There are only 24 hours in the day and there is only one you. No matter how efficient you become, no matter how good you get at what you do, it is impossible to overcome these two facts. That’s why, in order to grow and expand your company, you’ll either need to hire employees or outsource some of your work. This article explores the second option.

Rather than deal with the administrative (and legal) responsibilities of traditional employees, it is oftentimes both simpler and more affordable to hire outsourced workers instead. It can also save you a lot of time if you work with outsource networks, rather than seeking out independent contractors one at a time. Here are some of the biggest outsource networks on the Internet.

Elance is perhaps one of the best known websites for hiring online workers. It is a very versatile platform with a very large user base of contractors, including programmers, designers, writers, marketers, consultants, and more. To date, there are over 380,000 contractors on Elance. It also helps that you are able to view the work in progress, giving you more assurance that the job is being done both correctly and in a timely manner. It should be noted that the contractors have to pay to be on Elance, so their rates may be higher than if you were to hire them directly.

While other outsource networks tend to focus more on specific projects and tasks, oDesk takes on more of the approach of facilitating long-term work from the same remote staff members. The site offers verified visual time sheets, helping to make sure that you are only paying for the hours worked by the outsourcers. This is particularly useful if you prefer to pay by the hour rather than a flat rate for a completed project. The communication system isn’t as robust as some other networks, but oDesk is otherwise a solid option to consider.

It doesn’t get much larger than The site boasts over 2.6 million registered freelancers from a range of different disciplines. While not all of these are going to be quality workers, to be sure, the sheer number should give potential employers (i.e., you) much greater choice when selecting contractors. You also only pay if you are 100% satisfied. Jobs are typically posted on a “bid” basis, but just be aware that the lowest bidder may not do the best work. The freelancer rating system is helpful in this regard.

This outsource networks allows you to find freelancers based on a number of criteria. You can look based on category, like engineering, translation, legal, marketing, and so on. You can also look for freelancers based on major US cities, as well as international markets. While there is a good support system, the general layout and configuration of the site can be more confusing than some of the other networks. Again, be mindful of the bid system and the quality of contractor you are hiring.

Amazon Mechanical Turk

If you only want to hire workers for very small projects, then Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) might be a better option for you. The concept is that a requester (employer) is able to utilize “human intelligence” to perform tasks that computers cannot do. Such tasks could be to transcribe short audio clips or to perform basic data entry. The prices paid for most of these tasks is less than a dollar, so don’t use MTurk if you have a task that takes more than a few minutes.

Previously known as RentACoder, this site is now known for offering “virtual workers” to employers around the world. This is because it has expanded beyond just offering web coding services to include other types of related professionals, like designers, personal assistants, and paralegals. With over 300,000 workers on the site, you can expect an average of about 12 bids within 24 hours of posting your project. Interestingly, you can pay a percentage of the bid price if the work is unsatisfactory. You can alternatively pay based on a submitted timecard.

While the name of the site implies that ScriptLance will only connect you with freelancers who can write programming scripts, the types of experts go beyond programming to include design, writing, marketing, and more. Programming is easily a bigger focus on ScriptLance though. As with other outsource networks, ScriptLance works on a bidding process and you only pay when the work is completed to your satisfaction; it’s free to post a project on the site and you can state your budget in the project listing.