Twitter Link Roundup #269 – Impeccable Resources for Small Business, Startups, and Design! Mike | May 15th, 2015

As a small business owner I worry a great deal about productivity: how to achieve it, how to maximize it and how to maintain it. This video shows how easily your productivity, whether work or leisure related can quickly be undermined by those we love most. Who you ask? Our pets, of course! These furry, warm, sweet funny creatures will do their best to undermine our focus, our output and our very efficiency in life. Have a look and you’ll see just what I mean.

So are your pets well secured? Leashed? Crated? Alright, in that case you’re ready for our weekly Roundup! This week’s set of endearing links and mouthwatering articles that we shared with you over the past week on our  crowdSPRING Twitter account (as well as my own Twitter account) is keyboard perfection! We just love sharing articles about fonts, logo design, web design, startups, entrepreneurship, small business, leadership, social media, marketing, economics and other interesting stuff! Enjoy!

smallbusinessblog

Small Business and Startups: 8 Steps To a Successful Redesign | @crowdSPRING Blog – crowdspring.co/1KuCfWj

Employee Culture: The Seven Deadly Sins – Small Biz Daily crowdspring.co/1GwPzGj

West Hartford Business Owner Files Lawsuit Against Police Officers, Town crowdspring.co/1GG82mf

Strategies For Building A Culture of Innovation crowdspring.co/1PYYDuz

Why Your Best Employees May Be Thinking About Leaving crowdspring.co/1PYYHuc

Time Management Training Doesn’t Work crowdspring.co/1GG83qt

startupsblog

How Bitcoin Technology Could Make Home Buying Hassle-Free crowdspring.co/1ITbe0a

Hide Your Loneliness With This Selfie Arm crowdspring.co/1zH8nW3

Why Companies Need Novelists crowdspring.co/1F8Dnkg

Let This Dog That Earns $15K A Month Teach You How To Dress Like A Boss crowdspring.co/1PsS3tX

Google’s New Interface: Just Tell It What To Do crowdspring.co/1IT8RdO

Reduce Turnover in Customer Service With These 3 Tips crowdspring.co/1ze3zrd

6 Things That Can Help Female Founders Bridge The Gap Between Idea And Success crowdspring.co/1IoaLD1

Why Lawsuits Are On the Rise at Startups and What To Do About It – buff.ly/1EHtx2q

Ten things I learned studying ten of the world’s fastest growing startups – buff.ly/1G4vGdR

Airbnb Grows to a Million Rooms, and Hotel Rivals Are Quiet, for Now nytimes.com/2015/05/12/bus…

Are You Tolerating Mediocrity? 10 Ways to Tell crowdspring.co/1bV2FWd

Why there won’t be an Uber in every vertical – buff.ly/1KNtdUj

The economy is increasingly rigged against workers with less education crowdspring.co/1zq2ZXA

How to Ask for a Raise, According to a Hostage Negotiator – buff.ly/1E7hGtZ

Yahoo Introduces 18 Digital Series at NewFronts crowdspring.co/1JBkmYK

Why VCs Draw Big Salaries but Look for Founders Who Take Little crowdspring.co/1bf5Zuh

The Terms Behind the Unicorn Valuations – buff.ly/1AJxTVU

Features are not goals – buff.ly/1IkHsRo

How To Avoid Agility. blog.toolshed.com/2013/02/how-to…

The founders of Back to the Roots on how they overcame early product woes crowdspring.co/1JTnz2D

Why in the world do airlines overbook tickets? crowdspring.co/1IoaMqE

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from the SPRING: airborne Audree | May 13th, 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 airborne. Check out more great work on airborne’s profile page.

Nicely done, airborne, nicely done!

FFS-airborne-pizza

Small Business and Startups: 8 Steps To a Successful Redesign Mike | May 11th, 2015

There comes a time when a business looks hard at its website and lets out a groan of dismay. Your website is out-dated, out-moded, and out-competed and it doesn’t take a genius to see. Your own customers may have been telling you to get it together and, whether you are listening or not, it doesn’t diminish the truth that something must be done.

