Running a business — no matter how small — is about identity. In fact, the smaller your business, the more you need to differentiate between yourself and your competition on a personal level. What’s the difference between two people competing for a small project? Personality, mostly.

In South Africa, reports Good Magazine, “…it’s common to see unemployed individuals walking car to car looking for work. Cut off from the formal job market due to lack of education and resources, the only way these individuals can connect with potential customers is by distributing hand-written business cards to drivers.”

Natasha Viljoen, a Cape Town-based designer, has worked with a variety of these individuals to create professionally designed business cards so that they could better promote themselves. With skill sets ranging from furniture upholstery to sculptor, Viljoen has helped these individuals recast themselves as entrepreneurs, as well as differentiate themselves from the competition.

It’s a brilliant approach to help someone make a dramatic improvement in their lives. Communicating professionalism when you’re walking from car to car to ask for work is difficult, but having a printed business card immediately improves the situation — a chance for design to have real world impact.

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Kickstarter is a viable launching pad for films; Veronica Mars, Indie Game, and plenty of other movies have proven that point. But distributing those movies has resulted in some very specialized (and non-repeatable) approaches to getting copies into backers’ hands. Making sure that these films reached audiences beyond the people who directly contributed to their creation has required each individual filmmaker to negotiate distribution deals.

A few weeks ago, however, Kickstarter announce a deal with iTunes: a new collection within the media store that hosts hundreds of movies launched through Kickstarter. It’s a little unclear how these movies are getting to iTunes, for the record; many filmmakers had already negotiated their own deals with iTunes. But it’s a sign that not only are crowdfunding platforms thinking about how to help creatives get the startup capital necessary to launch a new project, but also to continue selling their products long after ‘graduating’ from the platform.

That long-term look is going to prove incredibly valuable, especially in light of the brand that Kickstarter and some other crowdfunding platforms are building. With ongoing successes to point to, rather than just temporary wins, Kickstarter can strengthen the value of launching on project on its platform, rather than the many competitors that have popped up. The only way that a crowdfunding platform could do better would be to build its own distribution platforms internally — which would be a step away from its core offering and therefore not something I would expect to see.

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A Few Thoughts on Profanity

I’m a writer; the thought of excluding even a part of the rich vocabulary that makes up the tools of my trade tends to make me pause. But most people don’t find profanity particularly appealing, especially in professional communications. I tend to avoid certain words as a result, only occasionally dusting them off to really […]

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We Should Be Using Big Data To Create

Photography community 500px acquired another startup, Authintic, which specialized in opt-in data for marketers; the purchase resulted in 500px Prime. The new site is a marketplace for premium photos, but it presents some key differences from all the other sites selling stock photography out in the world. Instead of just throwing a bunch of photos […]

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So You’re An Artist — Have You Sold Anything?

Being an artist is first and foremost about creating things; if you aren’t actually making artwork of some variety, calling yourself an artist is tough. But artistic endeavor isn’t just about creating your work and stashing it away somewhere without showing it to anyone. If you’re an artist, you need feedback. You need to see […]

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A Pioneer Nation Follow Up

I spent a few days at Pioneer Nation, a small conference geared towards entrepreneurs here in Portland. I heard a few comments over and over again, to the point that I wanted to bring them to your attention: It’s so amazing to talk to people who get what I’m going through. My family just doesn’t […]

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How Do I Feel About Businesses Whose Products Are Engineered For Addiction?

Some companies engineer their products for addiction: consider Candy Crush, which has lured in players with the idea of a quick casual game that can be played with little effort, skill, or investment. Talk to every Candy Crush player who has spent even a few minutes on the game and all of them will be […]

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The Age Of The Uncredentialed Curator

Tumblrs full of kitten pictures, websites ranking the helpfulness of individual restaurant reviews, Pinterest pages full of tasty ways to prepare vegetables you’ve never even heard of — at its core, the internet is about collections. We find topics we care about or people who we want to connect with and we build lists. Some […]

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Baen and Scalzi: Who Are You Willing to Work With?

Deciding whether or not to work with someone or some organization you don’t agree with is always a complex question. We all have lines that we won’t cross — I would never take on a marketing project for a company I believed was scamming its customers, for instance — but when you’re deciding whether or […]

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Modify Watches: Making Individualization a Core Principle

We want the best of all worlds: a perfectly designed product with that special customized touch that makes it clear that no one else could possibly have the exact same item. We want to be able to brag that we not only have something just as cool as the kids next door, but that we’ve […]

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