Making a bad hiring decision can cost your small business precious time and money. Read these five tips for making the best hiring choice you can beyond looking for qualifications and experience.

Making a bad hiring decision can cost your small business precious time and money. Read these five tips for making the best hiring choice you can beyond looking for qualifications and experience.

 

1. Talk with a business advisor

Talking with a business advisor can really help you figure out how best to grow your small business, especially when it comes to hiring a new employee. Perhaps you are a one-person business and are looking to hire your first employee, or maybe you’ve made bad hiring decisions in the past and want to know how to do it better this time. Check out Pacific Community Ventures’ free business advising for a personal mentor to help you hire.

2. Decide what kind of help you need

As as small business owner, you don’t have unlimited funds to hire a large team of full-time employees with generous benefits and long work hours. Get creative and stretch your capital by hiring part-time workers, contractors and freelancers, and interns. If you need help with finances, consider consulting with your business advisor and outsourcing tasks to independent contractors as you need them.

3. See how well a candidate will fit in with your business

Company culture is a buzzword in the business world right now, but there is reason behind the popularity. It isn’t enough to select a candidate who qualifies for all the skills and experience you want to see, you need to make sure they will fit in with your business. If you are in the final interview stage, invite them to a team lunch and ask your other employees what they think of the candidate. Does this person believe in the same principles your business stands for? Does their working and learning style mesh with yours? It’s important to the success of your business that you have a team that respects each other and can work well together.

4. Make sure a time crunch doesn’t impact your decision

Hiring the first qualifying person who applies for your job posting because you need the position filled quickly can be a costly mistake. If you make a hasty hire, there is a risk that they don’t work out, and you will have to repeat the hiring and training process. Choose quality over quickness. Take the time to really make sure the candidate is the best fit for your small business by checking references, running a background check, interviewing other applicants for comparison, and thinking the decision over a few days before you hire them.

5. Check diversity among your employees

If you are having difficulty choosing between two really great candidates, taking a look at your current employees will help. Everyone has biases whether or not they are aware of them. Take a look around at your other employees – do you have a diverse group or are they all the same demographic? Having a diverse group of employees of different genders, ethnicities, ages, and other factors will boost the productivity and creative pool for your small business. Take a look at our blog post for a few tips on how to manage diversity and how it benefits your business.

 

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


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

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

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

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

 

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

1. Google My Business

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

2. Bing

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

3. Facebook

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

4. LinkedIn

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

5. Trip Advisor

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

6. Yelp

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

7. Manta

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

8. Dun & Bradstreet

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

9. MapQuest

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

And There’s More

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

Stay In Touch

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

Your Turn

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

 

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

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


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

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

November is full of special days dedicated to giving thanks and showing appreciation for those around us. #ChooseWomen this Women’s Entrepreneurship Day. This month, celebrate the female entrepreneurs in your community. Keep reading for small but meaningful ways to show appreciation.

November is full of special days dedicated to giving thanks and showing appreciation for those around us. #ChooseWomen this Women’s Entrepreneurship Day. This month, celebrate the female entrepreneurs in your community. Keep reading for small but meaningful ways to show appreciation.

Despite women being half of the population, they own far less businesses than men. In 2012, women own only 36% of all businesses in America. This is a ten percent increase from 1997. Let’s keep the momentum of equality in the entrepreneurial world by thanking the women who have struck out on their own and started their own businesses.

Showing your appreciation for female entrepreneurs, no matter what gender you are, will help motivate small business owners and inspire other women to become entrepreneurs.

