From the Vault: America’s Founding Entrepreneurs Mike | July 6th, 2015

EDITOR’S NOTE: We originally published this post back in July of 2011. As this is a holiday weekend (and the entire team is trying to get in a little recreation), we thought we’d repurpose this and see if it still has legs…

On this Independence Day I have been thinking about the summer of ’76 and America’s Founding Fathers. Their importance to the world has been analyzed every way imaginable; thousands of books have been written about their efforts and accomplishments, and they are held up to generations as examples of great political and military leaders. But today I am inspired more by their entrepreneurial spirit and accomplishments and the lessons they hold for us today.

Modern entrepreneurs tend to approach their ventures using the problem-opportunity-solution framework, and in many ways the American Revolution was born of that approach. The founders early on identified the core issues and articulated the “problem;” they recognized the “opportunity” represented by the immense resources of the colonies;  and they designed a “solution” in a new kind of government, ruled by the people themselves. Revolutionary, for sure, but also incorporating all of the traditional hallmarks of entrepreneurism. This is not a surprise, considering the people who were involved in this effort. This was, by any measure, an extraordinary collection of individuals – accomplished, powerful, and brave. But as a group they were also creative, successful, and entrepreneurial. The seven men who are collectively known as America’s “Founding Fathers” each had meaningful success in their business ventures and this success, in many ways, informed their approach to founding a new vision for government and a strategy for accomplishing that dream.

1. Benjamin Franklin.
Perhaps the most famous entrepreneur of them all, Franklin had an active life as  publisher, author, and inventor, prior to his success as a statesman and diplomat. He was most famous as the founder and publisher of the famous Poor Richard’s Almanac, and for his scientific discoveries and inventions, which included writings in physics, and theories of electricity, as well as patents for the Franklin Stove, lightning rod, bifocals, and an early odometer for carriages. Franklin was also known for founding the first public fire department in Philadelphia, as well as the first public lending library. After the revolution he went on to be appointed as the first Postmaster General and established the new nation’s postal system which ultimately became the US Post Office.

The third of Franklin’s famous 13 virtues could serve as his motto for his approach to business and life: “Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.”

2. John Adams.
Adams was a successful lawyer and writer in the years leading up to the American Revolution. He was an intellectually gifted student and was known for his analysis of contemporary court cases. His rise to prominence came along with his opposition to the Stamp Act in 1765 and the articles and letters he published and his passionate advocacy for the colonies and rights of the Colonialists. In spite of his concern that it might limit his career, Adams went on to defend in court the British soldiers accused of murder in the infamous Boston Massacre of 1770. His spirited defense led the the acquittal of 6 of the 8 soldiers charged and reduced charges for the other two. He ultimately went on to establish himself as a leading thinker on government and a guiding light as each of the new states wrote its own constitution. Adams was the first Vice President under George Washington and went on to become our 2nd President when he was elected in 1796.

3. George Washington.
Most famous as a military officer and the commanding General of the Continental Army, Washington was born into business and helped to manage his family’s plantations and other affairs. He was trained as a surveyor and mapmaker and was appointed the official surveyor of Culpeper County, Virginia in 1749. He leveraged his abilities and knowledge to pursue acquisitions of land in Virginia and Ohio, and successfully diversified his family’s holdings away from tobacco and into milling, horse breeding, weaving, and distilling.

Washington’s entrepreneurial spirit is perhaps best illustrated by his ability to lead his ragtag army through significant victories against the British, but more importantly through defeats which might have thwarted many others. Perhaps the best story of his creativity and leadership is how, after his humiliating defeat and retreat from New York, he was able to reassemble his troops and stage the surprise attacks and victories at Trenton and Princeton, which arguably turned the course of the war in the Colonist’s favor.

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Twitter Link Roundup #276 – Patriotic Resources for Small Business, Startups, and Design! Mike | July 3rd, 2015

Happy 4th of July! We love the patriotism, the food, the sun, and the gathering with friends and family. We also like the fireworks. What better to celebrate this roundup then fireworks fails? Well, actually nothing is better. Have a look at the knuckleheads and the insanity they wrought with Darwin-was-right idiocy.