Technologies change, businesses change, customer tastes change, and (maybe most important of all) the Google algorithm changes. The dynamic nature of the internet and the marketplace make for a hot stew of constant alteration and modification and you do not want to find your business left behind as the world charges forward. What served you well when you first built your website may actually be hindering your growth today and strong managers know that they need to constantly adapt as the winds blow.

Don’t expect that the process with be completed overnight. Redesigning a website is a complex process, even for the simpler sites and you should expect that your redesign could become a months-long process. It is also a resource-draining undertaking; small companies with limited capacity should proceed with caution, but should not be daunted by the investment of time and manpower that is needed. Just be smart about it, plan carefully and methodically, and follow these steps to wring the most productivity from the process.

1. Review your current site.

What do you like and what don’t you like? Start the process with a long, hard, critical look at your site – the layout, features, functionality, content, and visual elements. Do you like the interface on some pages but not others? Is the written content strong and appropriate? Do you have the features your users ask for? Are there others that are under-utilized that you can dump? These are the questions to ask as you preform your review, page-by-page-by-page.

The idea is that you should hang on tight to the parts you like and those that work well, and be ready to jettison those that don’t. By hanging onto the good bits, you allow yourself and your designers to focus on the parts that don’t make the cut.

2. Look hard at the competition.

First and foremost review your competition’s sites for design ad content; have they built attractive, functional sites? Is your experience with navigating or using their sites positive? Learn what you can through a detailed tour of your competitors, and consider how you can leverage those learnings.

But wait, there’s more: in addition to the dive you take into rival websites, have a look at some of the data underlying their business. Use Alexa to analyze their website ranking and traffic; use Topsy to better understand their social media presence and strategy; Quantcast can help with analysis of traffic and demographics; and Hubspot’s Marketing Grader can be used to analyze their marketing funnel.

3. Know your audience.

You think you know them pretty well, right? No you don’t. Take the time to define your audience and your users; stay completely focused on the fact that you are creating a new version of your site for them. If you’re not sure about what they are looking for from your site and what their pain points are, ask them. Create a simple survey using an online tool (we use SurveyMonkey – thanks Dave Goldberg) and use the learnings to help guide your process. I you can understand your users, you can create a new version of your site that will delight and benefit them on every visit.

4. New functionality? Hmmm.

Accessibility is the name of the game and your site can definitely improve from its current state. Ask yourself if your site well organized and are users able to find what they seek? Do the features you offer correspond to those your users are looking for? At this point in your planning, you should be thinking as hard about what to remove from the site as you are about what you can add. Keep in mind that one of your goals should be to make the site visually engaging, but (more importantly) easier to navigate, simpler to update, and capable of generating leads and conversions. Make it user-friendly and they will use it!

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Twitter Link Roundup #268 – Pristine Resources for Small Business, Startups, and Design! Mike | May 8th, 2015

Remember the first time you got a taste of something so delicious, so amazing that you simply had to have more? Had to experience the joy again? And again? This wonderful, simple animation is a meditation on human’s need to get more of what they crave. Is this what addicts come up against? The little kiwi in the story is experiencing what it means to become dependent on that which gives us pleasure.

OK. Get your own habits in check and get ready to try something new: it’s time for our weekly Roundup! This week’s set of charming links and delectable articles that we shared with you over the past week on our  crowdSPRING Twitter account (as well as my own Twitter account) is keyboard perfection! We just love sharing articles about fonts, logo design, web design, startups, entrepreneurship, small business, leadership, social media, marketing, economics and other interesting stuff! Enjoy!

smallbusinessblog

8 things I learned from 8 different freelance gigs bit.ly/1Gwz4tZ

Small business Congress-watch: Some Pending Bills (and Why They Matter) | @crowdSPRING Blog – bit.ly/1DPsePt

Cash is King: The simple truth about your freelance business | Guerrilla Freelancing bit.ly/1JB7LF5

