As a business owner, there’s a good chance you’ve considered outsourcing projects or even daily tasks. Or perhaps you already do outsource. Hopefully, if you do outsource, you are looking at the Philippines. This Asian nation is a haven for driven, dedicated and diligent workers eager for a long-term, full-time opportunity. People have had positive experiences hiring Filipino virtual assistants.
But others have made critical errors.
Maybe you fall into this category. If you have, there’s time to make a course correction and get onto the road of success. If you’re just jumping into outsourcing to the Philippines, or if you’re thinking about whether it’s right for you, let’s consider some mistakes people typically make when they work with Filipino VAs.
And if you’re guilty of these missteps, pick yourself up and dust yourself off. Here’s a look at what not to do and how you can implement some more effective strategies.
Mistake 1: Complicating the process
Think of KISS—no, not the face-painted, heavily costumed rock band. For you, KISS should mean Keep it Simple…Seriously.
Chances are, you have several needs for your business. This is one of the reasons why you’re considering outsourcing to the Philippines or why you have already begun this relationship. 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 completely different types of responsibilities. The problem is, 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 create this expectation with a Filipino VA?
Instead, start out with your most urgent need and hire one person to accomplish the tasks associated with that role. It’s real simple, and it makes sense. This way, your programmer, your writer, or whomever you’ve brought on can focus on those duties and can perfect that work without getting overwhelmed and frustrated.
Mistake 2: Being vague
Please, please, please remember to be specific. Spell it all out. Clarify. Fully and clearly explain every step of each process you are asking the outsourcer to do. Vague instructions will ultimately 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 design your website and then leave them without a computer. People need to be given the right tools to be successful. And when outsourcing to the Philippines, this is even more critical. Tell them what to do, how to do it, why they’re doing it, and when you need them to accomplish it.
How could you possibly expect a polished product without the proper instructions?
Mistake 3: Lacking patience
What? You don’t have time to be patient? That’s funny.
Actually, you can’t afford to not be patient. If you expect perfection from day one, you’ll be sorely disappointed—unjustifiably so. Don’t forget, these outsourcers are just beginning their relationship with you. You didn’t perfect your craft in a week, did you? Of course not.
Again, provide the training and then watch for continued, steady improvement and performance.
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 your development?
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. Certainly, you shouldn’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.
However, you must also create the expectation that you are available anytime your VA needs help. Let your VA know it’s OK to ask questions or discuss concerns. When you develop this relationship of trust, the VA won’t be afraid to develop their own ideas, and they’ll be more comfortable reaching out to you for assistance when they need it.
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 in the field, but these Filipinos are likely going to lack some of the same skills and 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, because you’re establishing a long-term business relationship. This isn’t a one-time project; this is meant to be a long-lasting engagement. Improvement will come.
Mistake 6: Hiring too many people at first
As a business owner, could 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. What are the chances all of them are successful in meeting your expectations?
Believe it or not, people make this big mistake all the time, thinking it’ll solve all of their problems. Sure, the idea is enticing, and eventually, your goal is to replace yourself in your business several times over.
But the key word is eventually.
To begin with, hire just one person to handle one task. Why? When you’re just beginning outsourcing to the Philippines, it’s simply too difficult and too overwhelming to manage multiple people at once. Instead, start off by getting used to working with Filipinos. Get a good feel about how they work, how they act, how they communicate and how they respond to you.
Over time, once you can add new VAs, but for now, stick with the one-on-one relationship.
Mistake 7: Neglecting the teaching and training
This is your business, not your VAs. 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 training your Filipino VA is a sure equation 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 your VA 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 hardly worth the trouble of a disgruntled VA. Make the initial effort and invest the extra time to get your VA off to a good start. Use www.replacemyself.com and learn the essential guidelines of training your Filipino VA.
Mistake 8: Failing to build on what your VA has learned
We’ve urged you to start simple with your VA, to be patient and 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. So teach them more about your business without worrying they’ll take that knowledge elsewhere. Chances are, as you instruct them more and more about the various facets of your business, they’ll starting picking things up on their own.
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 done 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. Don’t waste time; let your Filipino VA get started.
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 VA. 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 VA, which you should send at the time of hire.
In this email, you express excitement over this opportunity to work together. Then, give them an assignment. Make sure you clearly explain the specific steps of the assignment and what they will need to do to complete. 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.
In some cases, a business owner extends an employment offer but includes little or nothing else in the first email. 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 VA will think you’ve forgotten about them. They might even move on and seek other employment.
The lesson to learn here is to make the hire and get the VA working right off the bat.
Mistake 11: Not knowing how to manage your business yourself
Who knows how to run your business better than you? No one.
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 business.
In the past, I’ve discouraged hiring Filipino VA 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 and 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 increasingly challenging roles and 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 VAs.
It’s your turn.
About John Jonas
John helps business owners learn to outsourcing to the Philippines and replace themselves with virtual assistants.
He founded and owns OnlineJobs.ph.
He currently employs 14 amazing Filipino workers full-time and loves every one of them. He lives in Utah, has a wonderful wife, 4 amazing kids, and golfs 4-5 times/week.
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