Transform a small business into a virtual multinational – without breaking the bank

Today, the UK is in a state of small business encouragement – from government initiatives right through to the new series of The Apprentice. However, in the current climate, many entrepreneurs and start-ups are still struggling to make ends meet, and sourcing affordable, reliable talent remains one of the biggest hurdles.

For instance, so many people have big ideas about starting a business or transforming their existing one, but then have it all become too difficult on the realisation that they’ll need to find a graphic designer, a software programmer, or someone to build a product. The hassle of finding someone that is affordable and can be trusted to do the job at hand can quickly become probative to success.

However, the good news is that the internet is causing a massive shift in the global labour market as more people come online. As a result, savvy small businesses are emerging as the biggest winners, and concerns over staffing and expertise are slowly becoming a thing of the past as there is always someone online who’ll do the job for potentially a fraction of the average cost.

So, what has caused this shift?

There are currently around two billion internet users worldwide, which represents thirty percent of the global population. It’s hard to believe that with the perceived ubiquity of the internet, more than two thirds of the world’s population is still offline – but as the rest of the population is rapidly catching up, this presents a major opportunity for the global outsourcing market.

To go a stage further, as more people from developing countries come online, the first thing that they are looking to do is to improve their socio-economic status and boost their standard of living through finding work, and when it comes to freelance employment, supply is on the verge of outstripping demand – lowering costs as a result.

At the same time, just about any job you can think of is now being digitised. If you work in design, you basically work with digital files. If you work in finance, you’re swapping documents and spreadsheets. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in manufacturing, engineering, architecture or accounting – you most likely interact by swapping digital information.

Even retail is now online. Bearing this in mind, just about any job you can think of can now be done by someone on the other side of the world, for a fraction of the cost of what you’d pay locally.

This has lead to the rise of a number of online labour markets available to businesses. Through these outlets, employers can get a website built by someone in India for as little as £100, a logo designed by someone in Romania for £30, and a virtual assistant with a computer science degree in the Philippines to manage the corporate website, all customer correspondence, product updates, email newsletters and so on, fulltime for £150 pounds per month.

In doing so, entrepreneurs will effectively remove the hassle of admin, running a website and managing customer service – instead freeing up their time to do what they do best, actually run the business.

All in all, this is fantastic news for small businesses and entrepreneurs – not to mention the economy – proving once again that there’s never been a better time to start a business.

Matt Barrie is an award winning entrepreneur, technologist and lecturer. He is Chief Executive of Freelancer.com, the world's largest outsourcing marketplace connecting more than 2.5 million professionals from around the globe, and in the top 250 websites globally. Matt is serial entrepreneur, previously as founder and CEO of Sensory Networks, a vendor of high performance network security processors. Prior to this he founded a telecommunications hardware company. Matt has raised over $40M USD in financing from venture capital, strategic investors and through government grants while running or assisting technology companies. For the last ten years, Matt has been an external lecturer at the Department of Electrical and Information Engineering at the University of Sydney, teaching Network Security, and starting in 2010, Technology Venture Creation. He is the co-author of more than 20 US patent applications.

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