Use your tax refund to fortify your freelance business bit.ly/1zpxJb6

How An 80-Year-Old Park Avenue Institution Went Digital In Just 80 Days crowdspring.co/1bDSh4u

startupsblog

How Do You Sustain Your Brand’s Value? Follow These 6 Steps. entm.ag/1GFPDWH

How One Entrepreneur Raised A Half Billion Dollars crowdspring.co/1HRNSqX

Steve Blank On Why Most Startups Fail, And It’s Got Nothing To Do With Technology – buff.ly/1IhCLrF

6 Thoughts on Creating and Leading Engineering Teams – buff.ly/1zNp7eB

What is the ideal size and make-up of a team for a pre-revenue SaaS startup? – buff.ly/1EY9ktL

Why VCs Need Unicorns Just to Survive -buff.ly/1Re6VjN

The Angel VC: Key Revenue Metrics for SaaS companies – buff.ly/1INSu29

Subtle Mid-Stage Startup Pitfalls – buff.ly/1zBmHj1

Peter Thiel on what works at work – buff.ly/1dNq7pc

VC Math explained – buff.ly/1PlHU2f

Mixed Signals: Why People Misunderstand Each Other – buff.ly/1R9NZm4

Why a Billion Dollar Startup Just Sold for $15 Million (and What Founders Can Learn From It) buff.ly/1GMqXJO

Twitter’s multibillion-dollar mistake happened five years ago – buff.ly/1PlkslT

How to Make a Dent in “The Women Problem” in Chicago – buff.ly/1FKFUQy

Inside Google’s Insanely Popular Emotional-Intelligence Course bit.ly/1cRpmuK

The Illusion of Product/Market Fit for SaaS Companies – buff.ly/1dPLqGE

Valuation As A Scorecard – buff.ly/1F0CUyC

Tech Startup Viddler is a Hometown Success Story crowdspring.co/1PYXpiM

The Case for Pursuing Massive Growth crowdspring.co/1P7gNaZ

Online Courses Accelerate Any Business Model bit.ly/1InOB3Z

Gett’s Alternative To Uber-Style Surge Pricing bit.ly/1beNtlI

Our Obsession With Greatness Kills The Ability to Do Good Work bit.ly/1GFMA0S

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Fresh from the SPRING: cre8it Audree | May 6th, 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 cre8it. Check out more great work on cre8it’s profile page.

Nicely done, cre8it, nicely done!

FFS-cre8it

 

Small business Congress-watch: Some Pending Bills (and Why They Matter) Mike | May 4th, 2015

On occasion I write about legislation pending in our houses of Congress that has the potential to positively impact your business and mine. It is fascinating to read in the news about some of the ideas and priorities that our elected representatives are pursuing as we speak. Some of these efforts gain a great deal of attention via the media, but most of them are somewhat obscure (unless you’re willing to dig a little) and will never even make it onto our radars.

These often important bills can take years to become law, and many (read “most”) will never survive the legislative process. However, as small business owners, managers, and entrepreneurs, we can hope, we can dream, and most of all we can call our representatives in Washington to express our opinion and ask that they support our priorities. And… we can VOTE!

Here is a small batch of bills in the current session that will impact small businesses, startups, technology companies and entrepreneurs, and that I believe are worthy of support.

S. 824: Promoting U.S. Jobs Through Exports Act of 2015  (Introduced 3/19/2015)  The Export-Import Bank of the US is designed to support businesses small and large by helping foreign buyers of US-made goods finance their purchases and this bill seeks to reauthorize EX-IM through 2022, and to strengthen its core mission. EX-IM helps small businesses that manufacture goods for sale overseas to get their products into markets that might be otherwise closed to them, and allows these businesses to compete with their foreign competition on a level playing field. There is controversy surrounding this bill, as the EX-IM bank is under an ideological attack that could kill this 80-year old institution.

