How to Make Your Company Look Like a $100 Million Brand

When you start a business, you almost always face the reality that it takes money to make money. Yet that idea sparks a common question I hear all the time: “What if I don’t have any money.” The default logic is to assume that you must raise millions from name-brand VCs and make some big splash. While that helps, it’s not common for most early stage startups.

Successful entrepreneurs find a way to make their own success before they have the money. One way they do this is by understanding that one way to make money is to act and appear as if you already have it – or the success that comes with it. While this idea sounds like “fake it till you make it,” it’s actually rooted in fundamental concepts about consumption, perception and scaling.

Here’s a look at three ways that you can appear stronger, more successful and more funded than you might be at different stages of your business.

1. Boost the Appeal of Your Products

One of the simplest and most impactful ways to improve a company’s perception of success is to make its products appear luxurious and high-quality. If the items themselves look like something someone would want to buy, logic follows that people are buying those products — and people want what others have.

We put this to use at my company and we invested in higher quality photography. When consumers are unable to physically handle your company’s goods and assess the weight, comfort, sturdiness, durability, or softness, they rely on images to provide the information they’d normally derive from their five senses. Employing a designer, conducting a high-quality photo shoot and investing in expert photo retouching can help your products look as good as any other company in the world – increasing your brand quality and increasing conversions.

Pixelz co-founder Thomas Kragelund explains, “E-commerce is built on imagery — billions of product images are being clicked, swiped, and compared by customers every day.” In fact, he says, “Companies like Google, eBay, and Amazon have conducted studies that conclusively state higher-quality images improve sales.”

Another way to boost sales while simultaneously improving visitors’ perception of your brand’s success is to enhance your product descriptions. Consumers rely on product descriptions to determine which offering will best meet their needs, and a discussion of an item’s functionality or an article of clothing’s fit can lock down a sale — while poor and insufficient copy can prompt a customer to find a different website with more detailed descriptions and more confidence in its copy.

2. Associate Your Brand With Big Names

Relationships take real effort to establish, but some of your existing or developing relationships and partnerships could enhance your company’s standing in the public eye.

One way to do this without waiting to close those big B2B sales is to to look at your board of directors or advisors. Board members with experience in your industry or knowledge of where your company is at in the growth stage can guide your company past potholes and over obstacles. And having a big name on your board — an executive who successfully launched multiple businesses or a leader at a name-brand organization — can signal to others that your burgeoning company is the real deal.

Humm Kombucha, for example, attracted some big names to its board in its early years, including Bill Owens, the chairman of CenturyLink Telecom, and Gary Fish, the founder of Deschutes Brewery. Having a leader who had served a big, thriving corporation and a leader who had launched a successful business within the beverage industry itself certainly helped Humm’s growth; it’s currently the fastest-growing kombucha brand in the nation.

An additional way to create big-name brand associations that signal success is to recognize your partnerships or current clients. Has your brand connected with a software provider to offer integration? Have you co-hosted a webinar with an industry heavyweight? Does your company provide the holiday gifts for a well-known organization? These are all great relationships to celebrate through website badges, testimonials, or content.

3. Outsource to Increase Your Capabilities

A simple, but savvy, way to increase your brand’s clout is to expand your capabilities through outsourcing. Leveraging third-party skills or resources can help you offer higher quality products or services without the costs of raising money and scaling a team. Also, I’ve enjoyed increases to my personal productivity by hiring a virtual assistant. To borrow a boxing phrase, outsourcing helps you “fight above your weight class.”

In a PwC survey, 76 percent of respondents said that outsourcing lowered their costs, and 70 percent noted that outsourcing gave them access to talent and skills they didn’t have previously. This, in turn, allows the companies doing the outsourcing to focus on what they do best, showcasing improved products and services alongside expanded offerings.

