Fresh from the SPRING: anci Audree | October 15th, 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 anci. Check out more great work on anci’s profile page.

Nicely done, anci, nicely done!

 

Anci-for-FFS

Small Business and Startups: Best Boss Ever? Mike | October 13th, 2014

“Remember the difference between a boss and a leader; a boss says “Go!” – a leader says “Let’s go!”” – E.M. Kelly

There are plenty of ways to skin a cat. This applies not only to winning arguments and basketball strategy, but to business management as well. The idea in business, as with so many things, is to set specific, well-designed goals and design strategy to achieve those goals. Same goes with managing people. As a manager, define for yourself your goals with your subordinates and devise specific strategy and tactics to achieve them. Right?

But managing people is very different from managing marketing budgets or web design projects. Managing people is different because, well, people are people. They come with their own unique attitudes, problems, biases, preferences, and skills. And, in order to respect those differences, each and every one of them has to be managed differently. Having said that, they also need to be managed in exactly the same way; as the boss you have to make yourself available, make yourself known, and make yourself indispensable. So, being a great boss means being aware of the fact that each member of your team is uniquely different and that each of them needs you to treat them exactly the way you treat the others.

Contradictory? Perhaps a bit, but great bosses are consistent in their approach to managing individuals, while also making constant adjustments for each depending on circumstance, context, and the person’s needs. Great bosses are great leaders; overall the greatest of bosses pay close attention to the people around them and make sure to always give what that person needs. Here are a few thoughts on how to be that great boss…

Be available First and foremost, great bosses have to be accessible and present. This doesn’t necessarily mean a 24/7/365 policy of open door office and personal cell phone contact around the clock. Rather, it means that you should be available when team members have concerns they’d like to voice, ideas they’d like to share, or complaints they’d like to make. Being present means that you need to show face; your people need to know that you are in the trenches (however that is defined at your company) and working as hard or harder than everyone else to build the company and execute vision. An open office or lots of glass goes a long way towards achieving this goal, as does a consistent presence in group chats, at meetings, and in more informal settings such as lunchtime chats and after-work refreshments.

Be known Many bosses remain ciphers to the team year in and year out. Team members may have no concept whatsoever about the person they work for on a personal, professional, or social level. It’s critical that your employees know who you are, understand what drives you, and can recognize your own unique set of skills, personality, and traits. Consistency and predictability in your behavior and in your physical presence go a very long way in employee satisfaction as well as in overall productivity. Don’t be afraid to let them know who you are and what makes you tick, and once they know you, do not go changing with the winds.

Be indispensable Not only do you need to be there for the team and not only do you need to be predictable in your behaviors and attitudes, but you also have to be important to the work. Your team should certainly be able to carry on if, please no, something were to happen to you tomorrow, but today you should be an active leader, guide, collaborator, and parter to your people. By being present and consistent, you will become the person they seek out when they need help and the person they are comfortable following loyally as well as debating with vigorously.

Photo: 6 planets orbiting the star Kepler-11, by NASA/Wikimedia Commons

Twitter Link Roundup #238 – Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More Ross | October 10th, 2014

stubborness

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 image above is a public service billboard that apparently failed to strike a chord with its intended audience. You’ll find other funny examples in the Other section below.

smallbusinessblog

Review. Rethink. React – crowdspring.co/1yHa1WB

12 free email marketing templates for small businesses | Econsultancy – crowdspring.co/1nSfwgB

Everything You Need to Know About the Psychology of the Call to Action | KISSmetrics – crowdspring.co/YTP0rm

Confused by cloud computing price comparisons? Here they are in one easy-peasy chart – crowdspring.co/1r9oYXz

The ROI of Blogging: What the Groove Blog is Worth to Our Startup – crowdspring.co/YUXa2r

Passion Alone is Not Enough to Open a Business – crowdspring.co/YVlAZA

startupsblog

10 Massively Successful Minimum Viable Products – crowdspring.co/1mVcFD5

The Ultimate Startup Marketing Strategy | by Venture Harbour –

Why entrepreneurs should learn to say “I don’t know” more often – crowdspring.co/1pGXXeF

“the people you fire are more important to your [company’s] culture than the people you hire.” – crowdspring.co/1slKVZ2

Stock option questions startup employees should ask | Business Insider – crowdspring.co/1n8lUje

Review. Rethink. React – crowdspring.co/1yHa1WB

Refocusing the Startup Burn Rate Debate | OpenView Blog – crowdspring.co/1n8paLq

The Most Innovative Companies Don’t Worry About Consensus | by Maxwell Elliot, HBR – crowdspring.co/Z7pWNt

Everything You Need to Know About the Psychology of the Call to Action | KISSmetrics – crowdspring.co/YTP0rm

Confused by cloud computing price comparisons? Here they are in one easy-peasy chart – crowdspring.co/1r9oYXz

