Every two weeks, we’re sharing and promoting free and affordable events that help small business owners run their businesses better. This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in Northern and Southern California. Here are the best upcoming events from July 17 through July 31.

Every two weeks, we’re sharing and promoting free and affordable events that help small business owners run their businesses better. This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in Northern and Southern California. Here are the best upcoming events from July 17 through July 31.

Northern California/Sacramento

Women Mean Business
Date: July 18, 2017 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: Renaissance SOMA
275 5th St. San Francisco, CA 94103 (map it)
Contact: Fatimah Aure | faure@rencenter.org | (415) 348-6217
Organization: Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center
Fee: $15

Join the Renaissance Entrepreneurship center for this networking event where women entrepreneurs will share their journeys of starting and growing their own San Francisco-based jewelry businesses. Enjoy an evening of wine, hors d’oeuvres, and a panel discussion, followed by facilitated networking. Entry fee includes light dinner.

Click here to register for this event.

Success with Facebook Ads
Date: July 19, 2017 | 1:00 pm PDT – 4:00 pm PDT
Location: 455 Market St. Suite 600 San Francisco, CA 94105 (map it)
Contact: Angelique Gosse | angelique.gosse@sfgov.org | (415) 937-7232
Organization: San Francisco SBDC
Fee: Free

During this workshop you will learn the best practices for achieving success and creating leads through Facebook Ads.

This class is designed for intermediate Facebook Ad users. Please prepare the following prerequisites before attending the seminar to get the most out of your time with us:

  • Install Facebook Pixel on your business website (Get started here)
  • Create an Ad manager Facebook account for your business Facebook page (Get started here)
  • Prepare and bring a current email client list with first name, last name, and email address
  • Prepare and bring 5-10 Images and/or video

Bring your laptop and get ready to learn! Click here to register for this event.

How to Repair or Build Your Credit
Date: July 19, 2017 | 5:30 pm PDT – 7:30 pm PDT
Location: 205 Chestnut St. Mount Shasta, California 96067 (map it)
Contact: info@e-jedi.org | (530) 926-6670
Organization: Jefferson Economic Development Institute (JEDI)
Fee: $15

Credit can be an incredible asset or a heavy burden, depending on how you use it. Your credit history is an important factor in access to capital for your business.
Join this workshop and learn:

  • Why and how to build your credit
  • How to get free credit reports
  • What makes a good credit score
  • Why you want to file taxes and show some profit
  • What NOT to do if you want a high credit score

Click here or call (503) 926-6670 to register for this event.

Southern California/San Diego

Grow Your Business: You’ve Survived, Now Thrive
Date: July 22, 2017 | 9:00 am PDT – 12:00 pm PDT
Location: United States University
7675 Mission Valley Rd. San Diego, CA 92108 (map it)
Contact: workshop0140@scorevolunteer.org | (619) 727-4874
Organization: SCORE San Diego
Fee: $20

SCORE’s Grow Your Business is an informal conversation between you and our team of qualified executives, experts in the areas of sales, marketing, finance, management, and more. The session is designed to help small business owners take their enterprise to the next level.

This discussion will address the needs and concerns of our audience. Instead of SCORE “guessing” at what the audience would like to hear, you are encouraged to bring your questions or concerns. We also encourage attendees to share their own experiences and/or solutions to questions addressed.

Click here to register for this event.

SBA Day and Lender Fair in Vista
Date: July 26, 2017 | 8:00 am PDT – 2:00 pm PDT
Location: Vista Civic Center
200 Civic Center Dr. Vista, CA 92084 (map it)
Contact: Maria Hughes | Maria.hughes@sba.gov | (619) 727-4871
Organizations: SBA San Diego District Office and Vista Chamber of Commerce
Fee: Free

The SBA San Diego District Office and the Vista Chamber of Commerce are hosting an SBA Day event and Lender Fair on Wednesday, July 26th.

Registration will begin at 8 a.m., followed by the main program and presentations from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m:

  • California small business permits and taxes—Presented by California Board of Equalization
  • Legal aspects of being in business—Presented by a local attorney
  • Overview of the new I-9 form and filing procedures—Presented by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
  • Cyber Security Tips—Presented by TBD
  • Our Resource Partners Can Help You Succeed in Your Business—Presented by representatives from SCORE, the Small Business Development Center, the Veteran’s Business Outreach Center, and others

The Lender Fair, networking, and one-on-one Counseling will follow presentations until 2 p.m.

Coffee and light breakfast will be available. Optional lunch is available for $5 fee, payable at registration.

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

Marketing for Restaurants
Date: July 27, 2017 | 5:30 pm PDT – 7:30 pm PDT
Location: West Valley BusinessSource Center
18645 Sherman Wy. #114 Reseda, CA 91335 (map it)
Contact: Irene Vazquez | ivazquez@vedc.org | (818) 705-9977
Organization: VEDC
Fee: Free

Restaurateurs hear a lot of conflicting ideas about restaurant promotions. Join this free workshop to learn how to grow your business from the ground up.

Get information on these key strategies:

  • Avoid promotional ideas that might devalue your restaurant
  • Avoid unsustainable expectations from customers like getting food at half price
  • And more!

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

Using LinkedIn to Grow your Business
Date: July 19, 2017 | 9:00 am PDT – 10:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: marketingscore24@gmail.com | (973) 442-6400
Organization: Northwest New Jersey SCORE
Fee: Free

Join Northwest New Jersey SCORE for this webinar and get the most out of LinkedIn for your small business:

  • Build your professional network on LinkedIn
  • Gather intelligence and data on your prospects and customers
  • Enhance your reputation
  • Become the authoritative resource in your market segment
  • Generate new sales leads

Click here to register for this event.

Business Plan Overview
Date: July 19, 2017 | 9:00 am PDT – 10:30 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Melissa Terrell | mterrell@theinstitutenc.org | (919) 956-2335
Organization: Women’s Business Center of North Carolina
Fee: Free

Join the Women’s Business Center of North Carolina for this webinar where you’ll learn the key elements of a successful business plan. Get answers to your questions on why you need a good business plan and how to get started.

The webinar will cover:

  • Outline your plan
  • Craft a mission statement
  • Analyze the market and the industry
  • Create a financial plan
  • Locate resources

Click here to register for this event.