Many business owners fail to overlook the everyday and repeated processes that can be outsourced affordably effectively. Supply chain, logistics or IT are great places to start looking. Jordan Egertson, the vice president of operations at Sheer, explains, “Third-party logistics providers are experts at what they do, and they have access to the latest and most effective transportation technology. They are trained to identify problems with your transportation footprint and provide effective solutions for transportation accounting and freight claims, among other areas.”

The key is to isolate the parts of your business that can be outsourced on a cost-effective basis, and, the parts of your business that you dislike the most. Accounting is another common example.

Final Word

It takes money to make money, and there are effective ways to give the impression that your company has money — and stands to make more. By boosting the appeal of your offerings, associating your company with big names, and outsourcing to expand your capabilities, you may just be able to convince others that you’re managing a $100 million brand. No matter which path you take, remember to always treat your customers well and stay focused on providing real value.

Are You Finding It Hard to Get a Small Business Loan? Here Are 4 Non-traditional Ways to Raise Capital For a Business

When you first launched your small business, you might have financed the venture from your own pocket. But as your business grows, your needs will change. At one point or another, every small business can benefit from having more capital — either to expand the business, finance new technology, stock up on inventory or hire new talent.

A lot of people ask — where do I get my money to grow my business? The first place to start is thinking about — what do I want the business to become and what strategy do I pursue? Once you understand the economics of your business, you can then pick the financing model.

Daniel Powers Jr., who founded Real Brave, a music school that helps students discover their inner rock star, has steadily grown his business to over $1 million in revenue. He used a variety of financing methods to fund his company’s growth.

At the beginning, he bootstrapped, taking little salary and investing money back into hiring and technology. He wanted to grow more quickly and decided to open new locations with the help of his own cash and investors. Even still he wants to grow faster, so he’s considering a variety of debt and equity options.

If you’ve tried bootstrapping or if your loan application was rejected by the bank, here are four additional ways to get the money your business needs.  

Consider alternative lending.

A growing number of new online lenders have emerged, opening up new pools of capital for small businesses. Online business loans are particularly attractive because they offer quicker and easier access to capital with more lenient approval requirements.

Fundera, an online marketplace for alternative lending, is a great place to start researching which lender would best suit your business needs. The downside is that interest rates can be significantly higher than that of a traditional bank, going between 15 to nearly 70 percent.

You should also consider evaluating the annual percentage rate (APR), loan term, repayment schedule and any potential penalties. For example, if a 12-month loan and a 10-year loan have the same interest rate and fees, they will have very different APRs because of the term period — long versus short.

You’re paying a substantially lower APR over the 10-year period compared to the 12-month term.  Make sure to check the fine print.

Franchise your business.

Franchising allows you to expand without the risk of debt or the cost of equity — it involves using other people’s capital to grow fast. For the motivated franchisee, you provide a blueprint on how to establish a location, run effectively under your brand and then, you receive a percentage. You must be comfortable with having other people be stewards of your brand and if they can’t figure out how to properly work the model, it can be damaging.

Raise angel money.

Angel investors are usually friends and family of the small business owner. They are individuals you know, trust and, while hoping not to, are capable of losing the $50,000 or $100,000 you’re asking for. The biggest risk here is damaging your relationships with them, making things awkward and strained during the next big, Thanksgiving dinner.

Break into venture capital.

Venture capital is supposed to be like rocket fuel, so you grow fast. Some of the largest companies raised venture capital, like Google and Facebook. It’s important to note that most businesses aren’t built to grow exponentially, so venture capital is not likely to be the best source of capital. For those that are interested and able to raise venture financing, the pressure to grow really fast can put pressure on a business.

The venture capitalists will have expectations of high growth and input on governance. If things don’t go well, they can easily walk out of the deal whereas you put everything in this basket. You may also lose majority control. So remember, venture money does not mean free money.

Why Investing in Gender Equality is Crucial for Your Business’s Future

We just saw another International Women’s Day come and go, and the interest in this 100-year-old holiday is greater than ever.

