Small Business and Startups: Net Neutrality? Done! (For Now) Mike | March 2nd, 2015

Wow. What a difference two weeks makes! This past Thursday, the F.C.C. voted to place Internet Service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act, which means it will be governed as a public utility in the same way that telephone service is currently regulated. Mobile data services for phones and tablets will also be protected under the new regulations.

The new rules were designed to guarantee that no content would be blocked and to assure that the Internet can not be divided into “pay-to-play” fast lanes for the richest of companies and slow lanes for companies and organizations unable to afford the fees.

As happens every time new regulations, often designed to protect consumers and small companies, are proposed, the incumbents in the targeted industry cry foul, run to the courts, invest huge amounts to fight the proposals, and whine about how consumers will be harmed and new investment will be deterred. The same arguments have been made countless times; a great illustration being when mobile phone services were regulated. The mobile carriers all made the exact same arguments, out out the same boilerplate press releases, hired the same Washington lobbyists yet none of their Chicken Little predictions came to pass. Actually quite the opposite happened, with billions of dollars invested in new technologies, massive innovation unleashed, powerful networks built and upgraded, and all at a price point that encouraged consumers to jump on the mobile bandwagon once they were protected from the rapacious instincts of the mobile service providers.

Right now, you’re probably asking yourself, “How did this happen? Am I dreaming? Did small businesses actually just prevail against the giant cable and telecommunications companies?” Nope, you’re not dreaming – and it happened for a couple of reasons: First last November, President Obama woke up and realized the size of the threat that came with a lack of regulation of Internet services. Second (and more importantly), a huge swell of grass-roots support was mobilized in support of the concept of Net Neutrality, largely inspired by by Fight for the Future, an advocacy group made up primarily of small tech companies. This group organized a massive phone and email campaign that, in the space of a few months, generated over 1 million comments and more than 55,000 calls made to regulators at the F.C.C.

Does this mean the end of the affair? Probably not for a while. The cable and telecommunications companies have already announced that they will turn to the courts, claiming that the F.C.C. has overstepped it’s mandate with the newly approved regulations. We’ll continue to track that process as it unwinds, but the common wisdom is that the courts will side with the F.C.C. as they have in the past. Here’s to a victory for the little guy and for the idea that our government has a role in placing a check on the greedier instincts of big business.

Graphic: The official seal of the F.C.C.

Twitter Link Roundup #258 – Whole Buncha Resources for Small Business, Startups, and Design! Mike | February 27th, 2015

In honor of last week’s Best-Picture-Oscar-winning  film, Birdman, I thought you might enjoy a short video of the original Bird. Man.

Alright, enough of our fine feathered friends, because it is now officially time for our weekly Roundup! Here are a slew of 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 so like to talk about fonts, logo design, web design, startups, entrepreneurship, small business, leadership, social media, marketing, economics and other interesting stuff! Enjoy!


Is Your Office Design Is Bumming Everyone Out? | Fast Company | Business + Innovation

Lattes With A Side Of Cuddles: Lessons From “America’s First Dog Cafe” | Fast Company | Business + Innovation


5 Things Entrepreneurs Can Learn From the Supreme Court | crowdSPRING Blog –

Negative Ways of Thinking You Need to Stop Today

Make Enterprise Software People Actually Love – HBR

How I’m Treated Differently Than My Male Cofounder | Fast Company | Business + Innovation

5 Steps to the Perfect Apology

The Entrepreneur Who Is Beating Amazon At Same-Day Delivery | Fast Company | Business + Innovation

Startup success factors: Short names and an office in Silicon Valley, study finds.

Great Companies Are Making All Meetings Optional

Stop Being Busy and Start Being Productive

A Platform for Success: Behind the Rise of Global Crowdfunding Company Kickstarter

The Secret Behind Making Your Day Job Work for Your Startup

Toxic Words to Avoid in the Workplace

You Are Now Cleared for Learning

The Tyranny of the Forced Smile

5 Ideas (And One Bonus Idea!) For Your Drone Startup

How to Improve Conversion Rate

Understanding Trust, In China and the West – HBR

10 Ways To Stay Calm In The Face Of Daily Stress | Fast Company | Business + Innovation

How A Business Can Survive A Breakup | Fast Company | Business + Innovation

Want More Sleep (And Better Productivity)? Work From Home.

