The U.S. government is here to help small business owners. Here’s a list of free and low cost small business resources available from the SBA, Department of Labor, IRS, and more.

The U.S. government is here to help small business owners. Here’s a list of free and low cost small business resources available from the SBA, Department of Labor, IRS, and more.

 

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS)

What it costs: Free

What it does: The HHS is a completely free government resource for you to learn about, comment on, or file a complaint about regulations; access government grants and contracts; and connect with HHS programs and services such as emergency preparedness, food and drug safety programs that could be relevant to your business’ industry, and health insurance for small businesses.

U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)

What it costs: Free

What it does: The DOL has everything you need to know about regulations and compliance information as a small business owner. From worker’s compensation and OSHA to employment benefits and whistleblower protections, there is a treasure trove for you to explore. Being informed is the best way you can be the best boss.

Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU)

What it costs: Free

What it does: You might notice that OSDBU is a department of Veteran’s Affairs, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reap benefits from OSDBU if you haven’t served in the military. Federal agencies have to set aside a certain percentage of contracts for small businesses, and this is where you can access and apply for them.

U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)

What it costs: Free

What it does: The SBA has a lot of resources and tools for you to grow and manage your business successfully. Find information about applying for licenses and permits, opening a business bank account, registering as a veteran- or minority-owned business, hiring and managing employees, franchising or expanding your business, writing a business plan, preparing for emergencies, and so much more.

IRS Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center

What it costs: Free

What it does: We’ve written previously about this resource, but the IRS has a center for small businesses to find information about filing business taxes, record keeping, registering your business with the IRS, tax workshops, a free calculator, and more.

 

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

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

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 $700 million and helped thousands of 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

There’s a dangerous document that could ruin your financial health, and that’s called a Confession of Judgement. Learn what this is, why it is so harmful, and how you can avoid signing one.

There’s a dangerous document that could ruin your financial health, and that’s called a Confession of Judgement. Learn what this is, why it is so harmful, and how you can avoid signing one.

 

Since the recession, small businesses have had trouble getting loans from traditional banks. Businesses need working capital to survive, and smaller businesses can really struggle if they can’t get financing when they need it.

Just like most American households, when entrepreneurs are tight on cash things can get desperate. Alternative lenders know this, and some take advantage of this desperation. We’ve written about Merchant Cash Advances (MCAs) before, for-profit companies who offer lighting fast approval and super easy qualifications, even with bad credit.

The problem with MCAs is that they often aren’t transparent about how much this money will cost you. We’ve conducted industry research on these harmful practices, which you can read about here. Not only will you be stuck with high interest rates and hidden fees, leading to painful APR levels, but some MCA businesses may ask you to sign a Confession of Judgement (CoJ).

What is a Confession of Judgement?

A CoJ is an old legal document dating back hundreds of years intended to enforce debts without the hassle and enormous expense of trials. Although most states banned confessions of judgement in the nineteenth century,  they were still used in consumer loans until 1985. Even now, New York allows companies that have an office located within the state to use a CoJ.

When a borrower signs a CoJ to get an MCA, they are “giving up their right to defend themselves if the lender takes them to court. It’s like an arbitration agreement, except the borrower always loses. Armed with a confession, a lender can, without proof, accuse borrowers of not paying and legally seize their assets before they know what’s happened. Not surprisingly, some lenders have abused this power. In dozens of interviews and court pleadings, borrowers describe lenders who’ve forged documents, lied about how much they were owed, or fabricated defaults out of thin air”(Bloomberg).

To make matters worse, language pertaining to confessions of judgment are often times embedded well within the loan contract. It can be difficult to find, and borrowers end up releasing their right to arbitration without knowing.

How You Can Protect Yourself

If a lender requires you to sign a CoJ before they will give you money, that is a giant red flag. Not every lender who asks you to sign will call you with threats and drain your bank accounts overnight, but by signing a CoJ, you are giving them the freedom to seize your financial assets without warning. It is important to know your rights as a borrower, and as a small business owner you don’t want to sign those away. To learn more about your rights, read the Small Business Borrowers Bill of Rights co-authored by Opportunity Fund.

Always do your research and educate yourself about lenders and their offers before you sign anything. Arming yourself with knowledge is the best thing you can do for your business and your financial health. We created a free business loan calculator for you to figure out how much a loan – or cash advance – will really cost you.

Take your time to find a lender who is trustworthy, transparent, and upfront. Confessions of Judgement are potentially dangerous to your business – borrowers beware!