For proof, just look to Google’s Think with Google blog. According to Google’s data, “International Women’s Day reached peak search interest in March 2017–the same month that global search interest in gender equality reached its highest point.”

Given the prevalence of women’s issues in the overall cultural conversation – from the #MeToo movement, to the continued push for equal pay, to the ongoing conversations about how race and gender are intertwined – it’s not surprising to learn that terms related to gender equality, feminism, and women’s rights are becoming more prevalent in search.

So how does this affect the working world? As business owners, entrepreneurs, and members of the C-suite, what are we doing to commit to gender equality in our own workplaces – and what will it mean for our businesses if we don’t?

Gender equality is the way of the future.

The huge interest in gender equality that we’re seeing play out across social media and search, as well as traditional media, isn’t just a passing trend.

Gender equality is an important issue for Millennials, especially in the workplace. Back in 2013, The Atlantic reported that the generational characteristic that would have the most impact on American’s daily lives was the Millennial belief that society did not have any inherently male or female roles.

More recently, in 2017, a report by the Council on Contemporary Families found that Millennials think gender equality in the workplace is more important than previous generations, and are more likely to believe that working mothers can have as strong a relationship with their children as non-working mothers.

These are the people who will be filling out the country’s C-suites in the next 5, 10, or 15 years, and you can bet that the companies they build will reflect their belief that women and men should be able to perform the same jobs, for the same pay.

Commitment to gender equality is not just the right thing to do – it can be a key differentiator between you and a competitor.

Those future CEOs and CMOs are also the people whom you need today, right now to run your marketing campaigns, grow your customer base, and close your business deals.

When you’re recruiting the best and brightest, potential employees will be looking at your values and culture.

Do you have women in leadership roles?

Do you pay your female and male employees the same salaries for the same jobs?

Is your culture inclusive and respectful of women, people of color, and other groups?

If an incredible potential employee is choosing between working for you or working for your competitor, and all other things are equal, your track record and policies on gender equality could be the deciding factor.

The same is true of your customers. Transparency is huge for today’s connected consumer – they want to trust the brands they’re doing business with, and the only way to build that trust is to be open and honest about who you are and what you do.

Brands that are willing to go beyond the baseline “we believe in gender equality” and really take a stand can attract an even more loyal customer base. These businesses implement policies that allow them to actively work toward advancing gender equality, whether in their own hiring and salary practices, or in their industry at large.

Working toward greater gender equality is not only a moral imperative for today’s businesses. It’s also crucial if you want to stay relevant and competitive in today’s marketplace. For more, read my post “How Female CEOs Can Empower Their Female Employees? By Doing These 3 Things.”

How Roger Federer Makes a Mockery of Ageism

Last month, after beating Dutch player Robin Haase 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 in the quarterfinals at the ABN AMRO World Tournament, Roger Federer became the oldest player, either male or female, to reach the top of the world tennis rankings. Federer, who is 36, surpassed former tennis great Andre Agassi, who held the men’s record at 33 years of age.

Federer’s impressive tennis résumé includes 20 Grand Slam singles titles, giving him the most in history for a male player. 

Defying age and his critics, Federer just keeps winning at an age when his peers have long since moved on to playing senior tour events and celebrity exhibitions, broadcasting, or coaching. 

In team sports, athletes can often play effectively long after their prime because they fill a role or niche on their team that makes them still relevant. However, tennis is an individual sport, where even the slightest decline in skills gets exposed.

Federer seems to have some sort of anti-aging potion that allows him to laugh in the face of ageism in a sport that not that long ago was dominated by brash young teenagers and early 20-somethings.  

Fighting ageism is a real struggle for many people nearing the end of their career, and not everyone can make it look as easy as Federer. 

However, you can learn from him and take a few plays from his playbook to not only remain relevant but to stay at the absolute top of your industry well into the twilight of your career. 

Work smart, not hard.

