This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in Northern and Southern California. Here are the best upcoming events from September 13 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 September 13 through 30.

Northern California/Sacramento

Business Basics: Turning Ideas into Action
Date: September 18, 2018 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: Willits City Hall
111 E. Commercial St. Willits, CA 95490 (map it)
Contact: info@westcompany.org (707) 964-7571
Organization: West Company
Fee: Free for West Company members | $25 for non-members

Join this workshop for start-up guidance and a general overview of elements to consider when starting and owning a business. Topics Include:

  • Business licensing requirements
  • Business taxes
  • Legal forms of organization
  • Components of a business plan
  • Financial readiness
  • Business loans
  • Marketing messages
  • Target markets
  • Technology tools for business productivity

Click here to register for this event.

Networking Mixer
Date: September 19, 2018 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: Caremore Health
255 N. White Road #200 San Jose, CA 95127 (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 a small business networking mixer hosted by CareMore Health. Enjoy light refreshments, network with other members, and meet your next great client.

Click here to register for this event.

Checklist to Opening a Restaurant—Part 1
Date: September 26, 2018 | 6:00 am PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: Napa Valley College—Building 3300
2277 Napa-Vallejo Hwy Napa, CA 94558 (map it)
Contact: Valerie Bible | (707) 256-7250
Organization: Napa-Sonoma SBDC
Fee: $45

Join us for this free two-part seminar led by SBDC Restaurant Specialist Louise Dawson. Together we’ll review how to prepare for your restaurant business opening. Topics include:

  • Writing a restaurant business plan—required by most landlords and investors
  • Discovering strategies and organizational techniques
  • Developing your concept
  • Creating a marketing plan
  • Understanding financial projections
  • Finding financing for restaurant projects—including a Q&A session led by finance industry leaders on SBA loans, micro-loans, investor packages to attract private funders, and more.

Click here to register for this event. To register for Part 2 on Oct. 3, click here.

Southern California/San Diego

Business Plan Boot Camp: Marketing, Organization, & Operations
Date: September 18, 2018 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: Community Action Partnership of Riverside County
2038 Iowa Ave. Suite B-102 Riverside, CA 92507 (map it)
Contact: (909) 890-1242
Organization: Inland Empire Women’s Business Center
Fee: $20

Shape up your business plan! Learn how to identify your best customers and craft an effective marketing plan to reach them, and how to set your marketing budget. We’ll show you how to create your organizational plan and operational flow as well.

Click here to register for this event.

Business Loan Opportunities for Everyone
Date: September 20, 2018 | 2:00 pm PDT – 4:00 pm PDT
Location: 1055 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 900B Los Angeles, CA 90017 (map it)
Contact: Daniel Ing | ding@pacela.org | (213) 353-9400
Organization: PACE Finance Corporation
Fee: Free

Join this free workshop to learn where to get capital for your young business. Make sense of the options out there for entrepreneurs, startups, and growing small businesses in the complex world of capital access.

Click here to register for this event.

Feed! Lead! Profit! Restaurant Expo
Date: September 22, 2018 | 1:00 pm PDT – 5:00 pm PDT
Location: West Valley Warner Center Chamber of Commerce
6100 Topanga Canyon Blvd. Woodland Hills, CA 91367 (map it)
Contact: info@vedc.org | (818) 907-9922
Organization: VEDC
Fee: Free

If you have a restaurant or food business or dream of opening one, join us for this free expo designed specifically for restaurant entrepreneurs:

  • Meet vendors that can support your success
  • Attend a series of mini workshops targeted on growing your business
  • Hear a seasoned panel of owners share their secrets to success
  • Hang out with other restaurant people
  • And more

Agenda:

  • 1:00 PM: Register and Mingle with Restaurant Owners and Restaurant Service Providers
  • 2:00 PM: Opening Introduction of the WBC/ VEDC and the Restaurant Resource Council
  • 2:15 PM: Workshop: How to Avoid The Top 5 Common Mistakes Restaurant Owners Make
  • 2:45 PM: Raffle and Food Sampling
  • 3:00 PM: Perfectly Seasoned Restaurant Owner and Operator Panel
  • 3:45 PM: Raffle and Food Sampling
  • 4:00 PM: “Ask An Expert” Speed Ask Breakout: Get all your questions answered by the experts

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

Basic Bookkeeping for Entrepreneurs
Date: September 18, 2018 | 1:00 pm PDT – 3:00 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Cindy Doyl | cindy.doyl@wsbdc.org | (907) 687-9928
Organization: Washington SBDC
Fee: Free

Join this free webinar to learn the fundamentals of financial record keeping with automated software platforms like QuickBooks Online, Sage Peachtree, and Xero. Prior experience with accounting software is not required.

Topics include:

  • Accounting matters for your business
  • Types of businesses
  • Types of accounting software
  • Bookkeeping terminology
  • Accounting practices
  • Payroll
  • Accounts receivable & accounts payable
  • Inventory
  • Chart of accounts
  • Trial balances
  • Bank reconciliation
  • Major financial statements

Click here to register for this event.

G-Suite for Business: Save Time and Money While Collaborating with Others for Success
Date: September 26, 2018 | 12:00 pm PDT – 1:00 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: info@e-jedi.org | (530) 926-6670
Organization: Jefferson Economic Development Institute
Fee: Free

Join this free webinar to learn how to leverage technology to work when and where you want to. Stay relevant in the changing economy by using technology, social media, and digital tools for your business.

This webinar focuses on how to use the G-Suite to work from wherever you are in the world–even while traveling or on vacation–from a netbook and smartphone with internet access. Learn tips and tricks of how to use Google’s online, cloud-based version of Microsoft Office to manage your workflow effectively.

