Twitter Link Roundup #222 – Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More Ross | May 9th, 2014

strava

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 an interesting project from Strava, showing a heatmat of bike paths in the Chicago area. You can look at similar data for any geographic area in the world on the Strava Labs site for biking and running. Here’s a link to the Chicago map, but you can easily navigate to another geographic area.

smallbusinessblog

Raising the Minimum Wage: Why it Matters to Small Business – crowdspring.co/1iitwqt

Founders with Kids – crowdspring.co/1rW91oS

U.S. businesses are being destroyed faster than they’re being created – crowdspring.co/Rr3vPY

startupsblog

Entrepreneurship and Women: How We Can and Should Make “Female” an Unnecessary Adjective | by Kelsey Recht – crowdspring.co/1j0I8Qg

Surprising Trends in Startup Founder Equity Stakes | by Tomasz Tunguz  – crowdspring.co/1njnhbl

The Unraveling of Miami-Based Gui.de | Tech Cocktail – crowdspring.co/1i671VI

Founders with Kids – crowdspring.co/1rW91oS

The math behind why Midwest is a promising place for venture capitalists – pic.twitter.com/43K7jXW9MO

Top Venture Capitalists Leave Silicon Valley, Bet Their Careers On Midwest – crowdspring.co/SEC1rh

The Anatomy of the Perfect Technical Interview from a Former Amazon VP – crowdspring.co/Rswumt

Three Musts to Retaining Superstar Talent | by Jeff Weiner – crowdspring.co/1lVbAHT

Fantastic essay by @abbymyles on the current obsession with design/designers & market realities – crowdspring.co/1lWpMjT

Why Square Needs To Sell Itself–And Do It Quickly – crowdspring.co/1nQ2H4E

How to Know When Your Great Idea is Ready for the World – crowdspring.co/1mAl75N

A Discussion on Material Choices in Mobile – crowdspring.co/1lYw8iS

Unfortunately, SaaS Start-Up Valuations Are About To Fall by 50% | saastr – crowdspring.co/1j3n4bO

U.S. businesses are being destroyed faster than they’re being created – crowdspring.co/Rr3vPY

With IPO Hopes Fading, Square And Box Face Reality Of Commodity Products | TechCrunch – crowdspring.co/1rWbako

The Collaborative Economy Raises Over $800m In One Month | by Jeremiah Owyang – crowdspring.co/1j0IXIT

Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook’s Future, From Virtual Reality to Anonymity | WIRED – crowdspring.co/1rWbCzf

“The sharing economy is on a path to reinvent our economy, our culture and the way we live and work.” – crowdspring.co/1j0HTod

Words of wisdom from Bonobos: don’t hire for experience – crowdspring.co/1nQ25Mo

socialmediablog

21 Digital Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2015 – crowdspring.co/1rTXJ4A

NY Times: 57% Of Online Video Ads Unviewable – crowdspring.co/1mzrq9u

10 ways to fix the unseen video ad problem | Digiday – crowdspring.co/SEBENl

Why It’s Time To Re-Think Real-Time | by David Armano – crowdspring.co/1s04die

The Answer to the Organic Reach vs Advertising Problem on Social Media Channels – crowdspring.co/1rTUmdM

Why Users Aren’t Clicking Your Home Page Carousel | UX Movement – crowdspring.co/1nQ1J8r

Why the social networks are falling apart | Computerworld by Mike Elgan – crowdspring.co/1mAjDIB

designblog

Typography Lovers Rejoice: Font Town Offers More Than 30,000 Free Fonts | noupe – crowdspring.co/1jfIt19

23 Inspiringly Beautiful Portfolio Designs – crowdspring.co/1mVP03W

Read the rest of this post »

Raising the Minimum Wage: Why it Matters to Small Business Mike | May 5th, 2014

In his new book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty argues that the gap between the wealthiest members of our society and the poorest has widened significantly over the past decade. Much of this increasing discrepancy is accounted for by the global recession that began in 2008, but much of the blame lies with the policy-makers in the world’s great capitols. For much of the past 6 years, governments responded to the rise in unemployment by instituting austerity measures that did little to reduce the effects of the recession but, it can be argued, actually made the problem worst by magnifying the reduction in demand that led to a downward spiral.