Marketing With Google Tools
Date: July 19, 2017| 9:00 am PDT – 10:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: njsbdcnb@business.rutgers.edu | (848) 445-8790
Organization: NJSBDC at Rutgers – New Brunswick
Fee: Free

The webinar covers three features of Google Tools to market and grow a business online:

  • Be found by local customers—How to connect with local searchers using Google My Business, a free local business listing that can help your business appear across Google Search and Maps
  • Be found everywhere, on all devices—How to optimize your website for the organic search results, focusing on making your site mobile-friendly
  • Be found with online advertising—How to promote your products and services on Google and partner websites.

Click here to register for this event. After completing your registration, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

 

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

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


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

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

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

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

Northern California/Sacramento

Internet Marketing For Business Owners
Date: June 2, 2017 | 11:30 am PST – 1:30 pm PST
Location: One Capitol Mall Suite 700 Sacramento, CA 95814 (map it)
Contact: Jessica Weeks | jweeks@metrochamber.org | (916) 319-4268
Organization: NEC SBDC – Capital Region
Fee: Free

Join the Northeastern California Capitol Region SBDC for this Executive Series seminar on internet marketing for small business owners.

Topics will include:

  • Website Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Local SEO using Google Places, Yelp, and other review sites and directories
  • Social Media platforms like Facebook and Twitter
  • Video creation, optimization, marketing and advertising
  • Google pay per click (PPC) advertising

Click here to register for this event.

SimpleSTEPS for Starting Your Business
Date: June 8, 2017 | 6:30 pm PST – 9:00 pm PST
Location: Santa Cruz County SCORE @ Simpkins Family Swim Center
979 17th St. Santa Cruz, CA 95062 (map it)
Contact: Edward Fordyce | efordyce@santacruzscore.org  | (831) 621-3735
Organization: Santa Cruz SCORE
Fee: $35

This SCORE workshop helps people understand what it takes to successfully start a small business. Real life experiences from small business owners helped us create this workshop to help new and early-stage businesses by presenting a broad brush overview of the subjects that may impact their success or failure, such as:

  • Start-up Myths
  • Critical Factors to Success
  • Business Opportunities
  • Marketing
  • Structure: DBA, Licenses, and Insurance
  • Record Keeping & Taxes
  • Cash Needs & Sources
  • Business Plans
  • Next Steps

Click here to register for this event.

Retail Basics – Seminar for Online and Brick & Mortar Retailers
Date: June 13, 2017 | 3:00 pm PST – 5:30 pm PST
Location: East Bay SCORE @ Cal State Center East Bay
1000 Broadway Suite 109 Oakland, CA 94607 (map it)
Contact: info@eastbayscore.org | (510) 273-6611
Organization: East Bay SCORE
Fee: $35

This interactive seminar is tailored to answer your questions about online, brick & mortar, and other retail-oriented selling. The seminar will focus on subjects important to the participants, including:

  • Merchandise selection and assortment strategies
  • Inventory management and flow tactics, turnover and budgeting
  • Expenses to consider
  • Vendor support and compliance
  • Sales and seasonal forecasting techniques
  • Buying and selling merchandise while making a profit

Click here to register for this event.

Southern California/San Diego

Built By She: Speaks – with Natasha Case
Date: June 6, 2017 | 6:00 pm PST – 8:00 pm PST
Location: 10250 Constellation Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90067 (map it)
Contact: Kim Scanlan | kscanlan@cvwbc.org | (760) 345-9200
Organization: Built by She
Fee: $5

Built By She is hosting its second event called Built By She – Speaks to connect and inspire women entrepreneurs.

Join Opportunity Funded small business borrower Natasha Case, co-founder of Coolhaus. Natasha has grown her ice cream business to include four trucks and two storefronts in Los Angeles, two trucks and one cart in New York City, and four trucks in Dallas, Texas, plus Coolhaus pre-packaged ice cream sandwiches, hand-dipped bars, and hand-packed pints in over 5,000 grocery stores around the U.S. and internationally in Asia and the Middle East. Networking begins at 6:00pm with wine and ice cream before Natasha takes the stage to speak at 6:30pm.

Click here to register for this event.

Change Management for Small Businesses
Date: June 7, 2017 | 6:00 pm PST – 8:00 pm PST
Location: 1003 East Cooley Dr. Suite 109 Colton, CA 92324 (map it)
Contact: Dee Ann Chandler | deeann@iewbc.org | (909) 890-1242
Organization: Inland Empire Women’s Business Center
Fee: $20

Change happens! As the only constant in business today and the new “business as usual” cjange can be scary, but if you learn how to identify change and then maneuver through it, you can continue operational success.

This workshop will address your most important questions such as:

  • Where do I start?
  • Whom do I involve in the change process?
  • How do I stick to the change?

Click here to register for this event.

Business Essentials for Entrepreneurs
Date: June 8, 2017 | 10:30 am PST – 12:30 pm PST
Location: West Los Angeles Business Source Center
13160 Mindanao Way Suite #240 Marina del Rey, CA 90292 (map it)
Contact: Daniel Ing | ding@pacela.org | (213) 353-9400
Organization:  PACE LA Business Development Center
Fee: Free

This new FREE workshop provides entrepreneurs with information to get your business started on the right path. You’ll learn:

  • Entrepreneur Keys to Success
  • Introduction to Business Planning
  • Choice of Business Entities
  • Basics of Financing Your Business

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

Small Business, Big Threat: Is Your Business Protected?
Date: June 6, 2017 | 8:00 am PST – 9:00 am PST
Location: Online—Webinar
Organization: U.S. Small Business Administration
Fee: Free

Small businesses are most at risk for cyber attack because they are not aware of the unique cyber threats that target small businesses. Learn best practices for protecting your small business during this one-hour webinar, hosted by the Small Business Administration District Offices of Michigan and Ohio.

Click here to register for this event.

Social Media for Small Business Webinar
Date: June 7, 2017| 8:00 am PST – 8:30 am PST
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Karol Ikeda | karol.ikeda@sba.gov | (316) 269-6273
Organization: U.S. Small Business Administration
Fee: Free

Get answers to your questions about how to maximize social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snap Chat, Indeed, and many more in this free webinar. Learn how to use social media to help your small business grow.

