Although reports of your death may be greatly exaggerated right now, there comes a time in every entrepreneur's life when this is no longer the case. If you have not yet written a will, your business and family could be in for a bumpy transition.
"One of the biggest mistakes I see business owners make is not having a will [or doing estate planning]," says John Ventura, a lawyer in Brownville, Texas, and author of seven consumer-oriented legal books. If, for example, you want your business to continue under the ownership of the manager who worked with you for 20 years to build the company, you need to specifically provide for that in a will, says Ventura, who outlines why a will is so vital in his newest book, The Will Kit (Dearborn Financial Publishing).
The Will Kit leads readers through the basics of estate planning, including topics such as estate taxes, choosing beneficiaries and changing your will; it also includes work sheets, forms, and sample wills of famous people.
"You should do estate planning for your business [no matter the size] immediately. There are no age considerations in that regard," stresses Ventura, who notes that even if you use a book or software program to draft your will, you should consult with an estate attorney to review the final document and get suggestions.
The Will Kit is available at major bookstores or by calling (800) 621-9621.
Entrepreneurs with assets to invest of at least $10,000, take note: You can get experienced investment advice and more from New York City-based The Dreyfus Corp.'s new Lion Account.
"We help assess your current vs. projected asset allocation and develop a monthly schedule to show [which] assets should be sold and what should be purchased," says Patrice Kozlowski, vice president of corporate communications at Dreyfus. "We also [advise you] what funds you should buy."
The Lion Account allows customers to invest in more than 1,000 no-load mutual funds from 180 fund families and in as many as 6,000 other mutual funds. A discount brokerage service and online trading are also provided. Access to assets is available through check writing, a gold MasterCard debit card, automated teller machines and an electronic bill-paying feature.
The Dreyfus Investment Advisors Inc., a division of The Dreyfus Corp., provides the advice for a $100 annual fee; the fee is waived for accounts with balances of $50,000 or more. For more information, call (800) THE-LION.
Potential sources of business financing are now available to entrepreneurs with the flick of a switch--your computer "on" button, that is. Two companies have Web sites that offer an array of small-business funding sources, ranging from equipment loans to expansion capital.
America's Business Funding Directory (http://www.businessfinance.com) offers venture funds, investment banking funds, equipment financing, government programs, and commercial and real estate lending.
Entrepreneurs enter the type of funding sought, a brief history of their businesses, their addresses, and a summary of why they need the money and how much is desired (the larger the amount, the more choices you will have).
In addition to a list of money sources, the site includes a workbook on how to prepare and present a request for capital. There is also a state-by-state listing of government-run Small Business Development Centers, plus a resource library with links to other Web sites of interest.
Lenders Interactive Services (http://www.lendersinteractive.com) also provides potential funding sources for 45 different types of loans. Input your location, type of loan sought and amount of money desired, and you'll get a list of possible lenders.
Next, Lenders Interactive provides you with a general loan application, which can be filled out, downloaded and faxed to the selected lenders. There are tips on how to fill out a loan application to your best advantage, plus links to institutions that have Web sites where you may also be able to complete an application.
Both sites update their listings continuously and check to make sure lenders are reputable.
America's Business Funding Directory, (714) 753-2752, firstname.lastname@example.org;
The Dreyfus Corp., (800) 645-6561;
Lenders Interactive Services, 4415 Caminito Sana, #2, San Diego, CA 92122, (619) 625-8388;
John Ventura, 7 N. Park Plaza, Brownsville, TX 78521.