18 Tips For Small Businesses That Outsource

Outsourcing has received a bad rap in some circles because of its association with job losses that occur when corporations “export” jobs to countries with much lower labor costs than the U.S.

But those of us who run small and home businesses have a different perspective on outsourcing.

For us, outsourcing is the “secret sauce” that lets us pull together the resources to handle temporary work overloads, reduce fixed costs, speed products to market, simplify distribution, provide more or better service to our customers, and compete with our deeper-pocketed competitors.

Much of the business that small businesses outsource goes to other small and home businesses within our own country. Often those freelancers or subcontractors are business owners we’ve met at local business meetings or events. Sometimes they’re people we’ve “met” by participating in a mailing list or forum, or via specific Web sites, like Elance.

But the key to successful outsourcing has little to do with where you meet the subcontractors and freelancers you work with. Like anything else, it takes planning. Here are 18 ways to get the best results when you outsource work… more at 18 Tips For Small Businesses That Outsource – SmallBizResource, published 19 March 2009.

Flickr photo credit: markhillary

By |2012-01-05T06:47:36+01:00March 26, 2009|Blog, Small Business|0 Comments

My biggest mistake and how I fixed it

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to attend a book event for The Plain Dealer columnist Marcia Pledger to promote her new book “My Biggest Mistake and How I Fixed It.” The book is actually a compilation of stories and case studies of local Cleveland small businesses that Marcia had written about over the last five years in her columns.

It’s a shame that most of you will only meet Marcia through the printed or electronic page because her enthusiasm and energy are contagious. Being a multi-mistake-maker myself, the first thing I said to Marcia was “I bet you have a long line of small businesses who want to be in your column.” When Marcia told me that she literally had to beg companies to share their ‘Biggest Mistake’ I couldn’t believe it.

“Let’s just say I have no problem doing my part to convince people. I’m not too proud to beg,” she said with a big smile and sparkling eyes. She was undaunted by the multitude of rejections she’s received over the five years it took to pull together over 260 small business lessons, from which just over 120 stories made the book. …read more of this at Book Review: My Biggest Mistake And How I Fixed It – Small Business Trends, published 4 March 2009

Flickr photo credit: julsatmidnight

By |2012-01-05T06:47:36+01:00March 9, 2009|Blog, Small Business|0 Comments

Sweating over your business card? That’s psycho, America!

LinkedIn is revolutionizing networks for American small businesses. These videos show you how.

Before TMZ released the infamous tape of a foul-mouthed Christian Bale on the set of Terminator 4, our Batman hero had played Patrick Bateman, just your everyday serial killer in the film American Psycho. Say what you will about the story’s controversial message, the scene in which Patrick Bateman proudly displays his new business card is simply classic.

Oh my god, it even has a watermark.

I wouldn’t advise it these days. And I am not talking about the killing.

For all the old school businessmen who are still salivating over the creamy colors and raised lettering of their colleagues’ business cards, there are, thankfully, more savvy professionals today advising their colleagues and clients to run, not walk, to LinkedIn.

I recommend it to people myself. Often.

So, boy, wasn’t I surprised the other day when a client said that she basically doesn’t understand it. And I was equally surprised, after posting a question on Twitter about it, to not be inundated with tons of instructional video links.

Surely someone has created a video on what makes LinkedIn so powerful for small business?

After scouring YouTube for material, I found 9 solid clips to help you learn about LinkedIn and harness its power.

(If you’d like to head straight to the videos, skip to the bottom of this page for the list of links. If you are already lost — LinkedIn??? Twitter??? — I recommend starting with CommonCraft’s video, Social Networking in Plain English.)

Three Keys to Understanding LinkedIn

It’s more than a social space. If you’ve jammed on all the music you can handle at MySpace and learned 25 things about 25 times on Facebook, you’ll see the obvious differences with LinkedIn. While it is technically a social networking space, what distinguishes it from its peers is its target market: namely, an international community of professionals that see the future of business online . LinkedIn’s focus is its asset: it is the premiere portal of its kind, dwarfing Xing, its closest market competitor with 35 million users to Xing’s 7 million.  And, according to a November 2008 report by Anderson Analytics, the majority of LinkedIn users (66%) are “decision makers or have influence in the purchase decisions at their companies.”  While LinkedIn may not have the Internet traffic ranks that Facebook (#5) and MySpace (#8) have, it is gaining considerable ground, rising 52 position points to 149 in just the last 3 months alone, according to Alexa. Want to see aggressive growth for your own business? Ride that horse to the top.

It’s the networking on steroids. If all you have done with LinkedIn thus far is register an account, you’ve overlooked 99.9% of its effectiveness. At its core, LinkedIn is about, well, linking. As before, it’s not what you know, but who you know that creates business opportunities. While the most obvious first step is to connect with old friends and colleagues, do not neglect the next steps: of joining a LinkedIn group, of asking and answering questions in its forums, of inviting the people you meet in those spaces to connect with you. Yes, yes, some purists will deride the open networkers who boast 500+ connections on their profiles. (“What’s the point if you cannot personally recommend someone?”) But there is a middle ground between your 5 most trusted friends and 5,000 anonymous network connections. Find it.

It’s the cold call made a lot warmer. Remember those days when Gertie Gatekeeper stopped you right at “May I speak to the Director of Marketing?” Those days can be placed firmly behind you with the power of just two words: a first name and a last name. On LinkedIn, members within your extended network (i.e. the friends of your friend’s friends) are fully visible by name and title. For example, just 150 strategic connections can connect you with nearly 5 million professionals. That means that the next time you want to reach the marketing director in an Austin, Texas agency, chances are good that you can ask for her directly. Even better, because she has already voluntarily posted the most current information about her duties in the company, you can be sure that she is, indeed, the person with whom you want to speak. Power tip: using a calling list or a lead database? Cross reference it with LinkedIn.

Finding professionals in your target markets has gotten a whole lot easier because of LinkedIn. It is, as one of the video gurus puts it, “the grown-up version of your address book.” That is just the tip of the iceberg. Increasing the visibility of your small business, sharing resources with your industry peers, and leveraging your connections for new business: that’s the power of LinkedIn.

So are you going to get online? Or are you going to continue stroking your business card?

Tammi, who reminds you that hiring ArcherTC to polish your LinkedIn profile is business smart

YouTube video links:

Related shopping:

– Flickr photo credit: Jerry Luk

By |2012-01-05T07:15:25+01:00February 23, 2009|Blog, Online Marketing|1 Comment
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