We encourage you to check out our ever-expanding list of small business resources:
- GOVERNMENT CONNECTIONS
- NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS
- SF BAY AREA MEMBERSHIP ASSOCIATIONS
Kiva Zip is an experimental site, launched by Kiva, that enables people to make direct, interest-free loans to entrepreneurs in Kenya and the United States. Over time, as a loan is repaid, the lender can get his/her money back or relend it to another entrepreneur. The program is made possible through a network of ‘trustees’ who are responsible for sourcing Kiva Zip borrowers, reviewing their business and personal finances, vouching for their character, and publicly endorsing them. Trustees have no financial liability for the loans, but their reputation is tied to the repayment rate of the borrowers they endorse.
OBDC Small Business Finance serves San Francisco, Oakland and veteran entrepreneurs. Their loan products include micro and small business term loans with low fees and competitive interest rates. One-on-one business advising is also available during the loan application process and while paying the loan.
The Opportunity Fund is a non-profit social enterprise that provides micro-loans for small businesses, micro-savings accounts and community real estate financing. The Fund helps small business that are unable to access loans from traditional financial institutions because they are either too young or too small. Median micro-loan size is $5,000. Fifty percent of their loans go to woman-owned businesses and 89% of their loans support minority-owned businesses.
Working Solutions is a non-profit organization that supports entrepreneurs to start or grow successful San Francisco Bay Area businesses. They provide micro loans for small businesses ranging in size from $5,000 to $50,000 and five years of post-loan business coaching and advising. Loans can be used for working capital, inventory purchases, equipment and machinery, leasehold improvements, and startup costs.
Crowdfunding is when people who pool their money, often via the internet, to support other peoples’ efforts — such as a business start-up, a creative project or charitable goal. The term also refers to the funding of a company by selling small amounts of equity to many investors.
Created by Slow Money, Credibles is a crowdfunding platform for small, sustainable food-related businesses that allows supporters to pre-pay for goods and services. These supporters can then pay with Credibles at your place of business and keep track of how they’ve been “eating” their prepaid credits through their Credibles acount.
Indiegogo is an international crowdfunding site where anyone can raise money for a creative idea or for-profit venture. The platform allows you to customize and publish an online funding campaign and no tech skills are needed. You can collect money from anywhere in the world as long as you have a valid bank account. There is no application fee. You can keep all the money you raise, even if you don’t meet your goal, or you can decide to only keep your money if your campaign reaches its goal. There is a 4% fee if you meet your goal or a 9% fee if you don’t meet your goal.
Kickstarter is a funding platform for projects related to art, comics, dance, design, fashion, film, food, games, music, photography, publishing, technology and theater. Every project creator sets their project’s funding goal and deadline and people can then pledge money to make it happen. If the project succeeds in reaching its funding goal, all backers’ credit cards are charged when the time expires, and Kickstarter applies a 5% fee to the funds collected. If the project falls short, no one is charged. Funding on Kickstarter is all-or-nothing
This site provides information on doing business in California, including permits, registering a business, small business loan programs and other small business resources.
This website includes links to all city departments for San Francisco-specific information and is a helpful place to learn about local bidding options.
The City of San Francisco recently launched a comprehensive web tool, bringing together the complex information surrounding business registration, permits, and licenses in a single user-friendly website for start-ups and small businesses.
The Small Business Commission and Office of Small Business function as the City’s central point of information and assistance to small business in San Francisco. The office provides direct services through customized one-on-one assistance, collaborations with other City agencies and referrals to various small business resources.
The SBA provides an array of financing options for small businesses (from microlending to venture capital), free individual face-to-face and internet counseling and government contracting procurement opportunities. They also advocate on behalf of small business. Their website includes a wide array of resources and tools related to starting and managing a small business, loans and grants, and contracting, and includes online trainings, videos and chat sessions. You can find links to local SBA offices and programs via the site, too.
SCORE is a non-profit resource partners of the Small Business Administration dedicated to educating entrepreneurs. SCORE volunteers are working and retired business executives who provide free counseling and low cost workshops to help businesses get started and grow.
SFSBDC provides free, confidential one-on-one customized consulting services and training workshops in English, Spanish and Chinese to established and start-up businesses. SFSBDC consultants are business owners with diverse backgrounds and expertise in a variety of industries. Here is SFSBDC’s checklist for starting business in San Francisco.
CLA offers pro bono legal services and educational programs, including conflict resolution services, for artists and arts-related small businesses.
