Running a business requires us to perform a variety of tasks. Some of these we enjoy and excel at. Others we do just because they are necessary to the operation of our business. When you don't have employees, it comes with the territory.

Outsourcing can help us get the things that we're not good at, don't have time for, or simply don't enjoy doing. But when we're getting started in business, it's sometimes hard to come up with the money to hire help, even if it's not a full-time employee. So how can we outsource with little or no money?


Small business owners and freelancers who are in the same boat as you may be interested in bartering. Not only does bartering get you what you need with no cash spent, it also opens the door for referrals. If you do a good job for the person you're bartering with, he just might recommend you to someone else who could use your services.

Online classified ads and networking forums are two good places to seek bartering partners. Offline networking groups may also offer some bartering opportunities. No matter where you find someone to barter with, make sure that an agreement is put into writing regarding the exchange of services. This will protect both parties in case of a dispute.

Think Small

If you like the idea of outsourcing but have a limited budget, you could start small. You may not be able to outsource everything you would like to at first, but when you're overloaded with work, every little bit helps.

Instead of trying to outsource an entire project, perhaps you could outsource a portion of it and do the rest yourself. For example, maybe you need a website designed. If you can use a website builder, you might consider designing the site yourself and hiring someone to do the graphics only. Or if you hate accounting but can find your way around computerized accounting software, you could keep the books yourself and just hire an accountant to handle your taxes.

Another way you could start small is to outsource small tasks to a virtual assistant. VAs can often handle a wide variety of tasks, and many of them will work as independent contractors. So you could hire one to help you catch up on correspondence, bookkeeping, or other work that takes up a lot of your time.

Outsourcing is not just for companies with million-dollar budgets. Small business owners can hire outside parties to do work that they don't have the time or inclination to do as well. Even if you're only able to outsource on a limited basis, it could save you a surprising amount of time and money.