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Considering an online marketplace model for your new entrepreneurial business venture? We’ve been on that journey and it’s not easy!

An online marketplace is an e-commerce website or app where you can shop for products and services from third-parties. Think eBay or Etsy, platforms that connect retailers or service providers to a customer base. Service-based platforms such as the ride-share app Uber, and freelance platform Upwork, bridge supply to demand directly, and have grown immensely popular over the last few years.

AskforTask is an on-demand online marketplace, focused on the cleaning, handyman & furniture assembly verticals. We connect people looking for help around the house with reviewed, insured and verified local independent contractors, whom we call Taskers. As a service-based online marketplace, our greatest challenge is to maintain balance when managing growth in both supply and demand. Here, we offer 9 insights we’ve gleaned as a company, for building a thriving online marketplace business.

When Building Supply

Guarantee Service Quality

When your marketplace product is a service, trust, control and quality are paramount. Building a team of service providers who offer a consistent standard of skill sets and expertise can be challenging, but it is important to maintain a high quality of service because they represent your brand and can impact your credibility. Identify clear standards for what makes an ideal contractor. Vet for those standards with hiring procedures that include background checks, interviews, skill checks and tests.

Invest in your Contractors

Recognize that your contractors are valuable assets. Make them feel welcome, needed and appreciated, but also ensure they understand the company’s expectations for service quality, and are motivated and committed to providing the best service they can to customers. Nurture positive interactions by communicating clear expectations in all interactions with your contractors. Offer them good and constructive feedback for their work. Find ways to offer value that goes beyond bringing them a built in customer base—whether it’s community, or benefits they wouldn’t have access to as an independent contractor—we offer full insurance coverage for every task our Taskers perform on our platform!

Balance Supply Growth

An online marketplace services communities in many different cities. When expanding your business into a new city, be mindful of the ratio of demand to supply. The key to retaining quality contractors is to offer a steady stream of work that uses their skill set directly. Balance the number of job seekers you bring on to handle the demand, but not so many that they will become disengaged due to a lack of job opportunity and leave the platform.  

When Growing Demand

Cultivate Customer Trust

Customers need to have more than one reason to trust you, and not some other company, or independent contractor with their needs. Develop a compelling and accessible first contact experience on your website. Be transparent about your contractor processes, and highlight insurance guarantees to strengthen your credibility. Familiarize customers with your service model and illustrate its benefits, then follow up with customer testimonials and reviews to build trust. At AskforTask, we strive to build customer trust through quality service calls during a customer’s first task posted, as well as asking them to review their Tasker. Our Taskers must maintain a high quality score to stay active on our platform.

Develop Customer Loyalty

The flexibility of an online marketplace allows you to offer a mix of services. The right combination can strengthen your customers’ dependency, but too many options can also dilute your service focus. Offer the right amount and mix of services by listening carefully to customers’ needs. Understand their shopping patterns and potential barriers to purchase, and look for ways to strengthen repeat purchasing.

Ensure Service Delivery

Breaking into a market and building clientele is every business’s challenge. But overpromising demand for service without a guaranteed supply is a common mistake. In short, deliver what you promise! When setting up your marketplace in a new city, ensure you are actively hiring quality contractors to service the area. This way, you will minimize the possibility of being unable to meet a customer’s demands.  It is really disappointing for a customer trying out a new service to have their request cancelled due to lack of ability to find the right contractor to meet their needs.

When Creating A Marketplace

Share and Connect

Besides easy navigation and compelling copy, an essential element to a thriving online marketplace is building local community and connections. A service-based platform allows people from all walks of life to meet each other, and those encounters are dynamic stories you can share with potential customers. At AskforTask, we often hear interesting testimonials from satisfied customers and contractors and share them, showing customers that our service is also about making connections within the community.

Listen to Improve

Customer feedback is a valuable part of improving the service and structure of your online marketplace. This means opening avenues of communication with customers and contractors to co-create top notch experiences. Build a system of outbound customer servicing calls and surveys, and accessible channels for receiving feedback. Offer customers the option to rate and refer if they like your service, or leave personalized recommendations and reviews. Additionally, check in regularly with contractors about work experiences they enjoy or are challenged by through quarterly or biannual surveys.

Outreach through Content

Brand loyalty is built through a strong connection between your marketplace principles and customer values. Attract a community of customers who resonate with the values you hold by curating engaging content in relevant lifestyle conversations and local topics. Content can range from social media content for casual engagement, to long-form, industry-specific content for more educational purposes. At AskforTask we value trust and customer service. We try to cultivate those values with both our Taskers and Asker customers.

