Twitter Link Roundup #215 – Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More Ross | March 14th, 2014

duckad

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 above ad for Aflac is arguably, one of the most interesting ad placements ever.

smallbusinessblog

Brand NEW edition of Empower Your Small Business, crowdSPRING’s small business newsletter – crowdspring.co/1gnb0N1

9 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Their Customers – crowdspring.co/1loBthB

Thinking about buying some online ads? Most people ignore them – crowdspring.co/1fWp19y

The Essential Email Marketing Metrics You Should Be Tracking | Hubspot blog – crowdspring.co/1gY786G

It takes 3 years [before you know if your startup can be a real business] – crowdspring.co/1kK2ZJ8

startupsblog

Guerilla tips for raising venture capital | VentureBeat – crowdspring.co/P6hM3O

Does A Billion-Dollar Valuation Buy Employee Happiness? | ReadWrite – crowdspring.co/1ekm5xR

Good read for entrepreneurs & startup employees on liquidation preferences – crowdspring.co/1neVvzy

Our Dangerous Obsession With The MVP | TechCrunch by Bill Aullet – crowdspring.co/P5QJpf

9 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Their Customers – crowdspring.co/1loBthB

Why Big Teams Suck – crowdspring.co/1g1zYk1

1871 to launch incubator for female entrepreneurs – crowdspring.co/1gnuwsz

Yahoo: Destroyer Of Startups | ReadWrite – crowdspring.co/1gY8bTY

It takes 3 years [before you know if your startup can be a real business] – crowdspring.co/1kK2ZJ8

How Aaron Levie & childhood friends built Box into a $2 billion business, without stabbing each other in the back – crowdspring.co/1emK8w1

A Deeper Look at Uber’s Dynamic Pricing Model – crowdspring.co/1kK4gjw

4 Hard Earned Lessons from Ben Horowitz – crowdspring.co/1emJcIa

“Chicago’s venture funding performance is improving [but] Chicago is still trailing several major metro areas.” crowdspring.co/1lPU1Ks

The Rise and Future of the New York Startup Ecosystem | Nick Beim – crowdspring.co/1gYew1W

Expectations vs. Reality: 8 Lessons From The First Year As CEO – crowdspring.co/P90kM2

socialmediablog

The Essential Email Marketing Metrics You Should Be Tracking | Hubspot blog – crowdspring.co/1gY786G

Twitter’s ad rates continue falling, down 18% last quarter. My guess: poor results & low demand – crowdspring.co/1gY63vJ

Social, Digital & Mobile Around The World (January 2014) – crowdspring.co/1gYcVJm

Thinking about buying some online ads? Most people ignore them – crowdspring.co/1fWp19y

4 Surprising SEM Stats Every E-Commerce Marketer Should Know | Search Engine Land – crowdspring.co/1kD9ZHH

designblog

iPad Air Template (PSD) – crowdspring.co/1eVTeiX

Best Cities For Freelancers | Business Insider – crowdspring.co/1eklyfu

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9 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Their Customers Mike | March 10th, 2014

In this series, I have typically chosen a group of people and looked at the unique things they do from which we can all learn. These lessons have sometimes been silly, and sometimes serious, but they have always tried to focus on how, as entrepreneurs and managers, we can draw lessons from the world around us.

As management has become increasingly data-driven, the best managers have developed a facility with extracting and analyzing data: market data, competitive data, and (most of all) customer data. The information we collect on our customers can help us to develop new products and services, test marketing campaigns and pricing models, and find ways to more efficiently deliver value to our intended audience. The best way to do this is by asking questions and looking to your existing customers for the answers. Those questions will necessarily vary from business to business, but the commonalities within a customer or user base are striking. Here are 9 ways that virtually any business can learn from their customers and how to do so.

1. Customers complain. It’s inevitable. They will complain, they will be frustrated and they will let you know it. So if they’re gonna do it anyhow, the best thing you can do is make it frictionless for them to do so. Make yourself available via phone, website, and email and be sure to listen when they speak.

