How Small Food Businesses Can Get Help From Shared & Crowdsourced Services

In just a couple of years, Buyer’s Best Friend (BBF) has grown its online wholesale marketplace dramatically, thanks to the value it lends both to food and other specialty manufacturers seeking buyers and to wholesale buyers looking for efficient ways to manage find new vendors and manage their ordering.

What folks outside of the San Francisco area may not know is that the team also has several retail locations in San Francisco.

Given BBF’s lean team, I secretly wondered how the *@)#& they managed to launch and keep their retail stores thriving amidst the many relationships with buyers and mad growth of their online services.

I had a chance to sit with Joyce Guan, coincidentally in the midst of National Small Business Week. Joyce explains that they strategically tap into various crowdsourced and “sharing economy” services, evaluating if the savings in time and effort pays for the labor cost. If the answer is yes, they pick and choose the best vendor for the task.

While businesses located in dense, urban areas benefit most from such services, her story is worth watching to consider how your small business can extend its team through services like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (which I’ve used to tap into an army of laborers on some cool projects) as well as driving / delivery services Lyft and Instacart.

What services do you wish existed and which have been lifesavers?

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