From the May 1998 issue of Startups

It's not quite a desktop ATM, but a new capital search engine on the Internet may be the next best thing for entrepreneurs who need money for business start-ups or equipment.

America's Business Funding Directory (http://www.businessfinance.com) is free, fast and easy to use. Select a category (commercial loan, investment, etc.) and answer several questions about your capital needs. Your data is compared to the criteria of more than 15,000 sources, and you're instantly provided with a list of sources to contact.

"Listings include banks, insurance companies, venture capital firms and many other lenders and investors, all of which we check out before they're accepted," says Candace E. Outlaw, chief financial officer of the Irvine, California, firm.

Loans of as little as $1,000 are available in some cases, and many of the sources fund entrepreneurs around the world. "Even if a source is unable to satisfy your needs," Outlaw says, "they'll provide insight and guide you to an organization that can help."

Download a free, step-by-step guide to raising capital and for more information about starting a business, use the site's links to the Internet Resource Library and Small Business Development Centers.


Paul DeCeglie is a former staff reporter for Journal of Commerce and American Banker. He can be reached at MrWritePDC@aol.com

Saving Grace

If you're so busy getting your business off the ground that you haven't had time to think about a retirement plan, sit down and breeze through the 20-page Retirement Plans for Small Businesses, a free guide published by Boston-based Fidelity Investments. In just a few minutes, you can learn everything you need to know about available plans, their tax advantages and which is best for you.

Designed for small-business owners, the easy-to-read pamphlet explores Simplified Employee Pension Plans (SEP-IRAs), Keoghs, 401(k) plans, customized and defined benefit plans, as well as the new Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE) plans.

The easiest plan to set up and maintain is the SEP-IRA, which benefits independent contractors, consultants, freelancers and part-timer workers, says the guide. Each type is clearly explained, along with such details as contributions, tax benefits and simplicity.

To help you choose the most appropriate plan, you're asked questions and provided with a chart that compares the features and cost considerations of each plan.

For a free copy of Retirement Plans for Small Businesses, call (800) 544-5373.

How Do You Spell Relief?

If you're still in the dark about what the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 means to you, accounting firm Lopez Edwards Frank & Co. LLP invites you to see the light at its Web site: http://www.lef.com

While the new tax law doesn't offer a great many benefits to small businesses, says James Kinney, a partner in the Long Island, New York, firm, "it does provide a more favorable capital gains rate of 20 per-cent in 1998, compared with 28 percent in 1997, on any interest in a corporation or partnership held more than 18 months. It also eliminates the Alternative Minimum Tax for small corporations with three-year average gross receipts of less than $5 million."

Other tax changes affecting entrepreneurs:

  • Deductible health-insurance costs for the self-employed will increase from 40 percent for 1997 to 45 percent in 1998 and up to 50 percent in 2000.
  • The law created a new type of individual retirement account (IRA) dubbed the Roth IRA. This doesn't yield deductions when you put money into it but will result in tax-free distribution for payouts made after five years if the taxpayer is at least 59-and-a-half years old or because of death, disability or the need to pay for certain first-time homebuyer expenses.
  • The definition of "homebased businesses" now includes those without an outside office who conduct administrative or management activities at home.

In addition to a summary of the tax legislation, the site allows visitors to ask accounting and tax questions and even offers a free newsletter.

Contact Sources

America's Business Funding Directory, abdf@businessfinance.com

Lopez Edwards Frank & Co. LLP, (516) 872-3400.