Small business owners are a busy bunch. Some things may fall through the cracks, including payments. Here's how to handle past due debt....

Small business owners are a busy bunch. Some things may fall through the cracks, including payments. If you’re looking for guidance on how to handle past due debt, our content partner Nav.com has answers!

 

It goes without saying that small business owners are experts at multitasking. If you own a small business, chances are you’re juggling a million different things on a daily basis — shift schedules, inventory management, and likely, a multitude of different expenses, from electricity bills to insurance payments.

With so much to do and manage, it’s possible that you may have forgotten about a credit card bill, missed a loan payment, or let an invoice slip through the cracks. While this may not seem like a big deal, and it certainly isn’t the end of the world if your payments are  a few days behind, a past due debt can come back to haunt you when you’re applying for business funding.

If you find yourself falling behind on payments, don’t fret just yet. Here’s what you need to know about past due debts, plus some steps you can take to resolve them so you can get back to what’s most important — growing your small business.

 

What is past due debt?  

A debt becomes “past due” if you fail to make a payment as of the due date. The “past due” amount is the balance that was owed on the original due date.

For example, let’s say you have a small business credit card that you use to purchase inventory. The holidays are right around the corner so you  decide to stock up on additional supply to meet the surge in demand. You owe a balance of $10,000 with a minimum payment of $300 due on the 15th. You’re planning on paying it off in full once you’ve sold all of your holiday inventory and you have more cash on hand. But with things so busy, you completely forget to pay the minimum, which means during the next payment period, your minimum payment will include:

  • Past due minimum payment of of $300
  • Any late fees or penalties

While this may seem like a small number, it can quickly balloon out of control with the addition of late fees, penalties, and in some cases, an increase in interest rate. And if you’ve missed a loan payment or fail to make good on an invoice, you’re likely looking at an even more daunting number.

 

How does a past due debt affect your credit score (and your chances of getting a loan)?

Most of the time, it comes down to how far behind you are on a payment and the type of debt. If you’re a few days late on paying your credit card bill, you’ll most likely just face a late fee; however, once your bill becomes 30 days past due, your creditor will likely report you to the credit bureaus. And once you’re 60 days past due on your debt, your creditor may even increase the interest rate, which can make paying off what you owe even more overwhelming.

This is where your credit score is at risk, and potentially, your chances of being approved for a small business loan.

Credit bureaus collect information about customer credit data, both personal and business, and lenders use these numbers to evaluate how risky you are as a borrower. While each credit bureau  has its own criteria and method of scoring, a combination of the amount of available credit you use, the length of your credit history, the types of credit you use, and your payment history, among other factors, all play a role.

In fact, when it comes to your FICO (Fair Isaac Corporation) score, which is arguably the most popular scoring system in the United States for personal credit, your payment history is the biggest factor — accounting for approximately 35% of the formula. And for many types of small business financing, your personal credit score can make or break your chances of getting approved — especially for younger businesses without an established business credit score.

 

How to resolve past due debts

Have a lingering past due debt? Here’s a few ways you can go about handling them:

  • Make the past due payment: This may be an obvious option, but it’s also the most straightforward approach to get rid of a past due debt that is looming over your head.
  • Negotiate a payment plan with your creditor: Due to late fees and interest charges, you might find yourself in a situation with an ever-increasing balance that you just can’t seem to shake off. In some cases, your creditor may be willing to set up a payment plan so you can gradually pay off what you owe.
  • Consolidate your business debts: With business debt consolidation, you can combine multiple business debts, including those that may be carrying a past due balance, into one single, streamlined payment. By paying off your past due debt, you can avoid continuing to pay penalties or increased interest charges.

 

 

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. Loans will be made or arranged pursuant to California Department of Corporations Finance Lenders License #6050609.

Opportunity Fund, the nation’s leading nonprofit small business lender, believes small dollar loans help hard-working entrepreneurs make lasting change in their own lives and build stronger communities by growing businesses and creating jobs. Opportunity Fund’s community of donors and investors is creating an inclusive financial system that empowers women, immigrant, and minority small business owners. Our strategy combines microloans for small business owners and New Markets Tax Credit investments in high-impact community infrastructure projects. Since 1994, Opportunity Fund has deployed more than $750 million and helped thousands of entrepreneurs invest in their families’ futures. The organization has committed to lending an additional $1.2 billion to small business owners across the country and investing $174 million in community real estate projects by 2023.

