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!

FFS-5IVE_STAR_CREATIVE

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!

smallbusinessblog

A Standing/Sitting Desk You Can Afford | Co.Design | business + design crowdspring.co/1xRSPr5

Small Business and Startups: What Type of Boss Are You? | crowdSPRING Blog – crowdspring.co/1zy77ST

How to Turn a Prospect into a Paying Customer | Men with Pens crowdspring.co/1z2bJvQ

6 Common Reasons Customers Come to Your Store crowdspring.co/1EYro4M

Small Business Ideas and Resources for Entrepreneurs crowdspring.co/1CQgIWl

Incredibly Useful Business Gadgets for 2015 crowdspring.co/1zsMesw

startupsblog

Never Rent An Ugly Tux Again: These Startups Want To Disrupt Men’s Wearhouse | Fast Company | Business + Innovation crowdspring.co/1M3FJS2

Satya Nadella makes a big impression in just a year – buff.ly/1IG7p0b

Why Managing For Progress is So Important – buff.ly/1FqtWbZ

12 remote workers reveal how to be happy, effective and valuable | WP Curve – buff.ly/1At6URK

“The true purpose of sales is to create new value for customers.” – buff.ly/1zz8A6W

Accomplish More by Committing to Less – HBR crowdspring.co/1z2I3yz

13 Critical Traits of Successful Inventors crowdspring.co/1zsKZd9

Things They Don’t Tell You When You Leave the Big Corporate World for Your Own Business – crowdspring.co/1CQgGh1

Why I Am Not a Maker – The Atlantic crowdspring.co/1z2G0dU

Google and Lending Club Team Up, Online Lenders Gain Steam crowdspring.co/1z2I9WY

7 Ways Highly Successful People Achieve More | Jeff Haden | LinkedIn crowdspring.co/1DmnCkb

Two big announcements from 37signals (now just Basecamp). crowdspring.co/1MgeXWS

Emma Watson Tells Young Fan To ‘Be An Engineer’ Even Though Her Dad Doesn’t Want Her To – crowdspring.co/1Dv6usJ

5 Leadership Skills You Must Have to Succeed crowdspring.co/16ijrvG

Why You Should Doodle More | Co.Design | business + design crowdspring.co/1xRWrJE

UI, UX: Who Does What? A Designer’s Guide To The Tech Industry | Co.Design | business + design – crowdspring.co/1zyidHA

How Do You Rank the World’s Best CEOs? – HBR crowdspring.co/1yY0zcv

Europe’s Young Entrepreneurs crowdspring.co/1HHsnLF

How to Use Anger to Your Advantage – Further crowdspring.co/1EYk4Gc

Two big announcements from 37signals (now just Basecamp). crowdspring.co/1MgeYtJ

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!

FFS-SUJITHFAB

 

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

Twitter Link Roundup #255 – Some Lovely resources for Small Business, Startups, and Design! Mike | February 6th, 2015

It has been freakin cold and snowy here in Chicago the past couple of weeks, so I thought I’d share this beautiful video of our beautiful city in winter. Other places eschew the cold a and frost; this filmmaker with a drone says, bring it on!

Brrr. Now that you know what drives us around here, I present to you our weekly roundup! 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! Enjoy!

smallbusinessblog

5 Things Small Business Owners Should Know About ‘Facebook At Work’| Deborah Sweeney |crowdspring.co/1LB9Vno

Don’t Forget This One Secret to Running a Trade Show Booth crowdspring.co/1yhJBUR

Morning Rituals to Keep You Productive All Day Long crowdspring.co/1Bq8Wke

Forget Resolutions, What’s Your “Beautiful Question” For 2015? | Co.Design | business + designcrowdspring.co/1tdA7OZ

Plans to Prosper: Small Biz Marketing Doesn’t Mean Small Impact crowdspring.co/1BagPro

startupsblog

Elon Musk touts launch of ‘SpaceX Seattle’ | Business & Technology | The Seattle Timescrowdspring.co/1BadR6p

Why Creating Your First Blockbuster Online Product Is Easier Than You Think – Copyblogger – crowdspring.co/1GTTT8n

