I recently completed the book 4 Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss which was a very enlightening and entertaining read. In the book Ferriss speaks on the notion of “outsourcing everything” to increase the amount of time we actually have for ourselves to do the things that are important to us. These services, obviously are not free. However there are a number of ways of utilizing what has become known as Virtual Assistants to help you do the things you either do not like or do not have the time to do. Here are some considerations when working with Virtual Assistants (VA’s).
The most popular location for VA’s is India due in large part to the availability of relatively inexpensive prices. As with working anyone who is not a native speaker of the English language, language barrier can present certain difficulties. Be sure to filter any communications to prospects, customers and colleagues that would reflect badly on you if written with poor English grammar on your behalf.
Depending on the complexity of the work and the skill set require you are most likely going to pay anywhere between $5 and $20 per hour for a VA in India and more for those in the US and Canada. But remember that cost is not merely a financial figure. If you pay a VA to do something that would have taken you 4 hours to complete, (let’s say on the high end $80), and it allows you to acquire $500 in new business: that math is easy.
Basically, it is up to you as long as it is not illegal and doesn’t actually require a physical presence. Bear in mind that you may have to carefully screen and monitor VA’s who you hire to execute more skilled tasks. You are totally in your right to request another VA if you are not happy with the one you have.
Be forewarned, some people may say to you that it is not fair to pay someone such a small amount to do work that would cost 4-5 times more in your home country. You may also hear that you shouldn’t be outsourcing jobs overseas and taking them away from your country of residence. This is a moral and ethical question that I am not going to address in this post. You will have to determine within your own set of criteria whether this is a concern of yours or not.
Virtual Assistants seem, for some, to be a great way to reduce costs and increase their availability to projects, family and life interests. In the case of startups and bootstrappers, I think they are particularly useful and can help to create an image of a more established company than currently exists. They may or may not be for you. The best way is to try and find out.