Fresh from the SPRING: cdavisdesigns Audree | November 25th, 2014

When perusing our galleries here on crowdSPRING, we see some amazing work submitted in the projects. Today, we noticed this gem submitted in this logo project.

Let us start the slow clap for cdavisdesigns. Check out more great work on cdavisdesigns’ profile page.

Nicely done, cdavisdesigns, nicely done!

 

FFS-cdavisdesigns

Why We Love Small Business Saturday Mike | November 24th, 2014

Holidays are here. How do we know? Well I have been seeing tons of holiday-themed commercials on television, I am hearing holiday music being piped through the speakers outside my local coffee spot, I am reading about how many retailers are struggling with whether they should be open for business on Thanksgiving day (not to mention making their employees work that day), and I am already getting emails and banner ads about the upcoming cyber Monday offers.

For many retailers the shopping days between Black Friday and Christmas determine whether they will have a year to celebrate or a season to mourn. For small businesses, local retailers, and mom and pop shops, a good economy can translate to strong sales and a smile on that local merchants face. A weak showing, on the other hand, just leads to head-shakes as they attempt to figure out if they’ll be around for the next season’s cycle.

Fully cognizant of these facts, American Express made a move which has had a serious impact on the fortunes of tons of local retailers. In 2010, Amex announced their support for small business with a new ad campaign: Small Business Saturday was designed to build awareness, drive sales away from national retailers and towards local businesses and, ultimately, get more people to use their American Express card. The genius of the campaign was that it positioned Amex as a hero of small business by leveraging the financial service company’s size and marketing clout while at the same time, generating millions of dollars in credit card fees.

2014 will be the campaign’s fifth year and it has steadily grown in size and built some excellent momentum, while brining Amex plenty of new fans and plenty of new fees. Here’s a few facts:

  • Last year over 500,ooo local businesses participated in Small Business Saturday
  • An estimated 100,000,000 consumers shopped at Small Business Saturday merchants
  • A National Federation of Independent Businesses survey reports that awareness of Small Business Saturday was at 67% of consumers.
  • Small Business Saturday revenues were estimated at over $5.5 billion
  • Small business retailers reported sales increases of 25-30% over 2012
  • 3.2 million Facebook users “liked” the Small Business Saturday page.
  • The social insight and analytics site Topsy reported over 200,000 mentions of the #SmallBizSaturday hashtag

These are powerful data that indicate Amex has tapped into something essential in the American consumer psyche. These numbers tell us that consumers want to support their local businesses when they can, and that local businesses are savvy enough in their own marketing and promotional efforts to recognize the value in grabbing onto Amex’s powerful marketing coattails.  Ironically, if you ask your average retailer about which credit cards they prefer to accept, Amex will typically come last. The reason? Amex fees tend to be higher than other cards and their policies somewhat more restrictive to the merchant. But, having said that, smart retailers understand that, with adequate volume, they can quickly overcome a slightly reduced margin.

And on top of all that, there is a distinct benefit directly for the consumer. I am not talking about the sales and specials that many merchants will certainly offer. This year, American Express will give back to their cardholders up to three $10 statement credits for purchases made at local businesses. You’ll have to pre-register your personal or business cards to receive the credit, but it sure seems well worth your while. Registration is open now and is capped, so get in there and register your cards as soon as you can.

Thanks, giant financial services corporation, and happy holidays to you, too!

Twitter Link Roundup #244 – Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More Mike | November 21st, 2014

Today is Friday and I am off to pick up a new puppy! Yep, you heard me right, new addition to the family! Well enough about cute little balls of fluff – it’s time for our weekly roundup of the great links and articles we shared with you over the past week on our  crowdSPRING Twitter account (as well as my own Twitter account). We like to talk about logo design, web design, startups, entrepreneurship, small business, leadership, social media, marketing, economics and other interesting stuff! I hope you enjoy!

