The Ultimate List of Small Business Outsourcing & Delegation Resources
Which are the best outsourcing, delegation and collaboration websites, tools and applications to help you scale your business profits up and get your life back?
Use this list of small business outsourcing resources to help you catapult your profits.
A note of caution about small business outsourcing:
I know some successful Internet marketers who have spent years finding programmers and web designers overseas to successful outsource projects too.
In my experience these are the exceptions to the rule. In general, unless you’re a big business and regularly travel to India, Bangladesh and the Philippines, you’re better off tapping the thousands of qualified people in your own country – people who speak your language and you’ll have a lot easier time communicating with.
Review the list below and let me know which of the following small business outsourcing, delegation and collaborative tools are your favorites or if I missed any.
What to Outsource?
Coordination/ Collaboration Tools
Data Entry / Word Processing
Web Site Maintenance
Outsource Your Administrative Tasks – Find A Virtual Assistant
Hire a Virtual Assistant to help you get organized, do your clerical work and all those time consuming web tasks like updating your blog. They’ll do a better job than you at anywhere from $15-$50 an hour and you just pay for the time you need.
Assistant Match links busy professionals with off-site assistants by taking care of all logistics from interviewing to reference checks. They place virtual assistants in part-time positions for tasks that can be completed from a home office.
Most VAs are solopreneurs and once they get a few clients they’re booked up. Often the best way to find a virtual assistant is to hire one whose just been trained. Submit a request to AssistU and pick form the newly certified VAs that respond.
Craigslist is not only a great place to sell your outdated furniture. I’ve found VAs and full-time employees. Just post a free ad under ‘gigs’ to scare up a virtual assistant. Be sure to include an accurate description of what you are looking for.
This is a great way for you to screen possible applicants. Remember to look for clues in their mail response. Did they answer all your questions? If not, that’s definitely a red flag and shows they do not pay attention to details.
Just register and post your project. Elance offers many tools and features including a time tracking tool and user profiles that compliment your search in locating the ultimate VA. This is a great way to stay on budget since you set the price and they bid to work for you.
Pick your freelancer carefully. I’ve had mixed results on Elance, and very limited success trying to work with service providers from India or Egypt who say they can do anything but then don’t deliver.
A site for virtual assistants and people looking for one. Not the biggest VA site but with over 1,000 members you may find the perfect one.
Mentioned in the ‘4-Hour Workweek’ by Timothy Ferriss, Get Friday, draws on the India labor pool and gets high fives for friendliness but the quality of work was “sorely lacking”. Furthermore responsiveness was very poor. The lesson would be that off-shoring to pay people $15 an hour or less may be appealing but if it just creates more work for you it’s not expensive.
Hire My Mom
My mom is 91 so I wouldn’t recommend hiring her to do anything but bend your ear, but with over 5.4 million younger mothers putting their careers on hold to stay at home with their children there is a lot of talent with a few hours here and there waiting to be tapped. If you’re looking for a smart stay at home mom to help you, you can post your project and connect one here.
International Virtual Assistants Association
The non-profit organization connects qualified VAs with clients who submit an RFP. Includes a search function that allows you to search for specific types of services and by location. Great idea, but our search for data processing services, one of the most common, in Connecticut only came up with two results. Of course if I wasn’t concerned with location, the whole virtual idea, I’d probably have found more. Worth a try.
A nicely designed site that hits all the right points with it’s copy and promises access to everything to help with graphic design to marketing analysis, to lead generation to customer support, coaching and more. Claims educated staff has over 30 years of combined college education. Huh?! I guess that’s good and whoever put their site together did a good job so their services might be worth a shot too.
A tool for finding vendors to outsource your phone systems, payroll, credit card processing, telemarketing and more. All you have to do is describe your project and they match you with the top five pre-screened qualified applicants for free. Couldn’t find any reviews.
If you never worked with a VA, this is a great place for you to start. It says they have 10,000 members, which I assume are VAs looking for work. Can’t browse the list so there is no way of knowing for real. Must submit an RFP to get a list of qualified members.
