How to Succeed by Setting Clear Business Goals Ross Kimbarovsky | February 10th, 2017

A small business that doesn’t set clear long-term goals is doomed to fail.

It’s not unusual for small business owners and entrepreneurs to focus on strategies and tactics at the expense of also setting appropriate goals. Often, this happens when you see someone else successfully executing a strategy or tactic – and you try to duplicate their success by doing the same thing.

Learn why it is important to set clear, specific goals for your business, the difference between qualitative and quantitative goal setting, and examples of marketing goals to get you started:

Fresh from the SPRING: 
annasmoke Audree | February 9th, 2017

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:

The challenge of this project was to create a modern CSI logo for a sheriff’s department that says “investigating” without screaming “cop” from across the room. We thought this design was a smokin’ hot standout.

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

Nicely done, annasmoke, nicely done!

Why a Strong Brand Is Important for Your Small Business Arielle Kimbarovsky | February 8th, 2017

Image source: Frontline Creative

A strong brand increases the value of your company, creates an identity and motivation for your employees, and makes it easier for you to acquire new customers. A brand represents how people know you (or your business), and how they perceive your reputation or the reputation of your company. In today’s noisy world, a strong brand is more important than it has ever been.

A great brand starts with a strong name and logo, but there’s more to a brand than just the visual elements. Unfortunately, many small businesses don’t prioritize branding early in their company’s history. This is a mistake. Poor branding impacts your business in many negative ways – and can even threaten the survival of your business.

We asked four successful and respected entrepreneurs and brand experts to share their stories about how branding influenced their lives and helped them grow their businesses.

1. Ryan Foland, Influence Tree

Personal branding expert, youth marketer, and speaker Ryan Foland thought back to his first few years of speaking engagements when we asked him to talk about his experience with branding. He started out as a public speaker in training, with a passion for business communication and a desire to share his ideas with larger audiences. As a beginner, Foland only had the skills and the training.

I spent three years of my life going to Toastmasters and mastering the craft of becoming a public speaker. I was winning speech competitions. People said they really liked my speaking style. I had a credible job at the University of California, Irvine and I came up with multiple ideas that I thought would reshape the world of business communication. As I became better and better at speaking, I started to go out into the world to find speaking gigs.

When Foland began to pursue paid public speaking gigs, he found himself lost among the hundreds of other people being paid to do the same thing. He felt stuck and realized that the reason he wasn’t getting gigs wasn’t because he was a bad speaker or had bad ideas. Foland wasn’t getting gigs because nobody knew about him. When people would search for him on the internet after meeting him, he had an underwhelming presence.

I knew that there were lots of professional public speakers getting paid and traveling around the world. I wanted to be one of them. I saw them online. I subscribed to their newsletters. I believed that I could do it, too. However, the more I tried to be like those people, the further away the reality seemed to get.

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Level the Playing Field with These 5 Crowdsourced Designs Ross Kimbarovsky | February 7th, 2017

Technology has helped close the gap between small businesses and startups and the larger, better-financed competitors they have set out to disrupt. Today, inexpensive and free small business marketing tools, outstanding small business applications from Google, and crowdsourcing have made it possible for startups and small businesses to level the playing field. In some situations, being smaller can even be a competitive advantage.

In this post, we’ll discuss five designs that startups and small businesses should crowdsource to further level the playing field against better-financed and larger competitors.

There are literally dozens of different types of designs that can be crowdsourced. To get a few ideas about how other businesses have leveraged crowdsourcing for design, you can read 99 designs you can crowdsource on crowdSPRING.

Why should startups and small businesses trust crowdsourcing to meet their design needs?

In offering tips about lean marketing strategies, I wrote:

Small businesses and startups have minimal brand recognition, are often located in geographic or demographic areas that limit their marketing options, and most have small (or non-existent) marketing budgets.

Crowdsourcing empowers startups and small businesses to avoid the time-consuming process of finding a graphic designer, negotiating a contract and a fee for the work, and the wait to review one or several design choices. Simply put: crowdsourcing is quicker, less expensive, easier, and offers you far more choice than working with a single freelancer or agency.

What types of designs should startups and small businesses crowdsource?

1. Logo Design

Startups and small businesses often make the mistake of using a poorly designed logo or an off the shelf generic logo from a $99 logo store. This is a costly mistake.

In an earlier post examining Branding Secrets of the World’s Best Brands, I discussed a few reasons why startups and small businesses should have strong branding (including a strong logo):

The logo is one of the most important elements of a brand. As you think about your logo, keep your audience and products/services in mind because you want your logo to reflect your company. A good logo builds trust and a strong logo will help to pull your brand together.Think about the logos of some of the world’s most admired brands (Apple, Google, Amazon). How do you feel (emotionally) when you see one of those logos?

By making your logo the main theme of your marketing and advertising activities (online and offline), the logo will become associated with your business and will help you to better communicate with prospects and customers.

