Local business owner touts microfinance loans

Alix Shedd, the owner of the online vintage retail site Apocalypse Vintage — which is based in The City — recently moved her business from Portland, Ore. To get her business back up and running in San Francisco, she turned to the Opportunity Fund to secure a microfinance loan to open a warehouse for her inventory.

What’s the first piece of advice you’d give someone starting a business? Plan it out really well ahead of time. Make sure it’s something you’re committed to.

Why should a business owner apply for a microfinance loan instead of a bank loan? One reason is the direct personal relationship. A bank obviously wants your business to succeed so they can get their money back. Microlenders, they’re in it not just for the money. They want to see their business succeed because they want to see you succeed.What should you be prepared for when applying for a microfinance loan? I would say to make sure that the amount of money that you’re requesting is the amount that you actually need, and whether you might need more or you might not need as much.

How does starting a business in San Francisco compare to starting one in Oregon? California in general is a lot harder … because there are so many more legal restrictions and fees and taxes. That has been a big obstacle. But because there’s so many more small businesses out here, there’s a lot more resources out there if you take the time to look for them.

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