Outsource Your Bookkeeping – Find a Bookkeeper
I’ve never met an entrepreneur or small business owner yet who liked bookkeeping, or could do it better than an actual bookkeeper! Outsource your booking to a real bookkeeper to save yourself time so you can focus on growing your business.
Looking for a CPA, accountant, or bookkeeper? Click on the directory to browse the listings. Unfortunately they’re not organized alphabetically or by state so you could spend hours, if not days, sifting through the listings.
Using the search function on this site was even more frustrating, resulting in zero bookkeepers in the New York City area. Hard to believe! Use this site only if you’re truly desperate.
American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers
A site primarily for bookkeepers but click on the bookkeeper job postings link and then the ‘employers post jobs’ link. If you register you can post a job. Not very user friendly but if you can navigate the site you may find a great virtual bookkeeper here.
Finally, a site that’s easy to navigate where you can find accountants, bookkeepers, tax preparers and get help with payroll and financial planning. Just click on the task you need help with and then on your local and up. I found over 25 bookkeepers listed for my region – plenty to choose from.
This site bills itself as a comprehensive search directory of all CPA’s in the United States.
Coordinating Your Virtual Team – Online collaboration and project management tools
Once you’ve got one or more virtual team members on board, the challenge is to keep them focused, working together and to get the work done on time and done they way you want. Below are a handful of tools you can use to track, coordinate and help build a winning team.
This collaborative tool is perfect for giving freelancers access to all your ideas, to-do lists and documents. I’ve used it with great results and feel safe knowing the account is password protected. Premium and Max accounts also include SSL security, which is the same system used by online banks.
This was the one tool that almost every virtual assistant I talked to recommended for keeping projects on track with their own team as well as with clients.
If you’d rather have a way to work offline and sync projects when you’re sign on, Colligo is an increasingly popular tool that offers exactly that. Its customer base includes Fortune 500 companies in more than 50 states, which indicates it could be a better option for larger business.
This service isn’t free, but the array of services and features make it more than worth the subscription price. I love the mobile phone app that makes collaborating on the go a snap.
This instant messaging service for Gmail users is perfect for touching base or clarifying a quick topic that doesn’t warrant a phone conversation. You can put up an away message or go invisible when you need to be online but can’t be distracted.
If you’ve used Google’s Gmail, you know how easy and their tools truly are. The same goes for this simple software application that allows for real-time communication and collaboration. Just type your notes, save them, and anyone who’s granted access can read and edit the document.
Want to know how your staff is spending their time? Are they sitting around eating chocolates or diligently working on your projects? Have them fill in an report tracking how they are using their time so you can help them optimize their efficiency. It’s free.
Expect everything a collaborative service should have with loads more features including RSS feeds, shared calendars and branding for emails and workspaces. Also, it’s fast, easy to use and has a reliable customer service system.
Need a way to pull your virtual team together for a face-to-face discussion? Sign up and chat with up to 20 participants on a call for free, chat, text and share videos and photos.
The crowdsourcing feature on SmartSheet makes it stand out as a leader in project management. But, it also features collaboration software standards such as the ability to track and manage work online.
To-do lists, reminders, file storing and note taking features keep your simple business activities in one place and give your freelancers easy access to keep them in the loop.
Outsource Your Copywriting – Find a copywriter
The bottom line is that it’s the words you use in your marketing message and your marketing copy that determines whether your products and services sell. And you can either spend years becoming a master of copywriting or outsource it to someone who is. Take a look at our comprehensive list of resources for outsourcing your small business copywriting needs.
AWAI makes their money by selling copywriting training. And while it’s associated with some of the best copywriters in the industry you’ll be taking pot luck when you post your copywriting job on their site. Just be careful in dealing with these aspiring copywriters, some are planning on buying their own Caribbean island off the proceeds of your job, even though they’re very green behind the ears and may not be able to write copy better than a third grader.
Worth a try though as you may find a true talent who can turn words into cash and hasn’t gotten so busy you’ll need to mortgage the house to sign him or her up. Just go to their contact link and send them a description of your copywriting job, ask them to post it and prepare yourself for the onslaught of “I’m a great copywriter” responses.
