Balancing your life and your small business is hard enough, and keeping to a business budget can be difficult. Balance your accounts easily with these five free tools.

Each month, we’re sharing and promoting free or affordable tools that help small business owners run their businesses better. Here are five free budgeting tools.

Balancing your life and your small business is hard enough, and keeping to a business budget can be difficult. Balance your accounts easily with these five free tools.

Microsoft Office Business Expense Template

What it costs: Free

What it does: If your small business uses Microsoft Excel, here is a budget template for you to easily download and edit yourself. While this template focuses on expenses versus income, it is extremely detailed and includes graphs and charts to help you visualize your business expenses.

Intuit QuickBooks Annual Budget Template

What it costs: Free

What it does: If you are familiar with using spreadsheets but want to keep your budget accessible in the cloud, this easy-to-use template has all the formulas set up for you. Just enter your information, and this completely free template will do the rest. Remember to add it to your own Google Drive first so you can edit the file.

GnuCash

What it costs: Free

What it does: Using GnuCash’s open source software is a great stepping block for small businesses who want something more sophisticated and error-proof than using Excel spreadsheets but don’t have the budget to pay for fancy software. It will take some technical skill to install, but it is completely free to use and has a detailed Wiki full of instructions. GnuCash is available in several different languages and currencies; on Windows, Mac, and Linux; and as a complimentary mobile app. Highlighted features of the tool include double-entry accounting, stock/bond/mutual fund accounts,small-business accounting, reports, graphs, QIF/OFX/HBCI import, transaction matching, scheduled transactions, and financial calculations.

Mint

What it costs: Free

What it does: We’ve mentioned Intuit’s Mint before, but it really is a useful free tool for budgeting. While the service is more geared towards personal finance, it can be used for small businesses. Connect your business bank accounts and create trackable, real-time budget categories. Bonus: you can get free money tips, credit scores, bill schedules, and more.

Metabase

What it costs: Free

What it does: Metabase is an excellent open source software for business owners who want simple, clean, and useful tools. You don’t need to know any coding to set it up, visuals are more clean and modern than most open source tools, and it can be easily used by multiple team members in your business. The catch? It is a little more difficult to set up if you aren’t on a Mac.

 

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

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

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


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

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

There are many reasons to choose to run a home-based business: balancing a family, lack of capital for real estate, or even just the newness of your business. Whatever the reason, technology is making it easier to successfully run your small business from your home.

There are many reasons to choose to run a home-based business: balancing a family, lack of capital for real estate, or even just the newness of your business. Whatever the reason, technology is making it easier to successfully run your small business from your home.

 

5 Ways Tech Can Help Your Home-Based Business

  • Selling your products has never been easier with ecommerce. Starting an ecommerce website for your business is the best way to sell as a home-based business. Without a store-front of your own, online is the way to go. Most major shipping services also allow you to schedule package pickups from your house at no extra charge, all from the convenience of your home computer.
  • Collaborating with remote employees can be more efficient with tech tools. If you base your business out of your home, there’s a good chance you don’t have physical space for employees. Using affordable technology to collaborate with employees can help you streamline work even when you aren’t in the same room.
  • Outsource tasks to freelancers. Your home-based business needs a lot of tasks completed, often by people who you can’t afford to hire full time. The internet allows you to reach experienced professionals from all over the country to help with your projects.
  • Use Voice Assistant Technology (VAT) to manage your home business. VAT products, such as Google Home and Amazon Echo, can help you keep track of your hectic schedule. You can set appointments and task reminders, manage your home’s security (which is extremely important if your run your business out of your personal residence), track packages and shipments, dictate emails, manage finances, pull inventory and order information, order supplies, and much more.
  • Set up your “mobile office” so you can work anywhere. If you need a break and want to do work or meet clients at a coffee shop, technology can help you here too. You can buy inexpensive portable wifi routers so you have secure access to the internet, keep your files in the cloud to access them anywhere, and so much more.

 

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Northern California/Sacramento

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

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

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

Click here to register for this event.