 

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 $700 million and helped thousands of 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

To grow as a business owner, you need to keep learning – which can mean getting out of your comfort zone and trying something new. Get started with these ideas for taking small steps toward big changes.

To grow as a business owner, you need to keep learning – which can mean getting out of your comfort zone and trying something new. Get started with these ideas for taking small steps toward big changes.

Women entrepreneurs: Keep those business skills sharp

You’ve decided to start a business – and that’s a brave thing to do: Not everyone makes the leap of faith to go it alone! But you need to run a business day in and day out, and it’s easy to forget that you have to keep building your business skills, even beyond what you do to keep the doors open and serve customers. Taking the steps below to build skills such as networking, public speaking, and mentoring can help you push the boundaries of what’s possible for your business.

It’s okay to be afraid – but do it anyway

Getting out of our comfort zones can wrack the nerves, but it’s essential for growth (as a person and as a business owner). “As women, we shouldn’t stick to assigned roles because we feel like it’s what we are good at,” writes Angela Ruth, co-founder of payments company Due, in Forbes. “In reality, we could be doing so much more that no one ever encouraged us to do.”

Ruth’s advice: “Sign up for something you would never do and get through it. You’ll experience a heightened sense of confidence.” In her case, the “something” was doing her first conference presentation: “It can be scary to go out and do something completely different than what you are used to, but once you do it, there’s no question as to how confident you’ll feel.”

Speak up!

Unless you’re naturally gregarious and outgoing, nothing may take you more out of your comfort zone than public speaking. But it’s a skill that comes very much in handy for a business owner, since you may be called on to speak at local business or government events, or offer your insights at conferences.

Fortunately, there are many ways to get some practice at speaking publicly on a small scale (without facing a room filled with a hundred people). Toastmasters organizations, located all around the country, can help you sharpen your speaking skills in a supportive environment – you can even ask for a local mentor who can offer advice.

Karen Catlin, a business coach and former tech executive who teaches public speaking workshops, is a fan of pushing yourself to schedule small public speaking gigs so you become, as she says, “comfortable being uncomfortable.” In her case, she’s committed to doing some kind of public speaking at least once a month. And it’s okay to think small – public speaking can be something as simple as raising your hand at a city council meeting.

Mentor a budding entrepreneur

If you’ve had a mentor, you know how valuable it is to get support from a business leader. But have you thought about becoming a mentor, and sharing your knowledge with someone who’s at the beginning of her entrepreneurial journey? You may have more advice to offer than you think. Plus, you’ll be helping another woman realize her business dreams.

Alicia Glen, New York City’s deputy mayor for housing and economic development, firmly believes that mentorship is one of the keys to women’s empowerment. As she told Quartz.com, mentoring doesn’t need to be complicated. First, spend at least 15 minutes with a more junior woman in your business or your professional network, and give your undivided attention. Next, “actually pick up the phone and get her a connection,” Glen advises. While advice is helpful, it’s solid connections that truly help other women.


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.

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 $700 million and helped thousands of 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

You need business insurance, bottom line. But do you know what type of coverage? How much coverage to buy? Start planning for success with an idea of how to approach the insurance buy with confidence.

You need business insurance, bottom line. But do you know what type of coverage? How much coverage to buy? Start planning for success with an idea of how to approach the insurance buy with confidence.

 

What Basic Insurance Does a Small Business Need?

There are so many insurance products and offers out there that it can start to feel overwhelming. You want to make sure your business is covered, but you don’t want to pay for anything unnecessary.

The four types of insurance every business needs are property insurance, liability insurance, business vehicle insurance and workers’ compensation insurance.

Commercial property insurance will protect you from theft and damages, and it is good to have even if your business operates out of your home. Homeowners insurance might not cover everything your business needs.

Liability insurance is necessary to protect you from negligence lawsuits in case someone gets hurt.

If your business uses a car, van, or truck, you’ll need business vehicle insurance. Most standard vehicle insurance policies don’t cover commercial vehicles, so make sure yours will be covered by your existing policy or a new one.

Lastly, if you have employees you will need to have workers’ compensation insurance in case there is a workplace accident.

You can read more in detail about each of these types of business insurance here. It may seem like a lot to keep track of, but if you bundle your insurance policies under a Business Owner’s Policy, you can often get lower premiums which will save you money upfront.

Do You Really Need All That Business Insurance?

Insurance premiums can add up, especially with all the kinds of policies and range of coverage your business may need, but it is worth it down the road. If you forgo buying business insurance, it will cost you much more out of pocket when something bad happens.

