Discover the pros and cons of hiring locally vs. hiring freelance virtual assistants. Plus, get the benefit of learning what not to do from the mistakes I made in the early days of hiring a team.
Maybe you’re seriously wrestling with the idea of whether to hire someone locally versus filling the position with a freelance virtual assistant.
There are obvious (and not so obvious) pros and cons to both, but which ones REALLY matter and what will work best for you and your business?
What happens if you make a mistake and bring on the wrong person or their location in relation to you really does matter more than you thought!
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Courtney Elmer 0:11
Welcome back. It's the System's Made Simple™ podcast. I’m your host, Courtney Elmer. This is Episode 84 where I talk about hiring locally or hiring a freelance virtual assistant. I'm really glad you're here with me today because we are talking about the pros and cons of hiring locally versus virtually. This is a question someone asked us recently. And I thought, gosh, what a great question. Because when you're getting started building your team, or maybe you've already started that, but you're ready to make your next hire.
Sometimes it's hard to know, based on the specific role you're trying to fill, what's going to be better? Is it better to have someone who's local to you? Or is it better to hire a freelance virtual assistant? So today's episode is about giving you the 30,000 foot view of the pros and cons of hiring locally versus virtually to give you direction on which route is best in your business.
Courtney Elmer 0:54
Right now, this is part of our summer series of quick tips designed to help you streamline your business and how to hire locally or hire a freelance virtual assistant. And if you want to hear my story about hiring and making my very first hire and all the things that went wrong, I think everything that could go wrong or went wrong with that situation. I shared it all back in Episode 68. And you know, I say wrong, but it's never really wrong, is it? Because in every mistake, there's a lesson. And I learned a lot going through that experience, a lot of which I'm going to share with you here today. So you can avoid those same mistakes, and wasted time and wasted money when making your first or next hire. Then next week, I'm going to hand you our four-step interview process, so that you can hire right the first time whether it’s locally or a freelance virtual assistant. So we're going to jump right into this and start with the pros and cons of hiring locally.
Courtney Elmer 1:45
So when I say local, I mean within your home town where you live within the same city or an adjacent city, within say, a 10-mile radius of where you live. Now, there's a lot of pros of hiring local, this is great if you're looking for an assistant, who can also run errands for you, whether those errands are business-related or personal. They're in your hometown, they can run down the street to Office Depot, or they can run and pick up dry cleaning, if that's what you need them to do. This is also good if you have a local market, because hiring locally, hiring someone who is local, they're going to naturally understand the local community and the nuances of that community. I'm based in New Orleans, we do things really differently down here, you might say we do things backwards. And that's probably not far from the truth.
Courtney Elmer 2:37
New Orleans is a one-of-a-kind place. It's awesome. If you've never been here, you definitely should come for a visit. It's a very cool city. But in terms of business, it's weird. I'm just going to be honest, we do things differently here than in most cities. But this is also true for many cities and areas. So someone local is going to have an innate understanding of the market, which if you are a local business, particularly if you're a brick and mortar or retail, or if you're based locally and you serve clients locally, then that's going to benefit your marketing efforts as a whole. Another pro of hiring locally is it's fun, you can actually meet and you can work together in the same space. You can do brainstorming sessions in person, meet up for coffee and meet up for lunch.
Courtney Elmer 3:24
If you have more than one local hire, you can have team meetings or dinners or retreats in person too, though, that's not out of the question when working virtually I'll explain that more in a moment. But aside from this, unless you have a brick and mortar store that warrants local employees because they have to physically be in the building to do their job. There are not that many more pros to hiring locally. I mean, you could argue that it might be a little easier to train people who are local because they can sit with you, they can look over your shoulder, you can walk them through what to do. That's not to say you can't train people remotely, you just have to learn how they learn and cater your training to their method of learning. And I'll have some tips for you on that in a moment.
Courtney Elmer 4:04
But let's talk first about the cons of hiring locally. The biggest drawback that I see to hiring locally is obvious. But it's also not obvious at the same time. Think about this. If you don't have designated office space, something to consider is that you will still be working remotely. Yeah, you will. I had an amazing assistant working with me for well over a year. We live in the same town. Heck, our houses are five minutes apart from each other and we would meet up occasionally for coffee or for a team meeting. But most of the time we worked remotely. I was in my house, she was in her house. And we communicated online through slack and email and our project management software.