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

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

Click here to register for this event.

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

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

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

Please note: this class does not constitute legal advice.

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

Southern California/San Diego

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

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

Click here to register for this event.

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to register for this event.

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

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

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

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

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

Topics include:

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

Click here to register for this event.

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

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

Click here to register for this event.

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

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

Topics include:

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

Click here to register for this event.

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


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

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


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

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

Teresa used her experience as a cosmetologist to open her own beauty supply business in Anaheim. Two small business loans from Opportunity Fund are helping her expand her inventory and meet her business goals.

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

Teresa used her experience as a cosmetologist to open her own beauty supply business in Anaheim. Two small business loans from Opportunity Fund are helping her expand her inventory and meet her business goals.

All the Right Pieces for Success

Teresa started Tere’s Nail & Beauty Supply in the Anaheim Indoor Marketplace in 2010. She used her expertise as a licensed cosmetologist to break out on her own and start a business.

“About 80 percent of my clients are Hispanic,” Teresa said. “From my time working in the beauty industry, I know women are always looking for the latest beauty products. I saw the opportunity in the industry and the location in Anaheim, so I went for it.”

Teresa’s shop at the gigantic Anaheim Marketplace may be small, but it’s packed with a wide selection of beauty supply needs: acrylic nails, makeup, hair extensions and wigs, and more. Teresa’s work goes beyond just selling what a client needs to look good. She also specializes in beauty technique instruction.

“As a cosmetologist, I can educate to my clients how to apply nail products in a professional way,” she said. “I show my clients how do their own beauty treatments so they can save money.”

Teresa did everything right as a small business owner, from capitalizing on her talents to finding the perfect location. Still, she had trouble finding the right business lending solution to help her grow her business.

The Right Business Funding Connection

Teresa needed a small business loan to purchase more inventory. “I wanted to expand the variety of what I sell,” she said. “I saw how that could boost my sales.”

Tere's Nail Supply

Our small business loans helped Teresa keep the latest products in stock and boost her sales (photo courtesy of Michael Microulis)

In her search for small business loans, Teresa found nothing but high interest rates and lackluster customer service. When she met Opportunity Fund loan consultant Osbaldo Velazquez at an access to capital seminar in Orange County, she saw the opportunity she’d been waiting for.

Osbaldo was able to approve a $5,000 loan in September 2016 for Tere’s Nail & Beauty Supply. The working capital helped Teresa grow her business right away with increased purchasing power for inventory. She returned for a second $5,000 loan in February 2018 to help with boosting inventory again.

“The process was very fast,” she said. “Osbaldo indicated the documents and I needed when we talked so I knew what I would need to have. With the first loan, the funds were deposited within two days. The second loan was even faster because the information already was there, so we did the whole process was taken care of over the phone.”

Now that Teresa has the inventory she needs to make more sales, she’s focused on the future of her business. Her goal is to expand her sales to wholesale vendors, and she hopes to return to work with us again for working capital when she needs it.

We’re excited to watch Tere’s Nail & Beauty Supply grow and we’re proud to support hardworking Latina entrepreneurs like Teresa.

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


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

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

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in California. Here are the best upcoming events from November 15 through 30.

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 November 15 through 30.

Northern California/Sacramento

Social Media Marketing 101 for Black & Latino Small Businesses
Date: November 17, 2018 | 9:00 am PDT – 1:00 pm PDT
Location: Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Silicon Valley
1887 Monterey Rd. Ste 2105 San Jose, CA 95112 (map it)
Contact: info@hccsv.org | (408) 248-4800
Organization: Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Silicon Valley
Fee: $97

Newspapers, print flyers, and billboards are so 1990! Everyone is on their phones scrolling on Facebook and Instagram. 2018 is calling!

Black and Latino small business owners: join us for this half day workshop on how to strategically market a business and how to attract the right customers through social media. Learn how strategic posting, paid ads, and video marketing can help you get eyes on your product or service. It’s time to get in the game and reach people where they spent their time—on social media.

Click here to register for this event.

