BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) are the buzz word in business for good reason. In the good news for us small entrepreneurs is that access is no longer limited big players. The internet has made it possible to have a global work force from launch date, and the same cost advantages that multinationals have had since they started exporting labour to China and other parts of Asia since the 1960’s. Anyone can do it now.
Before you worry about the ethics of ‘off shoring’ there’s some stuff we should know. Exporting labour overseas is ethically sound. It is beneficial both to the recipients and the providers of such work (us). The average computer programmer earns around $1000 a month in India. In the USA and Australia it’s more like $7000 a month. Unethical? Not really. The $1000 a month versus the average in India of $85 gives new information workers in India and very high standard of living.
When we inject money into developing economies we are increasing the living standards not just for our employees, but for their economy in general. In addition we have the option to pay them above market rates to create strong loyalty. We have the option treat our people well and create important cultural exchanges and relationships.
Other peoples time is what we must leverage for startup success. A simple business fact time immemorial. Only now we have both currency advantage and access. The issue of moving jobs overseas is a crock. We live in a global age, an internet economy. We all buy goods everyday from overseas. Geographical barriers simply wont exist shortly. So we should just get on board. Protectionist attitudes are outdated. No one is sending kids down mines with digital offshoring. If local people are getting put out of jobs, then they’ve been earning too much for what they’ve been doing anyway. Their outplacement is inevitable.
Startup Blog says:
I was fortunate enough to feature in a story on the ABC 7.30 report this week. The topic was on virtual offices and digital offshoring. My business rentoid got a nice little plug which is a bonus on a non-commercial channel. The opportunity arose from this newspaper article I was in on the topic in the Sydney Morning Herald. Which goes to show media exposure also has a compounding effect for your startup as well.
Although the story and offshoring in general has it’s detractors (unions love the status quo, unless it involves profit increases they want a share in). I’m very proud of the fact that I’ve worked with talented people in developing markets.
- My team get paid more than they’d get locally.
- I’ve helped team members get more work, and mentored them in building their own businesses.
- I like investing in developing markets because improves living standards.
It’s our job as entrepreneurs to create positive situations with tech innovations, and there’s no doubt in my mind having an overseas team does this, while building a business with beneficiaries locally (employees, revenue, community) as well.
It was easy for white collar workers to be smug during the 1980′s. Their blue collar counterparts faced a dire future as hands on jobs increasingly went overseas to low cost labour markets. It even made it possible for information workers to extract larger salaries as the profitability of their organizations soared. The white collar desk jockey rode the wave of efficiency as corporations globalized and consolidated manufacturing.
Life has a funny way of going full circle. And now it’s our turn, the white collar worker. We are also an endangered species in developed markets.
Yep, you and me. We too, will be outsourced. All us accountants, IP Lawyers, Engineers, Computer Programmers (insert university educated profession here).
Don’t believe me? Then consider this: In India each year there are over 300,000 Engineering graduates and over 400,000 IT graduates who will happily work for 10% of what conglomerate X pays you right now. It’s only a matter of time before large corporations, who are usually struggling for top line growth, can get over the emotional barrier of having a large corporate head office and go offshore. The spreadsheet will make that decision for them. But this time the barriers will be lower than when all the call center went overseas because consumers wont even notice. Society wont care either. They are sick of people earning well above average incomes in ivory towers. No one will feel sorry for us.
What to do?
Stop being a factor of production and start organizing them. Stuff gets done, things can be built, and anything which is done at a desk is about to disappear to low cost labour markets. The way information workers can survive is through undertaking entrepreneurial endeavors (corporate & private). Be able to manage complex projects and by managing situations and people, not doing stuff. The age of the entrepreneur is about to become something which is so significant it changes work just like the industrial revolution did.
Startup blog says: Are you ready?
Get ready at Startup School.
As webpreneurs we all now employ offshore coders to develop sites using super cool resources like Odesk and Elance. The process is a simple one. But just like all things good, there are some catches. Here’s some advice from someone whose done, does it and occasionally avoids it.
The main thing you need is patience and very considered briefs. When there is a language barrier, ideas and words can be taken very literally.
Our experience is that some (not all) offshore IT practioners are indifferent with ‘visual’ requirements. Maybe it’s a cultural implication. And there are many things we’ve had done much better offshore, like finding creative solutions to technical problems. We’ve worked with some great creative bootstrappers. But it’s clear that more developed markets put a much higher value on ‘aesthetics‘. So we get all our rentoid visuals done locally, while we outsource alot of our backend work. It’s akin to a convenience store you might see in India, there just not quite as pretty as those in Australia and the USA. See below.
Western Convenience Store
Convenience Store India