You’ve heard of it.
You like the idea.
Maybe you’ve tried it.
Crowdsourcing, though simple to define, can have a very broad range of uses for your small business and for all of humanity in general.
Let’s kick this post off by taking a quick look at what it is and how it got started.
How crowdsourcing started and its impact on modern society
The term crowdsourcing is often used to describe the practise of outsourcing tasks on the Internet that you either can’t do, or simply don’t wanna do. In the hum-drum of of our current technological global society, it isn’t hard to see how this very classic term has evolved into what it is today.
Crowdsourcing was around long before Jeff Howe of “wired.com” coined the current use of the term back in the mid-2000′s (see wired’s latest crowdsourcing article.) Howe defined online outsourcing as the act of “reaching out to the crowd” and the referred to it as crowdsourcing in a later editorial published on wired.
Before the technology offered in the 21st Century, people used the phrase to detail the process that took place when a call was made by an individual or group looking for people to figure out a problem that needed solving. Traditional crowdsourcing was very randomized; the participants could have professional experience related to the task, or none at all.
The official definition before it’s use in online outsourcing verbiage: “A process that involves outsourcing tasks to a distributed group of people.”
In fact, this term was pretty much exclusive to the scientific community – think about the true benefits of crowdsourcing to the global community when a math or science problem is posed to students around the world, and then a breakthrough happens as a result. You’ve all probably heard of Shouryya Ray, the 16 year-old Indian student who purportedly solved one of the biggest physics problems of our time (see huffpost for more details.)
Though there has been much controversy over him and his story, it still shows how crowdsourcing increases the effectiveness and speed with which a large problem can be solved.
Now, with much of our work being done in the “cloud”, the “crowd” is fast becoming the way in which small business owners can save significant money, by utilizing time and efficiency-enhancing crowdsourcing as a means of extending their overall reach for skills and/or information.
Examples of popular crowdsourcing sites
This is one of the most depressing topics for struggling businesses, or those of you who need some moolah to get your great small business idea rolling. In the good ol’ days, an entrepreneur looking for investors would seek out investment groups, wealthy folks with money burning holes in their pocket, or like-minded people interested in partnering with them in a business.
Kickstarter, Crowdfunder, GoFundMe, and RocketHub are all great online sources that are available to anyone with a computer (is there anyone who doesn’t have one in 2013?) These sites do charge fees, but if you have a great idea for a product or service that you know will resonate with people, then what do you have to lose but a few bucks and maybe a little pride? You also don’t have to worry about being trapped in a stuffy boardroom with a bunch of angel investors.
Online design crowdsourcing allows you to put a few details about what you’re looking for on sites like Fiverr, oDesk, or the large variety of marketing websites that allow you to post a project you need done. You post a job, invite the “crowd” to bid on the project, submit their portfolio, and then vet each of them to find the best person for the job.
A newer really popular trend is emerging in this area, thanks to sites like crowdSPRING and 99Designs – you can post a job you need done via a contest that invites applicants to make the best design possible based on your requirements – the winner ends up getting a monetary prize (of your choosing) for their troubles.
Naming Force has the online business/product/website name market cornered. You pay a flat fee to submit a 5-15 day naming contest to the crowd. Then afterward, Naming Force will select the most popular of the names submitted, using their crowdsourced voting system, and submit the results to you. You then choose the name you want and the creator is rewarded.
Give crowdsourcing a try for your next business venture!
Crowdsourcing is great whether you’re firing up a new business, creating a new product or service line for your existing business, or looking for a new approach to the way you run your business. Give it a try and let us know how it worked out for you.
Photo credit: Ron Mader