  1. Support women-owned small businesses near you. Chances are you already frequent shops and businesses that are women-owned – you just don’t know it. Find out where they are through services and directories such as Yelp, We NYC, and your personal network. Then visit them!
  2. Donate to your local Women’s Business Development Center. For example, look into JEDI and  APISPB. Even better, if you feel like you have the expertise, volunteer to be a mentor or just help out.
  3. Join the social media movement. Share inspiring stories of female business owners, your own experiences as a women in business, local events and workshops, and just generally uplifting messages.
  4. Educate yourself. Reading news articles and blogs about women’s struggles and successes in the business world will help you better understand why Women’s Entrepreneurship Day is needed and how important it is to encourage women to start their own businesses.
  5. Be a generous tipper. Try new  women-owned restaurants and coffee shops. Support the business by tipping well and thank the owner if you see her. She will appreciate it more than you know.
  6. Check your own small business. Do you make sure to hire a diverse group of people? If you notice a lack of women in your own business, work to mitigate this problem. Women who have the opportunity to grow their careers have the opportunity to develop skills they can use to start their own businesses.
  7. Encourage your employees. As a small business owner, you have the unique position to be a role model for your employees. Worry less about your female employees leaving you to start their own businesses, and instead help them develop their career goals and aspirations. Even if they do start their own business, they will remember you and can be valuable connections.
  8. Take advantage of resources to grow your own business. If you are a women entrepreneur, there are resources out there to help you. Be proud of your accomplishments and don’t be afraid to reach out for help and opportunities to really grow your business.
  9. Volunteer to help Women’s Entrepreneurship Day. The philanthropic organization that launched this special day can use your skills and any spare time you have to give back to your community by volunteering.
  10. Spread the word. Put up a small sign in your business, start discussions with your family and friends, post to social media, and share your knowledge with employees and customers. Don’t stay silent; use your voice as a small business owner to empower and support women entrepreneurs.

 

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


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

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

Opening a brick-and-mortar location for your small business, whether it’s your first time or fifth time, can be daunting. Read these reminders for things to know and look out for before you sign on a property.

Opening a brick-and-mortar location for your small business, whether it’s your first time or fifth time, can be daunting. Read these reminders for things to know and look out for before you sign on a property.

Are you thinking about buying or renting commercial space for your small business? It’s an exciting step forward in your growth! Before the excitement (or the stress) gets to you, take the time to do your research. Investing in commercial property can get confusing and potentially expensive.

Know Your Lease Inside and Out

Take as much time as you need to review and read through any commercial real estate lease you’re considering. If a landlord is pushing you to sign right away, this is a red flag that you really should pay attention to the fine print.

Landlords and real estate agents may try to trick you into paying more than just rent. Be aware of shiny Tenant Improvement (TI) packages for improvements and physical upgrades that passes on the actual cost onto you over time. Ask about fees and costs for Common Area Maintenance (CAM) that you would be responsible for regarding hallways, parking lots, lobbies, and other shared spaces.

Learn real estate terms ahead of time and be prepared to get a second opinion from your business advisor.

Most importantly, know that you have the power to negotiate. You may not end up getting the space, but you should never buy commercial real estate that will cripple your small business with hidden fees and terms.

Visit the Property In-Person

Just as you would never buy a house or rent an apartment before you visit the place, you should know exactly what your commercial space looks and feels like before you sign the lease.

Your customers and employees may not have any parking close to your location, the real estate agent may be fudging the real square footage (don’t pay for unusable space, take your own measurements!), listing photos may have been altered, you might have a really noisy business neighbor, and many other factors that you should know before you buy.

Plan For the Future

When you are looking to for commercial real estate, you’re probably thinking about your immediate business growth needs. However, it is also important to plan for the future of your business and of the property you want to lease or buy.

One thing you should consider is if you sell your small business. If the business is assigned a new owner, will your lease transfer to the new owner? If your landlord has the right to terminate the lease in this event, that might hurt the business and your chance for a profitable sale. For brick-and-mortar small businesses, often your location is a big part of your success.

Another thing to know is liability and insurance for natural disasters and acts of vandalism. We wrote a comprehensive blog post about how to prepare and protect your small business in the event of an emergency, and it’s important to be clear what your responsibility as a tenant or new property owner is.

Make Sure You Have Enough Capital

Renting or buying commercial real estate can be much more expensive than small business owners initially think. Unexpected costs can add up fast, and it is important to maintain a positive cash flow for the success of your business. If you think you need a loan to cover the cost of expanding your business, Opportunity Fund can help.

 

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


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

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

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

Every two weeks, we’re sharing and promoting free and affordable events that help small business owners run their businesses better. This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in Northern and Southern California. Here are the best upcoming events from November 13 through 30.

Northern California/Sacramento

The True Cost of IT issues
Date: November 14, 2017 |1:00 pm PDT – 2:30 pm PDT
Location: 455 Market St. Suite 600 San Francisco, CA 94105 (map it)
Contact: sfomail@sba.gov | (415) 744-6820
Organization: San Francisco SBA Entrepreneur Center
Fee: Free

This class is designed to help business owners and leaders understand the way technology can add to, or destroy their bottom line.

