Online outsourcing: A lifeline for small businesses

Virtual enterprises are becoming increasingly common around the world. Entrepreneurs are bootstrapping their businesses and relying on virtual, global teams to secure success. British entrepreneurs must embrace this dramatic shift in order to succeed.

Small businesses the world over are turning to outsourcing and crowdsourcing marketplaces as a convenient and cost effective means of tapping into a global workforce. In this article, I summarise why I think its essential for British SMEs to lead the charge.

The UK is facing intense financial pressure and the widely predicted double-dip recession is on the horizon, if not upon us already. Reigning in costs by securing competitive quotes and relying on a flexible, on-demand global workforce is the only way small businesses in the UK can weather the storm and come out stronger on the other side.

SMEs increasingly need to think and act like a multinational in order to compete and succeed on a global stage.

Existing British businesses must adapt and change the way they do business. We must harness technology and embrace the opportunities provided by the internet in accessing a highly skilled global pool of talent to get things done. Admin, research, data entry, web development, graphic design and so much more relies on, and can be done by, skilled people anywhere in the world.

Projects tendered on marketplaces lead to dozens of quotes in days and free up valuable resources otherwise spent ringing round, going to meetings, explaining the same requirements repeatedly and so forth. The conventional tendering process is hugely inefficient for a cash strapped, time-poor business and that alone is reason enough for small businesses to tender projects through marketplaces.

Those thinking of starting a new business that have a great idea can now tap into the world labour market and get great work and great value for money giving them a more realistic chance of turning their idea into reality and seeing that reality grow and prosper, providing long term benefit to the entrepreneur and the wider British economy.

The bootstrapped start-up that gets through the crucial first few years will eventually be in a position to contribute far more to the UK economy, on a sustainable basis.

While starting a new business will always carry significant risk, outsourcing via competitive public tender on a marketplace will help minimise the financial risk by ensuring the best possible price and quality combination. This is vital to ensuring any new enterprise has a viable chance of succeeding beyond the crucial first year.

Assembling a virtual global team to handle sales, marketing, product development, admin, finance and so much more. These new ‘virtual’ enterprises will have the flexibility, forethought and frugality needed to succour success, while those that rely on more traditional means will find it increasingly difficult to survive and thrive.

Do yourself a favour, if its not core to your business, outsource it – and do so via public competitive tender to get the best deal possible.

Saif Bonar is Manager of Freelancer.co.uk, the British division of the world’s largest outsourcing marketplace. He has an MSc in Information and Knowledge Management together with more than 9 years experience of working on outsourcing marketplaces as both a buyer and provider of services.

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