Originally set up as a way to help bloggers monetize their blogs. If you’re trying to get additional exposure for your products or services or generate buzz, getting positive posts generally can’t hurt but remember a post about your eco friendly pet shampoo on a blog that covers every topic under the sun isn’t going to help you with the search engines.
This long-standing blog was originally just an advice outlet for bloggers looking for paid writing gigs. Now, those looking for paid and non-paid bloggers can post free ads. An added bonus is the blog, which is updated regularly, and provides helpful advice on everything from SEO to affiliate programs
Yes people post ads for copywriters on Craigslist. A great way to find a copywriter. Just remember you’ll need to renew your free job listing every week to keep it active.
Another popular site that allows you to pay bloggers to write nice things about you, your products and your site. Unfortunately you can’t specify what blogs will post on your topic. This means that even if the posts are well written they may be seen by the wrong audience or even worse you may be paying to have your posts featured on sites you wouldn’t want your customers to associate you with.
In general, I don’t recommend this strategy – you’re better off with finding a reputable blogger who you follow to contact and see if they’ll review your product.
Yet another site that connects you with bloggers so you can pay for exposure on blogs. Remember in most things you pay for what you get. If you think you’re going to get a well-crafted post written for you for $15, you’re out of your mind.
On the other hand, if you are serious about finding a blogger who writes well, expect to pay $500 per post. I tried this service and it failed miserably despite its popularity but who knows maybe you’ll get lucky.
Outsource Your Customer Service but Not Your Customers
Neglecting clients is the biggest no-no a business can make. So, instead of juggling emails and phone calls with meetings and business lunches, find someone who can offer your customers the attention they need and the customer service they deserve. A virtual assistant maybe the easiest choice, but you can search for someone who specializes in customer service.
Your customers are your biggest assets. Treat them accordingly. Dell, CapitalOne and JP Morgan all tried offshoring their customer service a few years back and all concluded that the hidden costs (e.g. lost customers) outweighed the potential savings.
After searching the web extensively, I couldn’t find any valid resources to include here and our best suggestion is to train your virtual assistant or staff member to handle customer support.
Outsource Your Data Entry / Word Processing – Forever!
Almost every entrepreneur or small business owner I’ve worked with has a pile of data entry tasks on their to do list from finally inputting all those business cards you’ve been collecting into a database to organizing their articles to tracking customer orders and more. Small business outsourcing data entry will ensure your follow up stays and they never get done with the result you never mail to the people whose business cards you collected and your follow-up falls thin.
As the big cheese, the head honcho of your business, the truth is you shouldn’t be doing data entry or word processing, but you should be making sure it gets done which is why you’ll want to outsource your data entry and word processing. Here are few resources to get you started so you can focus on growing your business. For more great ideas on outsourcing data entry or outsourcing word processing go to Virtual Assistants.
Axion Data Services
For most, saving money is more than just an option – it’ s a necessity. Axion lets you customize your package based on your needs, which translates to less money spent on services you don’t need! Also, their extensive U.S. domestic work force is proudly made up of a team that has been with them for years. Worth a try.
Serving multiple business sectors this company offers a low cost at a fast turnaround, with high accuracy and reliability. As a small business owner, this is exactly what you need to outsource your data entry!
With a roster of innovative solutions that surpass just data entry, Techspeed is a recommended go-to for small business outsourcing. Actually promise phone support!
Outsourcing Design / Web Design – Find a Designer
If you’re anything like me, and drawing a stick figure is your idea of being artistic, don’t second guess having someone work on your web site’s design. Here are a few places to find designers to help with your website design or print design projects.
If you have built a few sites and can spec out exactly what you’re looking for, this site lets you put up your project along with a fixed price, say $500 for the winner. Then you can sit back and watch as talented designers post their design solutions and you can give them feedback until you’re happy and award your job to the winner.
