From the June 2001 issue of Entrepreneur

Instruction Site
Get small-business help online.

Bank One has created a new Web site to help small businesses. The site offers assistance in four areas: management, insurance, online banking and retirement planning.

Under "Business Tools," the management area features Web-based software applications that help with such tasks as creating a business plan, incorporating a business, writing business letters and creating employee manuals. Users can store their documents in secure virtual filing cabinets and allow others to access them. They can also find demographic market data and an e-communications center with a personal e-mail box, an online calendar and an electronic Rolodex. The site also offers an online reference library as well as access to small-business experts.

In the "Insurance" area, users can evaluate and buy health insurance online courtesy of eHealthInsurance.com.

The "Online Banking" section allows users to open accounts, review account status, transfer funds, confirm check clearance and pay bills.

The "Retirement Planning" section provides info on pension plans and SIMPLE IRAs, which can reduce your income taxes and provide the potential for tax-deferred growth of your money.

While the resources are free, some require registration, and some are only available to Bank One customers.

Movie Money
Need cash for your Citizen Kane?

Independent filmmakers have two new resources to tap for film financing.

  • The first, CreativePlanet, offers an online forum at www.creativeplanet.com where experts answer your questions on film financing, managing contracts, licensing and more in bulletin-board-like discussions. To read the ongoing questions and answers, click on "Discussion," and scroll down to "Film Financing" and "Co-Productions."
  • The SBA has expanded its 7(a) loan guarantee program to include financing of entrepreneurial film companies.

Although the program is available nationwide, right now the Los Angeles regional office is the most knowledgeable. Still, filmmakers outside Southern California who know of an interested lender can approach their local SBA district offices to initiate discussions.

While the program is just now unfolding and each potential borrower will be dealt with individually, there are some basic criteria: The film company's management team must demonstrate movie-making experience, and everyone who will substantially benefit from the production must be prepared to personally guarantee the loan.

The new loan program coincides with changes in the SBA's 7(a) program, which include increasing the loan size guaranteed to $1 million and capping the gross size of a loan at $2 million.

Girl Power
Young women entrepreneurs get down to business in competition.

Girls ages 13 to 21 who want to start businesses but need a little financial boost may find what they're looking for by entering the 2001 Business Plan Competition, presented by Independent Means Inc., a Santa Barbara, California, provider of products and services for girls' financial independence. The contest will award each of five winners $2,500, an all-expenses-paid trip to the national awards ceremony in San Francisco in October, a scholarship to Camp $tart-Up (an entrepreneurial camp for girls), an opportunity for a $10,000 scholarship to Babson College and more.

Business plans should include details on how the product or service will be marketed, how the firm will operate, where financing will come from and what it will take to succeed, as well as information on the entrepreneur and why she thinks she'll succeed.

One winner will be chosen from each of three age categories: 13 to 15, 16 to 18 and 19 to 21. In addition, two high-scoring plans will be given awards. The deadline to enter is August 15; winners will be announced September 15.

For application information, visit the Independent Means Web site or call (800) 350-1816.