In order for an economy to remain healthy and to grow over time, demand for goods and products must be sustainable – remember small businesses are dependent on the customers who buy their products or services; when those customers no longer have the means to do so, small business suffers. And because small businesses are also customers themselves, consuming lots of products and services  offered by other businesses large and small, they too will purchase less over time, magnifying the problem and quickening the downward spiral. In other words, we are each other’s customers and when one of us can’t pay her bills, all of us suffer.

The minimum wage was established under President Roosevelt in 1938, when congress legislated that no worker should earn less than 25¢ per hour. This increased over the next three decades, such that by 1968, the federal minimum wage was up to $1.60. The last increase in the minimum wage was in 2007, when it was increased to $7.25 per hour. For three decades, policy makers used the minimum wage to slowly decrease the gap between the richest among us and the poorest, but in the past 4 decades since 1968, inflation has steadily decreased the value of the minimum wage, such that it is now worth less than it was at the end of World War 2. The chart above illustrates the gap between the “actual” minimum wage (in gray) and the inflation-adjusted value (in blue). It is this erosion that most hurts small businesses over time; if our customers (and their customers) can afford to consume less and less over time, business suffers. Read the rest of this post »

Twitter Link Roundup #221 – Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More Ross | May 2nd, 2014

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 video above is a phenomenal and fun short performance by four musicians who perform some incredible stunts while masterfully continuing to play their instruments.

smallbusinessblog

Small Business, Culture and Pancakes – crowdspring.co/1mR8eb1

Empower Your Small Business, latest crowdSPRING newsletter: managing remote vendors, marketing tips, culture – crowdspring.co/1hS8brU

The Sharing Economy Is About Desperation | NYMag – crowdspring.co/1k6bGZ4

6 Tips for Reluctant Negotiators | by Whitney Johnson, Harvard Business Review – crowdspring.co/1k6nQRA

Why a standard resume is not enough for hiring – crowdspring.co/1k6oLBD

I always find useful info for Small Business in Gene Marks’ NYT column – crowdspring.co/1fr34QU

startupsblog

Larry Page: The Untold Story | Business Insider – crowdspring.co/1k8QdzZ

Why startup biz dev deals almost never get done – crowdspring.co/1fmCrMM

Start-ups are all Naked in the Mirror – crowdspring.co/1hxDXdJ

Some Reflections on VC Investment Decisions – crowdspring.co/1k68xbJ

The Hard Truths of Entrepreneurship – crowdspring.co/1k6tXVS

“The most valuable compensation for working at a startup … is a dramatically higher rate-of-learning (ROL).” – crowdspring.co/1fmEnVQ

Cycling IS the new golf for entrepreneurs! – crowdspring.co/1ftv1Y3

80% of Your Culture is Your Founder | First Round Capital – crowdspring.co/1lk0ZGm

6 Tips for Reluctant Negotiators | by Whitney Johnson, Harvard Business Review – crowdspring.co/1k6nQRA

The Sharing Economy Is About Desperation | NYMag – crowdspring.co/1k6bGZ4

Hottest Pre-IPO Adtech Startups | Business Insider – crowdspring.co/1k6cUmV

10 Creative Rituals You Should Steal | 99U – crowdspring.co/1iD9lIC

Who Gets Into Accelerators? Persistent Men With SaaS Apps, Says Study | TechCrunch – crowdspring.co/1lk1C2o

A Critique of “Don’t Fuck Up The Culture” – crowdspring.co/1mPAZVz

Why a standard resume is not enough for hiring – crowdspring.co/1k6oLBD

Startups Anonymous: Things founders say to investors that are complete BS | PandoDaily – crowdspring.co/1lSUyZ9

Interesting trend at VC firms … design partners | Co.Design – crowdspring.co/1k67wjJ

One Startup’s Struggle to Survive the Silicon Valley Gold Rush | WIRED – crowdspring.co/1fmuIOO

Data Doesn’t Speak for Itself | Thomas C. Redman – Harvard Business Review – crowdspring.co/1kf1Xzu

How Founders Can Fight Through The Great Fragmentation Of Talent | Haywire – crowdspring.co/1hxFsZn