So, Happy Birthday, America, because once again, it’s time for our weekly Roundup! Pyrotechnics are fun, but not as much fun as this week’s set of links and articles that we shared with you over the past week on our  crowdSPRING Twitter account (as well as my own Twitter account) ! We just love sharing articles about fonts, logo design, web design, startups, entrepreneurship, small business, leadership, social media, marketing, economics and other interesting stuff! Enjoy!


Best Small Business Blogs of 2015 (nice to see @crowdSPRING blog on the list) –

Small Business and Startups: Things to do Before I Die | crowdSPRING Blog –

The One Thing Dave Grohl’s Broken Leg Teaches You About Customer Service

Social Media Marketing Trends for Small Business

11 Strategies for Eating Healthy on a Business Trip


Is Your Coworker Actually an A-hole? [Flowchart]

Cutting my work hours in half made me more productive

This Is How to Stop Being a Control Freak

The education of Airbnb’s Brian Chesky | Fortune –

Create a More Inclusive Workplace for Your Diverse Employees – Forbes

Make Yourself Impervious To Stress With These Tips From History’s Most Successful People

Growth Minded Entrepreneur on Instagram: “Less talking -> More doing.”

The Inside Story of How the iPhone Crippled BlackBerry –

Here’s Why the Venture Capital Crash Will Hurt –

What’s the Strangest Thing You’ve Found an Employee Doing on the Job?

As More Tech Start-Ups Stay Private, So Does the Money –

No Need to Call the Front Desk, Just Send a Text…

Why It’s Better to Be a Big Fish in a Small Pond

Live From New York: Breaking Down The Enduring Impact Of SNL…

When Texas was the Wild West of tech

The Surprising Downsides of Being Clever

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Fresh from the SPRING: Alexander_Dsign Audree | July 1st, 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 Alexander_Dsign. Check out more great work on Alexander_Dsign’s profile page.

Nicely done, Alexander_Dsign, nicely done!



A Victory for Artists Everywhere – Thank You Taylor Swift! Mike | June 29th, 2015

Thank You Taylor Swift! Wow. Words I never once imagined being typed by my own fingers. But, credit where credit is due, Miss Swift went up against Goliath, carefully aimed and swung her sling and, Pow! The monster was vanquished!

If you don’t know what I am talking about here, a little background: about a year ago, Apple acquired Beats Music, the music streaming service and manufacturer of a popular line of fashion-forward headphones. Apple’s move was widely regarded as a play to compete with Spotify, Pandora and the other web-based music streaming services, collectively viewed as a threat to the iTunes software platform and music downloading service.

A year later, and Apple has now re-launched Beats as “Apple – Music” and announced a free, three-month trial membership for all comers. This is a wonderful opportunity to check out what Apple has built on the foundation they bought and paid for (to the tune of $3billion!). Needless to say, the announcement has generated a ton of excitement online and off as Apple attempts to regain the momentum that iTunes has lost over the past few years. As a leader in the digital music space, Apple is a powerful player indeed, with the ability to influence markets, draw huge audiences, and bend suppliers and vendors to their will.

As a part of their will-bending strategy, Apple also announced a few weeks ago, that during the 90-day free trial period, not only would consumers be able to sample the service for free, but that all of the artists on the platform would also be giving their work for free. What? That’s right; Apple determined that it would not pay any royalties to artists for the plays that their music generated for the first 90-days. It takes a huge dose of chutzpah when a business simply tells its suppliers that, by the way, we’re not going to pay you for your services for some period of time and who better than Apple to muscle their way into market share?

Well, the story didn’t end there and it took a 25-year old musician (albeit one with a social media following 60 million) to get the last word. Last week Miss Swift announced that, in protest of Apple’s move, her latest album would not be made available through the Apple Music platform. In a blog post titled To Apple, Love Taylor she excoriated the corporate giant, shaming them for assuming that artists would accept not being paid for their work, “We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.” The response to Swift’s missive was enormous,

Apple took a few days to respond, but when they did it was to back down as humbly as they possibly could. In other words, Apple caved. In the face of a revolt by their customer base and the artists whose work they stream, Apple announced last week that they would rescind their decision; Eddy Cue, an Apple executive, tweeted, “#AppleMusic will pay artist for streaming, even during customer’s free trial period.” Cue added, “We hear you @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple.” Within hours, Taylor had responded: “I am elated and relieved. Thank you for your words of support today. They listened to us.” She quickly followed up by announcing that her new album 1989 would, after all, be streamed on Apple Music.

