10 Best Cities in the United States for Startups and Entrepreneurs Amanda Bowman | July 31st, 2017

Silicon Valley has dominated the U.S. startup ecosystem for many decades. Despite repeated efforts, only a few cities outside the Valley (New York and Boston) have historically had the critical mix of funding, network, and talent to fuel vibrant startup centers.

But this is becoming less true today, as more and more entrepreneurs find their way across the U.S. There are now many metro areas with growing infrastructure and increasingly skilled work forces that can support tech startups. The good news is that these new metro centers are significantly less expensive than Silicon Valley or the East Coast. 

Let’s take a look at some of the best places (outside of Silicon Valley and the East Coast), to build your startup.

 

austin-davide-damico.jpg

Austin

The Texas capital recently was named the #1 place in America to start a business by CNBC. According to the 2016 Kauffman Growth Entrepreneurship Index, Austin grew its startups faster than every city except Washington, D.C., with their startups growing by 81.2 percent.

In large part due to the University of Texas at Austin and other universities’ influence, Austin is known for having an educated workforce. Employers and people interested in growth industries are drawn to the youthful, smart energy that flourishes there.

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Twitter Link Roundup #303 – Terrific Reads for Small Business, Entrepreneurs, Marketers, and Designers! Amanda Bowman | July 28th, 2017

Growing up, my parents always taught me that showing initiative is one of the best ways to achieve success – at work, or in any area of your life. Understanding that you have to take a risk – ask questions, make a recommendation, pitch an idea – is the first step in becoming someone that influences their surroundings, and doesn’t simply sit back in the safe zone watching things happen. If you’re looking to further your goals and extend your reach in your life, start practicing being more proactive by engaging with the world around you. Start initiating change, and watch as the world starts changing with you.

Need some tips on how to promote initiative in your work environment? Check out Jean Hsu’s recent piece on it for some great insights and tips on how to bring out the best in you and your employees.

Now, we hope you enjoy another great set of links and articles that we shared with you over the past week on our crowdSPRING Twitter account (and on Ross’s Twitter account). We regularly share our favorite posts on entrepreneurship, small business, marketing, logo design, web design, startups, leadership, social media, marketing, economics and other interesting stuff! Enjoy!

smallbusinessblog

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How Self Discipline Can Unlock Your Business Success Katie Lundin | July 27th, 2017

Do you want to start your own successful small business? Or grow your existing business? Maybe you have no interest in owning and running a business, but want to be more productive at work?

“I could do that,” you think to yourself.

So, why haven’t you?

To accomplish any of these things you’ll need self-discipline. As the late business philosopher and guru Jim Rohn said,

Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.

Merriam-Webster defines self-discipline as:

 the ability to make yourself do things that should be done

It sounds so simple. But before you stop reading and think you already know what you need to do, we bet there are a few tips and tricks that you probably haven’t seen when it comes to self-discipline. Worth a few more minutes of your time?

Paradoxically, living with self-discipline is not as easy as it sounds. And yet, it’s vitally important to your success. Author, business coach and consultant, Dan S. Kennedy asserts,

In the entrepreneurial environment, there’s a lot to be said just for showing up on time, ready to work. The meeting of deadlines and commitments alone causes a person to stand out from the crowd like an alien space ship parked in an Iowa cornfield. The ability to get things done and done right the first time will magnetically attract incredible contacts, opportunities and resources to you. All of this is a matter of self-discipline.

Self-discipline has the power to transform your life for the better. Imagine how much you would accomplish if you completed every task you set out to do; or if you established healthy, productive habits and actually followed through. Self-discipline very well may be the key to unlocking your untapped potential.

If you’re tired of “what ifs” and ready to do what it takes to reach your goals, check out these 9 tips for strengthening your self-discipline.

1. Change Your Perception of Willpower

2. Acknowledge Your Weaknesses

3. Leverage Goals to Counter Temptations

4. Take it One Step at a Time

5. Prioritize

6. Show Yourself Compassion

7. Lean into Discomfort

8. Stay Focused

9. Cultivate Your Internal Resources with Self-Care

 

1. Change Your Perception of Willpower

Our very first, possibly most important, tip for increasing your self-discipline is to not give up before you even begin. So many people claim that they have no willpower. And in so doing, they absolve themselves of the responsibility of behaving as though they have willpower, so they don’t even try.

