These 14 Mobile Apps Will Increase Your Productivity Amanda Bowman | April 10th, 2017

Time. Money. We all wish we had more of them. This is even more keenly felt by business owners and entrepreneurs, for whom time really is money. Finding ways to more effectively use the amount of time available to us is a classic productivity problem.

As our lives and careers become increasingly mobile, countless apps and services have flooded the market attempting to solve that problem. There are now so many options available that finding the right one for your personal needs has almost become a productivity problem in and of itself.

In the spirit of saving you time, we’ve compiled some of the top mobile apps and services used by business owners and entrepreneurs. Because as Shirley Temple (yes, seriously) once said, “Time is money. Wasted time means wasted money means trouble.”

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7 Lessons Small Businesses Can Learn from the World’s Best Brands Ross Kimbarovsky | April 7th, 2017

Entrepreneurs and small business owners typically don’t believe they can learn anything useful from the biggest and most successful companies in the world. After all, brand building at-scale is typically very different than brand building in the startup and small business world.

Nevertheless, smart entrepreneurs and small business owners pay careful attention to important market forces and trends that shape some of the world’s best brands. These entrepreneurs and small business owners know that despite the many differences between large and small companies, important insights that can help shape their marketing strategies.

BrandZ publishes an annual most valuable global brands report. The 2016 Brandz Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands report offers important branding lessons for startups and small business.

Google is listed as the most valuable global brand, with Apple, Microsoft, AT&T and Facebook rounding out the top five. It’s remarkable that all of the top five brands are technology companies. In fact, the only non-technology company in the top 10 is McDonald’s (at number 9).

In this video I outline 7 key takeaways from the BrandZ 2016 report (and the important lessons for small businesses and startups) including:

1. Disrupt yourself before you become disrupted.
2. Integrate your marketing efforts.
3. Have a clear and consistent brand purpose.
4. User experience is a key differentiator.

Watch the video for more detail on these four important takeaways plus three more.

Notifications Kill Your Productivity: How To Reclaim Your Life Arielle Kimbarovsky | April 6th, 2017

We are bombarded by thousands of electronic notifications each day.

On an average day, people check their phones over 150 times between 6:00 am and 10 pm. And that’s just their phones!

Many people believe that notifications help us to stay on track. Paradoxically, they don’t. Notifications actually hurt our productivity.

Blogger Sid Savara says that notifications don’t just distract you temporarily, but they actually change your work habits, “Rather than actively setting an agenda, email forces you to react to items as they come in – regardless of their true priority.”

In fact, science proves that notifications are mostly bad for us. According to a study from the Journal of Experimental Psychology, interruptions as short as two seconds long are enough to double the number of errors made in a task. Such brief interruptions were found to be extremely disruptive because they broke the flow of the task by diverting attention, making it difficult for participants of the study to properly focus on the task at hand.

To compensate for the problems caused by notifications, we pretend to multitask, trying to assess reminders about future events or answer questions, while still completing our work. This too often becomes counterproductive (not to mention, error-prone). Multitasking costs the economy $450 billion dollars annually because this loss of productivity often increases stress and creates a cycle of disruption.

To combat this loss of productivity, business experts and entrepreneurs have begun practicing something called “monotasking”, or single tasking.

While this seems easy at first glance, it takes a lot of discipline to turn off or ignore notifications. Manoush Zomorodi, the host of WNYC’s Note to Self podcast explains:

Our gadgets and all the things we look at on them are designed to not let us single-task. We weren’t talking about this before because we simply weren’t as distracted. Humans have a finite amount of neural resources. That’s why you feel tired at the end of the day, you’ve used them all up.

So the reality is that we actually can’t handle all of the daily notifications we receive because they cause us to shift our attention away for too long. It turns out that periods of deeper focus are more likely to result in productive, high-quality work.  But you have to create an environment that allows you to focus more deeply. Here are our tips for pairing your notifications down to just the essentials.

1. Identify what you really need to know.

Image source: Robert Wiedemann

Make a list of all of the notifications you have now, including your phone and computer by looking through your notification settings. Then, begin to categorize the apps in groups of importance. Odds are pretty high that you are receiving notifications that you’re constantly ignoring or deleting. But they are negatively impacting your productivity, even if you think they’re not. Spend a few minutes and kill them so that you never see them – before they kill your productivity.

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Fresh from the SPRING: sionxxx Audree | April 6th, 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 logo project:

The challenge of this project was to create a strong and simple logo for a fitness website that will focus on nutrition, workout plans, meal prepping and more.