Boots To Business: Reboot
Date: November 19, 2018 | 8:30 am PDT – 4:30 pm PDT
Location: Veterans Home of California, Fresno
2811 West California Ave. Fresno, CA 93706 (map it)
Contact: events@vbocix.org | (916) 527-8400
Organization: Veterans Business Outreach Center—Region IX
Fee: Free

Join the Veteran Business Outreach Center in Fresno for a one day introduction to entrepreneurship workshop. This free seminar will help veterans understand the steps, stages, and activities related to launching and growing a business as a post-military career.

Get started with ideas and resources in training modules:

  • Module 1: Introduction to the entrepreneurial experience
  • Module 2: Basics of opportunity recognition
  • Module 3: Markets & your competitive space
  • Module 4: The economics of small business start-up
  • Module 5: Picking the correct legal entity for your business
  • Module 6: Financing your venture
  • Module 7: Moving forward—Business planning
  • Module 8: Moving forward—Resources to support you

Click here to register for this event.

Intellectual Property—Protecting your Ideas, Brand, and Designs
Date: November 28, 2018 | 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

This workshop will introduce you 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.

Click here to register for this event.

Southern California/San Diego

Insurance—How to Protect You and Your Business
Date: November 16, 2018 | 1:00 pm PDT – 4:00 pm PDT
Location: 8825 Aero Dr. Suite 102 San Diego, CA 92123 (map it)
Contact: workshop0140@scorevolunteer.org | (858) 283-1100
Organization: San Diego SCORE
Fee: Free

Every business has certain risks related to its operation. Insurance coverage is critical to protect your business and personal assets. Join this free workshop to learn all about insurance for your business:

  • The types of insurance you’ll need
  • The level and amount of insurance you’ll need
  • Ways to get the insurance coverage you’ll need

San Diego SCORE’s expert insurance seminar leader will address key issues:

  • How do I get the most out of my insurance dollar?
  • What insurance is an absolute must to avoid great risk to my business?
  • How do I value my buildings and personal property?
  • How will damage to my property affect my revenue and profit?
  • What about using my own car or employees’ cars in business?
  • What are the issues if I use subcontractors?
  • How do I evaluate the insurance indemnity provisions of contracts?
  • Should I use an insurance agent or broker? How do I find one?
  • Which employee benefits (life, health, 401k) should I consider?
  • Should I consider disability insurance? Buy/Sell? HSAs?

Click here to register for this event.

Stress-Free Business Taxes
Date: November 17, 2018 | 10:00 am PDT – 12:00 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: Free

Take the stress out of preparing for your business taxes! We’ll cover the basics, from business tax requirements through working from home to deductions, credits, and record keeping to get you ready for a stress-free tax day.

Click here to register for this event.

Start Up Workshop
Date: November 20, 2018 | 10:00 am PDT – 12:00 pm PDT
Location: 2900 S. Crenshaw Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90016 (map it)
Contact: Cathleen Hy | chy@pacela.org | (323) 293-6284
Organization: PACE Finance Corporation
Fee: Free

Learn how to properly launch your business to ensure success in this free workshop. Topics include:

  • Legal forms of ownership
  • Licensing and tax requirements
  • Capital and labor costs
  • Lease versus purchase
  • Insurance options
  • And more business start-up issues

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

Differences and Similarities of Nonprofits and For-Profits Entities
Date: November 26, 2018 | 6:30 am PDT – 7:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: (804) 771-2400
Organization: U.S. Small Business Administration Virginia District Office
Fee: Free

Join this free webinar to learn the similarities and differences of nonprofit and for-profit entities. The course will demonstrate how the two entities are similar and the major differences that distinguish them apart. Participants will learn about the governance structure and important factors that distinguish the two under legal requirements.

Click here to register for this event.

Let’s Talk Business! Top 20 Online Tools for Small Business Owners
Date: November 28, 2018 | 12:00 pm PDT – 1:00 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Ryan Norskog | rnorskog@thurstonedc.com | (360) 464-6060
Organization: Washington Center for Women in Business
Fee: Free

Join the Washington Center for Women in Business for this free webinar that will help you find the best online tools to grow your small business.

