If you're a modern-day Edison with a product that will change the world as we know it, it's time to share your vision. But how can you find the answers to all the questions you've got about turning your idea into a product? Simple: by asking someone who's done it already.
"I'm inundated with phone calls and letters from would-be inventors asking the same questions," says Tomima Edmark, inventor of the TopsyTail, a hairstyling tool that has generated more than $100 million in sales. To answer these frequently posed questions about inventing, Edmark again took to the drawing board and created The American Dream Fact Pack.
In eight books, the Fact Pack addresses such essential invention topics as protecting your idea with patents and trademarks, creating a prototype, finding financing, avoiding scams and manufacturing your product. Also included is a helpful resource guide with addresses and phone numbers of various inventor-assistance associations, as well as forms from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, QVC and the Home Shopping Network.
The American Dream Fact Pack is available for $49.95 plus $5.50 shipping and handling. To order, call (800) 558-6779.
Food For Thought
News, facts and figures to spark ideas for new and better businesses.
Make 'em move: Participation in physical-fitness programs is declining in schools, according to Purdue University researchers, who also found nearly half of youths aged 12 to 21 are not vigorously active on a regular basis.
Lunch-hour downsizing: The American lunch hour is slimming down, says a survey by restaurant chain KFC. Some 63 percent of respondents skip lunch at least once a week; 56 per-cent take 15 minutes or less; and 42 percent eat lunch at their desks or "on the go."
Wearing the pants and carrying the wallet: According to The Global Network's Trend Letter, women influence or control 80 percent of all buying decisions--including car purchases and home-improvement projects. Women also handle 75 percent of family finances.
Time bandit: Although it seems no one has a minute to spare these days, John P. Robinson and Geoffrey Godbey, authors of Time for Life: The Surprising Ways Americans Use Their Time (Penn State University Press, $24.95, 800-326-9180), found the average American's free time has actually increased by about five hours per week since 1965. The problem: Television-watching is up, too, with Americans spending 40 percent of their leisure hours staring at the tube.
Frame And Fortune
Picture frames have long been considered perfect gifts because just about everyone can use them. But what could possibly be new in the age-old world of frames?
Plenty. According to Laura Caiaccia, editor of Picture Framing magazine, framing trends usually follow home decor and furnishing trends, so changes appear as often as new "looks" do. Smart business owners are getting the picture: When it comes to finding the hottest new frames, they're staying focused on what catches the customer's eye.
"People are interested in collecting objects right now, so we've been seeing a lot of shadowboxes, which are part frame and part display case," says Caiaccia. "People who have collections can display them in a frame and not on a shelf, where they'll collect dust."
FrameMica in Bohemia, New York, developed "The Boxers"--a line of shadowboxes that can be stacked one behind the next to contain larger objects, such as sports memorabilia and model trains.
Another innovative company capturing the modern framing spirit is TL Horton Design Inc. in Dallas, whose Urban Dweller frames are forged from torched copper and other materials used to erect city skyscrapers.
And Icebox Graphics in Encinitas, California, sells Ice Box Art, a line of magnetic photo frames and corners that help turn refrigerator doors into domestic galleries.
Stick `Em Up
By Laura Tiffany
Do your office walls resemble a patchwork quilt of multicolored Post-it Notes? It's time to get organized. Stick those "stickies" where they belong with new Post-it Software Notes, a software program that allows you to create and paste Post-it Notes on your computer screen.
Using Windows 95, 3.1 or NT, you can create electronic Post-its and stick them to your desktop or store them on a personalized memo board. You can customize the notes, choosing from four colors and several fonts. Organizing them is simple: Sort them either alphabetically or by time/date, and minimize them with a quick mouse click to store the miniature icons on your desktop. There's even an alarm to remind you to reread timely notes.
Post-it Software Notes comes on an easy-to-install 3.5-inch disk. It requires 2MB RAM and 3MB hard-drive space for Windows 3.1 or NT, and 4MB RAM and 3MB hard-drive space for Windows 95. To download a 30-day sample version, visit the Post-it Software Notes Web site at http://www.3M.com/psnotes
Suggested retail price: $24.95. From 3M, St. Paul, Minnesota. To order, call (800) 330-3966.
(Sells Like) Teen Spirit
Talk about a busy schedule: In addition to attending daily classes and playing on the Westwood Warriors varsity football team in Austin, Texas, 17-year-old high school senior Richard Williams has been running his own part-time, homebased business since age 14.
Hearing friends complain about broken pagers gave Williams the idea for Electronic Board Service (EBS). The company reconditions and resells some 1,000 pagers a month for close to 20 wireless communications companies in Texas, Arizona and Nevada.
Although he occasionally meets a bit of resistance in the marketplace because of his age, Williams doesn't let it slow him down. "When [people] see that you know what you're doing," he says, "they start to pay attention."
Across the country, teens like Williams are starting careers and businesses before they even finish high school. Encouraging these young adults to explore business through its three-day weekend Young Entrepreneur Camp and its Entrepreneur Club is KidsWay (http://www.kidsway.com), a youth-targeted entrepreneurial organization. It also publishes a bimonthly, 16-page news magazine for teens.
For more information about KidsWay or to subscribe to its news magazine (a one-year subscription is $16), write to KidsWay Inc., 5589 Peachtree Rd., Chamblee, GA 30341, or call (888) KIDS-WAY.
FrameMica, 519 Johnson Ave., Bohemia, NY 11716, (516) 567-8889
The Global Network, 1101 30th St. N.W., #130, Washington, DC 20007, (202) 337-5960
Icebox Graphics, 330 W. I St., #6, Encinitas, CA 92024, (760) 944-1968
KFC, 1900 Colonel Sanders Ln., Louisville, KY 40213, (502) 874-8395
Picture Framing, 225 Gordons Corner Rd., Manalapan, NJ 07726
TL Horton Design Inc., 11120 Grader St., Dallas, TX 75238, (214) 349-3515