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Benchmarking is one of those terms that, if you don’t know any better, would require several hours of scratching your head while you had it explained to  you.

In its simplest explanation, benchmarking is the process of finding out who the competition is, the quantity and quality of their presence, the positive and negative feedback associated with those you are researching, and, most importantly, learning what it takes to meet or exceed the value in and success achieved by the competing enterprises you identified in this process.

Consider benchmarking the equivalent of building a dossier of your enemies. Once you know who your enemies are and what their strongest and weakest attributes are, you are able to improve yourself and your business idea so that you can compete against (and defeat) them in the future.

Online Freelance Workforce Continues to Rise

The Labor Day weekend got off to a dubious start with Friday’s news that the nation’s unemployment rate crept higher in the month of August. But the number of online freelancers also continues to rise, and a new report from Elance indicates that the growth is due more to lifestyle choices than the jobless rate.

The world’s leading platform for online work recently published the Freelance Talent Report, in which 70 percent of respondents stated that they are happier working as independent professionals than as employees. Only a slightly lower percentage, 63 percent, said that they would choose or have chosen freelancing over traditional employment. Supporting those numbers is the fact that freelancers working through the Elance online platform have earned $300 million in wages.

Other findings from the survey include the following:

  • 79 percent of the participants said that having control over their own schedules was the best thing about freelancing
  • 71 percent said that they find at least 50 percent of their clients or their work online
  • 63 percent said that finding new clients and steady work is their biggest challenge (lack of benefits was next at 49%)
  • 50 percent said that freelancing is their sole source of income while 28 percent indicated that freelancing was a supplement to their incomes.

Other qualities of freelancing that rated highly with the participants included following their passion (74%), lack of a commute (73%) and increasing their income (62%). Elance, which helps businesses find qualified freelance and contract talent with technical, marketing and business skills, surveyed 700 of its freelancers for the survey.

Posted Sep 04 2010, by Linc Wonham in Website Magazine

Finding Products To Sell Online

Looking for the perfect products to sell online? Sometimes they can be hard to find. So, to help you start your research, here are ten top places to look.

If You Are Just Starting Out

  1. Garage sales and flea markets: If you’re starting out small and want to experiment with eBay, garage sales are a good place to start. Do some research into categories that interest you, and then start scouring sales for good prices.
  2. eBay: eBay itself can be a source for products. Look for wholesale lots that can be broken down for individual sale.
  3. Drop Shipper Directories: Drop shippers are wholesalers that will ship direct to your customers so that you don’t have to invest in or store inventory. Directories of drop shippers are for sale online, but make sure you’re buying a reputable one. I’ve previewed the Worldwide Brands directory and can recommend it.
  4. Local Businesses: You may find businesses in your backyard that offer just the right products, but are not yet into e-commerce. Offer to sell their product online in exchange for a percentage of any profits you make.
  5. Crafters: Local crafters are a good source of unique products, and may be willing to reduce their prices for you if you purchase in quantity. Either buy the item outright, or set up a consignment arrangement with them.

For The More Ambitious

  1. Trade Shows: Trade shows are my favorite way to source products. Lots of merchants gather in one place to look for resellers. To find trade shows in a particular industry, contact trade associations and industry publications
  2. Permanent Marts: Many industries have a location that houses permanent wholesale showrooms. For example, there is a “Gift Building” in New York, and a Furniture Mart in High Point, North Carolina. Once you have established yourself as a retailer, you can visit the marts and have face-to-face meetings with product suppliers.
  3. Wholesaler Directories: Your local library will probably have directories of manufacturers, wholesalers, and/or distributors. Most directories are organized by SIC code so that you can zero in on the product categories that interested you.
  4. Importers/Exporters: If you are thinking big, you might want to consider contacting companies that import goods from overseas. If you’re thinking even bigger, it’s possible to source directly from overseas. This requires a lot of expertise, but many companies do it successfully.
  5. Foreign trade offices: Most countries maintain trade offices in major US cities to help their nationals expand trade with the US. They may be able to let you know about companies interested in exporting to the US that you can contact.


