You own a business, and you’re swamped with so many tasks that you can’t squeeze them all in your working hours?
You’re an entrepreneur, and you don’t want to do admin and clerical duties, and you’d instead focus on generating sales?
You’re a self-employed professional, and you want to hire an assistant to handle your schedule, appointments, and client calls?
Then you have to outsource. Even better, it would be best if you outsourced to the Philippines.
When I co-founded an internet business with my life partner, it was just the two of us. But since none of us know about web development and coding, we looked for a guy that can do it within our budget. It was my first time to dabble into outsourcing.
You see, outsourcing isn’t all about getting a cheap workforce from developing countries. Outsourcing is about getting work done by someone with specialized skills that you don’t possess.
Rather than doing it by yourself poorly, you hire someone to do it expertly and more effectively. So, in short, outsourcing is about realizing your limitations and recognizing that someone can do the work better.
So when did outsourcing became synonymous with getting cheaper labor?
Before the democratization of the internet, many large multi-national companies went to outsourcing to lower their staff costs. Non-core business activities and business segments that can be transferred to another were outsourced.
The results were more profits.
Come to the age of the internet, everyone can now outsource to foreign countries, and came the trend of outsourcing as a cost-effective way of building skilled and competent teams for a fraction of the cost of starting a physical team.
You can now outsource tasks requiring specialized skills to the Philippines, India, and Latin America. You get to have the work done and pay a more affordable rate. You saved from labor costs but without sacrificing quality and competency.
But that’s too ideal.
Outsourcing, especially to developing nations, isn’t always a walk in the park.
You can’t simply decide to outsource, and then you’ll be gifted with the best virtual assistants and virtual staff for the amount that you’re willing to pay.
You go over the internet, and you’ll realize that the outsourcing market is highly competitive. Virtual assistant providers and job marketplaces all vie for a share of the pie with sweet promises, unbelievably low pricing plans, overpriced add ons, and unnecessary extra features.
To help you get started with outsourcing, I have begun “Virtual Assistant Reviewer” to give insights on various virtual assistant providers and helpful tips and guides on outsourcing the intelligent way.
Guide to become an Outsourcing Expert
1. Set your goals and identifying the best outsourcing approach
Before jumping into looking for talents to outsource, you must be clear about your goals and objectives. Is it to deliver quality work and get things done? Or is it to save cost and expenses?
Understanding your goals can lead to determining the amount you’re willing to invest or spend in outsourcing. And the budget is essential as you move forward in outsourcing. You won’t want to waste money on an endeavor that is supposed to improve your bottom line.
You have to determine if you’re looking to hire staff hourly or a project rate at this stage. You’ll also encounter virtual assistants that charge on a monthly retainer or fixed rates. So how do you decide on what structure suits you?
Do the following:
- Set out the tasks that you’re outsourcing;
- Break down the hours that you estimate for each of these tasks; and
- Set an hourly price for each of these tasks, preferably the prevailing rate in your country or locality.
This way, you’ll have an estimate of the total costs of your outsourcing. You’ll also have a baseline on how much you’re saving from outsourcing to developing countries and determining the competitiveness of the offered rates.
2. Set your expectations and work specifications
Once you’ve understood why you’re outsourcing and the approach you’ll take, you’re now ready for the second step. At this point, you have to be upfront about your expectations from the outsourcing engagement.
Clarifying your expectations will help you set the scope of work and the responsibilities that your virtual assistant or outsourced staff will take over. It’s also crucial that you set the specific deliverables to avoid costly revisions and unnecessary back and forth between you and your virtual assistant.
If you’re outsourcing a project, this is the part where you determine the project timeline, milestones, and deadline. The timeline determines the entire project’s length, while the milestones provide the completed stages used for partial billings.
When outsourcing a project, you may answer the following guide questions to set your expectations and clarify the work specifications:
- What is the project duration?
- When is the deadline?
- What is the expertise required for the job?
- What are the specific deliverables?
- How much is your involvement?
- Other important details that need communication in advance
3. Find talents and virtual assistants in reputable sites
Now that you know what you need and what you’re looking for, you’re now ready to search and hire qualified candidates. There are plenty of places to find remote workers to outsource.
