Twitter Link Roundup #237 – Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More Ross | October 3rd, 2014

john-malkovich-iconic-portraits-recreations-sandro-miller-2

Every day on the crowdSPRING Twitter account and on my own Twitter account, I post links to posts or videos I enjoyed reading or viewing. These posts and videos are about logo design, web design, startups, entrepreneurship, small business, leadership, social media, marketing, and more! Here are some of the links that I’ve liked and shared this past week!

If you didn’t already love John Malkovich, you will once you see his phenomenal collaboration with photographer Sandro Miller, recreating some of the most famous photos in history. The image above is one of a number of fun images from their collaboration.

smallbusinessblog

These 44 Apps Will Make Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners More Productive – crowdspring.co/YGV8Dp

How Color Influences What People Buy – crowdspring.co/YMyCJf

Empower Your Small Business, brand NEW issue of @crowdSPRING‘s SmallBiz newsletter  – crowdspring.co/1mRxdfq

Small Business and Startups: The Elements of Good Advice – crowdspring.co/1pC51rT

9 Tools to Help Fix the Customer Experience Gap – crowdspring.co/1n6IdGv

How to Plan the Perfect Offsite: 8 Tips (from Jayna Cooke) – crowdspring.co/1nMzHMU

7 Tips for Getting Useful Customer Feedback – crowdspring.co/1na6mf3

12 Tips For Drafting Your First Employee Agreement – crowdspring.co/1my8EEc

startupsblog

How top startups pay designers | Google Ventures – crowdspring.co/1pv7S5U

These 44 Apps Will Make Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners More Productive – crowdspring.co/YGV8Dp

How Color Influences What People Buy – crowdspring.co/YMyCJf

How to Plan the Perfect Offsite: 8 Tips (from Jayna Cooke) – crowdspring.co/1nMzHMU

7 Harsh Realities about Startup Accelerators – crowdspring.co/1ruQ8ya

Before the Startup – crowdspring.co/1rGYDDQ

5 basic legal considerations for startups | Chicago Tribune – crowdspring.co/1na3gI5

David vs. Goliath: Lean Startup Advantages | OpenView Blog – crowdspring.co/1x2JFtG

10 Top Financial Tips for Early-Stage Startups | StartupCollective – crowdspring.co/1qWvaC4

7 Tips for Getting Useful Customer Feedback – crowdspring.co/1na6mf3

Want To Be A Great Leader? Start Acting Weirder – crowdspring.co/1BAx5Tb

Startup Best Practices: Structuring One on Ones to Maximize Your Team’s Success – crowdspring.co/1pwi7a0

12 Tips For Drafting Your First Employee Agreement – crowdspring.co/1my8EEc

Why startups fail, according to their founders – crowdspring.co/1roF9DZ

9 Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read – crowdspring.co/1uMBxvF

9 Tools to Help Fix the Customer Experience Gap – crowdspring.co/1n6IdGv

Startup Misconceptions: You Should Never Tell Anyone Your Startup Idea – crowdspring.co/1nD4wDJ

Good questions entrepreneurs should ask VCs … The Open VC | TechCrunch – crowdspring.co/1qQ04Mx

Alibaba Could Buy Yahoo for Free – crowdspring.co/1uLjzcW

Good explanation on why it’s tough for most VCs to generate good returns – crowdspring.co/1pvakct

Why Founders Shouldn’t Delegate Support Too Early – crowdspring.co/1rNFrpz

You’re probably calculating your SaaS MRR incorrectly. Here’s why – crowdspring.co/1na2fzV

Small Business and Startups: The Elements of Good Advice | crowdSPRING Blog – crowdspring.co/1pC51rT

“Brand equity is important because it can become a significant part of a company’s value.” – crowdspring.co/1nMQVKg

Finding Alibaba: How Jerry Yang Made The Most Lucrative Bet In Silicon Valley History – crowdspring.co/1vw48WF

If You Completely Ignored Your Goals and Focused on This One Thing Would You Get Better Results? – crowdspring.co/1nO2pxb

socialmediablog

How to Provoke Users’ Emotions and Actions with Your Website? | InstantShift – crowdspring.co/1DBogMA

How Color Influences What People Buy – crowdspring.co/YMyCJf

Lookalike audiences: the next big thing in marketing? | Econsultancy – crowdspring.co/1naeoEL

