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

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

Northern California/Sacramento

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

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

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

Join us for interactive activities:

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

Click here to register for this event.

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

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

Topics for this one-hour session include:

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

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

Click here to register for this event.

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

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

Click here to register for this event.

Southern California/San Diego

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

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

Click here to register for this event.

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

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

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

Click here to register for this event.

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

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

Join us for a free workshop. Seats are limited.

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

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

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

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

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

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

Click here to register for this event.

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

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

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

Ten Google Tools to get Your Business Started
Date: April 25, 2018 | 4:00 pm PDT – 5:00 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Sarah Espinosa | sespinos@uncfsu.edu | (910) 672-2683
Organization: Fayetteville State University Veterans Business Outreach Center
Fee: Free

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

Click here to register for this event.


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

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

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


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

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

Lance started his own business after years working in the protective auto coating trade as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps. Clear Pro has grown into a thriving business with two Inland Empire locations. A small business loan from Opportunity Fund helped Clear Pro get their second location ready for business.

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

Lance started his own business after years working in the protective auto coating trade as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps. Clear Pro has grown into a thriving business with two Inland Empire locations. A small business loan from Opportunity Fund helped Clear Pro get their second location ready for business.

From Trade to Business Ownership

Lance Pugh started Clear Pro LLC in 2004. His business installs clear protective film on auto paint jobs to prevent chips and scratches to the paint. Clear Pro serves clients in need of protection for their auto paint jobs, from the everyday driver to high performance vehicle owners.

Lance learned the protective auto coating trade while serving in the United States Marine Corps. His military service saw him move back and forth between California and his home state of Michigan, all the while working for car dealerships providing protective auto coating services. After completing his military service, Lance decided to settle down in the Inland Empire and start his own business.

“I don’t have a college education,” Lance said. “I wanted to start my own business. I found a niche market that wasn’t as popular at first, and today it’s grown into something in demand.”

Lance began Clear Pro in Murrieta, where his business had the runway it needed to grow. When it came time to expand to a second location in Cathedral City, he knew it was the right move for his business.

“One of our manufacturers had a shop out there and they asked us if we could take over,” Lance said. “They’re based in Texas. It was challenging for them to have their business here.”

It wasn’t easy for Clear Pro to expand right away either. Lance needed a small business loan to complete the transition to a multi-location business.

Growing from the Inside Out

Opportunity Fund business development officer Adriana Williams reached out to Lance to help with his small business financing needs. “She really wanted to help us out,” Lance said. “It was a good fit for us. It was easy to get the paperwork done and get the loan we needed. The funding was quick too.”

Lance Pugh - Clear Pro

Thanks to a small business loan from Opportunity Fund, Lance has two Clear Pro locations in the Inland Empire (photo courtesy of Michael Microulis)

Adriana helped close a $80,000 loan in August 2017, which allowed Lance and his team to clean up the Cathedral City location and make it a long-term part of Clear Pro’s success.

“Working with Opportunity Fund has let me put everything I need for both shops in one central location,” Lance said. “It makes it easy to take care of everything over time rather than all at once.”

With five employees and a new location, the future of Clear Pro is bright. “We’re working on promoting our second location as well as growing our first location,” Lance said, “Then we’ll go from here.”

Watch Lance’s story in this video:

We’re proud to support entrepreneurs like Lance who build their businesses from the ground up, and we’re honored to be a funding solution for veteran small business owners.

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


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

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Vladimir and Jim started their business partnership when they took over Alan Desk Business Interiors in Los Angeles. Despite working together at Alan Desk for years, they had trouble finding business loans as new business owners. Opportunity Fund’s partnership with Lending Club helped them get their showroom ready for new customers.

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

Vladimir and Jim started their business partnership when they took over Alan Desk Business Interiors in Los Angeles. Despite working together at Alan Desk for years, they had trouble finding business loans as new business owners. Opportunity Fund’s partnership with Lending Club helped them get their showroom ready for new customers.

A New Business Partnership

Vladimir Alvarez and Jim Meltzer worked together for years at Alan Desk Business Interiors in Los Angeles. They made their dream of business ownership a reality when they took over the formerly family owned business in 2016.

Alan Desk Business Interiors provides design for commercial office spaces by supplying office furniture and designs to their clients. Vladimir and Jim serve as the only employees at Alan Desk, and their connections within the Los Angeles community have landed them several high profile clients like Magic Johnson and the Jimmy Kimmel Show.

