Crowdsourcing for Small Business

What is Crowdsourcing?

Getting your employees to complete the work you pay them to do can already be a challenge, but how about outsourcing your work by giving people an opportunity to contribute to your task? Welcome to crowdsourcing.

Crowdsourcing involves asking a large group of people for paid or unpaid materials, services, feedback, or other forms of information. The word “crowdsourcing” comes from the concept of taking your work and outsourcing it to a crowd.

The concept behind crowdsourcing is collaboration through leveraging the various talents, skills, and participation of multiple contributors with different backgrounds and perspectives. Crowdsourcing will generate a wide variety of content and ideas.

Paid examples include platforms such as Upwork, Design Crowd, Fiverr, and Micro Turk, also known as MTurk, A well-known unpaid example of crowdsourcing is Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia that allows the crowd to create and submit information for review. The crowdsourcing format has been successful for Wikipedia, as it enjoys the status of being the most in-depth and successful online encyclopedia.

Use Crowdsourcing As A Cost-Effective Method To Run Business

How do you use crowdsourcing to run your business without breaking the bank? Here are a few ways to use crowdsourcing to get fresh ideas and quickly complete otherwise expensive and time-consuming projects.

Brainstorm New Services or Product Lines

While brainstorming sessions in your conference room may result in profitable ideas, they may not be in line with customer desires and needs.

Instead, use crowdsourcing to find out what customers really want. This can be done in the form of tests, focus groups and surveys using programs like SurveyMonkey.

Online Opportunities To Obtain New Business

You can crowdsource your business and get in front of larger companies and prospects you generally would not be able to access with your current marketing budget. Smaller businesses get an opportunity to demonstrate what they can do for larger companies in terms of campaigns and ideas.

Improve Efficiency

Small businesses may use a crowdsource platform to streamline one-time tasks such as design work, or repetitive tasks such as social media campaigns, writing articles and creating shareable images.

The results will be fast and professional so that the business owner can get back to concentrating on the business. Platforms like Fiverr and 99 Designs provide low cost services with a fast turnaround rate.

Inexpensively Crowdsource Expensive Design Tasks

Most people have paid too much for a logo that they weren’t quite happy with. It can be a tedious process. Just tell the crowd of designers what you want, the price, and the deadline. You get to keep the design you like the most. Design is not limited to logos – you can crowdsource advertisements, video, products, and fashion, too. Crowdsourcing has also extended to the interior design and fashion industry.

Get Faster Results With Microtasking

Platforms like Microworkers help you microtask, or take a giant task and divide up the work within a crowd of people. For instance, if you have 2,000 blog posts that need an image with text overlay, you can ask 2,000 people to provide one image with text overlay. Because of the way the work is divided, you will get faster results than getting one person to do the work. Microtasking is also used for image processing, transcribing files, and database correction.

Open Innovation Through Project Collaboration

You can quickly get a project done by allowing multiple contributors from around the world to work together on your project. Get a wider perspective and knowledge base as your group interacts and works together on a dedicated web platform. This can be set up for internal use for company employees, as well as external use for various freelancers selected for the project collaboration.

Immediate And Precise Feedback

Crowdsourcing can be used to get customer feedback for a new product or service idea. In addition, crowdsourcing can also be used to create a campaign to get new suggestions. Campaigns can be implemented online through social media or polls.

Just create a poll and ask people which option they would choose for your products, services, and promotions. Customers will enjoy giving you their input, and as a business owner, you will be able to give customers what they want. This could be an extension of a current offering, or a modification of a product or service you already provide.

Crowdsourcing for feedback may uncover some flaws in your messaging and branding. For instance, if customers are repeatedly asking the same question, create content that clarifies your offerings on your website or promotional materials.

Also, if you are considering making design changes or content changes to your blog, you can crowdsource to ask for feedback. Although input is essential, the final decision rests on you as a business owner.

Why Do Small Business Turn To Crowdsourcing?

Here are five reasons why so many small and medium-sized businesses are turning to crowdsourcing marketplaces to fulfill their needs.

Fast Turnaround Time For Results

Crowdsourcing allows businesses to get work that would be contracted out done at a faster rate with competitive bids. With faster responses and proposals, you can determine whether your brief has clear instructions.

