Maybe your business makes handcrafted jewelry pins to raise money for good causes, or custom-blended cosmetics or even children's shoes that "grow" as kids grow.
Last year, three small businesses providing those products were rewarded for their "outside-the-box" thinking. Now, UPS (Atlanta) is searching once again for pioneering and innovative small businesses through its second annual UPS Best "Out-of-the-Box" Small Business Contest.
The national contest will honor the most innovative U.S. small businesses and is designed for U.S. companies with annual 2005 revenues of at least $250,000 but not more than $10 million. Eligible businesses are asked to submit a 500-word essay explaining how they are original and "out-of-the-box."
"About 100 years ago, UPS itself began as an 'out-of-the-box' business and in the first year of the contest, we found hundreds of brilliant businesses that were taking off just like UPS did," said Kurt Kuehn, UPS senior vice president, worldwide sales and marketing. "We work with small businesses every day to help them face the challenges of today's global economy and this contest is a way to recognize innovation."
A recent City Business Journals Network survey of small- and mid-sized business owners found UPS ranked as the No. 1 brand with which to do business across all industries including retail, business services, financial and insurance, travel, technology and telecommunications.
Evolving from a local bicycle messenger service in 1907 to a global provider of package delivery and supply chain services today, UPS is always looking for innovative ways to help meet the complex needs of today's customers.
To support this year's UPS Best "Out-of-the-Box" Small Business Contest, the company has launched a special Web site -- www.ups.com/outofthebox -- to help small businesses submit their 500-word essays and complete the entry process. Entries may be submitted online through Sept. 15. All entries must be completed by an employee or owner of an eligible business on behalf of that business, with a limit of one entry per business.
The entries will be judged by a multi-member panel of renowned small business experts from outside and within UPS. Jordan Colletta, vice president of e-commerce marketing at UPS, will serve as chairman of the judges to evaluate finalists. The judges include:
- Dr. Benn Konsynski of Emory University's Goizueta School of Business in Atlanta;
- Brian Dumaine, editorial director, Fortune Small Business;
- Ed Baker, publisher, Atlanta Business Chronicle;
- Delia Passi, president, Medelia Communications ;
- Eileen O'Brien, vice president, Worldwide Small and Medium Business, Personal Systems Group, HP;
- Rich Bradshaw, senior vice president, UPS Capital, the financial services arm of UPS;
- Lucinda Yates, founder of Designs By Lucinda and 2005 contest winner.
"As an advocate for small and mid-sized businesses, HP is excited to be working with UPS again this year on the 'Out-of-the-Box' contest," said contest judge O'Brien. "Small businesses are the backbone of the economy and it's their innovative ideas that make them the fastest growing segment of the technology market. We're always inspired by their stories."
The judges will assess the entries based on originality, business implementation and business results. First-, second- and third-place prizes will be awarded. Prizes include:
- First place - $10,000 in cash (or UPS shipping); $1,000 of document services from The UPS Store(r); an HP printer and PC with UPS shipping tools, and $5,000 worth of consulting from UPS.
- Second place - $5,000 in cash (or UPS shipping) and an HP printer and PC with UPS shipping tools.
- Third place - HP printer and PC with UPS shipping tools.
The winner of the 2005 contest, Designs By Lucinda of Portland, Maine, creates fashion pins that are sold by non-profit organizations to raise money and awareness for their causes. The second place winner, ColorLab Custom Cosmetics of Rockford, Ill., creates a cosmetics line that individuals can customize in the store. Third place recognition went to INCHworm Shoes of Boston, which creates a line of children's shoes that adjust one shoe size in half-size increments to "grow" as the child's foot grows.