Topics include:

  • The cloud vs. local storage
  • Gmail, Google docs, and Google sheets
  • File sharing
  • Google calendar
  • Social media integrations
  • Costs and other considerations
  • G-Suite best practices for organization and time management

Click here to register for this event. The webinar will be available as a recording if you are not able to attend live.

National Preparedness Month Webinar—Business Continuity for Small Businesses
Date: September 27, 2018 | 11:00 am PDT – 12:00 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Peter D. Smith | peter.smith@sba.gov | (317) 226-7272 Ext. 119
Organization: U.S. Small Business Administration Indiana District Office
Fee: Free

September is National Preparedness Month. Learn how to prepare, prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from the threats and hazards that pose the greatest risks to 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.

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

This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in Northern and Southern California. Here are the best upcoming events from September 1 through 13.

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 September 1 through 13.

Northern California/Sacramento

Women Mean Business
Date: September 5, 2018 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: 275 5th St. San Francisco, CA 94103 (map it)
Contact: Erin Morris | emorris@rencenter.org | (415) 348-6227
Organization: Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center
Fee: $15

Join us for our monthly Women Mean Business series. This month, meet Renaissance client and success story Judi Henderson, the founder and owner of Mannequin Madness in Oakland. She will share her unconventional entrepreneurial journey and her tips for success to aspiring business owners. Enjoy networking and a light dinner catered by Love and Hummus—another Renaissance program graduate!

Click here to register for this event.

Minority Women’s Business Conference
Date: September 6, 2018 | 9:00 am PDT – 3:00 pm PDT
Location: Forager Tasting Room & Eatery
420 S. 1st St. San Jose, CA 95112 (map it)
Contact: (916) 446-7883
Organization: CalAsian Chamber of Commerce
Fee: $35

Did you know: 70% of Women-Owned Businesses have annual receipts of less than $25,000 and only 10% have employees – and minority women-owned businesses only account for 14% of the revenue.

Join the CalAsian Chamber of Commerce and National ACE as we bring together professional women throughout the State of California for interactive panel discussions from successful entrepreneurial women of color.

Participate in our discussion on methods and strategies towards strengthening leadership skills in business, career, and life from an entrepreneurial perspective. Network with a group of minority women business owners, political figures, and community and non-profit leaders all empowering one another.

Industry titans are joining us to create change for minority women business owners:

  • Political leaders including California State Controller Betty Yee
  • Business leaders including Walmart U.S. eCommerce Senior Vice President and General Counsel Jamie Chung
  • Tech leaders including Google TDM Program Manager Lucy Tice

Click here to register for this event.

Exploring Business Ownership: What Does it Take to Start a Business?
Date: September 12, 2018 | 5:30 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: 205 Chestnut St. Mt. Shasta, CA 96067 (map it)
Contact: info@e-jedi.org | (530) 926-6670
Organization: Jefferson Economic Development Institute
Fee: Free

Starting a business can be scary. Like any other successful adventure, the more prepared you are the higher chance of a positive outcome. First, ask yourself these questions:

  • Have you ever wondered what makes a successful business owner?
  • Are entrepreneurs born with special skills or are they something you can learn?
  • Are you thinking about starting a business or turning a hobby into an income?
  • Do you wonder if you have what it takes or if your idea or service would sell?

Next, join this free course to prepare your roadmap for business start-ups. Together we’ll achieve:

  • Understanding the mindset and characteristics of successful entrepreneurs
  • Exploring the different types of businesses as well as legal structures
  • Comprehending common business terminology as it applies to start-ups
  • Discovering why conducting a feasibility study is like packing the right supplies for a trip

Click here to register for this event.

Southern California/San Diego

Restaurant Resource Council: Winning Restaurant Marketing Plans
Date: September 4, 2018 | 5:30 pm PDT – 7:30 pm PDT
Location: 5121 Van Nuys Blvd. Ste 300A Sherman Oaks, CA 91403 (map it)
Contact: info@vedc.org | (818) 907-9922
Organization: VEDC
Fee: Free

Join this free workshop to learn how to establish a restaurant marketing plan through email advertising campaigns and Facebook advertising.

Click here to register for this event.

Legal Forms of Organization
Date: September 5, 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

The legal structure of your business impacts the time and the cost to launch, as well as ongoing compliance requirements. Learn from an attorney about which form of organization your business could take and the tax consequences and benefits of each type of structure.

Click here to register for this event.

Access to Capital
Date: September 12, 2018 | 6:30 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: The Big House
180 E. 35th St. Los Angeles, CA 90011 (map it)
Contact: Cathleen Hy | chy@pacela.org | (323) 293-6284 ext 242
Organization: PACE Finance Corporation
Fee: Free

If you’re confused by the options for where to get capital for your new business and looking for answers join PACE Business Development Center for this free workshop. Entrepreneurs, startups, and growing small businesses are welcome to join us as we navigate the complex world of access to capital.

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

Using Census Data to *SizeUp* Your New or Existing Business
Date: September 4, 2018 | 10:30 am PDT – 11:30 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: 404-331-0100
Organization: U.S. Small Business Administration Georgia District Office
Fee: Free

Census data is an essential tool for entrepreneurs at any stage to get started or grow their business. Join this free webinar and learn: 

  • Use industry trends to successfully plan, jump start, and run your business
  • Use NAICS codes to locate and zoom in on business opportunities
  • Use verifiable industry analysis and census data to accelerate your business
  • Use census data to learn your industry, measure your business, and find growth opportunities

Click here to register for this event.

Establish Your Business Brand Online and In the Community—Part 1
Date: September 6, 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

“I didn’t know you existed!” If you have ever heard this—or never want to hear this—from your customers, this free webinar is for you. Join us to discuss:

  • Branding: What it means and how to create an effective brand for your business
  • Marketing: How to promote your brand using a marketing plan
  • Promotion: How to find affordable methods to establish your business brand online and in your community

Click here to register for this event. To register for part 2 all about content marketing, click here.

