In 2009, I had a great job managing an appliance and electronic store for a local independent retailer in Central Florida. Then the housing bubble popped and after 50 years the independent had to close their doors.
I found a niche drop shipping TV wall mounts on eBay which soon became my new full-time job. After expanding into furniture, I was overwhelmed and needed to hire my first employee. This person needed to do everything and on a $3,000 month salary. I soon learned such a person did not exist.
A friend recommended I look at Odesk
(now Upwork) which provides a marketplace for freelancers all over the world to offer their services. Before long I had 5 freelancers from multiple countries all working for my business and within budget.
This did the trick for about the first year, but there were always problems. Freelancers would disappear, log on late, have communication issues due to language/culture barriers, and caught a few milking the clock. In short I spent more time micromanaging freelancers than growing my business.
The country is heavily influenced by USA culture, English is a national language, they work hard, & I just got along with them better than other nationalities. When an opportunity came up to open an office just outside of Manila I jumped at it. With the help of my then office manager we opened shop with the plan of growing my e-commerce business using the newly hired staff.
The e-commerce business didn't go as planned but I was put in touch with someone who had similar issues with freelancers and could not afford to hire in house. We did some work for them and they referred us to another future client, which quickly led to another referral. Before long I realized we were serving a far different niche and made the full transition to Always Open Commerce.