“Brand equity is important because it can become a significant part of a company’s value.” – crowdspring.co/1nMQVKg

“the presence of ads on a search results page caused the organic CTR of the first position to drop by 30%” – crowdspring.co/1nO4clS

Let’s Make a Promo (creating videos of app tutorials) – crowdspring.co/1oBRcdM

The Ad Contrarian: 5 Good Reasons To Ignore Millennials – crowdspring.co/YEXdQf

Could Friday be the Best Day to Publish Your Tech Startup’s Press Release? – crowdspring.co/1qPCsY8

Why Your Agency Should Stop Pitching — Now -crowdspring.co/1nCAtMs

Crowdsourcing: the great advertising agency debate – crowdspring.co/1BeP9SE

designblog

How top startups pay designers | Google Ventures – crowdspring.co/1pv7S5U

Fan Geoff Case Designs New Dallas Mavs Alternate Team Jersey – crowdspring.co/1pv5Mnw

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How Color Influences What People Buy Ross | October 1st, 2014

psychology-color

When you designed your logo, website, business cards, marketing materials and your products, you probably spent some time picking colors. But did you know that color has a big impact on what people buy?

Studies show that up to 90% of judgments about products can be based on color alone. Consumers place color above other factors such as sound, smell and texture. That’s because even if they’re not consciously thinking about it, people associate color with different things and feelings.

Although I generally believe that color preferences are determined by experience, marketers can reach broader, general conclusions when it comes to color. Specifically, when it comes to branding, the relationship between brands and color depends on whether the color fits what is being sold.

Here’s a very useful infographic from WebpageFX that covers some of the most important information you should know about color and how color influences what people buy.

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Fresh from the SPRING: StudioZ Audree | October 1st, 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 clothing project.

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

Nicely done, StudioZ, nicely done!

 

Hog-revised

These 44 Apps Will Make Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners More Productive Ross | September 30th, 2014

productivity-apps-entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs and small business owners must manage many different tasks in a short amount of time. The most successful entrepreneurs and business owners find ways to maximize their time and get more done.

Here’s a useful infographic highlighting the pros and cons of 44 tools that every entrepreneur and small business owner should review and consider using to help manage workloads and teams.

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Small Business and Startups: The Elements of Good Advice Mike | September 29th, 2014

Every so often a really smart person, someone whose opinion you respect and intellect you admire will give you a piece of advice or some feedback. What do you do? You listen to them closely and carefully and, typically, you follow that advice or accept that feedback. The general rule for entrepreneurs especially is that, when looking for advice, you take the advice. Right?

Wrong. Not all advice is good advice and even the best of advisors, the strongest of mentors, and the most able of teachers can be wrong. Dead wrong, even. When considering advice, whether it is given free for completely altruistic reasons, or whether it costs money, in the case of a contractor or consultant, it is critically important that skepticism be your co-pilot. This is not say that guidance about your business shouldn’t be listened to, solicited, or acted upon, but rather that a grain of salt should be applied to all of the advice you harvest. Question closely and gain a thorough understanding of the advice being given, think carefully about the implications of acting on the recommendation, and always consider of the advisor’s motivation and incentives.

I have written before about some specific advice commonly given that is often inadvisable, but this isn’t about specific examples of bad advice. Rather this particular advice I am offering(!) is about determining for yourself whether the counsel is good or bad. So be the good entrepreneur you are and approach this issue carefully and analytically. Here is a 5-component framework that can help you to determine whether the advice should be taken or refused; acted upon or ignored:

1. Consider the source. Sometimes a mentor is the professor at whose knees you sat, gazing adoringly upwards and hanging on their every single word. Sometimes a mentor is one of your investors or board members who is there because she had bought into your company literally or figuratively. Other times a mentor is your crazy old Uncle who taught you how to field a grounder in 3rd grade. The point is that the first thing you should consider is who exactly is giving you the advice and why are they doing so. Credibility is key, and an advisor (whether they’re wanted or not) who does not come with much is probably not one you should put a great deal of stock in.

2. Consider the context. The big picture right? Next you have to remove the advice from the vacuum in which it is given and apply some context. Did you seek out the advice or was it unsolicited? Does this particular counselor have anything to gain by giving the advice or if you act on it? Ask yourself is there may be a hidden agenda or ulterior motive. As you contemplate whether to act on the advice, be sure to consider the timing of the action and whether it is right for now or it is something to plan for the future. Context is fungible and every business and each situation are unique, so take time to reflect on your own  distinct situation.