2. Customers explain. They have ideas and suggestions, too, and good managers learn to listen closely to those.  It is important to listen closely when your customers complain and ask them for feedback and ideas for how you can improve.

3. Customers behave. No matter whether your business is online or off your customer’s data can be mined for insight into their behavior, their preferences, and their habits. Track their data and understand why they do what they do and use those insights to improve your product and better your ability to respond.

4. Customers leave. As often as not, customers have choices and, for now at least, they have chosen you over your competitor. This doesn’t mean they will stay with you and when they do leave, you need to understand why. Exit interviews or surveys are an excellent tool for gathering this information. Be sure to offer an incentive to help motivate a customer to respond and to share information with you. Even a $5 Starbucks card goes a long way to improving response rates.

5. Customers talk. Monitor social media carefully for mentions of your company. Set up simple searches so that you know whenever someone is talking about you on Twitter or Facebook and be sure to respond quickly and professionally. It tends to impress people to see that you are paying attention and is a wonderful way to strengthen relationships with your customers. Read the rest of this post »

Twitter Link Roundup #214 – Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More Ross | March 7th, 2014

marylin

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 fun look at how celebrities would look if they worked in a tattoo parlor. More tattooed celebrities in the Other section below.

smallbusinessblog

Small Business Marketing 2014: Smart Web Design Best Practices and Tips - crowdspring.co/1dn9KvH

Small Business and Startups: Tips for Reducing Refunds - crowdspring.co/1eLxfzG

Don’t fear competition. Many of the best companies embrace it - crowdspring.co/1kgAen9

startupsblog

Small Business and Startups: Tips for Reducing Refunds - crowdspring.co/1eLxfzG

Startup and Small Business Marketing 2014: Smart Web Design Best Practices and Tips - crowdspring.co/1dn9KvH

Don’t fear competition. Many of the best companies embrace it - crowdspring.co/1kgAen9

The simplest and most important dashboard for early stage startups - crowdspring.co/1gMgfqV

Employee Retention - crowdspring.co/1f2fAz5

How Modern Marketplaces Like Uber and Airbnb Build Trust to Achieve Liquidity - crowdspring.co/Ntc8Yi

A Guide To Post Seed Financing Options | TechCrunch – crowdspring.co/1eVEel8

Short-term Profit Taking vs. Long-term Value Creation: The Future of PayPal | by Reid Hoffman – crowdspring.co/P1TEzj

Inside The Facebook-WhatsApp Megadeal: The Courtship, The Secret Meetings, The $19 Billion Poker Game | Forbes - crowdspring.co/P0srgy

Going Through Y Combinator (S13): Nine Lessons Learned - crowdspring.co/P0pmwP

$1 billion dollar funds are no longer cool. Who’ll be the first to raise $10 billion? crowdspring.co/1l7OfAL

How a Startup Created the No. 1 Rated Mattress on Amazon / on.recode.net/1cumiUe

The Pro-Rata Participation Right | AVC - crowdspring.co/1f2emUK

Failure is Opportunity: It Was Good That Shaun White Lost in Sochi | by Barry Moltz - crowdspring.co/1gMg1js

Top 50 Startups To Work For After College | Business 2 Community – crowdspring.co/1kJbIIh

socialmediablog

7 Things Marketers Can Learn From 2,616 Viral Headlines. | ripenn - crowdspring.co/1gSudHW

The Sale After The Sale: The New Reality Of Selling Display Ads - crowdspring.co/P1Tb07

Responsive, adaptive, mobile or native? What’s the best option? | Econsultancy - crowdspring.co/1eVVwyw

Small Business Marketing 2014: Smart Web Design Best Practices and Tips - crowdspring.co/1dn9KvH

Nude Webcams and Diet Drugs: the Facebook Ads Teens Aren’t Supposed to See -crowdspring.co/1kgyNFe

designblog

What’s new for designers, February 2014 | Webdesigner Depot - crowdspring.co/1k4hOTg

25 Fresh Free fonts Created In 2014 | Creative Nerds - crowdspring.co/1eVU7Ib

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Small Business Marketing 2014: Smart Web Design Best Practices and Tips Ross | March 4th, 2014

If you don’t have a dedicated website for your startup or small business, you are not alone. But you’re in grave danger to fall further behind your competition.