Grow Smart: Wealth Building Tactics for Small Business Owners
Date: September 11, 2018 | 11:00 am PDT – 12:00 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Mary Overbey
Organization: Small Business Majority
Fee: Free

Entrepreneurship can be a path to wealth and prosperity. However, it’s important to remember that wealth is not just income—it also includes financial assets like stocks or bank accounts and non-financial assets like cars and property.

Small Business Majority invites you to a free interactive webinar to help you navigate your retirement options and discover wealth building tactics for your small business.

In this presentation, we will discuss topics to help build wealth as a small business owner:

  • Growing your business’s cash reserves
  • Setting up a small business retirement plan
  • Fostering a culture of savings at your business
  • Identifying financial planning tools
  • Building wealth as a small business owner using key tactics
  • Addressing the U.S. retirement savings gap and how small business can be part of the solution
  • Utilizing guides to workplace-based retirement plans for small business owners and the self-employed
  • Locating helpful tools and resources
  • And more

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

Doc’s business grew thanks to the support of his family every step of the way. When he needed a small business loan to build a food truck, Opportunity Fund was there with fast, easy-to-get, and affordable small business financing. Now with two trucks and a new restaurant opening soon, Doc’s Q’in Pit Stop is bigger than ever.

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

Doc’s business grew thanks to the support of his family every step of the way. When he needed a small business loan to build a food truck, Opportunity Fund was there with fast, easy-to-get, and affordable small business financing. Now with two trucks and a new restaurant opening soon, Doc’s Q’in Pit Stop is bigger than ever.

Family is Everything

Derek “Doc” Taylor started Doc’s Q’in Pit Stop in Modesto in 2006. He started by cooking out at family reunions for years, then took his can’t-miss barbecue out to a gas station parking lot on Highway 132. His barbecue tent on the main thoroughfare through town attracted so much attention over the Labor Day weekend that people were lining up for food before the end of the week.

“The gas station owners wanted to sell hot food,” he said. “I’d just finished doing a family reunion, so I had all my stuff: the tents, refrigerators, and the fixings.”

Doc’s claim to fame is “great Q on 132,” but his business has outgrown its humble beginnings. Doc has since moved to a brick and mortar location in a building he bought–”my former competition” he said with a laugh–and has two food trucks on the road. His restaurant is a staple among the tourist crowds traveling to Yosemite. He works alongside his family every day, including his wife, children, and nephew. His grandson’s baby picture is even featured in the restaurant logo.

Doc bases his business on family and community, but even as Doc’s Q’in Pit Stop was thriving, it wasn’t easy for him to find financing to expand his business.

Going Places

Doc needed a small business loan to build a food truck for Super Bowl weekend in 2016. Almost 90 miles away from the game site in Santa Clara, Doc’s Q’in Pit Stop was ground zero for Central Valley football fans. “I learned that Opportunity Fund finances food trucks,” Doc said. “I got in contact with you and got approved.”

Opportunity Fund loan consultant Madieu Shyllon helped close a loan of $4,000 in November 2015 for Doc’s Q’in Pit Stop. The loan gave him a trustworthy lending resource to help grow his business.

“I needed cash flow to keep the business going,” Doc said. “I made improvements around the restaurant. Without the loan, I would have walked away from the business. I didn’t know where I could get the cash.”

Doc's Q'in Pit Stop

We helped Doc get his food trucks on the road with our small business loans (photo courtesy of Heimo Schmidt)

Doc chose us for the fast financing, personal service, and easy repayment terms. He made the trip to our San Jose office to pick up his check for his second loan of $17,000 in January 2016. “I needed the money right away,” he said. “I never worry about how to pay it back. I pay directly from my bank account.”

Doc took out his third loan with us in February 2018 for $25,000. The working capital is helping Doc’s Q’in Pit Stop expand again, this time to a shopping center in nearby Patterson. Doc has an advantage even before the shopping center breaks ground. “I’ve worked the Patterson farmer’s market for 10 years, so I’m bringing my restaurant to my customer base out there,” he said.

We’re proud to support hard working entrepreneurs like Doc and we’re honored to watch his family-owned and operated business thrive.

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


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

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

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

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

Northern California/Sacramento

San Joaquin Small Business Resource Workshop
Date: August 21, 2018 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: 21991 Colorado Ave. San Joaquin, CA 93660 (map it)
Contact: Eduardo Gonzalez | edgonzalez@csufresno.edu | (559) 278-0542
Organization: San Joaquin Rural Development Center
Fee: Free

Join Opportunity Fund and other Fresno area small business organizations at San Joaquin Small Business Resource Workshop presented by Fresno State Small Business University. Together with these organizations, we will share information on small business resources and technical assistance to help you get on the path to business ownership, improve your existing business, or help your business grow!

The following organizations are scheduled to present:

  • Opportunity Fund
  • City of San Joaquin
  • San Joaquin Chamber of Commerce
  • Mexican Consulate
  • Access+Capital
  • Small Business Administration (SBA)
  • BlueTech Valley
  • Economic Development Agency (EDA)
  • Ventanilla de Asesoria Financiera Fresno

Click here to register for this event.

Start-Up Basics
Date: August 22, 2018 | 5:30 pm PDT – 7:30 pm PDT
Location: 10183 Truckee Airport Rd. Truckee, CA 96161 (map it)
Contact: scorennv@gmail.com | (844) 232-7227
Organization: SCORE Northern Nevada
Fee: Free

Join this free workshop to learn the basics of starting a business. Start with confidence and success with these topics:

  • Critical success factors
  • Your idea: evaluate, test, and protect
  • Legal structures
  • Marketing
  • Financial management
  • Your business launch

Click here to register for this event.