We’ll focus not on the technology itself, but the way we think about risk and cost associated with our choices concerning technology.

Click here to register for this event.

Small Business Meeting with Assemblymember Jim Wood
Date: November 15, 2017 | 9:00 am PDT – 10:00 am PDT
Location: Santa Rosa—Contact samantha@csba.com for location information
Organizations: California Small Business Association
Fee: Free

Assemblymember Jim Wood will be hosting his annual small business meeting in his district on November 15th in Santa Rosa. The meeting is comprised of 6 to 8 local small business owners from within the district from a variety of industries. The purpose of the meeting is give small business a voice and to work with the Member to make small businesses in California stronger.

If you live or have a business in the district and would like to attend this meeting please email Samantha@csba.com.

Website Best Practices for Beginners
Date: November 16, 2017 | 6:00 pm PDT – 9:00 pm PDT
Location: College of Marin Building AC, Room 105
835 College Ave. Kentfield, CA 94909 (map it)
Contact: Miriam Karell | miriam@marinsbdc.org | (415) 755-1100
Organization: Marin SBDC
Fee: Free

Learn how to save time and frustration and create a more effective website with the basic principles of web design—no experience in web design or technical background necessary!

This workshop is for small business owners who are developing or maintaining their own website and want to understand the basic principles of effective website design. This is not a technical class nor do we discuss advanced search engine optimization. It does not require any specific background and we will avoid technical terms as much as possible so that everyone can understand.

Click here to register for this event.

Southern California/San Diego

Boots to Business Entrepreneurship Course
Date: November 15-16, 2017 | 7:30 am PDT – 4:00 pm PDT
Location: 14th and C St. Bldg 13150, Camp Pendleton, CA 92055 (map it)
Contact: Mike Sovacool | michael.sovacool@sba.gov | (619) 727-4881
Organization: SBA San Diego District Office
Fee: Free

Join the SBA for a Boots to Business Training Program, a two-day, free seminar designed for veterans interested in entrepreneurship.

The workshop is open to service members and their dependents transitioning or retiring from the U.S. military. To learn more information about Boots to Business, please email boots-to-business@sba.gov  call (202) 205-8381. For more SBA resources for veterans, visit SBA.gov/vets.

Click here to register for this event.

Murrieta Business Round table
Date: November 15, 2017 | 8:00 am PDT – 9:00 am PDT
Location: Murrieta Innovation Center
26442 Beckman Ct. Murrieta, CA 92562 (map it)
Contact: Diana Cescolini | diana.cescolini@scorevolunteer.org | (951) 652-4390
Organization: Inland Empire SCORE
Fee: Free

Come join business leaders and guest speakers in a great networking opportunities at a business round table meeting. This is a wonderful way to meet other business owners and discuss important topics crucial to the success of your business.

Don’t miss out on this great networking opportunity. Join us for this monthly meeting recurring on the third Wednesday of every month.

Click here to register for this event.

Small Business Meeting with Assemblymember Matt Dababneh
Date: November 17, 2017 | 1:30 pm PDT – 2:30 pm PDT
Location: Van Nuys, CA—Contact samantha@csba.com for location information
Contact: samantha@csba.com
Organizations: California Small Business Association
Fee: Free

Assemblymember Matt Dababneh will be hosting his annual small business meeting in his district on November 17th in Van Nuys. The meeting is comprised of 6 to 8 local small business owners from within the district from a variety of industries. The purpose of the meeting is give small business a voice and to work with the Member to make small businesses in California stronger.

If you live or have a business in the district and would like to attend this meeting please email Samantha@csba.com.

Virtual

Market Research for Small Business: What is it and Why do it?
Date: November 15, 2017 | 12:00 pm PDT – 1:00 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Jenny Payton | jpayton@e-jedi.org | (530) 926-6670 ext. 10
Organization: Jefferson Economic Development Institute (JEDI)
Fee: Free

Understanding your potential customers is one of the most important keys to effective marketing. Knowing where to find them and how to speak their language translates into sales.

Before you start or expand your business, be wise and test the viability of your product or service. Learn all you can about the industry, demographics, trends, and potential customer buying habits.

