How Small Businesses Can Make Big Waves Using Contracting Tools OnlineAs a small business owner, you’re undoubtedly on a tight time crunch with limited resources to draw upon compared to many of your more established competitors. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools to use online that can give your small business a competitive edge to get noticed amongst the clamor of advertising that is bombarding consumers.

Keep an open mind

Fed up with endless expensive “business” subscriptions for your favorite management products like Office, Adobe Products, and Dropbox? Check out the open source community. The open source community is an online and offline community working together to create non-proprietary alternatives and new projects. Their goals stretch far beyond creating free software (freeware), but the products and support this community can provide small businesses is extensive.

In fact, projects started by members of the open source community have become so widely used and lauded that industries have risen up to provide specialized knowledge and consultation. Although it is best to rely primarily on the advice of experts when exploring coding options for your website, consultants of open source products are excited to share their knowledge, and often provide many resources in topics spanning getting started using the newest Drupal release to navigating operating systems.

Additionally, more and more open source alternatives to widely-used proprietary software are becoming increasingly user-friendly to non-techies. Consider exploring ownCloud, LibreOffice, and ProjectLibre in order to find inexpensive and highly functional software products to streamline your business productivity. Finally, by getting involved in the open source community this means you’re able to raise awareness of your business in a highly supportive and loyal environment. By taking the leap to open source, you might be netting yourself valuable connections.

Go international!

Working remotely is truly the future for the modern workplace, and talent is rapidly moving in that direction. Although it is ideal to court local talent, not all companies are situated in cities or towns with copious amounts of local talent to work with. These capabilities has only made the “employer’s market” stronger, as you have a greater number of options to choose from. Organizations like oDesk allow you to have multiple contractors outbid one another for your business. Although these consultants may still charge a pretty penny, oDesk has multiple measures in place to ensure quality work is delivered according to the contract.

For short term projects, I highly recommend looking into Fiverr. You’ve probably heard of Fiverr by now, but I cannot emphasize enough how much small business should be making use of it for short term marketing efforts. Making the most strategic use of Fiverr, you can obtain great social media content, search engine optimization consultation, a catchy online promotion, trouble shooting on your website, and a just plain awesome way to advertise your brand. Additionally, most fiverr contractors will give you an estimated turnaround time, which is helpful if you need to roll out that email advertisement this Friday – good news for anyone who procrastinates.

The key to making the most out of Fiverr, oDesk, and other eLance opportunities is to know exactly what you want and why you want it. This is not the way to get your website built in a “set it and forget it” fashion or delegate a long-term project. As a small business owner, you have already taken the initiative to learn about a vast number of different subjects, and by investing the time to pinpoint some of the terminology and efficacy of using these short-term strategies, you will set up your business to compete most effectively.

With some careful research and creative thinking, you can cut down on costs and ramp up your productivity, all the while making valuable contacts around the world. Making use of the digital tools at your fingertips will help you accomplish your short term advertising goals and set your business up for success in the long term.

Jared Whitehead is a technology researcher, writer, and unofficial evangelist for the open source movement, believing it can supply many of the solutions entrepreneurs are looking for.