While this is not exactly a victory of the little guys, it is certainly one for the little guys; the independent artists, musicians, and writers whose work drives the success of so many online businesses deserve to be compensated for their creativity and Taylor Swift is their new bestie. Thanks, Taylor!

Photo, wikimedia

Twitter Link Roundup #275 – Fascinating Stuff for Small Business, Startups, and Design! Mike | June 26th, 2015

We love dreams. We love childhood memories. We love stop motion animation. Vera Van Wolferen‘s  How to Catch a Bird pulls it all together in a wonderfully creative and evocative way.

Now wake up! Once again, it’s time for our weekly Roundup! Take a little trip through this week’s set of links and articles that we shared with you over the past week on our  crowdSPRING Twitter account (as well as my own Twitter account) is keyboard perfection! We just love sharing articles about fonts, logo design, web design, startups, entrepreneurship, small business, leadership, social media, marketing, economics and other interesting stuff! Enjoy!


Small Business and Startups: Teams and Transparency | crowdSPRING Blog –

A solopreneur’s guide to working (or not) while on vacation

After 40 years, Wind Lake bar owner gets his degree

Small business still standing after 60 years

How a No-Tipping Policy Helped This Restaurant Triple Profits in 2 Months

April Bloomfield: Where Customer Service Starts and Ends


The Surprising Downsides of Being Clever

Ways to Get the Best Out of Your Employees

12 Tips for Dealing With Patent Trolls

The 7 scars of an entrepreneur | Chicago Tribune –

Is Social Entrepreneurship a Scam? –

Taking the Measure of Corporate Learning

The Confounding Logic of Discounting –

Lessons from the front lines: building Fetchnotes –

Only 3% of Americans are legally allowed to invest in start-ups –

The invention that could revolutionize batteries—and maybe American manufacturing too –

The C-Suite Needs a Chief Entrepreneur

Forget Time Management; Focus on Stress Management

Strategies to Build a Fun Work Culture That’s Also Productive

Golden Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Learn From ‘Entourage’

The 5 Worst Email Subject Lines in the World Dell’s Prescription for Boosting Jobs Around the World

Marks: 3 Cool Services Your Staff Will Love

Learning Technology: Transformational, Yes, But Not a Cure-All

How to Avoid the ‘Tech 20’

Adversity Only Makes These Immigrant Entrepreneurs More Determined

5 Ways to Dominate Any Meeting

Is The Open-Office Trend Reversing Itself?

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Fresh from the SPRING: oldpencil Audree | June 24th, 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 oldpencil. Check out more great work on oldpencil’s profile page.

Nicely done, oldpencil, nicely done!



Small Business and Startups: Teams and Transparency Mike | June 22nd, 2015

How transparent is too transparent? At crowdSPRING we have worked hard since we first launched to share information openly and honestly with our users, our investors, and our team. We communicate regularly with customers about site issues, new features, and our policies and procedures. We ask for feedback and suggestions and, when users choose to share their ideas with us, we consider these carefully and seriously. When users complain about a policy they don’t like or a feature that isn’t working the way they want, we will always be honest in our response, even if it sometimes means we disappoint that person.

With our investors we communicate at regular intervals about financial performance, business intelligence data, strategy, site metrics, and operations. When things are good we celebrate with them, and when business is bad we let them know that, too. With the team we also try hard to share important information, such as financial, performance statistics, and other relevant data. We involve every person who works here in product development, strategy, and goals and then we share with them the results of those efforts. Our team is also copied on our regular quarterly Investor Updates, so they are privy to the same financial reporting that our investors have access to. Read the rest of this post »

Twitter Link Roundup #274 – Non-conventional Resources for Small Business, Startups, and Design! Mike | June 19th, 2015

The 1980s. Anybody else remember that awesome decade? In spite of Reagan and his ‘nomics, we did manage to have some fun, listen to some great music, and sit on some really weird Milan-inspired designer furniture. But perhaps best of all was the technology that was booming. Who here had a walkman? I had several and loved each one; if you long for those days, have a look at the video above and relive the experience!