This webinar is an overview of what market research is and how you can use it to start and grow your small business. We’ll cover your options to conduct market research as a small business with limited resources.

We’ll also talk about free and inexpensive ways to get research including downloading an industry report, attending an industry event, using focus groups and surveys, and crawling social media. For businesses with an international reach, we’ll also discuss resources for expanding into global markets.

The content will instantly applicable to start-ups and existing businesses. It may be especially relevant for any entrepreneur looking for funding. Empower your business decisions with data and knowledge.

Click here to register for this event.

Apps Unleashed: Grow Your Business Using Just Your Phone
Date: November 16, 2017 | 10:00 am PDT – 11:00 am PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Organization: SCORE
Fee: Free

A smartphone or tablet is an incredibly powerful computer, communication device, and online marketing tool—right in your pocket! There are hundreds of free and inexpensive apps at your disposal that can drive sales, improve communication with your customers, and market your business. Join this free webinar to learn how to unleash the power of your mobile device:

  • How to spot the must-have apps: including both the new and the obscure you’ve never heard of
  • How to use apps for maximum impact
  • How to utilize apps in conjunction with your other marketing efforts to magnify results

This session is designed for everyone. Beginners will not feel lost, but advanced users can learn something new.

Click here to register for this event.

Blogging to Boost Your Business
Date: November 16, 2017 | 12:00 pm PDT – 2:00 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Dee Ann Chandler | deeann@iewbc.org | (909) 890-1242
Organization: Inland Empire Women’s Business Center
Fee: $10

Discover how you can generate leads with a business blog. In this online workshop, you’ll learn blogging essentials including:

  • Tips on what to post
  • Keys to creating great content
  • Ways to attract attention with powerful headlines
  • And more!

A link to join the webinar will be sent the day before the event.

Click here to register for this event.


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

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


Opportunity Fund is 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

Each month, we’re sharing and promoting free or affordable tools that help small business owners run their businesses better. This is your toolbox for five business tools for veterans.

Each month, we’re sharing and promoting free or affordable tools that help small business owners run their businesses better. This is your toolbox for five business tools for veterans.

Whether you’ve just left the service and are looking to start your own small business or are already a business owner and just need a little help, there are free resources out there for you. We’ve compiled this list of tools and resources that will help you find mentoring, networking, workshops, and a solid foundation of knowledge to successfully grow your small business as a veteran.

Veterans Business Resource Center

How much it costs: Free

What it does: The Veterans Business Resource Center is just that – an online center for resources. You can find information about the Boots to Business program, which offers instructional courses and support located online and at military bases. Other resources available through Vetbiz include training, networking events, small business counseling, and even a blog.

Bunker Labs

How much it costs: Free

What it does: With about a dozen locations across the country, Bunker Labs is a veteran-owned hotspot for helpful networking, workshops, and programs designed to help you and the military community. They also offer a community mobile app to stay connected with event calendars, business collaboration, messaging, and more. If you’re tired of dusty, government-operated organizations, Bunker Labs is perfect for your entrepreneurial style.

Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans

How much it costs: Free for post 9/11 disabled veterans and families

What it does: The Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with disabilities (EBV) is a three-part program designed to help you succeed in starting and running your own business. This immersive bootcamp is focused on training through a higher education setting. Phase one is an online course, phase two is a short residency at a participating EBV university, and phase three is year-long mentorship and support through the program’s mentors, network, and partners.

Veteran’s Affairs

How much it costs: Free

What it does: If you’re a vet, you are probably already familiar with Veteran’s Affairs. But did you know they have an office dedicated to helping you start and grow your small business. Their Veteran’s Entrepreneur Portal offers contracting assistance, workshops, interactive online tools, training, certification as a veteran-owned business, and many more tools and resources for you!

Honor, Courage, Commitment

How much it costs: Free

What it does: Honor, Courage, Commitment (HCC) is a Texas-based, veteran-run organization designed to empower veteran entrepreneurs and keep you connected to the military community even after you’ve left the service. They offer training and mentoring, workshops and networking opportunities, and reintegration programs through community service. Take a look at what HCC offers and see if they can help you and your small business.

 

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.


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

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

This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in Northern and Southern California. Here are the best upcoming events from November 2 through 13.