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

Nicely done, sionxxx, nicely done!

(Ebook) STAND OUT: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting, Growing, and Managing a Successful Business Nick Bowersox | April 4th, 2017

Do you ever wonder why one entrepreneur fails while another succeeds?

Sometimes, it boils down to luck.

But, success and failure is about more than luck. It helps to have an advantage when starting out.

Over the past two decades, crowdSPRING Founder and CEO Ross Kimbarovsky has spoken with thousands of entrepreneurs and small business owners about their startup ideas and existing businesses. For the past six years, he has also mentored at Techstars and at Founder Institute.

Here’s what he observed: too many people are scared of what it takes to start or grow a business.

To help people deal with the fear of starting or growing a business, Ross has taken the lessons he learned over the past several decades and shared them in a free, 100-page ebook called STAND OUT: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting, Growing, and Managing a Successful Business.

In the book, he lays out 23 years worth of personal, actionable insights to help you start your new business or grow an existing business.

This book will help you learn how to:

  • Find Your Great Business Idea
  • Name Your Company
  • Brand Your New Company
  • Create a Strong Online Presence
  • Raise Money for Your Business
  • Negotiate Successfully
  • Hire and Fire Employees
  • Be a Great Leader
  • Stay Healthy
  • Execute 21st Century Marketing
  • Make SEO Work for You
  • Accelerate Your Growth
  • Avoid Costly Legal Mistakes
  • Avoid the Fear of Failure

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7 Simple Rules To Help You Get a Great Design For Your Business Amanda Bowman | April 3rd, 2017

A client walks into a bar.
The bartender asks, “What can I get you?”
“A soft drink,” replies the client. “and make it pop.”

Why do some entrepreneurs fail while others succeed? Why are some lawyers or doctors better than others? Why do we prefer working with certain people (designers, accountants, plumbers, electricians, etc.) and avoid others?

The answer might surprise you.

It’s true that we favor people who do a great job. But it turns out that people who do a great job also often share a common trait: they’re good communicators.

The 200,000 designers and writers working on crowdSPRING have helped tens of thousands of the world’s best entrepreneurs, small business owners, agencies, Brands, agencies and non-profits with logo design, web design, graphic design, industrial design and naming.

After more than nine years and tens of thousands of projects, we know with absolute certainty that if a client wants a great result in a design or naming project, they need to do two things well: (1) draft a good creative brief (we help with that if you post a project on crowdSPRING), and (2) provide good feedback throughout the project.

Good design requires an iterative process. Just like writing, a design’s “first draft” often needs refinement and revision, editing and exploration. Your continued presence and feedback are critical to this process, and knowing how to communicate with your designer effectively is an important skill to have.

“Strong reasons make strong actions”
– King John / William Shakespeare

If a designer’s job is to take your challenges and craft solutions, your job is to provide effective, purposeful feedback.

How can you make sure you’re providing useful feedback? Here are 7 simple rules that will help ensure that your project stays on the right path.

Is your feedback specific and concise?

It’s important when you provide clear and specific feedback. One of the best ways a designer can figure out what works and what doesn’t work with their design is through your comments. “It needs more zing,” is not just vague feedback, it doesn’t give the designer any direction or explain why it needs more “zing” in the first place. You don’t want your designer to guess what you mean. Make your designers swoon with useful feedback like: “the colors you’ve picked aren’t vibrant enough – we know our target audience prefers lively, bright colors like yellow and pink.”

“How well we communicate is determined not by how well we say things, but how well we are understood.”
Andrew Grove

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The Small Business Guide to Crafting The Perfect Tagline or Slogan Ross Kimbarovsky | March 31st, 2017

Coming up with a great company name for your new small business or startup can be challenging and time-consuming. Coming up with a memorable tagline or slogan can present an even greater challenge.

A tagline is supposed to communicate to your customers and potential customers what sets you apart from your competition and also your brand’s focus.

Whether you leverage crowdSPRING’s community to help with a memorable tagline or slogan or come up with one on your own, you might find the following 10 tips useful:

1. Make your tagline unique.
2. Make your tagline simple.
3. Make your tagline concise.
4. Make your tagline timeless.

Watch the video for more detail on these four important tips for writing a great tagline, plus six more.