Specialty policies for natural disasters (such as earthquakes, forest fires, tornadoes, etc.) add more cost in the short term on top of the basics, but when an emergency happens you’ll save your business thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. If you don’t live in a vulnerable area, you might not need specialty disaster coverage – always talk with a business advisor to determine the right coverage for your business.

The good news: business insurance is tax deductible! You can save a lot of money by writing off your business insurance during tax season. Remember to talk to your certified accountant before attempting to deduct any of these – we are not tax professionals and are not offering tax advice. If you need help doing your taxes or would like free tools, check out these 5 affordable tax tools.

 

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 $700 million and helped thousands of 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 events in California and virtual events you can join from anywhere. Here are the best upcoming events from February 15 through 28.

Every two weeks, we’re promoting affordable events that help small business owners run their businesses better. This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in California.

Here are the best upcoming events from February 15 through 28.

Northern California/Sacramento

Women Mentoring Women
Date: February 19, 2019 | 4:00 pm PDT – 5:00 pm PDT
Location: 1470 Fruitvale Ave. Oakland, CA 94601 (map it)
Contact: Iveeth Valerio | ivalerio@anewamerica.org | (510) 532-5240
Organization: AnewAmerica Community Corporation
Fee: Free

Join the conversation: Women Mentoring Women Business Start-Up with Laura R. Gardea at AnewAmerica Community Corporation.

For questions or to register please call (510) 532-5240.

Legal Essentials for Doing Business Online
Date: February 20, 2019 | 12:00 pm PDT – 1:00 pm PDT
Location: 455 Market St. #600 San Francisco, CA 94105 (map it)
Contact: mauna@startsmallthinkbig.org | (415) 966-2187
Organization: Start Small Think Big
Fee: $20

Join attorneys from Cooley LLP for a conversation on the legal basis in operating a business online.

Topics include:

  • Website Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policies, including whether and when you need to use them, what you should include, and what they mean
  • Copyright infringement issues when adding textual and photographic content to your business website and how to avoid problems
  • Social media intersection with business and law, including website comments sections and employee privacy

Click here to register for this event.

Intellectual Property: Protecting Your Ideas, Brands, Designs
Date: February 20, 2019 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: 275 5th St. San Francisco, CA 94103 (map it)
Contact: Erin Morris | emorris@rencenter.org | (415) 348-6227
Organization: Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center
Fee: Free

You may have the right to protect your unique business name, ideas, or creations from being tarnished or knocked off by a competitor, but how do you do that affordably on a tight budget?

This workshop is an introduction to different types of intellectual property (focused primarily on copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets), and will provide you with self-help resource information to start building a simple but solid foundation of protection through rights searches, NDA’s, registrations, licenses and other tools.

Although taught by an experienced business attorney and presented by the San Francisco Community Business Law Center, this class does not constitute legal advice.

Click here to register for this event.

Southern California/San Diego

Effective Digital Marketing: Plan, Push, & Promote
Date: Starts February 19, 2019 | 6:00 pm PDT – 9:00 pm PDT
Location: Gardena Valley JCI—2nd Floor
1964 W. 162nd St. Gardena, CA 90247 (map it)
Contact: Mariko Lochridge | MarikoLochridge@ltsc.org | (213) 473-1658
Organization: Asian Pacific Islander Small Business Program
Fee: Free

Join APISBP for this free 8-part workshop series for entrepreneurs and social media managers and receive hands-on training to start, improve, and build their digital marketing campaigns.  

Learn how to create an effective Kickstarter campaign and make your goal or launch a brand on Instagram and create effective digital footprints, and more!

Classes meet weekly on Tuesdays starting February 19th through April 2nd at the Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute.

Click here to register for this event.

Drive New Business with Social Media
Date: February 21, 2019 | 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

From understanding the different social media platforms, to choosing what to say and where to say it, this workshop will give you the keys to the most effective social media marketing for you.

Let instructor Joan Stanford of Jazzy Pen make social media easy so you can capture likes, shares, and customers!

Click here to register for this event.

Understanding Legal Structures
Date: February 5, 2019 | 5:30 pm PDT – 7:30 pm PDT
Location: BusinessSource Center North Valley
13420 Van Nuys Blvd. Ste. 121 Pacoima, CA 91331 (map it)
Contact: info@vedc.org | (818) 834-0577
Organization: VEDC
Fee: Free

This class will help you learn about the different business structures and the required licenses and permits your business may need.