I have outsourced plenty of times work to virtual assistants and remote workers in the Philippines. I am Filipino, and cultural understanding is the primary reason I outsource to remote workers in the Philippines. You can also hire remote workers in the Philippines and outsource through the following sites:
True to its tagline as the “safest” and “easiest” place to hire virtual assistants in the Philippines, I was able to hire some great content writers and customer support staff from inside the platform.
I also tried their Philippines outsourcing enterprise service, which is excellent value compared to other outsourcing providers we’ve reviewed, although more expensive than the DIY plan.
Another jobs board for virtual assistants in the Philippines is OnlineJobs.ph. It charges a higher monthly subscription compared to VirtualStaff.ph. You can only connect with the workers using a paid premium account.
A veteran in the virtual assistant service offering skilled remote workers in the Philippines, MyOutDesk is a trusted name. It offers a wide range of services but specializes in supplying trained real estate virtual assistants.
If I need virtual assistants to do SEO work and run digital marketing campaigns for me, VAStaffer is my go-to provider. It offers virtual assistants in the Philippines working inside their facility, and it specializes in inbound marketing, lead generation, and social media marketing.
You can check out these websites if you’re looking beyond virtual assistants and remote workers in the Philippines:
Outsourcing to freelancers is my preference for one-time projects or tasks. And I’ve used Fiverr plenty of times, from graphic design, simple video tutorials, or voice-over jobs that require certain posh accents. The digital services inside Fiverr have now reached 300+ categories and still growing.
Outsourcely is a great place to start looking for virtual staff if you don’t have a particular country in mind to outsource. It has remote workers from 180 countries that have the skills for all types of business. The pricing plan for small companies is comparable to VirtualStaff.ph and OnlineJobs.ph, but its Professional plan is on the pricier side of $229/monthly.
More popularly known for remote workers, FlexJobs also has an Employer Membership to use for more specialized recruitment of remote workers. With an employer membership, you get to access FlexJobs’ high-quality talent pools. You post your outsourced job position and use its applicant tracking system and other add-ons.
If you need virtual assistants and remote workers from Latin America, Remoteco is the place for you. It is a subscription-based jobs board that charges at the same pricing level as OnlineJobs.ph. Still, instead of workers from the Philippines, you’ll get bilingual talents from Latin America.
4. Interview and test candidates
It depends on what platform you’ll use, but if you’re using a subscription-based platform that allows you to connect with workers, you will have a direct role in the hiring process. As such, you’ll interview candidates and see if they’re fit for the position.
You also have to test the virtual assistant candidates’ skills by asking the right questions. Scenario-based questions and asking them for solutions is the best way to expose the level of experience and expertise.
Bear in mind, however, that the rates you’re offering are directly proportional to the quality of applicants you’ll get. So don’t expect fantastic talent for lower rates. I’m not saying low rates equate to sloppy workers. I’m trying to say that don’t base your hiring process solely on low rates and cheap wages.
5. Manage your remote team by using available technology
Once you’ve hired your virtual assistants, they must be onboarded with your expectations, deliverables, the communication process, and work schedule. A weekly Zoom catch-up meeting can be a great way to evaluate the week and re-calibrate your work style next week.
A good virtual assistant will provide you with a daily summary of the work done and the tasks accomplished. But don’t expect this if you’ve hired a beginner or simply don’t assume to receive updates. You may require a daily summary of work from your virtual assistants to know how they spend their work hours.
Things to Avoid when outsourcing work to virtual assistants
1. Outsourcing doesn’t forego managing
Hiring virtual assistants and outsourcing tasks don’t mean you no longer have to manage your business. Outsourcing doesn’t mean the company is self-managed. While it doesn’t require that you micromanage your outsourced talents, you still have to manage your business affairs on a macro level.
2. Don’t over outsource
For first-timers, the excitement of getting talents for various tasks may result in over outsourcing. As mentioned above, you only outsource after you’ve set your goals and clarified your needs. If outsourcing no longer provides the benefits you’ve initially thought it would be, then stop.
3. Pay reasonably not cheaply
Don’t pay cheap if you’re outsourcing to the Philippines, India, or any other developing nation. Set your prices on a reasonable level because the key to this is to replace local employees with lower cost but equally skilled staff overseas.