S. 177: Data Security and Breach Notification Act of 2015 (Introduced 1/13/2015) Although this bill is intended primarily to protect consumers, small businesses and startups will benefit as well. We are all vulnerable to data breaches whenever we use a credit card or bank account. Let’s face it – our personal data as well as our business data is out there in databases scattered across the globe, and like it or not, bad guys are working hard to break in and steal whatever they can get. Small businesses are susceptible because their resources are limited and their options few when it comes to protecting the integrity of their data and business information. This bill directs Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to implement regulations to require corporations and other entities that gather data which contains personal information to enact policies to safeguard that information. In addition, the bill will also require that these businesses establishes procedures to to provide notice if (when!) there is a breach.

H.R. 254: Support Our Startups Act of 2015 (Introduced 1/9/2015) Here is a great piece of legislation, sponsored by (friend of crowdSPRING!) Representative Mike Honda. The bill is designed to modify the tax code to increase the deduction for start-up expenses for businesses just like yours and mine. In the context of this legislation, startup expenses are defined as “expenses for investigating the creation or acquisition of an active trade or business.” In other words, the money we all spend as we are just starting the process of determining whether our great business idea has the potential to be an actual business. Millions of dollars are spent every year by entrepreneurs in the early stages of creating their businesses and this money will never be reimbursed to them, nor can they deduct these expenses on their tax returns. Rep. Honda’s bill would allow us to expense those dollars and get them back once our new business is profitable. Sweet.

And, as a special bonus piece of legislation, what could be more important to your startup and your team than this? H.R. 232: Small BREW Act (Introduced 1/8/2015) This bill (AKA the “Small Brewer Reinvestment and Expanding Workforce Act“) updates the IRS tax code to reduce taxes on beer made by small producers who are under a limit of 6,000,000 barrels per year. This legislation will serve to support the growing main street craft and local beer industries that have become regionally important businesses and that support thousands of jobs in cities across the country. Not to mention, delicious!

Photo, Wikipedia:United States Senate chamber, from a glass negative, circa 1873

Twitter Link Roundup #267 – Flawless Resources for Small Business, Startups, and Design! Mike | May 1st, 2015

Where does creativity come from? Apparently it flows straight from the fingers, and this amazing guy shows us how it is an unstoppable force! This man has developed a technique that lets his creativity flow in way that is thoroughly unique and incredibly special. As I type this, I can’t help but think of what this artist would be doing if he were typing this particular blog post!

OK. Close your mouth and take a breath, because it’s time for our weekly Roundup! This week’s set of beauteous links and delicious articles that we shared with you over the past week on our  crowdSPRING Twitter account (as well as my own Twitter account) is keyboard perfection! We just love sharing articles about fonts, logo design, web design, startups, entrepreneurship, small business, leadership, social media, marketing, economics and other interesting stuff! Enjoy!

smallbusinessblog

How An 80-Year-Old Park Avenue Institution Went Digital In Just 80 Days bit.ly/1bDSip4

Pixel And Dimed: On (Not) Getting By In The Gig Economy bit.ly/1D7Ftuv

What to Do If a Feud Threatens Your Family Business bit.ly/1QaKvzs

World’s Coolest Jobs: How Fenway Park’s Organist Strikes A Chord With Fans bit.ly/1G0QTAT

Small Business and Startup Tips: Analyzing Your Search Data | @crowdSPRING Blog – bit.ly/1EFd59a

startupsblog

The “Greenest Schools On Earth” Do More Than Put Solar Panels On The Roof bit.ly/1blB5Bl

Why Revenue Isn’t the Most Important Financial Metric for Startups – buff.ly/1DhyQo4

When the Cyberbully Is You nytimes.com/2015/04/30/sty…

How Philosophy Makes You a Better Leader -buff.ly/1HVDrmI

A Technical Founder’s Notes on Sales Team Management – buff.ly/1aV8cL4

30 Startup Lessons – buff.ly/1DIXcZy

The Most Important Change You Can Make to Prepare for 2020 bit.ly/1QaLoYP

Google accused of abusing its search engine dominance bit.ly/1yLzKhK

Fooled by Experience bit.ly/1QaKs6B

Why You Should Kill Your Competitor in SaaS | SaaStr – buff.ly/1Fq5lqe

The Beatles Ignored Their (Surprisingly Harsh) Early Critics, and You Should Too bit.ly/1cRotSS

Is Slack Really Worth $2.8 Billion? A Conversation With Stewart Butterfield nyti.ms/1JZMxhm

Read the rest of this post »

Fresh from the SPRING: ShahabasPoozhithara Audree | April 29th, 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 ShahabasPoozhithara. Check out more great work on ShahabasPoozhitharaFFS-ShahabasPoozhithara’s profile page.

