So you’ve come to the point in your business where 24 hours a day isn’t enough…
Managing dozens of email requests, order processing, product sourcing – all these things can be tedious tasks and the last thing you want is to turn your business venture into yet another boring day job.
What’s the solution? Leverage.
You can only build something really BIG if you learn how to leverage your most valuable resources: time & money. While there are occasional super stars who become millionaires all on their own, it’s rather an exception than the rule. You can only do so much in one day and without leveraging your resources and outsourcing easy tasks, you’ll most likely find your business stuck with no growth very soon.
Luckily I realised this axiom quite soon which helped tremendously with the growth of my business.
What is the simplest way of increasing your productivity and the amount of work you can get done in a day? It’s outsourcing of course! Outsourcing allows you to selectively pass some tasks of your business to another person and pay only when results are delivered.
Outsourcing has been around for ages but with the increasing levels of internet access in 3rd world countries over the last decade, it has never been so easy to hire someone to work for you ONLINE, without ever actually meeting face to face.
What I like most about outsourcing (compared to the traditional way of hiring full-time employees) is that you have 100% control over who you hire, how much you pay and most importantly – you can let that person go any time you want. Unlike with traditional employment, you have no long term contracts or obligations to keep someone on the pay roll even when you know the work isn’t being done.
So today I want to talk about outsourcing and specifically, outsourcing to the Philippines.
Why the Philippines?
The Philippines is an island country located in South-east Asia, situated in the western Pacific Ocean. With a population of almost 100 million people, the Philippines is a popular travel destination, well known for its friendly people and cheap living costs.
What makes it attractive for outsourcing is:
- English is one of two official languages in the Philippines (the other one is Filipino); this means most people speak and write fluently in English, especially new university graduates as they study in English.
- Low cost work force. You can hire a FULL TIME sales rep in the Philippines for around $300 a month. Salary will of course vary based on qualifications, level of English and experience but in general, for $300-$400 a month you can get a full-time employee for most basic online research, writing and customer support tasks.
- High work ethic. Filipinos are generally hard working people and treat their jobs very seriously. If you can provide them security and on-going work, they will do their best to serve you to the highest possible standard.
These are the main three reasons why the Philippines is the perfect place to look for a full-time or even part-time employee. There is of course also India, Pakistan and many other countries you could look to outsource your business tasks to but in most cases, the level of English will be lower in these countries compared to the Philippines.
What tasks can you outsource?
You can probably outsource most of the tasks you’re already doing in the running of your eBay/eCommerce business. This includes but is not limited to:
- Coding/programming (WordPress, templates, websites etc.)
- Customer support (emails, phone, eBay messages, ticket systems)
- Writing (product/category descriptions, listing descriptions)
- Research (supplier research, product research, Terapeak research)
- Design/Photography (product picture photoshopping, product picture re-sizing, watermarking etc.)
- Marketing (up-sells, cold calls, emails)
- SEO (link building, content distribution, content publishing, commenting)
- Finance/accounting (invoices, online accounting, tax returns)
- Data entry (importing products into shopping cart, other manual tasks)
Depending on the tasks you’re hiring a person for; you’ll have to carefully set your requirements. While someone who purely does research tasks for you can have average English skills, a customer service rep who takes phone calls should be fluent.
Usually, the higher level of English a Filipino has, the more you have to be prepared to pay.
It’s not only their English skills you’re after though, if you want to hire someone to do product descriptions for you (writing), you need to make sure you hire someone who has experience in writing. You’ll put all your requirements in your job description and check their qualities by interviewing or giving a small test job to complete. But more on that later…
Where to find people?
I personally use 2 platforms to hire contractors from the Philippines:
Odesk.com – this is the perfect site to hire someone on a project basis. It works in pretty much the same way as Elance so if you have some previous outsourcing experience, it shouldn’t be difficult for you at all to get to grips with Odesk. Simply post a project, get bids and select the best offer.
OnlineJobs.ph – if you’re looking to hire a full-time or part-time employee from the Philippines, OnlineJobs.ph is the website you want to use! On this site you’ll find CVs for thousands of people based solely in the Philippines. You can also post your own job offers there.