Take the “Work” Out of Networking: A Business Networking Workshop
Date: August 22, 2018 | 6:00 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: SJPL Works
Fee: Free

Walking into a room filled with people you don’t know and creating a relationship out of thin air can be 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 get started with effective networking.

Topics include:

  • Identifying the types of events to attend
  • Crafting your elevator pitch
  • Sharing creative ways to introduce yourself to others
  • Expressing your value to others

Click here to register for this event. Parking validation for 4th St. garage will be provided at the program.

Southern California/San Diego

Hands on Website Design
Date: August 21, 2018 | 5:30 pm PDT – 7:30 pm PDT
Location: 5121 Van Nuys Blvd. Ste 300A Sherman Oaks, CA 91403 (map it)
Contact: info@vedc.org | (818) 907-9922
Organization: VEDC
Fee: Free

Join this free workshop to learn hands-on skills for creating your own website. No previous web design skills are necessary. Together we’ll learn the skills to build a fully functional website for your business.

Click here to register for this event.

Federal & State Basic Payroll Tax Seminar
Date: August 28, 2018 | 9:00 am PDT – 3:00 pm PDT
Location: 1055 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 900B Los Angeles, CA 90017 (map it)
Contact: Daniel Ing | ding@pacela.org |(213) 353-9400
Organization: PACE Finance Corporation
Fee: Free

This workshop will cover both federal and California state payroll tax reporting requirements. Topics will include:

  • Reporting forms
  • Employer obligations
  • Payment requirements
  • Independent contractor reporting requirements

Click here to register for this event.

The Six Key Components to Business Success
Date: August 29, 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

Are you running your business or it is running you? Join us for the Six Key Components™ of a successful business: a set of simple, practical, and proven tools to help you focus on priorities, crystallize your vision, get clear on issues, and gain traction for your business.

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

Discover Tools for Success at your Public Library
Date: August 22, 2018 | 12:00 pm PDT – 1:00 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Traci Hansen | thansen@thurstonedc.com | (360) 754-6320
Organization: Washington Center for Women in Business
Fee: Free

Let’s Talk Business is a free weekly webinar series occurring every Wednesday from 12:00 – 1:00 pm Pacific hosted by the Washington Center for Women in Business.

LTB features presenters with a wide range of business backgrounds to present or answer questions on a variety of business topics. This week’s theme is how to use free tools at the public library to grow your business.

The secret to business success may already be in your wallet: your public library card. At every stage of your business, your local public library can save you time and money. Learn about the transformative free resources for small business owners and entrepreneurs available in your own neighborhood and online.

You will learn how to use common public library resources to:

  • Conduct market and customer research
  • Learn about essential small business topics like marketing, finance, technology, law, and planning
  • Connect with mentoring and networking opportunities

Click here to register for this event. For a complete listing of past and upcoming LTB webinars, click here.

Digital Fluency: Online Tools and Technology for Business Success
Date: August 22, 2018 | 12:00 pm PDT – 1:00 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: info@e-jedi.org | (530) 926-6670
Organization: Jefferson Economic Development Institute
Fee: Free

Changes in technology are difficult to keep up with, especially for business owners already focused on  required tasks to run a company. Join this webinar and learn how to navigate the online world to utilize technology resources to support your business. Topics include:

  • Find and access free tools on the internet: templates, images, education, media, and more
  • Spot legal and ethical sources for repurposing content
  • Tell the difference between fake and trustworthy sources
  • Understand best practices in using and sharing online content
  • Develop a technology mindset
  • Research with Google, YouTube, and other online resources
  • Use social media for promotion and marketing
  • Explore free productivity tools and templates
  • Compare paid and free software resource options

Click here to register for this event.

Where’s the Money? 10 Small Business Loan Types & How to Qualify
Date: August 23, 2018 | 10:00 am PDT – 11:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: monmouthscore@gmail.com | (732) 224-2573
Organization: Monmouth (N.J.) SCORE
Fee: Free

Did you know: There are over 44 different types of small business financing. Business owners often get frustrated and overwhelmed when looking for financing. It’s easy to chase the financing that’s marketed to you. This webinar will help you recognize the offers that are best for your business and the those you can actually get.

Join Gerri Detweiler, Nav education director, and learn how to identify the financing that’s right for you based on your current qualifications.

You’ll learn about the top 10 types of small business financing, including:

  • Typical lender requirements for each type of financing
  • Preparations for financing
  • Ways to increase your odds for approval
  • Strategies for avoiding costly surprises
  • Financing options for those without good credit or just starting out
  • Common credit obstacles and ways to overcome them

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

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 14.

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 June 1 through 14.

Northern California/Sacramento

Building Business Websites
Date: Starts June 5, 2018 | 1:15 pm PDT – 2:45 pm PDT
Location: College of the Siskiyous—Yreka Campus TTC 32-101
2001 Campus Dr. Yreka, CA 96097 (map it)
Contact: registration@siskiyous.edu | (530) 938-5500
Organization: Jefferson Economic Development Institute (JEDI)
Fee: Free

Learn to create and maintain your own business website using the full range of designs and features available for CMS like WordPresswithout coding!

Join this free course offered by the College of the Siskiyous to learn how to build your business website. During this ten week course that meets twice per week, you’ll create a fully functional business website without studying programming language.

Topics include:

  • Online basics: websites, CMS, websites-as-a-service, hosted websites, domain names, hosting accounts
  • Major WordPress functions: posts, pages, plugins, themes, and users in this CMS environment
  • Components: evaluate, select, install, and use components for your website
  • Your content: add text, images, media, widgets, navigation elements, and links to a website
  • Live website: Secure and maintain your new website

The only requirement to attend this course is an internet browser. Bring your laptop and get ready to learn!

