Entrepreneurial

Small businesses hiring more online workers

When Casey McConnell started text messaging marketing company Qittle he took the traditional route of hiring onsite employees. But he soon realized it was more advantageous to hire workers online.

“We found it was easy to find these specialists or people that we could hire for a certain amount,” said McConnell, the CEO of Qittle. “We didn’t have the extra overhead and we just got the project done. It’s really easy for us to ramp up our needs or pull back using contractors. If we had an internal staff it’s pretty hard to fluctuate like that.”

Qittle’s preference to hire workers in the cloud is reflected in Elance’s recent survey that shows 83 percent of small businesses plan to hire half their workers online within the next 12 months. Only 10 percent of those surveyed plan to hire predominantly onsite workers (90 percent).

Elance, a marketplace for online workers, has posted more than 600,000 jobs ranging from programers to virtual assistants. Small businesses prefer to hire online because of flexibility, speed and economy of the process cost, according to Fabio Rosati, the CEO of Elance.

“So if you’re a small business owner, you can think of a hybrid model of hiring (online and onsite workers),” said Rosati. “You can think about what skills and what talent you need onsite. You can also decide what skill set you need to be in the cloud which is much more cost-effective and much more flexible.”

Online freelance industry gaining momentum

Amid the overload of economic doom and gloom, one subset of the workforce seems to be fairing rather well: online freelancers whose services range from graphic design to business writing.

In a country where unemployment continues to hover above 9 percent, it’s no surprise that demand for these contract workers is up more than 61 percent from a year ago, according to data from Elance, the largest online marketplace for this type of work.

“This new way of working has a lot of momentum and is continuing to grow,” said Ved Sinha, VP of interactive marketing for Mountain View, California-based Elance. “Small businesses are increasingly turning to online work because it’s more flexible.

Koofers develops virtual study hall

Koofers, which refers to itself as a “social learning company,” has developed a platform that creates a virtual study hall for college students.

The Reston, Virginia-based startup, bankrolled by $7 million in venture funding including support from AOL co-founder Steve Case, is tapping into cutting-edge trends in higher education centered on online resource sharing. Koofers facilitates student interaction in virtual space by providing free digital resources such as online access to coursework.

“We provide an online platform for college students to collaborate with each other around academics – connect with each other, share past exams, study guides, notes,” said Koofers CEO Gio Hunt. “We’re really tied into the way students are thinking about content.”

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