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How to Successfully Crowdsource Anything for Your Small Business

By: Susan Solovic

 

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Most of us have heard the legendary question medieval theologians asked, “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?”

 
A modern day version of that might be, “How many people can you fit into your office who are willing to help you with funding, projects and brainstorming?” The answer would be thousands from all around the world. That’s the power of crowdsourcing.
 
Think of crowdsourcing as a kind of Internet dating approach to finding your small business the capital, creativity, help and ideas it needs to take it to the next level. And just as there been an explosion in Internet dating sights, there’s been a boom in crowdsourcing sites.
 
There are some standard categories into which these sites fall. Different sites specialize in these categories. Some won’t be of much interest to small businesses, I’ll cover the ones you’re more likely to use.
 
Crowdfunding
 
This is perhaps the most well known application of crowdsourcing. Within this category there is great specialization. Here are some of the major players:
 
  • Kickstarter. If you have a creative project—movies, games, art, and more—this may be your best bet. Although smaller, IndieGoGo is worth a look. Tech products are also included in this group.
  • EarlyShares. For many small businesses with a solid idea and sound management team, this site can be an excellent source of funds. You are offering equity when you go this route. Think of it as your source of micro-angels as well as a way to involve family and friends. Fundable is similar.
 
Crowdsource tasks
 
There are crowds waiting to help with you all kinds of tasks you need to complete, from those that require a lot of talent to those that just take time. We’ll start with the second group.
 
  • Mechanical turk. This is an Amazon.com enterprise that connects people who need a lot of small, receptive tasks completed. If you had 1,000 pictures of products that needed to be classified, this would work for you. MicroWorkers is similar.
  • Creative designs. For logos, websites, banner ads or anything that requires design skills, 99Designs is currently at the head of the pack. You post a project. The designers essentially see it as a contest and propose design ideas. You pick the one you like best. CrowdSpring is another option.  Elance, and oDesk are moving into freelancer territory, but you do draw a “crowd” of possible providers when you list your jobs at these sites.
 
Crowdsource ideas
 
Occasionally we read about NASA posing a problem and asking for ideas. You can do the same thing today. Need some killer new menu items for your restaurant, or the best way to market your new product? Try Idea Bounty. You post a brief and how much you’re willing to pay and the ideas start rolling in. You select the winner.
 
I have one more resource for you, Crowdsourcing.org. You’ll find a directory of crowdsourcing sites here, a great blog and other useful crowdsourcing information.
 
Any other great suggestions? Share them with us here.
 
This article was originally published by Susan Solovic
Published: July 23, 2014
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Susan Solovic

Susan Wilson Solovic is an award-winning serial entrepreneur, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Amazon.com and USA Today bestselling author, and attorney. She was the CEO and co-founder of SBTV.com—small business television—a company she grew from its infancy to a million dollar plus entity. She appears regularly as a featured expert on Fox Business, Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, CNBC and can be seen currently as a small business expert on the AT&T Networking Exchange website. Susan is a member of the Board of Trustees of Columbia College and the Advisory Boards for the John Cook School of Entrepreneurship at Saint Louis University as well as the Fishman School of Entrepreneurship at Columbia College. 

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