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

Employee engagement is among the chief concerns of small business owners. Here are five tips to keep employees engaged, happy, and productive....

Employee engagement is among the chief concerns of small business owners. Here are five tips to keep employees engaged, happy, and productive….Our content partner Nav.com has answers!

 

From big-picture organizational strategies to everyday operational tasks, the success of a business depends on the employees who make things happen. When employees are happy and have a vested interest in their jobs and the company, things run smoothly, but when workers become disenfranchised, the picture can become quite bleak.

According to a study by the Conference Board’s Engagement Institute, employees who check out can cost companies a whopping $450 to $550 billion dollars a year. And while your company may not lose billions of dollars at the idle hands of a few disengaged employees, widespread or ongoing disengagement can be detrimental to your brand and your bottom line.

How do you avoid this type of behavior? Here are five Cs to help you keep employees engaged and your company thriving.

 

How to Keep Employees Engaged at Work

Communication

If you’ve ever worked for a company or manager that practiced poor communication, you know how utterly exhausting it can be. Roles and expectations are unclear, strategies and development plans are hard to execute, and a lot of time and money is wasted.

When employees are set up for failure, as is often the case with poor communication, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to fulfill their job requirements and even more difficult to work as a unit. It’s also more likely that they’ll become disengaged.

By focusing on company communication, you can help keep leaders, departments, and employees on the same page, working towards the same detailed goal. Your communication efforts should start from the top down, as directors and managers are often responsible for communication company goals, policies, and expectations to their staff.

 

Collaboration

Engagement aside, collaboration is vital to any organization – when employees combine their skill sets and unique perspective to solve problems, the solutions are often more nuanced and more effective. Collaboration plays an equally important role in engagement.

When employees work together to solve a problem, they become a team working towards the same goal. This team mentality can help employees build relationships with their coworkers and gain a sense of accountability.

In addition, because collaboration, when done right, often results in faster results and more efficient processes, employees also gain a sense of accomplishment that can motivate them and fuel their engagement.  

 

Creativity

There are few things that crush the spirit of motivated workers like the phrase “we’ve always done it that way.” While there is a time and place for protocol and tradition, employees who feel they have no voice in implementing change or suggesting new ways of thinking aren’t likely to stay engaged.

It’s likely you hired your employees because they had a solid educational and or professional background, one they didn’t get from consistently falling in line or failing to think outside the box.

While no one is suggesting a daily initiative to reinvent the wheel, there are times when you should consider giving employees some space to be innovative, whether it be through brainstorming sessions, collaborative projects, or the chance to solve problems or get involved in initiatives that may extend past their given role.

 

Control

Similar to the importance of creativity, employees who are given some control over their day-to-day professional existence are often more likely to stay engaged and remain productive. The answer, of course, is not to move to a “wild west” approach, but instead, to allow for increased control where it makes sense.

What does more control look like? That depends on the company. For some, it may be giving employees a stronger voice in strategy, company policy, and development decisions. In others, it’s more freedom during the workday. For example, some companies allow employees to come in earlier in the day and leave earlier in the afternoon, as long as they meet their eight-hour quota. Others allow for remote work on occasion.

The ability to make decisions creates a sense of value and control, and for employers, that can translate employees who feel an increased sense of investment in their job and the company.

 

Culture

It’s true that “company culture” has become somewhat of a buzzword in today’s professional society, but that shouldn’t signal a lack of value. Company culture is often considered the driving force behind engagement and productivity.

Individuals that work for companies that communicate well, clearly value and support employees, and provide a positive and healthy environment are more likely to be engaged.

If you have poor retention rates and a notable engagement issue, then it’s likely that your company culture is at least partially to blame.

Contrary to what some may believe, “culture” doesn’t mean you need to model your business after some trendy tech company with open workspaces, a ping pong table, and an office pet.