Outsourcing to India: A Country Full Of Talented Professionals

Outsourcing is one of the most popular and the most preferred strategy that businesses are now considering. This is because outsourcing can provide you a cheap way to get your marketing process or at least a part of the marketing process done. Because of this, outsourcing is now the latest trend with savvy online marketers today.

By outsourcing marketing processes to other countries, you will save a lot of money and most importantly, time. You may wonder why this is so. And, you may also think that outsourcing should cost more money than doing your marketing process in-house. And besides, why hire a company at all to do part of your marketing processes when your company can do it alone?

First of all, outsourcing is relatively cheap because marketing processes of companies in the United States, Canada and in European countries are outsourced in developing countries, such as India. India is considered as one of the largest outsourcing hubs today and many companies outsource their marketing process in this country because of cheap labor.

This means that instead of employing a full-time employee in your company with all the company benefits and not to mention the high salary that you will give, you will only be spending a fraction of that sum when you outsource your marketing process in India. For example, when you have a project for your business that will regularly cost around 100 dollars per project, outsourcing it to India will cost around 20 dollars per project. Now, imagine if you have to do 1000 projects. You can see how much money you can save when you outsource it to India.

India is also known to have a pool of talented IT professionals who are now seeking employment in companies that accepts outsourced jobs. These professionals are very competent and they also produce good quality work that may rival the work of your country’s IT professionals.

Another reason why companies are now considering outsourcing their marketing process or at least part of their marketing processes to India is because outsourcing can lighten the workload. Therefore, by lightening the workload, your company will be able to make full use of all of its resources aimed to improve the company.

An example of this would be help desks. As a company that offers goods and services, you will need a help desk department in order to communicate with your customers and know about their inquiries, complaints and answer their questions regarding your product or services.

A help desk department requires a lot of money to develop. You will need to purchase computers, subscribe to VoIP, and purchase help desk software in order to let this department run smoothly and efficiently. You will also need to hire additional employees for your company with full company benefits to act as help desk representatives who will answer the calls from your clients.

By outsourcing your help desk to India’s call centers, you will never need to worry about purchasing computers, software and hiring employees. The call center in India will be the one who will provide all of that for you at a very cheap price. Companies considers India as their country of choice for call centers because of being an English speaking nation full of talented and qualified individuals.

So, if you ever need to outsource anything from making payrolls, to making software, to getting help desk services, you should consider India as one of your choice countries to outsource your marketing process.

Taking a Look at Business Consulting

One problem that numerous smaller types of businesses will encounter is not being able to afford to have particular people on staff at all times. It is simply not in the budget to have someone on a steady salary, along with all of the benefits you may offer, when you don’t need their expertise all of the time. This is when it is great to have a business consultant that you can hire for specific projects or periods of time, and the expense will simply be billed hours rather than a full time employee. Larger businesses do this too, and it can work out well for everyone. Business consulting is a rather large market.

There are many reasons why some turn to business consulting when they have a problem. Normally, those who take on these roles know exactly what they are doing, and they can give you that expertise for a limited time, as long as you are willing to pay their asking price. They may be experts in certain areas, and those areas are what they do the best. Business consulting can be broader, but most have an area where they know thy can help you, and they know exactly what to do in almost any event that might come up.

What can be hard about finding someone for business consulting is knowing where to look for such a person. This is when going online is very helpful. You can simply put your need for business consulting and your geographical area into a search engine to see what comes up. Many in the field know they are not always easy to find, so they have taken advantage of the wide reach of the Internet. You may find just a few names that come up, but you may also find a wide variety from which to choose. Look for someone that specializes in your particular needs, and then contact them for more information.

Business consulting will probably be something that grows in the future as a type of career. Not only are people looking to cut back on staff, they are also willing to spend the money when they need to. Even when the fees for business consulting seem high, they are still saving money by hiring on an as-needed basis. It can be much like any freelancing position, as some won’t always find work when they need it, but the good ones make a great living, and they do so because they are the best. Ask for references and past accomplishments when choosing, and don’t be afraid to cut someone loose that is not working out as you need them to.

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