Lower Cost For High Level Talent

Leveraging a pool of qualified and ready to work freelancers can result in high quality work with a quick turnaround time. You do not have to make a long-term costly commitment to an employee or contractor for a long period of time.

By setting your own budget, you will get bids within the range, and you can select the best proposal based on your requirements.

Creative And Efficient Collaboration

With crowdsourcing, you can tap into a wider database of knowledge and skills than you could if you chose to work with one person.

While some believe that a larger pool of talent will compromise quality, this couldn’t be further from the truth: you will quickly be able to see who puts out quality work, and who takes shortcuts or doesn’t meet your specifications. A healthy level of competition will encourage freelancers to put forth their best work.

The end result? You get to work with high-level talent with no commitment at a price that works in your budget.

By crowdsourcing, you can tap into the best designs the world has to offer with few limits. You can get countless more designs from a large number of creative minds, and ultimately develop or refresh your branding for a portion of the usual cost.

Low Risk For Commitment And Errors

Crowdsourcing lets you use a streamlined process and present a brief that clarifies your requirements. As a result, work is done more efficiently, and there are more alternatives to choose from if it doesn’t work out with one freelancer.

Instead of being bound by individual contracts, you are subject to the rules of the platform when you use crowdsourcing to complete your work.

The terms for revision and costs are clearly laid out so that there is no confusion. Also, with bidding, you do not have to renegotiate the task as you would with contractors. If your brief is not clear, you can make adjustments as you see proposals come in.

You can also request revisions at no additional charge, depending on the platform’s terms and conditions.

Closing Thoughts

Any business can use crowdsourcing to get work done and gain insight about current and future offerings. Whether you need specialized skills outside of your company, or you are looking for a cost-effective method to get tasks done, consider crowdsourcing before making expensive commitments to agencies and consultants. If your recent brainstorming sessions have been futile, consider getting a fresh perspective from your current clients and prospects by creating campaigns geared towards feedback. Get started today to put crowdsourcing to work and watch your business grow!

Author: a professional writer and business attorney that advises businesses in the areas of compliance, tax, and finance.

Small Business Financing for Native Americans

Securing financing for small business venture does not always turn out easy, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA). Native Americans face the same predicament that small business owners and minority entrepreneurs. Business News Daily writer detailed how startups find it difficult to obtain small business loans because of the following reasons:

  • Negative Credit History – Lenders rely mainly on credit history to determine the borrower’s paying capacity.
  • Restricted Cash Flow – Lending facilities also look at the business owner’s cash flow to pay back loans.
  • Business Plan – Banks and lending firms look for a systematic, comprehensive, and quantitative business strategy as a prerequisite for loan processing.
  • Organization – The business must demonstrate organized operations and documentation.

Entrepreneurs who fail to meet the criteria as mentioned above will find it hard to obtain loan approval.

Small Business Grants

BIzfluent states that Native Americans can look forward to small business funding from federal and state governments. Some public and private entities also offer grants only for Indigenous Americans. Eligibility requires the applicant to become a member of any recognized tribe in the country.

The First Nations Development Institute authorizes endowments for economic development given directly to the tribes concerned or Native American non-profit groups. It created a Native Asset Building Partnership Coalition offering investment subsidies to promote businesses of home-grown citizens.

On the other hand, the United States SBA offers loans instead of grants although the agency allocates capital for the so-called Native American Micro-Enterprise Business Services. The SBA does not provide funds for expansion but conducts executive and specialized training courses to qualified applicants.

The Department of Agriculture conceived the Rural Business Enterprise Grants to finance business ventures of legitimate Native American tribes as well as make available employment opportunities. Only officials of certified ethnic groups can apply for RBEG funding which ranges between $10, 000 and $500, 000 without any cost-sharing precondition. Local and state RBEG offices receive applications every year although submission dates vary according to state.

The United States Commerce Department provides an assortment of grants solely for job creation with indigenous Americans as beneficiaries. Tribal governments and their constituents, as well as companies that conduct business with these natives regardless of the location of these enterprises, can apply for the subsidy. The category of grants includes tourism promotions, economic development, and infrastructure programs.

