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

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

 

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

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

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

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

1. Separate your business and personal spending

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

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

2. Use a designated checking account or credit card

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

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

3. Log info regularly

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

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

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

4. Use an expense tracking app

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

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

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

5. Have a clear expense tracking and submission policy

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

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

6. Set limits

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

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

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

7. Know what’s deductible

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

To grow as a business owner, you need to keep learning – which can mean getting out of your comfort zone and trying something new. Get started with these ideas for taking small steps toward big changes.

To grow as a business owner, you need to keep learning – which can mean getting out of your comfort zone and trying something new. Get started with these ideas for taking small steps toward big changes.

Women entrepreneurs: Keep those business skills sharp

You’ve decided to start a business – and that’s a brave thing to do: Not everyone makes the leap of faith to go it alone! But you need to run a business day in and day out, and it’s easy to forget that you have to keep building your business skills, even beyond what you do to keep the doors open and serve customers. Taking the steps below to build skills such as networking, public speaking, and mentoring can help you push the boundaries of what’s possible for your business.

It’s okay to be afraid – but do it anyway

Getting out of our comfort zones can wrack the nerves, but it’s essential for growth (as a person and as a business owner). “As women, we shouldn’t stick to assigned roles because we feel like it’s what we are good at,” writes Angela Ruth, co-founder of payments company Due, in Forbes. “In reality, we could be doing so much more that no one ever encouraged us to do.”

Ruth’s advice: “Sign up for something you would never do and get through it. You’ll experience a heightened sense of confidence.” In her case, the “something” was doing her first conference presentation: “It can be scary to go out and do something completely different than what you are used to, but once you do it, there’s no question as to how confident you’ll feel.”

Speak up!

Unless you’re naturally gregarious and outgoing, nothing may take you more out of your comfort zone than public speaking. But it’s a skill that comes very much in handy for a business owner, since you may be called on to speak at local business or government events, or offer your insights at conferences.

Fortunately, there are many ways to get some practice at speaking publicly on a small scale (without facing a room filled with a hundred people). Toastmasters organizations, located all around the country, can help you sharpen your speaking skills in a supportive environment – you can even ask for a local mentor who can offer advice.

Karen Catlin, a business coach and former tech executive who teaches public speaking workshops, is a fan of pushing yourself to schedule small public speaking gigs so you become, as she says, “comfortable being uncomfortable.” In her case, she’s committed to doing some kind of public speaking at least once a month. And it’s okay to think small – public speaking can be something as simple as raising your hand at a city council meeting.

Mentor a budding entrepreneur

If you’ve had a mentor, you know how valuable it is to get support from a business leader. But have you thought about becoming a mentor, and sharing your knowledge with someone who’s at the beginning of her entrepreneurial journey? You may have more advice to offer than you think. Plus, you’ll be helping another woman realize her business dreams.

Alicia Glen, New York City’s deputy mayor for housing and economic development, firmly believes that mentorship is one of the keys to women’s empowerment. As she told Quartz.com, mentoring doesn’t need to be complicated. First, spend at least 15 minutes with a more junior woman in your business or your professional network, and give your undivided attention. Next, “actually pick up the phone and get her a connection,” Glen advises. While advice is helpful, it’s solid connections that truly help other women.


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

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


Opportunity Fund is tackling economic inequality so that hard work and perseverance means a shot at getting ahead, not just struggling to get by. Our programs are supported by a community of donors and investors whose contributions help to fund small businesses, support college students, and build stronger families and vibrant neighborhoods. Since 1994, the team has deployed $700 million and helped thousands of families earn, save and invest in their own futures. Opportunity Fund has earned a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator, for our commitment to accountability and transparency.

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

This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person events in California and virtual events you can join from anywhere. Here are the best upcoming events from February 15 through 28.

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

Here are the best upcoming events from February 15 through 28.

Northern California/Sacramento

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

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

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

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

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

Topics include:

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

Click here to register for this event.

Intellectual Property: Protecting Your Ideas, Brands, Designs
Date: February 20, 2019 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: 275 5th St. San Francisco, CA 94103 (map it)
Contact: Erin Morris | emorris@rencenter.org | (415) 348-6227
Organization: Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center
Fee: Free

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

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

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

Click here to register for this event.

Southern California/San Diego

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

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

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

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

Click here to register for this event.

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

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

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

Click here to register for this event.

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

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

Topics include:

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

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

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

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

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

How-to topics include:

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

Click here to register for this event.

