Gone are the days of employing a large number of people; relying on one or two overpriced suppliers; consulting one person on a business problem or struggling to raise funds from a finance institution. Technology has made access to skilled individuals, finance and suppliers easier and affordable. This is great for small businesses and start-ups. If you don’t know what crowdsourcing is – take a few more minutes to read more.
Crowdsourcing is outsourcing work (typically online) to a group of people or suppliers. The business term “crowdsourcing” has only been around for a decade. Wikipedia (which, by the way, is a great example of a tool that uses the crowd, to source its content) provides a more formal definition, which is: “The process of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from an online community, rather than from traditional employees or suppliers.”
- Lower operational costs, most are “pay as you use” revenue models
- Decreases the cost of investment into Research and Development
- Give you access to talented people globally
- Save you time
- Allow you to focus on what’s important – growing and establishing a sustainable business
- Bring diverse perspectives into your business
- Drive innovation.
Big corporates are also using crowdsourcing models to assist them in creating new products and services – they call it open innovation. Multinationals such as P&G, Coca-Cola, GE and Unilever all use open innovation models. GE explains further: “By crowdsourcing innovation—both internally and externally—GE is improving customer value and driving advancements across industries.”
Here’s how you can use a crowdsourcing model in your business or start-up:
- If you need funds for your business or idea: Consider a model which allows you to pitch to a group of potential funders. Explore sites such as startme, thundafund and kickstarter.
- Looking for a creative service like a graphic designer, writer or photographer? 99designs.com is a great site. Submit a brief and designers respond with ideas and you choose the one that best meets your needs. More info on MateMedia.
- Find a freelancer to do research; write a report; design a product or develop some software at Freelancer and Elance – connecting you with freelancers around the globe.
- Outsource a small job by registering on M4JAM a South African platform which allows businesses to outsource “micro jobs” to users registered on their platform.
- For innovative solutions to a problem (be it scientific, technical, social or business), InnoCentive crowdsources solutions from the world’s smartest people, who compete to provide answers.
- Crowdsource content for your online magazine versus hiring fulltime writers. Sites like Bizcommunity and Entrepreneur use this model for content from various contributors.
Whether you are a start-up still building your business model; a small business looking for a new logo or an established business looking for innovative solutions, you should consider using crowdsourcing models / tools / principals. From our point of view the business case for crowdsourcing is solid.
Nokwazi Mzobe, Founder and Lead Consultant of Matoyana Business Solutions
About:Matoyana Business Solutions
Matoyana Business Solutions is a boutique business consulting company located in Johannesburg, South Africa. It is targeted at start-ups, small and medium enterprises across Africa.