Topics include:

  • Corporations & LLC’s
  • Copyrights
  • Trademarks
  • DBA Definition

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

Turning Your Passion Into A Business On Etsy
Date: February 19, 2019 | 3:00 pm PDT – 5:00 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Sarah Espinosa | sespinos@uncfsu.edu | (910) 672-2683
Organization: Fayetteville State University Veterans Business Outreach Center
Fee: Free

Etsy is a rapidly growing online marketplace for selling handmade goods, vintage items, and craft supplies. With more than 54 million members, there’s no better place to launch your own creative small business. In fact, sellers took home over 34 billion in sales in 2017 alone.

Attend this class to learn how to sell your artwork, jewelry, crafts, and vintage items.

How-to topics include:

  • Grow your brand and reach new customers with SEO tools
  • Register and start selling on Etsy
  • Share the story of your craft in your profile, item photos, and shop banner
  • Escape the 9-5 grind and focus on your passion
  • Understand the basics of your small business strategy with an in-depth look at Etsy’s tools to help you succeed online

Click here to register for this event.

Build & Protect Your Business Credit Score Webinar
Date: February 26, 2019 | 8:00 am PDT – 9:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: atu@asbtdc.org | (479) 356-2067
Organization: Arkansas Tech University Small Business and Technology Development Center
Fee: Free

Like individuals, businesses have their own credit scores. However, the way they are reported and your ability to freeze them is quite different. Strong business credit can open up opportunities to grow your business, including attractive financing options. You need to be proactive to build and protect your commercial credit ratings.

Join credit expert Gerri Detweiler, education director for Nav, on this free webinar as she explains how to build, leverage and protect your business credit.

Topics include:

  • The different credit bureaus compile these reports and how they are used
  • Business credit scores and the factors that help build strong scores
  • Key ways business credit is different from personal
  • Quick steps you can take now to build business credit
  • Free ways to monitor your business credit

Click here to register for this event.

Your 2019 Marketing Tune-Up: Save Time and Money with Inquiry
Date: February 27, 2019 | 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

Are you ready to really rock your marketing in 2019? Join this interactive webinar to gain clarity and next steps for your 2019 marketing visions and plans.

Before spending time or money on marketing strategies, get clear on who you serve, your industry resources, and potential collaborators. You’ll learn how to do your due diligence before spending a dime on efforts that don’t work.

Small business owners can learn the basics behind great marketing to engage and attract clients all year long. Join us to gain new skills in creating content, designing posts, developing marketing collateral, and updating your website.

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 $700 million and helped thousands of 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

As a business owner, it is imperative to stay on top of new laws and any changes to labor codes. Here is a short list of California laws that take effect this year, so you can stay in compliance.

As a business owner, it is imperative to stay on top of new laws and any changes to labor codes. Here is a short list of California laws that take effect this year, so you can stay in compliance.

 

When new laws are made, it is your duty to keep yourself informed. This short list captures some of what went into effect recently. Remember to always consult your legal advisor about how laws affect your business specifically and how to best comply with them, Opportunity Fund is not a legal expert.

New Laws Taking Effect In California This Year

SB 1235 requires commercial lenders’ to disclose accurate and honest information about business loans. Opportunity Fund helped pass the nation’s first Truth-in-Lending bill for small businesses (SB 1235) in Sacramento.  This bill provides a common-sense solution to the problem of misleading disclosures on high-cost business financing by requiring all lenders to clearly and consistently communicate their terms to small businesses seeking financing. Read more about the bill here to know your rights as an entrepreneur.

“Until now, our Truth in Lending laws have applied only to consumer finance. This law will make California a leader in placing the interests of small business owners on par with the big players in the financial industry. Opportunity Fund played an important role in highlighting the need for this law and helping us draft and pass the bill that made it a reality.” – Steve Glazer, California Senator.

AB 1976 expands required accommodations for lactation in the workplace. Existing law requires employers to provide a reasonable amount of break time for lactating employees to pump or breastfeed their infants in a private place other than a toilet stall. Now, your business must make reasonable efforts to provide a private location within close proximity to the workplace other than a bathroom. There are additional details regarding temporary locations and agricultural businesses which you can read here.

SB 1343 expands sexual harassment training requirements from businesses who employ 50 or more people to include those who employ 5 or more. If your small business meets this new requirement, you must provide 2 hours of harassment training to all employees before January 1, 2020 and every two years thereafter. If you have already trained your employees after January 1, 2019 then you do not need to repeat it this year. Take a look here for all the details, including minimum components of the training, posters regarding transgender rights, and more.

SB 946 decriminalizes street vendors and issues requirements for local authorities’ street vendor regulation programs. What this means is that now street vendors cannot be charged with criminal offenses for operating their business, they can only receive fines. If you are currently facing or have faced criminal charges for vending on sidewalks, you are now able to petition for dismissal of those charges. For more information regarding the specifics of this bill, please read the full text here.