Click here to register for this event.

How the Tax Reform Affects Your Small Business
Date: November 29, 2018 | 10:00 am PDT – 11:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: (678) 335-5600 ext. 3
Organization: Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs
Fee: Free

Join ACE SBA Women’s Center for their latest Lunch & Learn webinar and learn how the tax reform affects your small business:

  • What key business tax revisions are included in the bill?
  • How do I apply changes in the new bill to my business?
  • How does the tax reform impact my income tax return?
  • What can I do before the end of the year to save on income taxes?

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, you may need a loan at some point. Having healthy business credit will ensure you get the best rates and highest amount you can get for an affordable loan. Keep on top of your credit with these five free tools.

Each month, we’re sharing and promoting free or affordable tools that help small business owners run their businesses better. Here are five free business credit tools.

As a business owner, you may need a loan at some point. Having healthy business credit will ensure you get the best rates and highest amount you can get for an affordable loan. Keep on top of your credit with these five free tools.

Nav Business Credit Scores

What it costs: Free

What it does: There are different agencies and different scoring systems for business credit versus personal credit. Nav provides a free tool to check both as well as resources for interpreting business credit scoring.  

Annual Credit Report 

What it costs: Free

What it does: If your business doesn’t have a separate credit established and you currently rely on your personal credit, it’s doubly important to be aware of your credit report. Annual Credit Report offers you one free pull every 12 months from all three of the major credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. This service is the official site authorized by the federal government. There are many lookalikes trying to scam you, so make sure you verify that you have the correct URL every time.

Department of Justice’s List of Credit Counselors

What it costs: Free

What it does: If you need help with your credit, it is important to find a reputable credit agency so you don’t get scammed. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has a comprehensive list of nonprofit budget and credit counseling agencies, organized by state. Many of these agencies may also be able to provide services in languages other than English.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

What it costs: Free

What it does: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has lots of resources free for you to learn, fix, and build your credit. This is the place to check if you believe you have been a victim of identity theft, think the credit bureaus have false information, want to know your rights, and more.

CreditSignal

What it costs: Free

What it does: CreditSignal, provided by one of the business credit bureaus Dun & Bradstreet, is a service where you can get free alerts when your business credit score changes. Your life as a small business owner is busy, and you can’t be expected to keep your eye on your business’ credit every day. That’s where CreditSignal comes in – they’ll send you alerts through email and on their app whenever there is a change.

 

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

For information about Opportunity Fund’s small business loans including Mobile Food Truck 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

Whether you are building a small business website from the ground up or feel it’s time to update yours, here some of the essentials, wishlist ideas, and things to avoid.

Whether you are building a small business website from the ground up or feel it’s time to update yours, here some of the essentials, wishlist ideas, and things to avoid.

 

The number one thing your business website needs is a plan. Before you talk to a web developer or pick out a design template, you need to sit down and create a detailed plan. What is the purpose of your site?

Determining if you need an ecommerce website, a portfolio, an online menu and business hours, or something else entirely will help you figure out exactly what you need and don’t need. Each business will have different needs for a website, but here are the essentials everyone should have and the things most don’t need to include.

Small Business Website Essentials

You need a clean design. Carry your business’ branding guideline of colors, fonts, and voice through to your website as well. Keep it consistent and easy for customers to navigate. Use hamburger menus to minimize the number of navigation tabs, keep the amount of pages down, and make sure your text is simple and readable.

A good domain name is almost as important as a good business name. If your domain name is long, doesn’t match your business name, or doesn’t end with “.com” then customers are likely to forget your website and not be able to find your business.

SEO is hard to master but important to incorporate into your website. Consider hiring a freelancer to set up your site’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This includes page formatting, alt text for photos, meta tags and metadata, descriptive URLs, site index, and even more. It it likely that most of your online traffic will come from search engines, so it is important to make it as easy as possible for your small business to appear on the top of searches.

