The days of keeping a personal assistant on hand to pick up your dry cleaning or schedule your meetings are long gone. With automation, business owners now craft their own correspondence and make their own phone calls, often from the car on the way to a meeting.
As you look at your calendar at the beginning of each day, chances are you see tasks that merit a higher level of priority than others. Those meetings with clients and service providers can make a big difference in growing your business, but without someone to do those daily, more tedious activities, your business will eventually suffer.
Luckily, technology has made it easy to outsource some of those tasks, freeing up your time to focus on the more important items on your to-do list. Below are a few tasks you can outsource to online providers at minimal cost to your bottom line and the outsourcing tools that will help you.
Don’t have time to run by the grocery store? Need someone to pick up a gift for your wife? TaskRabbit connects busy people with pre-screened help locally. The site features more than 10,000 TaskRabbits nationwide who can handle a wide variety of tasks. You can also check reviews of previous customers to determine whether a TaskRabbit is the right person to handle your task.
Recently, TaskRabbit launched its business solutions site. Noting that some customers were using the site to locate temporary workers, the site decided to honor this need by providing background-screened temp workers who can be interviewed via live chat. Currently, the site is specializing in providing workers who can handle administrative tasks such as data entry and customer service. It’s a great way for a business to either find a fill-in worker for staff vacations or to try out a new worker before committing to long-time employment.
Need a business proposal for a big meeting with an investor? Want to pay an expert to craft a list of sales leads? Elance is one of several outsourcing tools that give you the opportunity to post your job and choose from a variety of proposals. With a membership of more than 500,000 businesses and two million freelancers, Elance is revolutionizing the way businesses handle projects. Instead of hiring a full-time web developer, you now have the option to pay a talented designer to design your website, providing updates as needed. Need content for that site? Don’t worry. One of Elance’s 10,000+ workers can do the job for you.
Advice and Services
Whether you’re in need of legal advice or want to pay someone to do your next PowerPoint presentation, Fiverr is a great service for finding affordable talent. While the site is now far from the original “everything for five dollars” concept–more than half of all tasks sell for more than five dollars–the cost of each project is straightforward. Many workers offer “add on” work, where the buyer can choose additional services at a higher cost.
At one time, a new business had to pay for servers, workstations, and software just to get started. Welcome to the era of the Cloud. Services like Office 365 and Windows Azure allow businesses to turn the day-to-day management of technology over to the experts. All a business owner needs is a wireless router, a cell phone, and a laptop, PC, or tablet to get started. With Cloud technology comes security concerns, however, so be sure to research a provider carefully before entrusting your data.
Every serious business, no matter the size, needs a live, friendly receptionist to answer the phone. In the internet era, businesses have numerous options that don’t involve paying a full-time employee to man your front desk. Ruby Receptionists lets businesses forward an existing number (or be given a new toll-free number) to its services. Monday through Friday between 5 a.m. and 6 p.m. Pacific, a friendly, live receptionist will answer the line and forward calls to the phone numbers you specify. Receptionists can also provide information such as directions to your office, your hours of operation, and even descriptions of the services you provide. Plans start at $239 a month and include unlimited talk time, unlimited voicemail time, and real-time call reports.
The ability of outsourcing tools has leveled the playing field for small businesses, allowing them to compete with much larger businesses without leasing a four-story office space and hiring a staff of hundreds. By choosing the right outsource providers, you can spend less time dealing with the minutiae of daily life and more time attracting clients and wowing investors.