Labor Code 226 was amended to clarify employee’s rights to access their payroll records. Now, as an employer, you must provide copies of requested records within 21 days or incur penalty fees. What this means is that it is not the responsibility of your employee to make the physical copies of such records at your business – it is clarified that as the employer, it is yours. This is not a big change to the way your small business operates, but it is important to be aware of any labor law changes.

California will see minimum wage increases. Across the country, 19 states and 24 cities will see higher minimum wage thresholds this year. Currently in California, small businesses are required to pay a minimum of $11.00 an hour (with certain exceptions for students, new employees under age twenty, etc.) Click here to see if your city’s minimum wage will be raised this year, so you can be prepared and make sure your business is in compliance.

 

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

To get your business started, you might lean on family and friends for small investments. But once your business takes off, what are your options for getting money to grow the business? Venture capital might be out of reach, but crowdfunding and grants can give you the financial boost you need.

To get your business started, you might lean on family and friends for small investments. But once your business takes off, what are your options for getting money to grow the business? Venture capital might be out of reach, but crowdfunding and grants can give you the financial boost you need.

How to find business funding, even when you’re starting small

When you launch a business, sometimes you have little more than a vision and a willingness to work hard. For seed money, you might do what many small-business owners do: Look to family members and friends for the funds needed to open your doors and create your first products. But once your business gets off the ground and you’re ready to expand, what’s the next funding source beyond family and friends? Can you find investment besides what loan providers offer?

In a recent blog post, we looked at the barriers that women face when trying to obtain loans, especially when compared to male entrepreneurs. As it turns out, this is also a problem in the area of business funding – even in the venture capital (VC) world, where women are usually well-connected to business leaders. The percentage of women-owned businesses receiving venture capital hit 17 percent in 2012, and hasn’t budged higher since, according to research from Crunchbase. The percentage of VC-backed, women-led firms has remained stagnant since 2012. In addition, women entrepreneurs raise $82 on average for every $100 raised by a business founded by a man.

The big issue here is that women are underrepresented in VC firms (64 female partners out of 752 at the top 100 firms). Fortunately, some venture firms are trying to address the funding/gender gap, such as Female Founders Fund and Rethink Impact, and they seek out women-owned businesses in which to invest.

If you’re not ready to ask for a large VC investment, there are other options. Crowdfunding – where many people give you small amounts of money that can add up to a big investment – is one option. According to a recent study by PwC and The Crowdfunding Center, women were 32 percent more successful at reaching their fundraising targets than men were. “Female crowdfunders also tend to use more emotional and inclusive language in their videos and pitch descriptions than men [do],” the study says. “This language is more appealing both to female and to male backers, and positively correlated with fundraising success.”

There are many options for crowdsourced funding, including Kickstarter and GoFundMe. iFundWomen is aimed specifically at women-led startups and small businesses, and also offers advice on how to conduct a successful crowdfunding campaign. Their website features hundreds of campaigns launched by women-owned businesses of all kinds, from cookies to coding.

Grants might also be an option for getting money for your business. This NerdWallet list summarizes many federal and state grant programs for women, as well as some grants from nonprofits and corporate programs. Keep in mind that grants are competitive: You’ll be in competition with lots of other applicants, and if you receive a grant, you’ll often need to account for spending and show business results.


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.

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 $700 million and helped thousands of 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 events in California and virtual events you can join from anywhere. Here are the best upcoming events from February 1 through 14.

Every two weeks, we’re promoting affordable events that help small business owners run their businesses better. This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in California.

Here are the best upcoming events from February 1 through 14.

Northern California/Sacramento

Other People’s Money
Date: February 6, 2019 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: 1325-B Evans Ave. San Francisco, CA 94124 (map it)
Contact: bayview@rencenter.org | (415) 647-3728
Organization: Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center
Fee: Free

Whether you are using loans, equity, trade credit, prepaid revenue, donations, or some combination of funding sources, using other people’s money to launch or grow your business carries risk of unpleasant surprises and legal disputes.

This workshop will survey the risks and opportunities of different small business funding types, and help you understand how to clearly define your legal rights and obligations in advance in writing to protect yourself against future problems with business creditors and investors.

Although taught by an experienced business attorney and presented by The San Francisco Community Business Law Center,  this class does not constitute legal advice.

Click here to register for this event.