 

Building an online marketplace is a dynamic and exciting experience for any entrepreneur. It can definitely be a challenge to build supply and grow demand simultaneously to create a thriving marketplace platform, but achieving a healthy balance is possible with the help of some of these insights we’ve shared.

At AskforTask, we connect Askers with home service needs to Taskers with skills in the community for all their home cleaning and home maintenance needs!

Virgin Group is one of the most recognized brands in the world, now a venture capital conglomerate managing portfolios in all kinds of fields, and it all started with one of the most influential entrepreneurs of our time: Sir Richard Branson.

From selling records by mail order when he was young, to creating the Virgin empire which currently encompasses around 400 companies, he has accomplished things in his career that people only dream of.. We’ve culled some of his important entrepreneurial encouragements and insights here from his conversation with CreativeLive:

“Screw it, just do it!”

This is perhaps his most famous ideation. From a very early age, Branson learned that if you want something to happen, you cannot just wait around for someone to offer you help. Take the chance, apply yourself, and beat the odds.

Challenge yourself.

Without a challenge, there is no inspiration. Challenges exist to help keep you motivated in life and at work.

Live in the moment.

Do not worry about things that are in the future and are out of your control. Work on things that you can influence today. It is important to work hard, but everyone needs to switch off and relax so make time for this!

Have fun!

If something stops being fun and enjoyable, you should stop doing it. If you are working on your passions, then it no longer seems like work. Having fun helps to create a thriving idea, and inspires those around you to work passionately.

Value your friends, family and coworkers.

Surround yourself with those who support you, and who make a positive impact on your life. Show respect to the people that you work with and treat them as you would want to be treated.

“A business is nothing more than a group of people working to make a positive difference to people’s lives”.

For more motivational Monday juice, you can catch Sir Richard Branson’s fullinterview from over at Creative Live!

The right workspace can have a major impact on employee productivity. Just a few slight adjustments and suddenly the space seems brighter and more energetic.  Here are office design hacks to consider for your work environment to boost employee moral and increase work output.

Reimagine The Meeting Room

A lot of time gets wasted in sit-down meetings and in email chains. Make your meetings more efficient by checking in with people by the water cooler or on-the-go during a coffee run. Just make sure they know you’re going to ask about it beforehand!

Plug Yourself In

Plugging into music or a good podcast can help cut out background noise and let you focus on the work at hand. Additionally, podcasts related to your field of work are great ways to stay on your game and still be enjoying yourself in the middle of the workday grind.

Get On Your Feet

Studies show people are more productive when they are on their feet. If possible, invest in adjustable standing desks, and make it a norm for people to feel comfortable pacing. Break up the work day with mandatory short walks!

Inspire With Colour

According to research, blue stimulates the mind, yellow inspires creativity, while green has a calming effect. Regardless, a space that is dynamic and full of thoughtful colours will make for a much more pleasant work environment. Consider decluttering your own work space or introducing specific colours to help with your work flow!

Light Smart

Workers in an office environment with lots of natural light see a major increase in productivity and energy. If natural light is minimal, supplement your space with soft lights and greenery to make the space more warm and inviting.

Break Up the Open Plan

It may sound counter intuitive to current trends, but according to a study, employees work better when they have their own space. This doesn’t mean you should revert to traditional cubicles. Strike a balance by designing your space with mixed spaces for employees to have their own nooks while still being connected to the larger environment!

Flexible Work Schedule

Sometime an office just can’t accommodate everybody’s needs, and having a person on-site isn’t necessary. Rather than having a full office from Monday to Friday, schedule in mandatory office meetings and a regular routine twice a week and work on your own preferred schedule in between those anchor check-in meetings.

Getting a startup company off the ground is a difficult task. According to Bloomberg, 8 out of 10 startups fail, but despite these odds, people continue to enter the startup market everyday. Some are driven by the possibility of huge success, others by their belief in the value of their product.

There are endless articles of what you need to know before beginning your own business. One of the best tools an aspiring entrepreneur can have is a simple 10-point questionnaire. Created by Jason Nazar, CEO of Docstoc, these questions cut to the heart of the thought process involved in launching a startup.

1. What is your product or service?

2. What is its unique value proposition?

3. What is the market opportunity?

4. How do you make money?

5. Who is the management team?

6. What is the strategy?

7. How do you market your product or service?

8. How much capital does it need?

9. What are the projected financials for the company?

10. What is the valuation of the company

Check out Nazar’s talk on DocStocTV