Ah, procrastination. The mortal enemy of the small business owner. With so many things to do, and hats to wear, and so little time for it all, entrepreneurs really need to be on top of their game to make it work. And for some lucky (or very disciplined) individuals, this kind of organization and focus comes naturally.

Then, there are the rest of us. Before anyone gets upset, nobody is saying that procrastinators are necessarily less productive, intelligent, or hardworking. It just takes a lot more energy for us to settle in and focus on the task at hand. We can be just as reliable about meeting deadlines as non-procrastinators — we are just up a lot later the night before.

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For the final installment in our series on building a community around your small business, we are going to about a strategy that lets you kill two birds with one stone: Crowdfunding!

We’ve discussed crowdfunding as a financing option before, but today we’re going to focus on its powers of community building. Which means we are going to take a closer look at CROWDFUNDx by the well-known company Crowdfunder.

For the uninitiated, Crowdfunder is an online platform that helps match investors with entrepreneurs. In their words, they want to “democratize access to capital for small business owners who don’t have access to wealthy investors.” Through their ever-expanding network, small businesses and startups are able to get in touch with people who can give their idea a chance to make it in the market.

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A recent infographic created by the design firm Gravitate shows just how beneficial a happy work force can be. Citing research done to determine the detrimental effects of stress, the infographic shows just how costly a negative working environment can be in real world dollars and cents.

While no business owner would come right out and say they prefer to have stressed out employees, the fact is that many bosses consistently prioritize the bottom line over the individual. What’s great about the numbers below, is that they demonstrate the benefits of good morale in a way even the surliest of workplace scrooges can understand.

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Today’s guest post comes from Don Fornes, CEO at Software Advice. Based in Austin, Texas, Don founded Software Advice in 2005 after working as a software analyst at an investment firm and as a corporate development executive at a pioneering CRM software company.

Organizing corporate files tends to be one of those to-do list items that is consistently overlooked or pushed aside — especially if you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner exclusively focused on growing revenue and keeping the lights on. However, I learned first hand just how detrimental neglecting this task can be.

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For today’s post in our series on creating community around your business, we’ll turn to Webs’ Head of Marketing, Rochelle, to hear about her first-hand experience with a local charitable organization.

It can be really difficult to think of new ways to create community around your small business–especially when you have your hands full with so many other tasks and demands.  One of the most effective community-creating strategies I’ve seen in action is in-kind donations: donating your business’s services or goods to other organizations (specifically non-profits) that can benefit from them.

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Last month we talked a lot about small business branding, and how creating a strong brand can add a great deal of value to your business in the long run. But what do we mean when we talk about “brand value”?

Brand value is a term that comes up a lot for companies with shareholders, because positive brand value can do a lot to convince people to invest in a business. It also comes up when talking about the buying and selling of companies when determining an appropriate price.

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Last week we took a look at recent trends in the three major sources of small business financing. With that in mind, today’s post will focus on where those funds are being spent by the businesses that acquire them.

A recent study by Visa Small Business, released in November, identified key areas in which small businesses are increasing their spending levels. Today we’ll talk about 3 of those areas.

1. Capital Investments
According to this study, there’s been an increase in the number of businesses that plan to invest in things like inventory, machinery, and facilities — capital investments that will grown their businesses. This is a great sign in terms of what it means for the place of small businesses in the economy. The fact that so many business owners are investing in the future of their businesses means that they feel optimistic about their business having a future. Several years ago, that level of confidence in the economy was uncommon.

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Whether your small business is just starting out, or you’re looking for the funds to take it to the next level, it’s important to be aware of the alternative sources of funding available to you beyond the traditional small business loan options.

The world of funding for startups and entrepreneurs has changed pretty dramatically in the last few years. As has been the trend in the world at large, things have moved away from the one-on-one transactions and toward a more social model that leverages the viral potential of the Web.

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Last week we talked about how some brands will base their brand values on the ideals of their founder or a prominent figure in their company. Often, one of those ideals is the importance of doing good in the world outside of your industry.

Have you ever been trying to decide between two competing products and found yourself looking for a tie-breaker? At least for me, that tie-breaker has sometimes been a brand’s emphasis on corporate citizenship. I was recently deciding whether to buy a pair of shoes from a local big-box store or to order a pair of Toms. All other factors of comfort and style being equal, I ultimately decided to pay a few dollars more and go with the Toms because I am aware of their philanthropic pursuit to give shoes to kids in need. That’s a very specific example, but we make decisions like this all the time — consciously or unconsciously — when we chose to which brands we will be loyal. We have a sense that some brands share our values, and therefore we choose to support those companies instead of the alternative, even when there is a notable difference in price.

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In last week’s introduction to small business branding, we talked about the six criteria on which the strength of a brand can be measured; recognition, consistency, emotion, uniqueness, adaptability, and management.

Today we’re going to focus on the importance of consistency. This is a topic that was covered very thoroughly in a great post by our friends at Vistaprint on the Microbusiness Perspectives blog. Writer/Editor Robbie Vogel outlined four key reasons why your brand identity must remain consistent in order to achieve the best results for your business:
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