Alan Desk - Jim

Jim is the creative and design brain of Alan Desk (photo courtesy of Michael Microulis)


The dynamic duo covers all the functions of the business. Vladimir handles accounting, marketing, and purchasing while Jim is the creative brain and buyer behind the interior design.

Late in 2017, Alan Desk opened a new 1,700 square foot showroom in Los Angeles. Vladimir and Jim needed a small business loan to help them renovate and stock the showroom. Although Alan Desk has been around since 1941, Vladimir and Jim’s new partnership meant starting over.

“We tried the major banks but because we are considered a new business with only a two year history, we were not approved,” Vladimir said. They needed a small business lending solution that recognized their experience and potential.

New Paths to Success

Vladimir and Jim came to Opportunity Fund through our partnership with Lending Club. Our business loan advisor Rexie Dumagan helped close a $40,000 loan in October 2017 to help Alan Desk purchase the floor samples they needed to best serve their clients.

“We’re in a high profile design area here in Los Angeles,” Jim said. “We’re working to get this showroom established so we can start growing our business.”

Alan Desk - Vladimir

Vladimir works on business operations at Alan Desk (photo courtesy of Michael Microulis)

Vladimir and Jim were determined to get the funds they needed to establish their new business together. Opportunity Fund was the right fit based on our customer service and fair pricing.

“Rexie was very helpful,” Vladimir said. “He provided the terms and helped us through the entire process. I talked with other lenders but their interest rates were through the roof.”

Vladimir and Jim are looking to the future of Alan Desk as co-owners. “The next step is growing this space,” Jim said. “We want to work with Opportunity Fund again when we start to expand.”

We’re proud to support hard working entrepreneurs who are determined to make their dreams come true like Vladimir and Jim.

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


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

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

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

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

Northern California/Sacramento

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

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

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

Learn the basics of starting and running an online business:

  • Pricing
  • Basic accounting
  • Product photography
  • Marketing

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

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

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

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

Click here to register for this event.

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

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

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

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

Click here to register for this event.

Southern California/San Diego

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to register for this event.

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

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

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

Ten Mistakes to Avoid with Mobile Sites for Small Business
Date: April 4, 2018 | 4:00 pm PDT – 5:00 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Sarah Espinosa | sespinos@uncfsu.edu | (910) 672-2683
Organization: Fayetteville State University Veterans Business Outreach Center
Fee: Free

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

Click here to register for this event.

Cracking the Credit Code: Credit Reports & Scores Explained
Date: April 5, 2018 | 8:30 am PDT – 9:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Kimberly Donahue | kimberly.donahue@sba.gov | (304) 347-5220
Organization: SBA West Virginia District Office
Fee: Free

Your credit score can impact everything from where you live to how much you pay for insurance. Isn’t it about time you learned how credit reports and scores really work? John Jackson of Consumer Credit Counseling Services of the Mid-Ohio Valley will explain factors that influence credit scores, how to dispute errors, and more.

Click here to register for this event.

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

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

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

Click here to register for this event.


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

SBDC East Los Angeles Initiative

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

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

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

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

Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center

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

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

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

La Cocina

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

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

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

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

Get in Motion

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

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

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

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

El Pájaro CDC

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

A Successful Transformation

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

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

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

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

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

A Bright Funding Idea

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

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

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

Steven Phillips - REJ Electric

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

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

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

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

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


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

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Landlines may be a thing of the past, so don’t let your small business get left behind. Our content partner Nav offers a few affordable solutions to your phone needs.

Landlines may be a thing of the past, so don’t let your small business get left behind. Our content partner Nav.com offers a few affordable solutions to your phone needs.

 

When Leigh Wilkins started making scones from her kitchen in Plainfield New Jersey, she had no idea it would turn into a business. “I like to cook,” she says. “It’s a passion of mine.” But when friends tasted her fresh baked scones, they told her she should sell them.

She listened, and now is the “Scone Diva,” selling scones in traditional flavors as well as unique ones she’s created like “GuavaBrie” and “CherryLemonGinger.”

Wilkins took the time to set up her business properly, forming an LLC. She realized she also needed a professional option for answering business phone calls. “I didn’t want people calling me on my private number, “ she explains. She researched a variety of options and chose a service called Sideline, which gives her a business telephone number that routes to her cell phone. It allows her to tell which calls are business and which are personal, and she can choose how to handle them. “It’s beautiful,” she says.