Register through College of the Siskiyous website or register in person at the office of enrollment Weed or Yreka campus.

2018 Tax Law Changes for Small Businesses–What You Need to Know
Date: June 6, 2018 | 6:30 pm PDT – 8:30 pm PDT
Location: DeVry University
8000 Jarvis Ave. Ste 220 Newark, CA 94560 (map it)
Contact: Suzanne Schafer | seminars@acsbdc.org | (510) 208-0410
Organization: Alameda County SBDC
Fee: Free

The new tax law represents the biggest overhaul of the tax code in 30 years. Many provisions have a significant impact on small businesses. Don’t wait until the end of the year to understand how these laws impact you! Advance planning may save significant amounts in your taxes.

In this seminar, we will discuss the following:

  • Tax implications of different business structures (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
  • Pass-through deductions impact on small businesses
  • Changes in personal and corporate tax rates
  • Changes in the treatment of certain business expenses
  • Planning opportunities to prepare for tax season

Click here to register for this event.

Fashion Series: Fashion Manufacturing: Bridging Concept with Reality
Date: June 7, 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

In this Fashion series workshop meet business consultant and fashion business owner Lenore Espanola, who will walk you through manufacturing options including overseas, domestic, and local options.

Click here to register for this event.

Southern California/San Diego

Money Smart for Small Businesses
Date: Starts June 2, 2018 | 9:00 am PDT – 3:00 pm PDT
Location: Cathay Bank
9650 Flair Dr. El Monte, CA 91731 (map it)
Contact: Colleen Seto | cseto@ltsc.org | (213) 473-1605
Organization: Asian Pacific Islander Small Business Program
Fee: Free

Join this introductory 2-day business course on June 2 and 9 designed for new business owners, self-employed individuals, and aspiring entrepreneurs. Get started on better money management skills for your small business with this curriculum developed by the FDIC and SBA. Breakfast, lunch, and course materials will be provided by Cathay Bank. Limited seating is available–advance registration is required. Free parking is available behind the Cathay Bank building.

Topics include:

  • Time management
  • Startup planning
  • Recordkeeping
  • Banking services
  • Risk management
  • Insurance

Click here to register for this event.

Entrepreneur Training Program
Date: Starts June 8, 2018 | 2:00 pm PDT – 3:30 pm PDT
Location: 5701 S. Eastern Ave. Ste 108 Commerce, CA 90040 (map it)
Contact: Alex Alvarez | alex.alvarez@operationhope.org | (323) 697-6202
Organization: Operation Hope
Fee: Free

This 12-week course for entrepreneurs will help you succeed in business with practical tips from subject matter experts. Join us every Friday starting June 8 for this free course and get on your way to being the boss of your business.

Topics include:

  • Market research
  • Feasible business
  • Start-up funding
  • And more!

Contact Alex Alvarez at (323) 697-6202 to register for this event.

Small Business Accounting for Non-Accountants
Date: June 9, 2018 | 9:00 am PDT – 12:00 pm PDT
Location: 1003 E. Cooley Dr. Ste 109 Colton, CA 92324 (map it)
Contact: (909) 890-1242
Organization: Inland Empire Women’s Business Center
Fee: Free

Are you earning money and paying bills, but don’t know how to make sense of your numbers? Do you want to understand your finances and feel confident to make strategic decisions that will benefit your business and your future? Join us to make sense of your numbers and create a greater impact in your business and life.

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

Using Census Data to Size Up Your New or Existing Business
Date: June 5, 2018 | 7:30 am PDT – 8:30 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: (470) 891-5576
Organization: U.S. Small Business Administration Georgia District Office
Fee: Free

Census data is an essential tool for entrepreneurs at any stage to get started or grow their business. Join this free webinar to get smart about your business through census data.

Topics include:

  • How to use industry terms to successfully plan, jump start, and run your business
  • How to use NAICS codes to locate and zoom in on business opportunities
  • How to use verifiable industry analysis census data to accelerate your business
  • How to use census data to measure your business and find growth opportunities

Click here to register for this event.

Let’s Talk Business! How to Multiply Yourself as a Brand with Social Media
Date: June 6, 2018 | 12:00 pm PDT – 1:00 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Ryan Norskog | rnorskog@thurstonedc.com | (360) 464-6060
Organization: Washington Center for Women in Business
Fee: Free

Learn how to use social media to market yourself as a brand and multiply your encounters with the marketplace.

Click here to register for this event.

Payday Loans & Predatory Lending
Date: June 12, 2018 | 10:00 am PDT – 11:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: (414) 263-5450
Organization: Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation
Fee: Free

Borrowing money can be intimidating. Join us to learn smart borrowing practices, your rights as a borrower, and how to avoid being a victim of predatory lending.

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

Opportunity Fund is partnering with Lending Club to serve more entrepreneurs across the U.S. Learn more about the partnership, where we’re expanding, and our new model that combines the best of online and traditional community lending to serve more small business owners than ever.

Opportunity Fund is expanding its partnership with Lending Club to serve more entrepreneurs in more states across the U.S. Learn more about the partnership, where we’re expanding, and how our two organizations will provide more lending solutions than ever for small business owners.

Opportunity Development Beyond California

Opportunity Fund’s fast, easy-to-get, and affordable small business loans have helped California-based entrepreneurs for over 20 years. Through our partnership with Lending Club, we’re expanding to serve small business owners in 25 more states by the end of 2017.

In partnership with Lending Club, we are offering loans immediately in the first 12 states with the highest concentration of small business owners:

Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington.

Loans are available up  to $100,000 with an average 18-20%  APR.

In the fall of 2017,  we will begin offering loans in next 13 states and the District of Columbia:

Arizona, Arkansas, Washington DC, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

This expansion comes at a time when Opportunity Fund is also deepening our impact within California. Over the coming years, Opportunity Fund will add lending staff in new regions of the state (Fresno, Sacramento, and San Diego), and continue to reach more California borrowers online, in partnership with Lending Club.

