Freelancers & Small Business Owners: 12 Ways To Save Time & Money

Last Updated Jun 15, 2011 3:00 PM EDT

When you work for yourself or run a small business, time is literally money. Anything that can take busy work off your To Do list will not only make your life happier, it could keep your bottom line healthier.

Here are 12 smart outsourcing solutions:

1. QuickBooks This financial management software lets you organize your financial statements and send your files directly to your tax guy in the spring. QuickBooks won't pay your taxes for you, but it'll save you valuable time preparing them.

2. HireYourVirtualAssistant.com
An assistant in "the cloud" is as helpful as one in real life (and you don't have to remember this one's birthday). In addition to HireYourVirtualAssistant.com, there are dozens of similar services, so look around the web (and consult colleagues in your industry) to find the right one for you.

3. & 4. Odesk & Elance Massive freelancer databases like Odesk and Elance let you search through a wide variety of freelancers -- from writers to web designers -- and get you the best price by including people from all over the world (including India and Russia).

5. Scriptlance This collection of freelance programmers helps your business technologically keep up with the big dogs. "In our first instance of outsourcing, we found a new graphic designer on Scriptlance and hired him. He was based in Romania, so his work was relatively inexpensive," says Ian Aronovich, CEO of GovernmentAuctions.org.

6. Freshbooks Invoicing, estimates, proposals, oh my! Get it done faster with Freshbooks. "I wanted a way to collect payment from my clients and was tired of asking for checks and chasing down clients for late payments. Freshbooks allows you to integrate with all the major payment gateways and allows for easy recurring billing," says Alan Dang of intence media.

7. FancyHands.com Don't want to deal with any language barriers with many of the overseas virtual assistants? Try FancyHands.com. "All of their workers are based in the USA and native English speakers. They do great research, make calls on my behalf, wait on hold. Unlike an actual assistant, I don't have to coddle them or engage in small talk," says Seth Price, Founder of Turly Tag.
8. ScribeRight Transcription You don't have to be a doctor to use a transcription service. ScribeRight is aimed at anyone who's tired of typing. Dictate notes and record meetings and have the document sent right to your email or stored online, ready for use. And feel free to enjoy your relief from symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.

9. iXpenselt Do you currently keep your receipts "organized" in a "system" that involves your back pocket followed by a shoebox until tax time? Time to upgrade, with an app like iXpenseIt. "It makes it easy for me to snap quick photos of receipts while I'm on the road, categorize them and send it to my virtual assistant for filing and client billing. There is no need to save paper receipts, make copies and manually fill in spreadsheets," says Casey Smith, marketing strategist.

10. PlumChoice One of the most frustrating issues when you're working with a small team (or a team of one) is the lack of an IT person. A service like PlumChoice can bring you back from the brink of a tech breakdown. It provides 24/7/365 support, including troubleshooting, mobile and web services and data backup.

11. Thumbtack.com Thumbtack is similar to other freelancer databases but primarily related to administrative and back-office work. Tell them what you need and within 24 hours you'll have 3-5 bids and be saying "bye, bye" to busy work.

12. MBO Partners MBO Partners is another comprehensive outsourcing site that will take care of details like health and business insurance, payroll and 1099 filing for consultants, so you can focus on your business--and not your business operations.

These are only a few outsourcing solutions. Please add yours in the comments below!
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  • Amy Levin-Epstein On Twitter»

    Amy Levin-Epstein is a freelance writer who has been published in dozens of magazines (including Glamour, Self and Redbook), websites (including AOLHealth.com, Babble.com and Details.com) and newspapers (including The New York Post and the Boston Globe). To read more of her writing, visit AmyLevinEpstein.com.

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