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Fresh from the SPRING: radunicolae Audree | July 27th, 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 logo project:

 

The challenge of this project was to create a tough steely logo for a  tough steely video game. Mission accomplished.

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

Nicely done, radunicolae, nicely done!

The Business Owner’s Guide to Creating a Unique Logo Arielle Kimbarovsky | July 25th, 2017

Everyone wants a great logo design that is memorable, recognizable, and reflective of their brand. But often, people forget that their logo has to be unique too.

Sure, the Apple logo is iconic and instantly recognizable. But when companies want a logo that looks just like the Apple logo, they misunderstand the goal of effective branding.

Even though Apple’s logo is well designed and praised by designers everywhere, copying that logo would not only expose the business to a lawsuit, but also would fail to differentiate in the marketplace.

That’s one reason why you should never buy a premade template logo design at one of these so-called “logo stores”.

Instead of copying or mimicking famous logos, the best designers look to create a unique brand. The breakthrough designs they create often come from the deeper meanings they find within the company, which is the reason why so many companies have logo origin stories or hidden meanings.

The secret is to uncover that deeper or hidden meaning before designing the logo. A unique logo design will stem organically from whatever makes your company unique.

We’ll give you some actionable tips below to help you find a unique logo for your business. But first, let’s look at three popular, existing logos (Starbucks, Sony VAIO and Baskin Robbins) to see how they incorporated their company’s story into the logo design.

Starbucks

The original Starbucks logo started out as a brown, more “scandalous” version of its current logo. Initially, the company’s logo included an unclothed siren (double-tailed mermaid), as inspired by history, according to Starbucks writer Steve M:

There was a lot of poring over old marine books going on. Suddenly, there she was: a 16th-century Norse woodcut of a twin-tailed mermaid, or siren.

In the logo, the siren was placed in a brown circle with the Starbucks original name, “Starbucks Coffee, Tea, and Spices”. According to Greek mythology, sirens were seductive, and a popular image among churches in Medieval Northern Europe. The idea was that the siren would symbolize the seductive nature of coffee and Seattle’s seaport ties (the original source of Starbucks coffee).

A few years later, Howard Schultz acquired the company and set out to modernize the logo. Several iterations of the logo later, the siren was simplified, the name was removed, and the logo looks a lot cleaner. But the charm and the story didn’t change, which contributes to the widespread success and fame of the logo.

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6 Ways User Interface and User Experience Design Can Help Your Business Amanda Bowman | July 24th, 2017

A smooth, visually appealing experience with your business’s website or mobile app is an important element in creating happy, loyal customers.

Big businesses may have an advantage because of their existing brand awareness and their larger marketing budgets, but that doesn’t mean small businesses and startups can’t compete with them. In some ways, smaller companies have an unfair advantage when it comes to design because their sites and apps don’t have to be so bloated.

Provide your customers with a straightforward, intuitive, attractive experience on your website, and they’ll be happy to become repeat customers.

A website or app’s ability to bring in repeat business relies on whether people understand and appreciate it. “Am I getting value from this? Is it user-friendly? Is it fun?” These questions form the basis of a prospective customer’s decision as to whether they will become regular users of that site or app, or will never come back.

That’s where User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) design come into play.

User Experience is the way a person interacts with and uses a product, system or service. User Interface is closer to what we consider visual design. If you think of UI design as the tool you consume a bowl of cereal with – a spoon – UX design is the overall experience of pouring the cereal into a bowl and using your well-designed spoon to eat it.

You can create a web and app experience that is useful, pleasing, and impactful – but you have to understand how UX and UI can help you and optimize each to improve the experience for your customers and prospects.

Rahul Varshney, Co-creator of Foster.fm says:

User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) are some of the most confused and misused terms in our field. A UI without UX is like a painter slapping paint onto canvas without thought; while UX without UI is like the frame of a sculpture with no paper mache on it. A great product experience starts with UX followed by UI. Both are essential for the product’s success.

Knowing the difference between UX and UI design and how to best use each creates a significant competitive advantage for your business, and just like good customer service, is thoughtful, effective, and hugely impactful on the lasting success of your brand.

UX design

According to Time News, 55% of web users spend fewer than 15 seconds on a website. This means that you have 15 seconds to get a person’s attention, clearly demonstrate the services you offer, and illustrate why your company is worth their time.

