Your credit score shouldn’t be a game of limbo. Our content partner Nav explains how low credit scores work and how you can still get credit despite your low score.

Your credit score shouldn’t be a game of limbo. Our content partner Nav.com explains how low credit scores work and how you can still get credit despite your low score.

 

In the world of finance, it’s common to hear people bragging about their credit scores. These badges of money honor are one famously important indicator of how accomplished a consumer appears. The higher, the better, and so – when talked about openly – it’s most often the big numbers you’ll hear about.

What about those who are hanging out at the bottom? Their credit history may not be a sign of good times or wise decisions. Perhaps, they suffered from a horrible loss (such as a medical disaster or business failure) and their credit took the worst kind of hit. If everything that could go wrong, did go wrong, what kind of credit score numbers would we be talking about? When we open our dark, skeleton-filled financial closets, what is the lowest credit score that could be lurking there?

How Low Can FICO Go?

One of the scoring options used for evaluating personal credit, FICO (Fair Isaac Corporation), is used in over 90% of credit decisions, and it ranges from 300 (the lowest) to 850 (the highest). But just because you’re hanging out well above the 300 mark, doesn’t make your credit “good.” In fact, most lenders consider anything below 600 in the “poor” range, and you’ll find it hard to qualify for the best credit, mortgage, and loan offers available.

If you’re sitting at a 579 or lower, Experian lumps you into this substandard group. They have determined that 61% of consumers in this category are likely to become seriously delinquent, or even default on a loan, in the future. So, even if you aren’t anywhere near the 300’s, you could still have problems getting good rates, an adequate credit line, or access to the better utility plans offered in your area.

Who determines what is a “bad” or “poor” score? It’s not FICO or the other reporting companies. They just supply the number, which is an indication of your risk to lenders. It’s the lenders themselves that make the determination of whether a score can pass their lending rules. So, a consumer who can’t get a mortgage from one bank with a 620 score, may be able to get one with another lender. While the scores are standard, how they are interpreted isn’t.

What Creates a Low Credit Score?

Responsibility with payments is just one factor that affects your score. A serious delinquency, history of late payments, bankruptcy, or default will certainly lower your score. Most people at the bottom of the score range have had at least one of these, and possibly more. You can also have a lower score if you are paying responsibly but are using up most of the credit available to you. (Keeping your ratio of debt to available credit below 30% is key to keeping your score from dragging at the bottom.)

These aren’t the only things responsible for a lower score, however. Having a no credit or only very new credit can also lead to a poor rating. A recent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau report revealed that 26 million adults in the United States don’t even have a credit record, placing them in the same position as those with delinquencies when it comes to accessing credit services.

This is also why experts recommend that you participate in consumer behaviors that contribute to a score, even if you don’t personally favor the use of credit. You can start with a secured credit card that only allows you to charge what you’ve put as a deposit on your account. Asking your rental landlord to report your on-time payments to a reporting bureau can also help.

Can I Get Credit With a Low Score?

The short answer is “yes.” In fact, there is a whole suite of services, loans, and cards designed for the consumer with a low score. While it’s not likely to get access to much with the absolute worst score of 300, anyone in the poor range can benefit from a secured credit card, getting a co-signer, or being added as an authorized user on an existing credit card account. Just be sure you treat these options seriously, pay on time, and do the things needed to raise your score and get access to better credit solutions over time.

Another thing to remember is that banks aren’t limited to just using your credit score in qualifying you for credit. While one important factor, they also rely on your wages, job history, and income sources such as child support or alimony. The score is just part of a whole picture lenders look at to determine credit worthiness.

What’s Next For Credit Scores?

Despite feeling like having a low credit score is a lonely place to be, it’s not. While less than 5% of consumers have a FICO score at the 300-499 level, 20% still fall in the range under 599 – considered “poor” by most lenders. This shows that credit is still an issue for a good portion of the population and one that will take years to correct.

It’s not a reason to lose hope, however. The trend is pointing up, showing that the average credit score hit 700 for the first time ever in April of 2017. This may be because consumers have unprecedented access to see their scores through free or low-cost platforms (including as part of the FICO Open Accessprogram or their credit card statements.) The U.S. economy is also credited for much of the gain, with Experian noting an upward trend since the end of the Great Recession. This same Experian study reported that scores above 800 finally outnumbered those below 600 – a first for U.S. credit holders.  

Maybe, then, we are asking the wrong question. Instead of asking “how low can I go?” we should look at how high we must reach to live the life we seek. Often, the difference in getting what we need is a matter of a few easily attainable points.

 

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

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

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


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

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

Being ghosted means more than being ignored by friends – it can also mean that you have little to no credit. Our content partner Nav explains how getting ghosted can cost you more money when you need a loan and how to fix the problem.

Being ghosted means more than being ignored by friends – it can also mean that you have little to no credit. Our content partner Nav.com explains how getting ghosted can cost you more money when you need a loan and how to fix the problem.

