Kjetil Olsen is vice-president of Elance Europe. Follow him on Twitter at @Kjetil_J_Olsen
Setting up your own business might be challenging, as there are many things to do. But it doesn’t mean that you have to — or should — do everything yourself. It’s costly to commit to an employee’s salary and benefits, and what start-up can afford to have even one employee who isn’t working to full capacity?
It’s also worth asking yourself: Do you really need to hire someone on-site? Many services can be assigned to freelancers. This work may include accounting, manufacturing, website design, marketing and public relations — even administrative assistants can be hired on a “virtual” basis now online. You can assign your job to one or more people on the Internet and still have the work done by professionals that will help you save a lot of money and time. Online job platforms such as Elance have revolutionized the recruitment landscape for both employers and job seekers, and largely increased the efficiency with which hiring decisions can take place. Here are a few people you can successfully hire online on Elance:
1. Content writer
If you’ve got an online business or you plan to have one, you already know there’s not enough time to keep up with everything that needs to be done. This includes the never-ending fresh content requirements. Writing comes up a lot in business no matter what industry you are in. Your website or blog needs content, your marketing and press materials need to be written, and even product descriptions need polishing. Unless writing is your hidden talent, consider hiring an online writer to save time and keep things professional. Even if you are a writer, you may find it to be a big time saver to outsource some of the more standard content on your site.
2. Market researcher
We all know that information is critical and market research can help you understand—and act on—the dynamics of your local or global market, market trends, customer satisfaction with the products and services in your area and how your competitors are performing. Market researchers can help you better understand your business landscape, who and where your customers are and how meet their needs can be met.
3. Mobile app developer
It is already old news that every business these days has a mobile app. Maybe you just want to provide customers with access to your website from mobile devices or perhaps, you want to create a new revenue stream for your business by selling a mobile app. Either way is a smart move, considering that the number of adults using the Internet, email or instant messaging on a mobile-phone is rising by the year. You can turn that app into an opportunity and boost your bottom line.
4. Virtual assistant
It’s never too early to get an assistant. You can find someone online you can rely on to outsource tasks only when you need extra help. Rates will vary per hour or per project, so it’s likely that you can find someone that fits into your budget.
5. Website developer
These days it’s more important than ever to have a website that is both great looking and highly functional. Depending on the needs of your business, you can hire someone to help with a simple WordPress blog site or a sophisticated e-commerce site.
6. Social media marketer
Nobody should ignore the power that social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter have for brand awareness, customer acquisition and retention and idea exchange, especially if you are a business owner. The problem is that these networks require their own type of strategy – adding friends and followers won’t be enough to market your business. A social media expert can effectively leverage these tools so that your company develops its own voice, and your customers will be listening to what it has to say.
7. Graphic designer
What your business needs is a brand – a logo, a website, some business cards, potentially some print or web advertising, and so on, so you’ll need to find a graphic designer that can turn your vision into something real.
8. Lead generation specialist
Customers make the business world go round, and a skilled and experienced lead generation specialist can help you find them. Techniques include sourcing affiliates, driving traffic to your website, collecting information from interested prospective clients or researching key decision-makers within your industry. How should you approach new potential clients? These specialists are sales and marketing professionals and can help determine the most effective and cost-effective lead generation approach for your industry.
Whether you’re starting your first company or you’re a veteran business owner, the odds are that you’re going to need a lawyer to offer legal advice or help with legal problem. He can help you with critical paperwork (service agreements, distribution agreements, and so on) that commands a set of trained eyes. That’s why it’s important for any business, big or small, to have an ongoing relationship with a good lawyer.
10. SEO expert
The old axiom “If you build it, they will come,” doesn’t apply here. Search engine placement is critical to anyone with a website; even if you do build it, they won’t come if they can’t find you. Search engine optimization (SEO) specialists help your site gain high rankings. The algorithms change constantly so techniques naturally evolve – unless you’re in the web field, you’re unlikely to have the necessary skills.