Instead, it should be a unified approach to everyday business that encourages collaboration, free-thinking, and employee confidence. It also should be one that allows employees to have a strong work-life balance, which makes them feel valued and avoids burnout.

How do you create a strong company culture? Clearly outline your vision and your mission, and make sure that it’s designed to support and encourage your employees as they work towards achieving your company goals.

When employees aren’t engaged, they aren’t contributing to the overall growth and development of your brand, but before you place the blame on them, ask yourself if you’ve created an environment in which employees can and do thrive. Though everyone struggles with engagement here and there, if it’s a widespread problem, chances are it’s a deep-rooted issue that you need to address at the company level.

 

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. Loans will be made or arranged pursuant to California Department of Corporations Finance Lenders License #6050609.

Opportunity Fund, the nation’s leading nonprofit small business lender, believes small dollar loans help hard-working entrepreneurs make lasting change in their own lives and build stronger communities by growing businesses and creating jobs. Opportunity Fund’s community of donors and investors is creating an inclusive financial system that empowers women, immigrant, and minority small business owners. Our strategy combines microloans for small business owners and New Markets Tax Credit investments in high-impact community infrastructure projects. Since 1994, Opportunity Fund has deployed more than $750 million and helped thousands of entrepreneurs invest in their families’ futures. The organization has committed to lending an additional $1.2 billion to small business owners across the country and investing $174 million in community real estate projects by 2023.

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

Small businesses have a lot of accounting needs. You may feel qualified to handle them on your own, but you might need some help....

Small businesses have a lot of accounting needs. You may feel qualified to handle them on your own, but you might need some help….Our content partner Nav.com has answers!

 

As a small business owner, you’re probably looking for ways to save money on operating costs whenever possible. You might even have a bit of financial knowledge, so why not handle the books yourself? After all, you know the basics of bookkeeping and pay attention to details. But at what point should you hand over this crucial responsibility to a professional?  

The reality is that bookkeeping is not the same thing as accounting. Bookkeeping involves the recording of a business’ finances, and accounting encompasses much more. Accountants analyze, interpret, plan and summarize an organization’s finances to help leaders make informed decisions when running the business. It’s possible to automate most or all of your business’ simple bookkeeping tasks with software.

When Do I Need an Accountant?

Chances are, if you’re asking that question, you already know that you want help. It’s important to not get in over your head with your business’ finances, as you can end up making errors that lead to massively expensive problems down the road.

In reality, you can benefit from an accountant’s help in nearly every step of operating a small business, from acquiring licensing to selling your organization. Starting off with an accountant can help you learn more about bookkeeping basics, establishing payment structures, meeting regulatory demands, developing your financial strategy and much more.

If you already know a great deal about the fundamentals of bookkeeping and have a solid financial strategy when you’re just starting out, you may be able to hold off on hiring an accountant in the initial stages of your business. On the other hand, if you need help preparing taxes, restructuring your books, acquiring licensing, securing small business funding or planning, the cost of hiring an accountant can easily pay for itself when you consider the mistakes and headaches you end up avoiding in the long run.  

What Are My Options?

Some accountants will work on a retainer, while others require an hourly rate for time spent on your business. If you need help but still feel that you can’t afford hiring a professional, you can look for an accountant consultant who will meet with you to establish your own process, interpret financial data and answer questions as they arise.

When you take away the stress and burden of small business accounting, you’ll have more time and energy to run your organization. Accountants specialize in navigating an already confusing maze, so you’ll benefit your bottom line with the help of a professional.

 

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. Loans will be made or arranged pursuant to California Department of Corporations Finance Lenders License #6050609.

Opportunity Fund, the nation’s leading nonprofit small business lender, believes small dollar loans help hard-working entrepreneurs make lasting change in their own lives and build stronger communities by growing businesses and creating jobs. Opportunity Fund’s community of donors and investors is creating an inclusive financial system that empowers women, immigrant, and minority small business owners. Our strategy combines microloans for small business owners and New Markets Tax Credit investments in high-impact community infrastructure projects. Since 1994, Opportunity Fund has deployed more than $750 million and helped thousands of entrepreneurs invest in their families’ futures. The organization has committed to lending an additional $1.2 billion to small business owners across the country and investing $174 million in community real estate projects by 2023.