Every two weeks, we’re sharing and promoting free and affordable events that help small business owners run their businesses better. This is your bi-weekly calendar for in-person and virtual events in Northern and Southern California. Here are the best upcoming events from November 2 through 13.

Northern California/Sacramento

Exploring Business Ownership: What Does it Takes to Start a Business?
Date: November 2, 2017 | 5:30 pm PDT – 7:30 pm PDT
Location: 205 Chestnut St. Mt. Shasta, CA 96067 (map it)
Contact: jpayton@e-jedi.org | (530) 926-6670 ext. 10
Organization: Jefferson Economic Development Institute (JEDI)
Fee: Free

Starting a business can be scary. Like any other successful adventure, the more prepared you are, the higher chance of a positive outcome. If you are considering starting a business, get informed.

Join us for this free workshop, where you’ll discover:

  • The mindset and characteristics of successful entrepreneurs
  • The different types of businesses as well as legal structures
  • Common business terminology as it applies to start-ups
  • Why conducting a feasibility study is like packing the right supplies for a trip

Click here to register for this event.

Boots to Business Reboot #MyVetBiz
Date: November 6, 2017 | 8:30 am PDT – 4:30 pm PDT
Location: SBA Fresno District Office
801 R St. Room 102 Fresno, CA 93721 (map it)
Contact: Peter Estrada | peter.estrada@sba.gov | (559) 487-5791 ext. 2703
Organizations: Fresno SBA District Office
Fee: Free

Veterans have the character, discipline, and skills needed to succeed as small business owners and entrepreneurs. Veterans can transition to entrepreneurship with help from Boots to Business Reboot.

Boots to Business Reboot is a two-step training program that provides participants with a starter kit of information for entrepreneurship:

  • Overview of business ownership as a career vocation
  • Outline and knowledge on the components of a business plan
  • Practical exercises in opportunity recognition
  • Introduction to available public and private sector resources

Step one is the Introduction to Entrepreneurship course eligible to Veterans of all eras, service members (including members of the National Guard and Reserve), and their spouses. This course is instructed by SBA and its partners, who are skilled business advisors. Step two is one of the online follow-on courses instructed by a consortium of professors and skilled business advisors from the SBA Network.

This course is also offered November 8 in Citrus Heights. Get the information here.

Click here to register for this event.

Finance Your Business
Date: November 7, 2017 | 9:00 am PDT – 10:30 am PDT
Location: U.S. Bank
1 California St. Suite 2000 San Francisco, CA 94111 (map it)
Contact: Diana Chavez | diana@workingsolutions.org | (415) 590-0155
Organization: Working Solutions
Fee: Free

Join this free panel discussion on business financing with financial experts from nonprofit lenders, banks, and community partners. Opportunity Fund is honored to join U.S Bank, Kiva, and host (and our community partner!) Working Solutions at this event.

Topics will include:

  • Financing options
  • What lenders are looking for
  • Credit requirements
  • Importance of a relationship with a financial institution
  • Eligibility guidelines and loan application procedures

Click here to register for this event.

Southern California/San Diego

Boots to Business Entrepreneurship Course
Date: November 8-9, 2017 | 7:30 am PDT – 3:00 pm PDT
Location: 32nd Street Naval Base—San Diego
3455 Senn Rd., Bldg. 3210 San Diego, CA 92136 (map it)
Contact: Mike Sovacool | michael.sovacool@sba.gov | (619) 727-4881
Organization: SBA San Diego District Office
Fee: Free

Join the SBA for a Boots to Business Training Program, a two-day, free seminar designed for veterans interested in entrepreneurship.

The workshop is open to service members and their dependents transitioning or retiring from the U.S. military. To learn more information about Boots to Business, please email boots-to-business@sba.gov  call (202) 205-8381. For more SBA resources for veterans, visit SBA.gov/vets.

Click here to register for this event.

Disaster Recovery
Date: November 8, 2017 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:30 pm PDT
Location: Microsoft Store—The Shops at Mission Viejo
555 The Shops at Mission Viejo Mission Viejo, CA 92691 (map it)
Contact: workshops@score114.org | (714) 550-7369
Organization: Orange County SCORE
Fee: Free

Join Orange County SCORE for this free workshop on disaster recovery for small businesses. Prepare for the workshop with the following agenda:

  • 6:00 pm – 6:30 pm | Registration
  • 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm | Workshop and presentation
  • 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm | Networking and raffle (bring business cards!)