The Best Digital Business Models Put Evolution Before Revolution – HBR crowdspring.co/1D6Ue1u

8 Ways To Make Working From Home More Efficient | Fast Company | Business + Innovationcrowdspring.co/1D6Uei4

Stop Equating Women In Tech With Engineers – buff.ly/18OzPF9

Startup Podcasters You Need To Follow crowdspring.co/1tdA6un

99% of Networking Is a Waste of Time – HBR crowdspring.co/1zbdv4f

Texas Prison Program Aims to Produce Business-Savvy Inmates crowdspring.co/1C2uwhv

What I am Using Now (5 Free Tools!) | crowdSPRING Blog– crowdspring.co/1uNUuOf

7 Ways Highly Successful People Achieve More | by @jeff_hadenbuff.ly/18OFLOG

How to Take Your Pitch From Good to Great crowdspring.co/15Ifz78

How History and Adversity Pushed an Entrepreneur to Shark Tank Success crowdspring.co/1yhJBo7

How To Emulate Some Of The Most Innovative Companies | Fast Company | Business + Innovationcrowdspring.co/1C2uvKE

E-commerce and price flexibility: New evidence | VOX, CEPR’s Policy Portal crowdspring.co/1BagMfm

Taylor Swift, trademark diva crowdspring.co/18G91qK

Tim Rookes: entrepreneur seized opportunity after spotting gap in the cloud market | Derby Telegraphcrowdspring.co/1AgPp8d

Read the rest of this post »

Fresh from the SPRING: Feniks Audree | February 4th, 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 an upcoming Helen Hunt movie.

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

Nicely done, Feniks, nicely done!

FFS-Feniks

Small Business and Startups: What I am Using Now (5 Free Tools!) Mike | February 2nd, 2015

As a manager of a small, online business I wear a whole range of hats: I supervise marketing, customer service, engineering, business intelligence, HR, and operations (among other things). My days are full, my hours are long, and my budget is ever limited. Like all of us, I am constantly looking for money-savers and productivity-boosters and because my days are spent in front of my computer I need tools that allow me to do the most work in the shortest amount of time for the smallest investment of cash.

Fortunately for me, there are roughly, um, gazillions of apps, websites, SaaS products, and off-the-shelf software products to help me. To choose amongst these, I look for several key qualities in a new tool: 1) does it solve the problem I am addressing, 2) can it be used collaboratively?  3) is it easy to learn and stable? and 4) is it affordable?

is a freelancer if not a small business? Just like small businesses, freelancers must engage in marketing, manage payables and receivables and other accounting tasks, perform HR functions, direct production, and plan strategy.

1. Social Media Content Management. Buffer solves a major problem for me: how to stay as active as possible in social media channels with a minimal investment of time and without having to monitor my own feeds and lists every minute of every day. Using Buffer I can share content to my Twitter, Facebook Google+, and LinkedIn accounts from any webpage, with a click. It allows me to schedule specific days and times I want to share, customize the messages I send and select an image to include with the scheduled post so that in one or two short sessions per week I can make sure there is always rich content queued up and ready to share. Multiple people can share and manage one Buffer queue and the simplicity of the software means the learning curve can be surmounted in minutes. Buffer does offer high-volume business plans for power users, but for most people the inexpensive “Awesome plan” offers plenty of horsepower.

2. Online Search Ad Management. Do you manage your PPC campaigns on Google? Do you find yourself scratching your head as you attempt to navigate through the thickets of your campaigns online? If you’re sharing that pain, I recommend Google’s free tool. Adwords Editor allows you to download any or all of your Adword accounts into a simple, easy-to-learn interface where you can make  changes, set up new ad groups, view various statistics and play what-if with your campaigns, keywords, targeting, and ads. Once you are happy with your changes, one click will upload those and synch up your online Adwords accounts. It also works in the other direction: any changes you or oyur collaborator make using the online Adword manager will synch to your Adwords app with the click of a button. It takes a few sessions to get up to speed with the tool, but if you already have a basic familiarity with Adword campaigns, you should be able to navigate your way around by the end of the first sitting.