Nicely done, ShahabasPoozhithara, nicely done!

Small Business and Startup Tips: Analyzing Your Search Data Mike | April 27th, 2015

SEO is simple. NOT! Virtually every business relies to a certain extent on where they will appear in an online search for their service, product, or company name. Online businesses, in particular spend massive resources to ensure that they rank highly on Google, Bing, etc. for any relevant search and most spend a significant percentage of their marketing budget to define the best keywords, optimize their websites, and execute on their strategies.

To most managers (and I absolutely include myself in this group) SEO is an opaque mess. The wizards who make a living at this work are enigmatic masters of an obscure and mysterious art. They speak a language that most of us find to be bafflegab and trying to understand them can make one’s head explode.

This doesn’t diminish the importance of understanding the basics of SEO, nor does it excuse you from doing your homework and learning the basics. There are plenty of great resources out there on the interwebs, and it is critical that managers take the time to develop at least a rudimentary understanding of this puzzling and inscrutable art. A great place to start is with the wonderful primer available via Moz, the online resource for everything SEO.

Now just because SEO strategy may be over your head, this doesn’t mean that you can’t effectively track your rankings and keywords to gain a clearer understanding of where you stand in relation to, well, everyone else in the world. Little too broad for you? OK fine, then start by understanding where you rank for the keywords most important to your business. For instance, if you are a catering company, you’ll want to track words like catering, wedding planning, events, bar mitzvah, party, etc, etc to see if your company shows up when someone searches for terms like those. Get your list together now, because you’re going to use it as you follow these steps to track your search results!

1. Fetch!

You’re going to download your data now, but first you’ll need to set up an account on Google’s Webmaster Tools which should take you all of 5 minutes (here’s a great how-it-works video). Once you’ve got your site set up, you’ll have a look to better understand how search results lead to your website’s traffic. How’s that, you say? In the left hand menu, click on “Search Traffic” and then “Search Queries.” This will display a graph that represents the number of impressions your company received (i.e. the number of users who viewed a page of search results in which your company included), as well as the number of people who clicked through to your website. Below the graph is a table that lists the actual search terms people typed in as well as columns for number of impressions for each query, as well as clicks, click through rate (CTR) and your average position in the results (1-10 equals page one of the results, 11-20 is page 2, etc). You can sort these results by clicking on the column headers and you can also mouse over the graph to check your totals day by day.

Now it’s time to start your download, week-by-week. First you’ll want to see all of the search terms which results in your company being listed, even the most arcane (think longtail); the default for this page is the top 25 search terms, but you can use the pulldown above the table on the right to display 500 rows of data. In addition the prior 30 days of data is automatically displayed, but for the purpose of this exercise, you’ll want to click on the date buttons upper right to look at one week at a time.  Set the date for a one-week range as far back as the site will allow (note: Webmaster tools only provides the past 90 days of results).

When you have a single week of data displayed, click the “Download this table” buttons on the upper left to create a CSV file which we will use shortly. Change the date range to the next week and repeat until you have 12 or 13 downloaded CSV files. You’ll want to rename these files in a manner which makes sense to you do you can keep them organized; I like to use dates or other specific identifiers when naming multiple files of data. Now the fun can commence!

2. Week over week over week.

Right now, you’re probably asking yourself,  “Why do I have a dozen data files and what am I supposed to do with them?” Well let me tell you: you’re going to copy them into a new Excel spreadsheet and get to work. That’s right – fire up Excel, and get a brand new clean workbook in front of you. This workbook needs to have one tab for each file you’ve downloaded – if you have 12 data files, create one tab for each; I like to rename the tabs so they match the CSV files I will be copying into each one. Once you have your weekly tabs created, simply open those CSV files in excel and copy/paste the data from each into the corresponding tab. Don’t forget to save your work!