OK – enough with the time travel! Transport yourself back to 2015, because it’s time for our weekly Roundup! Have a go at this week’s set of links and articles that we shared with you over the past week on our  crowdSPRING Twitter account (as well as my own Twitter account) is keyboard perfection! We just love sharing articles about fonts, logo design, web design, startups, entrepreneurship, small business, leadership, social media, marketing, economics and other interesting stuff! Enjoy!


In Mt. Clemens, business owners start small, eventually reinvest in downtown

Small Business and Startups: Things to do Before I Die (Entrepreneur’s version) | crowdSPRING Blog –

Business Growth: 9 Educational Small Business Blogs to Study

Meet the Tiny Tennessee Company Supplying Pearls to Tiffany


Drone Giant DJI And Top VC Firm Accel Partners Launch A $10 Million Drone Fund

The Three People Who Matter Most in Your Network

The $5 Billion Battle For The American Dinner Plate

‘It’s like Uber, but for break-up texts’

Here’s What the Future of Work Looks Like to Millennials and Generation Z (Infographic)

Time Is Money, So You Don’t Have the Time to Lose Things

Tesla challenge to dealers goes beyond electric cars

Do Cynics Make Less Money?

Ways to Dominate Any Meeting

5 Fail Safe Questions for Creating Intentional Leadership

What Type of Creative Leader Are You?

Airbnb Design Head On Why Designers And MBAs Make Perfect Power Combos

Kudlow: Here’s what may be saving the economy

Important Financial Indicators for Startups at Every Stage of Growth | Mattermark –

What Shape is Your Competitive Advantage? | Coding VC –

The Secret Math of Airbnb’s $24 Billion Valuation –

Which is a More Efficient Way to Build a SaaS Startup – Bottoms Up or Top Down?

Improve Your Ability to Learn

Why Humblebragging Doesn’t Work –

Failure porn: There’s too much celebration of failure and too little fear –

Smart Money Habits to Practice in Your Startup | by

How One Leader Turned A Failing Business Around –

Uber Driver Is Employee, Not Contractor, Says California Labor Commission –

Why Startups Need to Focus on Sales, Not Marketing

To Find 10x Returns, Stop ‘Trying’ to Launch a Startup

21 ways to be awesome online

Why CEOs Need a Talent Acquisition Strategy

Read the rest of this post »

Fresh from the SPRING: xianpr Audree | June 17th, 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 xianpr. Check out more great work on xianpr’s profile page.

Nicely done, xianpr, nicely done!


Small Business and Startups: Things to do Before I Die (Entrepreneur’s version) Mike | June 15th, 2015

I write often about setting goals and defining strategy, but I rarely think about those things in a personal context. What should my own goals be for the next 10 years and beyond? What strategies can I use to accomplish those goals?

As startup founders go, I am a pretty old guy. When we started working on the earliest iterations of crowdSPRING I was already well into my 40’s and, well, time marches on. Today I find myself thinking more and more about retirement and less and less about the next career move. Not that I don’t work hard everyday, both in and on the business. It’s just that there comes a point that all of us start to think about the end game, and the associated questions: What have I accomplished thus far? and, What can I accomplish before I give it up?

Lots of people write about this in the context of succession. Sure, a clear plan and understanding for what happens to your business after you are gone is really important, but what about while you are still here?  Every one of us, whether 40 years from retirement or 4, can be thinking about making an impact or leaving a mark, however modest. A good idea about who will take over and how that transition should work is something every business owner should have in mind, but there are lots of other things to think about as you develop that plan. I have pondered this quite a bit recently, and here are 5 of the things I have been thinking about:

1. Assure the future. Retirement is about security, right? Well security for business owners (read: me) can’t be just about a post-working income of 70% percent of your pre-retirement income. It has top be about making sure your company is well positioned to continue operating, that your employees have security and stability, and that your customers will be able to continue relying on the goods or services your provide them. Check with your team, check with your accountant, check with your investors and plan for their future as well as your own.

2. Build something tangible. After almost 10 years in the digital realm, I have a strong hankering to do something real and solid. A product. A building. Maybe a bridge? Many of you reading this already own businesses that create actual products, or build actual structures, but those of you who work in 1s and 0s might be able to relate. In the next 10 years I am very much hoping that I can leave behind something useful and real, that people will be able to hold in their hands, or walk through its doors, or ride a bike across its span.

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