Fresh from the SPRING: ezequielsantos Audree | June 21st, 2016

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 ezequielsantos. Check out more great work on ezequielsantos’ profile page.

Nicely done, ezequielsantos, nicely done!

FFTS-TEq

How One Book, Science, and This Article Will Change Your Productivity and Happiness Arielle Kimbarovsky | June 15th, 2016

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The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss is one of my favorite business books. When I first read it several years ago, I had no experience working a self-directed, flexible schedule. With one short exception, I had always been exposed to specific timetables, exclusively hard deadlines, and the mentality that “more is more”. The sole exception was during an internship with a company that briefly experimented with flexible self direction – only to change managers and require set hours, working around the clock.

Set hours made me really unhappy, but I didn’t know why. I didn’t realize the toll that such an overly structured, hyper-managed culture was taking on me. I didn’t think much about this until I switched companies and was introduced to an open, flexible, relaxed culture. Truthfully, I couldn’t fully understand my own feelings about working in a rigid culture, and I’m sure that many other people struggle with the same issue.

Despite many companies and startups advertising (and purporting to implement) company cultures that include the required buzzwords of “unlimited vacation time”, “flexible work schedule”, and “ability to work remote”, many business owners still buy into the idea that “time is money”. More time worked equals more money – or at least that’s the formula some business owners follow.

Here’s an interesting fact that I’m certain managers and business owners never share with people who work 60 to 100 hour per week: we can’t actually tell the difference between the productivity of someone who works over 80 hours vs. someone who works fewer than 40 hours.

In a study published by Organization Science (Embracing, Passing, Revealing, and the Ideal Worker Image: How People Navigate Expected and Experienced Professional Identities), Erin Reid from Boston University Questrom School of Business analyzed the differences between employees self-perception and their employers’ evaluations. Reid made several interesting discoveries. For example, Reid found that employees in harsh “time is money” cultures were usually dishonest about the actual amount of work they completed in the timeframe they gave their boss. She also found that employees gave the most positive evaluations to those workers who they perceived were working the longest hours.

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Fresh from the SPRING: joannagraphic Audree | June 14th, 2016

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

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

Nicely done, joannagraphic, nicely done!

FFTS-joannagraphic

 

Fresh from the SPRING: rudyy Audree | June 7th, 2016

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 rudyy. Check out more great work on rudyy’s profile page.

Nicely done, rudyy, nicely done!

FFTS-rudyy

 

 

Why Content Marketing Is Essential For Successful Startups and Small Businesses Arielle Kimbarovsky | June 6th, 2016

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A startup’s success is driven in large part by a startup’s ability to drive customer acquisition growth. After all, customers create revenue, and revenue, if the business model is smart, often leads to profits. Not every company has figured out the path to customer acquisition growth, however. Ultimately, word-of-mouth can be effective for some companies, unique marketing tactics can help others, but it’s difficult to succeed in many industries without a strong content strategy.

This is easier said than done. Today, we have to race to keep up with the constantly changing and growing amount of content. In fact, the amount of content generated in the world every 10 minutes is greater than the entire collection housed in the U.S. Library of Congress.

A few decades ago,strategies and tactics differed. Most older strategies were analog, not digital. Then, we would have been sending out fliers, making phone calls, and placing newspaper ads. Some of these strategies, such as hyper-local marketing, are still effective today. Today, we must consider newer digital tactics like SEO (search engine optimization). [To read more about different types of marketing, we recommend Small Business Marketing Guides: Types of Traditional and Online Marketing]

Not surprisingly, for many companies, SEO marketing makes up an important portion of our marketing strategies, whether we know it or not. When someone conducts a search on a search engine like Google, Bing or DuckDuckGo, we want them to find our company’s website at the top, instead of going through dozens of pages of results. So nearly everything we do online for our company translates, directly or indirectly, into helping or hurting SEO.

The problem is that most startups don’t have the budget to spend on fancy (or sometimes even simple) SEO tools or consultants to pay for deep analytics or content strategies. Most of us end up turning towards social media sites like Twitter or Facebook, or creating videos for Youtube.

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Do You Have To Be Creative To Be A Successful Entrepreneur? Arielle Kimbarovsky | June 1st, 2016

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Startups are like roller-coasters. If you run or work at a startup, you experience many highs and lows and you can’t always anticipate what’s ahead. Education and experience helps us to overcome many difficult situations, but education and experience are rarely enough. To be successful, we also must be creative in the ways we face and overcome problems.

Why isn’t education and experience enough?

If you think about it, startups don’t typically have the same resources, capital, or credibility found in established companies. This forces entrepreneurs and their startups to think outside of the box, and to take actions that are very different than those an established company might take. For example, established companies rarely bet their entire company on a single new product, yet startups regularly do this. Established companies tweak marketing, product design, sales, and many other processes in incremental ways. Many established companies talk about innovation, but few actually understand how to innovate and even fewer are innovative.

Psychology professor Thomas B. Ward explores this issue in his article on cognitive approaches to entrepreneurship. Through his research, Ward found that a majority of an entrepreneur’s creativity is invested in solving paradoxes. The Routlegde Companion to Creativity summarizes one of his findings:

For example, in introducing a new product in the market, entrepreneurs will have to combine novelty and familiarity, the former for catching attention and the latter to prevent outright rejection.

