As your small business grows, so does your need for staff. This is especially true during your busy season.
The good news is that there are a multitude of online platforms such as Upwork (from the merging of Odesk and Elance), Freelancer, Outsource and Fiverr that provide ever-increasing sources to grow your staff without breaking your bank.
Whether you seek workers on a per-project basis or for preset periods, outsourcing sites such as these can help you grow your business AND still keeping staff-related expenses low.
These online staffing portals let you find expert temporary workers who can competently assist you with a range of projects, including copywriting, social media messaging, search engine optimization (SEO), advanced programming, website development, graphic design and more. In addition, these online platforms can not only be used for staffing purposes, but they can also be used to outsource certain business functions, such as payroll for example.
Outsourcing and staffing sites such as these provide access to higher-quality skill sets and technologies that help you grow your staff and facilitate business growth without sacrificing quality. Good contractors can hit the ground running and deliver impressive expert results.
“These professionals serve as reliable partners who bring expertise, proven ideas and value to the project,” Jose Monterrosa, CEO of Imagina Communications, said in one published report. He goes on to say, “We save money by avoiding large overhead expenses such as salaries, benefits, employee taxes and reduce training, software and work space costs.”
Don’t underestimate the cost-effectiveness of outsourcing. It can nip your need to rent additional office space in the bud, for example.
The key is figuring out which tasks to outsource by exploring the how, why, when and what of outsourcing as far as your individual needs are concerned. Implementing the proper strategy allows you to concentrate on your business’s core areas. You don’t want to outsource everything. But you can use outsourcing platforms to help you affordably and easily outsource tasks you don’t have the time or talent to take on.
Non-core functions generally should not be profit centers, for example. They may be essential tasks, but they shouldn’t touch on your efforts to strategically differentiate your company from rivals. Non-core functions ripe for outsourcing tend to be administrative and back-office activities such as payroll. So let’s explore several of these outsourcing sites a bit more below.
SurePayroll, an online platform that offers payroll services geared to small businesses, noted numerous benefits related to the outsourcing of this specific function. Key among them is it prevents the IRS from penalizing you.
According to the IRS, 40 percent of small businesses pay an average penalty of $845 per year for late or incorrect filings and payments. Payroll services such as SurePayroll provide a guarantee that you will not incur penalties. These companies assume responsibility for penalties if they do occur, which means outsourcing payroll can literally pay for itself, generating even more savings for you.
Paychex, a website that enables you to outsource your human resource efforts, processes payroll for over 500,000 businesses, offering what it describes as “first-rate products and highly personalized service.”
Social media is another function that can be outsourced. Take, for instance, $99 Social (pronounced “ninety-nine dollar social”). This outsourcing service enables its small business clients to stop worrying about social media. For a flat monthly fee, the company will post daily, seven days a week, to Twitter, Google+ and Facebook. The company’s service is centered around updating social channels with relevant content.
“We find content that’s related to the client’s specific industry or local community. Our staff are going out on the Web and finding relevant posts, articles and news stories, and composing messages to share along with the content. Our goal is for each update to have the voice of the client,” founder John Holling told Small Business Trends.
Upwork is known in many circles as the go-to site for hiring freelancers for short-terms projects. Say, for instance, if you need a writer to compose 500 words on a specific topic. You start by writing a job post that is as clear and concise as possible. Freelancers will then submit a cover letter and link to their Upwork profile covering their skills, experience and portfolios, as well as client feedback.
Upworks says you will have candidates to review within minutes. Then, you simply interview those candidates and choose who to hire. When you pay the freelancer, the website deducts a 10 percent fee from the freelancer’s pay. (For example, if you pay a freelancer $20, Upwork earns $2.)
Freelancer, a global outsourcing marketplace similar to Upwork, lets you post jobs that freelancers bid on. Depending on which membership you purchase, you will be charged fees once a freelancer accepts your offer. Free, Basic and Plus memberships cost either $3 or 3 percent of the total project cost, whichever is greater. Standard and Premium memberships don’t pay any project fees, but pay a monthly fee of $49 or $199, respectively.
Guru offers a global network of 1.5 million freelancers to help you complete technical, creative or business projects. Guru features a built-in project manager app, offering the business owner the abilty to manage a project without leaving the Guru website. The app permits you to create agreements, define milestones as well as share documents.
Fiverr, the destination for fast services, all of which cost $5, has a stable of professionals who can make explainer videos, write a product description, proofreader, launch an email marketing campaign or draft a blog post. First, you browse for the type of service you need. Once you’ve found the person you need, you click the “order now” button. Then you upload your project requirements and within a few days, the completed project will be ready.
Of course, this is the down and dirty way of getting something done. However, it’s a good solution for basic tasks, providing you include a clear description of what you need.
PeoplePerHour offers several options to start. You can browse fixed-price offers ready to start immediately, post a job, search profiles and contact freelancers directly. It lets you choose freelancers based on reputation. You basically read reviews of past work and hire someone who is priced within your budget. Hourlies, PeoplePerHour’s trademark discovery technique, allows you to find a service without having to negotiate. Like Guru, you can manage the project, share documents, and pay for the service without leaving the platform.
99 Designs provides workers who can design websites, as well as a new logo, t-shirt design or car wrap. It’s definitely one of the more original platforms of its type. Vendors compete in a contest to win the job. You write a description of what you need, then launch a contest. You’ll receive dozens of images, then you provide feedback and ultimately pick the winner. With this platform you can work with literally dozens of designers before choosing the one you like the best. The process also eliminates any guess work.
You view a broad offering of completed designs and pick the one that you like the best. Pricing starts at $299. This covers the contest launch and allows you to obtain up to 30 designs.
Outsourcing sites such as these are a quick and effective way to find the right person for the job – at a price you want to pay.
But it’s important to choose the right platform for the job. If you need an important ebook cover, for example, Fiverr may not be your first choice. But as long as you understand the limitations, you shouldn’t have a problem using outsourced labor to grow your staff while keeping expenses low.
Growth Image via Shutterstock
It’s nice to see that there are now some services you can use to hire and pay employees. It skips the traditional way of looking for people and hiring them and registering them and giving them a payroll account so that you can pay them.
You are spot on. With the rise of pay-per-use economy it has become easy to outsource your non-strategic tasks. This in turn helps with reducing the employee hires, provides flexibility and reduce overall expense.
Great article. There are more opportunities for small businesses to successfully outsource services. It is too costly to employ even part time staff to perform these functions. Small businesses need flexibility as they grow. Owners want to concentrate on their business and don’t want to deal with the back office noise. Developing, keeping and growing clients is a full time job. Outsourcing allows entrepreneurs to work smarter not harder.
Good list of outsourcing choices, Ed. And I’m so glad your encouragement was not only to be wise about which work or project to outsource, but also to make sure you choose the best platform for each of them – such great advice. – A