Should I hire a cheap virtual assistant?

Today I read a newspaper story about one man’s experience hiring off-shore virtual assistants. It wasn’t pretty.

A virtual assistant is supposed to save you time and give you peace of mind that your business is being properly taken care of. Instead, this man found himself spending mental energy sifting through his workload to find the most mundane work that he felt he could pass on, because his VA had demonstrated that was all he could be trusted with.

He wasted money by prepaying for a service that didn’t deliver. Ouch!

So what went wrong?


This man fell for the much hyped message that a $7/hour VA from India (for example) would be the answer to all his prayers. He also failed to do some basic due diligence.

The unfortunate thing is a virtual assistant can be a great benefit to you and your business. Your virtual assistant can handle items that are unpleasant or difficult for you, or things that you don’t have the expertise to do yourself.

Finding the right VA

Finding the right VA for you can (and should) take a little research:

  • do they have experience in the tasks you’re seeking assistance with
  • do they have the tools and resources to do the job correctly
  • do they understand you and your business
  • what are their contract arrangements and payment terms
  • are they a good fit for your working style

You could ask for references or initially hire a VA for a smaller, easier job to determine these issues.

No matter how attractive that $7/hour rate seems, you should consider if language is going to be a barrier to a successful relationship. This is a very real issue with day-to-day jobs like transcription as well as more complex tasks, and can be where a lot of the cheaper off-shore VA’s come undone. Having to redo a job a number of times because of misunderstandings can quickly erode any savings that might have been made by hiring a cheap VA.

Above all else, keep the lines of communication open (which your VA should also be doing!). Building a good rapport will ensure you understand each other as you build your business.


Tacit Business Services offers a range of virtual assistant services that can help you save time and build your business. If you’re interested in learning more, contact me or check out the Services page.

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