Making Lending Work for Small Business

We’re expanding our partnership with Lending Club to continuously improve the small business borrower experience by delivering the best loan possible and serving a greater number of small businesses across the U.S..

Lending Club’s technology as a fintech leader will support our focus on underrepresented entrepreneurs. Together, we’ll be able to help more businesses that traditional lenders typically don’t serve.

We’re combining the strengths of marketplace lending and the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) model to expand access to capital for small businesses that neither organization could adequately serve on its own. In our complementary relationship, Lending Club contributes its technology, enabling almost instant pre-qualification for eligible applicants, to provide applicants a fast, simple, responsive customer experience.

Lending Club also brings us the broad reach into its applicant base and marketing. Opportunity Fund brings expertise in underwriting and servicing loans to borrowers who are underserved by traditional financing. The borrower gets a combined high-tech and high-touch experience and a loan that is best suited for their business.

We Believe Everyone Deserves a Chance at a Better Life

We strive to advance the economic well-being of working people by helping them earn, save, and invest in their futures. From a small business perspective, the organization deploys microloans for small business owners, many of whom have difficulty borrowing from traditional lenders and are vulnerable to high-cost alternative financing products that are all too prevalent in the market.

By expanding to these new states and the District of Columbia, Opportunity Fund will be able to “grow the pie” – bringing our proven products to small business owners who might not otherwise have found a responsible source of capital for their enterprise.  By doing so, we have the chance to help many more entrepreneurs achieve their goals and dreams.

This partnership with Lending Club is one of the ways Opportunity Fund plans to invest $400 million in 10,000 small businesses by 2020. The 25 states and District of Columbia in the 2017 expansion represent the major concentrations of U.S. small businesses.  Additional states will be phased in as we expand our services.

We’re proud to work with Lending Club to serve more hardworking entrepreneurs in their pursuit of the American dream. For more information about our commitment to fair lending practices and principles as stated in the Small Business Borrower’s Bill of Rights, please read our blog post here.

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


Opportunity Fund is California’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit lender to small businesses. In FY16 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

Getting a small business loan is more than collecting the right documents and providing financial information to your lender. Our content partner Nav explains five actions you should stop doing that will negatively impact your ability to get a loan.

Getting a small business loan is more than collecting the right documents and providing financial information to your lender. Our content partner Nav.com explains five actions you should stop doing that will negatively impact your ability to get a loan.

 

Lenders are going to looking at a number of factors to determine your eligibility for a loan, including your personal and business credit scores, your business banking information, personal and business tax returns, P&L statement and more.

If this seems overly complicated, never fear. While you can’t make all of these factors perfect overnight, you can exercise control over some, which will greatly improve your chances of getting the financing you need to make your business strong. Let’s take a look at five things you should definitely avoid before applying for a loan.

Missing a Payment

Don’t miss a payment on your personal or business credit cards, vendor accounts or any accounts that report to personal or business credit reporting agencies.

Payment history is the most important factor in both personal and business credit scores. Although it varies by score, payment history accounts for about 35% of your personal credit scores and 50% of your business credit scores. Just one late payment can bring down your scores significantly.

Most lenders are going to look at least one, if not both, credit scores. Most financing types will require you to meet a minimum credit score requirement — the SBA’s most popular loan program — the Advantage loan program, for example, has a minimum FICO SBSS score of 140 or above.

Making Large Purchases on Your Credit Cards

Large purchases can also affect your credit scores if you’re not carefully paying them off. This applies to purchases made on both your personal and business credit cards. Large purchases run up your credit utilization, which is an important factor influencing both personal and business credit scores.

Here’s a tip if you need to make large purchases on your credit cards: find out when your card provider reports to credit reporting agencies, and pay off your balance before that date so your high credit card balance is not reflected on your report. Often, this is the date your statement is issued.

Letting Your Business Bank Account Dip Below $1,000

Lenders like to see that you have enough free cash flow available to meet current debt obligations. A low balance (generally below $1,000) is a sign to lenders that maybe your business isn’t in the best shape financially.

Obviously, negative balances are even more of a red flag. Negative balances tell a lender that your business doesn’t have enough money in the bank to cover loan payments.

Here’s a tip if your business account balance is low: transfer a cushion of cash into your account, or secure a line of credit from your bank so your account doesn’t dip too low during cash-flow emergencies.

Applying For Certain Types of Loans

A Merchant Cash Advance (MCA) has been described as a “payday loan” for small businesses. How it works is an MCA provider pays a one-time lump sum, often instantly or the same day as the application, to a merchant in exchange for a percentage of future credit or debit card sales.

Fast money comes at a price, however, and MCAs usually charge high interest rates of 50% or more. If a business has outstanding MCAs it’s a sign to lenders of financial volatility, similar to the way a personal lender might view you as an individual if you’ve take out multiple payday loans.

Here’s a tip to avoid taking out an MCA: Consider applying for a business credit card before any potential cash emergency so you’re prepared should that time come.

Not Checking Your Business Credit

You’ll want to check your business credit scores and reports before you apply for any business financing so you know where you stand. If your scores are bad, and making a couple of small moves like paying off a credit card or asking for a credit limit increase will improve them, you could score better interest rates and terms. (You can check your personal and business credit scores for free on Nav.com.)

Also, checking your credit report ensures the data is accurate and up to date. Some negative items may still be on your report causing headaches despite the fact they should have dropped off. UCC filings are a good example of this.

When you take on financing that requires collateral, the lender places a legal document called a UCC filing on your business credit file, which signals to other creditors that they have a legal right to your collateral specified in the filing if you fail to pay your bills to the lender.

