This training is designed for individuals interested in starting a business or currently in business for less than two years. The course includes information on:

  • Business evaluation
  • Market research
  • Licensing and permit requirements
  • Start-up costs
  • Financing sources
  • Insurance
  • Cash flow analysis and cash management
  • Legal structure
  • Self-employment analysis
  • Customer profile
  • Protecting your business idea
  • The reality of operating a business

Click here to register for this event. If you can’t make it to the in-person event, attend the webinar! Click here for more information.

Southern California/San Diego

The Bottom Line: Introduction to Business Financials
Date: October 5, 2017 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: 1003 E. Cooley Dr.  Suite 109 Colton, CA 92324 (map it)
Contact: Nicole Kinney | (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 mystery out of creating or expanding the financial portion of your business plan with this interactive, straightforward guide to your bottom line.

We’ll cover:

  • Financial statements: What do they mean and why are they important?
  • Cost structures: What do I need to know?
  • Guide to the financial portion of your business plan: How do I get started?

Click here to register for this event.

10th Annual Anniversary Summit Connecting Faith and Business
Date: October 12, 2017 | 3:00 pm PDT – 9:00 pm PDT
Location: Riverside Convention Center
3637 5th St. Riverside, CA 92501 (map it)
Contact: info@ampac.com | (909) 915-1706
Organization: AmPac Tri-State CDC
Fee: $65

The 10th Annual Connecting Faith and Business Summit will be like none other. Join us for workshops on winning in business and inspirational messages on winning for life, along with information and resource-rich vendors:

  • Get Inspired to Be Courageous in Business
  • Learn Tools for Making Their Business an Instrument for God’s Glory
  • Hear Testimonies from Businesses who Thrive with God as Their CEO
  • And more!

Following the speakers, the Summit will feature a networking reception and a celebratory dinner reflecting on the winners of the past Connecting Faith & Business Awards and the announcement of the 2017 winners.

AmPac Tri-State CDC, the SBA’s only faith-based, mission-based fixed asset lender in the country, has teamed up with the U.S. Small Business Administration and SBA partners to bring like-minded business leaders together to learn together, encourage each other, and network.

Click here to register for this event.

18th Annual Asian Small Business Expo
Date: October 14, 2017 | 9:00 pm PDT – 1:00 pm PDT
Location: Almansor Court Conference Center
700 S. Almansor St. Alhambra, CA 91801 (map it)
Contact: smallbiz@apisbp.org
Organization: Asian Pacific Islander Small Business Program
Fee: Free

The Asian Small Business Expo is the only business-to-business expo that engages the Asian business community and brings this growing economic force into the mainstream to connect and utilize your company and its services. Join Opportunity Fund at this free event!

Don’t miss the opportunity to connect with small businesses, market your organization and tap into a network of entrepreneurs, service providers, financial organizations, franchises and governmental and legislative representatives.

Event highlights:

  • Network with hundreds of business owners, entrepreneurs, and start-ups
  • Catch displays from over 40 exhibitors
  • Establish valuable new contacts
  • Learn about new start-up opportunities
  • Discover new and useful business services and methods
  • Get free business advice

Join our guest speakers on this year’s theme “Ingredients for Growth”

  • Jonny Hwang, Founder, 626 Night Market (featured guest speaker)
  • Judy Han, Owner—EkoEats (women entrepreneurs panel guest)
  • Noree Pla, Owner and Chef—Luv2Eat Thai Bistro (women entrepreneurs panel guest)
  • Kristine de la Cruz, Owner—Creme Caramel (women entrepreneurs panel guest)

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

Form I-9 & E-Verify Training
Date: October 3, 2017 | 10:00 am PDT – 11:30 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: sfomail@sba.gov | (415) 744-6820
Organization: San Francisco SBA Entrepreneur Center
Fee: Free

This free virtual workshop, hosted by the San Francisco SBA Office and conducted by officers with the Verifications Division of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), will teach business owners, employers, HR professionals, and others how to use Form I-9 and E-Verify to ensure they only hire employees who can legally work in the United States.

Together we’ll review the Form I-9 process, including step by step instructions on how to complete each section, form retention and information storage. You’ll learn how E-Verify Program works through a demonstration of functions like:

  • Key features
  • Enrollment
  • Employer responsibilities

The webinar will conclude with a question and answer period with information on how to get additional information and assistance.

Click here to register for this event.

Cracking the Credit Code: Credit Reports and Scores Explained
Date: October 5, 2017 | 8:30 am PDT – 9:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Kimberly Donahue | kimberly.donahue@sba.gov | (304) 347-5220
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. Join this free webinar to learn 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.

Have You Prepared for the Holidays?
Date: October 12, 2017 | 11:30 am PDT – 1:00 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: (206) 553-7310
Organization: U.S. Small Business Administration Seattle District Office
Fee: Free

Marketing is the critical factor to your business success. Discover powerful, cost-effective techniques to build your business. In this workshop, you’ll get an intro to planning an integrated communications campaign across all of your communication channels to effectively promote your products or services as the perfect holiday gift.