On ‘Dark Talent’, MOOCs, Universities, & Startups: An Interview with Our 1st Prof.-In-Residence – crowdspring.co/Zmo0kD

44 engineering management lessons – crowdspring.co/1x7TVkf

5 Things I Learned Analyzing Buffer’s Revenue Dashboard | Ivan Kreimer – crowdspring.co/1xfTwMG

By The Time You Give Them a Raise, They’re Already Out The Door | saastr – crowdspring.co/1vyIl0B

Passion Alone is Not Enough to Open a Business – crowdspring.co/YVlAZA

5 Ways to Hire the Best Talent for Your Startup Team – crowdspring.co/1ptyfds

The ROI of Blogging: What the Groove Blog is Worth to Our Startup – crowdspring.co/YUXa2r

The One, Life-Saving Change Workplaces Can Make For Their Employees – crowdspring.co/1r4ba0i

Scratching my head over this analysis. How does Twitter buying a messaging app help Twitter grow? – crowdspring.co/1px5L2s

socialmediablog

The Ultimate Startup Marketing Strategy by Venture Harbour –

New Google Eye Tracking Study Shows The Downfall Of The Golden Triangle – crowdspring.co/ZgzgPc

Myth Busting: The Truth About Long-Tail Keywords | WordStream – crowdspring.co/1xuRZT9

Everything You Need to Know About the Psychology of the Call to Action | KISSmetrics – crowdspring.co/YTP0rm

5 Guidelines For Setting Up A Usability Study – Startup Style | Usability Geek – crowdspring.co/1vxQS3T

Best Practices for Mobile SEO | Mobile Marketing – crowdspring.co/ZvOJfc

Are Bots Hijacking Your Marketing Budget? | TechCrunch – crowdspring.co/1vkAsLP

designblog

A Rare Look at Apple’s Design Genius Jony Ive | Vogue – crowdspring.co/Zvu8b0

20 Real Client Feedbacks Turned into Funny Posters – crowdspring.co/1mVc2t6

Read the rest of this post »

Fresh from the SPRING: Ender Audree | October 8th, 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 Ender. Check out more great work on Ender’s profile page.

Nicely done, Ender, nicely done!

 

Red-Room-by-Ender

Review. Rethink. React. Mike | October 6th, 2014

“Leadership is a matter of having people look at you and gain confidence, seeing how you react. If you’re in control, they’re in control.” – Tom Landry

Every so often a small business owner or a startup entrepreneur has to take a step back, breathe a deep breath, and look at your company with eyes wide open. It can be hard to cut through the fog of personal bias, sunny optimism, deeply held hopes, and one’s very dreams, but it is absolutely imperative that it be done.

Sometimes this needs to happen with an employee, sometimes with a partner, sometimes with a certain customer, and sometimes with your overall marketing or business strategy. For instance, many managers wait for the end of the year before beginning an employee performance review. Bad idea – employee performance is a living, breathing things that doesn’t magically come to life on December 1st and your active feedback over the course of the entire year can make a huge difference in how well a team member performs.

Same goes with marketing strategy and tactics; one of the tenets of lean marketing is to set specific goals and test your efforts in small batches,  harvesting and analyzing the data as you go. Quickly get rid of the underperforming tactics, and just as quickly ramp up those that perform well. This is the essence of the three R’s in the title of this post, and they extend to all aspects of how you manage your business: take the time to review how well things are working, rethink your approach, and react with a positive new approach.

Reviewing the current state is critically important to this process and this is where you have to strip away your biases and remove your rose-colored lenses. Take time to look at the big picture (as well as the details!) and carefully examine the current state of your business. Come to this process with every intention of instituting change where needed and doing so quickly and concisely.

Rethinking is all about you with your feet up, head back and a blank gaze upward to the ceiling. Take time, ponder, let your creative process move ahead and imagine ways that you might look at a problem or situation differently. One great exercise is to imagine you were starting your company over again from scratch, but now armed with the experience and knowledge you’ve gained since then. What would you do differently? What mistakes would you vow to avoid in the future? Rethink how your methods, your procedures, and your tactics have gotten you to where you are now and find a different way going forward.

Reacting as in don’t just sit there, DO SOMETHING! Strong leaders do not sit back and wait for events to catch up to them, they create change and shape events. One you have completed your reviewed and rethought your approach it is time to take positive action: pull the plug on the tactic that isn’t working, fire the employee who is not performing (or incentivize the one who is!), launch the new strategy quickly, etc etc etc. The point is that none of the three R’s can live in a vacuum; as a manager, a small business owner, an high-growth entrepreneur you need to develop your own framework for moving forward positively and confidently.

Photo: San Francisco Bay Bridge, old span and new by Frank Schulenburg/Wikimedia Commons

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

Read the rest of this post »

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.

Read the rest of this post »

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.

Read the rest of this post »

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