You might be slowly building a fan base on Facebook (if you’re buying fans on Facebook by advertising, you’re very likely wasting your money), sharing small bits of content on Twitter and posting images to Pinterest. But without a digital home, you’re scattering your efforts and missing an incredible opportunity to engage and connect with your customers and potential customers through a dedicated website.

Today, we’ll cover small business web design best practices and tips. It’s been a few years since we’ve written on this topic. Many things have changed – we’ll point you to great new resources and examples – but the fundamental best practices of good web design have remained consistent.

Here are our top 10 tips to help you create an awesome website design in 2014:

1. Keep the design simple, fresh, and unique.cs-site

Your website reflects your brand. It is the first impression a visitor will form when they visit your site for the first time. If you use an off-the-shelf template and your website looks like thousands of other sites on the Internet, you’ll miss an opportunity to create a unique impression. Why would a potential customer remember your site when she has seen dozens of other sites that look just like your site.

The homepage is typically the most important page in a small business website because your potential customers will likely see that page first when they visit your website. Moreover, because most small business sites have fewer than a dozen pages total, the homepage is an important anchor for your overall site. It must answer several important questions – including who you are and what you do.

Consider the impression you want to make and the message that you want to communicate to your customers and potential customers.

Make sure you have a professional logo design. A logo created from clip-art or a template won’t be unique and will create a poor  impression. Even worse, it may expose you to substantial legal risk.

You should keep one very important fact in mind: users typically read only 28% of the words during an average visit. Don’t overload your homepage with a lot of text and images. Consider the most important content and images you want your users to see and get rid of everything else.

Consider too that your visitors might be visiting from laptops and mobile phones, so try to avoid designing pages for a large monitor size or pages that use more complex features such as flash animation or complex navigation (flash isn’t supported on the iPhone and iPad, for example).

Tip: You can implement modern design trends to make your site look current. For example, flat design has become popular. If you’ve used iOS 7 on an iPhone or iPad, or Windows 8, you’ve seen flat design first-hand. Flat design eliminates gradients and shadowing, making images and fonts smaller and easier to read. Other 2014 design trends include blurred backgrounds, simple animations, more scrolling, and bigger fonts. For even more about 2014 design trends, I recommend you read 18 pivotal web design trends for 2014.

For a more sophisticated look, you can consider parallax scrolling, although this is typically overkill for most small business sites. Parallax scrolling presents the webpage as multiple layers; the background layer scrolls at different speeds compared to the foreground layer (or may not move at all). Sometimes, animation also helps to enhance the effect. For more on parallax scrolling, including tips and examples, I recommend you read 2014 Will Be Year of Parallax.

Advanced Tip 1: Once you design your homepage, you can run very simple tests to figure out which buttons, colors, and pieces of content earn the most clicks. After all, marketing is as much a science as it is an art. For more about A/B testing, I recommend you read 7 Dead-Simple A/B Tests You Should Run on Your Homepage.

Advanced Tip 2: Particularly on your homepage – but also on any pages where you’re trying to persuade the user to take some action – think about what action you want the user to take and create a prominent “call to action” button. For tips on creative effective calls to action, I suggest you review 10 Techniques For An Effective ‘Call To Action’.

The call to action (CTA) on your homepage is an important element to draw visitors deeper into your site. You should consider a few important factors when you design your CTA, including: (a) location (above the fold – visible on the monitor when the page first loads is typically ideal), (b) make sure the CTA stands out from the other content on your site (notice how the crowdSPRING “Learn more” CTA is pink?), (c) create a link to another page so that your call to action will draw the visitor deeper into your site, (d) create a less-emphasized alternative variation (notice the “take a quick tour” link below crowdSPRING’s primary CTA, (e) and test design, content, and placement.

2. Showscase your products and services.

You’re selling a product or service. Make sure that you clearly showcase that product or service on your homepage. I’ve seen many small business web designs that failed to effectively show their products or services and many others that tried to showcase far too many products or services on one page.

