Virtual Assistants

The Cons and Pros of Outsourcing: All You Need to Know


Have you ever wondered what the real cons and pros of outsourcing are? You might find it a bit challenging to decide if outsourcing is right for you.

Maybe you have never tried outsourcing before. Maybe you have had a bad experience or heard horror stories of terrible things that have gone wrong for other people who have outsourced different tasks. That’s why we are here!

In this post, we’ll go over the major pros of outsourcing. We’ll also give you the honest truth about the cons. You will need to consider both sides before choosing to outsource work for your business.

What Is Outsourcing?

Outsourcing is simply sourcing talent to do work for you from outside your company. Outsourcing is a business strategy that companies use to hire service providers from overseas as well. 

Business process outsourcing, or BPO, may be a more familiar term. Many larger companies have used BPO services over the decades. BPO refers to contracting out different areas of business operations to a third-party vendor. This began as a way to do manufacturing more cheaply. Today, and this is actually one of the pros of outsourcing, any business can outsource any task that can be done online.

Outsourcing is also the simple act of hiring talent from overseas to complete work that you have in your business. Common terms are virtual assistants, freelancers, and hiring platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, and FreeUp.

What Are the Pros of Outsourcing?

A scale to represent weighing the pros of outsourcing against the cons.

Outsourcing can help you to get around the time-consuming hiring process. If you hire correctly, you can even avoid the larger part of the training process, too. You can hire new talent as needed and keep your businesses growing.

Pro #1: Cost Savings

One of the most impactful pros of outsourcing is the cost savings you can enjoy when hiring from overseas. Because many other countries likely have a lower cost of living than your country, the labor costs are also lower. This means that you can enjoy a big reduction in labor costs.

Sometimes you can save up to 50% of what you would pay when hiring locally.

Of course, this varies greatly depending on the skillsets and level of experience you need. You will also pay more for greater reliability and trustworthiness.

You can hire freelancers directly these days, or you can use an agency or marketplace. When you hire through some kind of outsourcing company, you will pay more because you get additional benefits like security and customer service.

When you hire freelancers, you are not obligated to provide them with insurance or benefits. You also do not need to rent office space, pay for monthly internet service, or provide them with equipment. This is huge cost savings right off the bat. 

Hiring freelancers and outsourcing agencies can be a lot cheaper than maintaining full-time employees. You can contract with them for fixed-price, one-off projects, sure.

The amazing part is hiring them for daily, hourly work that you can stop anytime without worrying about severance pay. If your needs include a lot of project-based or short-term work, the cost-effectiveness of overseas freelancers will definitely one of be the biggest pros of outsourcing for you. Short-term hires also allow you to focus on core competencies. 

One of the less well-known pros of outsourcing is its flexibility in terms of temporary company expansion to take advantage of seasonal peaks in demand.

You simply hire when demand is high, like for this upcoming eCommerce holiday season, and not worry about keeping them on after things quiet down. You can also hire expertise as needed. This leaves your regular teams free to focus on the core areas of the business to keep it running smoothly. There’s no risk of hurting your success, only the opportunity to make good on a period of high demand. This scalability is especially useful for bootstrapped startups.

Pro #2: Ability to be 100% Remote

Aside from cost savings, remote work itself is one of the main pros of outsourcing. Particularly during the past couple of years, many businesses relied on remote work to survive. It simply would not have been possible for them to continue operating as profitably as before without the help of remote teams. 

Outsourcing offers more than just the willingness and ability to work from home, though. Freelancers and remote agency workforces are used to working remotely. This means that they have the complete set-up to operate efficiently, such as backup equipment, internet, and even work locations. They know all the possible issues involved with remote work. More importantly, they know how to deal with them so that no issue affects business operations.

When you are running an international eCommerce business, for example, a remote workforce is only logical. Particularly for multi-stores that run on different languages, you can use the help of native speakers for customer service. Customer support working in a different time zone can also be supremely beneficial.

For you as the owner, think also about a personal assistant who comes in a few hours before you start your day and gets your email inbox cleaned up for you and your calendar set up, and all that. I’m sure you can think of other ways that an overseas intermediary can provide you with essential services.

Pro #3: Access to More Talent

When you are open to hiring from anywhere in the world, the realm of opportunity immediately bursts wide open for you. You can choose from a wider pool of talent with top specialization and still pay less than you would when hiring locally. This is one of the juiciest pros of outsourcing because you can not only hire experts, but you won’t have to break the bank doing it.