 

Getting “ghosted” is never a good thing, especially when it comes to your credit scores. They can determine whether you can borrow money for your business, and how much borrowing will cost you. When you have little or no credit history, you’re essentially a “ghost” to the credit bureaus. Being a ghost can mean paying hundreds of thousands more in borrowing costs. It can also put you out of business.

Many business owners fall into the “ghost” category because they either never established a credit history, or because they immigrated to the U.S. There are more of these credit ghosts than you may think.

According to Nav’s data on 189,466 of its small business customers, 39% qualify as credit ghosts. These business owners had a personal credit score of 620 or lower, and had no or very limited credit history. In addition to personal credit, having little or no business credit history can lead to even more problems, like low business credit scores.

Nav’s own co-founder and CEO, Levi King, was once a credit ghost himself. He grew up on a farm in Idaho and was taught to pay cash for everything. It wasn’t until he started his first business, a sign manufacturing company that he realized the importance of building a positive credit history.

“One of my suppliers asked why I didn’t set up credit accounts with them. I had been paying cash on delivery for everything,” says King. “When they pulled my credit report, they said there wasn’t even a record for my company. It was as though I didn’t exist. If they didn’t know me personally, they would have thought my business was a scam.”

How Credit Ghosts Lose Out

For some entrepreneurs, you may have felt the bite of being a ghost when launching your business idea. You may have looked for financing, but got continually denied because of your low credit scores. It’s no wonder that 62% of business owners rely on personal savings to fund their business.

Even if you’ve launched your business, you’ll likely need money to grow or cover cash flow bumps. Traditional lenders will almost always check your personal and business credit reports. A bad credit score will usually lead to a denial for bank loans or credit lines.

This forces many to seek out alternative forms of business lending that have exploded over the past 15 years. Unfortunately, some of these lenders charge extremely high rates and have terms that are tough to understand. Do you know how to calculate a factor rate, for example?

“There are plenty of ways to get money for your business these days, but as a credit ghost you usually only qualify for high-cost financing, which can ruin your business because it’s too expensive, or put you in cycle of reborrowing,” King says. “Most of these lenders don’t report your repayment information to the credit bureaus, so your situation never improves.”

Who’s Most Likely To Be a Ghost

When someone immigrates to the U.S., their credit history doesn’t follow them. They may have run a successful restaurant in Japan for 10 years and had pristine credit, but when they arrive in the U.S., they are essentially invisible to lenders and other creditors. That’s a problem.

Immigrants are crucial to the health of the U.S. economy. They launch more than a quarter of all U.S. businesses and an estimated $126 billion in annual wages are paid to Americans who work at immigrant-run businesses.

Some companies are trying to help solve the problem. Nova Credit has built technology that allow immigrants to transport their credit history around the world. And Nav educates business owners on how to build their credit profiles and provide tools to make it simple to do.

In addition to immigrants, studies have shown that minority entrepreneurs can have a harder time accessing the credit they need to grow their business dream. The Federal Reserve Banks of Cleveland and Atlanta recently released findings from the Small Business Credit Survey that looked at access to capital issues for minority-owned businesses.

That survey found that 58% of black-owned firms reported credit availability challenges, versus 32% of white-owned firms. The same survey also revealed that 40% of black-owned firms reported not applying for financing because they were discouraged (in essence, they felt they’d get denied), compared with 14% of white-owned companies.

How to Un-Ghost Your Credit

If you feel like a credit ghost, there are some simple ways to build your profile. As a business owner, you should be building both your personal and business credit profiles — they are separate.

For your personal credit, get a couple credit cards, even if it needs to be a secured credit card, to start establishing credit history. Always pay on time and keep your credit utilization low, below 30%. (Don’t understand what credit utilization is? Read this.)

For your business credit, ask your suppliers about setting net repayment terms and whether or not they report to the business credit bureaus. You should be able to get net 15-day terms or more if you have a solid history and relationship with the supplier.

You should also apply for a business credit line from stores like Lowes or Staples. Almost any business can get approved for a small amount at these places. Finally, you can also open business credit cards in your business name. Like personal credit cards, always pay them on time and keep your balances low.

The good news for credit ghosts is that establishing a positive credit history should help you improve your scores relatively fast. In a matter of months, you may be able to un-ghost your credit, and put your business in a position to access affordable cash whenever you need it. You can track your business and personal credit score progress for free on Nav.

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

 

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

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


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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are five professional phone solutions to consider:

Google Voice

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

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

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

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

Sideline

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

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

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

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

SmartLine

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

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

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

eVoice

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

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

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

Grasshopper

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

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

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

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

 

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

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


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

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

PayPal can be a huge help for your mobile food business. It can also be a nightmare if you don’t know how to use it correctly. Our content partner Nav offers tips that can help you get started with PayPal.

PayPal can be a huge help for your mobile food business. It can also be a nightmare if you don’t know how to use it correctly. Nav.com offers tips that can help you get started with PayPal.

Providing customers with multiple, easy payment solutions can help increase conversion, and with 210 million active account holders, PayPal can be a solid addition to your checkout solutions. Signing up and setting up your account is fairly easy, but for small business owners who are testing the PayPal waters, lessons from those who have come before can make a huge difference in your future success.