The will to survive is an amazing and powerful thing. Speaking of new puppies… the young elephant in this video has a powerful instinct that all of us can admire! The lesson for me? Stay away from lion packs!

smallbusinessblog

The Ultimate Copy Checklist: 51 Questions to Optimize Every Element of Your Online Copy | Copyblogger – crowdspring.co/1Et6afo

5 Routines To Clear Mental Clutter | Fast Company – crowdspring.co/1wK6TCK

Small Business and Startups: The 3-Page Business Plan |crowdSPRING Blog – crowdspring.co/1ELemYv

20 Awesome Productivity Tricks Anyone Can Use – crowdspring.co/1xb2r3X

Conflict Among Team Members Can Lead to Better Results – crowdspring.co/1t2zRv6

4 Lessons On Running A Successful Business From Best Buy’s CEO | Fast Company – crowdspring.co/1qN4a9J

4 Simple Remedies For Burnout Backed By Science | Fast Company – crowdspring.co/1ESnCtK

startupsblog

The 5 Biggest Tax Differences Between an LLC and Corporation – crowdspring.co/1wVhWL7

How an Adaptive Leadership Style Brings Out the Best in Your Employees – crowdspring.co/1t2zJMb

Survival Tips for New (and Lonely) Entrepreneurs – crowdspring.co/1Gb9ayS

Why Entrepreneurs Love Change – crowdspring.co/1ESn5rU

Failure Has Never Been More Successful | Fast Company – crowdspring.co/1tYLi7B

4 Secrets to Firing Your First Employee – crowdspring.co/1t2z5hL

How Apple and Beats Music Could Kill the Freemium Model – crowdspring.co/1s5joXS

It takes all types! 7 Unwritten Rules of Productive Office Environments – crowdspring.co/1t2AswW

How a high valuation could actually run your business into the ground | BlogPivotDesk – crowdspring.co/1xaYyMn

What Leaders Really Do – crowdspring.co/1ESmSoH

How to Impress Your Boss at a Startup | The Muse – crowdspring.co/1H5ZiqB

Utilize Technology to Build Intimate Customer Communities – crowdspring.co/1sVvTWk

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Fresh from the SPRING: otnielz Audree | November 19th, 2014

When perusing our galleries here on crowdSPRING, we see some amazing work submitted in the projects. Today, we noticed this gem submitted in this special Give Back project.

Let us start the slow clap for otnielz and ALL the talented Creatives who gave their time and talent for this worthy cause. We are so proud of the crowdSPRING community. Check out more great work on otnielz’s profile page.

Nicely done, otnielz, nicely done!FFS-Ave's-Hope

Small Business and Startups: The 3-Page Business Plan (and a short post to match!) Mike | November 17th, 2014

Well, it’s been a while since we last explored the topic of business plans and plenty has changed. The age of the 80-page plan has passed and has been replaced with the 140-character attention span.

It’s not that potential investors and employees don’t want to know how you’re going to pull off this crazy, audacious idea of yours. They do. Its that they expect you to communicate it to them quickly and succinctly.

In the spirit of the short business plan, this will be a short post; here are the three pages you need to include in your plan and some ideas for the type of information to include:

1. Business Summary. What do you intend to do, where do you intend to do it, and to whom are you offering it? Your summary should work at a very high level and include the basic outline of what your business will look like on day 1, as well as what it will be on day 1,825. Your audience wants to know 3 things: who you are, what you do, and how you’ll do it: what industry are you in, what your team will look like, what your initial investment needs to be, and what the ownership structure will look like. Include a few sentences on your customers, your personnel, and your operational principals and move on to drafting page 2.

2. The Market and the Plan. To my thinking, this is the most important page; here you will outline the market you will compete, how you will compete, and why you believe your company can succeed; in other words a few paragraphs of analysis of your industry, and the key players, and the current trends. Finally outline the value proposition and how and where will you articulate your brand promise.
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Twitter Link Roundup #243 – Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More Mike | November 14th, 2014

Today is Friday – end of week and ready to relax; anyone gonna see Interstellar this weekend? Anyhow, it’s time for our weekly roundup of the cool, intriguing, and compelling links and articles we shared with you over the past week on our very own crowdSPRING Twitter account (as well as my own Twitter account). We like to talk about logo design, web design, startups, entrepreneurship, small business, leadership, social media, marketing, and various random stuff! Enjoy!

