Considering the price of hiring and managing employees, outsourcing can be a cost-effective solution to small business growth.
In today’s digital age, software companies peddle thousands of programs designed to ease the stress of business growth with do-it-yourself solutions. These are fine solutions if you have the time or the staff to undertake these tasks. But for high-quality solutions from specialized professionals, consider these outsourcing options to do the work for you.
Online marketplaces allow employers to locate and hire individual freelance contractors. The majority of these sites allow employers to create job posts; potential candidates then apply to the jobs by making a bid. Employers choose which candidate to hire based on work experience outlined in user profiles and the cost-effectiveness of their bid.
Online marketplaces are perfect for outsourcing temporary jobs for individuals (e.g. writing assignments, design projects, web development, data entry, translations, etc.). Just remember that you’re the freelancer’s boss, and quality control ultimately falls into your hands.
Best outsourcing marketplaces:
With the majority of clients and customers utilizing the internet to research companies, having a professional and easy-to-use website with good design is essential to any business.
For those of you unable to produce a clean site yourselves, companies like Web.com, Elvio Web Design and Vantages Media can help create a professional site at decent rates.
- Web.com: Offers hosting and domain-name registration, design and SEO copy for a monthly fee
- Evio: Similar to Web.com, but offers mobile and social media design, advertising copy and logo design
- Vantages Media: Focuses on e-commerce site design for small businesses
For special, one-off development projects, good independent developers can also be found at the marketplace sites listed in the section above.
With tablets, mobile devices and laptops available to the majority of consumers, every successful business needs a good digital marketing plan.
Working with traditional full-service agencies is extremely costly, but there are some online solutions that cater to small businesses with an affordable price point combined with quality creative services.
- EAG: Offers full-service (digital and traditional) advertising and marketing that caters to small businesses
There are also companies that specialize in specific marketing verticals.
- Social Engine: Specializes in social-media management
- Moz: Creates and manages SEO software and analytics tools
- Vertical Response: Specializes in email marketing
- MobileMarketingMax: Offers Bluetooth advertising, text-message marketing and mobile web design for small businesses
Digital agencies are forming throughout the country. While many agencies offer nationwide services, it’s a good idea to find an agency that’s local; meeting with agency reps and seeing their style is the best way to find a nice fit.
If your company is looking to create and sell a physical product, you might need help down the line with manufacturing and shipping.
- ThomasNet: Easy-to-use directory of over 600,000 suppliers that is categorized and can be filtered to suit your company. Provides product sourcing for over 100 million products and offers downloading of 2D and 3D CAD models
- Alibaba: Well-known business-to-business trading marketplace. Connects importers and exporters from over 240 countries and regions
- Global Sources: Facilitates business-to-business trade from China to other regions, and vice versa
Having poor HR or customer service resources can create problems both internally and externally, but these departments can be expensive and may be outside of the budget for some small businesses. Companies specializing in HR and customer support can help alleviate these issues and allow an owner and his/her team focus on tasks that drive revenue.
- Westpark Communications: Texas-based company providing contact-center services for small businesses. Offers 24/7 live-answer telephone service, inbound call and email response, automated communication services and more
- Working Solutions: Provides access to a pool of at-home independent contractors specializing in customer service
Large companies providing HR services, including recruitment, payroll and benefits:
- TriNet: Smaller group that specializes in human resources. Caters to small businesses and provides payroll, benefits and retirement services
Bookkeeping and tax management are other jobs that can distract small-business owners from real revenue-building tasks. Financial management software is available through many different developers, including Intuit’s Quicken and QuickBooks, and through independent developers like FreshBooks.
But for personalized service, independent CPAs can provide good work at an affordable rate. CPAs can be hired off the sites discussed in the “Marketplaces” section or through your local state’s Society of CPAs.
There are also “Virtual Accounting” firms that specialize in financial management for small businesses. These firms offer the efficiency of financial software with the service and accessibility of a physical accounting firm or department.
Virtual accounting firms: