Today’s articles is a guest contribution from Joe Adolph.
As a small business owner, should you crowdsource? You may conjure up images of the peanut gallery or a slew of chefs in the kitchen hovering over the same pot but crowdsourcing certain aspects of your business can come in handy.

We recently ran a deal with Hatchwise and have one coming up with 99designs as way to help our member get a great deal on a company logo design, which brought up an interesting question. If you’re a small business owner, should you be considering crowdsourcing for your business?

In these tough economic times, making every marketing dollar count (that is, if you have a marketing budget) is key to success. If you’re just starting a business and need a logo, or you’ve built your website on your own and need someone to spruce it up, you are probably wishing you could hire a designer to do it. As anyone who has looked into this will tell you, this type of project is not cheap. In general good design is not cheap. If you’re on a limited budget, you may think that a project like this is out of the question. One way a lot of our members have found to stretch there budgets is through crowdsourcing companies.

If you’re not familiar with crowdsourcing, the process is simple. You pay a small fee to post your project, which consists of a small description of the work you want done, and details about your company. You set the price you’re willing to pay the winning design.

Next, the 9000+ designers the crowdsourcing company has accumulated read your project and those who are interested submit their designs.

You watch the results come in. Most projects get around 100 designs. You choose the winner and pay them the agreed upon price.

Simple.

Some tips for deciding whether crowdsourcing is right for your business:

1. You don’t have the time/money.

Want a lot of different options quickly? Crowdsourcing is a cheap way to generate numerous choices very quickly. A typical logo design project will generate an average of 95 choices. Imagine how long it would take a single designer to come up with the same 95 choices for approximately $250. Multiply that 95 by a decent designer’s hourly rate and you’ll get a sense of how much cheaper this option is.

2. You are short on ideas.

Sometimes even if you have the time and the internal resources, the well of creativity runs dry. Crowdsourcing is a great way to tap into a large pool of creative talent and has the added bonus of coming from different perspectives. You’re essentially outsourcing your brainstorming.

3. You want to test an idea.

Aside from generating ideas, another useful way to use crowd sourcing is testing ideas. Consider creating a place where users can give you feedback and test changes there before they are rolled out to your entire audience. Crowdsourcing is a great way to get feedback very quickly with out the headaches that come with focus groups, and other controlled environments.

All in all, the feedback that we’ve from our members has been very positive. Then again we’ve partnered with two of the most reputable companies out there. Crowdsourcing appears to be here to stay. There are even crowdsourcing companies that will do commercials for you. If you’re on a tight budget, it’s definitely work looking into. Also, you may want to check out MarketSharing as we occasionally have additional discounts on these services for first time customers.

About the Author.? Joe Adolph is the Senior VP atMarketSharing. where he oversees all online/offline marketing efforts including social media, paid search, SEO, and display advertising.