When it comes to outsourcing I am an expert. I have made every mistake possible, some costing me tens of thousand’s of dollars or more over the years. If outsourcing some of your business overseas appeals to you, and it should, then read-on to get a small taste of some of my 15+ years of experience.
Some of the Advantages and Disadvantages of Outsourcing
As you may or may not know, outsourcing work or various projects, whether it be website development, social media, SEO, copywriting, or graphic design, etc. can be quite lucrative if you are able to resell or arbitrage the services of others. Sites such as eLance, oDesk, or Freelancer are great places to find people for all sorts of work that you might need done, or your clients need. Each site has thousands of freelancers ready and waiting to work for you on almost any type of project conceivable.
Here, at Crucial Advantage, I currently have one Virtual Assistant in the Philippines and 5 full-time developers out of India, helping on various personal and client based projects. In the past I have had as many as 15 full-time outsourced staff in countries such as Bangladesh, Ukraine, India, Spain, U.K., China and more.
But let me tell you straight. Having virtual employees is not easy and certainly not a game. These are real people living in different cultures, and in different working conditions. But if you are willing to put in the time and effort to find and train the right person, it can be very rewarding. I have built many lasting friendships and forged strategic business relationships with some, and if done right, they can make your life much easier while scaling your business and profits.
It took me many years to perfect the formula of interviewing, hiring, and testing to find the right employees or freelancers. I have hired and fired many people over the years and it was not without its difficulties. It required a tough skin to stand up for oneself and go with your gut feelings, but also be willing to be humbled when necessary and to not make assumptions yet also not get taken advantage of. If you have kids, you probably know what I mean!!!
Do not be fooled by what other’s say, those who promote outsourcing as easy and without its drawbacks and disadvantages, especially if you yourself lack direction and planning in your own business and projects. Like any area of business, people tend to more often than not, sell the sizzle and rarely paint an accurate picture of what goes on in the trenches.
Good Freelancers or Outsourcers Are Difficult to Find!
You will sometimes hear people say that you can’t find good people on Odesk, Freelancer, or similar sites. That you have to use 3rd party outsourcing agencies companies that charge exorbitant prices. That is not true. If you wonder why good people would be on these sites, it is simple. Just like anywhere else in the world, people need work, and getting employment (at overseas rates) is not easy.
Unless you have lived in the Philippines, India, Bangladesh, China, etc., you do not know what the work conditions are, especially in certain areas of those countries, or the opportunities or personal circumstances of the freelancers looking for work. The same could be said of you.. why can’t you hire someone from your own country? Does that mean that you are not good at what you do?
In other words, you can’t judge people. There is nothing wrong with outsourcing, just as much as there is nothing wrong with offering your services on one of these sites. At the end of the day the only thing that matters is that the work is completed well and that your business is a success. If fortune 500 companies, are making millions of dollars profit a year, and they choose to outsource parts of their businesses, then so can you! Sometimes it is just a matter of survival and being able to compete.
It is true that the more you are willing to pay the more likely it is that you will find someone with more experience. Sure, but there are no hard or fast rules. Just be aware that lower cost programmers may take longer to complete tasks than more expensive ones, in effect negating the perceived savings, but that is not always true. Hiring someone from major cities versus smaller towns will cost you more. Hiring from agencies, rather than the freelancer direct can be limiting for many reasons, like hours they work, loyalty, etc. etc. At the end of the day good communication is the key… that is your communications to them.
The better you communicate, the more effective your workers will be. Period. There is no 100% set and forget in any employee relationship.
What If I Get Ripped Off?
Firstly, these sites all have feedback and escrow systems where you can dispute work that was not completed properly. Also, most freelancers on these site are looking for regular work. People will take less just because you want them for the long term vs a one off project. It is important however, to realize that ratings do not alway accurately represent a workers quality of work.
Some employees are difficult and hard on outsourced freelancers, and many have false expectations. So read the comments, but always go with your instincts and make sure to ask the right questions in your interviews. Generally, it is unlikely that you will get ripped-off via one of these sites. But from other outsourcing sites that do not manage the hiring and employment, you can be more exposed. But again, test your freelancers, be smart, be patient, and do not give them access to parts of your business until they have some what proven themselves.
Also, never use the same passwords across everything you have passwords for. For example, your PayPal password should not be the same as your website, your social media, etc. Many sites allow you to create users to access things, and you should do that for added protection. I have only once had someone try to steal from me and it won’t happen again! Otherwise… I have never had a hint of a problem.
Freelancers Have a Lower Commitment to Professionalism
Who said? As a matter of fact, depending on the country, they are far more respectful than their more costly and arrogant western counterparts. Sorry, but it is true. Again, everything comes down to clear communication. Do not expect a freelancer or outsourced employee to deliver things on time if you keep changing your expectations or adding extra tasks to the project. Change of mind equals increased time.
Ask for timelines. Ask for feedback. Be available via Skype or whatever to help guide the project along. Make sure that you are available to answer questions, and check the work as they go. Otherwise, the only person to blame is you. Sorry but it is true.
Communication Gaps Make Outsourcing Difficult
When I personally hire anyone, my number one criteria is that they speak english fluently (my native tongue). Yes other skills are important, but if you cannot communicate with your freelancer then it does not matter how good they are. You can always train people to do tasks, except programming and similar talents, but communication is still number 1.
I alway hire people with a positive can do attitude. In the interview process which I do via Skype chat, I get a feel for how they interact with me, their attitudes, and I read between the lines and overly zealous promises that they make. Many times on these outsourcing sites the photo of the individual may not be correct, even the sex, or the person is much older than the profile shows.
It is a fact, the people are biased when it comes to age and sex. So I accept that as part of the process. For me it always comes down to attitude. It is important to have a good BS meter and overly salesy people, that are like car salesmen, tend not to be good workers in my opinion.
My number one hiring tip is to “Go with your Gut.” Take everything into consideration, and test them out. Remember, there are plenty of people looking for work. So don’t just go for anyone or the cheapest or the most expensive. If you are willing to be patient you will find gold.
Outsourcing is Cheap and Effective
Not any more! It takes patience. While hiring a freelancer on eLance or oDesk is usually quite affordable many people want to get paid higher as the 3rd world countries get saturated by higher paying big businesses, a better lifestyle, and trying to take advantage of westerners who do not know what they are doing, or what specific types of work are worth.
In some cases you do get what you pay for. So it is a balancing act. Outsourced employees can require more handholding, and at odd hours, than a local person that comes to your office and at the very least lives in your timezone. Also with less developed infrastructure in their countries, they may have older computers, much slower internet connections, and things like that that make them work less efficiently.
Also, be wary of people bidding low prices to get attention and then trying to jack the price up later. I always confirm their bid or hourly rate before I get into anything else. If they lie on their bid, I am not interested. Have everything in writing. Have a clear plan and outline of what you expect, of the project or work required, see if they read you job post by giving specific requirements in it for them to do as part of their application.
I want personalized attention, not canned applications. Everything depends on the project or type of work you are looking for.
Last but not least, be kind and be generous. These people depend on you for their livelihood. They have feelings, they have thoughts, and they are humans. Treat them as such and you will create life-long friends and loyal employees.
If you are looking for full-time Virtual Assistants from the Philippines that can help with Research, Social Media, SEO, website management, office related tasks, etc… I can help. I am also able to offer full-time programmers from out of India. These are fully vetted people and are sourced directly from my contacts overseas. If you are interested in pricing, cost, and further details contact me at: [email protected]