The key to working on your business and not in your business is to outsource your tasks. For the past several years, I have been replacing myself in my business by hiring Filipinos, and it has worked wonderfully. Why the Philippines? What’s so special about this place and why should you outsource there instead of other countries such as India? The secret lies in a few key attributes that make Filipinos so great to work with.
Filipinos are honest
By and large, Filipinos are honest people. In my experience, they are some of the most honest people I’ve ever met and worked with. This attribute is especially important when you’re dealing with a remote employee. I regularly trust my VAs with sensitive information such as my credit card, bank account, personal email, PayPal accounts, web hosting server and other important things. Not once has this caused problems. I have complete confidence that if I hand over some financial information that my VA won’t turn it into personal gain.
Of course, not every single Filipino is honest, but in the more than 10 years I’ve been outsourcing to the Philippines and helping others do the same, I’m only aware of one instance where a Filipino VA was dishonest with an employer. With this in mind, do what you feel comfortable with. Don’t put your VA or yourself in a position where you think integrity will be compromised.
In many ways, the VA is on the honor system, meaning you’re relying on their truthfulness when it comes to working the required amount of time and focusing on your business and the tasks you’ve assigned during the agreed-upon hours. A dishonest person could easily find ways to cut corners and stretch the truth.
By understanding Filipino culture, you’ll realize that if it ever seems like your Filipino VA isn’t working they’re almost certainly not trying to be dishonest with you and not work. Instead, they probably misunderstand your instructions or training.
I have found Filipinos to be trustworthy in everything I have asked them to do. I can go to sleep at night not worrying at all whether my VA is actually working. I can be sure that my VA isn’t goofing around or wasting time on personal things when they’re supposed to be finishing up a project I’ve assigned.
Filipinos are loyal
Loyalty is a widespread trait in the Philippines. Once you hire a Filipino VA, they will almost never leave. In fact, they’ll often stay with you even if they’re offered a higher-paying job somewhere else. I’ve seen it happen many times before.
I once had an excellent programmer who told me he had been offered a job in Singapore for $2,500 a month. This was tremendous pay—much more than I was paying. It was such a good opportunity that I told him he should take the job. He did, but what he told me illustrates perfectly just how loyal Filipinos are. He said to me,
“Don’t worry sir, I’ll still continue working for you part time at the current rate you’re paying me.”
Wow, what amazing loyalty!
This loyalty changes the way you think. It opens up new possibilities you couldn’t have with short-term workers. Loyalty and commitment means you don’t have to worry about turnover in your business. Less turnover means you don’t have to recruit new workers every few months and repeat the teaching and training process. Let’s face it: No one likes to constantly train new workers. Plus, when you have a long-term, loyal worker, you can teach things you otherwise wouldn’t be able to teach.
For example, I had a VA whose job included filtering my personal email every morning. He wouldn’t respond to any emails; he would archive the message and look for spam. This took a lot of time off of my plate. But I wouldn’t have had a U.S. employee handle this task because I knew they would only be around for a short time.
With loyal workers, I am able to teach them entire systems. This means I can hand them off and not even have to be involved. Teaching a VA how to work in these systems isn’t easy, but the nice thing is you don’t have to spend the time teaching your worker everything all at once. Because you have confidence your VA will be around for a long time, you can teach them small bits of the system little by little. If I want, I can even teach them how to teach others how to work in the system.
Ultimately, working with loyal Filipinos lets you change your lifestyle—and this is what you’re really looking for. It’s what lets me enjoy a 17-hour work week. A dedicated Filipino VA who’s committed to working for you can eventually take over entire parts of your business. And this means you are free to focus on more important things and to spend time doing what you truly want to do.
Why are Filipinos so loyal? One reason is because they value full-time, stable work. Jobs like this are difficult to come by in the Philippines. Unemployment is high, and even many Filipinos who do find work, can only get part-time, temporary employment. So when you come along and offer the chance to work 40 hours a week at a wage comfortable for living standards in the Philippines where they can support their family, they’re eager for the chance. To show their gratitude for the opportunity you’ve given them, your Filipino VA will stay with you for years to come. It’s really an amazing thing to see, and it’s a huge benefit for you.
Filipinos are hard workers
Filipinos take pride in having a strong work ethic. It’s woven into their culture. They don’t want to disappoint, and they’ll do anything to make you happy. This translates into hard work and persistence.
What I love most about Filipino workers is that if you train them and teach them the right way, they won’t give up on projects or give a half-hearted effort. It’s in their nature to give a task their all.
This hard-working mindset leads to dedication and commitment. Numerous times, I have even had VAs get a hold of me immediately after devastating typhoons have caused terrible damage to their cities and towns—sometimes to their own homes—to tell me they’ll get back to work as soon as they can. They have the presence of mind and concern to salvage their computers—and sometimes nothing else—so they can get back to work as soon as they have recovered.
I have a VA who when he started had very few skills. What he did have was a good work ethic. He had a willingness to learn new things and get better every day. He communicated well with me and was responsive to my emails. He soaked in all the training I gave him, and he began to make tremendous strides. He even started doing things without being asked. Today, I can count on him to think outside of the box, to be innovative and to develop creative ideas. You don’t get these kinds of results without hard work.
Filipinos speak good English
Think working with an outsourcer in the Philippines will present language barrier problems? Think again. The Philippines is filled with talented, qualified workers who speak excellent English. Many Filipinos you’ll work with speak, understand and write in English just as well as you and me. And not only do Filipinos speak English, they speak American English, making your communication even easier.
In fact, along with Filipino, English is the official language of the Philippines. It’s taught in schools. It’s used in government. It’s in the media. Filipinos grow up watching American TV shows, so the English language is anything but foreign.