We’ve heard this before, and I don’t blame if you think it’s a bit of a cliché. However, Federer is putting it into practice in a truly brilliant fashion. He has optimized his tournament schedule so that he is fresh for the majors. He is no longer playing such a grueling schedule of tournaments that causes so many other players to get burned out or become injured.

He now skips smaller events that he would have played earlier in his career. He passed on the Mexican Open, a smaller event, after winning the Rotterdam Open (the win that recaptured the No. 1 ranking). The move by Federer was indeed strategic, as playing in Mexico directly after winning in Rotterdam would have been taxing on his body. Instead, he chose to rest his body, so that he can be at his best for larger events in Indian Wells and Miami.

If you’re at an advanced stage in your career like Federer, maybe you don’t need to take on so many projects at work.

You too can optimize your workflow, so that you’re at your best when it counts most.

Keep the thrill alive.

Federer holds just about every major record in tennis. He is, by most accounts, the greatest male tennis player ever. So, how does a guy like that stay motivated to not only keep playing but to continue to dominate the sport?

In a world where so many people late in their career are burned out at their job, Federer finds ways to keep the fun in his job. When you see him out there on the court, he is clearly enjoying himself immensely. His love for the game is never in question.

He is motivated by chasing history and rewriting what is possible in his sport. This is what made it possible for him to reach the No. 1 ranking again. He has already been there in the past, but this time was different because he knew he could become the oldest player ever to do it.

Now he has his eyes on hitting 100 career titles (he currently has 97). 

Federer reminds us to always be setting new benchmarks for ourselves in our career, and then go after them with everything we’ve got. 

Don’t give up during a career slump; get better.

Many people have a slump in their career in business. It could be a failed business, a bad career move, or an untimely layoff. There are many reasons people have periods in their career where they are less successful than they’ve been in the past.

From late 2012 to the end of 2016, Federer didn’t win a single major. It was the longest drought of his career and a time when his critics started to get louder and louder. Many experts were predicting his retirement and gave him virtually no chance at ever winning another major.

However, Federer never stopped believing in himself. He worked with his coaches and made changes in his game; most notably his topspin backhand. He also upgraded his tech by changing his racket to the newer model that was better suited for the changes he was making in his game.

“It’s unbelievable to be number one again after all these years. This is one of the best weeks of my life,” Federer said after winning in Rotterdam.

As people age, there is often a tendency to try to hang on to the technology they’ve used in the past to help make them successful. However, to stay at the top, you have to continue learning and be open to the idea of adopting new technologies that will enable you to keep growing. 

I Got Away From This 1 Startup Dogma, and My Company Finally Scaled

I have talked to thousands of startup executives, and every darn one of them reminds me of myself and my co-founder Dharmesh Shah back in the day. Man, back then, we were maniacal about anything and everything startup. We read every article and book on startups, listened to every podcast, streamed every live webcast, and dutifully attended hundreds of mixers — anything to absorb startup wisdom and learn from the experience of others.

Of course, it was not our intention to be in startup mode forever. Our dream was to create a company that would, in its own way, make a dent in the universe. We spent about a year in the “Founder’s Phase,” when it was just Dharmesh and me, working on an idea. Steeped in startup dogma, we must have said Minimum Viable Product a thousand times a week.

We reached the next startup plateau, with a couple dozen employees on board, trying to get the thing going. Early on in this phase, you know all your customers — many of them are either you cousins, your childhood friends, your friends from band camp. We had all sorts of customers who were small businesses, and from among that disparate group we were religiously committed to finding Product Market Fit. We were working the classic startup playbook.

Did I say plateau? OK, sure, we maintained a reasonably healthy up-and-to-the-right growth curve. But, it was a straight-ish line; no hockey stick inflection point. We remained in that second phase for half a decade. Sometimes, we felt we had the formula right, and we’d hit the accelerator hard, hiring lots of new sales reps. But, within a few quarters, we couldn’t make headway on lowering our customer acquisition cost, and our retention rates were erratic.

