As a business owner, you probably heard of outsourcing or perhaps you are already doing it. Hopefully, you are looking at the Philippines for your outsourcing needs. This Asian nation is a haven for driven, dedicated and diligent workers eager for long-term, full-time work opportunities. Many business owners have had positive experiences hiring Filipino Online Specialists.
However, there’s more to outsourcing in the Philippines than what you’ve heard of. It’s not just about hiring freelancers for a task. Because of this, a lot of people make critical errors when they outsource.
To avoid making these mistakes, it’s best to know what they are before you start outsourcing. Let’s look at some mistakes people typically make when they work with Filipino Online Specialists.
Chances are, you have several needs for your business. Depending on what products and services you market, you may need any of the following (or a combination of several of these):
- web designer
- social media manager
- SEO specialist
A common mistake is the misguided decision to hire a Filipino VA to perform all of these (and other) duties from day one. This happens all the time, and it’s a recipe for disaster.
Sure, it looks good on paper—hire one person to knock out a laundry list of different responsibilities. But this just isn’t realistic. You wouldn’t hire an American employee and expect him or her to be a web designer, copywriter and coder. So why expect this from a Filipino worker?
Instead, start out with your most urgent need and hire one person. Give them tasks associated with that role. It’s simple, and it makes sense. This way, your programmer, your writer, or whomever you’ve brought on can focus and perfect that job without getting overwhelmed and frustrated.
Mistake 2: Being vague
Be specific. Spell it all out. Clarify. Fully and clearly explain each step of every process you are asking the outsourcer to do. Vague instructions will lead to incomplete or insufficient work. And guess what? If you didn’t provide adequate instruction, poor performance on the part of the outsourcer is on you, not them.
You wouldn’t hire someone locally, ask them to build your website and not tell them what you want on your site. People need instruction and information to get things done. And when outsourcing to the Philippines, this is even more crucial. Tell them what to do, how to do it, why they’re doing it, and when you need them to accomplish it.
Mistake 3: Lacking patience
When outsourcing to the Philippines, you can’t afford not to be patient. If you expect perfection from day one, you’ll be sorely disappointed — and justifiably so. Don’t forget, these online specialists are just starting out. Did you make mistakes in your business when you were starting out? Of course you did. So why expect perfection so early in the process?
Provide the training and then watch for continued, steady improvement and performance. There are many ways to conduct training. You don’t have to be with them the whole time. You can provide learning videos or reading manuals, do test projects or practical exercises.
Mistake 4: Being aloof
Ever work for someone that you never saw (you can’t answer “no” if you worked remotely)? Ever have a boss that didn’t even know your name, even after several months or years? How much do you think that person valued your contributions or even your existence? How much do you think they cared about you?
If you outsource to the Philippines, you might be tempted to give your VA a list of assignments to complete and then disappear for a few days. You don’t have to hold your VA’s hand and give step-by-step instruction on everything. You do need to let your VA make some decisions, come up with solutions and figure things out.
But you also have to create a culture of trust. Your VA needs to know they can come to you if they have questions or need help. When you develop this relationship, not only will they be more comfortable reaching out to you for help. They won’t be afraid to develop their own ideas to help your business and share them with you.
Mistake 5: Expecting too much from the get-go
A common error people make when outsourcing to the Philippines is to expect their VA to turn in the quality of work one would see with a seasoned veteran. Sure, many of these VAs have some experience but a lot of them likely don’t have the same level of expertise you would find with U.S. employees.
Don’t expect perfection right out of the gate. There will be some hiccups. There will be some setbacks. Your VA is going to make some mistakes. That’s a given.
But that’s all right. Remember, you’re establishing a long-term business relationship. This isn’t a one-time project. This is meant to be a long-lasting engagement. They will improve and get so much better.
Can you imagine hiring dozens of people at once to help you? Think of the difficulties in training and managing a staff of new employees of this number all by yourself. What are the chances that you’ll have all of them working with minimal mistakes as soon as possible?
Believe it or not, people make this big mistake all the time. If one virtual assistant can solve one problem, maybe more is better! The idea is enticing. Makes sense to get a lot of people so you can eventually replace yourself in your business several times over.
But the key word is eventually.
Start with hiring just one person to handle one task. Why? When you’re just starting out, it’s going to be hard to manage multiple people at once. Get used to working with Filipinos first. Get a good feel about how they work, how they act, how they communicate and how they respond to you. Once you know you can rely on your first hire to work with minimal supervision, hire another one and repeat the process.