If you already have a loan that required collateral and are looking for another loan, you’ll find that many lenders are unwilling to lend to your business if they are second in line to the creditor that placed the initial UCC filing. UCC filings can last for 5 years (or more if the lender files a continuation of the UCC).

 

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

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


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

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

You already know that good credit is vital for getting the loan your small business needs. Our content partner Nav shares four easy ways to improve your credit score.

You already know that good credit is vital for getting the loan your small business needs. Our content partner Nav.com  shares four easy ways to improve your credit score.

Small business owners have a lot of numbers to think about when managing their finances. But one series of numbers that often gets ignored is their business credit scores. Just as individuals earn a numerical rating to help lenders determine their credit-worthiness, businesses are also given a score based on their credit history, and that score can impact their ability to get financing, government contracts, trade credit accounts and more.

Business credit scores are created by agencies like Dun & Bradstreet, Experian and Equifax, all of which use a score that ranks a business from 0 to 100, with 100 as a perfect score. You should aim to keep your business credit scores above 75.

In addition to these bureaus, FICO also has a score that rates small businesses: the FICO SBSS score. It ranges from 0 to 300, the higher the score, the better. The SBA uses FICO’s SBSS model to pre-screen it’s most popular loan applications. If your score falls below 140 then you likely won’t qualify for these attractive (loan interest rate) loans. And banks usually require your FICO SBSS score be even higher, in the 160 range.

With all the different bureaus and types of scores, it can be confusing. The good news is that following a few simple steps can ensure your business has a strong credit profile regardless of the bureau or model being used to judge it.

Establish Credit

Many small business owners might not see a need to establish business credit when they are starting out. Often, when working on a small scale, you can bankroll the company on your personal credit. But even if you don’t see an immediate need for business credit, one might arise down the road as the business grows and expands. It’s better to dig your well before you’re thirsty, right? Not establishing a business credit profile might disqualify you from financing when it’s needed.

Since business credit scores are strongly based on history, you should open a few credit accounts, like business credit cards, to start to build a credit history. Even if the business does not need this financing, it will pay off to use it minimally and show your business is responsible managing credit.

Pay Early

You might think that paying all of your bills on time is enough to earn you perfect business credit reports. With your personal credit score, this might be true. But with your business credit score, on time is not enough. The Dun & Bradstreet Paydex score, for example, is completely based on the timeliness of your business’ payments to its vendors, suppliers and creditors. Paying on time will earn you a Paydex score of 80. The only way to earn a perfect 100 is to make your payments 30 days before they are due.

Keep Debt Low

A big factor impacting your business credit score is your debt-to-equity ratio. This measures your business’ financial leverage in relation to the amount it is currently using. Credit utilization is another important metric, which looks at your available credit in relation to your debt. A high ratio will result in a low credit score. Small business owners should aim to keep credit utilization below 30 percent. A good tip to help manage this is to make several small payments during a billing period rather than waiting until the end to pay off the debt in full.

Check For Mistakes

Mistakes are more common on business credit reports than on personal reports. A Wall Street Journal survey showed that 25 percent of people who checked found business credit report errors that lowered their score. The main reason errors are more common is because business credit data is much more fragmented, so it’s easier for information to get crossed up.

This is another reason why it’s important for you to regularly monitor your reports to ensure there are no mistakes.

Nav offers truly free business credit reports and monitoring on our website. We also have a free tool (CreditSweeper) that helps you spot and dispute any mistakes.

By doing these simple things, you should be able to maintain a healthy business credit score and ensure your business is poised to take advantage of any growth opportunity.

 

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

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


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

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

Having a business strategy is important for running a successful business, but developing a good strategy from scratch can be difficult. Our content partner Nav shares a few tips on how to develop a business strategy based off of an I.M.O. framework.

Having a business strategy is important for running a successful business, but developing a good strategy from scratch can be difficult. Our content partner Nav.com  shares a few tips on how to develop a business strategy based off of an I.M.O. framework.

Guest post by Tim Berry, founder of Palo Alto Software, entrepreneur, blogger, and business planner. The original post can be found on Quora: What makes a good business strategy?

What Makes a Good Business Strategy?

There are some obvious easy answers to this question if you take it from after the fact, looking at strategies that worked. From that point of view, a good strategy is one that worked. Every successful business had a good business strategy.

Would you agree that the great business strategies, the ones we all know that really worked, all looked obvious when you go back and study them after they made it? Federal Express, Google, Apple, McDonald’s … all a matter of focus, carving out identity and product-market fit … all obvious to all later?

During the several years that I was a VP at a firm called Creative Strategies I thought the name, with its reference to strategy, was a business problem. I decided strategy was like driving, and sex, in that everybody is sure that he or she is very good at it. That made it hard to sell consulting. Or so I thought.

But I think the real question is how to determine a good strategy before it’s executed. What qualities make a good business strategy?

You could start with this: strategy is focus. A good business strategy focuses on a well-defined target market, with a business offering that matches. Think of how MINI-cooper addresses a market subsegment with a specialized product offering.

Obviously there are whole careers spent on analyzing strategy, and people have PhD degrees on strategy. But I think it has to be simple to work. And obvious, afterwards, as if it were always there.

I’m working on something I call IMO, which stands for identity, market, and [business] offering. They are three factors that work together (this is from Lean Planning Practical Business Strategy: 3 Key Factors).

