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SF Small Business Week. Celebrate Small Business.

“Take ownership of your finances. You’ll be glad you did.” #SFSBW2016 Interview: Capital Access Group

#SFSBW2016 asked our sponsors to share insights, best practices, and examples of how they help small business owners flourish. Today we hear from Capital Access Group.

What is your company’s mission?
We power growing small businesses through commercial real estate financing.

How does your organization support and engage the small business community?
Capital Access Group is deeply involved in supporting the San Francisco Bay Area small business community through sponsorships, workshops, and mentoring services with a variety of economic development organizations. We partner with the NorCal Small Business Development Center, NAWBO, and the Golden Gate Business Association to provide lending seminars to teach small business owners about the advantages of owning a building for their business. We support the Napa Valley College Youth Entrepreneurship Program’s (YEP) annual business plan competition. We recently entered a relationship with the Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center to fund their programs and to provide hands-on mentoring for one of the entrepreneurs attending their three-month Business Planning Course. And of course we are pleased to sponsor San Francisco Small Business Week again this year.

What tools and resources has your organization created to help small businesses tap into new opportunities to reach new customers, increase their revenue, and grow their business?
At Capital Access Group we help small business owners get access to long-term, fixed-rate financing through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 504 loan program, which offers 90% financing for the purchase, renovation, or construction of commercial real estate for growing businesses.

Over the years, we have helped thousands of entrepreneurs grow their businesses and realize their dreams of owning their own buildings. As one of our clients said, “Knowing that we’ll be operating out of this location for a long time to come has finally given our business the anchor it’s been needing.”

What are the trends you see when you think about the small business marketplace, and how will these trends shape the future of small business?
The commercial real estate market in San Francisco is extremely competitive, which makes it especially challenging for businesses who lease their space. Leasing can be more affordable in the short-term, but your rent may increase when your lease expires, or it may not be renewed at all. When that happens, the business may be forced to close, which is hard on the community and devastating for the small business owner and his or her family and employees.

Owning your own building stabilizes your costs, protects you from rent increases, provides stability, and makes it easier to make long-term investments in your business.

Buying your own building can be a challenging process, but it carries so many advantages, it is definitely worth looking into.

Can you share one brief story about how your company is helping San Francisco businesses thrive?5.22 Capital Access Group
One story of how we help small businesses involves an amazing, Lesbian-owned business—Equator Coffees & Teas—which was named the nation’s “2016 Small Business of the Year” by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Capital Access Group was proud to nominate Equator’s co-founders, Helen Russell and Brooke McDonnell, for this prestigious award.

Fifteen years ago, Equator’s accountant encouraged the business owners to invest in a building by setting a 10% down payment aside and obtaining an SBA loan through Capital Access Group. With a down payment of $150,000, they were able to purchase a building then valued at $1.1 million. A conventional loan, with a down payment between 20 and 35 percent, would have made it impossible to own.

Helen said that buying a building for the business “was something I never had dreamed would be possible. We wanted to have the security of owning that building. It was definitely one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.”

Today, Equator has nearly 100 employees, more than 350 wholesale customers, and three retail stores in Northern California with two more on the way.

Equator Coffees & Teas is just one of thousands of small business we’ve helped over the years through the SBA 504 program.

What words of advice or wisdom would you like to share with small business owners?
Small business owners need to understand every facet of their business. In our experience, many small business owners lack basic bookkeeping and accounting skills. It’s tempting for a busy entrepreneur to want to outsource the whole process, but if someone else is responsible, you’ll never know for certain if your finances are in order. Small business owners should take the time to invest in a bookkeeping class or workshop. Take ownership of your finances. You’ll be glad you did.

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