Logo design projects on crowdSPRING start at $199. When you crowdsource your logo on crowdSPRING, you’ll set your own price (we’ll give you suggestions based on our experience with thousands of logo design projects), see work from dozens of talented designers ( more than 200,000 designers from nearly 200 countries work on crowdSPRING), use simple but effective tools to manage your project, and choose from an average of 110+ original custom designs. And you are at all times protected by crowdSPRING’s 100% satisfaction guarantee.

Logo crowdsourcing tip

If you are looking for a color logo, consider the messaging that color sends to your customers. Do the colors reinforce and strengthen the intended core message/personality/mood you’re trying to communicate through the logo, or do they distract or neutralize? For example, blue often communicates trust, loyalty and freshness. The color blue is common in banking or finance. Green represents life, nature and cleanliness. Also consider colors that work well with dark and white backgrounds. Because logos are often printed in black and white, chose a logo design that is viable and as strong or stronger in black and white.

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Logo Design: Keep It Simple Ross Kimbarovsky | February 6th, 2017

Companies want their logo to be instantly recognizable, easily interpretable, and timeless. Overly complex logos often fail to achieve those goals.

Web designers often talk about restraint — not putting everything, including the kitchen sink, on a page. The same should be said about logo design. After all, there are some exceptional examples of simple logos that are instantly recognizable, easily interpretable, and have withstood the test of time. Here are four examples:

The original Apple logo showed Isaac Newton under the apple tree. Apple then moved to the rainbow apple logo (1976-1998). A monochrome version has been used since 1998 (the silver logo was introduced in 2003). Rob Janoff, the graphic designer who created Apple’s original rainbow-striped logo, apparently had created a version similar to the current logo – back in 1976, but Steve Jobs picked the striped version instead. Read the rest of this post »

How To Choose A Market For Your Startup Or Small Business Ross Kimbarovsky | February 3rd, 2017

I’m rarely surprised when a young entrepreneur or small business owner hasn’t fully identified how their new business will make money. But I’m always surprised when that entrepreneur or small business owner has a tough time describing the potential customers for their new business’s products and services. After all, without customers, there is no revenue.

If you try to sell your products and services to everyone in the world, you will waste both time and money.

When you choose a market, you should consider five main factors:

  • 1: How many customers are in the market?
  • 2: Can these customers pay for your products or services?
  • 3: Do these customers have the need you solve?
  • 4: How many competitors are competing for your customers’ business?
  • 5: How does your business compare to your competitors?

In this video, I discuss each factor:


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3 Common Myths About Starting A Business Ross Kimbarovsky | February 2nd, 2017

Time and time again, experts in entrepreneurship and business (often with little to no operating experience of their own) offer formulaic advice on what startups must do to succeed.

The truth is that there is no one way to “correctly” start a company. Startups are the epitome of unpredictability and extremes. For every example of a successful company that proves a myth wrong, there will always be one that will prove it right, especially in today’s world of rapidly expanding technology and connectivity. That is why it is imperative for entrepreneurs to critically examine all advice and “truths” about startups. With countless articles and opinions, it can be hard to decipher who’s right.

Fortunately, many startup myths revolve around three common topics (business plans, money, and unnatural hustle). Many aspiring and even experienced entrepreneurs blindly believe those myths to be true and either take too long to start their business or never feel confident enough to get going.

In the following video, I talk about 3 common myths about starting a business and proceed to blow them up:


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Fresh from the SPRING: snopy Audree | February 2nd, 2017

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:

 

The challenge of this project was to create a logo for a brewery that included the elements of a river, grain and hops. This design makes us want to put up our feet and crack open a cold one.

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

Nicely done, snopy, nicely done!

11 UK Small Business Experts Share Their Most Important Advice About Starting And Growing A Business Arielle Kimbarovsky | February 1st, 2017

Image source:Annie Spratt

The UK is one of the best places to start a small business, with lower corporate taxes and a startup-friendly business culture. But it’s never easy to build a small business, especially if you have never done it before. A million questions might pop into your head: do you need a business plan? A location? What should you name your business? How do you finance your business? Are there legal issues you must consider? How do you create a logo? Every business owner has struggled with most of these questions, and more.

There is no better way to begin your entrepreneurial journey than by learning from others who have been through this process multiple times. When we learn from experiences entrepreneurs, we can study their mistakes, successes, and decision making processes so that we can create or refine our own strategy.To help you get started, we collected advice from 10 UK based respected small business experts.

1. Test Collaborations

Shed Simove
Motivational Speaker

Over 434,000 businesses in the UK are partnerships. Even more small businesses in the UK partner with other companies or influencers for marketing campaigns or other deals. And even if a company does neither, all businesses require collaboration with others. Motivational speaker Shed Simove told us that too often, entrepreneurs enter into agreements or partnerships that turn sour. Simove suggests testing the waters first:

Working relationships are PIVOTAL to the success of a business. Before you work with someone new, if at all possible, give them a small job or task to do first, to check if you and they have the same work ethic and way of operating. You can save yourself huge pain down the line by staggering a job into concrete parts or collaborating on something small before committing to working with someone new on a larger project or with them long term. This strategy also means they can get to know you too, and see if they like working with you as well. If everyone gels, amazing, then you can feel more confident about jumping in longer term with them.