  • On identity: Every business has its core identity. How are you different from others? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What is your core competence? What are your goals? Take bicycle shop as an example. One shop was started by a bike racer who loved the sport and the bicycles with a passion. Her core competence is high-level bicycles, racing bicycles. She’s comfortable with the obsessed enthusiasts. Another shop was started by a couple with kids, who liked the bikes as a family activity. That’s identity.
  • On choice of target market: Your identity influences your choice of target market. The bike racer focuses on attracting enthusiasts, offering expensive high-end bicycles and equipment. The couple focuses on attracting parents with kids, concentrating on medium-level bikes, trailers, and family-friendly accessories.
  • On the business offering: Your business offering is your product or service. You can already see with the bike shop example how one shop needs one kind of inventory and the other needs a different kind. That’s strategy at work. Your identity influences your choice of market, which influences your choice of product. Your choice of product influences your choice of market. They have to work together.

I think this three-way strategy framework works well for real businesses. It’s not as elaborate as some of the more well-known frameworks, like Porter’s five forces; but those were done for analyzing large business successes, and after the fact.

 

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

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


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

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

Accounting and bookkeeping isn’t the most fun part of running your small business, but it is a very important part of keeping it in the black. Our content partner Nav shares advice on what to keep track of, how to prevent financial problems, and why knowing the basics of booking is so important for your business’ growth.

Accounting and bookkeeping isn’t the most fun part of running your small business, but it is a very important part of keeping it in the black. Our content partner Nav.com shares advice on what to keep track of, how to prevent financial problems, and why knowing the basics of booking is so important for your business’ growth.

 

Last year we asked 100 business owners across the United States and Canada an important question:  “What do you wish you knew before starting your business?”

Of all the answers we received, the most common thing business owners wish they knew more about was accounting and bookkeeping.

Accounting, specifically bookkeeping, is a substantial piece of owning a business.  Whether you’re just starting out or you’re a veteran business owner, the efficiency and reliability of your bookkeeping can play a large role in the overall success of your business.  From helping you plan for the unexpected to being prepared for tax time, bookkeeping basics can go a long way.

While small business bookkeeping can be complex, here are a few tips and practices that can help you stay prepared and keep your finances in order.

Anticipate Long & Short Term Expenses

You may not be able to see into the future, but there are some unexpected expenses that won’t be included in  your planning and bookkeeping.

You can’t determine future revenue, but you can predict it by review past revenue cycles and tax returns to help you get an idea of what you may owe.  Additionally, you’ll want to review revenue on a regular basis (monthly or quarterly, for example) and calculate taxes owed.

Another great way to account for both long and short term expenses is to review the history and current state of your business with regards to things like inventory, building maintenance, equipment needs, and slow seasons.  It’s a lot easier to pay for things like roof repairs or equipment servicing when you plan for it.  The same is true for balancing inventory and cash flow during periods when business may be slower than normal.

Set Up & Use Business Specific Accounts

It’s tempting, particularly if you’re a new small business owner, to use your personal accounts for some expenses.  However, unless meticulously tracked, this can lead to problems down the road.

By setting up (and using) business specific checking, savings, and credit card accounts, you’ll be able to refer directly to statements to help correctly record and reconcile your books regularly.

If you are just starting out, make it a point to open accounts that will be used specifically for transactions within your business. Not only will this help you stay organized, but you’ll also be able to establish credit for your new business while protecting your personal credit from potential losses.

Save Receipts & Track Expenses

Bookkeeping is a year-long event, and that means you’ll need to keep track of your expenses and other transactions over that 365-day period.  Sometimes, particularly if you’re a new business owner, you may not know what receipts you should keep or which expenses can be deducted come tax time.

Saving receipts, no matter how small they are, will help you track your expenses and will help your accountant or bookkeeper get a clear and concise picture at the end of the year.

Tracking and analyzing these expense receipts, preferably using an app made specifically for businesses, will also enable you to understand labor costs or costs associated with specific clients or projects.

Designate a file or folder on your computer to keep all of your scanned and uploaded receipts. Better still, save that file or folder to some sort of online storage program (Google Docs, Dropbox, etc.) to ensure it’s safe from computer glitches or malfunctions.

At the end of the year, you may find you don’t need every receipt you’ve saved, but this is a situation when it’s better to keep it and not need it than to need it and not have access to it.

Monitor Accounts Payable & Receivable

One key part to bookkeeping is understanding and planning your cash flow, or when you will be receiving or making a payment.  Being on top of bills will help you avoid credit issues associated with late or defaulted accounts, and staying on track with customer invoices will allow you to stay on top of bills and accurately estimate cash on hand.

One of the major benefits of solid bookkeeping is getting a picture of where your business stands; accounts payable and receivable play a big role in this picture. You’ll also be able to note any ebbs and flows in your business or identify areas in which you may be able to expand, scale back, or are in need of additional attention.

Become Familiar with Business Bookkeeping Terms

Whether you plan to do all the bookkeeping yourself, utilize bookkeeping programs (we’ll get to that next), or hire someone to handle the books, it’s in your best interest to become familiar with some of the frequently used terms and concepts used in business finance.

Some of these (cash flow, inventory), may be terms you’re already familiar with, while others (owners’ equity, retained earnings) may not be as familiar. You can find lists of important terms all over the internet, including one found here.

Utilize an Online Bookkeeping Service

There are multiple ways you can approach bookkeeping.  Some of them aren’t very efficient (relying solely on memory and a notebook, for example), while some, like utilizing an online bookkeeping services, can help you save money, grow your business, and ultimately keep your finances straight.

There are a wide variety of online bookkeeping services that range from more hands-on platforms that put you in the driver’s seat, to services that will provide you with a designated individual or team to manage your finances.  Ultimately, the decision should be based on your comfort level and budget.

After reviewing the options available, we at Nav.com have partnered with what we feel are the best business solutions available to small business owners. Hop over to our Business Services page to review and learn more about these great service providers.

These are just a few of the key things that are important to improve your overall business organization.  By practicing these and becoming more familiar with the financial side of your business, you’ll be able to develop your own unique approach to successfully managing your business bookkeeping.

 

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

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


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

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

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