Click here to register for this event.

Women’s Networking Breakfast
Date: November 10, 2017 | 7:45 am PDT – 11:00 am PDT
Location: The Jacobs Center
404 Euclid Ave. San Diego, CA 92114 (map it)
Contact: score0140@scorevolunteer.org | (619) 727-4874
Organization: SCORE San Diego
Fee: $20 through November 2 | $25 after November 2 and at the door

Join San Diego SCORE for this women’s networking breakfast. This event’s theme is Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile for Profit. Your registration fee includes networking, lecture, and hors d’oeuvres, with no host bar.

Click here to register for this event.

Virtual

5 Cheap Ways to Market Your Business Online
Date: November 7, 2017 | 12:00 pm PDT – 12:30 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Kimberly Donahue | kimberly.donahue@sba.gov | (304) 347-5220
Organization: U.S. Small Business Administration West Virginia District Office
Fee: Free

Getting your business online isn’t as complicated or expensive as you’ve been told. Join us as we discuss some ways to promote your business online without breaking the bank—or driving yourself crazy.

Click here to register for this event.

Small Business Owner Tax Workshop
Date: November 9, 2017 | 10:15 am PDT – 12:15 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: (206) 553-7310
Organization: U.S. Small Business Administration Seattle District Office
Fee: Free

Learn the basics of small business taxes in this free webinar. Tax professionals will help you understand your tax reporting responsibilities.

Topics covered include:

  • Types of entities
  • Record keeping
  • Accounting methods
  • Travel and entertainment expenses
  • Business use of home
  • Self-employment taxes
  • Estimated taxes
  • Independent contractors
  • Choosing a tax preparer

The SBA Seattle District Office offers free workshops the second and fourth Tuesday of each month, except for the 4th Thursdays in November and December. Classes held on the 2nd Thursday of the month are online webinars only.

Here’s an upcoming slate of free November events:
Live webinar | November 9 | 9 – 10 a.m. | Make the World’s Biggest Buyer Your Customer Through Government Contracts
Live webinar | November 9 | 12:30 – 2 p.m. | Choosing the Right Business Structure
Live webinar | November 9 | 2:15 – 3:45 p.m. | Register, License, Go!

Click here to register for this event and to get more information on upcoming seminars from the SBA Seattle District office.

After Lunch Webinar Series: Effective Human Resources for Small Businesses
Date: November 9, 2017 | 1:00 pm PDT – 2:30 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: rnsbdc@business.rutgers.edu | (973) 353-5950
Organization: Rutgers Newark (N.J.) SBDC
Fee: Free

This webinar will focus on building an HR infrastructure within your company.  Topics include:

  • Effective interview questions
  • Content of an onboarding program
  • Value of performance appraisals
  • Rationale for implementing progressive discipline  

Participants will also learn the best practices for ending an employment relationship and how an Employee Handbook can assist in making HR decisions.

Click here to register for this event.


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

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


Opportunity Fund is 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

Gayle founded a successful business card management company in San Diego. When she needed to complete a major software project, Opportunity Fund was there to help with a small business loan. Thanks to the working capital, BusinessCardManager.com is on the fast track to greater success.

Our customers inspire us every day, and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too.  Read about Gayle Hawks of BusinessCardManager.com in San Diego. Gayle founded a successful business card management company in San Diego. When she needed to complete a major software project, Opportunity Fund was there to help with a small business loan. Thanks to the working capital, BusinessCardManager.com is on the fast track to greater success.

Managing Success

Gayle Hawks started BusinessCardManager.com in 2002 in San Diego. The online company manages business cards for large organizations and government agencies throughout the United States. “We work with any business in the public or private sector, for profit and non-profit, that has 100 employees or more,” Gayle said.  

With the help of her business partner and husband Keith, Gayle has grown the online company into a leader in online business card management. As the business grew, she had to add staff and build a new sales office. Gayle saw the future of her company in advanced software for BusinessCardManager.com. They needed an application program interface (API) to create the upgraded business card procurement and management solutions that put the company on the map.

“The new API allows us to offer services to large organizations that no one else can,” Gayle said.