Cons of Outsourcing

Obviously, we believe that there are more pros of outsourcing than cons. This is why we are in the business! But being in the business means that we have weighed both sides carefully. Below you will find the honest disadvantages of hiring outside your company. 

Con #1: Harder to Communicate All Online

If you are not used to communicating online, it can take some time to get used to it. Luckily, this con is not a deal-breaker. Just make sure that you set aside time to get your communication down before you need any remote hire to work independently. You want to avoid poor communication or a lack of communication with and among remote hires that will delay projects and cause errors.

If you need help with communication remotely, join Outsource School for all of our tips and guides that we’ve been using for years to manage teams across the world.

Con #2: Different Time Zones

You can take advantage of people working in different time zones, but it can be tricky when you need to meet with them. Again, however, you can work around this.

You simply need to know their time zones and get clear on what times they will be working. This way, you can also work out an overlap between your working hours and theirs so you can jump on a video call now and then to keep things running smoothly. 

You can also recruit specifically for virtual assistants and freelancers that can work on your time zone so that the communication isn’t as much of an issue. It will take some more recruiting, but it’s 100% possible.

Con #3: Require More Training Sometimes

Every business is different, so every new hire must go through onboarding. When you are hiring from a different country, through, it can mean a greater learning curve. Your culture may have regular business practices that another culture is not used to. Make sue that you lay everything out on the table before you make a hire. This will help you to avoid any surprises.

Again, if you need help with this aspect of outsourcing, check out Outsource School for all of our guides and templates.

Examples of Tasks to Outsource

A man writing notes in front of a laptop.

The best tasks to outsource are technical tasks that require specialized knowledge and simpler tasks that you should not be paying high wages for. Below are some examples.

  • Graphic design and technical drawing
  • Product development
  • Quality control (from overseas manufacturing to webpage functionality)
  • Website optimization
  • Content creation
  • Information technology (software and app development, telecommunications, customer service)
  • Bookkeeping and accounting
  • Data entry and research
  • Administrative tasks
  • Marketing
  • Legal services 
  • Recruitment services and human resource development

How Do I Get Started Outsourcing?

Two people shaking hands to agree to outsourcing.

We want you to start your outsourcing journey with minimal risk. This is why we recommend a planning period before you go off and just start hiring people. Jumping the gun will almost always lead to overwhelm. 

First, make sure that you have enough time to outline exactly what you need in each area of your business.

Second, communicate that clearly to potential hires. If you’re using a marketplace, put together an organized brief that you can post to attract the most suitable candidates. The more work you put in at this stage, the better your chances are of attracting better talent. Just like you wouldn’t want to hire a sloppy worker, a top-tier freelancer is not going to be interested in a sloppy employer.

Third, prepare to interview intelligently with a system in place to rank candidates and choose the best one. Finally, make sure that you have enough time to properly onboard new hires. Don’t hire ten people at once if you don’t have the capacity to get them ready to work.

Want our proven recruitment, interviewing, and hiring processes? Join Outsource School and dive into our most popular course, Cracking the VA Code.


The pros of outsourcing definitely outweigh the cons. Whatever we have come up against in our own outsourcing journey, we have found a great solution to. This is why we built Outsource School! We absolutely love outsourcing and love to help other businesses to learn how to take advantage of this goldmine. 

If you want to master outsourcing and use it as a tool to grow your companies faster and more profitably, join Outsource School and get our years of experience within hours of watching our courses and reading our playbooks.

Virtual Assistants

What is a Virtual Assistant? Definition, Costs, and Where to Find Them

Virtual assistants have been around since the internet became a staple in people’s homes. Businesses saw the convenience of an assistant working from their respective homes and not needing to come into a physical office to do their job. As you may expect, this sentiment rings particularly true in 2022. In fact, recent world events have gotten both employees and employers to realize the benefits of remote work.

What Is a Virtual Assistant?

A virtual assistant can do almost anything that an in-house assistant can do short of grabbing you a cup of coffee. All kidding aside, VAs perform essentially the same supporting functions and tasks that an employer needs from an assistant. These tasks are typically administrative in nature, but VAs can be quite flexible with the range of tasks assigned to them. 

Businesses are turning to virtual assistants because of the attached benefits. Aside from the ones already mentioned, web-based businesses especially do not have to worry about the cost of renting out a room or office space to work in. Not only that, but other costs such as utilities and transport benefits are something companies don’t have to worry about. Smaller businesses can especially benefit from this, but larger businesses have also hired VAs and even VA teams to handle certain tasks. 