AIGA Design Jobs
Besides credibility, AIGA’s job board has a few other key components that make this site highly referable. It’s easy on the eyes, easy to use and with the different categories of internship, professional, and pro bono you have options because no job is the same.
All Graphic Design Jobs
Just post a new message on the board with the specifications of your job and wait for interested parties to contact you. This site is pretty easy enough to use and seems to have a lot of qualified talent interested in posted jobs. Added bonus: posting is absolutely free.
Once you sign up, you’re matched with an agent who can help you find freelancers based on your needs. Aquent relies on building relationships between agents and searchers, so you’re not left to sort through an overwhelming amount of irrelevant talent.
This visually stunning site is an all around stomping ground for graphic designers. But it’s their job posting and searching services that really stand out. In addition to keyword searching, Job hunters can search for your company by name in Behance’s company directory.
Find matches for more than just graphic design jobs; They specialize in staffing copywriters, SEO specialists, and more. Visiting the CGR website is a lot like going into the grocery store for milk and leaving with chips, bread and other things that weren’t on your list. But much like when you’re enjoying the chips as a late night snack, CGR services are well worth it.
Creative Cow separates jobs by low/no pay and high pay, which is a great way to avoid someone charging exorbitant amounts for a simple job. Posting is as easy as entering a name and email address.
Anyone with a website and a company can submit a job posting for free, although approval is required. And while there is a plentiful selection, it’s much easier to sort through than other sites so your job will be in the forefront.
For finding eager fresh-out-of college students, this is one of the most comprehensive resources out there. Aim for art schools like Parson’s and Pratt for innovative thinking and endless talent.
Employment Crossing’s Design Crossing
This site aggregates graphic design jobs from big name, yet random, websites and offers a wide variety of design categories.
Creative Jobs Central
Comprehensive resource with graphic design freelance jobs, internships and full-time positions. Also, you get a free 7-day postings if it’s the only place your ad can be seen.
CoroFlot Design Job Board
Post a job for a designer of any type on this job board.
Professional on the Web
This directory puts together a comprehensive list of website design companies and individuals searchable by country. The only downside? After doing a search for United States, a few foreign companies came up. It’s still a great resource, but double check to make sure you’re getting the results you want.
Programmer Meet Designer
Although it provides a way to connect with freelancers, the search tags isn’t set up efficiently. Also, doing a search for “copywriter” pulls up listings from as far back as 2008, so this shouldn’t be your first stop for freelancers.
A standard bid for work program that attempts to match you with qualified freelancers within your budget. The quality of their freelancers doesn’t seem to be up to par, so you may want to steer clear of this site unless you’re absolutely stuck.
Specialty Graphic Imaging Association
The SGIA/DPI Industry Employment is a valuable service where companies can list positions available and individuals can build and post resumes. Find a graphic design job here. There’s only a small selection of jobs listed, but that could mean more visibility for your listing.
Web Design Forums
This is a web designer forum that has a section for full time web design job postings.
Outsource Your Direct Mail Campaigns
Unless you have 8 arms, any direct mail service can implement a faster, more efficient mailing process to have access to reach new prospects. Most direct mail outfits will print, collate and mail your postcard, letter or package for you and free up your time to set up make more money.
Direct Mail Lists
Info USA provides offers a variety of direct marketing services tailored to the business owner. They offer sales leads, email marketing, post card marketing and much more all to get your message across and increase your business.
DirectMail.com is a leading full-service database marketing and mapping intelligence organization. At DirectMail.com you’ll find all the help and services you need to plan, create, and manage your direct mail needs. Direct Mail.com offers you all the services you need to get to the leads that will increase your ROI.
Direct Mail Questes
Get bids for your direct mail and printing job. Find list services, design, fulfillment, and tracking.
Outsource Event Planning – Find an Event Planner
Some people are born organizers, focused on all the little details that make an event a success. My daughter, for instance, carried around a checklist before we left for family vacations to make sure we had everything. She’s now an event planner, which is exactly who you need to call if you want your business events to be a success. Find one below.