Courtney Elmer 4:49
So if you don't have a designated office space where people are going to be coming in every single day, clocking in clocking out, then you're going to still be working remotely, so something to think about. Another misconception is that hiring locally is more expensive. I don't know where that comes from. But what determines someone's pay grade isn't their location. It's their skill set. It's the role they've been asked to fill. And it's their unique level of experience. Some people believe that they can't build a successful team remotely, because I think it's going to be difficult to create a company culture. This is only a belief though, that's preventing you from getting the help you need. Sure, there's a camaraderie that comes with being connected in an office space. Of course, that might be missing when working remotely or virtually. But if your intention is to build a true team, and a true team culture to go along with it, there are ways to do that working remotely.
Courtney Elmer 5:43
In fact, this is something we teach our mastermind students how to do. In the VIsionary Leader Incubator because we have so many people working remotely these days; remote work is the way of the future, not to say that offices will be totally obsolete. Rather that people are going to be finding new ways, and new approaches to working remotely, and maintaining a sense of camaraderie, and connection, and team spirit and culture online. So those are the pros and cons of hiring locally.
And before we talk about the pros and cons of hiring virtually, let's first talk about the distinctions between hiring a freelance virtual assistant virtually and hiring remotely within your country. And freelancing, which is a beast into itself, virtually remotely freelancing. When people say hire virtually it typically means delegating or outsourcing work to a freelance virtual assistant, many of whom are based overseas. There's a lot of pros and cons to hiring overseas. That's something we discussed in detail back in Episode 70. So if you want more info on that, and how to vet people from overseas before hiring, I highly recommend going back and listening to that episode.
Courtney Elmer 6:54
Typically, in the online business space, hiring virtually means hiring a freelance virtual assistant overseas. Hiring remotely simply means hiring someone who works remotely, whether that's overseas, whether that's right in your own country, maybe it is right in your backyard. Remote means exactly that they work at their house, you work at yours, we have found success with both methods. But after years of experience in hiring, we tend toward hiring people who are based in the same country as us working remotely, as opposed to hiring freelance virtual assistants overseas. Now, there, of course, are many people who work in the same country as you and call themselves freelance virtual assistants. So I'm not trying to make this muddier than it needs to be. I just want you to be clear in your mind whether your intention is to outsource remotely overseas, or outsource remotely on your home turf. Both can be beneficial, but it will depend on what you're looking for.
Courtney Elmer 7:52
Now, a freelance virtual assistant also works remotely and they can be based anywhere in the world. But who you hire, where you hire and how you hire will depend on your unique personal business needs and goals. So here's the side by side comparison of hiring virtual versus remote versus a freelance virtual assistant. So virtually overseas pros with this is that virtual assistants based overseas we have found are amazing when it comes to repetitive recurring tasks. They usually have their own systems like a Trello board or some sort of project management system and will train you on how to send them tasks that you want done, and they'll mark them complete when they're finished. This is best for long-term specialized work like video editing, or podcast editing, for example, something that's going to be ongoing long term, again, think repetitive recurring tasks that you have in your business.
Courtney Elmer 8:50
Now a few drawbacks of hiring and outsourcing a freelance virtual assistant overseas is that as with any remote work, training can be time consuming and challenging. If you don't know how to train remotely, so you're going to want to look for a VA or VA company who already has experience on the specific platforms you need help with, that's your responsibility to ask and find out that information before hiring them. Because for example, if you use Kajabi, you want them to know how to use Kajabi, they need to know how to use Kajabi. So you don't have to spend as much time training them on how to use the platform and on what you want them to do inside the platform once they know how to use it. Another drawback which we did discuss in more detail back in Episode 70 is the time zone difference.
