If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may have gathered I’m a massive fan of outsourcing. Especially outsourcing that doesn’t require you to have to manage anyone.

That basically means finding companies or individuals who are already doing well what you’re looking for. Over the years, I have tried out loads of product and services, from the awful to the great. Here are the very best outsourcing companies that I still use on a regular basis:

  • Fiverr is a micro-outsourcing platform that allows freelancers to offer very specific jobs at $5 a pop. I have used it to design book covers, transcribe audio and create a silly video for my (now ex) girlfriend. It’s great for quick and cheap design work that still has a ‘professional’ look and feel. It was perfect for my three-day book.
  • 99Designs is a crowdsourcing platform for design work. Simply write your brief and designers will submit their best attempts. If you decide to use one you pay that designer a prize. It’s a great service if you’re quite picky as you get a lot of choice. But it’s expensive for what you get. All the designers are trying to make a living, so it’s not worth them spending too much time on any single competition when they have a good chance of not winning.
  • Freelancer is a marketplace for finding freelancers. Write your specification and people/companies bid for the job, either quoting by the hour or a set price for the whole project. I’ve found that it’s generally very good value, but you will need to work closely with whoever you hire to make sure they deliver exactly what you want. It’s great for hiring freelancers to work on very specific projects. I have mainly used for finding software developers.
  • Alibaba is a website where most of the major factories in China advertise their products. It is great for finding a manufacturer for your product.
  • Kaggle is a crowdsourced data-mining platform. Similar to 99Designs but for big data projects. You write a brief, provide the data and then people compete for a prize. Great if you want to get information out of a large data set. Nasa has used Kaggle to discover galaxies previously hidden by dark matter.
  • Flexport is an online brokerage for freight forwarders and customs brokers. It’s brilliant for moving shipments around the world. I use it for taking stock from our factories in China to the fulfilment centres in USA and Europe.
  • Shipwire is a global logistics company with fulfilment centres all over the world. I use them for stocking items I sell wholesale and through Shopify. Shipwire main advantage over most other logistics companies is their online interface. You can manage everything remotely, but they are quite expensive.
  • Amazon FBA is Amazon’s fulfilment service. Similar to Shipwire except aimed at people selling on Amazon. A brilliant service. It’s cheap and they also manage your returns and most of the customer service.
  • Shopify is an online store builder. Similar to WordPress but for e-commerce. You pay a monthly fee in exchange for an out-of-the-box online shop. It has plugins that allow you to connect directly to Shipwire or some other fulfilment centres so your shop can be completely automated. Your Shopify store takes only a few minutes to set up and requires pretty much no maintenance.

Check out this post for an example where I’ve combined the best outsourcing companies to build a completely outsourced business.