Here are five rookie mistakes that you should avoid:

1. Assuming PayPal Is Only for Online Payments

When it comes to mobile POS payments, most small business owners think of Square, but as you’d expect for a payment solution trail blazer, PayPal wasn’t in the dust for long. Launched in 2012, PayPal Here has had a seemingly successful entrance into the offline payment sphere.

In addition, accepting payment via credit card using one of two available card readers (swipe or chip), PayPal Here also allows business owners to accept contactless payments (phone to reader) as well as checks (via photos capturing the front and back).

With a 2.7% fee per transaction, PayPal Here comes in only slightly less expensive than Square (2.75%), so they remain largely neck-and-neck in terms of expenses. However, if you’re already using PayPal and considering getting Square, it’s worth checking into PayPal’s physical solution for purchasing.

2. Not Understanding PayPal Tax Obligations

Merchants who exceed $20,00 in gross payments and 200 separate payments for goods and services, can expect a 1099-K from PayPal, which  will be required as part of your fiscal year taxes.  If you reach that point, you’ll be required to enter your tax ID/Social Security Number(SSN) or Employer Identification Number (EIN) for IRS purposes.

This is pretty cut and dry, but keep in mind that the $20,000 threshold includes any accounts tied to the tax ID/EIN number tied to your business. Additionally, as a gross amount, the total includes all fees (shipping, sales tax, etc), and any refunds, discounts, credits, etc. are not excluded. Be prepared for taxation, and follow up with your accountant if you have any questions or concerns.

3. Not Excluding PayPal.com from Your Google Analytics Referral Traffic Reports

Monitoring web traffic is essential to making informed decisions about your online and offline presence, so accessing the most accurate information is important. If you’re currently using PayPal on your site, you may also be noticing an increase in referrals stemming from the PayPal.com URL.

When a customer decides to complete a purchase on your site using PayPal, and they momentarily leave your site to complete the transaction, Google views their return to your site as a new session; therefore, PayPal takes credit for the referral even though it was just a momentary blip in the checkout path.

You can remedy this by making a few easy updates to your Google Analytics account. First, you’ll need to use a Universal Analytics tag on the account. Then, using the Admin panel, you can add PayPal.com to the Referral Exclusion List. This will prevent Google from recognizing the customer’s reentry as a new session, helping you keep better tabs on who really is sending you traffic.

4. Being Unware of Account Freezing or Limit Policies

Though PayPal is pretty adamant that freeze outs don’t happen often, they are possible, and if you have several thousand dollars tied up in your PayPal account for 90 to 180 days, it may be hard to pay bills. Furthermore, if you can’t access the funds from your account, it’s likely you’ll want to remove the PayPal payment method until things are figured out. In other words, it can be a real pain.

To reduce the chances of this happening, here are a few tips:

  • When you open your account, contact PayPal to verify that there are no limit on how much money you can accept in a day.
  • Make sure all your information is accurate and consistent; that includes making sure that your address, phone number, and name appear the same exact way on your PayPal account as they do on your credit card and bank account.
  • If you’re expecting a big influx of cash to flow into your business through your PayPal account (a product launch, big promotion, special event, etc.), consider contacting PayPal ahead of time to let them know.

5. Not Customizing Your Payment Page

When it comes to the user experience, the little things make a big impression. That’s particularly true when it comes to customizing your PayPal payment pages.  If you want to maintain branding throughout the shopping experience, which can help increase buyer confidence, consider taking advantage of PayPal’s Custom Payment Pages.

These pages enable users to customize all payment pages, included the Buy Now buttons, Shopping Cart, Subscriptions, and Donations.  Once you select your page style, the updates will carry throughout the entire payment flow, creating a seamless brand experience.

Offering your customers the option to use PayPal at checkout is a great way to increase conversion and make the shopping experience easier. Keep things running smoothly by avoiding some common mistakes made by those who paved the path to payment before you.

 

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

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


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

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

Current credit all paid off and looking for a new loan? Our content partner Nav explains why waiting a month may be better for you.

Current credit all paid off and looking for a new loan? Our content partner Nav.com explains why waiting a month may be better for you.

 

You ran through an analysis and decided it’s time to borrow to boost your business. You paid off your old credit card balances and took steps to shore up your credit score. You scrubbed through your financial statements to make sure they are accurate and professional. Is it time to apply for the loan? Probably not just yet. Follow along to learn why you should wait 30 days to apply for a loan.

What happens when you apply for a loan?

The loan application process requires data from many sources to make a decision. Depending on where and how you apply, you may get an instant online decision or have to wait weeks for a reply from a traditional bank.

Regardless of where you apply for a business loan, the lender will review your loan application, financial information, and credit history before making a lending decision. If you have perfect credit, no balances, and strong finances, you shouldn’t have a problem getting approved. But it doesn’t always work like that.

Many businesses need a loan at exactly the wrong time. When you have high credit card balances, are strapped for cash, and need a little more working capital to get through the season, a loan may be just what you need. But in that situation, you might not come off as a great, low-risk applicant to the bank. This is where waiting to apply for a loan may increase your approval odds.