Click here to register for this event. You will receive login instructions for the webinar via email.

Small Business Success Virtual Conference
Date: June 8, 2017 | 9:00 am PST – 2:00 pm PST
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: webinars@score.org
Organization: SCORE
Fee: Free

Login June 8th for the Small Business Success Virtual Conference powered by SCORE and Verisign. This half-day event offers educational webinars, one-on-one mentoring sessions, exhibitor booths, and networking chat rooms to give you the information you need to succeed as a small business owner.

Attend all or part of this conference to learn:  

  • How to build a strong credit profile to get funding for your business
  • New trends in social media, websites, and technology
  • New laws that will affect how you hire new employees
  • Little-known factors to consider when choosing the right location for 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 California’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit lender to small businesses. Last year, we made $60M in loans to help more than 2,200 small business owners invest in their businesses.  Opportunity Fund invests in small business owners who do not have access to traditional financing. As a founding member and signatory to the Borrower’s Bill of Rights, we believe in the important role small businesses play in our community and the economy, and we aim to help owners financially succeed.

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

Jessica Toribio has been working in the beauty industry for over 20 years. Thanks to a small business loan from Opportunity Fund, she was able to make improvements to her salon and increase her advertising. We helped her improve her credit and understand business lending with our friendly and personalized loan services.

Our customers inspire us every day, and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too.  This week, read about Jessica Toribio of The Studio of Kosmeticos in Anaheim. Jessica has been working in the beauty industry for over 20 years. Thanks to a small business loan from Opportunity Fund, she was able to make improvements to her salon and increase her advertising. We helped her improve her credit and understand business lending with our friendly and personalized loan services.

Financing Solutions for Salons

Jessica Toribio opened The Studio of Kosmeticos in Anaheim six years ago. She’s spent most of her life working in the beauty industry, with over 20 years of experience. She offers hair, nail, and skin care services for men, women, and children in Orange County.

Jessica started her business with the dream to expand to multiple locations. Before she could expand, she had to outfit her current salon with equipment and promote her services with new signage.

She made a connection with Opportunity Fund loan consultant Osbaldo Velazquez, who visited her salon shortly after the grand opening. Before long, Jessica realized how working with Opportunity Fund could help her boost her business.

“I needed financing to invest in my business,” she said. “I felt comfortable working with Opportunity Fund because I already knew Osbaldo, so I decided to apply.”

Building a Business While Rebuilding Credit

Osbaldo helped Jessica get a $3,000 loan, which financed signage for the front of the salon and a new pedicure chair. The capital for equipment and promotions has helped The Studio of Kosmeticos’ business grow, but the connection to a knowledgeable finance resource means a lot to Jessica as well.

Studio of Kosmeticos - Signage

Part of the $3,000 loan we funded for Jessica’s salon went to marketing and advertising (photo courtesy of ROF Industries)

“Opportunity Fund has helped me rebuild my credit,” she said. “Osbaldo is also there for me to answer my questions and give me advice on business lending.”

Jessica tried working with other small business financing resources but found that Opportunity Fund best fit her needs.

“Opportunity Fund took the time to explain what their programs are all about,” she said. “Other places asked me to fill out an application but didn’t explain the process. Osbaldo helped me feel comfortable about getting a small business loan. I’m very thankful for that.”

Now that Jessica has the funding she needs to better serve her clients and reach out to new clients, she hopes to work with us in the future to expand into a chain of salons in Orange County. We’ll be there to help Jessica make the world a more beautiful place.

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

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Our lending experts are here to answer your toughest questions about small business financing. Sometimes it’s not easy for small business owners to get the financing they need, especially if they apply for a bank loan. Opportunity Fund Director of Microlending Daniel Fernandez shares his perspective on bank lending and how small business owners can prepare to become bank loan ready in the future.

Our lending experts are here to answer your toughest questions about small business financing. Sometimes it’s not easy for small business owners to get the financing they need, especially if they apply for a bank loan. Opportunity Fund Director of Microlending Daniel Fernandez shares his perspective on bank lending and how small business owners can prepare their financials to become bank loan ready in the future.

Q: What should borrowers know about the bank loan process?

A: You can’t walk into a bank, sign your name on the dotted line, and get a $100,000 line of credit anymore. Banks are looking for specific things: time in business, FICO score, and overall profitability of a business.

Q: How long does it take to build a good business profile for a bank loan?

A: Banks are looking for at least three years in business, plus traditional profitability, year over year growth, and no major landmines in your credit history like bankruptcies and loan modifications. Many times defaults on a bank product, like a checking account or a credit card, are instant disqualifiers. If you have a small business with annual revenues below one million dollars, you must personally guarantee any loan you have.

Q: What are some other key attributes that bank loan officers look for in a successful candidate?

A: Industry plays a big role. Small business owners in high risk industries like restaurants, manufacturing, trucking, and construction face challenges in bank financing. An ideal candidate for a bank loan comes from professional industries, like medical. A clean balance sheet with a business profile gives a business owner the best chance of getting a bank loan.

Q: Can you share some do’s and don’ts for borrowers who are trying to become ready for a bank loan?

A: Do:

  • Know your credit score and your recent credit history very well. It’s a major determining factor for loan eligibility and building credit worthiness.
  • Understand the type of financing that you’re looking for: term financing, a line of credit, or equipment financing, for example.
  • Do your research on available loans and how it connects to the type of credit profile that you have.
  • Set expectations for yourself and your business. A borrower who wants a low interest rate loan but has a bankruptcy within the last five years will likely have better chances with an alternative lender versus a bank. Alternative lending doesn’t necessarily mean high risk or cost, or even predatory. It means that you must be open to paying a little more as your business risk profile is higher than average.
  • Take advantage of resources to help prepare your financials. Work with someone who knows what banks are looking for in small business lending. A good CPA or even a bookkeeper can help. Other nonprofit and community resources, like the Small Business Development Centers, have programs specifically for small business owners. You can get credit counseling or information on lending through these resources.

