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

Small Business and Startups: Customer Service Marketing Manifesto Mike | November 3rd, 2014

I’ve written and spoken often about how customer service for us is a marketing tactic and how we view our customer service as a part of our marketing department. It’s simple – great customer service begets great customer satisfaction which begets great word of mouth. But there’s is another layer to this strategy that is important to understand and, as a small company, it is important that we articulate our approach and live by it. Customer service does not have to be a reactive part of our marketing strategy. Of course our agents can, and should, be ready to respond to a customer call or email (and do it quick!), but they must also proactively reach out to our customers, engage them on a human level, build relationships that can lead to a higher customer lifetime value (CLV), reduce our refund rate, mitigate our fraud risks, AND create happier, more loyal customers who, in turn, will indeed help to spread that good word about our service!

There are multiple moving parts to executing on this strategy and it has to start with our people. We need to be smart and behave smarter; we need to be articulate and have the ability to communicate clearly in both our written and oral conversations; we must be empathetic and always keep the customer’s experience at the highest, most satisfying level; but mostly we must be Human. After all, human beings are inclined to respond well to others of the same species. We have to relate to each other, we have to seek each other out, we have to want to connect with others. It is these factors that will make our customers (past, present, and future) wonderful assets that we can benefit mightily from, both in profits as well as in action.

When I speak of ‘moving parts,’ I am referring to the multiple, often complex pieces to this strategy. It’s not easy to build a culture of support and it’s even harder to make that culture an important element of our marketing strategy. Today, I am outlining the 5 essential pieces we will focus on to continue building on our strengths: the people we have; the training we give them; the tools and resources we provide; the rewards and incentives we create for them;  and the helping culture we are building!

1. Our people. It has to start from day zero; how we describe the positions we need filled is critically important. Our descriptions must be detailed, descriptive and fun. We must be very specific that we do not want boilerplate resumes and cover letters, nor are we looking for boilerplate applicants. We must look for creative individuals, from varied backgrounds, but mostly they have to tell us through their application why they are a good fit for a creative, relaxed, hard-working team. When the emails start rolling in, we must ignore the hacks and the job-link-click-copy-and-pasters and focus on those who show us their ability to communicate, their unique personalities, and their creative approach to solving a problem (i.e. applying to crowdSPRING in such a way that they’ll get our attention). Once we sort through the chaff to get to the wheat, we interview with the goal of finding articulate, strong communicators, who care, truly care, about the customers they’ll be helping and the team they’ll be joining, no matter the position they’re applying for, whether it is technology, marketing, or support. It’s called empathy and we will only hire those who display it. In buckets.

2. Their training. We will commit to supporting our team with ongoing training, education, and fun. We’ll be transparent in how we share information and we will actively communicate how important they are to our company, our team, and our customers. Our people can not be expected to read our minds, nor can they be expected to learn new tools and processes overnight, however our expectations of their ability to learn and grow will be high. We will collaborate with our team; they will be self guided through much of their development, but management will support them through the process. We can never expect our people to swim before they can float, and we will always make sure that the floating and swimming lessons are available, well thought out, and comprehensive. This should not mean that we won’t encourage them to jump into the deep end, either – our culture will encourage risk and and our people will be rewarded for taking it.

3. The tools. We will invest in the tools that our team needs to do their jobs and we will listen actively when they make suggestions on tools they prefer. If we were a messenger company, we would be sure our delivery-folk have the best bicycles, scooter, or cars they need. As a technology company, we will always use the right software for the job and take the time to compare and choose the most appropriate.

4. The rewardsOur culture will reflect our desire to reward people for the hard work they perform, their productivity, and their success at meeting the goals we mutually develop. People need to feel ownership in their job and one way to do it is by carefully and thoughtfully implementing meaningful incentives. We will incentivize not only with cash inducements and bonuses (those work nicely, too!) but through non-cash awards, including fair pay, good benefits, a fun atmosphere, and ongoing praise, both in public and in private. The rewards of working for crowdSPRING must also extend to policies like un-capped vacation, flexible work hours and locations, support for remote working, and a comfortable and inviting workplace.

5. The culture. The company culture is designed to support our customers, ensure them an extraordinary customer experience, and foster loyalty. Our customer service and marketing will be designed around those goals and our workplace and policies will  promote practices to achieve them. Everything our team does, from developing code to answering calls, is a marketing function and we are all marketers. Customer, customer, customer is our mantra and our culture must be relentless in it’s focus on experience, engagement, and empathy.

Illustration, Wikipedia: The cover of the second (and last) edition of BLAST, an artist’s manifesto.

Twitter Link Roundup #241 – Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More Mike | October 31st, 2014

People. Are you ready? It’s time for another 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!

Be sure to watch the video above; great leadership is about so many things, but nothing that happened this week serves as a better example of the impact a great leader can have on their own company and the world around us. Here’s to Tim!

smallbusinessblog

How The “Big Five” Personality Traits Can Create A More Effective team | Buffer Blog – crowdspring.co/ZEPPEI

Management Clichés That Work | Learning by Shipping – crowdspring.co/1zBKkqV

How to Do PR on a Budget – crowdspring.co/1xxDIEO

If Teams Are So Great, Why Do We Have So Much Trouble With Them | by @stoweboyd -crowdspring.co/1wyqnfX

The Ups and Downs of Crowd-Based Resources | WSJ – crowdspring.co/1thNkCS

startupsblog

6 Efficient Ways to Work Smarter, Not Harder | Vandelay Design – crowdspring.co/1tA4DCA

My Last Day At PivotDesk | Kelly Taylor’s Blog -crowdspring.co/1sZar6P

A Guide To Co-Leadership: Why It’s Hard, Why It’s Good, And How To Make It Work | TechCrunch -crowdspring.co/1DmUr1f

Number One Leadership Skill | crowdSPRING Blog – crowdspring.co/1CKROUS

6 Lessons Marc Andreessen Gives the Startups He Invests In | Inc – crowdspring.co/1sP6XCb

Good data on US companies started each year & angle/VC investment in startups – crowdspring.co/1tL13FR

Why It’s Better To Sell A Startup For $20 Million Instead Of $200 Million | Business Insider -crowdspring.co/1sUesI3

What makes HubSpot…well, HubSpot? The company’s latest alum tells all | BetaBoston -crowdspring.co/1xeM3wT

The Midwest Is On Track For Its Strongest Year In Startup Investing As “The Rest” Rises -crowdspring.co/1roVSox

The Silent Benefits of PR – crowdspring.co/1xxDIEL

What’s the Best Way to Tap the Crowd to Commercialize Your Invention? – crowdspring.co/1zNPlwR

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