Over time, you’ll have an entire team. But for now, stick with the one-on-one relationship.
Mistake 7: Neglecting the teaching and training
This is your business. You’ve invested time and money to make it work. Now you have a VA to help you out. Shouldn’t you make sure they do things right? So why in the world would you not want to take the time to give them proper training and instruction?
Sadly, it happens.
Failing to adequately train your Filipino VA is a sure recipe for failure. Mistake 2 talked about being vague; this mistake is probably even worse. In this case, you’re simply not telling your VA anything. Instead, you’re throwing them in the middle of nowhere, expecting them to reach a destination without a map.
Without teaching and training, your VA will be confused and discouraged. Soon, you’ll lose them.
Saving up-front time by omitting training is not worth the trouble of a disgruntled VA. Make the effort and invest the extra time to get your VA off to a good start.
Mistake 8: Failing to build on what your VA has learned
We’ve urged you to start simple with your VA, to be patient, expect a learning curve, and to provide sufficient training. These are all critical steps. If you can do these things, your VA will succeed and grow. Then they’ll be ready for more.
Too many times, business owners forget to take the next step and teach their VA more skills and to give them more responsibility.
Filipinos are loyal. Once you hire them, they almost certainly won’t quit. Teach them more about your business without worrying they’ll take that knowledge elsewhere. Chances are, as you teach them more about business, they’ll start picking things up on their own. The more they know, the more they can do for your business.
Mistake 9: Delaying the hiring process
You’ve identified a need in your business. You’ve decided to outsource to the Philippines. You’ve searched Onlinejobs.ph and found what appears to be the ideal candidate. They did the test task and passed it with flying colors.
So why wait? Make the hire.
Some business owners contact the prospective employee and make the hiring conditional upon successful completion of an initial assignment. This is unnecessary. Hire your new VA. Tell the person that you’re excited about this long-term association. Give the VA clear objectives and let them know that after a probationary period you’ll raise their salary if they are producing solid work.
Requiring work before employment will scare off your Filipino Online Specialist. Filipinos are hesitant to accept assignments like this because they aren’t sure whether they’ll actually be paid. Make the hire, set salary and payment terms, and let them get to work.
Mistake 10: Forgetting to send the initial email
It’s essential to set the tone of your relationship from day one. This happens through your first email to your Filipino Online Specialist, which you should send at the time of hire.
In this email, express excitement over this opportunity to work together. Then, give them an assignment. Explain the assignment and what they will need to do to complete it. Also, include the following:
- Express confidence in the VA that you know they can be successful.
- Express sympathy that you realize the task may be difficult and that it might take them some time to grow accustomed to working together.
- Acknowledge that they might get stuck or confused while working on their first assignment.
- Invite them to contact you if they have questions.
For some businesses, the standard practice is to send an initial email that extends an employment offer and nothing else. Then, there is silence for several days. No first assignment has been given. Nothing else related to the job has been communicated.
What do you think the consequences of these actions might be? Most likely, your Filipino Online Specialist will think you’ve forgotten about them. They might even move on and seek other employment.
The lesson here is to make the hire and get the VA working right off the bat.
There’s nothing wrong with hiring a Filipino project manager to help you with most of the work but that’s not an excuse not knowing how to manage your own business.
In the past, I’ve discouraged hiring VAs to work as project managers because I’ve noticed that some people use this as an excuse to not manage their own business. You need to know how to do project management. You need to know how to manage your VA team to understand how they work. So when the time comes that you need to hire a project manager, whether you promote someone from your team or you hire a project manager, you’ll know exactly how you want things to operate.
Being the CEO of your business, that’s your job as it should be. Your VA is filling one important role. When the time is right, the VA will move on to more challenging roles or additional roles. But the VA shouldn’t be the one running the show.
Learn to avoid these mistakes and you’ll be on your way to success in your business. These methods have been proven effective by thousands of business owners who hire Filipino Online Specialists.
It’s your turn.
About John Jonas
John Jonas is a long-time outsourcing expert and the creator of OnlineJobs.ph.
Since 2005, John has taught hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs how to profitably delegate to VAs in the Philippines (and get their lives back in the process).
With help from his own VAs based in the Philippines, John has created an outsourcing empire that allows him to work 17 hours/week and to spend most of his time with his wife and 5 kids.
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