There are certain things that I pretty much always look to outsource overseas (in reverse to the ‘norm’!), and in this post I thought it might be a good idea to discuss the main reasons why I ‘go overseas’, and the reasons why sometimes it’s a good idea to stay closer to home.
Before I get into things let me state very clearly that there is no right, or wrong way to outsource, as a ‘standard’. You’re going to do whatever you think is best for you, your business and your bank balance, at the end of the day. So keep an open mind, understanding (and respecting) that everyone has their own way of doing things.
Limitations Lead to Observations
I’ve lived in the Philippines for 13-years and in that time I’ve noticed a lot of things in relation to working with Filipinos.
They are incredibly loyal and hard working. They are also very appreciative of your support as an employer and sometimes as a mentor – and on the whole, they make for amazingly gifted, long-term employees.
However, I’ve noticed that every now and then I need things done a little different. Sometimes I want things done a little different. As as example, here are a few tasks that I rarely hand to my Filipino VA’s:
- Podcast Editing
- Audio / Video Transcriptions
- Copywriting (Sales)
- Complex Graphic Design
- Certain Web Development Tasks
Some of the reasons behind outsourcing these types of tasks outside of the Philippines is because, quite frankly, it’s done better that way. Sometimes, it’s just the way I want it done – for whatever reason. I’m a business owner, and I do what I believe is best for my business and brand – just as you should.
6 Reasons to Keep Things Closer to Home
So, with all this in mind there are certain times when it definitely pays to pay a little more and keep things a little closer to home, so to speak. Even though I don’t live in the USA, UK or Australia, I do travel to all of those places regularly and know the cultures pretty well – and therefore understand the mindset somewhat better than most.
With that in mind, lets look at a few reasons why I feel it’s sometimes better to keep things in your own backyard. 🙂
1. Very Little Lost in Translation
One of the biggest concerns that business owners have when they are considering hiring overseas staff is that their instructions will not be understood properly and that they’ll have to waste time repeating tasks to their VA’s again and again. Although this is a valid concern, I can tell you from nothing but sheer experience, 99% of the time it’s because the VA hasn’t received clear enough instructions.
With that being said, there are certain aspects that, when hiring domestically, you don’t have to be as concerned about. Every country has different cultures and beliefs. When working with domestic VA’s the chances of things being lost in translation are way slimmer, than when you go overseas. Just little things like slang you might use, or certain jokes can put a spanner in the works with an overseas VA, but when you’re working with someone from the same neck of the woods as you, the chances are no issues will arise.
2. No Time Zone Differences
Being on the same time zone as your virtual staff has its obvious positives. It also has it’s negatives attached to it, too – for example being contactable throughout the entire work day. Whereas if your VA was in the Philippines, for example, you could chat with them first thing and then get on with your work day – all because of the time difference.
However, the majority of the people that I know that do outsource locally to virtual staff, tend to need that added ‘touch’ during the day, even if it’s just the odd Skype chat. Being on the same time zone brings that additional communication potential to the table, should you need it.
3. Better Understanding of the Local Market
Sure, your VA overseas can use Google all day long to find local restaurants, suppliers and places of interest. But, using a VA in your own backyard will not only speed things up, but will also add additional, local knowledge that an overseas VA simply will not have – because they’ve never been ‘there’.
4. Less Training Likely Needed in Certain Roles
Most virtual workers (and they tend to be freelancers, not full-time employees) in countries such as the USA, UK and Austraila will likely be specialized in certain fields, such as accounting, administrative support, transcription , etc. Because of this clearer definition of services provided, you can automatically assume (safely a lot of the time!) that the VA is going to need much less training, if not very little at all.
That’s not to say that overseas VA’s need heaps of training, many of them don’t. In fact, many of them will probably be training YOU, while in the process of working with you! However, if you can save a little time here and there, when it comes to training, it’s not a bad thing, is it?
5. Physical Presence Required
This is a big one. Now, many might argue that a virtual assistant should not be needed in a physical sense. Ever. But, I call BS on that. The chances are that from time to time, you might want / need your VA around. Be it for company meetings, or perhaps for full blown corporate events.
Hiring a local VA, over an overseas one will make this a lot easier, obviously. That being said I know of several business owners that have VA’s here in the Philippines that have brought them over to places like Australia and the USA, to be present at company events, trade shows and conferences – but it isn’t easy what with visa requirements, etc.
6. More of an Entrepreneurial Mindset
I’ve often said that one of the biggest frustrations for me, personally, as a foreign business owner here in the Philippines, is the lack of the entrepreneurial trait in the local market. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of entrepreneurs here, building businesses. What I mean is that locally, Filipinos are brought up in an environment that’s definitely focused on the employee mindset, instead of the entrepreneurial one – which is sometimes great, but sometimes you might want a little more from your staff.
However, as I mentioned above, the very large majority of domestic based VA’s see themselves as self-employed service providers, even consultants to a certain extent. Because of this, they will need less managing, and will be able to work by themselves with less direction. But, understand – the chances are they are also working on other clients tasks at the same time as yours, too – whereas an overseas VA is likely very much dedicated to you, and you alone.
A couple of US-based companies that I suggest you check out if you do want to stay closer to home with your outsourcing at EAHelp.com and Zirtual.com – both are operated out of the US, and only offer US-based staff.
I know my readership pretty well, and understand that a lot of you have absolutely no intention of ever hiring locally, and prefer to work with your home-based Filipino virtual assistants (many of whom you’ve hired through my company, Virtual Staff Finder), because of everything from cost savings benefits, to the ability to grow a team faster, with less financial commitment and simply because you just prefer it that way. 🙂
However, I’m sure you’ll agree that it pays to keep an open view on things, and that it sometimes might work out better to hire virtual staff that are from your neck of the woods – but, don’t forget – in doing so, you will have to pay a premium. And if you’re okay with that, then everybody will be happy.
This does not ‘discount’ overseas VA’s in regards to what they do and how unbelievably effective they can be in helping you run, support and grow your business. It’s merely another option for you to think about. Then, if the time comes along, and you need something a little different, you can try it out.
What are your feelings on this topic? I’m curious to hear what the #NewBusiness Tribe has to say about all this. Comment below – I’d love to hear what you have to say!