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

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

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

Topics include:

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

Click here to register for this event.

Your 2019 Marketing Tune-Up: Save Time and Money with Inquiry
Date: February 27, 2019 | 12:00 pm PDT – 1:00 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: info@e-jedi.org | (530) 926-6670
Organization: Jefferson Economic Development Institute
Fee: Free

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

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

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

Click here to register for this event.

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


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

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


Opportunity Fund is tackling economic inequality so that hard work and perseverance means a shot at getting ahead, not just struggling to get by. Our programs are supported by a community of donors and investors whose contributions help to fund small businesses, support college students, and build stronger families and vibrant neighborhoods. Since 1994, the team has deployed $700 million and helped thousands of families earn, save and invest in their own futures. Opportunity Fund has earned a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator, for our commitment to accountability and transparency.

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

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

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

 

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

New Laws Taking Effect In California This Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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


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

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

This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person events in California and virtual events you can join from anywhere. Here are the best upcoming events from February 1 through 14.

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

Here are the best upcoming events from February 1 through 14.

Northern California/Sacramento

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

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

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

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

Click here to register for this event.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Succession Planning: Ensure the longevity of your business:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to register for this event.

Southern California/San Diego

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to register for this event.

The Keys to Effective Guest Complaint Management
Date: February 5, 2019 | 5:30 pm PDT – 7:30 pm PDT
Location: VEDC Women’s Business Center
5121 Van Nuys Blvd. Suite 300A Sherman Oaks, CA 91403 (map it)
Contact: info@vedc.org | (818) 907-9922
Organization: VEDC
Fee: Free

Join this free workshop and learn how to manage customer complaints effectively. Topics include:

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

Click here to register for this event.

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

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

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

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

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

Click here to register for this event.

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

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

Click here to register for this event.

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

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

Click here to register for this event.

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


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

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


Opportunity Fund is tackling economic inequality so that hard work and perseverance means a shot at getting ahead, not just struggling to get by. Our programs are supported by a community of donors and investors whose contributions help to fund small businesses, support college students, and build stronger families and vibrant neighborhoods. Since 1994, the team has deployed $700 million and helped thousands of families earn, save and invest in their own futures. Opportunity Fund has earned a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator, for our commitment to accountability and transparency.

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

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

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

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

Northern California/Sacramento

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to register for this event.

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

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

Topics include:

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

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

Southern California/San Diego

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

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

Click here to register for this event.

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

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

Click here to register for this event.

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

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

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

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

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

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

In this webinar, you’ll learn:

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

Click here to register for this event.

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

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

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

Topics include:

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

Click here to register for this event.

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

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

Click here to register for this event.


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

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

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


Opportunity Fund is tackling economic inequality so that hard work and perseverance means a shot at getting ahead, not just struggling to get by. Our programs are supported by a community of donors and investors whose contributions help to fund small businesses, support college students, and build stronger families and vibrant neighborhoods. Since 1994, the team has deployed $700 million and helped thousands of families earn, save and invest in their own futures. Opportunity Fund has earned a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator, for our commitment to accountability and transparency.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do look beyond the big banks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Opportunity Fund is tackling economic inequality so that hard work and perseverance means a shot at getting ahead, not just struggling to get by. Our programs are supported by a community of donors and investors whose contributions help to fund small businesses, support college students, and build stronger families and vibrant neighborhoods. Since 1994, the team has deployed $700 million and helped thousands of families earn, save and invest in their own futures. Opportunity Fund has earned a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator, for our commitment to accountability and transparency.

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

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

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

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

Supportive Solutions for Recovery

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

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

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

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

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

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

Helping Small Businesses Create Change in the Community

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

Newport Health Services

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

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

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

 

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

What makes a landscape business different than any other kind?

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

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

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

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

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

Business licenses and permits will be different,

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

Health insurance and workers compensation are more important.

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

Landscaping is a seasonal business.

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

Products and equipment.

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

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

 

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

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


Opportunity Fund is tackling economic inequality so that hard work and perseverance means a shot at getting ahead, not just struggling to get by. Our programs are supported by a community of donors and investors whose contributions help to fund small businesses, support college students, and build stronger families and vibrant neighborhoods. Since 1994, the team has deployed $700 million and helped thousands of families earn, save and invest in their own futures. Opportunity Fund has earned a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator, for our commitment to accountability and transparency.

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

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