Fresh from the SPRING: p_krystev Audree | September 23rd, 2015
Twitter Link Roundup #287 – Cool Stuff Small Business, Startups, and Designers! Mike | September 18th, 2015
Glenn Keane has been a Disney animator for almost 40 years and no one can accuse him of lacking an experimental gene. He has consistently embraced new tools and new technology, and to wonderful effect. Here is Mr Keane, drawing – in the traditional sense as well as the distinctly non-traditional. Enjoy watching him use virtual reality tools to stretch what it means to draw.
Now that your creative juices are flowing, perhaps you’d like to read a bit about what others are doing? Good! Because it’s time for the set of links and articles that we shared with you over the past week on our crowdSPRING Twitter account (as well as my own Twitter account)! We do love sharing articles about fonts, logo design, web design, startups, entrepreneurship, small business, leadership, social media, marketing, economics and other interesting stuff! Enjoy!
How to Turn Bad News into Happy Customers crowdspring.co/1IWkA7c
How to Map Out the Business That You Want to Build crowdspring.co/1g7wvIh
8 Businesses You Can Start From Your Couch crowdspring.co/1i8Ew0X
The Episode That Explains the Future of Rough Draft crowdspring.co/1M8KjRn
How Listening More Than Promoting Buys You More Time crowdspring.co/1g7wxQq
A Better Way to Find Big Ideas (That Make You Stand Out) crowdspring.co/1JRCUSM
The Interchange-Plus Pricing Model and Why It’s Your Best Friend – Ecommerce Platforms crowdspring.co/1JPYrcq
What every political candidate needs to know about small business voters crowdspring.co/1UPpIRf
The 7 Attributes of the Most Effective Sales Leaders crowdspring.co/1EVVc6K
Facial Signals That Boost Your Success With Others crowdspring.co/1F6WUSt
How Income Inequality is Affecting America’s Next Generation of Business Leaders crowdspring.co/1LrK0eA
Reasons Smart Startups Establish ‘Coopetition’ crowdspring.co/1O8T4ev
The CEO of Bolthouse Farms on Making Carrots Cool crowdspring.co/1QxO1CG
What You Learn From 5 Days With Richard Branson, Daymond John, and Tim Ferriss crowdspring.co/1UN9bCS
Fresh from the SPRING: jendralpiggy Audree | September 16th, 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 jendralpiggy. Check out more great work on jendralpiggy’s profile page.
Nicely done, jendralpiggy, nicely done!
5 Things Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Diplomats Mike | September 14th, 2015
War is crazy expensive. Just ask any monarch, president, prime minister or, well, diplomat. So any alternative to war will not only save money but save lives and property. Historically, the chief alternative to waging a war has been to conduct diplomacy. That’s right: talk is cheap. Not to mention that it is effective, practical, and productive.
No matter on which side of this month’s debate over the Iran nuclear agreement you happen to fall on, we all agree that talking beats destroying and even the most ardent foes of President Obama’s deal with the Iranian government will surely agree that the attempt at an agreement is preferable to a military option. Building as opposed to destroying is what diplomacy is about and business owners and managers can learn a great deal from the process of diplomacy. Not that I am advocating for a relaxation of your competitive drive, not am I suggesting that competitive business practices are analogous to war, but rather that diplomacy carries with it some strong lessons for best practices in management. The key tenets of diplomacy hold lessons for managers in practicing patience, strengthening communication, developing partnerships, and managing people.
1. Diplomats listen. Diplomacy is, as much as anything, about understanding the other party. But to understand where another person is coming from, one has to start by listening. Closely. The skill of listening to another person is not an innate ability, but rather one that is developed over time through practice and repetition. Of course, diplomats must talk (a lot) in order to do their job, but they also develop strong skills at reading other people, interpreting signals, and understanding their motivations and goals. Managers must also learn to listen to he people around them, and to understand the desires and motives of your customers, employees, investors, and competitors.