In fact, as we’ve previously pointed out:

the attention span of a human adult, according to BBC News, is 9 seconds (the Associated Press reports that in 2012, the average attention span for a human was 8 seconds). Nearly one fifth of all page views in 2012 lasted fewer than four seconds. And to add fuel to the fire, people read only approximately half of the words on a web page that has fewer than 111 words (and only 28% of the words on a web page that has more than 593 words).

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Twitter Link Roundup #302 – Terrific Reads for Small Business, Entrepreneurs, Marketers, and Designers! Amanda Bowman | July 21st, 2017

Einstein. Leonardo. Curie. The earth is occasionally graced with a mind so brilliant, all the rest of us can do is appreciate their unparalleled gifts to the world. Science offers us clues as to how a genius is born, but the truth is, we still don’t completely understand how those extraordinary brains were created. National Geographic explores how those trailblazers came to be in a fascinating look into the brightest minds the world has ever known. One promising bit for the less fantastically gifted among us: it’s not just what you’re born with – it’s how you nurture your talents, too. So break out that guitar, crack open your book of advanced differential equations, start practicing making a souffle, and bring out the genius inside you.

Now, we hope you enjoy another great set of links and articles that we shared with you over the past week on our crowdSPRING Twitter account (and on Ross’s Twitter account). We regularly share our favorite posts on entrepreneurship, small business, marketing, logo design, web design, startups, leadership, social media, marketing, economics and other interesting stuff! Enjoy!

smallbusinessblog

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5 Famous Introverted Leaders And What You Can Learn From Them Katie Lundin | July 20th, 2017

Most people imagine a successful leader as fast-acting and larger-than-life. In other words, an extrovert. Our Western culture naturally assumes that leaders must be extroverted “men of action.”

But why?

Marti Olsen Laney, doctor of psychology and author of The Introvert Advantage reports that 75% of the world’s population is extroverted. So, the odds are good that many leaders are extroverted. But, it’s not just their sheer numerical advantage that casts extroverts in the leading role.

Gareth Cook of Scientific American points out that,

In our society, the ideal self is bold, gregarious, and comfortable in the spotlight. We like to think that we value individuality, but mostly we admire the type of individual who’s comfortable “putting himself out there.” Our schools, workplaces, and religious institutions are designed for extroverts. Introverts are to extroverts what American women were to men in the 1950s — second-class citizens with gigantic amounts of untapped talent.

This inherent bias in favor of extroverted behavior pervades all aspects of our culture, including the political and business realms. But as Cook explains, introverts have a great deal to offer. A study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research confirms it.

The study’s authors listened to conference calls, analyzing the linguistic patterns of 119 CEOs — 28 from tech firms and 91 from public firms. The initial findings suggest that reserved CEOs are connected, in some way, to a stronger bottom line.

Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, Ph.D. and author of The Introverted Leader reports in an article for Forbes that 40% of executives consider themselves to be introverted. That’s a pretty strong representation considering introverts only make up 25% of the population at large. Clearly, introverted leaders must be doing something right.

So what’s their secret to success?

We looked closely at 5 highly successful introverted leaders, seeking lessons and actionable advice that you can implement today.

 

Warren Buffett

Topping our list of impressive introverted leaders is the investment guru, billionaire, philanthropist Warren Buffett. Known as the “Oracle of Omaha,” Buffett is one of the world’s richest men and a respected financial leader.

Behind the legend and hype, Buffett’s introversion is an indelible part of who he is – presenting both strengths and challenges to his eventual rise to success. The most valuable of those strengths may very well be Buffet’s ability to comprehend the abstract. Andy Hinds, in his article “Warren Buffett: The World’s Richest Introvert,” shares:

As Buffett explains in the Bloomberg documentary, his success is partially due to making concrete sense of the abstract: “If you look at the market as buying pieces of businesses, you will be able to see when the market is wrong.”

By peering through the numbers to the underlying reality, Buffett has been able to fly in the face of conventional wisdom and consistently outperform the market.

A 2012 study by Randy Buckner, a Harvard psychologist, revealed that introverts consistently show a thicker concentration of gray matter than their extroverted counterparts in areas of the brain (the prefrontal cortex) that control decision-making and abstract thought. Buffett’s ability to master abstract concepts – like the stock market – is likely linked to his natural introversion.

In that sense, Buffett’s introversion served his career incredibly well. However, some of his introverted traits presented him with obstacles to overcome. Buffet shares in an interview,

I had the intellect for business, but not the persona… I had to learn to communicate with people better, particularly in groups. I just couldn’t go through life being terrified to speak in public.

