Fresh from the SPRING: hookartist Audree | December 10th, 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 hookartist. Check out more great work on hookartist’s profile page.

Nicely done, hookartist, nicely done!

FFS-Hookartist

2015: Some Trends! Mike | December 8th, 2014

It is totally that time of year again. Decorations are everywhere, strains of holiday music can be heard in every Starbucks in the land, delivery truck drivers are straining under the weight of gift-laden cartons, and annual lists of trends are popping up on blogs everywhere.

So, thinks I, why shouldn’t I jump in on this trend of trends-lists? Everyone else is doing it, right? Maybe I have some insight that the others don’t? Maybe I can come up with a trend that everyone else missed? Maybe I can leverage my superior perception and share with you a trend or three that nobody else has? Well, maybe not, but perhaps a slightly different approach. After reading dozens of these posts over the past few days, I thought it might be interesting to look at 5 different sectors (digital marketing, social media, manufacturing, SEO, and energy) and find one or two really good ones for each. How’s that sound? Well, here ya go:

1. Digital marketing. Many are predicting the rapid rise of a new c-level position at lots of businesses: The Chief Digital Officer. Business News Daily, says that the CDO will be tasked with developing “effective strategies for mobile and digital platforms.” Well considering that many businesses are already deeply engaged in doing just that, it makes a great deal of sense that a senior executive should take the lead. As digital marketing becomes de rigeur  for companies large and small, the responsibility for the success or failure of strategy should be taken by someone whose salary reflects its relevance.

2. Social media. One of the most intriguing trends reported in the SM sphere comes via Entrepreneur.  The ubiquity of smart devices and the sensors embedded in these will allow the sharing of reams of personal data across all of your favorite platforms. Your refrigerator could tweet about how many calories you’ve consumed while your fitbit posts how many you’ve burned to your Facebook page. In the meantime, your Nest thermostat will be posting how many therms you’ve used heating your home through the 2015 polar vortex while your bathroom scale shares your weight with the world. Is there no decency left?

3. Manufacturing. Industry Week reports the rise of “next-shoring” as a strategic opportunity. A cousin to the concept of Just-in-Time manufacturing where suppliers locate close to producers  as a way to manage inventory efficiently, with next-shoring a manufacturer locates it’s facility close to where they will be sold. By reducing the time between factory, shipping facility, and store shelves producers bring their goods to market faster and cheaper. The winner? Well, it’s the consumer of course!

4. SEO. Inc published several, but the most compelling may be their contention that  long-tail search traffic may be where the best ROI is to be found. For many on-line advertisers, one and two-word key phrases are ridiculously expensive instruments for ranking success and that smart marketers will leverage the higher rates of conversion in long-tail search.

5. Energy. Jane Weissman posts that power grids will be recognized for what they are: an amalgam of wires, sure, but the best new grid designs recognize that must also take into account everything from system reliability to customer engagement to rate setting and energy efficiency. ,In other words, the trend is to recognize that modern grids are made up of so much more than simply towers and cables.

Illustration: Brian Solis and JESS3’s Conversation Prism, Wikimedia Commons

Twitter Link Roundup #246 – Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More Mike | December 5th, 2014

Thanksgiving is past and Christmas, Hannukah, Kwaanza and New Years  are fast upon us, so what better way to prepare than with a taste of the toally bizarre. Yes, we do admit a fondness for Hasselhoff aroound the crowdSPRING office, and above is a video that simply could not escape our notice.

But enough about The Hoff – 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 do 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!

smallbusinessblog

Telltale Signs That You Might Be a Bad Boss | 1stwebdesigner – crowdspring.co/15aYQbM

How I Learned To Code On The Job | Fast Company –crowdspring.co/1zJjEjL

Food Trucks 101: How to Start a Mobile Food Business – crowdspring.co/1qW98Xf

5 Ways To Help Employees You’re About To Lay Off | Fast Company – crowdspring.co/159KAQE

Holiday Hiring By the Numbers (Infographic) – crowdspring.co/1CzjykC

7 Simple Ways to Appreciate your Team (and Boost Performance) – crowdspring.co/1veUNVr

Working the Land and the Data – crowdspring.co/1CyYlao

startupsblog

Making Failure More Productive | Harvard Business Review – crowdspring.co/1vCXLVU