We weren’t scaling.

Six years of being a startup was enough already. We wanted to be a scaleup — where we’ve got millions of dollars in revenue, and growing fast.  We wanted to find a groove where we could pour money into the top of the funnel and get a nice return out of the bottom of the funnel.

We were so focused on getting our product right for the right customer, we remained unaware of an equally important — but unarticulated — doctrine: Product Market Delight.

It’s not what you sell, it’s how you sell.

This doctrine has found currency of late. Last summer Alberto Brea of OgilvyOne Worldwide eloquently gave voice to this growing consensus with his cogent observations about how some businesses and industries have been disrupted. His perspective is that some businesses weren’t so much disrupted by technology, but rather they self-destructed due to a fundamental disregard of product-market delight.

That it wasn’t Netflix that killed Blockbuster; late fees did. That Apple didn’t disrupt the music industry; having to buy a whole album did. That Uber on its own did not disrupt the taxi industry; waiting outside in the rain did. The incumbents all opened the door wide for the disrupters to come in by having a crappy end-to-end customer experience.

Still, putting technology aside, it’s worth taking a look at the disrupters to see what traits they share.  What are the elements of an emerging axiom of Product-Market Delight?

Self-Service

Light touch and automation wins out over heavy touch and humans. I don’t necessarily like that fact, but its kinda true. Self-service is one of those double-win things. It’s better for your bottom line, and customers like self-service too. Software companies, such as Dropbox and Evernote, and media companies such as Spotify and Pandora, take friction out of the process by getting started with a freemium.

For physical goods, the direct-to-consumer model of online self-service coupled with a hassle-free return policy has repeatedly shown itself to be a successful light-touch. Companies such as Purple (mattresses), Warby Parker (eyeglasses), and Away Travel  (luggage) are harbingers of disruption in their respective industries.

24/7 availability

From a prospective buyer’s initial visit to your website, to finding basic answers to common questions, all the way through to post-purchase customer support, consumers (and business customers) have come to expect to have a conversation with someone on your end. Small and medium sized businesses, such as the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, without the resources to fully staff phone and website chat, use chatbots to provide coverage for predictable interactions.

Predictive

Just as Netflix and Amazon have mastered the ability to decipher a customer’s likely next purchase, companies that are able to anticipate a web site visitor’s next most likely piece of information, or a customer’s likelihood of churning or renewing, will earn attention and loyalty beyond just the value of the product or service they offer. 

The reward for Product Market Delight comes in the form repeat business, upgrades and cross-selling, and excellent word of mouth. The words coming out of your customers mouths are ten times more valuable than the words coming out of the vendors’ mouths. Delighted customers are a better marketing channel than your own marketing department. Advocates of TurboTax and Slack have been a critical part of the success of those products.

Most companies have a great product and a disjointed customer experience.  To avoid disruption from a nimble new competitor, or to become a disruptor yourself, you need a great product and a great customer experience.

I Got Away From This 1 Startup Dogma, and My Company Finally Scaled

I have talked to thousands of startup executives, and every darn one of them reminds me of myself and my co-founder Dharmesh Shah back in the day. Man, back then, we were maniacal about anything and everything startup. We read every article and book on startups, listened to every podcast, streamed every live webcast, and dutifully attended hundreds of mixers — anything to absorb startup wisdom and learn from the experience of others.

Of course, it was not our intention to be in startup mode forever. Our dream was to create a company that would, in its own way, make a dent in the universe. We spent about a year in the “Founder’s Phase,” when it was just Dharmesh and me, working on an idea. Steeped in startup dogma, we must have said Minimum Viable Product a thousand times a week.

We reached the next startup plateau, with a couple dozen employees on board, trying to get the thing going. Early on in this phase, you know all your customers — many of them are either you cousins, your childhood friends, your friends from band camp. We had all sorts of customers who were small businesses, and from among that disparate group we were religiously committed to finding Product Market Fit. We were working the classic startup playbook.