You have only a few seconds to make a first impression and you should make sure that the impression you make is professional.

Read the rest of this post »

Small Business and Startups: Tips for Reducing Refunds Mike | March 3rd, 2014

How often does your business have an opportunity to increase bottom-line profitability, improve customer retention, and generate positive word-of-mouth with a zero-dollar investment in marketing or advertising? This huge opportunity is right under your nose and you probably don’t even know it. “What is it?” you ask. “Why is my nose so large?” you wonder.  It’s easy – simply spend the next month focused on one thing: reducing your refunds!

Most businesses, large and small, have a formal refund policy and yours probably does too. Whether your policy is to offer an unconditional money-back guarantee, to accept returns within 30-day window, or to charge a restocking fee, chances are that last month a larger-than-desired portion of your customers chose to ask you for a refund. You may not have been smiling on the inside when you gave the money back, but you knew that you had to and for a good reason. A strong guarantee policy gives your customers the comfort they need to buy whatever it is that you are selling. As consumers we are much more likely to part with our money if we know that we can get it back should we be unhappy with the purchase.

How much of an impact will reducing refunds have on your business? The math is pretty simple: Imagine a small business with gross revenues of $100,000 and a profit margin of 20%. If this business has a refund rate of 10%, the annual net-profit would be $18,000, right? Now imagine that this business is able to cut its refund rate in half. Suddenly instead of losing $2,000 from the bottom line, they have effectively improved profits by $1,000 – a gain of almost 6%! And (best of all) they were able to do so without spending an extra dollar on marketing or acquiring a single new customer. Instead, they have made a customer happy who otherwise might have never returned, and they have dramatically reduced the likelihood that someone will be out there yammering all sorts of negativity on Twitter, Facebook, or Yelp! Lots of wins there…

Here are a handful of things you can do right now to reduce your  refund rate and add dollars straight to your bottom line!

1. Offer an unconditional guarantee. This may seem counter-intuitive, but the first step in reducing your refunds is making it crazy-easy for a customer to get one. First-time customers in particular are looking to do business with a company they can trust and there is no better way to prove your trustworthiness than by clearly advertising how you stand behind your product. Keep your guarantee policy front and center; make it easy to find and easier to understand and you will have taken a huge first step towards building a customer relationship based on trust.

2. Be available. Great customer service reduces refunds rates and the first step in providing that service is to make yourself available. Help your customers to find you when they need you and to contact you using a channel they prefer: email, web-form, phone, chat, FAQs, and long hours are critical components of great customer service as are fast and friendly responses to a customer contact. Try to limit the use of auto-responders and canned responses and try to answer every support request within hours, not days. A customer who is made to wait for an answer to a questions is multiple times more likely to ask for a refund than the customer who received that prompt and helpful reply.

Read the rest of this post »

Twitter Link Roundup #213 – Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More Ross | February 28th, 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 cover version of Guns N’ Roses hit “Sweet Child O’ Mine” done New Orleans Style by Scott Bradlee & Postmodern Jukebox. I guarantee you’ve never heard this song covered like this.

smallbusinessblog

When Is Shoebox Accounting No Longer Enough? | Owner Magazine by Becky McCray – crowdspring.co/1em2eSI

Empower Your Small Business: the science of marketing, body language, motivating employees – crowdspring.co/1jApJZ7

Why You Should Not Ignore The Science Of Marketing – crowdspring.co/1exVnRr

Small business Congress-watch: Three Pending Bills and Why They Matter – crowdspring.co/Moh4wx

What Does It Mean To Design Websites Responsively? | Vanseo Design – crowdspring.co/1k4hVyi

Lazlo Bock talks about hiring at Google, and why the GPA is irrelevant | by Stowe Boyd – crowdspring.co/NpqF71

7 Dead-Simple A/B Tests You Should Run on Your Homepage – crowdspring.co/MYS6Vn

startupsblog

Fundraising Mistakes Founders Make | by @samacrowdspring.co/1f4L7Ak

Why You Should Not Ignore The Science Of Marketing – crowdspring.co/1exVnRr

Lazlo Bock talks about hiring at Google, and why the GPA is irrelevant | by Stowe Boyd – crowdspring.co/NpqF71