Ever think about trekking in the Himalayas? Ever think about that bus ride to the trailhead? Check out the video above and (my advice?) think twice! (thanks @chrisdetmer)

smallbusinessblog

How To REALLY Calculate ROI on a CRM System | Gene Marks – crowdspring.co/1EpIsRc

Why your clients don’t care about their users, and how you can make them | Webdesigner Depot – crowdspring.co/1A0b2tE

Small Business and Startup Tips: Cool Stuff for Your Next Trip | crowdSPRING Blog – crowdspring.co/1pI8Qmc

Do You Have a 5-Year Plan for Your Business? | SCORE – crowdspring.co/1sXB4ZI

How to Lose a Great Employee in 10 Ways – crowdspring.co/1oB7o48

Pricing determines your business | by @ASmartBear – crowdspring.co/1skOzi2

startupsblog

Do Venture Capitalists Hate Women-Owned Businesses? | OPEN Forum – crowdspring.co/1qKiFdW

Hot Tech Startups Get as Many Perks as They Give – crowdspring.co/1rJyIIn

Wearing Your Failures on Your Sleeve – http://crowdspring.co/1xod30K

5 Potentially Dangerous Decisions to Avoid When Starting a Business – crowdspring.co/1yOIgYz

There’s No Excuse for Avoiding Strategy | Harvard Business Review – crowdspring.co/1udAzMJ

Is the Corporate Campus Dying? | Harvard Business Review – crowdspring.co/1t2ydd2

Flash Mobs Have More to Teach About Managing Teams Than Any Textbook – crowdspring.co/1yOIIpD

It’s All About Nuance. How to Convey and Discern Email Tone. – crowdspring.co/1A0l3H8

Why I Walked Away From a $12M Acquisition Offer 18 Months After Our Startup’s Launch – buff.ly/1ECc6AO

A Dozen Things I’ve Learned About Investing from Howard Marks | 25iq by @trengriffin – buff.ly/1xf3Mbe

The Founder’s Guide To Selling Your Company – buff.ly/1xdNiAd

Five Lessons Learned From A Once-Hot Startup – buff.ly/1yrn5uN

11 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make When Managing Developers – buff.ly/1uX5b6b

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Fresh from the SPRING: greenblack Audree | November 12th, 2014

When perusing our galleries here on crowdSPRING, we see some amazing work submitted in the projects. Today, we noticed this gem submitted in this logo project.

Let us start the slow clap for greenblack. Check out more great work on greenblack’s profile page.

Nicely done, greenblack, nicely done!

FFS-greenblack

Small Business and Startup Tips: Cool Stuff for Your Next Trip Mike | November 10th, 2014

Got any trips planned? Business junket? Family vacation? Around the world in 80 days-tour? Well if you’re traveling these days, you need not only to be aware of long lines, crazy security, ebola screenings, weather emergencies, and radar tower mishaps, but also of the great tools and resources available to travelers.

I am talking sweet mobile apps, resource-rich websites, wonderful journalists and bloggers, cool new hardware, and tips on everything from avoiding jetlag to finding the tastiest street food a block from your hotel. Travel, even for business, should be a fun adventure and an opportunity to see new places and experience new things and new people. To get the most from your trip, I advise you to turn to your old friend: technology! Whether you use the internet to map your journey, or a cool app to track your wandering technology can be your best friend, particularly when your destination is a place where you don’t speak the language.

So take advantage of your next travel opportunity; plan ahead, prepare well, watch your budget, stay someplace cool, and pick your activities for maximum fun.


