Crowdsourcing is a relatively new term. A concrete definition hasn’t been settled on, but many people who use it generally use it to mean the “outsourcing” of work generally performed by an employee or a contractor to a business’s customers or the general population. An organization puts out an open call for volunteers and receives input, feedback, and ideas into the production process.
So now that you know what it is, can you use crowdsourcing for your small business?
I don’t see why not.
There are some dangers to crowdsourcing, however. You have to be careful that you don’t spend too much time (and money) on the production process. You also have to be sure that you don’t lose control over the process – and your product or service. That’s fairly easy to do.
The Web, however, has introduced some new technologies and services to help make crowdsourcing a more palatable process. One of those is Amazon.com’s Mechanical Turk.
But another way to maintain control over your small business crowdsourcing is to limit your “open call.” You don’t have to open it up to everyone on the planet. If you serve a local clientele, you can just issue an open call to your local community or your most active customers. Do it early enough in the process and you could see wonders in how your volunteers help you improve your systems and resources.