Did I say plateau? OK, sure, we maintained a reasonably healthy up-and-to-the-right growth curve. But, it was a straight-ish line; no hockey stick inflection point. We remained in that second phase for half a decade. Sometimes, we felt we had the formula right, and we’d hit the accelerator hard, hiring lots of new sales reps. But, within a few quarters, we couldn’t make headway on lowering our customer acquisition cost, and our retention rates were erratic.

We weren’t scaling.

Six years of being a startup was enough already. We wanted to be a scaleup — where we’ve got millions of dollars in revenue, and growing fast.  We wanted to find a groove where we could pour money into the top of the funnel and get a nice return out of the bottom of the funnel.

We were so focused on getting our product right for the right customer, we remained unaware of an equally important — but unarticulated — doctrine: Product Market Delight.

It’s not what you sell, it’s how you sell.

This doctrine has found currency of late. Last summer Alberto Brea of OgilvyOne Worldwide eloquently gave voice to this growing consensus with his cogent observations about how some businesses and industries have been disrupted. His perspective is that some businesses weren’t so much disrupted by technology, but rather they self-destructed due to a fundamental disregard of product-market delight.

That it wasn’t Netflix that killed Blockbuster; late fees did. That Apple didn’t disrupt the music industry; having to buy a whole album did. That Uber on its own did not disrupt the taxi industry; waiting outside in the rain did. The incumbents all opened the door wide for the disrupters to come in by having a crappy end-to-end customer experience.

Still, putting technology aside, it’s worth taking a look at the disrupters to see what traits they share.  What are the elements of an emerging axiom of Product-Market Delight?

Self-Service

Light touch and automation wins out over heavy touch and humans. I don’t necessarily like that fact, but its kinda true. Self-service is one of those double-win things. It’s better for your bottom line, and customers like self-service too. Software companies, such as Dropbox and Evernote, and media companies such as Spotify and Pandora, take friction out of the process by getting started with a freemium.

For physical goods, the direct-to-consumer model of online self-service coupled with a hassle-free return policy has repeatedly shown itself to be a successful light-touch. Companies such as Purple (mattresses), Warby Parker (eyeglasses), and Away Travel  (luggage) are harbingers of disruption in their respective industries.

24/7 availability

From a prospective buyer’s initial visit to your website, to finding basic answers to common questions, all the way through to post-purchase customer support, consumers (and business customers) have come to expect to have a conversation with someone on your end. Small and medium sized businesses, such as the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, without the resources to fully staff phone and website chat, use chatbots to provide coverage for predictable interactions.

Predictive

Just as Netflix and Amazon have mastered the ability to decipher a customer’s likely next purchase, companies that are able to anticipate a web site visitor’s next most likely piece of information, or a customer’s likelihood of churning or renewing, will earn attention and loyalty beyond just the value of the product or service they offer. 

The reward for Product Market Delight comes in the form repeat business, upgrades and cross-selling, and excellent word of mouth. The words coming out of your customers mouths are ten times more valuable than the words coming out of the vendors’ mouths. Delighted customers are a better marketing channel than your own marketing department. Advocates of TurboTax and Slack have been a critical part of the success of those products.

Most companies have a great product and a disjointed customer experience.  To avoid disruption from a nimble new competitor, or to become a disruptor yourself, you need a great product and a great customer experience.

Here’s How You Can Embrace The Gig Economy

The gig economy is the new reality for workers and companies. If you aren’t sure you believe that, all you have to do is look at the numbers.

Statistics compiled by Jobble, an on-demand workforce platform, vividly illustrate the growth in the gig economy. Among the sources cited, the Pew Research Center found that nearly a quarter of all Americans have reported making money from the digital “platform economy.” Meanwhile, 53 million Americans–just over a third of the country’s workforce–are working as freelancers.