Don’t:

  • Don’t rush into the process. It’s easier than ever to find financing right now, but there are high cost and predatory type lenders out there looking for borrowers who are willing to take the path of least resistance. Most of the time it’s against their own best interests as a borrower.
  • Don’t expect that a personal connection to a bank will help you get a business loan. Start rethinking the way banks lend to people and the banking relationship as it relates to the bank lending requirements we discussed here.

Q: Can you share your background in banking and where your perspective comes from?

A: Before coming to Opportunity Fund, I spent almost 10 years in commercial finance as a business banker at Wells Fargo and a relationship manager at JPMorgan Chase in Northern California. I worked at Wells Fargo during the financial crisis of 2008 and saw how the credit crunch impacted small businesses looking for access to capital. At Chase, I had many clients asking about what they could do to become bank loan ready. At that time there weren’t many options for these borrowers and they lacked a clear path to growth. I was part of a group that started working with Opportunity Fund. For the first time ever, we had a way to help our clients who didn’t qualify for a bank loan. It made me think about how cool it is to do what a traditional financial institution can’t.

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


Opportunity Fund is California’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit lender to small businesses. Last year, we made $50M in loans to help more than 2,200 small business owners invest in their businesses.  Opportunity Fund invests in small business owners who do not have access to traditional financing. As a founding member and signatory to the Borrower’s Bill of Rights, we believe in the important role small businesses play in our community and the economy, and we aim to help owners financially succeed.

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

Each month, we’re sharing and promoting free or affordable events that help small business owners run their businesses better. This is your monthly calendar for in-person and virtual events in Northern and Southern California. Here are the best upcoming events in August.

Each month, we’re sharing and promoting the free or affordable events that help small business owners run their businesses better. This is your monthly calendar for in-person events in Northern and Southern California and virtual events. Here are the best upcoming events in August.

Northern California/Bay Area

Financing your Small Business Workshop

Date: August 3, 2016 | 9:00 am PDT – 11:00 am PDT

Location: Veterans Business Outreach Center
4608 Duckhorn Drive Sacramento, CA 95834 (map it)

Contact: (916) 527-8400

Organization: Veterans Business Outreach Center

Fee: Free

This class reviews potential sources of capital to start, operate, and expand a small business. You will learn how to prepare for applying for a small business loan plus sources with expert help to guide you through the process. The class will also include insight into the most important conditions to a lender’s decision to approve or decline a loan request. The seminar will also cover how banks and other lenders operate with the impact of the current recession on their lending programs and how it all affects your ability to obtaining financing.

Click here for more information about this event.

Legal Issues for Small Businesses

Date: August 11, 2016 | 6:00 pm PDT – 9:00 pm PDT

Location: 234 E. Gish Road, Suite 100 San Jose, CA 95112  (map it)

Contact: (408) 453-6237 | info@svscore.org

Organization: Silicon Valley SCORE

Fee: $45 – Veterans can access a FREE promo code for the class here

This small business legal seminar is designed for startups as well as those already in business. When your business changes and grows, you must be prepared to respond to those changes. This is a unique seminar for business owner concerned about tricky legal issues when starting and managing a business. Key topics include how to choose of the type of legal business entity, protecting your identity, business contracts and leases, and many more legal issues that small businesses encounter every day.

Click here to register for this event.

Financial Analysis for Small Businesses

Date: August 18, 2016 | 1:30 pm PDT – 3:30 pm PDT

Location: 455 Market St 6th Floor San Francisco, CA 94105  (map it)

Contact: Angel Cardoz (415) 937-7232 or angel.cardoz@sfgov.org

Organization: San Francisco SBDC

Fee: Free

This workshop will cover different financial analysis methods. You will learn how to analyze your profit and loss report and how budgeting and cash flow forecasting can be used to track and project future monthly cash needs. Small business owners will learn how to use these reports to identify areas where they can increase their profits and business performance plus improve their cash flow management skills.

Click here to register for this event.

Southern California

Develop a Winning Business Plan

Date: August 9, 2016 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:45 pm PDT

Location: Newport Beach Public Library Friends Room
1000 Avocado Avenue Newport Beach, CA 92660 (map it)

Contact: workshops@score114.org

Organization: Orange County SCORE

Fee: Free

A Business Plan is an important document for raising capital, helping you to monitor progress, and achieving your goals. When done correctly, it is a “living” document and tool that will help you manage the business beyond the start-up phase. We will help you prepare a realistic plan that will document your vision, goals, and strategy. No business should be started or maintained without a business plan.  You will learn the three financial statements and how they relate to risk and performance, taking the mystery out of forecasting. Pre-registration is recommended.

Click here to register for this event.

Why Do Small Businesses Need an Accountant?

Date: August 17, 2016 | 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm PDT

Location: Rancho Santiago Community College District
2323 N. Broadway, Room 107 Santa Ana, CA 92706 (map it)

Contact: David Calderon (714) 564-5200 | calderon_david@rsccd.edu

Organization: Orange County SBDC

Fee: Free

This interactive workshop led by CPA professionals from Mendoza & McDuffie, LLP will cover the basics of what small business owners need to know about accounting for their business. Get answers on why you need an accountant/CPA for the different phases of your business, which areas of expertise you need at each phase of your business, how to select an accountant/CPA, and more.

Click here to register for this event.

Loans for Your Small Business

Date: August 23, 2016 | 9:00 am – 12:00 pm PDT

Location: Menifee Chamber of Commerce – Upstairs Conference Room
29737 New Hub Drive Menifee, CA 92586 (map it)

Contact: Mary Takavorian (909) 983-0751 | Mtakavorian@iesmallbusiness.com

Organization: Santa Ana District SBDC

Fee: Free

Business owners have many options for securing capital for the business needs. Opportunity Fund Director of Microlending Daniel Fernandez and Carla Ulloa, CDC Small Business Finance, shed light on how business lending is changing and how not all lenders are playing by the rules. The seminar will provide information on Micro Loans under $50,000, how to identify the right type of loan for your type of business, and lending practices to be aware of so that you can be sure to avoid them. ADDED BONUS: If you are interested in getting pre-screened for a micro-loan, please bring supporting documentation to the event. You can access a list of the documents here.

To get more information about this event or to register, click here.