2. Diplomats build relationships. The very best diplomats (just like the very best managers) understand the importance of building and maintaining relationships. It takes a meaningful investment of time and energy to forge associations that will pay off, but it is absolutely essential to meeting the long-term goals of any business or government. As in diplomacy, managers must work hard to construct the friendships and professional connections that will allow them to succeed.
3. Diplomats negotiate. One of the most important skills any manager needs is the ability to negotiate an agreement, a partnership, or a price. Hello. This is the most important skill a diplomat needs in their line of work. The art of reaching an agreement through discussion is the core of diplomacy and the core of business and this is a skill that should be grown and nurtured. Because most businesses do not control standing armies, or caches of missiles and bombs, how else to convince another party to give you what you want then to work out a mutualy satisfying arrangement?
Twitter Link Roundup #286 – Ideas for Small Business, Startups, and Designers! Mike | September 11th, 2015
A bicycle-riding robot? What other wonders could the world yet hold? Why if we can get a small machine to balance and adjust its center of gravity like this little fella, how long can it be until those flying cars finally go on the market? Well, I’m not holding my breath, but it does give me some hope that technology may save us after all. Or at least give us some modest entertainment.
So stretch your legs and take a deep breath! Because it’s time for the set of links and articles that we shared with you over the past week on our crowdSPRING Twitter account (as well as my own Twitter account)! We do love sharing articles about fonts, logo design, web design, startups, entrepreneurship, small business, leadership, social media, marketing, economics and other interesting stuff! Enjoy!
Ways to Stay Sane, Healthy, and Successful crowdspring.co/1Uoh8Oy
After 29 Years As Boss, I’m Not Rich Or Successful; Read This Anyway – Forbes crowdspring.co/1KsKnLn
5 of the Coolest Home Offices We Have Ever Seen crowdspring.co/1ijjyNb
Reasons to Quit Making Excuses and Start a ‘Hobby Career’ crowdspring.co/1MDoDLn
How much do startup founders pay themselves—and other questions you were too afraid to ask crowdspring.co/1LMkRhy
Why It’s Safe for Founders to Be Nice crowdspring.co/1ECx3Sm
Stop fooling yourself. Sales success is mostly random – buff.ly/1JRz3VO
Speaking in Human: What it Means and Why You Should Give a Darn – buff.ly/1JQ9B0K
Yahoo CEO’s Approach to Maternity Leave Could Influence Employees crowdspring.co/1NZa7P3
What You Really Need to Lead: The Power of Thinking and Acting Like an Owner crowdspring.co/1UYceoi
Lessons From the Student Who Exposed Facebook’s Massive Privacy Flaw crowdspring.co/1fwsqNE
How Playing With LEGO (the Right Way) Boosts Your Creativity crowdspring.co/1fwtNf7
A Sharing Economy Where Teachers Win nytimes.com/2015/09/06/tec…
How Certainty Transforms Persuasion crowdspring.co/1h1IMic
StubHub gets snubbed after publishing full prices crowdspring.co/1OaRMN0
The Power of Partnering Up … Instead of Down crowdspring.co/1ECxIDo
You Don’t Need to Adopt Holacracy to Get Some of Its Benefits crowdspring.co/1XiyUBN
What ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’ Teaches About Creativity crowdspring.co/1FkqHlv
6 Avoidable Phrases That Undermine Your Credibility crowdspring.co/1NbF3wx
DoorDash Inks First Non-Restaurant Delivery Deal With 7-Eleven (Sans Slurpees) – Forbes crowdspring.co/1Uoh9Cf
Ashton Kutcher Joins Mark Cuban in Backing E-Sports Company Unikrn crowdspring.co/1JA1iG8
Two “Magic Tricks” That Relieve Anxiety and Build Courage – Further crowdspring.co/1LhM6xy
Fresh from the SPRING: nautilus Audree | September 9th, 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 print design project.
Let us start the slow clap for nautilus. Check out more great work on nautilus’ profile page.
From the Vault: Labor Day! TCB and TCP Mike | September 4th, 2015
EDITOR’S NOTE: We originally published this post back in 2012. Next month crowdSPRING will move from a 60% remote work environment to around 90%! This means that the team will gather together on just one day per week, the rest of the time we will be working remote from our homes, hotel rooms, Starbucks, front porches, or wherever we can find a decent WiFi signal! Have a read and let me know what your thoughts are.