Courtney Elmer 9:42
Hiring a freelance virtual assistant overseas is about a 12 to 14 hour difference in time zones. So I'm based here in the US. If I'm outsourcing to the Philippines or anywhere overseas, there is about a 12 to 14 hour time difference there. Now obviously, if you live in Australia, the time difference is not going to be that extreme. But you want to keep the time zone differences in mind. Because in theory, it sounds great that, well, if there's a 12 hour difference, that's awesome, I'm working during the day, they're going to work at night, that way things are always getting done. It actually takes longer, because if you're working during the day, and then they're working during your night, which is their day, and they have a question, they're not able to move forward until you wake up and answer that question. And then they're not working again until the following night, which is their day.
Courtney Elmer 10:38
So it can actually delay work getting done. And so it becomes a point of friction, or it can be a point of friction, when you have tight deadlines and turnaround times. So you want to keep that in mind when you hire an overseas freelance virtual assistant. Another thing you want to think about is language barrier. And this is not a bad thing. So don't be afraid of it. Most people overseas that we have encountered speak proper English. So communication is not a problem whatsoever. They're very, very friendly, and they are so easy to communicate with. One area you might want to consider though, is in writing. If you're planning on having them take over any writing aspects of your business, like social media content, or emails, or landing page copy, and things like that, give them a few test projects first, to make sure that they're able to capture your voice.
Courtney Elmer 11:25
This is a good rule of thumb across the board, especially if you're hiring a freelance virtual assistant overseas. Because remember, English is likely a second language for them. That would be like you trying to write something in French, a French wasn't your first language, or trying to create marketing content for someone in German and maybe German wasn't your first language. It might be a little bit harder to capture some of the nuances of language. If it's not your first language, it's not to say that it's going to pose a problem to communication in any way at all. But if you're planning to give them any writing aspects of your business, we recommend just giving them some test projects first, to make sure it's actually a good fit for what you want and for what you're looking for. Now another con to this is that it is harder to create team culture with a freelance virtual assistant from overseas.
Courtney Elmer 12:16
Typically, because those types of VAs and VA companies serve multiple clients. They don't work only for you, they are not part of your team. Certainly, there are instances where maybe they do work only for you. If you are able to find someone, you hire them full time. But most of them run agencies. And so they work and serve multiple clients. So it's gonna be really hard to create team culture with them, because they're just serving you in order to check those tasks off the list. They're not actually part of your team.
So let's move on to remote work. Now, some of the pros here, unlike hiring overseas, hiring remotely on your home turf is a great option. If you want to create a real team with a real culture. This is an alternative to hiring in person locally, just hiring remotely on your home soil. This is my personal favorite way to hire because it serves my business best for where we are right now. I have remote workers who are based in Tennessee, and in New York and in California and in Georgia. They're based all over the US. I'm down here in Louisiana. And we have a great team culture. And right now in my business, I'm at a point where I'm home with my son, he's my priority. Work comes next.
Courtney Elmer 13:33
So I'm not going to go to the office every day. It would be so much fun to have an office space and a team of people in person, maybe we will one day. But right now, I work remotely because of the freedom and flexibility it provides. And I like hiring remotely because of the freedom and flexibility it provides. I like to have a remote freelance virtual assistant too. You can easily create team culture with people working remotely when they work just for you and no one else this is different from freelancers in that you're hiring someone who's working remotely but who works only for you. They're not serving multiple clients at once. They are intrapreneurs. They're not entrepreneurs, they're not running their own business. They're not service providers who have their own business who serve many clients at once. But they are someone who is dedicated to you, they are part of your team. And they are serving your company in your company only. And another Pro is there's no language or timezone barriers, they can typically take on a wider scope of projects because of that.
Courtney Elmer 14:31
Now, some of the cons, again, with training a remote freelance virtual assistant. They're not in the same room looking over your shoulder. So you want to make sure they have some basic knowledge of the platforms that you need help with. You also need to learn their training style. Initially, the onboarding process can be a little more time consuming than maybe working in an office setting where they can shadow you, because instead you're going to be training them via zoom calls and recorded walkthrough videos, which is totally doable, but you want to be sure you know their learning style. So that you can optimize that, and reduce the amount of training time that's needed. Now, another con, they're not local, so they're not gonna be able to run errands for you or do anything like that. But it is a lot easier for them to fly into your city for team events, like an annual team retreat, or quarterly team planning meeting, which are usually events that are better served in person.