Virtual

5 Strategies to Boost Your Business Networking Skills

Date: August 10, 2016 | 10:30 am PDT – 11:15 am PDT

Location: Online – Webinar

Contact: Larry Batten (304) 623-7447 | larry.batten@sba.gov

Organization: U.S. Small Business Administration and SCORE Association

Fee: Free

Business networking is more than bumping into a potential customer.  This webinar will introduce you to 5 fundamental strategies that will kick start your ability to target and grow your client base.  Learn tips on building business relations, maximizing networking events, effective communications skills, and using social media.

Click here to register for this event.

Getting a Bank Loan: Fact v. Fiction

Date: August 19, 2016 | 8:30 am PDT – 9:00 am PDT

Location: Online – Webinar

Contact: Kimberly Donahue (304) 347-5220 | kimberly.donahue@sba.gov

Organization: U.S. Small Business Administration and SCORE Association

Fee: Free

What are the keys to walking into a bank and walking out with a business loan? SBA’s Leo Lopez, a former loan officer, breaks through the myths and tells you how to make the lender say “Yes” in this online seminar.

Click here to register for this event.

The Business Plan and Strategic Planning Webinar

Date: August 25, 2016 | 9:00 am PDT – 1:30 pm PDT

Location: Online – Webinar

Contact: (916) 527-8400 | admin@vbocix.org

Organization:  Veterans Business Outreach Center

Fee: Free

This online seminar can help small business owners understand how to write a viable business plan. The workshop discusses key components of developing and usage of a business plan. Topic matter includes executive summary, marketing strategy, financial strategy, competitive comparison, financial management, legal structure, tools to forecast business needs, cash management, and much more.

Click here to register for this event.

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

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


Opportunity Fund is California’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit lender to small businesses. Last year, we made $37M in loans to help more than 1,800 small business owners invest in their businesses.  Opportunity Fund invests in small business owners who do not have access to traditional financing. As a founding member and signatory to the Borrower’s Bill of Rights, we believe in the important role small businesses play in our community and the economy, and we aim to help owners financially succeed.

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

Business credit means everything in managing your small business. Those with less than stellar credit often face obstacles to getting the financing they need to expand their business. If you fall into that category, this post from our content partner Nav can help you get your credit back on track.

Business credit means everything in managing your small business. Those with less than stellar credit often face obstacles to getting the financing they need to expand their business. If you fall into that category, this post from our content partner Nav.com can help you get your credit back on track.

Even though credit is an important factor in both personal and business finances, the true magnitude of its importance is not always realized until it’s needed.  If you’re a business owner with a less than desirable credit score, one of your first questions may be “How can I improve my credit quickly?”

The is truth is, there is no magic solution. You can’t improve your credit overnight; in fact, it often takes months or years to reach the level of business credit that banks require to begin working with you. However, there are a few things you can start doing today to help give your credit a boost as quickly as possible.

Register Your Company

You can’t build business credit until your business is officially recognized as such. If you haven’t done so already, you need to register your company with the IRS and obtain a tax ID number (EIN).  You’ll also want to obtain a D&B D-U-N-S number which you can obtain straight from your Nav account.

Check For Mistakes and Fix Them

Monitor your personal and business credit reports to make sure they are accurate. If information in your one of your reports is wrong, any credit scores calculated from that information will also be wrong. If you find mistakes, dispute them.  The Credit Sweeper tool in your Nav account can help.

Decrease Debt Utilization

If you already have a business credit card or trade lines established, check your report to see what your total credit utilization is like. Your credit utilization ratio is an indicator for creditors that shows how well your business manages your available credit, and you should aim to keep your business credit utilization under 50%.

If you don’t yet have a payment account attached to your business, starting one now can be a step towards establishing your business credit history.

Ask Suppliers to Report Your Payments

Do you have a good relationship with your key suppliers? If so, it’d be in your best interest to start  utilizing your regular payments to build your business credit. Similar to making regular payments on a loan, showing creditors that you can maintain regular payments to your suppliers also signifies that you are a responsible and trustworthy business.

In order to do this, you’ll need to verify that your suppliers do and will report payments to the credit bureaus. If you’re just starting to shop around for the best suppliers, inquire about whether or not they report to business credit bureaus, and try to form a working relationship with a supplier who does. You can also find a list of companies that report to business credit reporting agencies in the Business Launcher tool of your Nav account.

Build a Solid Relationship with A Financial Institution

Building a positive relationship with your bank or credit union is important for a couple of reasons. If you apply for a loan or other types of financing, you may have to provide financial information, including account statements. You’ll want to be able to demonstrate a record of solid cash flow in a business account.

One way to build credit and prove your company as trustworthy is to obtain a business credit card or line of credit and pay it back early. These payments will be reported to the credit bureaus, you will start building a solid payment history, and it will prove that, as a business, you’re likely to pay back larger loans in the future. If your business is too young to qualify for a loan, ask your financial institution whether a secured loan is a possibility.

Take Care of Your Personal Credit

For small business owners, personal credit can have a huge impact on your business credit.  In fact, the FICO SBSS Score, which is the business credit score that the SBA uses to prequalify many of their loan applicants, uses personal credit as a major factor in its scoring model.

It’s easy to focus all your time and energy on your business, but don’t let your personal credit suffer. Maintaining good personal credit will help you build or maintain good business credit. Read about the main personal credit scoring factors here.

Establish an Emergency Fund Before You Need It

One of the most frustrating situations a business owner can encounter is one where you need funds quickly but can’t access them. Thus, it’s always best to apply for things like credit cards and credit lines before you need them.  Having access to emergency cash can help you avoid the stress that comes when you need it the most.

Check your SIC and NAICS Codes

Did you know that your industry’s risk is a factor influencing your business credit score? And TONS of businesses have the wrong SIC or NAICS code associated with their business. If your business is falsely listed under a riskier industry, now would be a great time to correct that code.

“I’ve done all that, now what?”  

First of all, congratulations on taking the most important steps in building good business credit.  If you’ve managed to check off every item on the list and still find that your business credit scores aren’t rising  as fast as you’d like, don’t give up.

Building credit is process that takes time, and while there are things you can do to expedite some aspects of it, others will just take time.

Building a credit rating takes time, but tools like Nav can make the process easier and more effective. And while it may seem like it takes forever, if you are proactive, you can make significant process in as little as a year or two.