Wilkin’s clients primarily buy her handmade scones directly from her, and she’s started using a Sideline feature that allows her to blast announcements to customers when fresh scones are available. I’ll say, “Here’s what I just baked. Come and get them,” she says. And they do.

A GoDaddy survey found 86 percent of small business owners use their personal smartphone for both business and personal calls and texts. It makes sense that they would look for flexible services that allow them to talk to their customers wherever they are.

Even better, many newer solutions are less expensive than traditional business landlines. For a small business, every penny counts. Spend less and your cash flow will improve and you’ll have more money to invest in things that help your business grow.

Here are five professional phone solutions to consider:

Google Voice

A free service from Google, a Google Voice number is designed to be a number that will follow you everywhere. It can work as simply an online phone number, but you can also set it up to ring your cell, landline (if you still have one!) or any number(s) you choose simultaneously. You can record a business-appropriate voicemail message for calls to your Google voice number.

It comes with call screening which lets you hear who is calling and decide whether to take the call or send it to voicemail. Messages are also transcribed.

However, it’s not specifically designed to be a business solution and there are some downsides. The number displayed on the recipient’s phone will not be your business number; for example, it more likely will be your personal cell phone number. (If it’s a text message you’re sending, it may even be another number entirely, apparently generated by Google Voice.) There have been complaints about call quality as well, since Google Voice works over Voip.

Pricing: Free for most calls within the US and Canada.

Sideline

Developed by former telecom executives, Sideline is a flexible solution for small business owners that uses the cell phones they already have. Business owners can choose a second number with a local area code or port in their existing number, and connect it with their cell phone, or that of an employee. It uses your cell phone carrier (and minutes) for better quality than some solutions that work over wifi.

You’ll know which calls are business calls, and which are personal calls. In addition, when you place business calls using Sideline, your business number will be the one your customers see.

Features include the ability to send an automated text message if you can’t take a call. You can customize it to create automatic responses to common questions. Enterprise solutions allow employers to manage up to 200 phone numbers, to allow a phone number to ring multiple employees at once, and the ability to reassign numbers, say, if an employee leaves.

Pricing: Starts at $9.99 a month with a free 7-day trial.

SmartLine

SmartLine, a service of GoDaddy, allows business owners to choose and set up a business phone number, then use the SmartLine mobile app on their cell phone to text, listen to their separate business voicemails, and take and place calls with that number. Calls are placed over your cell phone carrier’s network.

You’ll know whether incoming calls are business or personal calls, and the business phone number will show up on Caller ID when it’s used to text or to place a call. Voicemail greetings can be customized, plus business hours can be set. In addition, voicemails are transcribed so they can be read at a glance.

Pricing: Basic service starts at $3.99 a month, and includes 100 minutes and 100 outgoing texts per month. Unlimited talk and text starts at $9.99 a month. Both include a free one-month trial.

eVoice

eVoice offers a full-service cloud-based business phone system. Choose a toll-free or local number (or port your own) and eVoice will record a professional greeting with a menu of extensions. Route calls to colleagues, cell phones etc. either simultaneously or sequentially. You can set up different rules for different times or days of the week. Audio files of calls will be available immediately, and transcription (voicemail to text or voicemail to email) is also available.

You can take and place calls from your cell using your business phone number. Plans are based on minutes used which include inbound, outbound or faxing. eVoice plans include a certain number of minutes; for any beyond that, there will be a per minute charge.

Pricing: The basic plan starts at $12.99 a month for 300 minutes, 6 numbers and 2 extensions. There is a 30-day free trial.

Grasshopper

With Grasshopper, you can choose a toll-free or local number for your business, or port in your own. You can add extensions for employees or departments. Extensions can forward calls to any phone number, anywhere, including Skype.

You can use Grasshopper on your cell to place business calls, check your voicemail and send text messages from your business number. Voicemails and faxes will be transcribed and emailed to you.

Features include call announce to let you know who is calling so you can decide whether you want to take the call or want to send it to voicemail. You can also set up extensions with answers to commonly asked questions such as hours or directions.

Pricing: Solo pricing starts at $24 a month for one number with up to 3 extensions and unlimited minutes. There is a 30-day money back guarantee.

