Six Solid Ways to Generate Leads Online and Offline

Man holding tablet pc and credit card indoor, Shopping onlineLead generation can be one of the most frustrating parts of having a business. Finding the key to what gets people to click on your site, or visit your storefront, is a feat not easily mastered by any business owner. To help ease that frustration, and get the ball rolling, here are six solid ways to generate leads both online and offline: Continue reading

Is Information Paralysis Taking Over Your Business?

second chanceYou can’t always know it all. In fact, in some cases, it is better if you don’t know everything. Knowing too much can stop you from going after what you really want.

Recently, my business partner, Jeff, took on coaching a young girl’s soccer team. He has done a lot of coaching over the years and has won his fair share of titles, but this time it is different. This time he is faced with the challenge of coaching 12-year-old girls. This past weekend, the girls played a couple of games against a decent team and, unfortunately, they didn’t fare so well. After the game, Jeff mentioned they just didn’t seem to have the drive to go after the ball.  He said at times it was almost like they were confused and he couldn’t immediately put his finger on what was going on.  The girls had played well in the past, although this time they seemed to be “thinking” about playing, rather than trusting what they had learned to do so well, as part of their training. Continue reading

Experts Weigh In: What did you sacrifice to start your small business?

20 Ways to Kick Stress to the Curb and Have Fun with Your StartupEvery small business owner needs to make some sacrifices to start the business of their dreams. Luckily, as most entrepreneurs will tell you, the things that you give up often have a way of finding their way back to you once your business finds its groove.

From time, to money, to missing their own wedding party, these 45 small business experts let us in on what they had to give up to get where they are today.  Continue reading

Five Great Reasons to Start Your own Business in 2014

20 Ways to Kick Stress to the Curb and Have Fun with Your StartupFor many people, owning their own business is a dream they’d really like to make into reality—sometimes, all that is needed is a little more information. We’re halfway through 2014, but there is still time to get the ball rolling. If you are still reticent in making that final decision, here are five great reasons to start your own business this year. Continue reading

5 Real World Networking Tips You Can’t Do Without

How Quick Business Loans Can Encourage Business TurnaroundThere are two main levels of networking for the modern-day entrepreneur: virtual and real-life. While virtual ties have their own strengths, the strongest partnerships and the deepest trusts are still built in the real-world. That is why, as an entrepreneur, you should want to go beyond your virtual network and build stronger ties offline. Start your real-world networking today with the help of these tips: Continue reading

Six Tips for Working with Designers To Get Awesome Results

Website DesignGood design can do so much to communicate complex information about your brand or company. It serves a purpose, sells an idea and can cut straight through to the target audience. So how can you ensure you get great results on your next design project? Well, being a great communicator is a great place to start.

At DesignCrowd – the design community I help manage – we’ve launched thousands of design projects and the most successful ones were a result of clear, concise briefs and regular feedback. Here’s how you can work smarter not harder with a designer to get a great result for your design project!

 Don’t miss the mark, get clarity - If your goals are not clear and your requirements are confusing, designers will find it hard to decipher what you want and you’ll end up with a design that misses the mark. Share as much as you can about your business or organization (describe your products or services), who your target market is and what key messages, ideas, emotions or attitudes you want the design to convey.

Get technical – You’re crowdsourcing design online so be as precise as you can about specific branding colors (CYMK, Pantone); and where your design will end up being viewed – is it online or in print? Tell the designer your requirements for size, format, resolution/pixels, file types, font types. If you want it, ask or it.

Be present and responsive – The best client-designer relationship is reciprocal. Try to give regular, concise feedback about the designs you receive. You can use email, instant messaging, Skype or online feedback tools to give feedback on style, color palette, typography, and layout of the design concept. If you don’t like a concept than eliminate the design so that the designer can move on and you can focus on getting the design you want.

Visualize your ideas – Designers are hyper-visual. Talk their language by getting ‘moody’.  In other words knock up a quick presentation that displays samples of design concepts you do like. Include patterns, shapes, colors, styles to packaging design, logo design, imagery and more that captures your idea. Useful presentation tools include apps like Pinterest, or you can go old-school and create a PowerPoint to share your ideas with designers.

Communicate concepts to avoid – Telling designers what you don’t want seems counter-intuitive but if you think about it there are probably a bunch of design trends, colors, styles, and more that you want designers to avoid. State this clearly in your brief or include a section in your mood board that includes ‘don’t likes’ – and don’t worry, constraints are good for creativity and innovation.

Leverage the talent – Your designer should be the first port of call for advice and tips if you have hired them directly.  If you’re crowdsourcing design, email or phone the client support team for support, and utilize these support channels if you get stuck.

If you want to refresh your brand or perhaps you have a new design project in mind, following these six tips will ensure you get a design you’ll love.

We also encourage you to take advantage of the special deal that we have prepared for MyCorporation members.  Click here to unlock the deal!

Josephine Sabin is the community manager at DesignCrowd, a crowdsourcing marketplace with offices in San Francisco, Sydney and Manila offering professional logo, web and graphic design – powered by over 400,000 designers and artists from around the globe.