3.Consider the timingWhen a great piece if advice comes your way, always give thought to the timing. Not just the timing of the action you may take, but also the timing of the recommendation itself. Are you 2 days away from launch of a new product and the advice is to change your package design? Is the advice about certain tax matters for the fiscal year that ends in a week? When the advice is given and when the action will be taken are critical elements in determining whether the advice is good TODAY.

4.Consider your own biasesJust because I am inclined to believe certain information and consider it to be credible, does not mean that it is. In other words, it is my own bias that makes me want to believe something. Being aware of this “confirmation” bias allows me to defend against its nefarious effect. There are many biases which effect us as individuals and as organizations and, in business, it is essential that we defend against these. The same holds true with advice: we may be pre-disposed to accept certain advice from certain people and we should always, always recognize and question these biases.

5. Consider the risk. Newton’s third law of motion teaches us that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Newton was one smart dude, no? In the context of this blog post it means that every piece of advice that you accept and implement will have an impact, hopefully positive, but sometimes negative. Just like with any feature you add, policy you adjust, or hire you make, the advice taken has the potential to do damage. So do yourself a favor and always consider carefully what the negative impact could be, what the probability of that outcome is, and whether the risk is advisable.

GIF: Newton’s Cradle, Wikipedia

Twitter Link Roundup #236 – Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More Ross | September 26th, 2014

Every day on the crowdSPRING Twitter account and on my own Twitter account, I post links to posts or videos I enjoyed reading or viewing. These posts and videos are about logo design, web design, startups, entrepreneurship, small business, leadership, social media, marketing, and more! Here are some of the links that I’ve liked and shared this past week!

The video above is a fun poke at Apple and the iPhone. It asks what the iPhone would be like if Apple added features that people have requested.

smallbusinessblog

Small Business and Startups: 6 Traits of Great Businesses – crowdspring.co/XMbzgT

The Exact Amount Of Time You Should Work Every Day | Fast Company – crowdspring.co/XhnFhL

How to get your employees into fitness | Fortune – crowdspring.co/1saKodQ

How to Effectively Communicate With Different Brain Types – crowdspring.co/1riIUvZ

startupsblog

The Exact Amount Of Time You Should Work Every Day | Fast Company – crowdspring.co/XhnFhL

How to get your employees into fitness | Fortune – crowdspring.co/1saKodQ

Some very interesting stats on VC success rates/returns | Quora crowdspring.co/1vlN6vc

The Metrics Required for Raising a Series A Round | EquityZen – crowdspring.co/ZEAcxq

A Long, Ugly Year of Depression That’s Finally Fading – crowdspring.co/1uOvesG

How to Effectively Communicate With Different Brain Types – crowdspring.co/1riIUvZ

socialmediablog

9 Twitter Chats on Marketing | Heroic Search – crowdspring.co/XuWOyO

Kevin Spacey’s Top 3 Tips For Better Storytelling (in marketing) – crowdspring.co/1mlpPJt

designblog

How To Build A World-Class Design Portfolio | Co.Design – crowdspring.co/1uDPSu7

Visitor Inertia (how design impacts site visitors) – crowdspring.co/1maIlEj

12 Tips for Designers Using Pinterest to Drive More Traffic and Exposure to Your Website | Vandelay Design – crowdspring.co/Y2VZxF

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Fresh from the SPRING: lamosca04 Audree | September 24th, 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 lamosca04. Check out more great work on lamosca04’s profile page.

Nicely done, lamosca04, nicely done!

FFS-Lamosca-Contact

Small Business and Startups: 6 Traits of Great Businesses Mike | September 22nd, 2014

A few weeks back I wrote about 5 traits of leadership and some of the characteristics that great leaders share. Today let’s move away form the individual(s) that lead businesses and discuss the businesses themselves, shall we? Leadership is all well and good (not to mention completely necessary), but there is more to a business than simply the person or people who lead it.

Organizations large and small can be strengthened and improved when certain business-wide traits are present or developed. Sometimes these traits are inherent to the business from day one, other times they are structural and need to be built over time, and sometimes the traits are intangible like values and culture which require time to mature and instill.

