One of the traits of an excellent leader and business owner is knowing when to ask for help.

You may know your business inside and out.  You know how to make it profitable but the truth is, you can’t do it alone.

As a business owner, you need to focus on your high-value tasks.  You need to manage the business as you should. It’s impossible to do this if you have to take care of minor tasks that you should be delegating to other people.

Simple tasks like managing your inbox or organizing your schedule can eat a lot of time. Managing inventories and posting on social media require a specific set of skills.

Why would you punish yourself trying to get these done when you have the option to outsource them to people who have the time and capability?

Many successful CEOs realize how valuable their time is.  Instead of getting overwhelmed trying to do everything, they turn to outsourcing instead. 

Doing this helps them become more productive while the business thrives.  This is probably the reason why outsourcing is at its peak.

Why outsource?

Is outsourcing right for you

More than offloading tasks to another person, what makes outsourcing a reliable option is that you’re getting the services of qualified experts.

Depending on your preference, you can have someone better than you perform tasks you believe you are not at par on.  Tasks like graphic design or web development are just a few examples.

With no need to be heavily involved in the hiring process, you’re able to save a lot of time, too.  Time that you can otherwise use for overseeing your business’ daily operations.

There’s no question that outsourcing presents a lot of opportunities both for the business and the freelancer. Before you decide to push through, however, you need to make sure that outsourcing suits you and your business.

Things to Consider

Outsourcing is a huge decision.  This is the reason why it’s ill-advised to quickly jump the gun without thinking about the consequences. Below are some of the things you need to consider before making your first hire:

  • What are the tasks you’re looking to outsource?
  • How much can you spend on hires?
  • How many hours of work are you looking at?
  • Do you want to be heavily involved in the hiring process?
  • Will your availability allow you to meet and onboard the person you hire?
  • Are you going to hire a virtual assistant, a freelancer, or an agency?

It’s important to know the answers to these questions before making a decision.  It’s because they would determine which option would suit you best. To help you decide, it would be best to know what each of these options has to offer as well as its downsides.

1.  Virtual assistant

email virtual assistant

If you’re looking for someone to perform tasks exactly as you would, hiring a virtual assistant would be your best choice.

It should be noted that there are two types of virtual assistants today. You have virtual assistants who are part of virtual assistant companies or agencies, and virtual assistants who work independently, i.e. freelance VAs.

Virtual assistant company advantages 

Working with a virtual assistant company is definitely an advantage.  This is especially true if you don’t have the time to sift through dozens of resumes and conduct interviews. This is because the company does all of these on your behalf.

If you’re looking for someone who will look after your inbox or post content on social media, all you have to do is give them your requirements. The company will then have a virtual assistant ready for you within the next day.

Hiring through a virtual assistant company also provides security.  Something you would appreciate should your initial hire go AWOL. By having a replacement ready as soon as possible, you no longer have to worry about looking for one because it’s all taken care of.

You don’t have to worry about disputes either because the company provides support and assistance to clients in such cases.

Independent virtual assistant advantages

Working with an independent virtual assistant also comes with its own advantages.  This is especially true if you’re the hands-on type 

Realistically, there are business owners who prefer to be on top of things like hiring and onboarding.  These business owners prefer this approach especially if they want things done a certain way.

If this is you, working with an independent virtual assistant would be perfect.  With this option, you’re practically in control of just about everything.

You can have them reply to emails in a certain way.  Have them format documents the way you want to.  You can even let them use the tools and apps that you prefer.

Budget wise, hiring a freelance virtual assistant is also the better option.  It’s because the cost of hiring one is lower compared to those that are part of virtual assistant companies.

It should be noted that “virtual assistant” and “freelancer” are sometimes used interchangeably. This means that some virtual assistants are independent contractors with their own specializations.  Their own areas of expertise, just like freelancers. 

If we stick to what it originally means, virtual assistants are “general administration” assistants.  They do clerical tasks from an offsite location, i.e. they work online.

Virtual assistant company downsides 

downside

One downside to working with a virtual assistant company is not having complete control. When hiring someone through this route, you have no choice but to accept whoever the company sends. You don’t have the option to handpick someone.

Another downside to this option is the cost. You’ll pay more to hire with a company because you are getting quality assistants and have backup options in place.

Independent virtual assistant downsides

A major downside to working with a virtual assistant is that there are no backup plans should they disappear. If this happens, you’d have to go back to square one and look for a replacement.  We all know how tedious that could be.

This could be avoided, of course, if you decide to hire through a marketplace like FreeeUp that provides full support and a no turnover guarantee.

