5 Tips for Naming Your New Product on MSNBC Your Business Ross Kimbarovsky | May 9th, 2017

It’s not easy to name a new company or product.

At times, it feels like every name in the dictionary is already taken. And just when you think you have found the perfect name, you realize that you can’t get the matching domain name.

Naming consultants want to charge you thousands or tens of thousands of dollars to help name your company or product. Few business owners can afford such fees.

There’s a better alternative.

MSNBC recently asked me to share five tips when naming a new product on a budget. The same tips apply when naming a company. Here’s the video from my interview on Your Business with JJ Ramberg on MSNBC:

More than 200,000 creatives on crowdSPRING help the world’s best entrepreneurs, businesses, agencies, and non-profits with company and product naming, logo design, web design, graphic design, and product design.

You can get a great name and matching domain for as little as a few hundred dollars, in just a few days. Naming doesn’t have to cost thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.

11 of the Best Cities Worldwide For Startups and Entrepreneurs Amanda Bowman | May 8th, 2017

It used to be for the young and the ambitious the best advice was to “go west.” Whether heading to Hollywood or moving to America, riches and success were not found in the place you were, but the place you weren’t: just beyond the western horizon.

This romantic notion that the “west is best” still prevails today. Many people still believe the best place for entrepreneurs, especially ones working in technology or seeking funding and network connections, is found in California. The challenges of finding affordable housing and the cost of living have made moving there risky for some, and prohibitive for others.

Fortunately, with the continuing expansion of the global community and our interconnected world, centers of innovation and entrepreneurship are now found in many countries. To paraphrase the Bard himself, “the world is our oyster.”

Here are eleven of the most interesting startup cities in the world:

Melbourne

With a population of 4.1 million, Melbourne, Australia sits in the sweet spot for size when it comes to the startup community. Large enough to uphold a solid standard of living in a city, but small enough to have access to plenty of people, Melbourne balances well enough in size to serve as a hotbed for its thriving entrepreneurial spirit.

Kon Karapanagiotidis, CEO of Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in the city, writes that

“Melbourne is an entrepreneurial city where people are more open than other cities to new ideas and innovation, there is a culture of giving it a go and taking strategic risks. The diversity of the business community, its high desire for engagement, a robust appetite to bring its networks and skills to improve the lives of asylum seekers to enable them to fulfill their potential.”

The strong ‘can do’ attitude prevailing amongst the startups in Melbourne mixed with the wide range of businesses located in the city make it a great choice to launch a fresh new company.

Austin

The Texas capital recently was named the #1 place in America to start a business by CNBC, the top city for “small-business vitality” by the American City Business Journals, and the top city for launching a technology startup by Sungard Availability Services. According to the Fortune magazine, Austin had 44,163 small businesses in 2013–or 2,342 for every 100,000 residents–which is a very impressive ratio.

According to Kevin Johns, Director of the City of Austin’s Economic Development Department:

“Austin is the best place in the nation to grow a small business … because our ecosystem has it all: entrepreneurs, incubators, investors, business school involvement and community-building events.”

The overall culture in Austin is renowned for its supportiveness and inclusivity between entrepreneurs-in-arms. The celebration for its unique culture and flourishing business community is very appealing, and any new startup would do well to consider Austin for their venture.

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Don’t Let Burnout Stall Your Career: The 5 Best Tips for Preventing Burnout Katie Lundin | May 5th, 2017

 

‘Burnout.’ We’ve all heard of it. But, what does it mean to be burned out? And why should you care?

Well, burnout is not a matter to be taken lightly; and can pose a serious threat to your career. In her book The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World Christine Louise Hohlbaum describes burnout as:

…a ‘silent condition’ induced by chronic stress that is characterized by emotional [or] physical exhaustion, cynicism and a lack of professional efficacy,

HelpGuide offers additional insight, saying

Burnout reduces productivity and saps your energy, leaving you feeling increasingly helpless, hopeless, cynical, and resentful. Eventually, you may feel like you have nothing more to give.

Burnout can leave you feeling defeated, trapped, detached and unmotivated. It’s no small wonder then, that the phenomenon negatively impacts work performance as well. Procrastination, tardiness, and avoidance of responsibilities are all linked with on-the-job burnout. It can even affect you physically, leading to constant feelings of fatigue, loss of appetite, and frequent illness.

Those afflicted may suffer silently, but burnout isn’t just a personal issue; it directly impacts your business. The American Institute of Stress estimates that stress costs US Industry roughly $300 billion annually as a result of reduced productivity, missed work, and employee turnover and related training costs, among other factors.

According to Amy Blackburn of Business.com,  burnout can even be contagious in the workplace as other employees are forced to pick up the slack of their less productive counterparts. And sadly, burnout can be hard to kick. One study found that burnout is likely to continue once it becomes entrenched. It was found to persist, in some cases, as long as fifteen years!

