Hiring a Virtual Assistant: 4 Things to Consider


Hiring a virtual assistant is an important business decision. All virtual assistance is not equal because the industry is actually very diverse— here is a quick primer on the major differences between virtual assistance offerings and what they mean for you as a business owner:

Foreign vs. Domestic

A foreign virtual assistant will be cheaper but there will be cheaper but the language barrier makes it difficult to get complex tasks completed precisely and slows down efficiency as misunderstandings are worked out. If you need ongoing communication on constantly changing assignments, it may be best to overlook foreign assistants.

By working with an American virtual assistant, you are able to bypass these difficulties. The cost difference may be easily justified by the increase in productivity.

Company vs. Individual

Another way that the virtual assistant industry is split is between companies providing virtual assistance and individuals working alone. Working with someone alone, you have the benefit of being one of very few clients but you may invest many hours into training only to find that the individual that you are working with moves on to other things. Also, they may not be able to support you during, for instance, vacations or emergencies.

A virtual assistant company such as Golean Health is set up in such a way that there is backup and redundancy because we work as a team. If your virtual assistant goes on vacation, your tasks will be covered by another employee till they get back.

Skills and Resources

Many people are drawn to virtual assistants because it is an extremely flexible service — this is actually one of the defining characteristics — you are essentially purchasing blocks of man hours that can be used almost any way you wish, on whatever your business needs.

It’s probably not important that your virtual assistant have prior training in your industry (though it might be). Rather, you should be looking for someone that is organized, quick learning, and with a “can do” attitude.

Where specific skills are needed, such as experience with a particular piece of software, you may find that a virtual assistant company is better suited than an individual simply because they have more people on hand and so a wider variety of skills, talents, and resources are available to you.

Hours of Availability

While 24/7 support is the ideal, most small businesses do not need constant support. We are available during business hours and we have very few problems with working hours. If a client has a task after hours, they are able to send us an email and we pick it up the next morning.

If you are working with a foreign company, you may want to be sure that they are fully staffed during your hours of operation and not running on skeleton staff while the brunt of the work is done later.


Foreign versus U.S. Virtual Assistants


Being a U.S. virtual assistant company, I think people often assume that we are against the idea of outsourcing work to foreign countries. This isn’t the case. We feel that offshore outsourcing and foreign virtual assistance in particular, is an important tool in a small business owner’s toolbox.


Many people go about finding a virtual assistant with one thing in mind (rock bottom price), find the cheapest service they can, have a horrible experience, and then right off the entire virtual assistant industry which is a shame.

There are distinct pros and cons of working with a foreign virtual assistant versus one located in the United States and you should be aware of these going in. They each offer unique benefits and drawbacks that make each well-suited for particular types of work.

Foreign virtual assistants:

Working with a foreign virtual assistant or virtual assistant service has the obvious, major advantage of being cheap. U.S. virtual assistants simply cannot compete with foreign assistants on price. However, up front price and end value are different things and cheaper is not always better.

This part of the conversation needs to be treated carefully. There are inherent disadvantages to outsourcing work to other countries. Generally speaking, the person you are working with will speak English as their second language. This may not matter in some situations and may actually be an advantage (for instance if you want to provide customer support to customers from that country). However, in other situations it can be a tremendous barrier for obvious reasons: important bits of information can be lost during the back and forth discussion of a project which may lead to results that are slightly off mark.

Being a virtual assistant is more challenging than people assume — it is not an easy job to be handed a project and be expected to run with it knowing very little about context and the intent of an assignment. Especially when vague or cryptic instructions are given and you really have to read between the lines to grab hold of what needs to be done. I can only imagine how difficult it is to do this when the instructions are not in my native tongue.

That being said, some work is just so straightforward that language barriers do not matter and in these instances, why not outsource to a foreign country?

U.S. Virtual Assistants:

Again, virtual assistance is not easy. When work is not straightforward (and it often isn’t) eliminating any potential problems, such as language barriers, is the key to an evolving, collaborative relationship. Tasks can be handed off and results are reliable so there is little hesitance to delegate.

In order to compete, U.S. virtual assistants have to deliver more value to justify more expensive pricing. They understand this so you will usually find that American virtual assistants put more emphasis on becoming a part of their client’s business. Not all business owners want this but for the solo business owner who can use all the help he or she can get, this can be an important advantage.

Also, in situations where your virtual assistant will be doing client-facing work, such as customer support, taking phone calls, or making sales calls, you may want to avoid them having to deal with language barriers as well.

Work with a Dedicated Medical Virtual Assistant. Click here for more info.