How to Crowdfund Legally

Limited Liability PartnershipStarting a new business is an exciting venture! That is, until the realization of just how much money you will need takes you down a few notches. Before you get too discouraged, know that you have several options available to you.

One of those options is crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is the process of raising small amounts of money from a large amount of people- this can be with the help of friends and family as well as people you don’t know. If you approach it correctly, attracting crowdfunding investors can be just what you need to get your business up and running, as long as you’re careful.

Now, the safest way to go about something that has potential legal implications is to know exactly what is allowed and what isn’t. Law enforcement has never taken “I didn’t know I was doing something wrong!” as a valid excuse.

So what should I steer clear of when crowdfunding? 

Promising Ownership

According to Biz Journals, a crowd funder may receive a reward for their donation once the company is up and running, but they cannot claim any ownership or financial gain in the business. For example, would-be authors can promise crowd fund investors copies of their signed books or acknowledgements for donations, but business owners can’t exchange equity for investments.

If you want to give away equity in exchange for funds, you need to work with accredited investors—people who make over $200,000 and have over $1 million in assets.

Forgetting about Taxes

The funds you get from your crowdfunding efforts are considered taxable income. Don’t forget that you must follow the federal and state tax laws you are subject to. If you plan to go the crowdfunding route, calculate taxes into your financial goals.

Breaking Promises

The typical crowdfunding effort is set up in a way that the person asking for funding promises rewards (not equity) to people who invest. Some crowdfunding sites use an all-or-nothing system where if a person reaches their goal, they keep the funding and must follow through on their promises. If they don’t reach their goal, the money goes back to the investors.

If you reach your goal and fail to follow through with your promised incentives, you could be considered in breach of contract. Unless you want to face a class-action lawsuit, follow through on any promises made during the crowdfunding process.

Where should I look for funding?

If you want to start a company or dive into a project that needs funding, sites like KickStarter or IndieGogo are useful mediums for making money. These have been especially great resources for artistic projects, such as publishing a book, starting a food truck, creating an art exhibit, or designing a new product.

Are there any other rules to keep in mind?

Crowdfunding is subject to rules placed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act- these rules are under constant discussion. As seen on Forbes, here are the rules you must follow if you plan on utilizing crowdfunding for your startup:

  • You can only accept up to $1 million dollars per 12-month period through crowdfunding.
  • If you are starting an investment company or a public-reporting company, you cannot use crowdfunding.
  • Crowdfund investors are only allowed to give a certain amount of money during a 12-month period. For investors who make over $100,000/yr., they can only give 10% of their income or net worth. For those who make less than $100,000/yr., they can only give up to 5% of their income (or up to $2,000, depending on which is greater).
  • You can only find crowdfunding through registered broker-dealers or “funding portals.”
  • You cannot advertise except to direct potential investors to your broker or funding portal.
  • If you complete a crowdfunding crowd, make sure you file the correct reports with the SEC.

The laws surrounding crowdfunding and business startups are complicated. To be absolutely sure you don’t cross any legal lines, talk to a lawyer who works with business law.

Originally from San Jose, California, Erika Remmington is a recent graduate of the University of California, Berkeley in linguistics with a minor in business administration. She enjoys spending her time with her husband and 18 month old daughter. She also enjoys rock climbing and outdoor activities. Legal information from this article was provided by Kitchen Simeson Belliveau Llp.

ABCs of Small Business Industry: B is for Business Services

This week we are looking at an industry very near and dear to MyCorporation – Business Services! This is a fairly broad industry, but essentially companies in it help other businesses. That could mean filing paperwork, providing tech support, processing data… the list goes on and on. Businesses helping businesses – what could be better? If you’re considering forming your own company in the business services industry, we’re here to help you out!

business services

Where do you start?

Since business services is such a broad category, it’s kind of hard to answer this question. At the very least you need a ‘Doing Business As‘ name, and should consider filing for an Employer Identification Number. You’ll also need to have all your permits and licenses in order. Unfortunately the ones you need really depend on what other industries you fall into. A tech support company, for example, would need different permits and licenses than a remote office administrator service.

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Why Are Your Designers Leaving You?

Why Are Your Designers Leaving You?Whether your firm is small and speaks to niche-based needs or you are a large company that is trying to be everything to everyone, you won’t get far if you lose designers along the way! A good UX designer is hard to come by, and if you find them and keep losing them, you may need to consider some of the factors going into play as to why you’re losing quality professionals.

You’re Not Paying Enough

Everyone likes to talk about how a great work environment and perks really matter in the workplace, but at the end of the day, it’s all about money. If you are not paying a competitive wage, you are going to find that great professionals may end up at your company, but aren’t going to stay there. Design is an industry that is notorious about underpaying the people who work in it, and if you are guilty of this, word will get around. Make sure that you know what the industry standard is. Depending on the designer that you hire and what their experiences in the field might be, you can be looking at anywhere from $40,000 to $100,000 a year. Good designers expect to get paid for their efforts, and if you do not step up, they’re going to step out!

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