A zero balance doesn’t mean your credit score says zero.

Both personal and business credit scores factor in current balances on credit cards, lines of credit, and other loans. If you max out your credit card, the impact is even bigger. Armed with this information, you may think that you can simply pay off your credit card and apply for the loan right away. But the lender might still see your old, high credit card balance even though you paid it off.

This isn’t because your credit report is wrong, per say, it is because of delays in credit reporting. Each time you have activity on a credit card or other loan, your bank systems usually update within a day or so. But your credit report does not update as quickly or frequently as your account balances.

The credit bureaus track credit report data for over a hundred million Americans. Considering that many people have multiple accounts, it wouldn’t be feasible to update everyone’s credit reports on the fly.

Here’s how the credit reporting system works.

Considering the scale of it, the credit reporting system in the United States is quite impressive. Three companies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, collect data from hundreds of millions of accounts and data sources for consumer credit scores. For business credit scoring, Experian, Dun & Bradstreet, and FICO are leaders in credit scoring and reporting. But a lot happens behind the scenes to calculate those credit scores.

In most cases, every credit account you open is reported to at least one of the big three consumer credit bureaus. Every time you have activity on your account, your bank tracks that activity. Then, typically once every month, the banks will send updated information for each account to the credit bureaus. Because of this timing, it is possible for you to pay off a balance and have to wait a full month before your credit report is updated.

The timing might work out that your credit is updated the next day, but there is no guarantee. Also keep in mind that each lender reports on its own schedule, and might not report all accounts on the same day. If you pay off multiple credit cards, your credit report will likely change a few times before the final payoff is accounted for and your credit report and score jump.

Debt utilization makes up 30 percent of your personal credit score, which makes it the second largest factor in your score after payment history. Don’t underestimate the power it has to influence your score. If you can pay off all revolving credit accounts and wait for your credit report to refresh, you will be in much better standing for a new loan, assuming nothing else goes wrong with your credit in the meantime.

Wait for a 30 day cycle before applying for a loan.

Each time you apply for new credit, that credit application shows up as an inquiry on your credit report, which can lower your credit score. Don’t apply for a loan and get rejected. Pay off your debt, patiently wait a month for your credit report to update, then apply for the loan.

If you want to know for sure that your credit report is updated before applying for a loan, Nav is for you! A free account gives you both a personal and business credit score for free, and premium accounts give you scores from multiple credit reporting bureaus. Sign up and check your credit before the bank so you don’t end up with a surprise rejection of your loan application. It takes just a few minutes to get your free credit score and tips on improving your credit. You have nothing to lose, give it a try today!

 

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

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


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

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

Many small businesses experience seasonal ups and downs. When your business is in a boom, you may need to hire extra help. Our content partner Nav offers tips for knowing who and how to get the best seasonal help.

Many small businesses experience seasonal ups and downs. When your business is in a boom, you may need to hire extra help. Our content partner Nav.com offers tips for knowing who and how to get the best seasonal help.

 

In some industries, the need for workers peaks during a particular time of year. Pools need lifeguards in the summer. Pumpkin patches need workers in the fall. Retailers might want to staff up for the holidays, but need few of those workers to stick around come January. Whatever your seasonal need, it can be tricky to hire temporary employees. Follow these best practices to bring in high quality, seasonal workers no matter what you need them for.

1. Don’t Overwork Your Core Employees

Before we jump into the details of hiring seasonal employees, it is important to understand why they may be needed. Seasonal employees are ideal for positions that require little training or expertise, but require a human to physically be present and do the job. Common examples are retail cashiers, farm fruit and vegetable pickers, shipping company logistics, seasonal resort positions, and tour guides.

Some of these jobs may be needed year-round. For example, big box retail stores always need cashiers and UPS always needs people to unload and load trucks. But in the holidays, these companies need far more workers than they do the rest of the year.

You may be tempted to ask your current staff to work overtime, but that may not be ideal, both for financial reasons and for team morale. Instead of making your existing employees take all of the needed extra hours, hiring seasonal help is a great strategy.

2. Balancing Budget and Quality

Overtime hours requires paying overtime wages. When your business is at peak hours, managing your budget is important. Don’t sacrifice customer service for the sake of a few bucks, but do ensure your employment costs don’t get out of control when dealing with seasonal workers.

Start by budgeting for seasonal workers in terms of dollars, then figure out what that translates to in hours. With that information in hand, it’s time to start finding workers.

Remember that hiring is like much else in business: you get what you pay for. If you budget only for minimum wage workers, expect minimum wage quality. If you are able to offer a little more, you are more likely to attract higher caliber seasonal employees. Also, keep in mind that you have to pay taxes and may have other expenses, like insurance and payroll, for each seasonal employee you hire.

3. Make Clear Guidelines

Now you should know roughly what your seasonal employees—or seasonal intern—will do, your budget, and what you can afford to pay them per hour. Now it is time to put together a job description and get ready to hire.