How to Get a Job at Google – crowdspring.co/1mBHZpw

Showcasing The Design Of Startup Websites – crowdspring.co/1eaRtT7

Hire a Winning Employee: 5 Tips | Inc – crowdspring.co/1fobkdl

Famous tech acquisitions, cost per user – crowdspring.co/1gAC3Wp

Serial Entrepreneurs Aren’t Any More Likely to Succeed | HBR – crowdspring.co/1mBKFn8

It’s Crazy How Much Money a Startup Can Waste on Bad Hires – crowdspring.co/1fnjAtX

7 Dead-Simple A/B Tests You Should Run on Your Homepage – crowdspring.co/MYS6Vn

Lots of insight in this value vs. price analysis on Facebook’s WhatsApp acquisition – crowdspring.co/NptepI

Facebook Massively Overpaid for WhatsApp | by Albert Wenger – crowdspring.co/1fCioHF

What Does It Mean To Design Websites Responsively? | Vanseo Design – crowdspring.co/1k4hVyi

Why low-fidelity prototyping kicks butt for customer-driven design | by Andrew Chen – crowdspring.co/MJ8WYr

socialmediablog

Why You Should Not Ignore The Science Of Marketing – crowdspring.co/1exVnRr

You Can Love Your Marketing Data, Just Don’t Fall Under Its Spell – crowdspring.co/1fshPvt

Six Tips to Creating the Perfect CTA – crowdspring.co/1k4fZpu

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Why You Should Not Ignore The Science Of Marketing Ross | February 26th, 2014

marketingscience

Supermarkets share a common layout. Many competitive products (toothpaste, for example), have similar packaging. Do supermarket and toothpaste companies lack imagination?

It’s possible, but a different explanation is more likely.

Smart businesses apply science to marketing. Relying on psychological research, these businesses adapt marketing strategies to maximize revenues and profits. When companies unlock the innermost secrets of how and why people buy things, interesting patterns begin to emerge.

For example, there’s good empirical data showing the best times and days to send marketing emails to maximize opens and click-through rates. However, as  people have grown to more heavily use portable/mobile devices, the science of email is gradually evolving. New research suggests, contrary to conventional wisdom, that many brands can benefit from sending email campaigns at night.

How can you apply scientific wisdom to improve marketing for your business? Let’s look at two approaches.

1. Let data drive your decisions.

Many marketers develop campaigns based on  intuition. Guerrilla marketing campaigns fit this mold. A marketer believes, based on experience or a “gut” feeling, that a stunt might work, and they invest time and money to execute it.

Similarly, landing pages are often designed based on aesthetic look and feel, not on their ability to optimize user conversions. Paradoxically, the best looking designs are not always best. Sometimes, aesthetically better designs simply don’t convert as well.

In contrast, marketing as a science looks to optimize campaigns and marketing tactics to maximize returns on investment. It’s become easier and more practical to apply science to marketing because marketing technology has exploded. For example, smart companies routinely A/B test landing pages in an effort to optimize conversions.

A number of years ago, for example, major publishers were loosing print subscribers and wanted to find ways to convert print subscribers into digital subscribers. Many experimented with the decoy effect, also called the asymmetrical dominance effect. The decoy effect occurs when people tend to have a change in preference between two options when a third, asymmetrically dominated option is presented.

One of the best examples of the decoy effect was an old subscription page of The Economist.

decoyeconomist

The first option at $59 seemed reasonable. The second option at $125 seemed expensive. The third option offered options 1 and 2 (web and print) for the same price.

Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, tested this phenomenon with his MIT students. When presented with all three options, zero students chose option 2. Most chose option 3. When the second option was eliminated, most students chose option 1 (online subscription only).

Data can be very useful, as the above example, shows, but can have its own biases, as The Harvard Business Review cautions:

Data and data sets are not objective; they are creations of human design. We give numbers their voice, draw inferences from them, and define their meaning through our interpretations. Hidden biases in both the collection and analysis stages present considerable risks, and are as important to the big-data equation as the numbers themselves.

