3 Benefits of Crowdsourcing for Small BusinessesLast Updated: January 1, 2019
As business and society moves ever more rapidly towards an era of collaboration that would have been unimaginable even 20 years ago, it makes more sense than ever for startups and busy entrepreneurs to look to ‘the crowd’ for solutions to traditional business challenges. Here are three proven ways in which the crowd is a source of business sustenance.
PERHAPS it’s innately human, or for some other reason, but our tendency to celebrate the achievements and success of the individual genius, rather than collaborative breakthroughs, is leading to a thorny crux for the small business owner of today. That’s why it has become important for entrepreneurs to understand the successes and consider the benefits of crowdsourcing.
After all, to get back to the big picture, isn’t it true that for every Jobs or Branson or Gates, there are numerous key team-players who are all but written out of history? This can happen even when the business leader emphasises the importance of the collaborative nature of the successful project.
When AGENT spoke to Irish biotech startup success Kieran Curran recently, he was at great pains throughout the conversation to emphasise that the success of his former firm Gencell Biosystems was not his alone. “The core team were absolutely vital in getting us off the ground and acquiring customers early on; and I put the formula for success and the rapid pace of development of GenCell down to a collectively ambitious desire to attract high calibre customers and provide technologies that ‘moved the needle’…” he told AGENT.
Curran is correct in attributing the success of Gencell Biosystems to the collective effort. In fact, we are now living in an era when the extent of open collaboration in communications and business makes individual achievement and effort not only more difficult, but also self-defeating—with vaulting ambitions being undercut by the physical and emotional effort to work the business brand on so many levels in our increasingly interconnected word.
This is why startups who are hitting a brick wall securing funding, or lacking the resources for personnel should consider the benefits of crowdsourcing. There are three main areas where the power of the crowd has been demonstrably successful, and any startup would do well to give each of these benefits at least some consideration.
1. Funding Options
AT A time when sourcing funds from banks and other traditional lending and investment sources can be a challenge, there are results that make alternative funding approaches one of the primary benefits of crowdsourcing. It works!
For instance, Chris Roberts, designer of the video game Star Citizen, has raised in excess of a mind boggling $111m USD through Kickstarter and his own website. Naturally, the big question now is whether Roberts can deliver to such phenomenal expectations, but that is another story.
Another notable gaming story is the efforts of ZX Spectrum mastermind Sir Clive Sinclair, who, at the age of 75, shows no sign of fearing to embrace the new, by crowdfunding a modern, portable game console reboot of the beloved Spectrum, on Indiegogo.
Kickstarter alone has an impressive track record. From its launch in April 2009 until March 2014, according to the 2015 Guinness Book of Records, 5.7m people pledged a total of $1.001bn USD, helping no fewer than 57,171 projects to meet their funding goals.
2. Marketing Options
WIKIPEDIA is one of the best examples of the power and benefits of crowdsourcing in terms of content creation and information sharing. A free online encyclopaedia that relies on user-generated content, its reliability may be questioned, but it has become the go-to source for helping to resolve disputes in just about any area you could think of, from business to astrophysics and all points in between.
Wikipedia went live on January 15, 2001, and its model has been as hugely influential on successful businesses during their start-up phases, such as Shutterstock, the photography website, which started as a resource of royalty-free stock images uploaded by photographers from around the world, and which now offers a range of photographic stock plans to cater for all budgets.
While we’re living through the ‘content is king’ era of marketing, many small business operations will have insufficient time to create content, so seeking the help of those in your market who are creating content, and sharing it socially, makes perfect sense.
Curating a resource of relevant, valuable content, through articles, images and video, is a fantastic way of networking, as well as proactively propelling your brand through the market. It is as if you are being slowly elevated into the public consciousness—making content sharing one of the major benefits of crowdsourcing.
3. Service and Support Options
ACCORDING to CurrencyFair —a peer-to-peer marketplace for exchanging and transferring money overseas—the concept of peer-to-peer is not only an effective modern business solution. It is also a revolution that is changing the world.
As defined by CurrencyFair, peer-to-peer marketplaces are those in which people and businesses deal with one another directly, “without having to go through a slow, expensive middle man”.
Such marketplaces are active across a range of business sectors, including travel; work and services; e-commerce; car-sharing; finance; education; recreation; fashion, and many more.
Many people will be familiar with the customer service peer-to-peer process operated by Apple—a good example of how to maintain strong links with your marketplace, by creating a tangible community within it, while facilitating with solutions to technical problems, or answers to frequently asked questions.
It makes perfect sense for a small business owner to develop such a service, while they’re busy attending to the myriad other key tasks and obligations of startup and entrepreneurial life.