3. Pick up the tabs.

Each of your tabs will look exactly the same as the others, with the same column headers and the same number of rows (501, including the header). For you to manipulate the data, however, you’ll need to add a few more columns to the right of the data in each tab: Date, Year, Month, and Week. For the date, which will be in Column F of your worksheets, simply use the first date of the week that this particular data-set represents; for instance, if it is for the week of March 1st – March 8th, simply type in 3/1/15 and copy it down the entire column. In Row 2 of the “Year,” “Month,” and “Week”  columns type in these formulas: =year(F2), =month(F2), and =weeknum(F2). Copy those three formulas down their entire columns to fully populate your data-set. (Tip: I like to highlight the added columns in yellow, so I can see at a glance which are the original columns of data and which I have added.)

4. Aggregate.

Now create yet another new tab, this one labeled “Aggregated” and copy the full data-set from each individual tab (including your yellow columns) into this tab; when you finish this little chore you should have a master data-set that has thousands of rows of numbers and includes your date, year, month, and week columns. This becomes your “master” set and contains the full 90 days worth of data and will allow you now to track performance week-over-week, which is something that Webmaster Tools does not provide for.

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Twitter Link Roundup #266 – Irreproachable Resources for Small Business, Startups, and Design! Mike | April 24th, 2015

Why are passwords so important? If anyone should be able to answer this question it is Edward Snowden, he of NSA whistle-blower fame. John Oliver asks this simple question as part of an important and wide-ranging interview. Oh yea, not to mention it’s hysterical!

When you finish changing up your own passwords, turn your attention right back here! Why? Because it’s time for our weekly Roundup! This week’s set of great links and articles that we shared with you over the past week on our  crowdSPRING Twitter account (as well as my own Twitter account) is perfectly secure! 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!

smallbusinessblog

What Running A Company And Racing Cars Have In Common bit.ly/1F7WDN8

5 Ways to Boost Your Home Office Productivity bit.ly/1blqKp3

The Last Days Of Streit’s, New York’s Jewish Willy Wonka Factory bit.ly/1G0HYQ8

Signs You Shouldn’t Work With a Customer noobpreneur.com/2015/03/25/12-…

startupsblog

5 Things Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Artists | @crowdSPRING Blog – bit.ly/1DYSQ3Q

The Startup Revolution Is About To Surge Again bit.ly/1yLp2YC

3 Things That Successful Entrepreneurs Know About Data entrepreneur.com/article/244771

The Coming Workforce Crisis linkedin.com/pulse/coming-w…

Study: Introverts Are More Adaptable at Work inc.com/laura-montini/…

Funding Strategies to Start a Business When You’re Low on Money entrepreneur.com/article/242901

Pay Attention: You Need to Understand These 5 Women’s Issues inc.com/gene-marks/5-i…

Why the Bubble Question Doesn’t Matter -buff.ly/1aT4uBz

How A Founder Can Think Like An Investor At The First Outside Round Of Funding – buff.ly/1HaGxnH

Emotional Intelligence Doesn’t Translate Across Borders | HBR – buff.ly/1Gjmrr9

Anger Management: Why the Genius.com Founders Turned to Couples Therapy nytimes.com/2015/04/19/fas…

How Philosophy Makes You a Better Leader -buff.ly/1HVDrmI

DOA: Can Your Business Survive These Top 5 Security Threats? huffingtonpost.com/john-rampton/d…

Will the New Concierge Economy Mean the End of the Errand? nymag.com/daily/intellig…

Having constraints helps you to succeed … Constrained – buff.ly/1JRykD9

Why Revenue Isn’t the Most Important Financial Metric for Startups buff.ly/1DhyQo4

A Technical Founder’s Notes on Sales Team Management – buff.ly/1aV8cL4

Read the rest of this post »

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