The Bubble Question | AVC – crowdspring.co/1mPBizM

The New Role Of Leaders | Digital Tonto – crowdspring.co/1fmuVlc

If Management is the Only Way Up, We’re All F’d – crowdspring.co/1fms5wx

socialmediablog

Marketers Not Prepared for Negative Feedback: New Research | Social Media Examiner – crowdspring.co/1mVP5ES

Is Native Advertising Even Profitable for Brands? | Copyblogger – crowdspring.co/1kl099w

Interesting Facebook post on the viral potential of rumors … The strange truth about fiction – crowdspring.co/1rJBrCv

Are Brands Measuring the Wrong Type of Engagement? (Red Bull as a Case Study) – crowdspring.co/1kf1c9K

The Evolution of Digital Media – crowdspring.co/1ixsITp

Data Doesn’t Speak for Itself | Thomas C. Redman – Harvard Business Review – crowdspring.co/1kf1Xzu

This Advice From IDEO’s Nicole Kahn Will Transform the Way You Give Presentations – crowdspring.co/1k8OWbU

8 Powerful Takeaways from Eye Tracking Studies – crowdspring.co/1iDkmJs

designblog

Cool Stamp Designs | Abduzeedo – crowdspring.co/1iDjYdM

An Utterly Subjective Guide To The Best Chairs At Milan Design Week | Co.Design – crowdspring.co/1iDkxUU

Read the rest of this post »

Small Business, Culture and Pancakes Mike | April 28th, 2014

Remember when you were a kid and mom would hang one of your drawings on the door of the fridge? How good did that make you feel to be recognized? To have your wonderful talents displayed for everyone to see? When we celebrate the work of a family member or a team member it is an affirmation of belonging and a recognition of the contribution any individual can make to the group. A great team truly is stronger than the sum of its parts and this goes for companies just as much as it does for families.

Lots and lots has been written about the importance of company culture; how it is critical to growth, to innovation, and to creativity. Too often culture is simply used a buzzword — a simplistic way to say that our company is cool. Culture is not about cool, it is about respecting the contribution of each individual, empowering them to do their best, teaching them that they can and should empower others and, most importantly, making each member of the team feel that they are a part of something bigger, something important. How a company goes about doing this has everything to do with the values they promote and the atmosphere they create.

The values a company works to instill and nurture have to be owned by everyone who works together at a company. Managers can not simply make statements about values, they need to take time to teach values, to live by those same values, and to encourage everyone to do the same. This can start with simple affirmations of each team member’s contributions to the company. A great example of this is how a few years ago Ross started a wonderful project: whenever a customer would write to us with kind words about how one of our folks helped them, he would print it out and tape it to the front door of our office. Over time it came to include dozens of these customer testimonials and it is always noticed and commented by visitors and guests. Every time a new compliment is hung on the door, the entire team beams and the individual recognized has a wonderful proud moment. What this teaches is one of the values we try hard to live by, which is that we are customer-focused and every one of us has a responsibility to serve our users as best we can.

Recognizing that the ‘team’ is the most important asset a company has means showing, every day, that we value one another. Company culture needs to reflect this simple truth and there are easy ways to do so. Start by spending time with your fellow team members: outings, parties, special events, and special projects are great ways to help build strong bonds. It can be even simpler than that; for instance when the team came to my home recently for several days of work together I promised pancakes for all. By taking 30 minutes out of my busy day to cook for everyone I delivered the sincere message that I valued them, liked, them and wanted to have fun with them. Plus, pancakes are delicious.

Every company, every manager, must look for ways to build bonds, support one another, celebrate every worker’s accomplishments, and instill the core values that a company is built on. Plus, can you think of a better way to message how you value your team than by hanging their drawings on the fridge and eating pancakes together? I can’t.

Photo: Dio, Bianca and Yang enjoying cS culture!

