Life of an entrepreneur is far from easy. Especially if you’ve just started your business. You have tons of things to do from client meetings to paperwork to managing finances. You probably wish you had a secretary who could manage all paperwork and appointment while you concentrated on sales and revenue generation.
But it’s easier said than done. Your business is new and you can’t really afford to hire a full-time help just yet. So what do you do?
After all, you’re no superman. You are human and it’s just not possible for you to do everything.
Well…thankfully there is a solution.
Outsourcing is a business practice wherein you enter into an agreement into a third party outside of your company by way of a contract to perform services that cannot be managed in-house. Outsourcing is cost-effective over hiring.
You’re not actively involved in the hiring process and you simply select a service provider and get them to perform the tasks for you in exchange of a fee.
That way, firstly you save time that you would be spending on screening, interviewing candidates. Secondly outsourcing is affordable as compared to hiring. That’s because when you hire a full-time employee, you need to take into account their salary, medical insurance, office space maintenance, leaves, medical insurance etc. On the other hand, when you outsource you just pay a fixed predetermined to your outsourcing partner and gets multiple tasks done depending on your arrangement.
You’ve probably heard the saying “work smart, not hard”!
Having said that, outsourcing is not an easy decision. You need to be aware of all consequences before you jump on the bandwagon. Here are some of the things you need to consider before you decide:-
- What are the tasks you’re looking to outsource?
- How many hours of work roughly do you need?
- Do you need a Virtual Assistant or Freelancer?
Now that you’ve done your homework on the first two points, let’s get to the third point, which is also the subject of this blog.
Virtual Assistant v/s Freelancer: The Difference
Virtual Assistants as the name suggests are much like personal assistant performing similar tasks but remotely. Personal Assistant on the other hand, are your full-time employees based in your office.
In this blog we talk about the difference in working with a VA through an agency or a Virtual Assistant service provider and a Freelancer.
|Skills||Virtual Assistants when hired through a Virtual Assistant company can be asked to assist on a variety of tasks like Data Entry, back office support, managing your emails, booking appointments, social media etc.||Freelancers on the hand are specialists offering their services in a particular niche only for instance a freelance social media manager to manage your social media accounts, a freelance content/copywriter etc.|
|Level of Control||When you work with a Virtual Assistant services company, you are not involved in the hiring process of the VA. You don’t get to check their portfolio or skills. Virtual Assistant services companies do all of these on your behalf. When you sign a contract with a VA service provider, you are assigned a project manager who is your point of contact and he will manage the team of Virtual Assistants working on your requirement. All your communication with your VA is to be routed through him.||You choose the freelancer after carefully examining his skills and portfolio and have direct control over their work but there may be instances where you are not happy with their way of working or their output, in such cases, you have no one to raise the issue. You will still need to pay them. The only recourse you have is to hire another freelancer which again will be a time-consuming process.|
|Availability||Virtual Assistant companies provide their services round the clock which essentially mean they are available in your chosen time zone. Virtual Assistant companies are duty bound to their clients and therefore are obliged to be available for you when you want or work as per your timings.||Freelancers on the other hand are independent and not bound by any contract. Freelancers may be available only at a certain time of the day or hour to work on your task. Of course you can negotiate their availability in advance but bear in mind the fact that freelancers work with multiple clients at the same time and therefore have to juggle their priorities.|
|Affordability||Virtual Assistant companies have pre-determined pricing packages to suit different needs and budget. You may be offered some discount on the overall package as a goodwill gesture but the prices are more or less fixed.||Working with freelancer may be cheaper in certain cases but it entirely depends on the level of expertise of the individual and the task requirement.|
|Security and Confidentiality||Almost all Virtual Assistant companies understand the importance of data security in today’s fiercely competitive world and therefore have stringent data security measures and Non-Disclosure Agreements in place. Certain companies also have secure file sharing services in place which keeps your data safe and secure away from prying eyes.||No such agreements are in place for freelancers and therefore data security cannot be guaranteed.|
Virtual Assistant v/s Freelancer: The Eternal Debate
Just like everything else in life, Virtual Assistant and Freelancer too have their advantages and disadvantages.
When you are working with a Virtual Assistant company, you get 24/7 support. You can reach out to them any time you have a problem. They work round the clock so therefore a VA will be made available for you in your chosen time zone. This is not the case with freelancers. They may be available only at specific hour during the day or may not be available everyday as they have other priorities too.
Virtual Assistant companies have a level of commitment to their clients. And because they have a large number of projects to complete, they follow strict timelines and rarely miss the deadline. With freelancers, this is not the case. They have their own style of working and work since they are not bound by any contract, they may not show the same level of commitment that companies have.
Moreover when you hire a freelancer, you assess their skills, portfolio, experience and then shortlist them, when you hire a VA through a Virtual Assistant service provider, you are not involved in hiring process of the VA. You simply explain your requirement to the company and you are assigned a VA based on your specified tasks.
This can backfire sometimes as you may not like the quality of work produced by the VA (Of course companies have measures and policies in place to deal with this but it still will be a lot of hassle and waste of time)
However there are certain areas where Virtual Assistants take the cake
Quality Over Costs
– The skills and expertise that Virtual Assistant companies have would obviously be greater than an individual. Moreover Virtual Assistant companies have experience working with different clients on various projects and therefore are bound to have stronger track record than freelancers. Of course you’re paying a premium for it but it might just be worth it!
Matter of Urgency – If there is an urgent task that suddenly comes up and requires immediate attention, a Virtual Assistant would tend to it quicker than a Freelancer because they are bound by a contract. A freelancer on the other hand, is not bound by any contract to a particular client and handles multiple clients at a time so they have to juggle their priorities which mean they may not always be readily available when you want them to.
Ability to Scale up – When you sign up with Virtual Assistant service provider you are essentially signing on a partner who will be able to assist you in your organization’s growth. Outsourcing companies have the resources and infrastructure to adapt to the changes in requirement at times when the organization wishes to scale up and can cater to it accordingly. A freelancer on the other hand, is just an individual limited by his capacity and nature of work and may not be able to adapt to the change.
– Another major plus of working with a Virtual Assistant services company. Almost all VA service providers offer a limited period free trial of their services. This is golden chance for clients to get a taste of what they are getting into! You can assess their quality of work, turnaround time, style of working, communication etc., before you pay. Needless to say, a freelancer is not in a position to offer such added benefits.
Replacements – What happens if you’re not happy with your VA and decide he’s not worth it when your project is half way through? All reliable Virtual Assistant companies have measures in place to tackle the situation. They will offer a replacement and if you’re still unhappy and if your concerns are genuine, they have a money back policy wherein you can get a refund. With a freelancer, even if you’re not happy with the output, you still have to pay them. If you don’t want to continue with them, you can pay them and discontinue and hire another freelancer.
That’s not to suggest that Virtual Assistants are always a better option than freelancers. While Virtual Assistants do manage to have an upper hand over freelancers, it entirely depends on your requirement and scope of work.
Both Virtual Assistants and Freelancers have their own advantages and the option that you choose entirely depends on your budget and the tasks you are looking to outsource. It’s important to understand that your choice is individual to your particular case and there is no right or wrong option.
For instance if you’re a start-up looking for help related to certain functionalities of the organization like HR, Finance & Accounts, Back office etc. it’s advisable to go for Virtual Assistants. On the other hand, if you a just need help with relation to a specific task and have a tight budget, hiring a freelancer would be a wiser decision.
In case you belong to the former category, we hear you! Our Ninjas are always hungry for new challenges and are sure to have an answer to all your outsourcing needs. Let’s join hands and scale new heights.