 

2. Network Smarter, Not Harder

Jim Connolly
Jim’s Marketing Blog

As a marketing expert, Jim Connolly is well versed in all marketing strategies. A popular tactic for entrepreneurs is to attend conferences or networking events where there is a potential to speak to large groups of people. However, Connolly believes that entrepreneurs can network more efficiently by building a target circle, and giving each person specific, special attention.

Stop wasting your time swapping business cards at networking events. The people attending these events are there to sell to you, not to buy from you and very, very few well-connected people waste their time attending them…Here’s a suggestion: Draw up a list of the 30 most influential people in your marketplace.  These people could include high quality prospective clients or maybe influential introducers; introducers are people who can recommend you to lots of buyers.  Then, put a plan together that will allow you to EARN their attention.

 

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22 Surprising Statistics About Starting a Small Business You Need to Know Arielle Kimbarovsky | January 31st, 2017

Image credit: Saulo Mohana

Small businesses make up 99.7% of all businesses in the US, making them a vital part of our economy. And it’s not just the US that benefits from small businesses. Countries all over the world benefit from the innovation, new business, and fresh ideas that startups bring to their economies and business culture. It’s no wonder that entrepreneurship is becoming more and more popular! In the US alone, the rate of entrepreneurship has increased by 15% in the past two years, according to The Kauffman Index.

If you are an entrepreneur planning to start a new business this year, take a look at some important statistics about starting your own business.

1. 77% of small businesses are started with an entrepreneur’s personal savings or finances. [More insights: 3 Common Myths About Starting a Business].

2. 42% of startups fail because they failed to meet a market need. [More insights: Tips on Defining The Size of a Market for a Startup Business].

3. 74% of tech startups fail because they scaled too fast. [More insights: How To Avoid Failure: Two Common Small Business Mistakes and Successful Entrepreneurs Know That Failure Is Rarely Permanent].

4. About 50% of all small businesses fail within their first 5 years. [More insights: The Science of Bad Decisions and How You Can Avoid Making Them].

5. It takes about $80,000 per year to run a startup. Most of that money comes from debt and equity.

6. The average revenue of a small business is $3.6 million. That number increases to $5.03 million if the business has a website. [More insights: How Marketing Velocity Can Help You Increase Sales and Revenue and 10 Web Design Best Practices and Tips for Small Businesses].

7. 62% of businesses in the US only have 5 (or fewer) employees. [More insights: The Psychology of Hiring Great People].

8. More than 50% of small businesses have a Chief Financial Officer, or someone else that holds a similar position.

9. Over a third of the US is employed by small businesses that each employ less than 100 people.

10. 42% of small businesses are S-corporations, and 23% are LLCs. While these types of corporations are similar, there are some key differences entrepreneurs should consider. [More insights: 10 Legal Mistakes That Can Destroy Your Small Business and How To Avoid Them].

11. Over 40 million small businesses have Facebook pages. 75% of that 40 million pays for promoted or boosted posts. [More insights: Is Small Business Marketing On Facebook a Complete Failure? and 22 Ways Brands Can Use Facebook Live Video to Drive Business].

12. 94% of small businesses use smartphones as their main phone service. 49% of these businesses use their smartphones to do business 7 days a week.

13. 51% of small businesses are reluctant to use new technology because it takes too long to implement and learn.

14. On average, 85% of small business owners say that they struggle to hire because candidates lack adequate talent. [More insights: 7 Habits of Highly Effective Employees].

15. 543,000 new businesses are started every month. There’s a lot of competition out there!

16. Businesses with two founders raise 30% more investment funding than businesses with a single founder. [More insights: Startup Tip: Ten Suggestions For Raising Start-Up Capital from Angels].

17. Immigrants make up for 12.5% of US entrepreneurs.

18. 51.6% of small businesses are run out of a personal home.

19. More than 50% of all small businesses have virtual offices, with their employees working remote. [More insights: The Surprising Ways a Distributed Team Can Help Your Company Succeed].

20. It only takes 6 days to start a business in the US. That’s a shorter wait than a lot of other countries.

21. About 51% of small business owners have a bachelor’s degree.

22. In 2016, the most effective small businesses will each spend more than $2 million on content marketing. That number is expected to grow in 2017. [More insights: How To Create Content Marketing Unicorns and Why Content Marketing Is Essential For Successful Startups and Small Businesses].

For many entrepreneurs, the rewards of starting a new business outweigh the risks. But you still need every advantage that you can get. We hope that these insights help you to succeed with your business idea. Good luck!

 

If you are ready to start your business, consider enlisting the help of crowdSPRING’s network of 200,000 creatives to give you great options for names, logos, and more. crowdSPRING’s Logo Design Service and company naming service offers step-by-step creative briefs that help you outline your company’s needs and allows you to select from over 100 entries on average.

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