Living the Gig Dream

Many freelancers say that they never would have had the career they have now a decade ago. Thanks to the internet, new technologies, and companies that realize the financial and strategic benefits of an on-demand workforce, today’s workers understand they don’t have to choose a traditional position.

Those working in the gig economy will tell you just how much it’s changed their lives. A WBUR segment on the future of work related the stories of numerous gig workers who went from traditional jobs to gigs. Most ended up making more money but working fewer hours, and some even doubled their annual income. In addition, they were able to set their own schedule and enjoy more personal time in the process. They liked the idea of having greater control over their work and lives.

Things to Consider About Being a Gig Worker

While there are many great things about the gig economy for workers, there are also many issues that must be factored into working this way. When surviving on gigs, there is a significant level of uncertainty about future revenue. Some gig workers have been able to lock in clients that give them steady work over time to alleviate some of this uncertainty, but not all of them. This means most gig workers realize they have to really hustle to ensure they make a monthly income that meets their expenses and financial goals.

Also, freelancers in the gig economy do not receive benefits as a traditional worker would. As a result, they have to cover their own health insurance, retirement funding, and vacation time. All of this requires special planning. However, it also opens up opportunities for other companies to serve what has become a brand-new target audience, including creating benefit products and other services just for gig workers.

That’s one reason companies are smart to embrace the gig economy, too. As EY notes in its global report on the gig economy, it can be a significant game changer for companies. On the one hand, it means changing the talent they hire and their cost basis; on the other, it suggests new revenue streams they can generate by serving these freelancers.

In fact, even small businesses and startups can tap into the incredible talent now available, whereas they might not have been able to afford such professionals if they had to hire them on a full-time basis. When tapping this talent, it’s important to have a clear picture of how you want to use gig workers for specific projects. Also, you should think about how you can retain them over time to assist on future projects.

The Gig Economy Disrupts Industries

Some companies view the gig economy as a chance to change their industries and generate new opportunities for revenue and growth. Paro, a successful Chicago upstart, has decided to use the gig economy as a framework for reinventing the accounting industry. According to Michael Burdick, Paro’s CEO and founder, “accounting firms are behind the times. The frontline staff does all the work, but the partners get all the profit,” Burdick says. “The success of these firms is also predicated on in-person interactions in a world that’s increasingly digital and virtual.”

To design the next generation of accounting firms, the company developed a marketplace where clients can connect with the top 2 percent of vetted finance talent. This marketplace provides freelancers and companies with important resources, including tools for tracking time, processing payments, improving task management, and ensuring compliance. Freelancers in Paro’s network are able to handle everything from the basics like bookkeeping and taxes to more complex financial tasks, such as CFO guidance, financial modeling, and development of key performance indicators.

Using this innovative gig economy platform for accounting and financial expertise allows many of the company’s clients to significantly reduce expenses by leveraging the talents of Paro’s freelance network, regardless of physical location. “We’re able to connect the right people to the right projects based on relevant industry and subject matter expertise rather than geography,” Burdick says. “Clients are charged what they actually spend on an hourly basis, and the freelancers are fairly compensated for their hard work. Everybody wins.”

Opportunities Abound

Accounting is just one example among many industries being transformed by the gig economy. It’s the new global reality. I recently spoke to Jess Ostroff for my podcast, FUTUREPROOF. Ostroff is the founder of Don’t Panic Management, a company that specializes in virtual assistants (you can listen to the whole episode below). She’s one of many entrepreneurs who have realized that the gig economy can be a boon, especially for those looking for virtual work.

The Future of Virtual Work ft. Jess Ostroff (Author, Panic Proof)

There is an incredible opportunity for industries of all kinds–from consumer-oriented products and services to B2B to manufacturing–to access the talent they need to fill in skills gaps and provide cost-effective solutions for projects. Along the way, companies will be able to tap into new digital processes that allow them to meet expectations for greater speed and service delivery. Are you finding ways to thrive in this new reality?