Make your hiring and employee guidelines crystal clear so there is no confusion and you don’t make poor hiring choices. The clearer the job description, the easier it is to hire for that role. A good job description should discourage unqualified applicants and tell anyone what to expect in a day’s work.

Your job description may be published online, added to a print out, or passed out at a job fair. Make sure it is well written, easy to understand, and sufficiently detailed to explain to someone why this may or may not be the right role for them.

4. Join a Career Fair or Host Your Own

Now it’s time to hire your seasonal workers! You have a few great options to bring in potential workers for your seasonal needs. Here are a few popular examples:

  • Online advertising: Post your position on a site like Craigslist, Monster.com, Indeed, CareerBuilder, or elsewhere to get maximum exposure to job hunters on the internet.
  • Career fairs: Buy a table at an upcoming local career fair to meet potential hires in person. Local newspapers, nonprofits, and government organizations are good places to look to find upcoming job fairs near you.
  • Hiring event: Host your own job fair when you need to hire workers in bulk. Set up an efficient operation where workers can apply, interview, and get hired on the spot.

There is no right or wrong way to handle this, just try to stay efficient to avoid wasting time and money. Don’t forget your own network as a source for workers too. Friends who run businesses may know workers looking for a temporary job, and nepotism is perfect for bringing on part-time, seasonal employees on the cheap.

Another great option is to incentivize current employees for successful referrals. Offering a $50 bonus or a gift card might be enough to get your existing team exciting about the process, making your job easier.

5. Stay on the Right Side of the Law

However you decide to hire, make sure to stay compliant with all labor laws. Do not hire “contractors” for jobs that clearly require W-2 employees. Read up on child labor laws. Always follow the law to avoid issues that could require paying fines, big legal costs, or could even threaten to shut your business down for good.

Employee labor laws are extensive and can be confusing. If you are unsure or uncomfortable, consider a session with a local labor attorney to ensure you are doing things by the book, or read into laws for your city, state, and the Federal government.

Go Forth and Hire

If your employee needs seasonal labor, you can absolutely tap into the local labor market for great results. If a small investment in labor costs will lead to big results for the bottom line, there is no reason you should avoid or be scared off from temporary hires. As long as you follow the law, your budget, and stick with an efficient and effective hiring process, seasonal workers could be a path to sustainable results year after year. And that is what business is all about.

 

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

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


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

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

Stuck in a rut? Being a successful small business owner requires more than hard work, it involves keeping your brain sharp. Our content partner Nav explains why staying in shape is important for running a business and how to motivate yourself to keep at it.

Stuck in a rut? Being a successful small business owner requires more than hard work, it involves keeping your brain sharp. Our content partner Nav.com explains why staying in shape is important for running a business and how to motivate yourself to keep at it.

 

I’ve never been a huge fan of exercise. It’s only fun if you’re playing a sport, and I’m not the most coordinated guy. I can’t even pull off a friendly fist-bump if I’m walking while I make the attempt.

Imagine how that would translate on a basketball court.

I used to get fired up about exercise all the time. I’d think, “Oh, yeah, I’m going to start lifting weights!” And I would follow through, too — for about a week.

Problem was, mornings and evenings were out for me. I’m constitutionally incapable of exercising at 5 a.m., and I’ve got a wife and six energetic daughters who’ve called dibs on my evenings.

Our Amazing Brains

Things turned around when I read a book called Brain Rules. In it, developmental molecular biologist John Medina discusses 12 discoveries in brain science that have profound ramifications for our happiness as human beings.

The one that really stood out to me was that exercise helps your thinking. Your brain has characteristics like a muscle — the quicker your body, the stronger your heart, the quicker and stronger your brain.

There are limits, of course. Jogging isn’t going to turn you into Einstein. But whatever your baseline intelligence is, jogging will improve it.

It occurred to me: If you can’t do mornings and evenings, why not exercise during the day? What if you made working out part of, you know, work?

Working It Out

We entrepreneurs spend our days in a hypercompetitive, cutthroat environment. We require every piston to be firing at maximum capacity just to stay even, much less get ahead.

My company wants me to be smarter. My company needs me to be smarter. The same can be said for small businesses and small business owners across the land.

Problem is, we often feel guilty if we’re not sitting behind our desk. We’re stuck inside a tight little box that says: “If it doesn’t look like what we traditionally call ‘work,’ it isn’t work.

But if a 20-minute phone call was all it took to improve the Internet speed in your office, you’d make that call. You wouldn’t consider the time you spent on hold as wasted. If a 20-minute jog will do the same thing for your brain, putting on your running shoes is a no-brainer.

It’s easy to talk about self-improvement, however. It’s a whole other ballgame to actually improve. Here are four steps to sticking to your goal to keep in shape.

1. Take It Personally

After reading Brain Rules, I thought: “I knew my body was out of shape, but my brain?” I found it a little offensive. I considered myself a fairly smart guy in some ways, but now I realized that I had all this room to grow in an area I already felt confident about.

It was an uncomfortable feeling, and I took it as a challenge. Be honest with yourself. Are you really operating at your highest potential? If not, why not?

