Susan Solovic, The Small Business Expert is an award-winning entrepreneur, an attorney, a New York Times best-selling author, a media personality and a highly sought after keynote speaker.

How to Successfully Crowdsource Anything for Your Small Business

How to Successfully Crowdsource Anything for Your Small Business

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 business. 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.


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