Outsourcing to India?

I recently finished reading a very amusing an interesting book – “The Four-Hour Work Week”. This is a very popular book which is primarily about reducing the amount of time you need to work, mostly by setting up online stores, outsourcing, systemizing, and making sure you know what to do once you don’t have to work all the time.

The most amusing and part of part for me was the excerpt from the article My Outsourced Life, where a journalist for Esquire describes how he starts outsourcing as much as possible – including his worry! The author goes on to suggest that outsourcing some things to India is a good idea, since it gives you an experience in managing other people without all the expense of managing other people that cost serious money, and whose mistakes would have serious consequences.  If your man in india screws up, it costs $50 and you have to clean up the mess (do your own research, book your own movie tickets).  If your man in Canada screws up, it costs you $500.  Or something like that.

All the outsourcing websites and firms suggested in the book have since become extremely popular, and using them won’t save you as much money any more.  However, there are still plenty of other outsourcing sites that haven’t caught the wave.  I first tried an ad on elance.com and got very little response, for this reason.  I’ve found another site where I’m confident I can get a better response.

However, I’m faced with a difficult problem: what the hell can I outsource ?

For most things that can be done online, I do them a lot more quickly than I can write a detailed task description to my virtual assistant.

One area where I think there should be an opportunity for a virtual assistant to step in is business plan research.  But, I seem to have some uncertainty here.  I suspect I need to know more specifically what data I’m looking for, and I’m not too sure about that.  Or, I should at least be able to ask for data that I think it is possible to get!

Another question on my mind is how to find the virtual assistant – should I start out on a per-project basis and then branch out into hourly work if I find someone good?  Or hire directly as a virtual assistant and then come up with something for them to do?

So far I’ve outsourced a single project to India – a design for my company website.  The results were fairly good, and very cheap ($50!).  The process of communicating with the design team over there was educational, and I think I learned a lot from it.  So far, so good.


4 Responses to Outsourcing to India?

  1. sydney watkins says:

    I can relate to your predicament. There are a lot of great areas out there that are not very popular but score high on professionalism and reliability. You can check out the Caribbean, there is a company called Caribbean Virtual Office – http://www.caribbeanvirtualoffice.com
    Then there is a small VA who has a lot of experience we used for a customer service project – Remote Personal Assistant – http://www.remotepersonalassistant.net.
    There is also another VA company that you can outsource to, Ciboney Virtual Solutions, its also on one of the islands in the Caribbean – http://www.ciboneyvirtual.com

    Hope this helps

  2. sydney watkins says:

    I forgot to mention – these websites should provide you with a list of services they provide which should help you determine what you can use an outsourcing provider for.

  3. dobes says:

    Thanks Sydney. It seems like those links are all over $30/hour, whereas the indian firms are around $15 all the way down to $4.

  4. May says:

    Outsourcing to India — The EGO BOOSTER

    As a person who is closely related to the author of this blog — his dear wife, I feel compelled to comment on this blog post. My husband had recently read me the article from My Outsourced Life and I warned him that he would be “cut off” if he ever consider to outsource his personal life with me! Then I told him that his virtual assistant would probably have to look into some escort services for him at some point if this happens 😛

    Since my husband had read the “4-Hour Work Week” he has been “extremely excited” about the possibility of having a virtual assistant. He spent hours posting on elance and other websites in search of a virtual assitant. He started talking to everyone around him about hiring a virtual assistant. But as he had pointed out in his blog post, what the hell could he get a virtual assitant to do? His latest attempt was to get some bids on doing our taxes for us. Now, I definitely think he has gone too far with this simply because he is now considering sending some pretty important and confidential documents to India to be “processed” by these outsourcing firms with possibly no knowledge of our tax system.

    When I had some time to think about the contents of the article My Outsourced Life, I realized that these guys are really getting a big ego boost by simply being able to get someone to treat them like they are royalty. Yes, that’s right, I am suggesting that Outsourching to India is a HUGE ego booster. Not that he hasn’t been treated like royalty at home 😛 Oh, how I love my dear husband…

    For now, the quest for a virtual personal assistant continues…

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