2. Find Your Motivation

If working out makes you a better entrepreneur, it’s easier to get past the guilt and rationalize doing it during the workday.

Add that motivation to others. Exercise for the sake of being a better parent. Exercise for the sake of being a better spouse. Find the motivation that means the most to you, and keep it in front of you.

3. Fight Through the Despair

It can be humbling to learn that there’s so much room to grow. But it can also be seen as good news, because life is boring in the absence of new challenges to conquer.

Seeing it as good news leads to excitement, and this is the emotion that carries most people into the gym when they first resolve to start going.

Almost inevitably, however, the other shoe drops, and despair sets in. This is the emotion that carries most people right back out of the gym, never to return.

Watch for it. If you know it’s coming, it’s easier to fight through it until excitement makes another appearance.

4. Plan Ahead

If you’re on the road, make sure your hotel has a gym. The same goes for vacations. If you simply can’t get to a bench press or a treadmill, do push-ups by your desk. Stretch. Take a walking meeting. Jog. Ride a bike to the office.

If you can’t find the motivation to work out while sitting at home on a Saturday, what’s the likelihood that you’ll do so on a busy workday unless you systematically schedule it.

Once I found the motivation to work out, my life improved dramatically. I became a better employer, a better leader, a better human being. Take it from someone who can’t dribble a basketball:

The same thing can happen to you.

This article originally appeared on Inc.

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

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


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

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

Yelp is often the only place a food truck business is listed on the internet. Our content partner Nav explains how you can use Yelp to get people talking about your business—and how to avoid typical pitfalls that can sink your business.

Yelp is often the only place a food truck business is listed on the internet. Our content partner Nav.com explains how you can use Yelp to get people talking about your business—and how to avoid typical pitfalls that can sink your business.

 

Word-of-mouth marketing has always been a valuable tool to business owners, but in recent years, social media has upped the ante. In fact, 82% of adults in the U.S. turn to online reviews before making a purchase. For Yelp, that translates into 84 million desktop users, 73 million mobile web users and 26 million mobile app users.

For small business owners across the U.S., those numbers should translate into a definitive need to factor Yelp into your marketing strategy. If you’re a new business owner, or simply new to Yelp, your next question is likely, “but how?” And while there are multiple ways you can use Yelp to your advantage, perhaps the best way to shape your approach is to look at these all-too-common Yelp mistakes.

1. Not Claiming Your Business Page

It’s free, it’s easy, and it can help you increase your revenue. Customers can review a business regardless of whether or not it’s been claimed, but claiming your business is a must, and if you haven’t done it yet, you need to do it now. It’s OK … I’ll wait right here.

Claiming your business allows you to add photos, a detailed description and up-to-date information. This is important for two reasons. The first, and arguably the leading reason you’re reading an article about Yelp in the first place, is that this information will help you convert potential customers to existing ones and grow your business.

Secondly, providing thorough and specific descriptions (think keywords) can have a big impact on your local SEO efforts, helping your business land in the top results for relevant searches. (Here’s a quick guide to how to do good local SEO.)

Speaking of SEO, by claiming your Yelp page, you’ll gain ability to respond to reviews as the business owner, which helps create content. You’ll also be able to access Yelp Metrics, which provides valuable analytics about how Yelp users interact with your page. Both of these things are valuable tools when it comes to increasing visitors to your store or site.

As an added bonus, if you’ve claimed your business, you’ll have the opportunity to create Yelp Deals, which are prepaid vouchers that customers can buy at discounted rates. It’s an additional marketing tool that may be worthwhile for businesses. If you don’t have a marketing budget dedicated to some of those promotions already, using a tool like this can help you dip your toes in. (Growing a business can require significant resources, and many business owners even turn to financing options to get new acquisition channels started. You can check your business credit profile for free at Nav to see where you stand before you apply.)

2. Disregarding Yelp Metrics

As I mentioned, one of the reasons you should claim your business on Yelp is so that you can gain access to Yelp Metrics. Yelp Metrics can help business owners to make educated decisions about their efforts on the popular review site.

Among the interesting analytical tidbits included in Yelps analytical reports are traffic to you businesses page (over a month, a year, or two years) as well as how many times your establishment appeared in their organic search results. You’ll also be able to view information about user actions with regards to your business, specifically things like mobile check-ins, mobile calls, visits to your URL and Yelp Deals performance.

Analyzing this information can lead to a strong presence among consumers as well as the ability to better leverage Yelp for business growth. For example, if you find that your business is not showing up in relevant organic searches, it may mean that your business info/descriptions need some tweaking.

3. Assuming Your Business Isn’t Relevant on Yelp

There is this common belief that Yelp is just for restaurants and eating establishments, and while they do make up a big piece of Yelp businesses, they certainly don’t account for all of them. In fact, Shopping is the biggest business category on Yelp, accounting for 22% of reviews, with the Restaurants category coming in at 18% of total reviews.

Included among the industries listed on Yelp are Home and Local Services, Beauty and Fitness and even Auto. It’s true that they may not make up the biggest portion of the pie, if your business falls into them, it’s important to, at the very least, look into how you can leverage reviews and gain a positive presence among potential customers.