Read the rest of this post »

Fresh from the SPRING: uniquemind Audree | February 25th, 2015

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 uniquemind. Check out more great work on uniquemind’s profile page.

Nicely done, uniquemind, nicely done!



5 Things Entrepreneurs Can Learn From the Supreme Court Mike | February 23rd, 2015

Spring is almost here and after this loooong and coooold one we are actively looking for the signs. Soon the green shoots will appear, the early migrating birds will be sighted, the street corners will reappear from under the piles of drab gray snow and ice and the Supreme Court will begin to issue decisions in cases great and small.

The nine justices and their staffs take on a very ambitious workload – making hundreds of decisions every year on matters that will affect the lives of each of us. This years docket contains both the minor (such as the right of a U.S. citizen to sue a consular officer over denial of a visa to a spouse) as well as some history making nail-biters that will determine the future of the Affordable Care Act as well as the legality of same-sex marriage.

What can entrepreneurs learn from these black-robed masters? At first blush, because what they do day-to-day appears to be so wildly different from what we do every day, it would seem very little. It is important to remember that these are managers of a branch of government and, just like us, they are tasked with managing an organization that is complex in its operation, specific in its mission, and with a budget of over $7 billion dollars. Well, just like us, except for that last bit about the budget, right? Here are five of the things the Supremes do so well that we can stand to look to for guidance in our own businesses.

1. Develop rituals. There is a tradition and a ceremonial aspect to the workings of the court that can be applied directly to small business. The best managers build their own rituals ceremonies and rites into the day-to-day operations of their companies; everything from the regular weekly staff meeting and how it is run, to the daily greetings when the team arrives for work. People thrive on and appreciate predictability and ritual is the strongest form it takes.

2. Question closely. The nine Justices of the Supreme Court sit on high, clad in their intimidating black and ask their questions of the humble petitioners before them. At the Supreme Court a presenting lawyer has to be poised to handle sometimes aggressive questioning from any of the nine justices. Like the justices, the best managers also take the time to ask penetrating questions and perform the important analysis that leads to wise decisions. It’s not that every single decision a manager (let alone the Court) makes will be the wisest or even the right one, but rather the process for arriving at the decision needs to be thoughtful and reflective of the best information available.

Read the rest of this post »

Twitter Link Roundup #257 – Fresh Resources for Small Business, Startups, and Design! Mike | February 20th, 2015

I’ve written before about things that entrepreneurs can learn from children but, before I saw this video, I had no idea what dancers can learn from babies. This little one is brimming with talent and creativity and I hope that scouts from the Bolshoi, The Joffrey Ballet and, the New York City ballet are watching!

Now that you’re inspired to try out some new moves.. it’s time now for our weekly Roundup! Here are a slew of fresh links and articles we shared with you over the past week on our  crowdSPRING Twitter account (as well as my own Twitter account). We so like to talk about fonts, logo design, web design, startups, entrepreneurship, small business, leadership, social media, marketing, economics and other fresh stuff! Enjoy!


How to find, hire, and work with a great accountant – Graphic Design Blender

How Prepared Are You for Tax Time? | Quiz | Staples | Business Hub

Last-Minute Bookkeeping Tips Before You See the Tax Man

Stop Working So Hard and Still Get More Clients – Amy Porterfield

Hiring & Growth in Small Business | Wasp Barcode – YouTube


Most Innovative Companies 2015 | Fast Company | Business + Innovation

Global Trends That Will Transform Your Business

A Dozen Things I’ve Learned from Keith Rabois about Venture Capital and Business | by @trengriffin –

Things I’ve Learned from Sheryl Sandberg about Management, Careers & Business | by @trengriffin

How to Succeed as an Entrepreneur, Taylor Swift Style

A visual on the difference between a boss & a leader. Don’t EVER hire bosses.

