x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

The headaches of outsourcing can be cured with a click

Finding the right people or companies for outsourcing various tasks can be a headache for entrepreneurs. Thankfully, it can be solved in a click, writes Manar Al Hinai.

Projects on Freelancer.com can be sourced cheaply. Philip Cheung / The National
Projects on Freelancer.com can be sourced cheaply. Philip Cheung / The National

One of the many challenges I face as a fashion designer is multitasking under a tight schedule, whether it is looking for the right textiles, preparing for media interviews, or micro-managing my tailors - and then there is the small matter of my full-time job with a government financial institution.

But when it comes to my entrepreneur friends at the start-up stage, the real challenge they face is trying to find the right company or people for outsourcing various tasks.

Although my small business is two years old, I would rather hire different people to undertake certain projects that arise along the way than have full-time employees. But just like my friends, I could not find a perfect all-in-one outsourcing hub until a few days ago.

A colleague shared with me what turned out to be a heavenly online platform of freelancers; the perfect solution for small-business multitaskers like me.

Her brother wanted to change his plain and boring construction company's logo for a more attractive version that would hopefully generate more business. He approached different design agencies in Abu Dhabi that offered to do the job for an average of Dh10,000 (US$2,722) for the artwork.

Thinking such a sum outrageous, he decided to turn to the internet and look for freelance designers who would charge less for the same quality of work. That was when he came to find out about Freelancer.com.

The process was simple. He posted his project, and within a few hours he received bids from different freelancers willing to complete his project. The best part is that he ended up paying less than $100 for the artwork for his new logo; a great bargain if you ask me.

After hearing this story, I decided to talk to some representatives from Freelancer to find out more, and whether this would be helpful to small-business owners in the UAE. It turned out that this website is an immense outsourcing virtual marketplace.

Since its inception in 2004, it now has more than 3 million global members and has completed projects worth more than $120 million, with offices in Australia and Philippines.

The freelancers on the website come from more than 200 countries serving global customers who are just an internet connection away. If you have a product idea but do not know how to develop it, there are freelancers who will do that for you and provide you with business advice when needed.

What kind of projects can you outsource on Freelancer? All kinds of things, from designing logos, building websites, down to sourcing products from another country, which would come in handy for me as I am on the lookout for exotic materials. The website has helped many people to generate thousands of dollars in income.

A great example is that of Craig Barber, a chart-topping Apple app developer who is competing neck to neck with the popular Angry Birds game although he did not design his own app.

He is one of the many entrepreneurs who outsource their work to Freelancer.com. His Apple app, Car Audio Deck, was designed and programmed by a Chinese freelancer who bid $2,500 on the outsourcing. The app now ranks one of the top Apple iTunes apps and generates thousands of dollars in sales.

However, the most important quality of the website to me is that it is cost-effective and tailored to business owners with different budgets. Maintaining low costs is a key target for all business owners, and this website provides help with that. An average project on Freelancer.com costs just below $200, a reasonable price for small businesses and start-ups.

Another important aspect is fast turnaround times are offered. Many projects can be completed within hours - perfect for those who are under tight deadlines.

The website also provides users with the option of choosing which freelancer they would like to manage their project. By browsing through each freelancer's portfolio, a user can check the quality of the work a freelancer has produced, which makes the hiring process easier, and much more worry-free.

Given that it is already hard for some to start businesses, finding the right platform for outsourcing, or to help you to manage your tasks, can make a huge difference.

Manar Al Hinai is an Emirati fashion designer and writer who can be followed on Twitter: @manar_alhinai