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

Tracking mileage and expenses is one of the more tedious tasks for small business owners. Looking for a way to make it easier? Look no further....

Tracking mileage and expenses is one of the more tedious tasks for small business owners. Looking for a way to make it easier? Our content partner Nav.com has answers…

 

Tracking expenses can feel like a full-time job, especially if your business requires daily purchases or frequent travel expenditures. But failing to track or inaccurately track expenses can lead to a host of problems.

Without a clear view of costs, it becomes impossible to efficiently manage cash flow and prepare for the future. Further, valuable tax deductions are lost if you don’t accurately track expenses over the year.

Fortunately, the right tracking system can make a world of difference, and implementing one may be far simpler than it seems.

Whether you’re a sole proprietor or a business owner overseeing numerous employees, these tips can help you stay on top of mileage and other business expenses.

1. Separate your business and personal spending

The first step in accurate expense tracking is to limit your business spending to a specific business account. This means opening a business checking account and using it as the exclusive funding source for business purchases.

The same logic should be used when making purchases with a credit card — apply for and use a business card, not your personal credit card.

2. Use a designated checking account or credit card

In the past, business owners and consumers alike were often forced to keep meticulous logs in order to track spending. And while those logs are still an important piece of the puzzle, today’s online banking platforms often take away much of the manual labor.

In most cases, your online banking platform will provide you with all the pertinent info regarding transactions, including the amount, date, and the payee. Further, many banks and credit card companies allow online users to download an activity report, which can be used to further filter and record your expenses.

3. Log info regularly

Whatever method you choose to implement, regularity is the key to success. For some, particularly those who rely on manual entry methods, a daily log will prove to be the most efficient way to keep track of expenses.

Others, however, may find that a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly schedule is just as efficient. However, don’t wait too long. The longer the gap between spending and logging, the more likely you are to forget, lose, or omit vital information.

In your log, make sure to note the date, total amount, and nature of the purchase. Though these logs certainly don’t need to be super detailed, providing basic information will help you segment your expenses when it’s time to budget and provide documentation in the case of an audit.

4. Use an expense tracking app

While the good ol’ pen and paper combo, or even the note feature on a smartphone, can serve as an easy expense recording tool, there is certainly room for error. There are numerous apps that can help streamline and add integrity to the process, some of which even integrate with your accounting software.

As you review your app options, it’s a good idea to take note of what type of expenses you can track. For example, Expensify and TripLog both allow you to track mileage and business expenses in one place, but that’s not always the case.

In addition, it’s also important to take note of any limits that may be in place. Some apps are free for a single user but require payment for more than one user. Similarly, other apps limit the total amount of expenses, employees, or vehicles you can track.

5. Have a clear expense tracking and submission policy

If you’re responsible for reimbursing employees for their expenses, it’s essential that you create a clearly defined expense submission policy. This should include things like mileage rates, an outline of acceptable expenses, and submission deadlines (e.g., within 5 business days of the purchase).

Further, it’s important that you specify what documents should be included. At the very least, you’ll want employees to save receipts and record mileage, where applicable.

6. Set limits

In reality, limits fall into the expense policy, but the notion is important enough to merit its own section.

If you’re reimbursing employees, it’s important to explicitly state any limits or spending criteria that will dictate reimbursement. By doing so, you can set behavioral expectations (e.g., no elaborate lunches) and maintain control of your operating budget.

For instance, you may want to set limits on how much an employee can spend on meals, what type of airfare you’ll reimburse (e.g., first class vs business class), or maximum hotel stay expenses.

7. Know what’s deductible

Since taxes represent a primary reason to practice regular expense tracking, it’s helpful to know what type of expenses you can and can’t deduct.

In general, the IRS states that business owners can deduct any expense that is “both ordinary and necessary.” Of course, it can be hard to determine exactly what that means. If you’re unsure if a business expense is considered ordinary and necessary, your best bet is to consult the IRS small business deductions page as well as your accountant.  

As a business owner, tracking expenses can be a challenge, but doing so can make it easier to run your business and manage your finances. The tips above can help you create a strong process that can alleviate some of the pain points often associated with expense tracking.

