As more and more businesses both large and small take advantage of outsourcing to reduce costs, increase flexibility, and maintain their competitive advantage, the need for on-demand services for business continues to rise, creating plenty of opportunities for freelancers ready to take advantage of the trend.
In fact, according to the Freelancing in America: 2017 survey by Upwork and Freelancers Union, freelance consultants will constitute the majority of the U.S. workforce majority within a decade, with nearly 50% of millennial workers already freelancing.
Small businesses are particularly likely to make use of on-demand services, as they typically do not require (and cannot afford) full-time expertise in various disciplines such as accounting, technology services, human resources, bookkeeping and accounting, legal, and general consulting. According to the 2017 Wasp Barcode Small Business Survey, for instance, 70% of small businesses outsource tax preparation.
What Business Owners Look for in On-Demand Services Providers
A consultant must have certifications and educational background. Also, a consultant must:
- Be a reliable self-starter who can step into a role with minimum training
- Have excellent verbal and written communication skills
- Be highly adaptable, as every work environment and company culture is different
- Be outgoing, motivated and enthusiastic
If you'd like to start a business as a freelancer here are some of the best on-demand service opportunities available:
With the continuing rise in the use of various technologies in the workplace, there is a strong demand for skilled technologists to provide on-demand services such as:
- Consulting on computer purchases
- Installation and repair
- Systems upgrades
- Smartphone repair
- Hardware/software lessons and training
- Network design and implementation
- Cloud services consulting
- Web page design and maintenance
- Custom software development
- Social media consulting
If you have good "techie" skills why not consider providing your services to businesses?
As Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban famously said: "no sales, no company." For most businesses, marketing is the key to success. However, many small business owners are not proficient at marketing or don't have the time.
A good marketing consultant can develop strategies to boost existing sales and take a business to the next level.
If you have a flair for marketing and a track record of helping businesses achieve their sales goals your services will always be in high demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for advertising and marketing managers is expected to grow by 10% between 2016 and 2026.
Accounting and Finance
Bookkeeping and accounting are two of the most commonly used on-demand business services. Bookkeepers perform general accounting duties such as data entry, payroll processing, and banking reconciliation.
Accountants typically operate at a more analytical level, preparing and analyzing financial reports, providing advice on improving profitability, and preparing and submitting tax returns.
Headhunting and Human Resources
Human resources (HR) consultants provide a variety of on-demand services to businesses, including:
- Assistance with recruitment strategies, posting job advertisements and conducting or sitting in on job interviews
- Advising on employer-employee relations, regulations, and legal matters to minimize liability risks to the business
- Assisting with implementing employee benefit schemes such as medical, dental, and retirement plans
- Providing strategic advice on issues such as the benefits of outsourcing or whether to hire contract or permanent employees
Statistics show that proper training and development of employees helps boost morale and improves customer retention. Unsurprisingly, training is one of the most common on-demand services for business.
Business training encompasses a huge range of disciplines, such as:
- Effective communication
- Time management
- Customer service
- Industry regulations
- Project management
- Technical training on equipment or machinery
If you have teaching skills and expertise in one or more business topics, you might consider offering professional training services to businesses.
For many businesses staffing needs tend to fluctuate and it is less expensive in the long run to employ temporary workers when needed rather than hiring full-time employees.
While this has historically been the case in industries such as retail or construction that have higher seasonal demands for workers, it is now becoming more common in other fields such as healthcare and education.
If you have a trade or skill, sufficient experience, and prefer temporary employment your services may be in demand. For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the healthcare field is expected to grow by 18% from 2016 to 2026.
How to Get Started as a Business Service Provider
Starting your business as a service provider begins with analyzing your skills and deciding what you have to offer to prospective clients. Do you have the necessary academic credentials, training, and prior experience?
The next step is researching the market and determining whether there is sufficient demand for your services, particularly in your area if you are operating locally.
Once your market research is complete, put together a solid business plan. Having a business plan is essential if you need startup capital such as debt financing from a bank or equity financing from investors.
With a business plan and startup capital in place, select a name for your business and register it with your state or province.
Next, decide what type of business ownership works best for you. Do you want to be a sole proprietor or start a partnership? Or do you need to incorporate?
Get any business licenses or permits that are required, and register for taxes if this is necessary for your state or province. Make sure you have business insurance if needed.
Then start promoting your business. If you have no prior experience, you may have to initially offer your services at a meager rate or on a commission basis to make a name for yourself and develop clients.