Because it’s spoken less outside of larger cities, you may find some Filipinos who aren’t quite as proficient in English. This won’t be important for technical position such as programming or web design, but it’s crucial for your VA to speak and write well in English if they are doing social media or copywriting. You can easily assess their language abilities through email exchanges in the recruiting process.
Here is one of my VA’s, Jessica, recording a short video on how she learned English.
And even if your VA’s English isn’t perfect, don’t worry—you’ll never have a difficult time communicating with them.
Filipinos like to please
As you work with your Filipino VA, you’ll quickly learn that they love to please others. Gaining approval is very important, and with every task you assign, your VA will work diligently to make sure you’re happy with their work.
This positive attitude and desire to please will work to your advantage. Your VA’s desire to be accepted and to make you happy will drive the worker to succeed, which, in turn, will help your business grow.
Filipinos are good at filling in the blanks
Anytime you give an assignment to your Filipino VA, it’s important to lay out what you expect and the steps they should follow. As long as you do this clearly, you can count on your worker to get things done right.
Sometimes when starting your VA on a project, you’ll leave out some key details and other bits of information. Maybe you do this because you’re in a hurry, or maybe you’re just not quite sure how to explain what you want. Another nice thing about your Filipino VAs is that they’re really good at figuring things out on their own. They have the ability to piece things together—to read between the lines. Filipinos will recognize when something doesn’t make sense or when things are out of order. Then, they’ll take it upon themselves to get to the bottom of the issue. They’ll use common sense, good judgment and problem-solving skills. This is huge relief for you because it means you don’t have to spend a bunch of time re-doing things or rehashing details or instructions.
A few years back, I had a VA that I asked to set up an account for someone on one of our sites. I provided some contact information; however, for some reason I forgot to include email addresses. After receiving the assignment, the VA noticed this omission and email, asking for the missing information. But just a few minutes later, this person took the initiative to solve the problem himself. He found out how and where to track down the email addresses. He emailed me to let me know what he had done. I was thrilled that he had the presence of mind to take care of this issue himself without expecting me to do it for him.
People who have outsourced to other countries have frequently expressed frustration that when parts are left out of the instructions, the outsourcer gets confused and stuck. When this happens, the project can be severely delayed; it may even die. This happens a lot in places like India and Pakistan. But with Filipinos, they’ll solve the problem for you.
Filipinos are educated
While Filipinos do lack experience working with American companies, they are hardly an uneducated, unskilled workforce.
The Filipinos you find on onlinejobs.ph have bachelor degrees, and I don’t mean degrees they bought online or got from a diploma mill. Their degrees come from reputable, accredited colleges. Plus, the Filipinos you’ll work with can handle a variety of duties, including web design, programming, graphic design, social media, writing and more. All of this means more traffic to your website.
Sure, you’ll have to do some training with a new VA. But is mostly because they are unfamiliar with your business and just need some help getting started, just as any of us would in a new environment with new responsibilities.
Filipinos look up to foreigners
In a lot of places around the globe, people don’t always have a favorable opinion of Americans. For obvious reasons, this would complicate a working relationship. But here’s the good news: Filipinos don’t share this feeling.
In the Philippines, people think highly of Americans, and other foreigners, for that matter. Getting a job working for an American business owner is a big deal to Filipinos. Your Filipino VA will brag to their friends about working for you. They’ll speak well of you and will appreciate the opportunity they have to be a part of your business.
What does this mean for you? When they like you, they’ll be more likely to work harder and please you, which, as we’ve already pointed out, they’re good at anyway.
Filipinos have computers and reliable Internet connection
The Philippines may have some economic challenges and other difficulties, but don’t assume the people are stuck in the Stone Age. Filipinos are well connected on the Web. According to information gathered from the site internetworldstats.com, more than 47 million of the country’s 109 million people use the Internet every day, and that number continues to increase.
Because the tasks you outsource are done completely virtually, you need to be certain your VA has the right resources at their disposal. The professionals you’ll find on onlinejobs.ph, and those who will work for you, own computers and have Internet access. This allows your VA to work from home, giving you the peace of mind that the two of you will have a reliable way to communicate on a daily basis. Plus, you have the assurance that your VA has the equipment and tools they need to be complete assignments and be successful.
Even in the rare instances when you VA doesn’t have Internet access at home, there are Internet cafes and other places where they can work using a dependable Internet connection.
Filipinos are not entrepreneurial
For you, this is a positive. Culturally, Filipinos simply don’t embrace entrepreneurism. They see is as being too risky. Filipinos are much more content to find a stable, long-term, steady job and earn a living to support their lifestyle and their family. If they have work to do and receive regular pay, they are perfectly happy.
Knowing this should calm any fears you may have that outsourcing to the Philippines is going to result in someone copying your ideas and starting their own business. I simply haven’t seen this happen. It’s a wonderful trait these Filipinos have: They want work; they want to work hard; and they want to help your business grow. They aren’t thinking about ripping you off and stealing your plans.
Filipinos go above and beyond
As a business owner or a boss, you love it when one of your workers does what you ask and meets your expectations. You love it even more when someone takes an assignment a step beyond what you’ve asked and exceeds your expectations.
This is what you’ll get in the Philippines.
It goes back to our discussion about a desire to please: Filipinos have a need to feel appreciated and accepted; they want to do good work for you. They want you to be happy with their work so that they can keep their job. So many times, I have had a VA go the extra mile on a project and pleasantly surprise me. I have had VAs take a project in a different direction and do it better than I could have imagined. This is the type of ownership and diligence you’ll see from Filip