Twitter Link Roundup #220 – Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More Ross | April 25th, 2014

streetart

 

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 piece of cycling awareness street art created by Peter Drew, an artist based in Adelaide, Australia.

smallbusinessblog

7 Reasons You Can’t Be Friends With Your Employees – crowdspring.co/1jrrWok

The Ultimate List of Customer Development Questions – crowdspring.co/1nHT6tS

Run Your Meeting Like a Boss: Lessons from Mayer, Musk, and Jobs | 99U – crowdspring.co/RNro4N

startupsblog

Salaries Startup Founders Pay Themselves | Business Insider – crowdspring.co/1nHU2OK

San Francisco’s Housing Crisis Explained | TechCrunch – crowdspring.co/1mt5kZR

The Ultimate List of Customer Development Questions – crowdspring.co/1nHT6tS

A 3-Day Weekend…Every Weekend? This Company Makes It Happen – crowdspring.co/1i7ejbt

Don’t Fuck Up the Culture – crowdspring.co/RNs9uF

Avoiding common data-interpretation errors – crowdspring.co/RNprpc

Corporate Acquisitions Of Startups — Why Do They Fail? – crowdspring.co/1hrlsaI

Foreign Startup Founders Face Unique Struggles To Break Funding Barrier | TechCrunch – crowdspring.co/1mJ9Pjd

How Corporations Can Innovate Like Startups | PandoDaily – crowdspring.co/REKKZX

Early Stage Startups: The Biggest Killers | Forbes – crowdspring.co/1mtenKl

7 Reasons You Can’t Be Friends With Your Employees – crowdspring.co/1jrrWok

Run Your Meeting Like a Boss: Lessons from Mayer, Musk, and Jobs | 99U – crowdspring.co/RNro4N

Freemium vs. Free: Why We Ditched Our Free Plan At Trak.io (SaaS) – crowdspring.co/1jrpLBf

Etsy, Home of the Handmade, Takes On a Wholesaler’s Role – crowdspring.co/1mt5DDO

Here’s Why Box’s Aaron Levie Is A Genius | Business Insider – crowdspring.co/RNoInL

Culture Eats Strategy For Breakfast | TechCrunch – crowdspring.co/RNp263

How Google Screwed Up Google Glass | by Gene Marks in Forbes – crowdspring.co/1mus4Gd

Growth rates for Apple’s four major hardware product lines – pic.twitter.com/apLp6PsiHX

Amazon and Google are in an epic battle to dominate the cloud—and Amazon may already have won | Quartz – crowdspring.co/1eVLm7M

socialmediablog

How to Build a Billion Dollar SEO Empire – crowdspring.co/1jrrtm7

Why Search Volume Doesn’t Matter as Much as You Think – crowdspring.co/1nHSu7x

Fresh Collection Of Creative Ads | Top Design Magazine – crowdspring.co/1iDk59l

Facebook Launching Mobile Ad Network At F8 Conference | Re/code – crowdspring.co/1musoF6

Freemium vs. Free: Why We Ditched Our Free Plan At Trak.io (SaaS) – crowdspring.co/1jrpLBf

Presentations: Why I Hate Them | by Mike Samson – crowdspring.co/1nCq2nz

designblog

Glossary of Design Jargon – New & Old (Part 2) | Design Shack – crowdspring.co/1m4khi8

20 Compact and Sporty Sans Serif Fonts – crowdspring.co/1ijERL3

Read the rest of this post »

Presentations: Why I Hate Them Mike | April 21st, 2014

I am fortunate enough to receive a handful of invitations each year to speak at various gatherings, conferences, and trade shows. I take these opportunities seriously and understand that I have a responsibility to the event organizers as well as an obligation to the audience.  My goals when speaking are 1) to educate, and 2) to entertain.

Over time and with practice, I have gotten better at both and truly look forward to these engagements when they arise. When I attend these events I always try to watch a few of the other presentations to see what I can learn for myself, and to pick up some ideas from other speakers about how they go about engaging and entertaining the crowd. However, on virtually occasion I am uniformly disappointed. The speakers are boring, the material uninteresting, the presentation lackluster. I sit there in the audience as the bullet points and charts wash over me, fighting sleep and wondering if these speakers have ever heard the word pizazz.

Engaging audiences is not easy. The first step is in taking some time to understand them. Who are they and why are they here in the first place? What are they hoping to learn? With these answers in hands, it is best to think abut what NOT to do, and it’s pretty simple, really. Don’t be boring. Don’t lull them to sleep with endless bullet points. Don’t clog their brains with dense and complicated charts. Don’t drone on and on about the facts and figures that you might be interested in, but that they find irrelevant.

