Who Ya Gonna Call for Help With Your Business? Not Ghostbusters, But CrowdsourcersNovember 3rd, 2009 | Customer Support,Online & Small Business Resources,Small Business,Small Business Tips | 1 Comment »
Small Business often get the feeling they are alone on an island. Sometime they can feel that island is haunted by competitors, new entrants, angry customers and all sorts of other folks who can scare a small business. A small business can really feel like they are alone trying to keep their head above water managing their day to day business business. But what about growth, what about adding product and service enhancements that your customers have been asking for over and over or that upgraded website that you know you need? And how about all of those branding and marketing initiatives you have been hoping to spend time thinking about, creating and designing?
Enter Crowdsourcing. This is a method to get your business to address many of these issues. Even better, typically you can use crowdsourcing to get help from individuas and suppliers with subject matter experience and at a low cost.
Wikipedia defines crowdsourcing as “taking tasks traditionally performed by an employee and outsourcing it to a group (crowd) of people or community in the form of an open call.” So what this means is that there are people all over the United States and in fact the world who have skills that your business can start using immediately. There are actually multiple websites or skill portals that are solely devoted to specific areas of a business. At these website and skill portals, talent of all skill levels and expertise congregate and compte to provide services to small, medium and large businesses.
Here is how it works: You posts a problem, project or an idea related to your business directly on a particular website or portal. The crowd of folks that have an interest or a level of expertise in that problem, project or idea then give you feedback. Then the crowd can even comment on the crowd’s feedback or your follow-up feedback to the crowd. After this, you can ask someone from the crowd to assist you with your problem, project or idea if you decide their feedback is in line with what you would like to use.
Review Profiles of Suppliers Most of these sites have supplier and user profiles that you can review. during the exchange of feedback over a project. The supplier profiles typically detail a supplier’s or individual’s skill set, expertise and even examples of their prior work on similar issues. Many profiles have a feedback mechanism so you can see feedback that has been posted from prior users of that person’s services. This allows you to make an informed decision for your small business about what member or supplier from the crowd you want to hire.
Inc. magazine recently had a nice example of a crowdsourcing success story for small business. Another good post about how crowdsoucing is even involved with American Idol can be found here. And even the city of San Francisco is using crowdsourcing through an application called City Sourced to address city issues.
Here are just a few crowdsourcing services that small businesses are using to help themselves.
1)99designs – Use this service if you want something designed. Crowd members specialize in providing graphic design and logo design services. Get your next logo or product brochure designed here.
2) Odesk – Use this service if you want to get a website designed or even if you would like to have a quick IT project such as a computer application built for your website or company. You can even get sales and marketing services, customer support and translation services here.
3) NameThis – Use this service for naming services. So if you need to rebrand a product, create a new product name for a line you are launching or need a new catchy name for your blog, NameThis and the community there can help your business.
4) Threadless – Use this service the next time you go to a trade show and pass out some cool T-Shirts with your brand name on it. Threadless was profiled in Inc Magazine where they described Threadless as a place where The Customer Is the Company!” The community of designers will help you design your next company shirt.
5) iStockPhoto Use this service when your business needs an inexpensive image, illustartion or video for your company brochure, website or presentation.
6) Guru – Use this service for your business to access freelancers who work on legal, finance, accounting, data entry and evenHR and payroll matters.
Remeber when using any of these crowdsourcing sites, ask a lot of questions, do your dillegence and make sure to utlize the escrow and payment milestone services that some of these sites use. That way you can protect your business when you use these services.
So if you add these recources to the great small business tools and widgets we identified previously you can know you aren’t alone anymore on the small business island! Start using these recourcss to beat back those ghosts and competitors.
Please share your crowdsourcing experience with us in the comments.