More importantly, as Albert Einstein famously said, “not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

Tips: To optimize how you use data to help you make decisions, you must ask the right questions and focus on the relevant data. For example, if you’re wondering why or when your customers are leaving your site, consider what data you have that can help you answer those questions. You can look at customer complaints, payment history, the funnel customers follow when browsing your site, poor customer service experience, frequency of usage, etc.

Read the rest of this post »

Small business Congress-watch: Three Pending Bills and Why They Matter Mike | February 24th, 2014

I have written occasionally about legislation in Congress and how it impacts small businesses and startups, and three proposed laws have recently caught my attention. Congress makes a lot of noise about the importance of small businesses to our society, but their track record over the past few years has been abysmal, at best. Proposals come, proposals go, the wind howls, Representatives and Senators shake their collective fists and, at the end of the day, small businesses have little or nothing to show for all of the sturm und drang.

I don’t have to tell you about how hard you work, or how you struggle to make your business sustainable. I can, however, tell you how little support you get from your elected representatives in spite of their statements to the contrary.

Right now there are numerous bills pending in congress, stuck in committees or whatever other purgatory our political system relegates them to, that could make a meaningful and positive impact on our economy, that could help us to grow our small businesses, and that could relieve us of the pressures we all face when it comes to employee welfare, labor markets, taxation issues, and fair competition. Three of these proposed laws are in Congress right now and waiting to approved and implemented. These laws have the potential to help your business and to help mend our economy. Maybe a quick call to your Representative with a simple message is due: Hey! What’s the holdup?

S. 511: EXCEL Act  (Introduced 3/11/2013)  The EXCEL (Expanding Access to Capital for Entrepreneurial Leaders) Act amends the Small Business Investment Act of 1958 and seeks to guarantee the payment of securities issued by small business investment companies (SBICs) of up to $4 billion annually. Designed to encourage the formation and growth of small businesses, the EXCEL Act will make more capital available to small businesses and startups, increase employment, and give investors an opportunity to promote technology and innovation.

S. 744: Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (Introduced 4/16/2013) This legislation, is intended to speed the reform of our current immigration laws, provide a path to legalization for illegal immigrants, improve security at our borders, give employers a simplified system for verifying worker eligibility, permits the children of illegal immigrants to pursue education and employment opportunities, and increases the number of H-1B Visas available, thus making it easier for companies to hire highly educated workers from abroad. These changes are critical to small business and startups, and it is time for the politicians to make it happen.

S. 761: Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013 (Introduced 4/18/2013) Every day businesses, governments, and cultural institutions do damage to our economy through the wasteful practices. How so, you ask? Well, every poorly sealed window, energy-wasting piece of equipment,  inefficient furnace, and ancient light bulb they use drains our energy resources, increases costs, and speeds planetary climate change. This act seeks to empower states to set reasonable rules and regulations promoting energy-saving strategies and reducing energy waste. By compelling states and municipalities to update their building codes and assisting manufacturers to become more energy efficient, this law (once enacted) will go a long way towards reducing our dependance on foreign producers and on fossil-based fuels,generating savings for small companies, creating jobs, and saving our environment for our grandchildren (and our customers grandchildren, too!)

Illustration: Cross-section drawing by Thomas U. Walter for the dome of the United States Capitol building, circa, 1859

Twitter Link Roundup #212 – Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More Ross | February 21st, 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 shows a devilishly evil and creative campaign by delivery company DHL. Can you imagine getting your competitors to advertise for you? Well done, DHL!

smallbusinessblog

Body Language, Non-Verbal Cues, and Small Business - crowdspring.co/1oHulQl

5 Smart Ways To Do A Better Job In 2014 - crowdspring.co/N6uLkm

The Right Way to Grant Equity to Your Employees - crowdspring.co/1bCrvce

startupsblog

5 Smart Ways To Do A Better Job In 2014 - crowdspring.co/N6uLkm

How to hire and keep good women technologists | LinkedIn - crowdspring.co/1harsCi