Master Your Business Financials and Make Them Work for You—A 3 Part Series
Date: Starts February 11, 2019 | 12:00 pm PDT – 1:00 pm PDT
Location: 1670 Market St. Ste. #112 Redding, CA 96001 (map it)
Contact: info@e-jedi.org | (530) 926-6670
Organization: Jefferson Economic Development Institute
Fee: $20

Join this three-part workshop to learn how to master your business financials and make them work for you—even if you break into a sweat just thinking about them! The hour-long class meets every Monday for three weeks starting February 11.

This series of accounting/financial classes will help you get peace of mind and the confidence to manage your business financials:

The Basics of Bookkeeping: Demystify and simplify the duties of bookkeeping and accounting for your business:

  • Demystify the bookkeeping process:
  • Learn the best and quickest ways to automate your bookkeeping processes, creating tons of time to get back to working “on” your business
  • Gain techniques and tools to relieve the headache of bookkeeping without hiring a full-time bookkeeper

The Power of Metrics: Analyze the health and efficiency of your business through the use of financial metrics:

  • Gain the tools to easily analyze and project income and expenses
  • Learn how to calculate gross and net profitability accurately and with confidence
  • Understand what a financial metric is and how it’s used to value a business

Succession Planning: Ensure the longevity of your business:

  • Learn how to properly value your business
  • Understand what an EBITDA Multiplier is and how to determine yours
  • Start developing your exit plan to secure your business (even if you never plan on leaving it)

Click here to register for this event. A webinar version of this course is also available starting Wednesday, February 13 at 6pm.

Payroll Taxes 101
Date: February 6, 2019 | 11:00 am PDT – 1:00 pm PDT
Location: 234 E. Gish Rd. Ste 100 San Jose, CA 95112 (map it)
Contact: info@svscore.org | (408) 453-6237
Organization: Silicon Valley SCORE
Fee: $45 for general admission | $20 for students | Free for veterans

You’ve hired your first employee! Now what? They need to get paid and you want to stay in compliance.  

This is an introductory course in understanding payroll taxes, workers compensation, and how to go about paying them.  In this course, you will get a checklist of all payroll requirements and learn key topics such as:

  • Steps for hiring your first employee and paying them
  • Payroll taxes
  • Workers comp integration with payroll
  • Payroll liabilities: a chart
  • Methods for handling payroll
  • Workers comp audits
  • Compliance with California laws

Click here to register for this event.

Southern California/San Diego

Podcasting for Small Businesses
Date: February 5, 2019 | 1:00 pm PDT – 3:00 pm PDT
Location: El Camino College Business Training Center
13430 Hawthorne Blvd. Hawthorne, CA 90250 (map it)
Contact: Martha Cisneros | mcisneros@elcamino.edu | (310) 225-8277
Organization: South Bay SBDC
Fee: Free

With more time in the car stuck in traffic commuting and the decline of good music on the radio we are forced with a dilemma of what to do in the car. According to Edison Research, online radio including podcasts has grown 61% in the past ten years and NPR data reported in last two years has risen from 3.5 to 5.4 million listeners.

Entrepreneurs can strategically use podcasting to position their brands and build rapport with prospects to convert more sales.

Join this free seminar led by Deborah Deras, creator of the Be A Paid Speaker Now Podcast, and learn how Deborah started her podcast how you can too. Topics include:

  • Why podcasting is a great tool for your business
  • What equipment to get
  • What are the steps to go from concept to actually podcasting
  • Who will host your podcast
  • How to edit the podcast
  • How to avoid amateur mistakes
  • How to get your podcast to the ears of your listeners

Click here to register for this event.

The Keys to Effective Guest Complaint Management
Date: February 5, 2019 | 5:30 pm PDT – 7:30 pm PDT
Location: VEDC Women’s Business Center
5121 Van Nuys Blvd. Suite 300A Sherman Oaks, CA 91403 (map it)
Contact: info@vedc.org | (818) 907-9922
Organization: VEDC
Fee: Free

Join this free workshop and learn how to manage customer complaints effectively. Topics include:

  • The true cost of guest complaints for your business
  • Typical restaurant or food service complaints
  • Strategies for crafting responses to complaints that will build loyal customers
  • Methods for effectively responding to online feedback

Click here to register for this event.

Business Plan Boot Camp: Introduction to Business Planning
Date: February 12, 2019 | 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

Shape up your business plan! Get started with an overview of the plan elements and a discussion of your business description and how to conduct an analysis of your industry.

