Micro Firms and Start-Ups Essential to Economy

I found some interesting data that finally supports what many of us have been thinking: that solopreneurs and very small businesses are accounting for much of the job creation in the U.S. According to new data from the Kauffman Foundation and the US Census Bureau, as highlighted in Inc. Magazine, firms with one to four employees have accounted for an average of 20 percent of new jobs each year from 1980-2005. During that time, start-ups accounted for 3% of total employment. While that doesn’t seem like much, the average annual net employment growth over the same period was 1.8 percent, meaning that job creation would be contracting during those 25 years rather than expanding without these micro firms. Over the timeframe of the study, it was found that “while startups do tend to decline slightly during downturns, they remained fairly robust in even the most severe of the sample period’s recessions.” And according to Robert E. Litan, vice president of… Continue Reading »

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The Power of Color in Branding

Most companies have a “corporate color” or color palette. This is generally the color or colors used in the logo. The designer usually picks a Pantone (PMS) color, and also selects CMYK and RGB equivalents. But why stop with just a splash of color on your logo? Consider using more color to create an impact beyond the logo. A classic example: Tiffany & Co Blue Box Tiffany & Co introduced their signature blue box in 1837, the year they opened. While their logotype is elegant and well-design, it is their blue color that is far more memorable and eye-catching. Looking at the photo here, most Americans would know it’s a box from Tiffany’s even without seeing the name. What makes it effective? Consistency, first of all. They’ve been using the same branding scheme for over 170 years. Distinctiveness is second. It’s a very unique color of blue. Not your basic royal or sky blue, but a robin’s egg, sort of… Continue Reading »

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The Farm Report: Markets Are Up!

I read with pleasure that small specialty farms are a growing business in Maine. There were three reasons this story interested me: first I’m a foodie; secondly, any business news that’s upbeat is welcome; and finally, I thought there were good lessons for all types of small business owners. Highlights of the report The story I read in the Portland Press Herald was a re-cap of The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s five-year Census of Agriculture. And the statistics for Maine are showing growth and an optimistic future. Some highlights include: The number of farms in Maine increased by 13 percent, to 8,136, from 2002 to 2007 Maine farms recorded $617 million in sales in 2007, up 33 percent from 2002 More farmers are selling directly to consumers, via farm stands and farmers’ markets, and direct to restaurants—these numbers increased by 17 percent These direct-to-consumer sales totaled $18 million, up 50 percent when adjusted for inflation What is driving this change?… Continue Reading »

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All Hail Georgia

The font that is. If you haven’t noticed, it’s the hip new font on the block. Suddenly designers have a serif typeface option that is actually decent. The traditional serif / sans serif split As designers we are all schooled in the traditions of typesetting, and by this I mean print-based typesetting. In design school or in our early career we learn that serif faces are more readable for long blocks of type and sans serif is better for headlines and subheads. This is because the serifs on fonts help the readers eyes follow each line of type horizontally across the page. On the other hand, when serif type is made bold the serifs fill in and lose their shape so sans serif types are better for bold applications such as headlines. Serif / sans serif on screen In the early days of the web we were given very limited fonts choices. For a while it seemed like we had… Continue Reading »

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Bring Some Quality to your Web Site

“85% of people believe the quality of a business owner’s website is an important factor in earning the consumer’s trust.” —Nielsen//NetRatings, 2007 Obviously, quality is an important element to infuse into your web site. But what exactly determines quality? What is high quality? This is a tougher question to answer than may be initially thought. After working for years with clients who hold little or no design training, I’m amazed at how accurately they can spot quality, but how poorly they can describe and quantify it. Frequently, I have clients who recognize that one web site is more appealing, or easier to use, but they don’t understand why. Often they see that one photo looks better, but they don’t realize it’s because it is properly lit and uses professional models. Or they sense that one site is easier to read than another but know don’t know that it both the style of the writing and the layout of the type…. Continue Reading »

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