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Famous Logos And What Your Business Can Learn From Them Arielle Kimbarovsky | July 19th, 2017

Every company wants to be popular and for its logo to be instantly recognizable and famous. In fact, some entrepreneurs think that companies become famous because they have great logos.

That’s only partially correct. For example, Nike, McDonald’s, and Coca-Cola have instantly recognizable and famous logos but each has spent hundreds of millions (if not billions) of dollars to promote their brands.

Most companies don’t have huge budgets to build brands that equal some of the best in the world. But even if your budget is small, you can still build a strong brand (that has the potential to join the ranks of the world’s best).

A strong brand starts with a strong company name and a good logo design.

Yet most entrepreneurs and small business owners don’t understand the key fundamentals of logo design (or naming for that matter; we wrote about naming in a prior post).

Understanding these design elements can help you find a terrific logo for your business.

Ultimately, when it comes down to creating a highly recognizable, memorable logo, you need good design. As the “I love New York” designer Milton Glaser says,

There are three responses to a piece of design – yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for.

We can’t promise you that your logo will become the next Nike swoosh. But if you pay attention and learn from famous logos, you can find a design that supports and enhances, rather than undermines, your brand.

Here are the top 5 lessons businesses can learn from famous logos:

  • Simplicity is more important than intricacy.
  • Versatility is key.
  • Smart design is better than just pretty design.
  • Timelessness improves recognition.
  • Color is a game changer.

 

1. Simplicity is more important than intricacy.

Top logo designers agree that the best logos are simple. As we previously wrote:

Simplicity is vital. A complex logo will be difficult to print and reproduce and may not fully engage your audience. Take a moment and think about brands that are successful and/or famous. Most likely, you’ve thought of companies like Apple, Volkswagen, Target, McDonald’s, etc. What do they all have in common? They all have logos that are simple and easily recognized when printed by themselves, and when printed in solid black and white.

This idea of simplicity is well grounded in the KISS (keep it simple stupid) framework. Instead of spending hours adding details and nuances to a logo, the best logo designers find ways to take away from the logo and simplify the design. French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery does a great job summarizing this in one sentence:

A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

A brand that does simplicity extremely well is Target.

The beauty of the Target logo is that there is nothing complicated about it. It’s just two red circles usually printed on a white background. The circles take the form of a bullseye, which connects the logo to the name “Target”, but the circles don’t actually illustrate a true bullseye with all the rings and numbers. Target took an existing object that connected to its name and simplified it.

In fact, Target’s logo is so simple that it’s easy for a child to draw, and importantly, to recognize. But the creation of the Target logo took a lot of thought. Target’s executives took the time to think about their brand messaging and what they wanted the logo to reinforce. In the end, simplicity won, according to chief creative officer Todd Waterbury:

The enduring strength of Target’s logo lies in its utter clarity. It is a design that is viewed equally from every side: from the front, the back, from the left and the right. The bull’s-eye is a symbol that is immediately, simultaneously seen and understood, one in the same, as precisely what it is.

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5 Successful Rebrands And What You Can Learn From Them Ross Kimbarovsky | July 18th, 2017

A brand is more than the company name and logo, but a strong brand starts with a great name and logo design.

As we previously explained:

A brand is the sum total of the experience your prospects and customers have with your company. A strong brand communicates what your company does, how it does it, and at the same time, establishes trust and credibility with your prospects and customers. Your company’s brand is, in many ways, its personality. Your brand lives in everyday interactions your company has with its prospects and customers, including the images you share, the messages you post on your website, the content of your marketing materials, your presentations and booths at conferences, and your posts on social networks.

Whether you’re starting a new business or have an existing business, ask yourself: does your logo reflect your true brand?

If it doesn’t, consider rebranding your business.

Rebranding is often hard and many who try, fail.

But if your business is hitting a wall, a rebrand can help. A good rebrand can shed new light on a business, connecting it with customers in new and effective ways.

In this video, we look at five rebranding successes so that you can understand the strategies and use them in your own rebranding efforts.

Invest in your brand today to be more successful tomorrow.

Your company’s brand deserves a first class logo. Let crowdSPRING’s team of  200,000+ designers help you find it. It’s easy, fast and your satisfaction is 100% guaranteed – just click below to get started for as little as $299. 

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