 

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. Loans will be made or arranged pursuant to California Department of Corporations Finance Lenders License #6050609.

Opportunity Fund, the nation’s leading nonprofit small business lender, believes small dollar loans help hard-working entrepreneurs make lasting change in their own lives and build stronger communities by growing businesses and creating jobs. Opportunity Fund’s community of donors and investors is creating an inclusive financial system that empowers women, immigrant, and minority small business owners. Our strategy combines microloans for small business owners and New Markets Tax Credit investments in high-impact community infrastructure projects. Since 1994, Opportunity Fund has deployed more than $750 million and helped thousands of entrepreneurs invest in their families’ futures. The organization has committed to lending an additional $1.2 billion to small business owners across the country and investing $174 million in community real estate projects by 2023.

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

It's time for spring cleaning, and your business credit report needs some help. Our content partner Nav has some tips to help tidy things up...

It’s time for spring cleaning, and your business credit report needs some help. Our content partner Nav.com has some tips to help tidy things up…

 

Spring means longer days and better weather, which often gives us the energy to tackle projects around the home we’ve been neglecting. Why not channel some of that positive energy into tackling business tasks you’ve been putting off—including working on your business credit?

Here are 7 ways to clean up your business credit.

First, Clean Up

When it comes to cleaning up your business credit, you can start by carefully reviewing your business credit reports to make sure all the information is accurate and complete. (You can get your free business credit report summaries from business credit agencies Dun & Bradstreet, Equifax and Experian through Nav.)

Here’s what to look for:

1. Check your business name and address.

If your business is a legally incorporated entity, or you have filed a fictitious name (DBA) with your state, you’ll want to make sure the full legal business name is listed correctly on your business credit reports.

2. Review your business SIC/NAICS code.

Your business credit report will list one of these codes, which is a government code designed to categorize businesses by type of business. You want yours to be accurate for a couple of reasons. First, business credit scores can compare businesses within the same industry and if your business is not categorized correctly it may not be properly evaluated. Secondly, lenders may finance certain types of businesses and not others; you don’t want yours excluded from financing opportunities due to a mistake.

3. Scrutinize payment history.

Whether your business pays its bills on time is the single most important factor in your business credit scores. But Business credit reports list payment history on individual accounts differently than consumer credit reports.

On personal credit reports you’ll see month-by-month payment history for the most recent 24-months along with a summary for the entire reported account history. With business credit, you’ll see a summary of the entire account payment history listed as the percentage of time the account has been paid on time, or has been late. So it may be confusing to try to figure out when any late payments occurred. But if you believe the payment history listed on your credit report is wrong, you can dispute it and ask the credit reporting agency for a correction or try to contact your creditor for clarification.

4. Check public record information.

If your credit report lists items such as UCC filings, tax liens or even judgments, you’ll want to check to make sure that information is accurate and complete. One thing to look for is whether the current status is reported. For example, if you have paid off a tax lien, it should indicate there is no balance. If you’ve satisfied a debt underlying a UCC filing, you’ll want to make sure that it is no longer reported as open. If any public record information is wrong, you can dispute it with the credit reporting agency. (Note: there is no time limit that negative information may be reported; instead commercial credit reporting agencies make their own determinations.)

Then, Spruce Up

After you’ve cleaned up, it’s time to spruce up. This is the business credit version of creating curb appeal: you’ll want to make your credit report look attractive to lenders, insurance companies and other companies that review business credit reports and scores. Here are several steps you can take to do that:

5. Add vendor accounts.

If you don’t have many accounts listed on your business credit report— many small businesses don’t— adding a couple of accounts can help build a stronger credit rating. Vendor accounts offer one of the simplest ways to build business credit. When you’re approved with one of these companies you’ll be able to purchase products and pay for them later, often on net-30 terms. (Here are 3 vendor accounts that don’t require personal credit checks or personal guarantees.) Pay them on time to build out your business credit.

6. Get a business credit card.

A small business credit card can help build business credit as well. It also helps to separate business and personal credit and makes it easier to keep track of business expenses.