People like stories. If your presentation can tell a story, and if your story is accompanied by  rich, clean visuals  you will draw your audience in and open them to whatever it is you are trying to teach. For instance, if your goal is to teach them about a new method for teaching a foreign language, tell the story about how one person was able to do this effectively and how it changed her life. Give your audience a hook, something that they can easily get their minds around and something that relates to their own lives and it will allow you to deliver the information in a way that will be easy to absorb and will keep them entertained and engaged.

So about those rich, clean visuals? The trick is to keep them simple and uncluttered. Choose a background that will not distract, use a large font, avoid cluttered headers and footers, and use your voice to deliver the information with the slide supporting what you are saying. In other words, the more information you deliver orally and the less you deliver visually, the more successful you will be. Lastly, never, ever stand there and read the slides to the audience. Remember, most of them can read for themselves – they’re looking to you to teach them what they re there to learn; your slides are there to supplement your words and not vise-versa.

Here then (in presentation form) my rules for great presentations:

Read the rest of this post »

Twitter Link Roundup #219 – Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More Ross | April 18th, 2014

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 video above is a parody commercial filmed in the style we’ve recently seen on television from AT&T. If you’re a fan of HBO’s show True Detective, you’ll enjoy it.

smallbusinessblog

Extending Unemployment Benefits: Why it Matters to Small Business – crowdspring.co/1qy0hXb

Pivot if you must, but don’t twirl | by Howard Tullman – crowdspring.co/1eBetgu

25 Small Business Social Media Trends You Need | Heidi Cohen – crowdspring.co/1ijBmUJ

startupsblog

Fred Wilson Interview | Business Insider – crowdspring.co/1eBcoRO

Pivot if you must, but don’t twirl | by Howard Tullman – crowdspring.co/1eBetgu

Why Amazon Is Copying Zappos and Paying Employees to Quit | Harvard Business Review – crowdspring.co/1ijCiIW

Inside Story of Clinkle | Business Insider – crowdspring.co/1m4hpls

socialmediablog

Ad Fraud Creates Worry For Some, Opportunity For Others | Advertising Age – crowdspring.co/1kXIaGI

10 Charts That Are Changing the Way We Measure Content | The Content Strategist – crowdspring.co/1eBfm8P

25 Small Business Social Media Trends You Need | Heidi Cohen – crowdspring.co/1ijBmUJ

Why Custom Audience targeting proves that email has won the internet – crowdspring.co/1m4jXQE

designblog

10 Crucial Lessons From History’s Greatest Graphic Designers | Co.Design – crowdspring.co/1iOPHGx

If 27 Famous Artists Designed Buildings | Co.Design – crowdspring.co/1ijAhfB

24 Creative Birds Inspired Products | InstantShift – crowdspring.co/1m4ctNu

Do’s and Don’ts of Using Light Typefaces | UX Movement – crowdspring.co/1ijB4gI

70 Really Cool Business Card Designs for Inspiration | iBrandStudio – crowdspring.co/1ijEjEL

Read the rest of this post »

Extending Unemployment Benefits: Why it Matters to Small Business Mike | April 14th, 2014

Unlike large corporations, small businesses are highly vulnerable to the peaks and valleys of the economy. In good times, when people have money to spend, small businesses can thrive as they attract more customers.

Since the market crash of 2008, our economy has struggled to revive. Unemployment has remained at stubbornly high levels and the number of “long-term” unemployed workers has remained at historic highs. In the first quarter of 2014, 2.6% of workers  have been jobless for at least 27 weeks and have now run out of state benefits, leaving them at the mercy of their savings (if they have any left), their families (assuming they are doing any better), and private charities such as food banks and shelters.

The problem is staggering – long-term unemployment is at all-time highs in forty-one of the fifty states with over 2.8 million workers, yet the share of jobless Americans receiving aid has fallen to an all-time low. When the Federal program that provided extended unemployment benefits expired at the end of December, these workers were left in the cold, further exacerbating the threat of high structural unemployment which continues to grow.

When Congress allowed benefits for these workers to expire, serious damage was caused, not just to the families of the unemployed, but to the economy at large and small business in particular. Washington has been struggling to find a way to extend the benefits, but it has been a rough and winding road, with fierce resistance to providing additional benefits. Last week the US Senate passed a bill which would restore federal funding for extended unemployment benefits for those 2.8 million long-term unemployed.