The reasonably strong businesses have one or several of these traits in common and while most managers do focus on one or two of these, it is rare that a venture  incorporates all six of these characteristics. Great small businesses and startups should keep these six traits in mind as they build, launch, and grow their companies and work hard to be:

1. Transparent. Mom taught us to always tell the truth, and that goes for those of us in business, too. And, no matter the audience, whether investors, customers, or team, truth can be measured by how transparent you are. Sharing performance and growth data, communicating clearly and openly, admitting to mistakes and failures – these are the hallmarks of an open, transparent organization.

2. Customer-centric. While I do not subscribe to the maxim that “the customer is always right” I do strongly believe that the customer is always first. Companies that keep the focus on their clientele build better products, offer better service, and experience stronger organic growth than those that, well, do not. This means that you need to be in constant contact with your customers: make it easy for them to contact you, survey them regularly, provide great content for them through your social media channels, and listen closely to what they have to say. Small businesses in particular rely on word of mouth and recommendations, so the better your relationship with them, the stronger your communications with them, the greater the WOM effect will be.

3. Disciplined. Focus equals discipline. This applies whether the focus is on product development, strategy, hiring, or positioning in the market. When we first conceived of crowdSPRING, Ross and I thought it would offer services across multiple verticals – it didn’t take us long realize what a mistake that would be and to slash our ambitions and focus only offering only creative services. The same idea can be extended to many aspects of your business operations, strategic planning, and your daily routine! Resist the temptation to overreact to external events or market changes and maintain your focus and discipline on your core strategy and tactics.

4. Flexible. In spite of what I just wrote in the previous paragraph, great businesses are flexible in everything they do. Managers should always be ready to respond to threats, make course corrections, and be constantly looking for new strategies and tactics that will provide the edge they need. Flexibility also extends to the workplace – work rules, vacation policies, individual’s schedules can all be approached with a mindset of flexibility and can lead to greater employee satisfaction, lower staff turnover, and higher productivity. Nice.

5. Strategic. Strategy does not mean complexity; sometimes strategy can be simple, forthright, even elegant, but no company can succeed, let alone be great without a strong emphasis on strategic planning and execution. A business plan is a great place to start and every business needs one. It doesn’t have to be 80 pages long, nor does it have to include 10 years of projected revenues and earnings; many great companies articulate their strategic approach in a one-page document or a 5-slide presentation. Same goes for execution: articulating strategy is all well and good, but a company that is not disciplined and focused can not hope to accomplish its goals.

6. Talented. Hiring the best and developing talent takes time and there is probably not a virtuous manager on this good earth who wouldn’t choose to hire the very best person they can find. But there is more to hiring than the old saw about “hire slow, fire fast.” Spotting talent is a skill, but this is the real world and sometimes a business needs to get a worker on the job and can’t afford the luxury of waiting for the perfect person with the perfect resume and the perfect skill-set to come through the door. Great talent can be bought, but great talent can also be developed in-house. The key is to build your team carefully over time, give them the training and resources they need to do their job, nurture and encourage them in their growth, and reward the behaviors and skills you desire. Hire smart, develop carefully, and incentivise wisely!

A Navy tug-of-war exercise, photo: Wikimedia Commons

Twitter Link Roundup #235 – Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More Ross | September 19th, 2014

Every day on the crowdSPRING Twitter account and on my own Twitter account, I post links to posts or videos I enjoyed reading or viewing. These posts and videos are about logo design, web design, startups, entrepreneurship, small business, leadership, social media, marketing, and more! Here are some of the links that I’ve liked and shared this past week!

The video above is from Megan MacKay. Megan takes a very creative approach in talking about a serious subject – spousal abuse (based on the recent events surrounding football player Ray Rice). Nicely done, Megan.

smallbusinessblog

Small Business Tips: 5 More Great Online Tools (Have I Mentioned These Before?) – crowdspring.co/1y6EixS

3 Surprising Interview Questions You Should Ask Every Potential Employee – crowdspring.co/1s051td

What’s the Best Time to Send Email Newsletters? | WordStream – crowdspring.co/1tOs1vg

Be Honest: Are You Really The Best Boss for Your Business by Howard Tullman – crowdspring.co/1u86ES3