This paradox happens because startups must be able to do many things well, but lack resources. The Routledge Companion to Creativity explains:

In a physical sense, the most critical of these paradoxes, as apparent from the situation described above, is the mismatch between the requirements and availability of resources. Building a new enterprise and establishing it in the competitive field would need a lot of resources, which the newness and smallness of the enterprise/entrepreneur prevents them from attracting. In prioritizing the tasks to be performed while implementing their entrepreneurial vision, entrepreneurs have to focus on the critical tasks, but paradoxically have to take care of every routine, in the absence of robust organizational systems and procedures. Such paradoxes can also cloud the mental processes of the entrepreneur.

Even though entrepreneurs are asked to do the impossible and to disrupt our daily lives, they often struggle to find the right way to do this.

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Fresh from the SPRING: ddamiandd Audree | May 31st, 2016

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 ddamiandd. Check out more great work on ddamiandd’s profile page.

Nicely done, ddamiandd, nicely done!

FFTS-ddamiandd

 

 

How Clutter Affects Your Productivity, And What You Can Do About It Arielle Kimbarovsky | May 25th, 2016

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I read many blogs to get inspired, learn, and to see what other people are doing. I’ve noticed that over the past few years, more people have been writing about productivity. This makes sense because as entrepreneurs and business owners, we are always looking for ways in which we can improve our productivity – or get more done in a shorter amount of time. I often see posts and articles focusing on apps, devices, open offices, and other external technologies to help increase productivity. Such things are often helpful. For example, you can increase your productivity by not snoozing your alarm every morning. However, when we rely only on external assistance to help us solve a problem or achieve a goal, we are only partially helping ourselves.

The truth is that we must learn how to rely on ourselves to strengthen our own weaknesses, because we created those weaknesses or at the very least, allowed them to fester. For example, when it comes to productivity, timers and to-do list rarely can change what happens inside our brains. After all, we easily trick ourselves into thinking that being busy is the same as being productive. John Jantsch, a leading small business marketing expert, explains:

I think a lot of entrepreneurs fall into the trap of being busy and calling it being productive. Busy is really easy – productive is really hard.

Busy is checking email, reading Facebook and listening to podcasts. Now, some of that may actually be productivity inducing, but real productivity is probably more like focusing on important strategic relationships, finishing that new product or completing the proposal for that new client.

Fortunately, science can help us uncover productivity gains that we typically ignore. For example, psychologists and researchers have discovered that among external factors that impact our productivity, one stands out: clutter.

In an article for The Journal of Neuroscience, researchers from the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute published results from a study on organized and cluttered living:

Multiple stimuli present in the visual field at the same time compete for neural representation by mutually suppressing their evoked activity throughout visual cortex, providing a neural correlate for the limited processing capacity of the visual system.

The researchers discovered that when there was too much stuff in sight, people had a significantly and measurably more difficult time being productive. This translates into lower levels of productivity and even more clutter. Basically, clutter caused people to lose focus and brain processing power – even when they were accustomed to working in a messier area.

Why should you care?

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Fresh from the SPRING: OlgiCh Audree | May 24th, 2016

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 OlgiCh. Check out more great work on OlgiCh’s profile page.

Nicely done, OlgiCh, nicely done!

FFTS-OlgiCh

The Psychology of Hiring Great People Arielle Kimbarovsky | May 18th, 2016

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Building a great team is nearly always the key difference between the success or failure of a business. Each person we hire contributes to not only the development of the product, but also to the productivity of the team and overall company culture. When we make a bad hiring decision, we not only affect the product, but we also affect the team, the company’s culture, and the potential success of the business. This is especially dangerous when hiring mistakes happen at a time when the company is still young and its culture is loosely defined.

But what is a bad hiring decision?

Most people agree that a bad hire is someone unable to mesh well with the team or one who doesn’t embrace the company’s values and culture – aka someone with underdeveloped soft skills. Whether it’s a lack of technical skill, inability to learn, or a personality incompatibility, these people just don’t work out – and end up costing us a lot of money. Yet more often than not, bad hires aren’t people who lack technical skills. This is because technical skills are relatively simple to test for, and are often the basis of the entire interview for most companies.

Instead of simply hiring for technical skill, industrial/organizational psychologist Steven Jarrett emphasizes the idea of hiring for personality/cultural fit. He talks about the importance of using I/O psychology in the hiring process in order to identify someone’s aptitude for learning and fitting in with a certain position. He recounts a military example that shows the little weight technical skills hold in hiring the “right fit”:

U.S. military began applying I/O psychology concepts during WWI, providing more early visibility to the field.  During WWI the U.S. government wanted a way to place individuals into the right type of military career or military path.  A group of psychologists worked with the army to develop two tests:  the Army Alpha and the Army Beta.  These tests were used to identify an individual’s aptitude toward specific military roles.  Over time businesses started to understand that the same principles may be applied to help identify and select better employees.

Jarrett echoes the advice of many experienced entrepreneurs and business owners: hire those with stronger soft skills than technical skills. And especially in the world of startups, technical skills become outdated each day, so it’s important to be able to keep up. As an example, if you were a computer science major ten years ago and now build mobile apps, very little of what you learned in your technical classes is directly relevant to your job today.

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