By Daniel Hunter

The annual survey of UK’s small businesses by Freelancer.co.uk has revealed that 2012 was the first year that a majority of small business owners stated that outsourcing was now a key part of their growth and business strategy.

Of the 2500 small business owners that responded to the survey, 52% said that outsourcing work to consultants and freelancers has been central to their capacity to grow over the past 12 months.

Of the 2500, 57% of small business preferred the flexibility of outsourcing work to freelancers than hiring full time workers as they can hire in specific skills as and when they need them.

The survey found that 42% of small business owners were increasingly having to outsource to programmers and web developers to compete with technological innovations and the increase in online trading and e-commerce. While 39% were outsourcing back office functions, such as PAs, legal, and accounts.

And the survey found that 2013 looks like outsourcing for small business will go mainstream, with 43% saying they will outsource more work and hire more freelancers than in 2012, while 23% saying they will hire the same as this year.

The survey found that small businesses have found that the quality of freelancers is improving with 67% of small business finding that the quality of their work was now high or very good.

Freelancer.co.uk also saw a 300% growth in the last 12 months, mirroring the greater use of outsourcing by small businesses.

“The survey had found that to remain competitive and grow small businesses are hiring in experts to undertake the work that they can’t do. From designing smart IT systems to help run their companies more efficiently and dynamic e-commerce sites, to marketing, financial and accounts experts”, said Freelancer.co.uk CEO Matt Barrie.

“A majority of small businesses in 2012 realized that rather ignore work that they can’t do themselves, they can outsource it. They are getting in expertise that they may not have otherwise been available to them to hire. And when resources are in short supply, they have realized that they only pay for services as they need them.

“But small business are also outsourcing more because the growth in outsourcing sites gives them confidence and protection. With freelancers reviewed for quality of their services and escrow payment systems ensuring security, small businesses are now able to manage a diverse workforce with reliable and easy to use project management systems.”

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