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

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


Opportunity Fund is California’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit lender to small businesses. Last year, we made $37M in loans to help more than 1,800 small business owners invest in their businesses.  Opportunity Fund invests in small business owners who do not have access to traditional financing. As a founding member and signatory to the Borrower’s Bill of Rights, we believe in the important role small businesses play in our community and the economy, and we aim to help owners financially succeed.

Visit us online and follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Each month, we’re sharing and promoting free or affordable events that help small business owners run their businesses better. This is your monthly calendar for in-person and virtual events in Northern and Southern California. Here are the best upcoming events in July.

Each month, we’re sharing and promoting the free or affordable events that help small business owners run their businesses better. This is your monthly calendar for in-person and virtual events in Northern and Southern California. Here are the best upcoming events in July.

Northern California/Bay Area

Build Your Business: Writing Your Best Business Plan

Date: July 12, 2016 | 2:00 pm PDT – 5:00 pm PDT

Location: Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, Tony Hill ABC Room
307 Church St. Santa Cruz, CA 95060 (map it)

Contact: (831) 479-6136

Organization: Santa Cruz SBDC

Fee: Free

This seminar will help you identify the most appropriate business planning format for starting or expanding a business, marketing basics, and a strategic plan to put your business on the road to success. Learn how to establish realistic goals and objectives, determine costs, and get solutions for financing your business.

Click here for more information about this event.

Small Business Boot Camp

Date: July 20, 2016 | 8:30 am PDT – 5:00 pm PDT

Location: 234 E. Gish Road, Suite 100 San Jose, CA 95112  (map it)

Contact: (408) 453-6237 or info@svscore.org

Organization: Silicon Valley SCORE

Fee: $90 – Veterans can access a FREE promo code for the class here

Let’s get down to business! This full-day workshop provides an overview of all the important aspects required to ensure control and success in business. Attendees will hear from a variety of SCORE and outside business professionals. Topics included in this workshop: the business plan, business law, access to capital, and more. This monthly event will also be held August 17 and September 17.

Click here to register for this event.

Southern California

Get Your Business Online: WordPress 101

Date: July 14, 2016 | 5:30 pm PDT – 7:30 pm PDT

Location: El Camino College Business Training Center
13430 Hawthorne Blvd. Hawthorne, CA 90250 (map it)

Contact: Martha Cisneros (310) 973-3177

Organization: South Bay SBDC

Fee: $10

Having a website online is as important as having an ‘Open for Business’ sign on your front door because it notifies the public that you have a product or service that potentially meets their needs. With WordPress it is possible to have an effective and optimized website that is easy to use and update. WordPress is an effective content management system that is used to run everything from simple blogs to CNN.com. With WordPress currently running over 75 million websites, come learn the basics about WordPress, Themes, and Plugins for your business.

Click here to register for this event.

The Art and Science of Creating a Successful Business Plan

Date: July 21, 2016 | 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm PDT

Location: Norman P. Murray Center
24932 Veterans Way, Jacaranda A, Mission Viejo CA 92691 (map it)

Contact: David Calderon (714) 564-5200

Organization: Orange County SBDC

Fee: $25

It’s your journey…shouldn’t you create the map? Successful business planning leads to successful business results. Take the most important step and build your business solidly from the very beginning or use it to guide an existing enterprise. In this interactive workshop you will learn the foundation of creating a business plan that works for you.

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

7 Things to Know Before You Go Into Business

Date: July 15, 2016 | 8:30 am PDT – 9:30 am PDT

Location: Online – Webinar

Contact: Kimberly Donahue (304) 347-5220 | kimberly.donahue@sba.gov

Organization: U.S. Small Business Administration and SCORE Association

Fee: Free

All small business owners want to build a successful business. Success rests on a solid foundation of knowledge. Join us to learn what you may not know. An experienced business team from SBA and IRS talk about legal organization, recordkeeping, hiring, financing choices, and no-cost resources available to you, wherever you live.   

Click here to register for this event.

Beyond the Business Card

Date: July 26, 2016 | 10:00 am PDT – 11:00 am PDT

Location: Online – Webinar

Contact: Amber Lopez (661) 632-5900 | sbdc@canyons.edu

Organization: Los Angeles Regional SBDC

Fee: Free

Relationships = New & Ongoing Business = Success!!! Are you relying on referrals and/or luck to grow your business? Are you meeting new contacts, but not able to take it to the next step? You made new contacts at a networking / social event and got business card(s), and/or you’ve added new connections via social media (such as LinkedIn or Facebook). Now what do you do? Developing and maintaining productive professional relationships with new contacts/connections as well as your existing clients and strategic partners is ESSENTIAL to your ongoing SUCCESS in gaining new clients and building your business! So often, one makes new connections, but doesn’t know how to cultivate new relationships and ultimately acquire new 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 California’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit lender to small businesses. Last year, we made $37M in loans to help more than 1,800 small business owners invest in their businesses.  Opportunity Fund invests in small business owners who do not have access to traditional financing. As a founding member and signatory to the Borrower’s Bill of Rights, we believe in the important role small businesses play in our community and the economy, and we aim to help owners financially succeed.

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

Our lending experts are here to answer your toughest questions about small business financing. For a small business owner, credit can make or break their chances at success. If you’ve ever been confused about credit, you’re not alone. Here’s what you need to know about credit reports.

Many people think they can’t understand credit. Libby Morris, Senior Operations Director at Opportunity Fund, shares her insights on credit and lending with this Q&A about credit reports.

Q: How can borrowers get their credit score and reports?

A: The best way to get credit information for free is annualcreditreport.com. Even though they don’t provide a credit score without an additional fee, borrowers can get important data.

Credit providers are mandated to offer a copy of the credit report they used in the approval or denial decision to all applicants.

Q: How can borrowers dispute inaccurate information on their credit reports?

A: Read the credit report line by line. Look for anything suspicious or inaccurate, especially for common names or family members with the same name.

Go directly to the credit bureau’s website to dispute any inaccuracies. The credit provider has a time frame to respond to a dispute. The credit provider can choose to respond and provide proof that the disputed information is true. Most of the time, the credit provider won’t respond. This is how a borrower can successfully remove negative information from their credit report.