But, you’ve got a business to run. And you’re not going to let burnout stall your career. So what can you do? Remind yourself that running a business is a marathon, not a sprint. And, prepare yourself for the long run with these five tips.

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Fresh from the SPRING: PaoloRezzani Audree | May 4th, 2017

When perusing our galleries here on crowdSPRING, we see some amazing work submitted in the projects. Today, we recognize a gem submitted in this illustration project:

The challenge of this project was to create an illustration about statistical distribution that conveys the concept that the ‘tail’ of the distribution is out of control. Having a bright fun illustration of a concept for use in presentations, web, and printed materials is a great way to engage and educate clients.

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

Nicely done, PaoloRezzani, nicely done!

6 Companies Using Illustration to Create a More Personal Brand Amanda Bowman | May 3rd, 2017

In one photo, two hands shake firmly, assuring you that a deal has been made. In another, a group of business people stand assembled in varying poses of authority, all wearing similarly satisfied smiles on their faces. Finally, we move on to a photo of a professional-looking young woman wearing a headset. She smiles warmly at you.

It’s hard for stock photographs to look unique, especially when so many of the photos come from the same stock photography websites. Part of what makes a successful brand is its ability to differentiate itself from its competitors. When companies want to stand out, they often turn to illustration.

Why illustration?

Draw me a picture

One of the biggest strengths of using illustration is that it is based on ideas and not reality, as photographs tend to be. They can be crafted to communicate exactly what you want to convey and can often make complex ideas easier to understand. It’s also easier to create a very individual style and feel using illustration than it is with photography.

There is a lot of interesting, effective illustration being used by companies in varying industries. Here are just a few of them.

Shopify

Canadian e-commerce powerhouse Shopify uses illustration throughout their service because, in their words,

“Illustration is a communication tool with three super powers. It can add clarity to a complex idea. It can link concepts to the words we’ve assigned them within our respective products (aka on-boarding). And, it can capture the values and traits of a brand in a single voice, shift the tone depending on the situation, and speak directly to the user.”

They have a delightfully detailed (and copiously illustrated, of course) look at how they recently rethought their “visual voice” that’s very much worth your time.

In the article, Shopify’s Meg Robichaud talked about why Shopify uses illustration in their product design:

“It’s obvious why it is becoming more popular in recent years; straight up: illustration is likeable. You have a greater willingness to try new things when you like them. You are more understanding when things go wrong if you like them.”

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Reach More Customers On Social Media with Micro-Influencers Ross Kimbarovsky | May 2nd, 2017

Contracting a celebrity or a big time industry figure to advertise your product or service is often difficult and nearly always, expensive. As a result, few small businesses or startups can afford to leverage influencers.

Given the high cost, how can startups and small businesses actually leverage this marketing strategy?

The solution is to use micro-influencers. Unlike big time influencers who have thousands or even millions of followers, micro-influencers have a couple hundred to a few thousand followers. They are often less popular, less well known, more niche, but still highly relevant to their respective audiences.

According to Digiday, the best follower range for maximum engagement is between 10,000 – 100,000 followers. Fergus Thomas, co-founder of Irban Group, adds that these micro-influencers are not only more effective but feel more authentic:

With the same amount of budget, brands can collaborate with 20 or 40 ‘power middle influencers’ to reach different demographics and see better engagement, compared to one or two celebrities.

With smaller price tags and more follower engagement, micro-influencers aren’t a “second best” option to more popular influencers- they’re often the best option for influencer marketing.

Watch the video for four tips on leveraging micro-influencers for your business.

How You Can Become a Better Leader By Recognizing Your Own Weaknesses Arielle Kimbarovsky | May 1st, 2017

Great leaders aren’t flawless. In fact, it’s the complete opposite.

Being good at everything isn’t just impossible, it’s unhealthy. When people think that they can do it all, they fail to delegate or trust others- both of which are important skills for great leaders to practice. That’s why the best leaders recognize and work around their own weaknesses.

This isn’t just a theory – research supports this conclusion.

Weaknesses and Strengths Work Better Together

Boris Smokrovic

In a study done by Harvard Business Review, researchers found that combining skills (often a weakness with a strength), resulted in much more effective leadership. The study looked at several attributes of great leaders, including focusing on results and building relationships.

According to the researchers, both skills are qualities of great leaders but are rarely found in the same person. For example, only 14% of leaders with strong skills in focusing on results qualified as “exceptional leaders”. Similarly, only 12% of leaders exhibiting strengths in building relationships classified as “exceptional leaders”.