Implementing security measures is vital for any business website. Make sure your site is compliant with the GDPR and HTTPS certificates.

Having reviews both on your website and on popular review sites will establish trust with potential customers. More than 80% of people look for reviews before making a purchase decision. That’s a lot. Maintaining a positive digital reputation will help your business succeed.

Your business information should be prominent and easy to find. Include contact information, business location, hours of operation and customer support, holiday schedule, and anything else a customer needs to know about your small business.

About Us is a page where you can tell your story. Customers want to know that there are real people behind the company, and connecting on a more personal level can build trust and brand loyalty. Briefly describe how and why you started the business, who you and your employees are, what your brand mission and vision is, and what makes your business unique.

Privacy Policy and Terms of Service are both important to include. You can link to a page in your footer that leads to your privacy policy and terms of service. Privacy policies are legally required, and you can find free templates online. Always make sure to run these by your lawyer to ensure your business is protected.

Wants But Not Needs

Consider hiring a web developer to create a beautiful, clean website for you. You can find a freelancer for this one project and keep their contact info on file for when you need to make changes later. Having a professional website is just as important as a brick-and-mortar storefront – it adds credibility to your business, and it attracts customers and sales.

Make your website mobile friendly. More and more people are shopping and browsing the internet on their mobile phones. If your web host doesn’t already offer dynamic layouts that automatically adjust to a mobile orientation, hire a freelancer to build one. When you make updates to your site, always make sure it looks good on mobile.

Offer an incentive for signing up for a newsletter. If they give they sign up with their email on your site, you could send them an exclusive coupon for your restaurant, an ebook teaser for your consulting service, or something else that would entice potential customers. Now you have customers to email with company updates, promotions, news, or new releases.

Invest in professional, paid hosting. If your website gets a lot of traffic, is the main portal for your business, or is media heavy (images and videos take a while to load) you should invest in a paid web host. Free sites like WordPress or Wix may be fine for a while, but if your site takes longer than 3 seconds to load, you will lose most visitors.

Collect the most asked questions you get from your customers and create an FAQ. If a potential customer can’t find what they want quickly, they might move on. Not only will this minimize customer service inquiries and free up your associate’s time, but employees can also keep themselves knowledgeable about the business.

Things You Should Really Avoid

Avoid using multiple fonts, colors, and graphics that aren’t cohesive and make your website look busy. Customers who look at your business website don’t want to strain their eyes to read your site. Keep it clean, simple, and cohesive. A general rule of design is to stick to two fonts and font colors throughout your site.

Minimize the amount of text and photos on your informational pages. Try to keep the page length to two page scrolls – or less than a 3 minute read. As an entrepreneur, you are rightfully proud of your business’ story and the products you’ve developed, but you don’t want to overwhelm prospects with too much content. If you want to go into detail, a great way to share with your customers without turning off potential customers is to start a blog on your site.

Be careful with copyrighted material. Make sure you are legally allowed to use any content you add to your website (icons, photos, logos, etc.) If you need free stock photos, take a look at this list of free website tools.

Resist the urge to place ads on your website. While you could make a few extra dollars by having ads on your page, you really don’t want to let your customers go to a competitor. The companies who pay for this advertising space are targeting the same demographic you are.

Don’t forget to update your site periodically. Just because you have a website doesn’t mean it should collect dust. Keeping information up-to-date, including menus and store hours, is important. Consider freshening the look for holidays or seasons. Change typos and broken code as soon as you find them.

 

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 and virtual events in Northern and Southern California. Here are the best upcoming events from November 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 Northern and Southern California.

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

Northern California/Sacramento

Basics of Starting a Business
Date: November 7, 2018 | 5:30 pm PDT – 7:30 pm PDT
Location: Sierra SBDC
10183 Truckee Airport Rd. Suite 202 Truckee, CA 96161 (map it)
Contact: nnvclassesscore@gmail.com | (844) 232-7227
Organization: SCORE Northern Nevada
Fee: Free

This free workshop will introduce you to the basic issues to address before you venture into the world of business. Begin the process with success with these topics:

  • Critical success factors
  • Your idea: Evaluate, test, and protect
  • Legal structures
  • Marketing
  • Finances
  • Launch your business

Click here to register for this event.

