Entrepreneurs – Work with a virtual assistant without pulling out your hair!

A few friends who are looking to start their own businesses reached out to me recently for advice on how to work with a Virtual Assistant.  They are currently working full time and could use some administrative and tech support.  Rather than hogging all of the advice I gave to them, I figured I could share  with the blogosphere.  I hope that my experience will provide you with some insight if you are working with a VA or considering working with one.

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard about the benefits of working with a Virtual Assistant (VA).  If you haven’t, I encourage you to check out the http://www.fourhourworkweek.com. While you may not agree with every point of the author, there are definitely some time savers that Tim Ferriss shares.

I started using one of the ideas in the book about 8 months ago – the Virtual Assistant.   I initially thought “Hey all of the repetitive and tedious tasks I do…why not outsource?”.  It would save me time and allow me to focus on other areas of my business.  Great idea.  But no easy to use.  I had some serious learning curves along the way.


Here are some of my initial learnings:

First consider if you want to work with local or international talent. There are pros and cons to both.  Everyone usually gets excited about the low cost factor of working with a VA in India, China, or the Philippines.   You can get a VA for pennies on the dollar of hiring someone in the US.

However, what you might save in the short run might be painful in the long term.

Consider the following when working with VAs abroad:

1. The Time Difference –  While you can send them work to complete while you sleep – I promise you it will take twice as long to complete because you’ll have to wait until you log on the following morning to answer questions.  And there will be questions.

2. The Day Difference-You also have to factor in the difference in the days of the week you can send work.  So while we are working on a Mon-Fri schedule in the States,  you’ll have to think about Sun-Thurs if you work with a company that works on a 5 day work week.  (Yes, we do want the staff to rest some time!)

3. The Holiday Difference – While there are many similiar holidays that we share with our Asian friends, can anyone tell me when the Chinese New Year is?  Well, don’t expect your Chinese based company to be working during this time…and I hope your deadline is not pressing.

Do you want to learn more?  I’ll share some additional ideas on the next post.

Photo credit – http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=3062

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