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

How to Start a Home-Based Business
Date: February 5, 2019 | 3:00 pm PDT – 4:30 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: info@TheInstituteNC.org | (919) 956-8889
Organization: The Institute (N.C.)
Fee: Free

Learn the requirements for getting started with a home-based business, including finding your niche, legal requirements, and developing a business plan. This free webinar is presented in partnership with the Veterans Business Outreach Center.

Click here to register for this event.

Credit Reports & Scores Explained
Date: February 7, 2019 | 8:30 am PDT – 9:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Kimberly.Donahue@sba.gov | (304) 623-5631
Organization: U.S. Small Business Administration West Virginia District Office
Fee: Free

Your credit score can impact everything from where you live to how much you pay for insurance. Isn’t it about time you learned how credit reports and scores really work? This free webinar covers the factors that influence credit scores, how to dispute errors, and more.

Click here to register for this event.

Marketing with Snapchat
Date: February 11, 2019 | 6:30 am PDT – 8:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: entrectr@hartford.edu | (919) 956-8889
Organization: University of Hartford Entrepreneurial Center & Women’s Business Center
Fee: Free

Learn the key elements of a successful business plan, how to develop one, and why it’s important! Find out how to outline your plan, craft a mission statement, analyze the market and the industry, create a financial plan, and locate resources.

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 $700 million and helped thousands of families earn, save and invest in their own futures. Opportunity Fund has earned a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator, for our commitment to accountability and transparency.

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

This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person events in California and virtual events you can join from anywhere. Here are the best upcoming events from January 15 through 31.

Every two weeks, we’re promoting affordable events that help small business owners run their businesses better. This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in California.

Here are the best upcoming events from January 15 through 31.

Northern California/Sacramento

El Pajaro CDC Commercial Kitchen Incubator Program Orientation
Date: January 17, 2019 | 6:00 pm PDT – 7:30 pm PDT
Location: El Pajaro Commercial Kitchen
412 East Riverside Dr. Watsonville, CA 95076 (map it)
Contact: (831) 722-1224
Organization: El Pajaro CDC
Fee: Free

El Pajaro Community Development’s non-profit commercial kitchen provides entrepreneurs with the opportunity to start and grow a food business with the support of professional consultants and trained staff. Attend an orientation and learn how you can benefit from our services.

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

Marketing on the Internet
Date: January 22, 2019 | 6:00 pm PDT – 9:00 pm PDT
Location: 234 E. Gish Rd. Suite 100 San Jose, CA 95112 (map it)
Contact: info@svscore.org | (408) 453-6237
Organization: Silicon Valley SCORE
Fee: $45 | Free for veterans

Join this class to learn key topics for top-performing professional business websites. Effective business websites must address visitors and search engines. Get started with best practices for all types of business and e-commerce websites. Key topics include:

  • Establish website goals
  • Define best platforms for different audiences
  • Deploy basic website conversion techniques
  • Explore search engines, traffic, and keywords
  • Learn search engine optimization basics
  • Optimize advertising, budgets, and testing
  • Utilize social media outlets
  • Understand the role of online reputation
  • Find connections between budget and ROI
  • And more!

Click here to register for this event.

Writing a Successful Business Plan
Date: January 24, 2019 | 6:00 pm PDT – 9:00 pm PDT
Location: Napa Valley College
2277 Napa-Vallejo Hwy Building 3300 Napa, CA 94558 (map it)
Contact: SBDCclientservices@napavalley.edu | (707) 256-7250
Organization: Napa Sonoma SBDC
Fee: $30

Join this workshop and learn how to start a successful business with a strong business plan. Learn how to establish realistic goals and objectives, determine startup costs, as well as various methods of financing your startup.

Topics include:

  • Organize your business plan
  • Understand what the bank/investor expects to see
  • Prepare projections of revenue and expenses
  • Discuss of each business plan section, step by step
  • Examine a sample business plan

Click here to register for this event. Each participant will receive a business plan checklist and sample plan template.

Southern California/San Diego

Demystifing Business Expenses
Date: January 22, 2019 | 1:00 pm PDT – 3:00 pm PDT
Location: Arlanza Public Library
8267 Philbin Ave. Riverside, CA 92503 (map it)
Contact: Mary Takavorian | mtakavorian@iesmallbusiness.com | (909) 983-0751
Organization: Inland Empire SBDC
Fee: Free

Tax season is right around the corner. Attend this free workshop to learn which business expenses you can legally deduct on your taxes, and how to file your taxes the right way from the start.

Click here to register for this event.