The SBA Seattle District Office offers free workshops the second and fourth Tuesday of each month. Here’s an upcoming slate of free October events:

Live webinar | October 12 | 9:00 am— 10 am | Make the World’s Biggest Buyer Your Customer Through Government Contracts
Live webinar | October 12 | 10:15 am — 11:15 am | How to Get Money for Your Small Business
Live webinar | October 12| 1:15 pm – 2:45 pm | Beyond Google: Free Market Research at Your Library
Seattle (in-person event) | October 26 | 9:00 am – 10:30 am | Maximize Sales on Small Business Saturday
Seattle (in-person event) | October 26 | 11:00 am – 12:30 pm | Nurture Your Network—Creating Social Media that Sells!
Seattle (in-person event)  | October 26 | 9:00 am – 10:30 am | How to Buy or Sell a Business

Click here to register for this event and to get more information on upcoming seminars from the SBA Seattle District office.


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 California’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit lender to small businesses. In fiscal year ‘16, we made $60M in loans to help more than 2,200 small business owners invest in their businesses.  Opportunity Fund invests in small business owners who do not have access to traditional financing. As a founding member and signatory to the Borrower’s Bill of Rights, we believe in the important role small businesses play in our community and the economy, and we aim to help owners financially succeed.

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

Negative reviews are a small business owner’s nightmare. Every business gets complaints, but that doesn’t mean yours has to suffer. Read on to learn the best practice for handling bad reviews and turning them into opportunities.

Negative reviews are a small business owner’s nightmare. Every business gets complaints, but that doesn’t mean yours has to suffer. Read on to learn the best practice for handling bad reviews and turning them into opportunities.

Respond Promptly

When you receive a bad review, it might be tempting to ignore it and hope potential customers don’t notice. This won’t work. Address the complaint as soon as you become aware of it, and others will see your business in a better light. Consumers understand that every business receives criticism, but when they look at reviews they are looking to see how severe the problem was and how the business responded. Ignoring complaints or waiting more than two weeks to respond looks bad.

Responding promptly also increases the chance you can remedy the situation for the disappointed customer – sometimes bad reviewers edit their reviews if they feel their complaint was sufficiently addressed and the problem corrected.

Take The Complaint Seriously

Employees can take experiences with whiny, angry customers and turn them into jokes amongst themselves. But bad reviews should not be taken lightly. As a small business owner, it is important to take complaints seriously because they can negatively impact your business.

Unsolved bad reviews are detrimental to the success of your business in the online world. It is no secret that more and more customers look at a business’ reviews before they consider making a purchase, so it is important to make sure they see good responses.

Sometimes, a complaint can be easily fixed by a sincere apology, but sometimes they are more complex and need more attention. Make sure to give each bad review the consideration and effort to remedy that’s due.

Address The Issue Privately But Post Publicly

Just as you would never argue about personal relationship problems in public, you should never carry out business relationship discussions online.

Acknowledge their bad review wherever it is located so potential customers can see you care, but prompt the reviewer to contact you directly so you can address the issue. Communicating through phone or email allows for more lengthy discussion.

Personalize Your Response

Understand as much as you can about the customer who complained. Use empathy and try to see the problem from their perspective. Look up their order information and talk to employees involved. Doing this will help you better determine what course of action will satisfy the reviewer’s issue.

If you can talk to them on the phone, they will feel better about the situation than if you just paste a generic, automated response. Use their name and talk to them as a person rather than a faceless buyer. This goes a long way for customers who feel slighted.

Create and Follow a Complaint Policy

No matter how small your business is, you should implement a complaint policy. If you haven’t experienced it yet, research best practices and templates. If you have, consolidate what worked and what didn’t work into a policy for future complaints and bad reviews. Create possible scenarios and good examples of initial responses that can be replicated. Train employees to use your policy and update it as new unique situations arise.

Learn From The Experience

Not only will you (and your staff) have gotten experience dealing with a frustrated and disappointed customer, but that complaint is an opportunity for your small business.

Take a look at what specifically caused the complaint and work hard to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Unfortunately customers rarely point out mistakes or flaws in your business operation unless they’ve had a negative experience themselves, but think of bad reviews as a spell check function. Those squiggly red lines tell you where you’ve made a mistake and show you how to write better. Bad reviews and complaints do the same for your business.

Every business receives bad reviews, but the real indicator of a good business is how it responds to problems.

 

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 California’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit lender to small businesses. In FY16, we made $60M in loans to help more than 2,200 small business owners invest in their businesses.  Opportunity Fund invests in small business owners who do not have access to traditional financing. As a founding member and signatory to the Borrower’s Bill of Rights, we believe in the important role small businesses play in our community and the economy, and we aim to help owners financially succeed.

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

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