Working capital didn’t come easy for Gayle, even as BusinessCardManager.com was doing well. It’s a tough industry where many printing companies failed during the latest recession. Plus, she had waves of high-interest loan offers coming at her from every angle. Her search for the right loan was complicated.

Graduating to Better Financing

Gayle learned about Opportunity Fund through her small business lending research online. She reached out to our business development officer Adriana Williams, who helped close a $35,000 loan for BusinessCardManager.com in July 2015.

“Adriana was easy to work with,” Gayle said. “Everything was professional and quick. I never had to wait for her to call me back. I never had to wonder about a thing.”

The loan allowed Gayle and her team to complete and launch their new software.  “Without the loan from Opportunity Fund, we would be a year behind,” Gayle said.

Gayle Hawks - BCM.com

Opportunity Fund helps small business owners like Gayle “graduate” to better small business financing (photo courtesy of Heimo Schmidt)


Gayle is thankful for the working capital that gave her some breathing room while launching the best version of BusinessCardManager.com. Even better, she was able to repay the loan is less than two years. With help from our fast, easy-to-get, and affordable small business loans, her business can qualify for lower interest, longer-term loans from lenders like the U.S. Small Business Administration. We’ve helped small business owners like Gayle “graduate” to better financing.

The next level of the business is an online portal integrated with human capital management software platforms that will allow clients to manage their business cards from any platform. “That’s our future,” Gayle said. “We want to hire more sales staff and expand our marketing to get to the next level.”

We’re excited to support successful entrepreneurs like Gayle and we’re proud to watch her take the next step with her business.

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


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

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

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

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

 

What would you do if your business lost $25,000 to a scammer? How about $75,000? Would that be a serious setback, or perhaps even put you out of business? It’s a question every small business owner should contemplate because that’s the average amount lost by Arizona small business owners in just one identity-theft-related scam: Business Email Compromise (BEC). The FBI warns there has been a dramatic rise in these scams in recent years that have resulted in “massive financial losses totaling more than $2.3 billion.”

Unfortunately this is just one example of the ways crooks can steal from a business without ever setting foot in it. Here are six ways an identity thief can compromise your small business.

Hold You Hostage

We all know how frustrating it is when our Internet connection isn’t working well. Now imagine you can’t get access to your computer files— maybe any of them— unless you pony up hundreds of dollars in ransom. It happens all the time; the WannaCry ransomware attack that affected more than 300,000 computers around the world recently is just one example of how businesses of all sizes may be vulnerable.

In a ransomware attack, a scammer generally manages to insert malicious code into a user’s computer that locks files or prevents the user from booting up. According to a CyberScout white paper, “Nasty ransomware strains will threaten to delete data permanently if the ransom isn’t paid quickly.” Unless the victim has a complete unaffected backup she can use, she’ll probably pay the ransom in order to regain access to her computer or files.

Drain Your Bank Account

“Whaling” is an often-sophisticated phishing attack that targets a high-level executive with the goal of getting access to important data. In one popular version, the scammer will impersonate the executive to create fake wire transfer instructions. Those instructions will be sent to an employee who, thinking they are coming from top brass, complies. If the money is transferred, it ends up in the hands of the crook. Since cash flow problems are a top concern for small business owners, any missing money or funds lost to a scammer can be bad news.

A Mimecast survey of 500 organizations in the U.K., South Africa and Australia found that 54.5% of organizations saw an increase in the volume of whaling attacks at the end of 2015. And executives are a common way in for scammers, as 72% of whaling attackers pretended to be the CEO, while 35.5% were attributed to the CFO.

Get Credit in Your Business Name

It can be surprisingly easy for an identity thief to open accounts in the name of your business. Successful scammers fill out information using your business credentials. They may get business credit cards or get lines of credit, or purchase goods they can then resell. Many of the business details they need to commit fraud are publicly available through Secretary of State websites and other public information sources. And because many business owners don’t check their business credit reports, this crime can go undetected for a long time.

That’s a good reason for business owners to regularly monitor their business credit. A sudden change in a business credit score, new accounts or inquiries, or an unauthorized address change can all indicate potential fraud. You can check your business credit data for free every month at Nav.