The Art of Networking
Date: January 28, 2019 | 5:30 pm PDT – 7:30 pm PDT
Location: VEDC Women’s Business Center
5121 Van Nuys Blvd. Suite 300A Sherman Oaks, CA 91403 (map it)
Contact: info@vedc.org | (818) 907-9922
Organization: VEDC
Fee: Free

Join this free workshop to discuss what to expect at networking events. We will focus on how to position yourself at networking events, how to prepare, the art of small talk, and give you an opportunity to network with fellow entrepreneurs.

Click here to register for this event.

Marketing 101: Strategies for Small Businesses
Date: January 31, 2019 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: Moreno Valley Employment Resource Center
12625 Frederick St. Suite K3 Moreno Valley, CA 92553 (map it)
Contact: (909) 890-1242
Organization: Inland Empire Women’s Business Center
Fee: Free

Help your small business get big results from marketing through an effective marketing plan. Join this free seminar to learn how to increase your sales and profitability while efficiently managing your marketing dollars. Learn where to spend your time and money to get the most out of your marketing budget and target your best prospects.

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

How to Double Your Sales (Without More Marketing!)
Date: January 16, 2019 | 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

Many service-based business owners think they need to do more marketing to make more money. They end up wasting time, energy, and money on marketing efforts that don’t positively move the bottom line.

In this free webinar, you’ll learn how to turn 80% of your prospects into great, long-term clients, get off the income roller coaster, and build predictable revenue in your business – without more marketing.

In this webinar, you’ll learn:

  • 5 step framework to attract the right prospects and turn them into great long-term clients
  • Strategies to stop wasting time on people that are not fully committed to your service
  • Things you should never say in a consultation with a prospective client, and what to say instead
  • Service packages for better client results, more satisfied clients – and higher profit for you

Click here to register for this event.

How Can Small Businesses Comply with OSHA Standards?
Date: January 17, 2019 | 11:00 am PDT – 12:00 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: minneapolis@score-mn.org | (952) 938-4570
Organization: SCORE Minneapolis (Minn.)
Fee: Free

A safe and healthy workplace not only protects employees from injury and illness, but can lower costs, reduce absenteeism, boost morale, and increase productivity and quality. How can your small business stay safe? OSHA can help!

Join this free webinar to learn how The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) assures safe and healthful working conditions for U.S. workers through setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance.

Topics include:

  • An overview of OSHA
  • OSHA requirements for small businesses
  • OSHA’s no-cost, confidential On-Site Consultation Program
  • Ways to show your commitment to safety and reduce costs

Click here to register for this event.

Business Plan Overview
Date: January 23, 2019 | 9:00 am PDT – 10:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: info@TheInstituteNC.org | (919) 956-8889
Organization: The Institute (N.C.)
Fee: Free

Learn the key elements of a successful business plan, how to develop one, and why it’s important! Find out how to outline your plan, craft a mission statement, analyze the market and the industry, create a financial plan, and locate resources.

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 $700 million and helped thousands of 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

Networking is often a blind spot for small business owners. It’s also essential for personal and professional growth. Here are some free and low cost resources to help you get started with networking and to build your new skill.

Networking is often a blind spot for small business owners. It’s also essential for personal and professional growth. Here are some free and low cost resources to help you get started with networking and to build your new skill.

 

Meetup

What it costs: Free

What it does: Meetup is a free social networking website that allows you to join groups of all different kinds: hobbies, classes, and of course, business networking events! Join local groups and meet up with other entrepreneurs near you.

eWomenNetwork

What it costs: Free to join

What it does: With over 500,000 members and 100+ local chapters, eWomenNetwork has workshops and events all across the country for you to meet with other women entrepreneurs. Women small business owners have many resources available to them, and you can check some others out here.

Linkedin

What it costs: Free

What it does: Linkedin is the largest social networking site specifically oriented towards business. Follow hashtags and join groups to discover other entrepreneurs (and future talent!) Post insightful business tips or updates from your own account to get your name out to small business owners who might want to connect and network with you.

YEC Next

What it costs: Free to apply

What it does: If you’re a more established small business owner younger than 45 with at least 250k in annual revenue, you should apply to join YEC Next. You get access to great online networking resources, including an entrepreneurial think tank, increased business exposure, business mentors, exclusive events, and members-only discounts on lots of business products and software.

Opportunity Fund Blog

What it costs: Free

What it does: You are probably already aware that we have a blog dedicated to our small business readers if you’re reading this, but did you know that we publish bi-weekly event roundups? Find local and online networking events and workshops that interest you.

 

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

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

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 $700 million and helped thousands of families earn, save and invest in their own futures. Opportunity Fund has earned a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator, for our commitment to accountability and transparency.

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

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