2.  Freelancer

Freelancers are perfect for projects or tasks that require certain expertise.  Unlike virtual assistants who tend to take on general tasks, freelancers are considered specialists in their niches.

Freelancers rarely require intensive onboarding (unless what you want is extremely specific to your business).   They should be ready to jump right in as soon as they are hired and briefed on your expectations.

Specific tasks like blogging and web development are just some of the tasks you can hire a freelancer for.

Freelancer advantages

Freelancer advantages

What makes working with a freelancer easier is that they have the experience and skills to get things done. Just tell them what you need, what you expect, and how you want things done and they’ll deliver the results the way you want.

You also have complete control over the hiring process so you can filter the candidates and not have to rely on whoever a company or agency sends you. More importantly, the price of hiring a freelancer is relatively cheaper considering the caliber of talent you’ll be getting. 

They’re not just there to lighten up your load, they’re there to deliver great results and help your business become more profitable.

Freelancer downsides

Like independent virtual assistants who you hire on your own, there’s pretty much nothing you can do should they decide to bolt — unless, again, you’re hiring through a marketplace like FreeeUp. 

You’ll have to start from scratch and search for a replacement once again which can be a bummer especially if you don’t have the time to spare. Not only will you need to go through several resumes and conduct interviews again, but you’ll also have to onboard the new freelancer the same way you did the previous one.

3.  Agency

FreeeUp Marketplace agencies

Like a virtual assistant company, an agency comes at a higher price because it helps take care of all the “dirty work” on the client’s behalf. By choosing to hire a freelancer or a virtual assistant via an agency, you no longer need to invest time reviewing resumes and interviewing people because the agency does it all for you.

Another difference is that agencies are usually specialized and cater to one business niche, such as E-commerce apparel or real estate, or one aspect of a business, such as social media or product design.

A good example is a marketing agency, which basically takes care of a client’s overall marketing effort. You could be working with a designer, a copywriter, a social media expert, an Ads specialist, and an SEO specialist to name a few.

There are also those who offer E-commerce or Amazon services where you’ll have a group of freelancers running your store. You’d have a product sourcing expert, an inventory manager, a product listing specialist, and a customer service representative, for instance.

Agency advantages

Agency advantages

An obvious advantage of hiring through an agency is work efficiency. With a group of freelancers working on only one functional area in your business, it’s highly unlikely that they won’t get it right.

With a designated leader coming from the agency directing all efforts, it would be almost as if you were running this part of the business on autopilot. 

This is not to say that you no longer have to regularly check up on them. That’s your responsibility. The point is you’ve got one less area you need to worry about which is fantastic for every business owner who’s got a lot on their plate.

Another advantage an agency presents is the quality of freelancers you’ll be working with. With experienced freelancers at the helm, micromanaging isn’t necessary. Their years of experience make them capable of using familiar apps like Skype, Asana, Trello, Slack, or Canva, all of which are usually used in freelancing.

Agencies also provide their freelancers with relevant onboarding to keep them up to date with the latest apps and technology. This helps guarantee that you are working with people who are up to speed with the latest on freelancing.

Task tracking is also one of the advantages agencies provide because this makes it easier to check if you are actually getting what you pay for.

Lastly, having a freelancer abandon you wouldn’t be a huge concern either because the agency is responsible for reassigning the task to another freelancer. What makes this low turnover aspect crucial is not having to wait for a long time for someone to jump in and take over. 

Similarly, with FreeeUp, you can quickly get back on track with an alternative candidate sent to you within 24 hours. With this kind of backup system in place, you don’t need to put your business on hold just because a freelancer failed to show up.

Agency downsides

Agency downsides

The biggest drawback to working with an agency is that you need to pay them every month regardless of whether you use them or not (this depends on the arrangement). This would be difficult for business owners who are working on a tight budget. With proper planning management, however, you should be able to maximize the service.

It’s important to note here as well that when hiring through FreeeUp, you pay only for hours actually worked. This can also apply to hiring an agency through the marketplace, depending on your agreement with that agency.

If you want that flexibility, just make sure that you are very clear on it from the beginning.

Final thoughts

Working with virtual assistants, freelancers, and agencies comes with advantages and drawbacks. This is why assessing your budget and the tasks you’re going to outsource is essential.   

If you want total control over hiring and onboarding and you’re on a limited budget, working with a virtual assistant or a freelancer is perfect. Should you be looking to hire for admin tasks or other basic work, general virtual assistants are the way to go.

If you require a certain level of expertise, a freelancer is the better option. If your schedule is tight but you have money to spare, an agency or a virtual assistant company is your best choice.

The key is to answer the questions above so you can decide what will work best for you and your business.

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