How to Choose a Great Name for Your New Business

Don’t Be Afraid to Stand Apart From the Herd

Best Industries for Starting a Business Right Now

3 Reasons Every Entrepreneur Needs to Take Vacation Time

7 Qualities of Remarkable Leaders

The Power of No

Send a Better Message With Body Language

Small Business and Startups: Net Neutrality, Part Deux | crowdSPRING Blog –

What You Need to Launch a Startup During the Zombie Apocalypse, or Any Time

How Bad Local Data Leads to Bad Calls — And Frustrated Customers | Street Fight

How to Protect Your Time Without Alienating Your Network – HBR

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Fresh from the SPRING: 5IVE_STAR_CREATIVE Audree | February 18th, 2015

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 5IVE_STAR_CREATIVE. Check out more great work on 5IVE_STAR_CREATIVE’s profile page.

Nicely done, 5IVE_STAR_CREATIVE, nicely done!


Small Business and Startups: Net Neutrality, Part Deux Mike | February 16th, 2015

Just about 4 years ago, I wrote on these pages about the struggle to protect the internets and some proposed legislation that was threatening the many small businesses and startups who depend on cyberspace to do business, feed their families, and assure that their employees will continue to be paid.

Four years later, much to the relief of small internet businesses the world over, great progress has been made and the issue has been settled. Wait, what? I meant to say, that five years later nothing has changed, the status quo remains, no long-term protections have been put in place, our politicians continue to lock the net-neutrality-grid, huge corporations continue to fight for their own interests and against those of the average, everyday consumer of digital goodness. In other words, things are humming along as usual in Washington DC!

But. A small glimmer of hope has appeared, because this month Tom Wheeler, the chair of the Federal Communications Commission, which is the agency charged with regulating all things having to do with interstate communications, detailed a proposed a new set of rules that would allow the FCC to regulate the Internet just as they do other public utilities, such as television, radio, telephone companies.

Those opposed to Chairman Wheeler’s new proposal make the same arguments that they have made decade after decade every time industry regulation has been strengthened to the benefit of consumers and users of the regulated services: “Companies will have less incentive  make investments in technology and innovation.” “Consumers will pay higher prices because of regulatory requirements.” “Washington will micromanage the entire industry.” Interestingly, history has proven these arguments to be wrong time and again. A recent example of these histrionics came over proposed regulation of the mobile phone industry; the same arguments were trotted out, the same “sky will fall” predictions made, yet the consumer protections embodied in those regulations did not lead to anything other than massive growth in the wireless communications market. For instance, between 1995 and 2008 the market for cellular subscribers grew from 25 million to over 298. million. The industry has remained wildly profitable for the carriers, and as anyone who owned one of the early ’90s “brick” phones can attest, Title II regulation of mobile phone services has not slowed down either investment or innovation nor has it led to less choice or higher costs for consumers.

Like cell phones, the Internet has become an essential public service, and some degree of regulation is necessary to protect consumers. The public’s safety and welfare are dependent on easy access, a level playing field is required to encourage fair competition, and Chairman Wheeler’s proposed rules are both common-sense and historically appropriate.

Illustration, Flickr: Joeri Poesen

Twitter Link Roundup #256 – Great Freakin Resources for Small Business, Startups, and Design! Mike | February 13th, 2015

Besides wanting to know what exactly is in her mom’s mouth, we also want to know where this little cutie Scarlett learned everything there is to know about identifying typefaces. This is a skill every designer can use, so I recommend watching this adorable  girl strut her stuff!

So… it’s time now for “the chickening,” aka our weekly Roundup! Here are a whole bunch of 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 so like to talk about fonts, logo design, web design, startups, entrepreneurship, small business, leadership, social media, marketing, economics and other interesting stuff! Enjoy!


A Standing/Sitting Desk You Can Afford | Co.Design | business + design

Small Business and Startups: What Type of Boss Are You? | crowdSPRING Blog –

How to Turn a Prospect into a Paying Customer | Men with Pens

6 Common Reasons Customers Come to Your Store

Small Business Ideas and Resources for Entrepreneurs

Incredibly Useful Business Gadgets for 2015


Never Rent An Ugly Tux Again: These Startups Want To Disrupt Men’s Wearhouse | Fast Company | Business + Innovation

Satya Nadella makes a big impression in just a year –

Why Managing For Progress is So Important –

12 remote workers reveal how to be happy, effective and valuable | WP Curve –

“The true purpose of sales is to create new value for customers.” –

Accomplish More by Committing to Less – HBR

13 Critical Traits of Successful Inventors

Things They Don’t Tell You When You Leave the Big Corporate World for Your Own Business –

Why I Am Not a Maker – The Atlantic

Google and Lending Club Team Up, Online Lenders Gain Steam

7 Ways Highly Successful People Achieve More | Jeff Haden | LinkedIn

Two big announcements from 37signals (now just Basecamp).