7. Get credit for your payments.

Most small businesses find that some of the bills they pay don’t appear on their business credit reports. You may be able to get some of them added to your credit history by using a service like eCredable to verify and report those accounts. You may be able to get up to two year’s worth of payment history reported for certain accounts, such as internet, power and cell phone accounts that you use for your business.

None of these tasks should take more than an hour, tops. Many can be completed faster than that. Invest a little time now cleaning up your business credit and watch it pay off.

 

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

If you don’t think your American business needs to comply with the new GDPR, think again. Our content partner Nav explains what the GDPR is and why your small business should start taking action immediately.

If you don’t think your American business needs to comply with the new GDPR, think again. Our content partner Nav.com explains what the GDPR is and why your small business should start taking action immediately.

 

News of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been floating in our peripherals since it was passed by the European Parliament back in 2016, but as of May 25, 2018, the privacy-focused piece of legislation will finally go into effect. And, though it’s specifically designed for those in the EU, American business owners are not exempt from impact.

As an American business owner with your own set of privacy rules and regulations to contend with, the GDPR may not seem like much of a concern. However, since the regulations impact all organizations that process or hold EU customer data, any American business that falls into that category (i.e., businesses that have a web presence and/or sells their products to citizens within the EU) will need to comply.

You’ll note that “web presence” was included, not just the notion of selling products or services. That’s specifically because of stipulations that focus on the collection of personal data, not just monetary transactions

So, any organization that collects identifiable information (PII), which includes social security numbers, phone number, salary, race, marital status, military rank or civilian grade, age, medical records etc., from EU citizens will need to be in compliance.

Top GDPR Takeaways for Small Businesses

You know what the GDPR is, generally, but what specific things will be required of businesses? Here are a few of the most significant regulations and considerations that you’ll need to take into account if you want to be in compliance.

  • Seventy-two-hour breach notification:  Just like it sounds, any organization or company that detects a customer data breach must notify the national authorities within seventy-two hours of that breach, and in some cases, customer notification must also take place.
  • Consent for data is a must: Companies and organization must obtain explicit and informed consent when collecting and/or processing data from individuals, even if it’s something as simple as an email list.

Explicit consent should be used if an organization wants to validate the sensitive data for use. Additionally, the consent must be achieved with a clear affirmative action, which means that that companies can no longer use “opt-out” or pre-checked boxes to achieve that consent.

         Further, consent requests must be separate from terms and conditions; cannot, in most cases, be a contingency for signing up; must be granular or designed in such a way that consent is specific to each type of processing; and named, meaning the individual must be made aware of what organizations or third-parties rely on that consent.

         Finally, organizations must document the aforementioned consent, including the specific consent requested/provided and when that consent took place, individuals must have the right to withdraw their consent at any time, and organizations must provide information about how an individual can withdraw their consent as well as an easy path to do so.  

  • The right to be forgotten: organizations and businesses must comply with a request by an individual to “be forgotten” or to have a copy of their data.  Though simplistic in theory, the right to be forgotten will require that all organizations be able to delete not only primary data but also any data duplications, be they due to operational processes (i.e., cloud storage backup) or unspecified employee lead duplication.  This will require universal conversations and policies among all departments and employees who can access, copy or otherwise maintain customer data.
  • Any data processed for a child under sixteen is considered unlawful if there is no prior parental consent; however, states within the EU can opt to reduce that age, with 13 years of age representing the cutoff.

The aforementioned are just a few of the more specific requirements that business owners must meet if they want to become compliant with the GDPR.  Some of these requirements may take a few weeks (or months) to plan and execute, and so, as mentioned above, it’s best to start as soon as possible, if you haven’t already.

To get started, or make sure your efforts are aligned with expectations, considering the following steps.

  1. Analyze your current data processes; this includes how you obtain data as well as how you process and maintain that data. If you don’t have one already, you should have a Personal Information Assessment (PIA), and in some cases you may need a Data Protection Impact Assessment.
  2. Work with your legal department to fully understand and address the GDPR requirements (like the DPIA; however, efforts should extend past legal departments or consultants and include contact with multiple departments, including IT, Marketing, and Finance, as many are directly involved or involved.
  3. Create a plan, not only for immediate compliance, but for long-term data procurement, management, and processing.  The end result should be a data privacy and security plan that can act as guidance for the future operations as well as documentation for compliance.