While ODesk.com is free to use, OnlineJobs.ph asks for a membership fee if you want to post your own job offers or contact job seekers. There are various membership plans available but if you need just one employee, the one month subscription should be enough. It costs $49 per month and you can cancel at any time. So once you find an employee, you simply cancel your membership. Treat this $49 as a one-time fee to find that perfect employee for your business.
Project VS Full-time Hire
If at all possible, I would recommend hiring a FULL-TIME employee vs a part-time or project based employee. It’s just so much easier to work with just one person when you have their full attention 8 hours a day than to do it on a project basis. Also, if you hire someone full-time, the chances of that employee leaving you are much smaller.
But of course you don’t always need someone to work full-time so if that’s the case, just hire people on a project or part-time basis.
It’s actually a good idea to test an employee first with one small project and only hire them full-time once you’ve checked their work and are happy with the quality.
If you’re just starting out with outsourcing, definitely start with some small projects first, rather than hiring someone full-time right off the bat. With small projects you can only lose the money for that one small project (if everything fails) and you’ll gain invaluable experience in finding good contractors to work with.
It would be great if everything in life was perfectly simple but we all know that’s not the case and outsourcing is no different. While in theory it all sounds so easy, you’ll face problems, especially when you’re just starting out with your first project. Common pitfalls include:
- Quality of work. Yes, even if you think you have found the perfect person for the job, often you’ll face the sad reality that the work produced by the person you hired will be sub-standard. That’s why it’s super important to give a small test job to everyone you’re planning to hire. On Odesk there’s also a feedback & ratings system in place, so make sure you check that out.
Also, the old saying “you get what you pay for” applies here too – so don’t expect the highest quality work from the cheapest offers. I always try to go with medium or even high end prices as it has been proven to filter out the worst applications/offers.
- Communication problems. When hiring someone from the Philippines, you want to make sure you have agreed on communication channels & time PRIOR to them starting. Ideally, you want the person to be online (on Skype/other IM) during the time you’re online and have work to be done.
Even though the Philippines is 8 hours ahead of the UK, most Filipinos will be happy to work during evenings and even nights, if that’s what’s required by you. So don’t be afraid to ask this beforehand.
There are also cases when your employee simply disappears, without saying a thing – it happened to me a few times. That’s why I highly recommend paying only AFTER work is completed and follow these tips…
What to keep in mind when hiring from the Philippines
- Pay ONLY after work is done. NO EXCEPTIONS! I have always stuck to this rule on eLance, ODesk and with full-time employees. This prevents people from running away with your money plus it motivates them to work harder (it’s difficult to keep motivated when you’ve already been paid for the work).
- Keep communication open. It should be a rule of thumb that your employee contacts you at least once a day and keeps you updated on progress. So make it clear that you would like a daily update email.
- Train your employees. While many Filipinos are hard working with a good education, they may not automatically know the ins and outs of your business. The good thing is that they’re always ready to learn! So teach them a little before you hand over a new task.
What I often do is create a simple screencast video (you can use this free software) and simply record the task that needs to be done. Do it once and then hand it over to your employee. It’s so much easier to learn from a video than a written description and it will take less time for you too.
This works perfectly for SEO, link building, data entry and similar manual tasks.
- Don’t be THAT Boss! Even if you’re in a position to hire someone full-time, keep your conversations civil, say thanks when good progress is made, be polite and constructive. The fact that you pay the person to do work for you, doesn’t mean you OWN that person. Be nice – it always pays back.
You still want to keep control though and if work isn’t being done or quality drops, you want to point it out straight away. Just no need to shout.
- Fire faster than you hire. It will happen – sometimes you just can’t work with a person (for various reasons). In cases like these, it’s better if you just let them go and look for another employee. Baby-sitting is not what you want to do and from my experience working with dozens of contractors, it’s always better for both parties to quit early than to try and fix problems that cannot be fixed. Just move on.
These are just a few pointers you want to keep in mind when hiring someone from the Philippines.
But by no means am I all-knowing on this subject – there are people who are in this business 100% and are far more knowledgeable than me. I’ve learnt from them and I recommend you do the same – learn from the best in this industry!
I want you to check out these blogs and websites to learn more about outsourcing to the Philippines:
- JonasBlog.com (download the FREE outsourcing guide, it’s an excellent read!)
Start with JonasBlog.com and download that free guide – it will teach you A LOT about outsourcing to the Philippines and of course check out John’s blog too!