Emma Watson Tells Young Fan To ‘Be An Engineer’ Even Though Her Dad Doesn’t Want Her To –

5 Leadership Skills You Must Have to Succeed

Why You Should Doodle More | Co.Design | business + design

UI, UX: Who Does What? A Designer’s Guide To The Tech Industry | Co.Design | business + design –

How Do You Rank the World’s Best CEOs? – HBR

Europe’s Young Entrepreneurs

How to Use Anger to Your Advantage – Further

Two big announcements from 37signals (now just Basecamp).

Read the rest of this post »

Fresh from the SPRING: SUJITHFAB Audree | February 11th, 2015

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 for testicular cancer awareness.

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

Nicely done, SUJITHFAB, nicely done!



Small Business and Startups: What Type of Boss Are You? Mike | February 9th, 2015

I like to think of myself as a benevolent boss – guiding the team with a wise and gentle hand. Except on those occasions when I am not. Day-to-day I don’t think a great deal about the bossing-style I practice, but when I do take time to reflect, I realize that I have some very serious shortcomings and could stand to learn from the example set for me over the years by some of my own bosses.

If you’ve had a few jobs in your life and been around the sun a few times, chances are good that you had at least one boss who, whether you loved her or hated her (or both), taught you something about managing people.

The key to learning from your boss is understanding what type of manager you have. A great boss-mentor can come in many different flavors, but, for me it boils down to five archetypes: the Visionary, the Bureaucrat, the Cruise Director, the Autocrat, and the Valiant. There is, of course, plenty of overlap and some bosses don’t fit neatly into one of these boxes. In fact the very best bosses have aspects of several of these and are a complex and healthy mix. Chances are you should be able to recognize facets if each of these in boss you are currently answering to, or the boss you want to be.

  • Visionary. This type of boss is one who looks to the horizon and beyond. They ask of themselves and their team a focus on where the company is heading and how will it get there. Visionary bosses work to inspire people to stretch themselves and their view of what might be possible for the company and they can quickly lose patience with anyone who is not focused on turning the vision into reality. Many of the greatest and most famous bosses have been visionaries: think Steve Jobs, Henry Ford, even Alexander Graham Bell and you start to get the idea.
  • Bureaucrat. This type of boss can be both frustrating and effective. At larger organizationsna bureaucrat can be mightily effective at making certain their unit is not lost in the org chart. But at small businesses and startups someone who is a mere functionary can slow down the process with needless paperwork, endless meetings, and a frustrating focus on internal process instead of internal progress. They tend to be pretty straightforward though, and predictable which makes dealing with them easier. The bureaucratic boss often has a tendency to micromanage and, when it comes to goals and strategy, can lose focus easily.
  • Cruise Director. Fun, fun, fun. Bosses who fall into this particular archetype at wonderful at team building, empowerment, and consensus, but are notoriously bad at decision making. Teams that work under this boss tend to be happy and fairly productive, but can easily lose track of big picture and tend to revert to doing average work on average days in an average way.
  • Autocrat. In command? You betcha. In control? Always. To this type of boss management is always an exercise of power and how it is employed. This boss is decisive, sometimes to the point of making hurried or even bad decisions and has a level of conviction in the correctness of their actions that can be off-putting to the people under them. Autocrats are ever in danger of alienating their team or isolating themselves.
  • Valiant. This boss is a hero. Competent, capable, and smart they can be a pleasure to work for. They tend to put the team first and are inclined to share the credit and the glory when things are going well. And when things go less than well, the valiant boss will take the blame into themselves and work to protect the team. In turn the people who work for these bosses tend to be loyal and incredibly hard-working, willing to go the extra distance to make the boss proud.

Illustration, Wikimedia Commons: The Prophet Ezekiel, from Doré’s English Bible, 1866

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