One of the US Department of Health and Human Services (Office of Children and Families) known as the Administration for Native Americans offers opportunities in the areas of socio-economic development, sustainable employment, and asset-building for Native Americans. The ANA funding ranges from one up to five years and includes technical training.

Free Assistance from Office of Native American Affairs

The Office of Native American Affairs conducts technical assistance programs for free to help companies with a variety of business disciplines in marketing, financial analysis, compliance, contract management, strategic planning, and others.

Interested parties can contact the following organizations:

  • Cherokee Nation (Tahlequah, Oklahoma) – Combine training with executive counseling for entrepreneurs in sales, marketing, financial management, and product management.
  • Oregon Native American Business and Entrepreneurial Network (Portland, Oregon, and Tulsa, Oklahoma) – Provide Peer Monitoring and Entrepreneurial Exchange Program concentrating on Indigenous American small enterprise in Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico states.
  • Native American Development Corporation or NADC (North Billings, Montana) – It offers pre/post technical aid for native-owned and managed small-scale enterprises as preparation for government contracting which adopts the SBA procurement program and other state/federal platforms.
  • Indian Dispute Resolution Services or IDRS (Plymouth, California) – The IDRS carry out entrepreneurial training courses and imparts technical support for tribal members all over California, Oregon, and Nevada. Workshops include accounting specifically Quickbooks, financial planning, business plan formulation, computer literacy, and negotiations.

Dilemmas of Native American Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship represents one of the remedies to financial hardships that majority of American Indians face. Unfortunately for them, specific factors hinder their progress primarily because of issues such as poverty, work experience, and inadequate formal education. Majority of Native Americans many of whom do not have jobs live in destitution. This condition affects their capacity to become eligible for loans and capability to make use of assets in self-finance. Lack of academic and employment experience prevent them from becoming entrepreneurs.

Most of these tribes still live in remote reservations which remain far from market hubs making it harder and expensive for a few skilled natives to serve trading markets. The absence of Internet access, as well as telephone services, further aggravates their condition. Inadequate communications systems make it more difficult for Indigenous American entrepreneurs to coordinate with mentors, network with stakeholders, and explore their customer base.

Discrimination and Repression

Historically, American Indians have always borne the stigma of racial bias and oppression by their countrymen. This situation and years of inequality have somehow affected their positive mentality and ability to develop their skills and engage in worthwhile undertakings. In fact, favoritism against minority business owners still proliferates in lending practices. Only a genuine change can drive Native Americans to seek better opportunities.

At the same time, Kaufmann research studies pointed out that the low rate of entrepreneurship in Indian reservations and among native tribes lead to less exposure to entrepreneurial prospects. Native Americans have fewer mentors to learn from which represent among the primary factors in the entrepreneurial boom.

Rules, Risks, and Structure

Research also revealed small business proprietors would less likely launch or start expansion with the belief that standards or regulations may not change for the better sooner or later. Tribal governments demonstrate inconsistencies and do not maintain standardized regulatory processes and benchmarks for startups.

The factors of an insufficient history of the enterprise together with tribal government unpredictability contribute to the downfall of the prospective entrepreneur or small investors. These potential business operators find it confusing to figure out results expected from them. Speculators who fail to foresee the regulatory atmosphere for possible investments find isolated federal reservation risky places for investment activities.

Minority Businesses

In spite of everything, the United States federal government, state governments, and non-profit institutions continuously implement programs and give out financial support for minority enterprises. The writing of grants, submission of applications, documentation, and approval process takes time. The benefits of free funding make the waiting time and efforts worth working for in the long run.

According to the Small Business Administration, minorities come in the following demographic groups:

  • Asian
  • African American
  • American Indian
  • Native Hawaiian
  • Hispanic
  • Pacific Islander

Given this position of the government, Native Americans can still look forward to prospects in entrepreneurship and a slight chance to enhance their lives despite the challenges as well as the unfortunate position of today’s minorities.

Author: Jane Meggit has been writing for a reputable newspaper chain during the last two decades. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the New York University and Associate of Arts degree from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts also in NYC.

Author: Paula Fernandez, a writer based in New Jersey finished her Bachelor’s in English and Master’s Degree in Education. She worked as director for an academic service learning and community outreach facility for almost ten years. Her experience includes corporate communications, public relations (non-profits), and publishing.