As small-business owners continue to embrace credit cards as a source of start-up funding, financial institutions are taking notice -- with a number of new cards designed for entrepreneurs.
Following the launch of its first small business card earlier this year, Detroit-based Comerica Bank (NYSE:CMA) introduced two more cards on Monday. Both are specifically designed to complement business owners' credit-based, frequent-travel lifestyle.
The MasterCard (NYSE:MA) Platinum Business Rewards Card carries no annual fee and earns cardholders a point for each dollar charged. The MasterCard Business Travel Rewards Card has a $55 annual fee, but earns cardholders two points for each dollar spent on travel and lodging.
On October 10, American Express (NYSE:AXP) and Starwood Hotels (NYSE:HOT) also launched a Preferred Guest Business Card for small-business owners. The card offers access to OPEN SavingsSM -- an automatic discount program designed specifically for small businesses.
Other features include expense-management reporting, an online tracking system, and spending limits on additional cards to help manage employee spending. In addition, card holders can earn free flights and free stays at Starwood's 825 hotels worldwide.
Recent Census Bureau data estimates that one out of every 10 businesses is started with a credit card.
When Disaster Strikes
With a greater focus on disaster preparedness following 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, Business Roundtable has launched a new website intended to help companies safeguard themselves against worst-case scenarios.
Business Roundtable, a Washington-based advocacy group, designed www.respondtodisaster.org to be a one-stop resource for private-sector disaster preparedness and response. The site includes guidelines for response practices, a directory of relief agencies and volunteer opportunities, and tools on how companies and employees can contribute most effectively to relief efforts.
The site was created by the Business Roundtable's Partnership for Disaster Response -- a task force comprised of 30 Business Roundtable CEOs from a range of industries, including telecommunications, manufacturing, retail, insurance, healthcare, IT, financial services, transportation, and energy.
By combining our diverse assets, experience, and expertise, and collaborating on finding new solutions to disaster response, our positive impact will be even greater when the next disaster occurs,” said Bob Nardelli, chairman of the partnership, and the chairman and CEO of The Home Depot (NYSE:HD).
Webcasting for Dummies
IVT Studio, a new self-service tool from Interactive Video Technologies, allows users to create, distribute, and archive professional-looking webcasts.
IVT, a Beverly Hills, Calif.-based corporate-communications firm, launched the product on October 11, and is currently working with IBM (NYSE:IBM) to deploy a company-wide pilot program that would enable IBM employees to make and distribute webcasts. But the online video broadcasts are also seen as a cost-effective alternative to face-to-face meetings for small businesses.
Webcasts are a reusable, easily-distributed form of internal and external corporate communication. With minimal training, IVT Studio allows users to synchronize video, audio, PowerPoint, and other media, and then track distribution, including who looks at the webcasts and for how long.