Celebrate Veterans Small Business Week: Turning Contacts into Contracts
Date: November 8, 2018 | 10:00 am PDT – 12:00 pm PDT
Location: 455 Market St. Suite 600 San Francisco, CA  94105 (map it)
Contact: sfomail@sba.gov | (415) 744-6777
Organization: San Francisco SBA Entrepreneur Center
Fee: Free

You are invited to a very special National Veterans Small Business Week event celebrating Veteran Entrepreneurs. Come learn how to do business with the government (state and federal) and how to fund your business venture through different term loan programs.

Agenda:

  • 10 am – Registration and Networking
  • 10:15 am – Opening statement and Brief introductions
  • 10:30-11:30 am – Contracting with the Federal Government and the State of California
  • 11:30-12:00 pm – Financing Your Business

Click here to register for this event.

Women’s Empowerment Night
Date: November 12, 2018 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: Moseley’s Hilltop Tasting Room
2158 Hilltop Dr. Redding, CA 96002 (map it)
Contact: info@e-jedi.org | (530) 926-6670
Organization: Jefferson Economic Development Institute
Fee: Free

AWE Redding California, WE Thrive Women’s Business Center at JEDI Group, and Women of Vision Movement invites you to an evening of networking, wine, and fun at Escape Redding.

Click here to register for this event.

Southern California/San Diego

Small Business Legal Academy
Date: November 3, 2018 | 10:00 am PDT – 3:00 pm PDT
Location: VEDC Women’s Business Center
5121 Van Nuys Blvd. Ste. 300A Sherman Oaks, CA 91403 (map it)
Contact: info@vedc.org | (818) 907-9922
Organization: VEDC
Fee: Free

Bet Tzedek’s Small Business Legal Academy, sponsored in conjunction with the VEDC’s Women’s Business Center, is a free workshop bringing the top lawyers from various law firms to help guide and counsel the Los Angeles small business community. In addition to receiving critical legal information via a presentation, attendees will have the opportunity to receive one-on-one legal consulting—all free of charge.

Presentation topics include:

  • Entity formation
  • Small business tax considerations
  • Intellectual property
  • Employment law basics
  • Contracts basics
  • And more!

Click here to register for this event.

Time Management: Secrets to Boosting Productivity & Managing Stress
Date: November 6, 2018 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: 1003 East Cooley Dr. Suite 109 Colton, CA 92324 (map it)
Contact: (909) 890-1242
Organization: Inland Empire Women’s Business Center
Fee: Free

Does it seem like you never have enough time? Are you frustrated by not finishing tasks and seeing more progress in your life and in your business? You don’t need more time, you need great time management! Learn to define your non-negotiables to set priorities that truly reflect what’s important to you and your business.

Click here to register for this event.

Start Up Workshop
Date: November 8, 2018 | 10:00 am PDT – 12:00 pm PDT
Location: 5450 Sepulveda Blvd. Culver City, CA 90230 (map it)
Contact: Nate Nguon | nnguon@pacela.org | (323) 293-6284
Organization: PACE Finance Corporation
Fee: Free

Learn how to properly launch your business to ensure success in this free workshop. Topics include:

  • Legal forms of ownership
  • Licensing and tax requirements
  • Capital and labor costs
  • Lease versus purchase
  • Insurance options
  • And more business start-up issues

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

Finding New Business Opportunities
Date: November 6, 2018 | 7:00 am PDT – 7:30 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: (304) 623-5631
Organization: U.S. Small Business Administration West Virginia District Office
Fee: Free

Spotting new market opportunities is key for business growth. We’ll cover ways to stay on top of business trends, whether it’s growing your current business or starting a new one.

Click here to register for this event.