Why is the restoration of unemployment benefits important to small business? Because the economic impact of high unemployment effects small businesses most profoundly. When consumers have less cash to spend, revenues drop as demand contracts. And where a large business would typically have resources sufficient  to weather a down year or two, most small businesses have reserves that might get them through a bad quarter at most. In addition, the population of unemployed drains other resources: many wind up on disability, food stamps, or early Social Security, which places additional burden on all taxpayers. The cycle is vicious: as small business is impacted, more workers are laid off. And as these newly unemployed struggle to find work, employee retention rates actually rise (in down times, people tend to hold tightly to a “job in hand”) reducing the number of open positions available.

People want to work and business and government should remember that the unemployed represent a wasted resource; this is capacity waiting to be utilized and wasted capacity is wasted opportunity.

Photo: Unemployed outside a soup kitchen — Wikimedia

Twitter Link Roundup #218 – Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More Ross | April 11th, 2014

chicago1909

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 shows a typical rush hour in Chicago in 1909. Few things have changed – rush hour is still insanely busy, but at least nobody is moving logs through the center of the city.

smallbusinessblog

Small Business and Startup Tips: Managing Remote Vendors – crowdspring.co/1lL1sTK

Don’t Allow Failure To Kill Your Business | LinkedIn – crowdspring.co/1lL9b4b

While struggling to build companies, some founders also quietly battle depression | BetaBoston – crowdspring.co/1mUNP1y

How to Make Better Reference Calls – crowdspring.co/1e9bls4

Negotiating Tips for People Who HATE Negotiating – crowdspring.co/1mZymNH

Why the Best Entrepreneurs and Creators are Humble | The Next Web – crowdspring.co/1e9b5t3

5 Bad Excuses Not To Start a Business | Entrepreneurship Compass – crowdspring.co/PUUAFR

startupsblog

Don’t Allow Failure To Kill Your Business | LinkedIn – crowdspring.co/1lL9b4b

Small Business and Startup Tips: Managing Remote Vendors – crowdspring.co/1lL1sTK

“38% of venture-backed founders are over 40 years old” – crowdspring.co/1hywYgv

Here’s Why You’re Not Hiring the Best and the Brightest – crowdspring.co/1lLnBBm

Five Reasons Not To Raise Venture Capital, by Rachel Chalmers | Model View Culture – crowdspring.co/1lIlpYH

How Old Are Silicon Valley’s Top Founders? Here’s the Data | Harvard Business Review – crowdspring.co/1lLgAjK

Inside Sequoia Capital: Silicon Valley’s Innovation Factory – crowdspring.co/1hyz3sN

Google, Apple or IPO: What’s Next for Square? | Re/code – crowdspring.co/1embSqM

5 Lies That Come Out of Entrepreneurs’ Mouths | by Gene Marks – crowdspring.co/1g18f4s

Exploring the Series B Crunch – crowdspring.co/1gTQuYS

Negotiating Tips for People Who HATE Negotiating – crowdspring.co/1mZymNH

5 Bad Excuses Not To Start a Business | Entrepreneurship Compass – crowdspring.co/PUUAFR

SaaS Pricing: 3 Rules for Effectively Using Discounts – crowdspring.co/1knI2Es

The decline of the mobile web – crowdspring.co/1lIlKL4

Cash Piles, Paranoia Fuel Tech Giants’ Buying Binge – crowdspring.co/1gKTw1y

Remaking Open Offices So Introverts Don’t Hate Them | Co.Exist – crowdspring.co/1lLo46l

Why the Best Entrepreneurs and Creators are Humble | The Next Web – crowdspring.co/1e9b5t3

The startup explosion | The Economist – crowdspring.co/1gTSjVC

How to Make Better Reference Calls – crowdspring.co/1e9bls4

While struggling to build companies, some founders also quietly battle depression | BetaBoston – crowdspring.co/1mUNP1y

Benchmarking Box’s S-1: How 7 Key SaaS Metrics Stack Up | by Thomas Tunguz – crowdspring.co/1dysrz8

Good insight from @benedictevans about the TV industry – crowdspring.co/1lzf4RO

How Gmail Happened: The Inside Story of Its Launch 10 Years Ago Today – crowdspring.co/1hmrR2j

