Contests Reveal Entrepreneurial Trends

Contests can be appealing to small firms looking for some publicity and some much-needed cash and advice, but it's also worth a look at some top contests just to see what kind of entrepreneurial ideas are out there and to spot current business trends.

Here are a couple of contests I was reviewing recently and while some of them are down to the final rounds, it's fun to watch good ideas take root and grow.

Entrepreneurs' resource StartUpNation recently unveiled its second annual contest for home-based businesses.

The site will rank the best performing businesses in the United States in 10 categories, including most innovative, best financial performers, grungiest, greenest and most slacker friendly. Take a look at last year's winners to get tips from the winning firms.

Meanwhile, the polls close on Sept. 30, for the Forbes Boost Your Business competition where the winner will take $100,000 and a lot of publicity back to the office. The contest is down to 20 semifinalists in round two. The firms still standing center on ideas ranging from energy efficiency such as AirGenerate and BigBelly Solar to Freyer-Martin, a firm offering to handle financial details and bill paying for executives. The complete list and accompanying videos are worth a look as they show some innovative ideas from across the nation in many different industries.

And American Express's Members Project on Sept. 30 will announce its top five finalists with the ultimate winners on Oct. 4. The winner will take in $1.5 million. The top 25 projects focus on issues such as early detection of Alzheimer's and rebuilding New Orleans "green." The projects, according to AmEx, must make a positive difference in your neighborhood or across the globe. Last year's winners can be viewed here. For small businesses interested in participating next year, take note that the credit card giant requires that you be an AmEx cardholder to submit a project or vote for a favorite project. Anyone with an e-mail address can join the Members Project's online community.

By Sharon McLoone |  September 15, 2008; 11:44 AM ET Tools and Tips
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How about a column about how small businesses can host contests to (sorry to be crass here) get something close to free, while giving someone a resume builder? You know - design a logo for my carpet cleaning company and win a free carpet cleaning?

Posted by: Chuck | September 16, 2008 9:37 AM

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