Time to put on your thinking cap. UPS (Atlanta) is looking for entries in its annual Small Business Contest. This is definitely a contest for people able to think outside (or inside for that matter) the box.

UPS is scouring the country for small businesses to identify the few that will stand as the best "out-of-the-box" enterprises of 2006. The 2005 winners included Designs By Lucinda of Portland, Maine, a business that creates handcrafted jewelry pins for non-profit causes; ColorLab Custom Cosmetics of Rockford, Ill., a custom-blend cosmetics firm, and INCHworm Shoes of Boston, a maker of children's shoes that "grow" as the kids grow.

Entering the contest is simple. U.S. companies with annual 2005 revenues of at least $250,000 but not more than $10 million can submit a 500-word essay explaining how they are original and "out-of-the-box." Entries must be submitted online by Sept. 15. and be completed by an employee or owner of an eligible business on behalf of that business, with a limit of one entry per business. A special Web site, www.ups.com/outofthebox, has been launched to receive entries and provide additional contest information.

The entries will be judged by a panel of eight renowned small business experts. Included among the judges are the publisher of The Atlanta Business Chronicle, the editorial director of Fortune Small Business and the George S. Craft Professor of Business of Emory University's Goizueta School of Business. The winners will be awarded their prizes in New York on Nov. 9.

Source: UPS