For those who like to take a more active role in the planning process, evenective allows you to search thousands of listings for caterers, florists, and venues. Or you can work with one of their event agents to save time. If you’re in a rush, stay away from this site, as the specific searches require too much time and effort.
Vendors, venues and services all on one site should be overwhelming, but somehow it’s not. Very easy to scan through.
My Party Planner
Great resource for event planning tips with informative quick articles by party planning pros.
Your Big Event
You can’t search without entering your full information, so for those who are anti-spam, this may not be the best option.
Outsourcing Eating Your Lunch
Outsourcing making your lunch maybe a good idea but eating it, probably not. Only a good idea if you’re on a serious diet.
Outsourcing to a Freelancer – Finding freelances of all types
Looking for a someone to take on a specific task, whether it’s writing an ebook, designing a website or writing a custom program for your website or operations software? There are dozens of sites you can go to and list your project, but beware, you’ll get responses back from people all over the world, many who have very different ideas about on time and quality than you do.
For the most part I’ve had little success using these sites, but you’re experience may be different.
Authentic Jobs prescribes to the simple is better train of thought and it works for them. The site is easy to navigate and is a great go-to for finding reliable talent. There is a posting fee, but once you take a look at the quality of jobs (and most likely the quality of applicants), you won’t mind the small investment.
This site was one of the first to provide a way to find freelancers but the word is that they’ve made a bunch of changes to improve their own profits and now freelancers aren’t happy with this site. You can post jobs and get bids but this is another site where its buyer beware. Over the years, I’ve tried Guru.com ourselves and always been disappointed.
Like many of the other bid-based freelance websites, iFreelance.com provides an arena for employers and freelancers to search for each other. Freelancers can place a bid for any projects in which they may be interested. Review projects, providers and portfolio all on this virtual marketplace for freelancers in the web and development arena.
Great site, simple to use and hugely popular but I was sorely disappointed with the offshore contractors I tried. The good thing was since they didn’t actually do the work, I didn’t pay either. Worth a try but be careful when it comes to awarding your project to a contractor. My experience was they’d say anything to get the job and then nothing got done. Please let me know what results you get.
Businesses and consultants such as freelance programmers, copywriters etc will bid for the work you outsource and you can select the best one that matches your requirement.
Most freelancing sites are hard to navigate and don’t have the talent you need. Hubstaff is different and stands out as the go to site for freelancers of all sorts. It’s “The Free wat to find the world’s best remote talent”, from your computer.
Outsourcing Marketing Strategy
You’re not seriously considering outsourcing your marketing strategy, are you? This is the one task you as the business owner should be clearing the decks to focus on. This is the engine that is responsible for your business growth.
Only you can do this one and if you’re not – good luck!
Keeping your employees happy is key to keeping your customers happy and making sure they get the right checks paid on time essential. But even if you’re a one person operation, writing checks, addressing envelopes and posting them is a simple task below your pay grade, one you should outsource to a firm that specializes in it and can manage your payroll better than you.
If you only have a few people on your payroll your bookkeeper should be able to manage this for you. See finding a bookkeeper.
Paychex, Inc. is a recognized leader in the payroll and human resource industry, serving over a half million businesses nationwide. Small and large alike, paychex.com offers the same great service to the small businesses like yours!
This company lists payroll companies that provide personalized payroll services not always provided by the large major corporate payroll companies like ADP, PayChex or Ceridian. The independent payroll companies listed are business owners just like you. They match your specific needs with their payroll services, while providing unmatched quality service at competitive prices.
Manage your payroll from you home office. This site is geared to the small business like you! Print and e-sign paycheck with ease. Make all your workers happy and avoid the hassle of dealing with a third party company.
Payroll Service Provider
Getting your payroll right should be one of the biggest concerns for any small business — but it’s not easy and the job never ends. Whether it’s once or twice a month or weekly, handling hours, withholding, taxes, and the rest of the payroll can be a real challenge. This site will provide you with the best possible matches for your company size and budget.