Companies that don’t comply (or document that compliance) with the GDPR face substantial fines of up to four percent of global revenues. And while that amount can be damaging to any organization, small businesses that depend on every cent may suffer the most from non-compliance. During the next little while, your time will be especially precious as you work to ensure your business is compliant. The average business owner spends 33 hours applying for credit, you can save that time by checking with Nav.

If you’re not currently compliant, take a deep breath. Garnter, Inc. suggests that by the end of 2018, more than fifty percent of American businesses will be non-compliant.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that herd mentality will protect you from non-compliance in the event of a data breach – we all know how frequent they are these days.  For that reason, it’s important to address the issue immediately and take the steps required to meet GDPA requirements

 

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

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

Women are more likely to start a small business than men, but they are more likely to struggle obtaining financing. Our content partner Nav.com explains why women-owned businesses hit a financial glass ceiling and how you can break it.

 

A new report released by SCORE reveals some interesting data regarding small businesses, particularly women-owned small businesses. Of the 28 million small businesses in the United States, 39% are owned by women, which increased by 45% from 2007 to 2016 and continues to rise. Women are more likely to start a business than men, enjoy equal success as measured by business starts, revenue growth, job creation, and time in business. And while men are more likely to operate in the construction and manufacturing industries, women are more likely to open businesses in healthcare or education. Women-owned businesses employ almost 9 million people and bring in over $1.6 trillion in revenue. While these figures are impressive, there are some concerns found in the data.

Despite the growth in the number of women-owned businesses, these entities have remained static in revenue shares at only 4% of the nation’s business revenues, a point which hasn’t seen much growth if any over the last 20 years. In contrast, businesses owned by men have declined in their share of U.S. enterprises since the early 2000s, but their revenue shares have stayed consistent in relation to the changing number of entities. Of the businesses that responded to the survey, 34% of men-owned businesses have been in business for more than 10 years, compared to only 28% of women-owned businesses.

These numbers certainly raise concerns about the longevity and sustainability of women-owned businesses. Could this be a product of a lack of mentorship or other barriers to success?

The Glass Ceiling of Financing

In addition to revenue and years in business, the study highlighted several key indicators to determine how successful a business is, including hiring rates and access to financing. Over the last year, a larger proportion of men-owned businesses (30%) saw an increase in hiring compared to women-owned businesses (27%). Some of the women entrepreneurs responded that they would like to hire more full-time employees, but have to stick with interns, contractors, or part-time employees because funds are low in their business.

When asked why they sought out financing, a nearly equal proportion of men and women responded that they needed financing to hire a new employee. The statistics show that 34% of men compared to 25% of women search out financing, and that 38% of men versus 31% of women who apply for financing actually obtain it.

Women-owned businesses are slightly more likely to depend on credit cards or non-SBA loans for financing as opposed to men-owned businesses, whereas men are more likely to use equity raised from investors to fund their business. While experience and networking can help find better financing options, it’s always important to make sure your business credit profile is in tip-top shape. You can check your business and personal credit score for free with Nav before you seek better financing options.

Some of the differences between men and women business owners may boil down to mentoring, a topic the study addressed. The numbers clearly suggest that small business owners who work with a mentor or are under a mentorship program enjoy more success than those who don’t. While the numbers pertaining to revenue, hiring, and access to financing show that women-owned businesses are at a disadvantage, there are indeed resources available to help them take the next step forward.

 

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

 

We look forward to helping your business succeed. Right now, if you sign up for free mentoring assistance, you’ll receive up to a 2% discount on your loan’s annual interest rate. If you have questions about this loan offer or other small-business loans for women, visit ofew.org, or contact us at ofew@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 http://opportunityfundloan.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Making sure your employees feel safe working at your business is not only polite, but it is your moral responsibility and a business owner. Our content partner Nav explains why a sexual harassment policy is important for everyone and how you can create one easily.

Making sure your employees feel safe working at your business is not only polite, but it is your moral responsibility and a business owner. Our content partner Nav.com explains why a sexual harassment policy is important for everyone and how you can create one easily.