4. Not Responding to Reviews

Engaging with your customers is an absolute must if you want to increase loyalty and positive word of mouth. And while it’s true that this engagement strategy is helpful for both positive and negative feedback, responding to negative feedback can really help your branding.

The old cliché that there are “three sides to every story” is important to keep in mind here, especially when it comes to review responses, which are seen by the reviewer, the business owner and all Yelp users who look at your business profile.

Obviously, if you can remedy or smooth over a bad experience by reaching out to the affected customer, then that’s a win; it may even result in a change of heart (aka a revised review). But as a business owner, the way you respond has a much more significant impact on potential customers.

The 1/9/90 Rule, which is highly endorsed in the social media marketing world, is also highly endorsed by Yelp. This rule suggests that 1% of users are responsible for creating content, 9% are of them will engage with that content, and 90% of them will sit back and silently digest and make decisions based on that content.

When it comes to responding to negative reviews, the Search Engine Journal suggests that business owners focus on that 90% when responding to negative feedback on their Yelp page. Why? Because that huge chunk of viewers are potential customers, and even if your response doesn’t appease the 1%, it can go a long way in helping a Yelp user decide if your business is worthy of their patronage.

5. Ignoring the Competition

When it comes to putting your finger on the pulse of local competition, Yelp becomes an invaluable tool.  If you’re not doing a little competitive research on Yelp, then you’re leaving dollars on that dreaded table.

By doing a little good-hearted digging in the name of competitive analysis, you’ll tap into a wealth of knowledge, particularly when it comes to reviews and Yelp Deals. In the end, you can gather information on some of your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses, helping you identify reasons you may be lacking clients, or perhaps why their customers are in search of a new place to grab a bite, drink a beer, or pin down a reliable contractor.

With millions of regular users, Yelp is a serious force in consumer reviews, and when properly leveraged, Yelp can be an excellent, low maintenance tool with a huge impact.  By avoiding these common mistakes, you can make the most out of your listing and increase your customers without breaking your back or your bank account.

 

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

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


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

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

Just like you protect your home, personal car, and belongings with insurance, you should protect your small business with insurance. Our content partner Nav explains four basic types of insurance every business should get.

Just like you protect your home, personal car, and belongings with insurance, you should protect your small business with insurance. Our content partner Nav.com explains four basic types of insurance every business should get.

 

There are a few things every business needs just to get by: a solid business plan, adequate startup capital, good credit (personal and business-wise, which you can check for free on Nav), and, yes, comprehensive insurance.

Of course, depending on the size and type of business you’re running, “comprehensive” can mean a number of things. There’s a boatload of business insurance policies on the market; not to mention, if you have employees, state law comes into play. But there are some ways to boil down the basics. Here’s a primer on insuring your business.

What Basic Insurance Does a Business Need?

Per the Insurance Information Institute, most businesses need, at a minimum, four types of coverage: property insurance, liability insurance, business vehicle insurance and workers’ compensation insurance.

1. Commercial Property Insurance

Property insurance covers (you guessed it) the property your business operates out of and any vital items inside (think office furniture, equipment, the products in stock, computers, etc.). Property insurance provides compensation if the covered location or items are lost, damaged or stolen. Note: It’s a good idea to carry business property insurance even if you’re operating out of your garage or home office, since your homeowners’ insurance likely doesn’t provide adequate coverage — even if you add a rider that covers business property losses.

2. Liability Insurance

Liability insurance protects you in the event your business gets sued for negligence. Liability insurance covers legal expenses, damages (should you lose the case) and medical bills incurred by someone hurt by your business.

There are specialized types of liability insurance you might need, again, depending on the size and scope of your business. That includes professional liability insurance — commonly known as errors and omissions insurance (E&O) — which covers you against malpractice. (So physicians or lawyers, for instance, would likely opt for an E&O policy.) There’s also specialized product liability insurance designed to cover you if a defective product causes someone harm.

3. Business Vehicle Insurance

This policy covers any vehicles you use for operations. Keep in mind, you likely need business vehicle insurance, even if the only ride you’re using is your own. Most standard auto insurance policies won’t cover cars used primarily for business.

4. Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Workers’ compensation insurance covers medical expenses and lost wages if an employee is injured on the job. Laws vary by state, but almost all of them (excluding Texas) require hiring businesses to carry workers’ compensation coverage. Most companies are also required by law to pay unemployment insurance taxes. And, in some states, you’ll need disability insurance if you have employees as well. The Small Business Administration (SBA) suggests visitings your local Workers’ Compensation Office to find out exactly what insurance your state requires.

What’s a Business Owner’s Policy?

If all this insurance lingo is stressing you out, take a deep breath. Sure, you might need a multitude of policies, but insurance companies offer what’s known as a business owner’s policy (BOP), which packages coverage. According to the SBA, BOPs commonly include property insurance, general liability insurance and business interruption insurance, which covers loss of income if a company can’t operate due to disaster, and other common policies. (Workers’ compensation insurance and other employee-centric insurance policies are generally sold separately.)  And, just like with personal insurance policies, bundling can lead to lower premiums. Of course, your business may need more coverage than a BOP provides.