However, 72% of the leaders who exhibited both skills were “exceptional leaders”. For the most part, these leaders were able to exhibit both skills because they had recognized a weakness within themselves and worked on it, not because they were naturally good at both “competencies”. To learn more about what your strengths and weaknesses might be, check out “

For the most part, leaders were able to exhibit both skills because they had recognized a weakness within themselves and worked on it, not because they were naturally good at both “competencies”. To learn more about what your strengths and weaknesses might be, check out “

To learn more about what your strengths and weaknesses might be, check out “What Kind of Leader Are You? 7 Business Leadership Styles and How to Become a Better Leader”.

 

Weaknesses Keep You Grounded

Jessica Furtney

The HBR study we mentioned above proved the effectiveness of what psychologists call the “interaction effect”, or the improvement that results from the combination of two variables. While many business experts may argue that these variables stem from strengths, others argue that combining strengths with weaknesses is what truly improves leadership.

Often, revealing and recognizing a weakness grounds leaders in reality, connecting them even more to their customers and employees. Dennis Yang, CEO of Udemy reiterates the importance of breaking down the “strong leader” facade:

If leaders project nothing but confidence — even when everyone knows things aren’t going well — those leaders will lose credibility and mute voices of dissent. So I don’t sweat it too much when I’m feeling less than completely self-assured. It is a good reminder that we’re all part of a group effort, makes me more approachable, and opens the door for others to contribute.

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What Kind of Leader Are You? 7 Business Leadership Styles and How to Become a Better Leader Katie Lundin | April 28th, 2017

 

What does it mean to be a leader?

Truthfully, there are as many answers to that question as there are leaders in the world. And, as an entrepreneur, manager or supervisor, it’s incredibly valuable to know your own leadership style- and to understand your own strengths and weaknesses.  

The most successful leaders do share some common traits. For example, they avoid toxic behaviors that can destroy their teams. They’re good listeners. And they understand the difference between management and leadership.

Seth Godin, in his book Tribes, explains the difference:

Management is about manipulating resources to get a known job done … Managers manage a process they’ve seen before, and they react to the outside world, striving to make that process as fast and as cheap as possible. Leadership, on the other hand, is about creating a change that you believe in.

My thesaurus says the best synonym for leadership is management. Maybe that word used to fit, but no longer. Movements have leaders and movements make things happen.

Leaders have followers. Mananagers have employees.

Managers make widgets. Leaders make change.

Peter Drucker famously summarized this by stating that there’s a difference between doing things right (management) and doing the right things (leadership).

Both management and leadership are important, but of the two, leadership has a bigger impact on the success or failure of an organization. A recent Gallup article reveals that the single most important factor in determining whether your business’s work culture is good, bad or great, is leadership.

Remarkably, 70% of the variance between lousy, good and great cultures can be found in the knowledge, skills and talent of the team leader. Not the players, but the team leader. This is one of Gallup’s most profound workplace breakthroughs.

So, what kind of leader are you?

If you know the answer to this question, you can learn how to get the most out of your natural leadership style. Or maybe, you can even consider adopting a different style that better fits your personality, business or employees.

Here are seven of the most common leadership styles for entrepreneurs and small business owners:

 

The Autocratic Leader

The autocratic (or authoritative) leader is the stereotypical “bossy” boss. They make decisions on their own and lay down the law. Employees’ opinions are not welcome, but their obedience is required.

The autocratic leadership style isn’t as cut-and-dried as the stereotype would suggest. While it may not be the most diplomatic approach, there are definite benefits to this leadership style.

Pros – Effective autocratic leaders set clear guidelines so that their employees know what is expected of them. This creates a framework for employees to succeed by working toward their assigned goal within those set guidelines. This is particularly useful in situations when the leader is the most knowledgeable person in the group.

Autocratic leadership also allows for rapid decision-making and decisive action since there’s no need to consult or debate with others. It also establishes a consistent vision for the company- the autocrat’s vision.

While authoritarian leadership certainly is not the best choice for each and every situation, it can be effective and beneficial in cases where followers need a great deal of direction and where rules and standards must be followed to the letter.

Cons – The downside to autocratic leadership is that it can leave employees feeling unheard and disrespected. As a result, it’s been found to quash creative thinking in the workplace.  Kendra Cherry of Very Well says of autocratic leadership,

…it tends to create dysfunctional and even hostile environments, often pitting followers against the domineering leader.

What Autocratic Leaders Can Do Better:

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Fresh from the SPRING: Godfreyw Audree | April 27th, 2017

When perusing our galleries here on crowdSPRING, we see some amazing work submitted in the projects. Today, we recognize this gem submitted in this clothing project:

The challenge of this project was to create a T-shirt/tank top design for a local corporate run. It was an opportunity to show off their company’s new logo and have some fun with incorporate the “run” theme.

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

Nicely done, Godfreyw, nicely done!

How Science Can Improve Your Marketing Ross Kimbarovsky | April 26th, 2017

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 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? In this video we look at two approaches:

1. Let data drive your decisions
2. Create and execute controlled experiments.

Watch the video for more detail on these two approaches and how you can implement them in your business.

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