“My grandfather once told me that there were two kinds of people: those who do the work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first group; there was much less competition.” —Indira Gandhi
Next Monday is not just a day off for our team, but is also the holiday that I believe matters most of all to businesses. This time last year I wrote about the protests that were occurring around the country in support of an increase in the national minimum wage rate and the movement to empower fast food workers. This is s subject that I care deeply about, and one that is engrained in how I was raised. My grandfather was a union organizer; starting in the years of the Great Depression and through his retirement in the 1970s, Bob Herbin worked for labor unions such as the United Mine Workers, the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen, and the International Fur and Leather Workers Union. He advocated, administered, and fought for the rights of hard working men and women for decades, sometimes putting himself at serious peril to do so. Family legend has him being shot at as he was run out of Harlan County, Kentucky and living under an assumed identity for years in order to keep his family safe. He was a profound influence on my life both personally and professionally and I try every day to run my own small business in a manner that would make him proud.
At crowdSPRING, from day one, we have worked to make sure our people are well taken care of. We offer generous benefits packages to our full-timers, competitive pay to everyone we hire, flexible policies on work hours and vacations, and try hard to maintain fun and energizing workplace. Productivity is very important to us, but so is creating an environment in which individuals can grow and learn and where they have opportunity for personal and professional development. Profits are important to us, as they are with all businesses, but top-of-mind is building a company where people want to work. The payoff comes in loyalty and low turnover – we’re proud of the fact that after 6 years in business, our average team member has been with us for almost four years! Low turnover has many benefits for a company, including reduced recruiting and training costs, improved productivity, and lower absentee rates. Not to mention the fun and friendship that happens when people look at work as a welcoming and safe place.
As a manager, it pays to be worker-centric in your approach to business and this starts with pay. Basic economic theory teaches that the most talented workers will always gravitate to the highest pay. Remember it is a competitive environment and your workers can and will go to the employer that places the greatest value on their labor. This is not just about wages, though; research has shown over and over that, while pay scale is critical, quality of life matters as much as the paycheck. Allowing your team flexibility in scheduling and office hours leads to happier, more productive and engaged work. Providing solid medical benefits leads to healthier workers and fewer sick days. Offering retirement benefits leads to stable, long-term employees who know that their future is secure. And allowing unlimited vacation days let’s them know how much you value them and messages that you trust them to find their own work-life balance while their responsibilities to the team are met.
To me, this Labor Day, I’ll remember that Taking Care of People = Taking Care of Business!
United States Labor Day stamp: Photo by Karen Horton
Twitter Link Roundup #285 – Labor Day! Resources for Small Business, Startups, and Design! Mike | September 4th, 2015
I know this guy. He’s a musician and a visual artist. His music is ethereal and dark and his motion design work is reflective of that. I actually know him pretty well, because he’s my son! So, shameless me – the video above is the work of Cody Samson – music, motion graphics, direction, and editing – along with the cinematographer Brian Pucci, Production Designer Kai La’Rosa and the animators Jigyu Yoon and Leo Mendes, they have produced a beautiful work. Enjoy!
Hope you like that as much as I did! Now it’s time for the set of links and articles that we shared with you over the past week on our crowdSPRING Twitter account (as well as my own Twitter account)! We do love sharing articles about fonts, logo design, web design, startups, entrepreneurship, small business, leadership, social media, marketing, economics and other interesting stuff! Enjoy!