13 Things Startup Founders Aren’t Thankful For – crowdspring.co/1B6KrdY

The Very First Startup Founder You Need to Invest in is You -buff.ly/1FJGb42

Creativity+social impact | Forbes( with @devindthorpe and @hersheys Andy McCormick) – crowdspring.co/1CJTOls

4 Ways To Create More Entrepreneurial Teams | Fast Company – crowdspring.co/1zJjKba

A Refresher on Net Present Value – crowdspring.co/11LJvw6

How to Show Employees Love (Even if it Makes Them Feel Awkward) – crowdspring.co/1CzgUvd

Insight for entrepreneurs … What Salary Means – buff.ly/1zJBwuQ

Coca-Cola Plans to Help Startups Around the World – crowdspring.co/159Mot0

Why Eric Schmidt doesn’t know how Google works | VentureBeat by Tom Cheredar -buff.ly/1pIDhbC

When You Give Your Team a Goal, Make It a Range – crowdspring.co/1yINX9Z

Acquisitions — If You Do Sell, Try to Make Sure It’s At a Local Maximum | saastr – buff.ly/1wh5loQ

Vision Statement: How to Lie with Charts | HBR -buff.ly/1tGyByr

The Lindy Effect on startup potential | by @ASmartBearbuff.ly/1pHY5Qz

How to Launch a Company With Some Creative Marketing and a Few Llamas – crowdspring.co/1veUgCV

Team dynamics and the secret sauce of powerful product teams. – buff.ly/1yA2buH

14-Year-Old Entrepreneur on Meeting President Obama | Fox Small Business – crowdspring.co/1reRybq

TV-Streaming Firm Aereo Files for Bankruptcy | WSJ – crowdspring.co/1Fh64Ie

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Fresh from the SPRING: nellista Audree | December 3rd, 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 book cover project.

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

Nicely done, nellista, nicely done!

FFS-dollhouse-book-final

Twitter Link Roundup #245 – Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More Mike | November 28th, 2014

Shameless, I know, but couldn’t resist sharing with y’all a picture of our new puppy! Her name is Remy and, frankly, we’re smitten!

But, no time for puppy-love – 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!

 

smallbusinessblog

Why We Love Small Business Saturday | crowdSPRING Blog – crowdspring.co/15dPZpS

The Evolution of a Salesperson – crowdspring.co/1FhCh24

Going Solo Doesn’t Mean Going Without a 401(k) – crowdspring.co/11LHQGS

Branding 101: The Small-Business Guide to Building a Killer Brand Identity | OPEN Forum – crowdspring.co/1Fh4TbE

The Discipline of Business Experimentation – crowdspring.co/1veSF09

startupsblog

Wannabiz scores $2.2M to help you market your small business in just 5 minutes/day | VentureBeat –crowdspring.co/1xb27lI

How to Start Thinking Like a Data Scientist – crowdspring.co/1q90RyX

5 Critical Questions to Ask in Every Job Interview – crowdspring.co/1ztZ1Zp

20 Awesome Productivity Tricks Anyone Can Use – crowdspring.co/1xb2tJg

How to Come Up With A Million Ideas and Make Them Work – crowdspring.co/159KpVq

Setting the Record Straight on Job Interviews – crowdspring.co/1xb2w7J

How to Prepare for the Fourth Quarter Slaughter – crowdspring.co/1yKsu0j

10 Ways to Improve Internal Communication (Infographic) – crowdspring.co/1ESotL5

5 Ways To Help Employees You’re About To Lay Off | Fast Company – crowdspring.co/159KAQE

8 Things a Boss Should Never Hear – crowdspring.co/11LI14S

Bring Agile to the Whole Organization – crowdspring.co/1A49uxC

Rethink What You “Know” About High-Achieving Women – crowdspring.co/1Fh4KF8

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

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

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

Nicely done, cdavisdesigns, nicely done!

 

FFS-cdavisdesigns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

smallbusinessblog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

startupsblog

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

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

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

Why Entrepreneurs Love Change – crowdspring.co/1ESn5rU

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

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

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

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

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

What Leaders Really Do – crowdspring.co/1ESmSoH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. The Market and the Plan. To my thinking, this is the most important page; here you will outline the market you will compete, how you will compete, and why you believe your company can succeed; in other words a few paragraphs of analysis of your industry, and the key players, and the current trends. Finally outline the value proposition and how and where will you articulate your brand promise.
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