Q: What are some resources borrowers can use to repair their credit?

A: The most efficient and direct way is to research each bureau’s resources for credit management. They have a real stake in meeting the needs of borrowers and they emphasize transparency.

Q: How does FICO score factor into the loan process?

A: Most lenders use FICO as the key factor on credit applications. Bankruptcies and late accounts like a phone bill can bring a FICO score down significantly. These things can cause most lenders to decline a loan application.

At Opportunity Fund, We use a borrower’s credit report more as a tool to better understand the customer than as the main factor in a credit decision.  We look at all the pieces of credit history and evaluate each one. If a late account somewhere in a borrower’s history seems reasonable, like collections from the library, we don’t use that in application process. We use a borrower’s credit report more as a tool to better understand the customer than as the main factor in a credit decision.

Q: What is the difference between a hard credit pull and a soft credit pull?

A: A hard pull shows up as an inquiry on a credit report. It can impact a credit score, especially for borrowers with thin credit. It tells a lender how often a borrower asks for credit. For example, a borrower buying a house might apply for 10 different lines of credit over 30 days. That has the same impact as if the borrower applied for five lines of credit over the same time period.

A soft pull happens when lenders inquire about credit without impacting FICO score. An example of a soft pull is a pre-approved credit card offer in the mail. A credit provider, like Capital One, pays Experian for a list of borrowers that meet specific credit criteria to create the soft pull.

Q: Credit information has a lot of jargon. How can borrowers find and understand key terms on their credit reports?

A: Each of the three credit bureaus—Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian—have definitions on their websites. Borrowers should take time to read through their credit report with the help of the definitions provided by each bureau.

Q: What are the differences between the three credit bureaus?

A: The main differences are based the data each bureau gathers. For example, a loan from Opportunity Fund might show up on a borrower’s Experian or TransUnion report. Each bureau’s reports should be accurate, but their data format or reporting dates can be different.

Q: What are some things that borrowers should know about the loan process in regards to their credit?

A: Borrowers should know that any lender will inquire on credit and most are very score-driven. The information in the credit report won’t matter as much as the score it creates. During the credit process, lenders have access to view your complete report and they will ask you questions. Borrowers can help themselves by already knowing the answers.

At Opportunity Fund, we require borrowers to personally guarantee their loans. This usually helps the borrower’s credit score, but if they inquire about an additional loan like a mortgage, a personally guaranteed loan on the credit report can make the mortgage officer reduce the amount the borrower might be eligible for.

A lot of business loans don’t show up on personal credit reports. Our mission-oriented lending is based on transparency in the small business lending world, as part of the Small Business Borrower’s Bill of Rights. We would like all business lenders to report on credit, because it would allow access to sustainable lending for all borrowers in general, but especially for small business borrowers.

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


Opportunity Fund is California’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit lender to small businesses. Last year, we made $37M in loans to help more than 1,800 small business owners invest in their businesses.  Opportunity Fund invests in small business owners who do not have access to traditional financing. As a founding member and signatory to the Borrower’s Bill of Rights, we believe in the important role small businesses play in our community and the economy, and we aim to help owners financially succeed.

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

Get answers about some of the most common questions lenders will ask small business owners: credit, collateral, loans for your small business, and more.

Here on our blog, we share the most relevant and informative content for small business owners.  We’re proud to share this article from our partner Nav.com.

As the builder of a small business, you wear many hats and your success or failure depends on your ability to maintain confidence in your vision and do many things well at once.

As producer, one of your jobs is to raise money for the project. Successfully raising money means knowing what a potential lender will ask you before you commit to a meeting or lengthy application process. You want to get yourself and your business affairs in as much order as possible so that you can tell the lender all the things that he or she needs to hear to make up his or her mind about your potential as a borrower.

Here are six questions a lender will typically ask you.

1. How much money do you need?

While this question may seem obvious, it’s sometimes the obvious questions that prove most difficult to answer. A lender won’t ask you how much money you want—they’ll press you for what you need. Lending money is a cautious, prudent, conservative sort of business. Lenders want to see that, where finances are concerned, your business is the same. Ideally you should be able to show a lender that you’ve thought this question through to the last cent, that you’re borrowing only what you need.

2. What does your credit profile look like?

This one’s important because it can make or break whether or not a lender will even ask the next 4 questions. Depending on what lender you choose, they may pull both your personal and business credit reports or scores. If these are both solid, they’ll move onto the questions listed below. If you have derogatory marks on your credit report, they may ask about those as well.

3. How will you use the money?

This question is really about how you’ll use the money to build your business. If you need to buy a truck, for example, it won’t be enough to simply say you’ll use the money to buy a truck. You should be able to explain how a truck is integral to your small business.

Here, lenders are looking for an answer that will assure them that you can pay back the loan. For example, “working capital” or “expansion/growth opportunities” are good answers to this question—they ensure the lender that their investment will increase your revenues. Loan requests for “repaying old debts,” on the other hand, will likely be rejected.

4. How will you repay the loan?

Great question! You’ll repay the loan with the proceeds of your booming small business, of course. But a lender will need more assurance than that. They’ll want to see that you have enough assets, savings and personal collateral to (a) survive the ups and downs of business life and (b) still repay the loan. They may ask if you have current or past loans, any outstanding business debts, and they will likely want to take a look at your previous business or personal tax returns.

5. Does your business have the ability to make the payments required under the loan?

For an existing business, proof of solid cash flow sufficient to the terms of the loan will go a long way towards securing the loan. A lender may ask to see a balance sheet and profit and loss statement from the previous year. A new business owner’s best bet is to show that they’ve been profitable in a comparable business venture in the past, or have a strong expertise and have done their research in the particular industry of the business.

6. Can you put up any collateral?

Collateral is something (such as a house or inventory) you pledge as security for the loan in the event that you cannot repay it. If you don’t repay the loan, your lender takes the collateral. Collateral will be extremely important if you are hoping to secure a bank or SBA loan. Other alternative lenders may not ask for collateral, but they may ask for a personal guarantee on the loan. With a personal guarantee, you agree to be personally responsible for the debt if worse comes to worst and your business is forced to default. Unlike collateral, a personal guarantee is not tied to a particular asset, however it does put the business owner in a tough spot to pay back the loan should the business not pan out as expected.