Body Language, Non-Verbal Cues, and Small Business - crowdspring.co/1oHulQl

Solve existing problems - crowdspring.co/1oI7svX

Keith Rabois on the Role of a COO, How to Hire and Why Transparency Matters - crowdspring.co/1bCtGfO

Tech hubs have better inequality performance since 2007 than other large cities. PPI analysis of Brookings data – progressivepolicy.org/?p=34822

The open office: Friend or foe to startup success? | The Next Web – crowdspring.co/OeIdnu

6 Ways To Achieve Maximum Online Exposure On A Startup Budget – crowdspring.co/1giAIDo

The Right Way to Grant Equity to Your Employees – crowdspring.co/1bCrvce

WhatsApp: The inside story | Wired UK - crowdspring.co/Mexzv0

“The deal values WhatsApp users at $35 each but the current market cap of Facebook values its MAUs at $140 or so.” - crowdspring.co/1fjSpog

Facebook and WhatsApp: The Nineteen-Billion-Dollar App – crowdspring.co/1jOdRlK

The Rags-To-Riches Tale Of How Jan Koum Built WhatsApp Into Facebook’s New $19 Billion Baby | Forbes – crowdspring.co/MeyWd3

How You Get Slaughtered in a Down Round: When Taking Venture Capital Doesn’t Go as Planned – crowdspring.co/MvF29W

socialmediablog

DHL Pranked UPS Into Advertising For Them – crowdspring.co/1jOeA6v

“We’ve found effectively no correlation between social shares and people actually reading,” – crowdspring.co/1oIluxA

“If you want to sell ads, sell ads. Own it. Don’t coat it with a layer of frosting & tell me it’s a fucking cupcake.” – crowdspring.co/1oIRbXG

10 Best Practices for Creating Infographics that Rock - crowdspring.co/1nHgOF8

6 Ways To Achieve Maximum Online Exposure On A Startup Budget – crowdspring.co/1giAIDo

The new creative team and the new creative individual | Creativity Unbound by Edward Boches – crowdspring.co/MvEctH

designblog

5 Smart Ways To Do A Better Job In 2014 - crowdspring.co/N6uLkm

80 Free Vector Graphics Every Designer Should Have - crowdspring.co/1nHfbr0

Read the rest of this post »

5 Smart Ways To Do A Better Job In 2014 Ross | February 18th, 2014

head-on-fire

Doing great work in a job you love increases your happiness and personal satisfaction. I’ve written previously on this topic, including Seven Habits of Highly Effective Employees.

Many people, especially after their annual reviews, resolve to do a better job “next year”. But a broad resolution to do better rarely helps unless you take specific steps to improve how you work.

Here are five specific things you can do now to do a better job in 2014.

1. Invest time daily to deliberate about the bigger picture. Before you jump into your daily tasks, spend a few minutes considering how your work will be used and by whom. Until you understand the scope of what you’re doing, it’s impossible for you to be creative in your work.

Sure, you can connect the dots and perform the assigned tasks, but the end product of your efforts will be far less valuable than if you took a few minutes to consider why you’re doing what you’re doing.

As I wrote earlier this year:

When you know how to do something, you have a skill that you can replicate to do the same thing again and again. But when you understand how and why something works, you not only have a skill, but you also can adapt your skill to changing situations.

2. Plan wisely before you execute. Some people spend a great deal of time planning but never execute anything worthwhile. Others jump right in without planning and often hit roadblocks.

The best and most successful employees think daily about the bigger picture, not just about the tasks they have to execute that day. They create a plan, execute, measure progress and obstacles, tweak their plan, and continue executing. Careful planning helps you succeed and your successes help you grow and become even more successful.

3. Find ways to help your colleagues succeed. Smart employees share credit for successes because they realize that nearly every project, even if it’s ultimately done by a single person, is  a team effort. The best teams in the world share a common trait: they embrace a collective vision and want to do something great together. They want to leave a dent in the universe. Great leaders promote these traits; poor leaders micro-manage.

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