3. Spreadsheets. OK, I confess. I love Microsoft Excel. I have been a steady user of this product for over 20 years now and, if I may say so myself, I know my way around a spreadsheet. I may not be the most power of power-users, and my spreadsheets may not be the equal of what they use at Los Alamos National Lab, but I do know how to make those suckers sing. But the problem with Excel spreadsheets starts to become obvious as soon as collaboration comes into the picture. First of all, not everybody has Excel installed on their machine, and second of all there is no meaningful way to track changes and save histories. Google docs has offered spreadsheets for a while now, but until recently this product has been a pretty pale comparison, especially when using large data-sets or working with pivot tables and other reports or charts. Well, I am not sure when this happened, but the team at Google has made some welcome changes and Google spreadsheets have greatly improved. They now have available a reasonable number of custom charts, pivot table functionality, multiple worksheets, and some very nice functions and tools. As anyone who already uses Google Docs knows, collaboration is a no-brainer and includes powerful features for commenting, revisioning, and history. And pricing? Well you just can’t beat free.

Read the rest of this post »

Twitter Link Roundup #254 – Sweet, Sweet resources for Small Business, Startups, and Design! Mike | January 30th, 2015

Computer viruses are a huge threat to business large and small – one small infection can lead to a widening crack in the cyber-door to our businesses. Same goes for viruses of the medical kind and last week we saw what happens when large numbers of people choose to forego their children’s vaccinations. Measles, anyone? Who better than Penn and Teller to explain to us why it is so important to get your kid Immunized!

OK then. Now that you understand just how critical immunization is, let’s move on to our weekly roundup! 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! Enjoy!

smallbusinessblog

Breaking Up With Your Clients The Mathematical Way crowdspring.co/1KU2R4R

Regulatory Issues That Could Affect Your Business in 2015 crowdspring.co/1xUxgHu

Tips for Creating Meaningful Business Relationships Online crowdspring.co/1BPklvz

Reasons I Love Sales, and Why You Just Might, Too crowdspring.co/1CoYmta

The 5 C’s That Every Great Leader Needs to Succeed crowdspring.co/1yx3OJT

Small businesses could benefit from workplace wellness programs: study | Safety+Health Magazine – crowdspring.co/1ydngMY

Big Data Is No Longer Confined to the Big Business Playbook crowdspring.co/1ydngwo

5 Things Business Owners Should Keep in Mind With Succession Planning crowdspring.co/1yx3VoX

startupsblog

Ten Things We Believe — Founder Stories — Medium crowdspring.co/15gmGDl

What I Learned About Communication From the Dentist crowdspring.co/1BaeQTZ

Turns Out, Humility Offers a Competitive Advantage – buff.ly/1DhHR2T

EVERY entrepreneur needs to grok this: Job Jumpers Need Not Apply – buff.ly/15UM0ix

An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Taking Over the Family Business crowdspring.co/1ydnwM0

From 0 to $1B – Slack’s Founder Shares Their Epic Launch Strategy – buff.ly/1Dlr4vQ

How To Tackle A Complex Issue In 90 Minutes | Fast Company – crowdspring.co/1xHgBG0

Why This CEO Quit His Job to Pursue a Childhood Dream crowdspring.co/1CoYNDH

Secrets From a Chess Master Who Built One of the Fastest-Growing Companies in the U.S. – crowdspring.co/1xkE0hv

How To Keep People On Your Side When Your Startup Makes Changes | Fast Company – crowdspring.co/1xkE294

Lean Business: Unleashing the (task) Force | crowdSPRING Blog – crowdspring.co/1tdsoAs

Food Startups Bring Quinoa and Quail To The Boonies | Fast Company – crowdspring.co/1xkLdOu

Scaling Business, Graduate Advice, Transparency in Business – YouTubecrowdspring.co/1sRBTVS

Read the rest of this post »

Fresh from the SPRING: thegonz Audree | January 28th, 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 thegonz. Check out more great work on thegonz’s profile page.

Nicely done, thegonz, nicely done!

FFS-thegonz

 

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