If you’re looking for a qualified payroll service provider, they do the hard work for you and at no cost. There’s most likely a hidden fee somewhere, but I couldn’t find it on the website. Also, mypayrollquote.com has a checklist of questions to ask when on the payroll service provider hunt.
Compare payroll services to find the one right for you, which is perfect for small business owners who want a service geared to their needs.
Outsourcing Order Fulfillment
When I first launched my business, every day or every other day, I would pack up orders and proudly walk them over to the post office. As the business grew, I quickly realized that spending time doing my one order fulfillment was keeping me from my primary job of growing the business.
I tried outsourcing to a few fulfillment firms before finding disk.com and now I use them to print, build and ship all the orders of my best-selling courses. That was over 5 years ago and I’m sure there are many other equal qualified fulfillment services. Here are a few you may want to try below.
Tap into the same systems Amazon uses to power it’s own business to grow yours. They’ll pack and ship your products for you. Just send in your products to their warehouse, set up your Amazon store and they’ll do all the rest so you take just watch the profits roll in.
In my experience, disk.com is of the best places to outsource your fulfillment to in the industry. You can get them to print up 25 to 2500 or more manuals or cds at a time, tie into your order processing system and they’ll automatically pack up and ship out your products on demand.
It’s as close to the perfect system as I’ve discovered for the small business owner who sells info-products. Or course you’ll want them to ship you a sample every time they do a product run so you can check on quality and make sure they’re producing and shipping what you want.
With the ability to produce over 360,000 discs a day and a green initiative in effect, Duplium is a great choice for small businesses that care.
For the small business owner who needs a reliable pick, pack and ship service, E-fulfillment provides that and more. Other services include digital photography, custom integration, programming, and return processing. Untested.
Haven’t tried this order fulfillment firm but their sites looks easy to navigate. Worth getting a bid on your project.
There are tons more order fulfillment firms out there. Just search for “order fulfillment” in your favorite search engine and add your suggestions of firms you’ve tried here.
Outsource Software Programming – Find a Software Programmer
Need a custom interface for your website or special script so you can add a custom calculator or want to manage your database to provide custom reports. Even if you’re a total geek, writing your own code isn’t the best use of your time as a business owner and for the rest of us not even a consideration.
Find a qualified programmer to help you improve the functionality of your website, your business and your productivity. Most large organizations can increase productivity by up to 15% through software tweaks and upgrades. My guess is the profit potential is even higher for small businesses.
Hire a geek using the resources below.
If you’ve got the patience to sort through a not-so-organized list of freelancers, this could be helpful. It’s not as attractive as it could be, which makes the sorting process that much more mundane.
This is a great career hub for everything tech related. Searching is easy so, provided you fill in all the relevant information, candidates should be able to quickly find you.
Great, comprehensive list of small business outsourcing resources and those that are on a restricted budget.
Bid on actual coders and review their work in this online marketplace before you commit! It’s like online dating for the web development community! And my experience here for simple projects has been very positive.
Just put up a post and wait for all your programmers and developers to come knocking at your door. This isn’t the most straightforward site but there is a lot of activity, which means a better chance you’ll find the perfect match.
Outsource Web Site Maintenance – Find a Webmaster
Over a dozen years ago I built my first website with some help from a web designer. The when I wanted to make changes, I’d download the page code to my computer, edit it and upload it – and then ask my web designer to fix my mistakes. As my site grew it became clear that trying to do anything more than just add content via a content management system was plain nuts.
I don’t tune my cars engine or even change the oil. I drive it but when it needs work I take it to my mechanic, the person who knows it inside and out and can fix it quickly and keep it running at peak performance.
Your website is the same. While you may want to manage the content, you’re going to need a webmaster to manage your site so it’s up and running with all the features you want. Here are few webmaster resources below:
37Signals Job Board
Use this job board to post your webmaster opening.
This site offers a bouquet of possibilities from designers, web masters and more.
GeekUp Job Board
For more technical web types use this job board.
Have you already outsourced your business?
Comments or suggestions or other great resources for small business outsourcing and delegation and team collaboration? Just send us an email and we’ll review them. Email firstname.lastname@example.org