Create A YouTube Account for Small Business
Date: November 6, 2018 | 11:00 am PDT – 12:00 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Sarah Espinosa | sespinos@uncfsu.edu | (910) 672-2683
Organization: Fayetteville State University Veterans Business Outreach Center
Fee: Free

Video marketing is the best way to promote your business online. This workshop is designed to give business owners an advantage over their competitors by learning how to setup a YouTube account, how to upload videos, and how to use YouTube to promote their company.

Key points that will be covered:

  • Create an account 
  • Choose the right thumbnail
  • Write effective titles and descriptions
  • Utilize keywords and taglines to promote videos

The workshop will consist of a step by step walk-through of all of the topics, written step by step instructions, and access to the workshop replay for 48 hours for registered participants.

Click here to register for this event.

The Science Behind Sales
Date: November 14, 2018 | 9:00 am PDT – 10:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: (678) 335-5600 ext. 120
Organization: Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs
Fee: Free

Tap into the world of neuroscience to explain the science of trust to improve your ability to make a sale in this free webinar. Learn strategies for how to better communicate with your customers.

Topics include:

  • Interacting with the three layers of the brain
  • Creating connections
  • Establishing credibility
  • Handling customer objections

Click here to register for this event.


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

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

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


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

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

There are many tax deductions you can take advantage of that you might not have considered. Here are 45 lucrative small business tax deductions.

There are many tax deductions you can take advantage of that you might not have considered. Here are 45 lucrative small business tax deductions.

 

Making tax mistakes can cost you and your small business a lot of money, stress, and time. Tax mistakes and IRS fees are very expensive. We’ve written before on the true cost of tax mistakes, but this time we want to share with you some of the ways you can save money on your taxes. There are many tax deductions you can take advantage of that you might not have considered.

The trick to getting any of these small business tax deductions is to keep meticulous records of your expenses – both business and personal. Yes, you can save money on your taxes for both personal expenses and business expenses if you meet certain criteria. Keep reading to find out what those are.

Top 45 Small Business Tax Deductions

  1. Accounting fees
  2. Worker’s compensation insurance
  3. Business association membership dues
  4. Donations to business organizations
  5. Business use of your car (payments, insurance, gas, and maintenance)
  6. Business trips
  7. Employee wages, benefits, and bonuses
  8. Employee education and training
  9. Meals and lodging provided to your employees
  10. Your business’ rent
  11. Taxes on leased business property (deducting property taxes as additional rent)
  12. Improvements to leased business property
  13. Franchise fees
  14. Depreciation on assets (such as cars used for your transportation business)
  15. Business use of your home (mortgage interest, insurance, utilities, and repairs)
  16. Indian Employment Credit
  17. Empowerment Zone Employment Credit
  18. Gifts to customers ($25 limit)
  19. Uniforms for your employees
  20. Disabled access
  21. Employee childcare
  22. Work opportunity credit (for hiring from targeted groups)
  23. Operating in a hurricane disaster zone or disaster area
  24. Business insurance
  25. Legal and professional fees (even for your tax accountant!)
  26. Interview expenses
  27. Energy efficient commercial buildings deduction expenses
  28. Licenses and regulatory fees
  29. Subscriptions to trade or professional publications
  30. Outplacement services
  31. Penalties and fines you pay for late performance or nonperformance of a contract
  32. Supplies and equipment
  33. Part of your personal phone bill when used for business calls
  34. Health care premiums (as a sole proprietor)
  35. Bank fees
  36. Employee pension plans or profit sharing
  37. Advertising costs
  38. Certain business start up expenses
  39. Cost of goods sold
  40. Theft and loss
  41. Freelancers/contractor labor
  42. Professional services and consultants
  43. Moving your business (more than 50 miles)
  44. Intellectual property expenses (copyrights and trademarks)
  45. Interest accrued on business loans (Need a business loan? Contact us today)

Hopefully your small business qualifies for many of these small business tax deductions.

Remember to talk to your certified accountant before attempting to deduct any of these – we are not tax professionals and are not offering tax advice. If you need help doing your taxes or would like free tools, check out these 5 affordable tax tools.

 

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

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


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

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

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