 

Sexual harassment is big in the news, and has led to the end of long careers in Hollywood, Washington and large businesses around the nation. While your business may not be a multi-billion-dollar juggernaut where a sexual harassment claim would make national headlines, that doesn’t mean you can simply ignore sexual harassment.

Not only does creating a sexual harassment protect your employees and set a clear line in the sand for your company culture’s sake, it also protects your business from potential lawsuits that can be costly, time-consuming, hurt recruiting efforts and leave you vulnerable to personal liability depending on how your company is structured and what kinds of business insurance you have. Especially when small businesses are first getting started and profit margins are slim, the cost of a lawsuit could not only derail goals to grow the business, it could put you into business debt or even sink the company. Ensure your business has a clear sexual harassment policy in place to protect everyone at your workplace with these tips.

Understand sexual harassment policies.

Attitudes towards sexual harassment, gender equality and what is and isn’t appropriate in the workplace have changed over time. This generational issue is glaringly obvious when discussing recent harassment claims with Baby Boomers and Millennials at the same time. Just think of Don Draper and the behavior that was acceptable in the “Mad Men” era to get a better understanding of how sexual harassment attitude and acceptance has changed over time.

Harvey Weinstein’s accusers opened up a floodgate of workplace sexual harassment policy updates that were long overdue. Before you start working on your small business sexual harassment policy, understand what these policies do and how they work. A sexual harassment policy should clearly explain what behavior is considered sexual harassment, the repercussions for engaging in unacceptable behavior, and how you will train employees to avoid sexual harassment. The policy should also include information on how employees can report sexual harassment and what will happen if sexual harassment is reported.

Find your workplace’s unique scenarios.

While most offices should be able to easily and clearly identify and explain sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior, that is not always the case in every business. And even within other business categories, it may not always be so cut and dry.

For example, at a restaurant it is inappropriate for any managers, coworkers, or guests to comment on female staffer’s appearance beyond remarking on following uniform guidelines and wearing professional attire. But at restaurants like Hooters, Twin Peaks and The Tilted Kilt, the uniform requires sexually provocative attire. In those cases, the companies must create custom tailored policies that protect their wait staff while maintaining the company’s culture and brand.

While it may be tempting to follow an “I know it when I see it” definition of sexual harassment, it is vital to write extremely clear guidelines to protect your staff from unwanted sexual advances and your business from sexual harassment lawsuits.

Find and review a policy template.

When writing your policy, you don’t have to start from scratch. For many businesses, a pre-written template will cover everything you need. If not, it may get you well on the way to a custom policy for your business.

Templates are great for any legal need, as most businesses have similar requirements and can get something together much faster and at a bargain price. But don’t just take a template and assume everything is perfect. It will still likely require some level of customization to fit your business.

Customize to your business needs.

Depending on your background, you may be able to start the customization process on your own. Read the template, update the glaringly obvious fixes you need, and then read through again with a fine-tooth comb looking for areas where the template does not match your business or leaves something out.

While most contracts are written by lawyers, there is no rule saying you can’t write in sections for your small business sexual harassment policy yourself. Do research on what similar businesses include in their workplace harassment policies and use them as a guide while tweaking the template to best match your business needs.

Hire a lawyer for legal review.

In the last section, you learned that you can write your own sections in your sexual harassment policy. But you can’t just assume everything you wrote is up to snuff with the law. Now it’s time to bite the bullet and hire a lawyer.

A legal review will ensure you are doing all of the right things to protect your employees, yourself and your business from sexual harassment and sexual harassment claims. Nothing is every 100% effective when it comes to sexual harassment prevention, but doing your due diligence does help you protect your team and your company and limits liability in the event of a claim.

Do not ignore sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment is no longer something that can sit at the back of your mind when running a business. Whether your company employs two workers or two hundred, it is time to put a strong sexual harassment policy in place and update older documents.

If you take the steps to protect yourself today, you will have little to worry about in the future. But if you ignore sexual harassment, you are sitting on a ticking time bomb. You never know when a claim may arise that could take down your business. Do the smart thing and put a policy in place as soon as possible.

 

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

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

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