Steal Your Business

While they say imitation is the biggest form of flattery, a scammer who hijacks or imitates your website can literally steal your business. They may direct your legitimate traffic to spammy offers, trick visitors into handing over personal information, or even collect payment from people who think they are purchasing from you. Losing a few customers can be the least of your worries here; if your customers become victims of identity theft or lose money, they may blame you. “It can destroy your reputation,” warns Adam Levin, founder of CyberScout and author of Swiped: How to Protect Yourself in a World Full of Scammers, Phishers, and Identity Thieves.

Compromise Your Customers

Data breaches— where an unauthorized person or company accesses confidential information — often in order to then use that information for malicious purposes, is on the rise. In 2016 there were a record 1,093 data breaches tracked, according to a report by the Identity Theft Resource Center and CyberScout.

If your customer data is compromised in this way you’ll need to take immediate action. Your business may be required under state or federal law to notify authorities. You may need to also notify those affected or potentially affected; they may expect you to pick up the tab for identity theft monitoring services. All these steps can be costly. Can your business afford it?

Use You to Get to Someone Bigger

It’s not just your own data that’s at risk, warns Levin. “You could be the gateway into hacking for a big businesses,” he says. He points out that the massive 2013 Target data breach that compromised the credit and debit card information, as well as personal information, of millions of customers was the result of a hacker who got into Target’s POS system via an HVAC contractor’s credentials.

Having solid data security practices can help you maintain good relationships with your biggest clients too. No business owner wants to be the contractor that costs a big business like Target a PR nightmare and potentially millions of customers — its not great for business.

Watch Out

With so many different types threats it is essential for small business owners to “create a culture of privacy and security,” says Levin. He urges small business owners to be especially vigilant about devices that may be connected to other devices, or used both at work and outside of work. If you share your computers or tablets with your kids, for example, make sure they aren’t unknowingly putting the business at risk by downloading apps or files that can carry malware.  “Kids can become weapons of mass destruction,” he warns.

 

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

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


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

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

Each month, we’re sharing and promoting free or affordable tools that help small business owners run their businesses better. This is your toolbox for five free outsourcing tools.

Each month, we’re sharing and promoting free or affordable tools that help small business owners run their businesses better. This is your toolbox for five free outsourcing tools.

Sometimes you don’t want to or have the capital to hire another employee for a few simple tasks. This is where contractors come in. There is a growing trend among professionals to freelance their skills to numerous companies as side-gigs instead of working a normal full-time job. We’ve compiled this list of tools and resources that will help you find the best fit freelancer for the tasks you need completed.

TaskRabbit

How much it costs: Free to sign up, pay per task

What it does: TaskRabbit is a service that connects you to certified taskers who can help you with one-time projects. Don’t want to hire a full-time gardener to clean and maintain your restaurant’s patio? Need extra hands moving to a new office space? Easily hire a contractor through TaskRabbit and avoid the hassle, extra fees, and time that comes with finding a regular contractor. It’s free to use – you only have to pay the taskers when they complete your tasks.

UpWork

How much it costs: Free to sign up, pay per task

What it does: UpWork is geared towards electronic tasks as opposed to more manual labor through TaskRabbit. This outsourcing tool is best used for hiring part-time contractors, but you can also post one-time tasks that need doing. If you need something done for IT, legal, graphic design, web development, writing, or anything else done on a computer, you can find a freelance contractor to help you. You can pay electronically, download or print an official invoice for your records, and not worry about tax forms for your contractors.

Fiverr

How much it costs: Free to sign up, pay per task

What it does: Fiverr is another online-oriented outsourcing tool. With their easy-to-use navigation and categories, you can narrow down results to find the best freelancer you think can do your task. Browse by your budget, the time you need it done by, and any other specifications you need. See examples of contractors’ work and their rates before you contact them with your task.

Guru

How much it costs: Free to sign up, pay per task

What it does: With Guru, you can either search through freelancers or post a job for them to bid on. This free outsourcing resource is targeted towards business tasks such as web development, finance management, marketing, legal, and admin support. What’s great about this tool is how detailed their support is and their ease of use.

Thumbtack

How much it costs: Free to sign up, pay per task

What it does: Thumbtack is a great, mobile-friendly outsourcing tool for special tasks that your small business might need help with. From photography and landscaping to accounting and tax preparation, there are a huge variety of different kinds of jobs you can hire a contractor to help you with. Answer a few questions, and Thumbtack will match your request with freelancers who can take it on.

 

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.


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

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

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