Getting there is where it starts and ends – it should be as easy to do the booking as it is to execute the actual trip. This means that you will need everything from a great online tool to find airline tickets to an app that aggregates your trip information to the right memberships which allow for easy booking and seamless transitions. Here are a few ideas and resources which can make the entire process as pain-free as can be expected:

  • First step is to book the flight. The sweetest interface of the travel search sites? Try Adioso, a clean intuitive interface, quality results and fast fast fast!
  • Here’s what I recommend: start planning a few weeks ahead, punch in your flight requirements (city, dates, airline preferences) and then sit back and wait for the  price-drop alerts to start rolling in. Kayak’s Yapta.com tracks fares and notifies you via e-mail or Tweet when the cost of your itinerary drops. Nice.
  • Traveling to multiple cities overseas? If you search the travel sites, the prices for flights between, for instance, European cities can be steeeeep. WhichBudget.com is a flight search engine that scans the local, budget airlines not listed on sites like Kayak and Hipmunk.

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Twitter Link Roundup #242 – Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More Mike | November 7th, 2014

Here we go! Time once again for our weekly roundup of the articles, videos, posts and quips that we shared with you over the past week on our very own crowdSPRING Twitter account (as well as my own Twitter account). We like to talk about logo design, web design, startups, entrepreneurship, small business, leadership, social media, marketing, and various random stuff! Enjoy!

We are so proud to be a part of the entrepreneurial and technology community in Chicago where we are based. Here’s a fantastic video that showcases one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Ours!

smallbusinessblog

Freelancing 101: When to Say ‘No’ | Design Shack – crowdspring.co/1zbCFi3

10 Psychological Triggers To Boost Revenues – crowdspring.co/1rXsiql

The Secret to Building a Millennial-Friendly Company – crowdspring.co/1G3tXnZ

Small Business and Startups: Customer Service Marketing Manifesto – crowdspring.co/1wYokDi

Trust leads to trust, companies with about unlimited vacations policies -crowdspring.co/1scBeZ4

startupsblog

5 Must-Use Tools for Brainstorming Company Names – crowdspring.co/1wehUO7

How to Stop the Infighting and Actually Conduct a Creative Ideation Session | 99U – crowdspring.co/1wV86ce

Fewer bosses. More coaches, please – crowdspring.co/1q5hqpL

How Buffer’s Value of Positivity Works, Even on “Bad Days” – crowdspring.co/1wOc7kq

Running a Startup: What Life Is Really Like in the Early Days – crowdspring.co/1wNhIpk

7 Habits of Highly Successful Entrepreneurs | – crowdspring.co/1q9cIqW

Tony Robbins… The CEO Whisperer – crowdspring.co/1sSkuW5

A Counterintuitive System for Startup Compensation – crowdspring.co/1zRImmt

10 Ways to Make Your Relationship With Your Co-Founder A Success – crowdspring.co/1sSi21Y

Startup Equity and Stock Options: What’s It Worth to You? – crowdspring.co/1sSpg62

A Dozen Things I’ve Learned From Steve Blank About Startups | by @trengriffincrowdspring.co/1tpjVIz

Identifying the Biases Behind Your Bad Decisions | Harvard Business Review -crowdspring.co/1sSZZst

Minimum Viable Product: Build a slice across, instead of one layer at a time. By @jopaspic.twitter.com/35FAQfMeow

The Danger Hiding in Your Data – crowdspring.co/1ohW9O3

The Thin Skin of the Venture Capital Market -crowdspring.co/1xaoN3x

Why More Entrepreneurs Need To Make Health and Wellness A Priority | by @sujanpatel -crowdspring.co/1Gmyl1h

7 Step Framework For Starting a Company – crowdspring.co/1x7MgWi

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Fresh from the SPRING: diselgl Audree | November 5th, 2014

When perusing our galleries here on crowdSPRING, we see some amazing work submitted in the projects. Today, we noticed this gem submitted in this logo project.

Let us start the slow clap for diselgl. Check out more great work on diselgl’s profile page.

Nicely done, diselgl, nicely done!

 

FFS-diselgl