 

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

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


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

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

This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in Northern and Southern California. Here are the best upcoming events from March 16 through 31.

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

Northern California/Sacramento

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

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

Participants will discover:

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

Click here to register for this event.

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

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

Key points we’ll cover:

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

Click here to register for this event.

Take the “Work” Out of Networking: A Business Networking Workshop
Date: March 29, 2018 | 6:30 pm PDT – 7:30 pm PDT
Location: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library—SJPL Works 3rd Floor
150 E. San Fernando St. San Jose, CA 95112 (map it)
Contact: sjplworks@sjlibrary.org | (408) 808-2310
Organization: San Jose Public Library Works
Fee: Free

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

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

Co-Sponsored by Silicon Valley Talent Partnership and SCORE.

Click here to register for this event.

Southern California/San Diego

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

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

Click here to register for this event.

Legal Forms of Organization
Date: March 21, 2018 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: 1003 East Cooley Dr. Suite 109 Colton, CA 92324 (map it)
Contact: (909) 890-1242
Organization: Inland Empire Women’s Business Center
Fee: $20

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

Click here to register for this event.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Virtual

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

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

Click here to register for this event.

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

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

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

After completing this module, you will be able to:

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

Click here to register for this event.

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

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

You’ll discover:

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

Click here to register for this event.


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

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


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

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

Irregular hours, changing locations, and a small storefront are challenges that can hold back your mobile food business. Social media is one of your biggest resources for growing your mobile food business. Check out these tips for how to best utilize social media platforms for your food truck.

Irregular hours, changing locations, and a small storefront are challenges that can hold back your mobile food business. Social media is one of your biggest resources for growing your mobile food business. Check out these tips for how to best utilize social media platforms for your food truck.

 

Once your mobile food business is established and rolling along smoothly, you’ll want to invest your time in setting up and running social media accounts in order to boost your food truck.

Social Media is Where Your Customers Will Look to Find You

The nature of mobile food is that it is mobile. When your business is always moving and never keeping the same hours, you’ll need to post to social media in order for customers to find you. You can’t rely solely on attracting passersby on the street. Post your weekly schedule and any events to Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram – with a marked map or visually appealing photo of your food truck so they know how to spot you!

Post Menu Updates and Appetizing Content

Having a website for your mobile food business is crucial: this is where you can have your permanent menu, merchandise, About Us, and social media links. The downside to websites is that your customers and local community aren’t notified when you update your menu. This is where social media plays a vital role in letting people know when you have new menu items or restocked sold out products.

Photos and videos have the most engagement on social media, so invest in high-quality content to post. If your photography skills aren’t your strong suit, consider contracting a freelancer to take photos and videos. Customers will appreciate seeing Behind-the-Scenes footage, what your menu items look like, how you make your creations, and even others enjoying your food. You know what they say about trying street food – if there’s a line, it’s probably good!

Free (Or Inexpensive) Advertising

Paying for local-targeted ads on social media is a great way to get the word out about your food truck, even $10 a day will reach more potential customers. In today’s business world, it’s hard to reach your audience if you don’t pay to play.

Even if advertising isn’t in your small business’ budget, there are ways to advertise for free. If you post using relevant hashtags on Twitter or Instagram and add your location, people can organically find your photos and learn about your business. Take a look at this great list of free social media tools.

Offer Incentives to Connect With You

The easiest and most authentic free way to advertise your food truck is through word-of-mouth. If your customers post about you on their social media, their friends will want to check you out as well.

Consistent branding online is key according to Don McPeck of Mess Hall Canteen. In an interview about how he successfully markets his food truck, he emphasizes that using social media is mandatory. One way that he gets his customers to connect on social media is by taking photos of visitors who came a long way to eat his food and by offering secret menu items that are only mentioned on his Facebook page.

Other ideas for how to encourage organic sharing and mentioning: Offer a free side dish or small discount for customers who leave reviews on your Yelp or Facebook page, share customers’ photos on your own page, and make your business “Instagrammable” so customers will want to take photos and selfies with your truck and food.

Partner With Food Truck Networks

Connecting with your customers on social media is only one way to promote your business online. Look for food truck networks such as Off The Grid in Northern California. Often, these organizations will find venues for a few different food trucks to gather and promote the event (and your business!) on their own social media to attract a large crowd.

 

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


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

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

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