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.