Courtney Elmer 15:21
Now everything is virtual, weekly meetings, everything, so you're not seeing them every day. You may not even necessarily talk with him everyday, per se. So one of the potential drawbacks is that if you don't have clear channels of communication in place, you as the business owner might feel like, wait a minute, are they actually working. I don't know if there were, are they getting anything done or not in communication with me. But as long as you have the systems in place to be in close communication with your remote team and freelance virtual assistant, they know what's expected. They know how to communicate with you, because you have trained them on how you've set that up, then you know what's getting done when and it'll put your mind at ease.
Courtney Elmer 16:02
You won't feel like you have to babysit or micromanage or constantly check in with them to make sure that stuff's getting done. A little caveat to that though, just because someone works remotely doesn't mean they automatically come with good time management or communication skills, just like a puppy doesn't come potty trained, doesn't mean that just because someone works remotely is automatically going to have time management skills, some of these things can be learned. But if you don't have the structures in place for them, if they aren't naturally good communicators or effective managers of their time, it will feel like you have to babysit them because you'll wonder when they're working, or if they're working, or whether they're actually working or what they're working on.
So this is why in our interview process when looking for a freelance virtual assistant, which I'm going to give you a peek into next week, we've had people and we look for these skills. Specifically, I can't stand working with someone who isn't an effective communicator, and who doesn't value taking initiative and letting me know what they're working on and when and that's personal preference, but it does affect the team and the business as a whole.
Courtney Elmer 17:00
You would think that's just good business sense. But it's not. So don't assume that someone you hire shares the same values as you. You have to take responsibility for that and know your values first. And then look for those specific values and other people and only hire the people who share your values. Otherwise, eventually, there will be a clash of values. You won't see eye to eye on things, and it won't end well.
Courtney Elmer 17:28
Now, moving on to expert freelancers, hiring expert freelancers, we have found that hiring an expert freelancer is great for one-time projects. It's great for specific, part-time, recurring work, like copywriting, graphic design, social media, or website design and editing, podcast production, and having an ads manager. Typically, freelancers serve more than one client. So they're not part of your team. And they never will be. It is difficult to create a team culture with a team of independent expert freelancers who serve multiple clients.
Typically, they're a little bit higher price because they come with a certain specialization. They come already trained. So really, that's a hidden pro, because it saves you time. Remember, your time equals money. So yes, maybe you're paying them a little bit more. But you're saving yourself time, and therefore money from having to train them on how to do what they do. You just have to show them what you want done.
Courtney Elmer 18:26
For example, our copywriter, she is amazing. We love her. We meet once a month, strategize what needs to happen. She executes and sends it for review. And then I either send tweaks that are accepted and we move on. But I didn't have to teach her how to write. She came with that knowledge and with that skill set, and she does it beautifully. So in summary, maybe you still have questions. Maybe listening to all of this has raised more questions for you like okay, Courtney, this helped clear up some things. But now I have these questions. How do I find people? Where do I even begin? Should I hire a 1099? Or a W four? How do I pay them, and more, some of which we're going to cover in upcoming episodes. And all of which we cover inside of the Visionary Leader Incubator.
Courtney Elmer 19:11
So if you want to work personally with me and with my team to learn all of this stuff and get the system set up in your business specifically, keep an eye out for when applications open up again for that next week. As I promised at the beginning of this episode, I'm going to give you the four-step interview process that we use here within our company so you can hire right the first time because as my friend Kate puts it so well so eloquently, hiring the right people is a revenue stream, not an expense. Oh, ah, I love that. And it's so true. Hiring the right people is a revenue stream, it's not an expense. And hiring the right freelance virtual assistant is a source of revenue as well.
Courtney Elmer 19:53
I hope this was helpful for you today and that you learned a lot from it about hiring and how to recruit a freelance virtual assistant. If you have a question that you want me to answer or a topic that you'd like me to include in an upcoming episode, send me a voicemail systemsmadesimple.co. Click the microphone. I will feature you on the air and I will answer your question live right here.
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