To a small business owner just getting started, some of this may seem unfair. But it might help to put yourself in the lender’s shoes: thousands of people apply for business loans every day, and it’s impossible to predict a winner based on nothing more than a good idea and a business plan.

Happily, there are proven ways get ahead of the game before you submit loan applications. For example, you can build business credit and repair bad personal credit, as well as prepare the documentation listed above and proof of collateral. The more you read, research, plan and prepare, the better the chance that your vision for your small business will be recognized and supported by lenders down the road.

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


Opportunity Fund is California’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit lender to small businesses. Last year, we made $37M in loans to help more than 1,800 small business owners invest in their businesses.  Opportunity Fund invests in small business owners who do not have access to traditional financing. As a founding member and signatory to the Borrower’s Bill of Rights, we believe in the important role small businesses play in our community and the economy, and we aim to help owners financially succeed.

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

FICO scores get calculated from 5 types of data: payment history, amounts owed, length of credit history, new credit, and types of credit used. Here’s how each of these factors impacts your FICO score.

Here on our blog, we share the most relevant and informative content for small business owners.  We’re proud to share this article from our partner Nav.com.

Breaking down your FICO score

Your FICO scores paint a picture of how likely you are to repay credit accounts. More specifically, it models the likelihood of you having a 90 day late payment default in the next couple years. FICO scores get calculated from 5 types of data: payment history, amounts owed, length of credit history, new credit, and types of credit used. Note that some categories are more important than others.

The breakdown of how they influence your credit score is as follows:

creditscore_determined

Nav.com breaks down how your FICO score is determined (Photo courtesy of Nav.com)

The higher percent categories have a bigger impact on your credit score, though if you don’t have much credit history, then whatever information there is on you matters more. Next we’ll take a look at each category and basics for keeping each in a healthy state.

Payment history (35%)

Have you paid your credit accounts on time? These include credit cards, retail accounts, installment loans, finance company accounts, and mortgage loans. Late payments have a big impact on your credit score, but not all late payments are the same. The impact they have on your FICO scores depends on how late the payment is, how much is owed, and how recently it occurred. How many late payments there are also matters. You should strive to make that number zero. Always pay on time!

Amounts owed (30%)

The main question here is what your credit utilization is. Basically, how much of your total credit limit are you using up? For example, if you have just one credit card with a $10,000 credit limit, and a balance of $2,500 on it, your credit utilization is $2,500 / $10,000 = 25%. A high credit utilization is viewed as more risky. For example, if you regularly spend $2,500 of your $10,000 limit each month, and an unexpected $5,000 expense comes up, you can likely cover it without a problem. However, if you regularly spend $7,500 a month and an unexpected $5,000 comes up, you might not have enough credit to cover the expense.

Even if you pay your credit off every month, a balance could still show up on your credit report and influence your credit score. Credit gets reported to credit bureaus monthly, so it depends on whether there’s a balance on your account at the time it gets reported.

You should strive to keep your credit utilization under 30%. The lower your utilization, the better. The exception is that having low credit utilization can be better than none at all, so long as you pay it off:

credit utilization

Credit utilization makes a huge difference when calculating your FICO score (photo courtesy of Credit Karma)

Having low credit utilization gives you flexibility when unexpected things occur. For example, if you lose your job or have a big medical expense, it can be hugely helpful to have unused credit on credit cards to tap into. Paying down an installment loan (such as a car loan) is also a positive sign of your ability to repay debt. Note that both your individual account credit utilization per account and your overall credit utilization are used in calculating your FICO scores.

Length of credit history (15%)

The length of your credit history is determined by the age of your credit accounts. The age of an account is how long it’s been since it was originally established. The age of your oldest account has a big impact here. It’s what’s used for the age of your overall credit report, representing how much credit history you have. More is better. They also look at the age of your newest account and the average age of all accounts.

A common misconception is that once you close an account, it gets removed from your credit history. This is not true. Closed accounts remain on your credit history, for up to 10 years after they’ve been closed.

Another myth is that you shouldn’t leave credit card accounts open. While you should be judicious about opening new accounts, there’s no harm in keeping existing ones open. In fact, they help your credit utilization (they help you have a higher total credit limit).

New credit (10%)

Opening too many new accounts around the same time can hurt your credit score. One reason is that they lower your average age of accounts. Also, if you suddenly try to open a bunch of accounts, it’s a signal that you may be expecting financial trouble ahead.

Also be aware that when you apply to open a credit account (e.g. – credit cards, mortgages), a hard inquiry is made against your credit report. Hard inquiries made in the past 6 months will bring your credit score down a little bit, but usually won’t cause significant damage. They remain on your credit report for 2 years, but have no impact after 12 months. Soft inquiries are used for background checks, credit pre-approvals, regular monitoring of your credit by lenders who you have an active account with, or when you request your own credit score. These do not impact your credit score.

Types of credit used (10%)

Types of credit used refers to your mix of credit types, such as credit cards, retail accounts, finance company accounts, installment loans, and mortgage loans. You don’t need to have each type of credit, and it’s not recommended to open accounts that you don’t intend to use. Credit card and installment loans with good repayment history raise your score. The optimal number of credit card accounts to hold is 5-9. Experience with both revolving credit (e.g. – credit cards, home equity lines of credit) and installment accounts (mortgages, auto loans, student loans) helps. Finance company accounts are only good for credit if there is nothing better on your report, otherwise they aren’t great for your credit.

Now that you have an idea of how your credit score is determined, you should become familiar with your personal credit reports and credit scores. You can now look at your credit report with a more informed eye, and take actions to help improve your credit score. If you want to see how different events affect your credit score, check out Credit Karma’s Credit Score Simulator.

This article originally appeared on Nav.com and was repurposed with their permission.


 

Opportunity Fund is California’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit lender to small businesses. Last year, we made $37M in loans to help more than 1,800 small business owners invest in their businesses.  Opportunity Fund invests in small business owners who do not have access to traditional financing. As a founding member and signatory to the Borrower’s Bill of Rights, we believe in the important role small businesses play in our community and the economy, and we aim to help owners financially succeed.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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