How Sleep Deprivation Drives The High Failure Rates of Tech Startups | Forbes – crowdspring.co/1e8AHAF

The Virtual Genius of Oculus Rift – crowdspring.co/1e8Acqg

socialmediablog

“Real Time” in Display Advertising Doesn’t Really Mean Real Time – crowdspring.co/1hyAnvG

Good reminder from Seth Godin that in social media, what matters is to matter – crowdspring.co/1gnu0ee

Study: Expert Content 83% More Effective Lifting Purchase Considerations Than User Reviews – crowdspring.co/1e8zfyc

Peet’s Coffee & Tea Inks Profit-Sharing Deal with Razorfish | Advertising Age – crowdspring.co/1hmm2C4

designblog

20 Most Creative Product Packaging Designs – crowdspring.co/1mqyhFi

Free Fonts for Free Download | Graphic Design Junction – crowdspring.co/1giJLaD

Read the rest of this post »

Small Business and Startup Tips: Managing Remote Vendors Mike | April 7th, 2014

The modern miracle that is the Internet provides us with tools that allow many of us to work anywhere, anytime. For instance, with the assist of a strong wifi signal and a headset, crowdSPRING’s crack customer service team can work their shifts from any random Starbucks or local cafe. And with SaaS project management software, such as Basecamp, chatrooms like Campfire, Help Desk tools like Zendesk, and video conferencing services like Google Hangouts, and internet based phone services like Skype and IfByPhone teams have the ability to work remotely, while fully engaging with their teams and companies.

That’s cool, you say, but what about working with vendors and contractors? Many of us have deep relationships with these talented people and companies and find it difficult to collaborate as closely as we would like to. They may be miles or even oceans away, yet we often need to be together to work productively and creatively with them. The bad news is, remote relationships with vendors can never be as productive or efficient as those with whom we can meet in person on a regular basis. But the good news is that the very same tools that many of us use to work with our own teams can be leveraged to wonderful effect when collaborating with service providers.

  • Call them! Skype is a great tool for making internet-based calls, especially if the person you are calling is based outside of your country. The rates to call most countries are pennies per minute, and if the other person has a Skype account, the call is completely free. Set up a weekly phone call, share files, links, and other resources using Skype’s built in chat tool, and even bring video into the mix when the other person is logged in!
  • Collaborate across the divide! Just a few short years ago, creating and collaborating on shared documents was a matter of creating one in Microsoft Word or another word processor, emailing it to your confederate, waiting for them to send their redline changes to the next person in the group, and twiddling your thumbs until it had made the rounds through the entire team and was back in your hands. Google Docs has changed all of that and working with vendors and contractors will never be the same (not to mention the myriad documents you need to share in-house). Creating a document, spreadsheet, or presentation is easy and sharing it with as many associates as you like couldn’t be simpler. Collaborators can edit together in real-time, aided by clever brightly-colored cursors so you can easily see who is doing what in the document. Versions are saved, making it simple to restore a prior edition if the changes made are not to your liking, and there are tools for formatting, exporting, and commenting which are particularly useful when leaving notes for the others.
  • Combine and conquer! Basecamp and other project management tools allow you and your vendor to work together on projects efficiently and effectively. Manage multiple projects easily; share files, pictures, and text; and set up To-Do lists that can be updated by any number of authorized collaborators on a project. You and your vendor can use the tool together in real-time or asynchronously, allowing users in vastly different time zones to work to successfully collaborate systematically and constructively.
  • Conference time! Google Hangouts has made it easy and affordable for small companies to host video calls for one-on-one meetings as well as conferences with larger groups. Did I say affordable? What I meant was FREE! Simply set up a new hangout room, send out the invites, and your vendor can be in a meeting with you and your team in real time, anytime. All they need is their own Google+ account, a simple browser plugin, a video camera (built-in or usb-powered), and a microphone or headset. The audio and video quality or phenomenal, the interface simple to use, and the available features are indispensable. Real-time text chat, remote muting, and full-on screensharing allow users to make presentations, share notes, and control for the inevitable crying baby in the next room.

 

Illustration: Video telephony in the year 2000, as imagined in 1910, Wikimedia Commons