Surprising Reasons to Be Happy When Your Employees Fail crowdspring.co/1JaJO38Small Business and Startups: When a Customer Deserves to Be Fired | @crowdSPRING Blog – crowdspring.co/1VilkfO
Must-break freelance habits crowdspring.co/1h129Ie
How to Protect Yourself From LinkedIn-Based Scams crowdspring.co/1PqB6BA
Ways that Music Can Help You Be More Productive crowdspring.co/1PqB6Bj
The Art of the Out-of-Office Reply nytimes.com/2015/08/28/fas…
Powerful Ways To Mold Your Children Into Leaders crowdspring.co/1PqAkEo
Questions To Ask Before You Invest In A Social Enterprise crowdspring.co/1h1HNyy
How to Say No With Style and Diplomacy crowdspring.co/1EIYDYz
How to Start Spreading the Optimism: 7 Simple Tips crowdspring.co/1NrcU4v
How to Play the Valuation Gap Between Start-Ups and Public Tech Companies crowdspring.co/1gtYySK
15 Little Phrases That Will Make You Remarkably More Productive crowdspring.co/1f4cvpt
Sleep Deprivation Is Making You Paranoid crowdspring.co/1DDsiaM
The Workplace Culture That Flying Nannies Won’t Fix nytimes.com/2015/08/24/opi…
Mark Zuckerberg’s FWD.us Fires Back at Trump’s Immigration Plan crowdspring.co/1Nrd4IS
How Bootstrapping Became a Lost Art and Venture Capital Became an Addiction – Capterra Blog crowdspring.co/1fwqKUb
How to Build a Better Org Chart crowdspring.co/1PqzTtX
Fresh from the SPRING: mariaKaz Audree | September 2nd, 2015
Small Business and Startups: When a Customer Deserves to Be Fired Mike | August 31st, 2015
Last week we fired a customer. Yep, you heard me right. We asked one of our customers to please take their business elsewhere. Why would a small business do such a thing? Who in their right mind would turn down revenue and earnings? Well it’s really not that complicated. Some customers simply drain resources, strain the team, and end up costing you more than they bring in. There truly are some customers out there who you would happily send to the competition.
The trick is to identify these folks as early as you can and act decisively to stop the bleeding and start the healing. For instance, the customer I am writing about today has been with us for a number of years. For a long time this user was not active on the site, but would visit periodically, almost always accompanied by a question or three for our customer support team. One of the first signs that there might be trouble ahead was when we received a list of “suggestions” on how to improve the product. Of course, suggestions for improvement are a good thing and smart businesses will listen closely to their customers. Having said that, when a user writes a manifesto telling you all of the things that are wrong with how you run the company, you might want to give thought as to their motivation.
In the past few months, this customer increased their activity on the site. They posted a project, they sent in dozens of support tickets, they called into our phone support line multiple times, and they complained. And complained. Did the complaints have merit, you ask? For the most part, no they did not. They were mostly complaints about what the customer disliked about the business and the other users on the site and the interface and the payment system and the phone hours we maintain and the slowness of our team’s replies and on and on.
The crowdSPRING business model, like many other businesses, has relatively low profit margins and a relatively low rate of repeat business. This means that every single customer counts and our support team works incredibly hard to make sure every customer is satisfied. This means that we do not put limits on the amount of time an agent can spend on the phone with a customer, or the number of emails the agent can send to solve an issue. So when a customer comes with a seemingly endless appetite for frivolous complaining it can be a huge distraction and a gaping, sticky tarpit for the team. As a manager it is critical that you support your people and that you recognize when a customer is causing strife within your community. Take the plunge, make the call, and let the customer know that they are no longer welcome in your shop!
Here are a few tips on what to look for and how to manage the process:
1. Who are you?.
The key is to identify the (hopefully) rare customer who costs more than they provide. Are they someone who has endless complaints? Do they overtax your support system? Are they abusive to your people? These are pretty good signs that they may be a customer in need of firing. Of course, not every person who has complaints is in need of firing – many are legitimate customers with real issues that need to be resolved, but train your people to raise the red flag when a single customer starts to account of a disproportionate share of your team’s capacity.
2. What do you cost us?
It’s not that hard to do the math. For instance, a customer service agent is a resource that costs you a certain amount of money for every hour they work. If your agent costs $15/hour and a singe customer ties them up for 10 hours, that means you have devoted $150 of support resources to that customer. If the customer only represent $125 in net profit, you are already underwater and there is reason to believe you will sink deeper if you try to maintain the relationship. Simple dollars and cents tells you to end the association.
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