13 Women Entrepreneurs Who Are Changing the World Katie Lundin | March 31st, 2017

There’s a revolution going on in the world of entrepreneurship. Though business is traditionally considered a man’s world, the 2016 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report shows that the number of women-owned businesses in the US has grown at a rate 5 times faster than the national average over the past 9 years. And women-owned businesses are estimated to generate $1.6 trillion in revenue annually.

Women entrepreneurs are thriving like never before and their success isn’t limited to the business world. Many female entrepreneurs are using their businesses (or the wealth those businesses have created) to make the world a better place. Below you’ll find 13 women entrepreneurs who are changing their own corner of the world.

Oprah Winfrey (Harpo Productions, OWN Network)

At this point in her career, Oprah Winfrey needs no introduction. Founder of both Harpo Productions and the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), she is a media mogul with a net worth of approximately $3 billion. Winfrey’s rags-to-riches life story serves as an inspiration to many; and, she came in second on Forbes’ list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women in 2016.

But, it’s not just Oprah’s unequivocal financial and popular success that won her spot on this list. She is also a well-regarded philanthropist, giving generously through self-founded charities. Winfrey founded Oprah’s Angel Network in 1998. The charity’s goal is to “inspire individuals to create opportunities that enable underserved women and children to rise to their potential.” Oprah’s Angel Network supports charitable projects and provides grants for non-profit organizations that support that goal.

The Oprah Winfrey Foundation was formed to operate the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. The Academy is a residential school for girls with strong academics from disadvantaged family backgrounds. Attendance is free. Oprah founded the school in the hope of providing a strong education for girls who wouldn’t have had the opportunity otherwise.

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Fresh from the SPRING: square69 Audree | March 30th, 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 logo project:

The challenge of this project was to create a fresh logo for an IT podcast. They wanted something that would work for Podcast Cover Art, Website, Business Cards and swag. This lovely image says it all!

Let us start the slow clap for square69. Check out more great work on square69’s profile page.

Nicely done, square69, nicely done!

The Immigrant Entrepreneurs Leading Successful American Companies Arielle Kimbarovsky | March 29th, 2017

What do Google, eBay, Whatsapp, Instagram and thousands of other successful companies have in common?

They were each founded by an immigrant entrepreneur. According to Partnership for a New American Economy, 40% of the top Fortune 500 companies were started by immigrant entrepreneurs. Smaller businesses are heavily impacted by immigrant entrepreneurs too: 1 out of 10 immigrants owns their own business.

Over the past several years, the rate of new immigrant-owned businesses has increased by over 50%. In many industries, this has created even more disruption and innovation as immigrants combine their individual perspectives from home with the new opportunities they find in the US. Even more importantly, immigrant entrepreneurs have contributed to our annual Gross Domestic Product with over $775 billion dollars in revenue per year.

Immigrant entrepreneurs face a variety of challenges when starting their own companies. Most entrepreneurs, including immigrants, struggle with raising capital, understanding rules and regulations, or growing their business. Immigrant entrepreneurs also face unique challenges. For example, some do not speak English fluently.

Despite these challenges, many immigrants share a drive and perseverant attitude critical to their success. We took a closer look at 3 successful immigrant entrepreneurs to find out how being an immigrant helped shape them as an entrepreneur.

1. Mike Krieger,

Originally born in São Paulo, Brazil, Mike Krieger came to the US to study symbolic systems at Stanford University. While at Stanford, Krieger met Kevin Systrom who had been working on a simple photo sharing app. Together, in 2010, they developed Instagram, a company that changed social media.

By simplifying photo sharing, Instagram created a community and space for millions of people to create their own personal brands, allow people into their lives, and focus on visual content. Instagram was acquired by Facebook in 2012.

Krieger and Systrom continue to run the company independently. Today, Krieger focuses on the technical side of Instagram.

The booming success of Instagram didn’t come without a struggle. Krieger remembers having a hard time obtaining an H1-B visa, which would allow him to stay in the US to continue working on Instagram. He recalls:

I had moments where I was like, ‘Maybe I should just tell Kevin to forget about it and find somebody who is easier to hire’…It took less time to build Instagram than it did for me to get my work visa.

Krieger’s situation isn’t uncommon; H1-B visas are notoriously difficult to obtain. While some people believe that H1-B visas take away jobs from Americans, stories like Krieger’s prove that immigrant entrepreneurs can create amazing companies that create many jobs.

There’s no telling if Instagram would have existed without Krieger, and there’s no doubt that it’s been a game changer in social media. But because of Krieger’s persistence and dedication to work hard, he was able to obtain the visa and help create a tech giant.

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