The Exact Amount Of Time You Should Work Every Day | Fast Company – crowdspring.co/XhnDGI

How to Spot & Avoid Bad Web Hosting Companies | InstantShift –

8 Excellent Reasons to Redesign Your Website –

Why Introverts Make Great Leaders – crowdspring.co/1yhmaS5

startupsblog

The Myth of Venture Capital | Re/code by Jon Oringer – crowdspring.co/1tNFeV7

What’s the Best Time to Send Email Newsletters? | WordStream – crowdspring.co/1tOs1vg

Inside the Mind of a Technical Founder | OpenView Blog by Larry Kim – crowdspring.co/1u7Fz1b

The Paradoxical Traits of an Entrepreneur | by Jody Porowski – crowdspring.co/1piN6X6

The Paradox of Innovation And Why Innovation Labs Rarely Work – crowdspring.co/1t63K1Y

Why Introverts Make Great Leaders – crowdspring.co/1yhmaS5

Bad Notes on Venture Capital – crowdspring.co/1u3NJvn

Terrific insight in this reddit AMA by Peter Thiel – crowdspring.co/XpTXHi

8 Excellent Reasons to Redesign Your Website –

5 Signs You’ve Got the Wrong Co-Founder – crowdspring.co/1u17ovZ

Be Honest: Are You Really The Best Boss for Your Business by Howard Tullman – crowdspring.co/1u86ES3

12 Qualities To Look For In A Co-Founder – crowdspring.co/1m97mzy

How Everything We Tell Ourselves About How Busy We Are Is A Lie | Fast Company –

Are startup burn rates out of control? They seem to be | AVC – crowdspring.co/1rbM5FT

This Invaluable Lesson Will Keep You From Making Catastrophic Hiring Mistakes -crowdspring.co/XeV4JS

Hiring startup engineers? Talk about challenge, not pay | VentureBeat by Kieran Snyder – crowdspring.co/1wpHRKP

Busting the Lean-Startup Myth – crowdspring.co/1ozOXHA

Ways to think about watches – crowdspring.co/1wpIpQT

Apple Watch: Initial Thoughts and Observations – crowdspring.co/1maJA6k

1871 Ranks 9th In The World In Survey Of Business Incubators – crowdspring.co/Xe1N6Y

How to Spot & Avoid Bad Web Hosting Companies | InstantShift –

Activate or Die: 10+ Ways You Can Improve Your User Activation for SaaS – Part 2 | 500 Startups Blog – crowdspring.co/1rgMYgu

The Exact Amount Of Time You Should Work Every Day | Fast Company – crowdspring.co/XhnDGI

SaaS Startup Balance Sheets: How Much Cash & How Much Debt to Raise – crowdspring.co/XyDAJ3

The $3.2 Billion Man: Can Google’s Newest Star Outsmart Apple? – http://crowdspring.co/1uDEaB6

3 Surprising Interview Questions You Should Ask Every Potential Employee – crowdspring.co/1s051td

The 3 Myths Most Entrepreneurs Tell Themselves About Marketing | by Dharmesh Shah – crowdspring.co/1uyrQ4U

How To Think Like an Entrepreneur: the Inventure Cycle | by Steve Blank – crowdspring.co/1wkTR3b

socialmediablog

What’s the Best Time to Send Email Newsletters? | WordStream – crowdspring.co/1tOs1vg

How to Use Social Media to Drive Traffic for B2B Companies – crowdspring.co/1nPz9An

You Can’t Be Everyone’s Girlfriend – crowdspring.co/1tWpcIz

Voice of the Customer: The Secret of Great Landing Page Copy | WordStream – crowdspring.co/1rgMIOC

The 3 Myths Most Entrepreneurs Tell Themselves About Marketing | by Dharmesh Shah – crowdspring.co/1uyrQ4U

Activate or Die: 10+ Ways You Can Improve Your User Activation for SaaS – Part 2 | 500 Startups Blog – crowdspring.co/1rgMYgu

designblog

Designing Custom iOS App Interface Elements using Photoshop – crowdspring.co/X7LhFm

Classic. When not to use reflections: pic.twitter.com/KxQAcAI31r

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Fresh from the SPRING: LuW Audree | September 17th, 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 LuW. Check out more great work on LuW’s profile page.

Nicely done, LuW, nicely done!

FFS-LuW-Viperfish