IKEA is giving entrepreneurs a chance to network with their peers -- and win a design makeover in the process.

The international home furnishings retailer recently launched a business site to provide entrepreneurs with a forum to share tips and techniques for creating the ideal business space. Business owners can also find guides on renovating their offices and see examples from other businesses.

As part of the new site launch, IKEA is sponsoring an online video contest -- "Small Business, Big Dreams" -- and will award a group of neighboring small businesses from the same community a design makeover. In order to create awareness for growing small-business districts across the nation, entrepreneurs are invited to submit a three-minute video that showcases unique aspects of their business and its role within the community.  The winning entry will be chosen based on creativity and overall vision. IKEA will furnish and transform the physical space of up to 10 small businesses in that community.

"As with homeowners, we understand business-owners' unique challenges, and we're taking on the task of furnishing their businesses affordably with style and function, thus creating a better everyday life at work," Astrid Oyo, manager of IKEA's U.S. business development, said in a statement.

Participants will be able to view other video entries at www.ikea.com/business. The deadline for submissions is July 26. For official rules, visit www.ikea.com/business/mainstreet/.

Do You Take Plastic?

Wells Fargo is offering a new banking package designed to make it easier and more cost effective for small-business owners to accept credit cards. The Merchant Checking package is designed for businesses, such as nail salons and dry cleaners, that often deal with in-person card payments.

Once business owners sign up for Merchant Checking, they can begin accepting credit- and debit-card payments right away, and will have access to the incoming funds via their checking account as soon as the next business day. Merchant Checking also provides business owners with a flat and low-cost processing rate for all Visa and MasterCard transactions, and allows businesses to accommodate all card types including rewards cards. The package offers these costs controls as a way to help small-business owners better manage their account statements. 

"As the industry moves toward electronic payments, small-business owners need to offer their customers convenient and secure payment solutions," Debra Rossi, executive vice president and general manager of Wells Fargo Merchant Services, said in a statement. "Wells Fargo's new Merchant Checking package product provides small-business owners with an all-in-one solution that is secure, simple and affordable to help them remain competitive and manage cash flow in today's environment."

For more information, visit www.wellsfargo.com/biz  

Untangling the Web

Do you find that your Web hosting costs are getting too expensive? Or that you've paid for a website that wasn't exactly what you wanted? Launch Pad's newly released SMB livehost series is designed to eliminate the complications many small businesses face with Web hosting, and to provide business owners with a fully-managed and affordable Web solution.

Launch Pad, an Odessa, Fla.-based technology-solutions provider, will work with firms to manage the process of Web hosting from start to finish. Launch Pad representatives speak with small businesses to identify the goals for their website, design and create the website, and offer ongoing technical support once the website has launched. Launch Pad also offers technical assistance to small businesses with already-existing websites and will help customers to integrate their web technology in-house.

In order to make Web hosting more affordable for small businesses, the SMB livehost series plans are available at a reduced cost and without any setup fees. Launch Pad is also offering SMB WebPacs, a fixed-price on three of its small-business Web hosting packages. "The website is designed for whatever the company's needs are, but since it's a fixed price, it gets business owners up and running, and is something they can budget for without the never-ending costs," says Launch Pad founder and president Ilene Rosoff.

For more information, visit www.launchpadonline.com