How Much Coverage Does My Business Need?

That depends, of course, but you’ll want enough to at least cover all your assets. You can get an idea of what amount of property insurance you’ll need by calculating the cost of your property, product equipment, etc., the Insurance Information Institute says.

Beyond that, a reputable insurance broker or agent can help you assess your business’s risk and recommend what policies you’ll need and how much coverage you should opt for. Shopping around and comparing quotes will help you get an idea of fair-market value.

 

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

Starting your small business and growing it from the ground up takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. You wouldn’t want all your hard work and hard-earned money getting stolen by an identity theft. Our content partner Nav warns how these thieves can wreck your business and how you can protect yourself.

Starting your small business and growing it from the ground up takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. You wouldn’t want all your hard work and hard-earned money getting stolen by an identity theft. Our content partner Nav.com warns how these thieves can wreck your business and how you can protect yourself.

 

You’ve put your heart and soul into launching your small business. Now you have to help customers find you. In addition to investing in sales and marketing efforts, you can get your business in front of your prospects via a variety of online sources, many of which are offer free basic listings. Here are nine essential places to start.

1. Google My Business

Your business needs to show up in Google when consumers do a local search for it. You can create a free business listing with Google My Business, Google’s official business listing process. Your business listing provides key information about your company, including hours of operation. It will also allow it to show up in Google Maps. You can add photos, printable coupons and much more. Register it online or call 1-844-491-9665. (Note that creating a business listing is different than building a website and trying to get it found in search results for specific search terms you may want to target like “Minneapolis hair salons” or “San Jose manufacturers”.)

2. Bing

Don’t overlook Bing, another popular search engine. You can list your business for free. Check first to see if Bing has already listed your business, complete your profile, then verify your listing. You’ll find complete instructions on bingplaces.com.

3. Facebook

Your business doesn’t have to have a Facebook Page, but with more than 2 billion active daily users, you may be missing out if you don’t have one. When you create your Facebook business page, you will be able to include your business location and hours, add photos and events, and interact with individuals who comment on your page. (It’s also a great way to separate your personal activity on this popular platform from that of your business.) You can create a business page on Facebook for free.

4. LinkedIn

Create a presence for your business with a LinkedIn company page which allows you to  publish information about your company, industry news and articles. It can also help with job recruitment and business development. You’ll need a verified email address to get started. There’s no cost to create the page.

5. Trip Advisor

A popular site for those planning vacations or looking for something fun to do, TripAdvisor has more than 60 million consumers search its site each month. While it’s perhaps best known for listing hotels and restaurants, many other businesses appear under the attractions category, including classes, outdoor activities, venues for indoor activities and more. Read their guidelines to see if your business qualifies, and if it does, list your business on TripAdvisor at TripAdvisor.com/GetListedNew.

6. Yelp

Millions of mobile visitors each month turn to Yelp on their mobile devices to find restaurants, local services and more. These seekers often turn into customers. Your business may already have a Yelp listing, but you want to verify yours so you can interact with them and more. You can claim your free business listing on biz.yelp.com.

7. Manta

Manta’s small business directory gets more than 15 million page views per month from customers looking for local businesses. Your free Manta company profile will allow you to add photos to your business listing and improve the appearance of your Manta profile, boost search engine rankings with consistent business listings and links from your Manta profile to your business website and get statistics on how many customers are visiting your Manta profile.

8. Dun & Bradstreet

Dun & Bradstreet is a business credit bureau. You can request a free D-U-N-S number, the identifying number for your business in D&B’s database. Getting a DUNS number won’t automatically establish a business credit rating, though. To build business credit you’ll need to also open accounts with lenders or vendors that report to D&B. Still, this is a good first step. (Once you’ve established business credit, you can check your scores for free on Nav and track your progress every month.)

9. MapQuest

Will customers need directions to your business? Make sure your business location is correct in MapQuest to reach customers that use it. You can get a free basic business listing, but to add additional information like photos or hours of operation, you’ll need to upgrade to a premium package through partner Yext.

And There’s More

There may be additional sites it will be useful for your business to appear on, depending on the type of business you own; for example, Angie’s List, Thumbtack, NextDoor.com, ConsumerAffairs.com, the Better Business Bureau and others. Just make sure you focus on those most relevant to your business. It’s easy to waste time and money on efforts that don’t produce results.

Stay In Touch

Note that once you’ve established your listings on these sites, you’ll want to monitor them regularly for corrections, comments and complaints. Many consumers make purchasing decisions based on online reviews, so don’t let negative reviews or comments go unanswered. In addition, some small business lenders are looking to online reviews as a source of valuable intelligence about a business that’s applying for small business financing with them, and negative reviews could even get you turned down for a small business loan with some sources.

Your Turn

Have you listed your business with these sites, or are there one’s we’ve missed? We’d like to hear about your experience.

 

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