LRIS is a program through The Bar Association of San Francisco that refers you to experienced and carefully screened for-profit attorneys in many different specialties. The initial 30-minute consultation costs $35 and low fee panels are available.
LSE is an economic justice initiative of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights. If you qualify under their application process and are able to wait for assistance, LSE provides experienced business attorneys for ongoing consultation on a pro bono basis.
Nolo Press has been a leader in small business information and openness in management. This site is a great location for legal forms, books, software, and information on a range of small business issues.
BLC will soon provide legal aid services free of charge for low-income microbusiness owners. The Center currently offers interactive business law workshops and will begin neighborhood business law pop-up clinics later this year.
This website is helpful when researching available business names and trademark options.
Brand Identity & Marketing Collateral
Tools to create your brand identity as well as business cards and other marketing materials.
Find out if your domain name, brand name or username are still available on the worldwide web.
Tools for creating an online store and selling products.
Tools for reaching and tracking customers through email newsletters and campaigns.
Tools for designing online surveys and questionnaires and analyzing the results.
Tools for building your own website, blog or social media presence.
CAMEO is the local trade organization for over 160 organizations that provide micro-financing, business training and technical assistance to California micro-enterprises. CAMEO focuses its efforts on expanding resources and building capacity for its member organizations so that they can best serve micro-enterprise in the state.
CompassPoint provides classes, workshops and consulting services for non-profit community leaders to build the capacity and impact of non-profit community-based organizations.
ICA creates good jobs for people with high barriers to employment by providing small business owners with expert consulting, education and investment to grow their businesses.
La Cocina provides commercial kitchen space and technical assistance to low-income entrepreneurs who are launching, growing and formalizing their food businesses.
MEDA is dedicated to improving the economic and social conditions of San Francisco’s immigrants and working class families with an emphasis on the Latino community and the Mission and Excelsior districts.
PCV creates jobs and economic opportunity in low-income communities through the direct support of small businesses as well as by advocating for systems change to increase investment in these vulnerable communities.
Renaissance is an entrepreneurial training center located in San Francisco, the Mid-Peninsula and Marin offering workshops, business classes, loan packaging services, and a small business incubator program. They provide comprehensive services for small business owners and micro-entrepreneurs at all stages of business development from startup to launch and growth. The organization is dedicated to helping women and men who traditionally lack access to resources and information to achieve financial self-sufficiency through entrepreneurship.
Urban Solutions strengthens underserved communities by supporting for small businesses, job creation, diversity and sustainability. Their services include: one-on-one Small Business Consulting, Small Business Development Workshops, Business Attraction, Retention & Expansion, Brokerage, and a Sustainable Business Program.
SF BAY AREA MEMBERSHIP ASSOCIATIONS
BALLE is focused on increasing demand for locally owned, made and grown businesses, good and services, connecting local leaders, spreading solutions that work, and driving investment toward local economies. BALLE’s website is full of resources and tools, including webinars, manuals, events, videos and calculators.
For over 35 years the Golden Gate Business Association has grown, promoted and increased the visibility of San Francisco Bay Area LGBT businesses and those businesses in the community that support them. The Association organizes over 30 educational programs and networking events per year.
Membership at Hub Bay Area connects you to a place-based and online community of over 1,000 Bay Area and 4,000 global changemakers focused on building a better world. At the San Francisco and Berkeley HUB spaces, members can get work done, attend events on social innovation, access professional tools and services, throw meetups, and communicate their message across the global community.
PDMA promotes and advocates for independent, locally owned businesses while actively supporting the Potrero and Dogpatch neighborhood communities. The Association is made up of over 170 businesses representing an eclectic mix of food and drink, salons, spas, healers, shopping, schools, business services, entertainment and more.
The Chamber is an excellent local resource for the City of San Francisco. Their website offers current events listings, a membership directory, and many useful resources for small businesses.
SFMade’s mission is to build and support a vibrant manufacturing sector in San Francisco, that sustains companies producing locally-made products, encourages entrepreneurship and innovation, and creates employment opportunities for a diverse local workforce. SFMade engages directly with entrepreneurs and growing small companies, all of whom are headquartered in and manufacture within San Francisco, offering industry-specific education, networking opportunities, and connections to resources.
The mission of Small Business Network is to strengthen and unify the voice of the small business community in San Francisco. SBN has a growing membership of 20 business organizations and represents more than 19,000 small businesses in the city.