A virtual assistant can offer everything short of their physical presence and tasks that require that. Even with this caveat, virtual assistants offer a convenience that can’t be ignored. Plus, technology is growing at such a rate where the need for physical presence is less than it was even 5 years ago. Answering emails, taking messages, placing food orders – all can be done in the comfort of their own homes. 

What Tasks Can a Virtual Assistant Do?

A man writing notes in front of a laptop.

Assistance is such a broad term and can encompass a wide variety of services. In the same way, the duties that a virtual assistant can perform depend on the needs of the hiring party.

As mentioned, administrative work such as answering emails, compiling important documents, working a spreadsheet, setting appointments, and managing calendars, are some of the more common tasks associated with virtual assistants.

However, some virtual assistants can be well-versed in other services like social media management, marketing, content creation and other creative media. Some can be Amazon experts or have experience working in SEO. 

The possibilities are honestly endless. With such a diverse assortment, as an employer, you should be thorough during the hiring process. Because no two VAs are alike, gauge the capabilities of each VA you interview and see if their unique skillsets will be a valuable addition to your team.  

Here are some examples of common tasks you can outsource to a virtual assistant:

  • Bookkeeping
  • Invoicing
  • Taking and making calls
  • Data entry and database management
  • Calendar management
  • Email management
  • Lead generation
  • Paying bills
  • Report creation
  • Customer service
  • Newsletter creation
  • Appointment scheduling
  • Graphic design
  • Photo editing
  • Training and presentation material creation and preparation
  • Transcription
  • Form creation
  • Document proofreading and editing

Where Can You Find Good Virtual Assistants?

The best place to find a virtual assistant is through a recognized service. Most of these established companies have websites where you can check all their details. You can also verify their credentials online and get real-life advice on how good they really are from review sites.

The hiring process can be quite daunting, and sitting through hundreds of interviews isn’t the most appealing idea. It’s more than just skill, too. You want someone that you can work well with.

Thankfully, the best companies offering VA services can help you find the person that best matches the needs and demands of your business. These companies can help you find VAs who have the level of professional experience that you and your clients are looking for. These agencies can also provide flexible and fair pricing options.

Here’s a list of places to get started:

How Much Are VAs Paid?

How much it will cost you to hire a freelance virtual assistant largely depends on four main things:

1. how large of a task you are delegating

2. how long the task will take to accomplish

3. the individual rate of the VA

4. their level of experience and skill.

In general, freelance virtual assistants charge from $5-25/hour depending on several factors.

Let’s take a deeper dive into some of these main elements that affect the rate to hire a virtual assistant. 

Experience and Expertise

When you hire a VA who has worked with other companies before, you are hiring someone that has a level of professionalism. This hire is less of a gamble than someone new to the space. Great VAs are versatile, dependable, resourceful, get the job done in a timely manner, work well with others, and can communicate effectively. You can expect more from experienced virtual assistants, but naturally, that does come with an increased rate. 

Leveling Up

When you interview a VA, make sure to get a good idea of what their main skillset is. Then you can probe further for their more nuanced abilities or unique knowledge that could bring greater value to the company. Note that VAs may be flexible, but they are not miracle workers. If the scope of the work you need done is beyond their abilities, you will need to find someone else or hire another person to perform those specific tasks. 

Admin skills and knowledge of Microsoft Office or Google services are to be expected, but if the job requires technical expertise, finding VAs to fit the role will be more difficult. This will definitely cost more than someone who handles the more common tools like these. Just know that you get what you pay for. In that vein, a VA well-versed in the specifics of a platform or service you’re using, for example, is a worthwhile investment. 

If you are looking for specialized services, make sure to note that clearly in the job description. List down the non-negotiable skills they need to possess. If the VA meets those requirements but doesn’t possess certain secondary skills, determine whether it is worth investing in on-the-job training or if you should spend resources looking for someone else. 

Type, Scope, and Schedule of Work 

This is the general rule: the more you expect one person to be able to do, the higher you should expect to pay. You cannot expect one person to perform the job of 5 and pay them the same rate. Additionally, you cannot add on more work than originally discussed and not expect them to ask for a higher rate. 

When it comes to hiring, there’s a few ways you can go about it:

  • Per-project 
  • Hourly
  • Discuss a set price based on the project
  • Per contract with a set number of hours 

 Assess the length of projects and which would make more sense and would be fair for both parties. Additionally, if a project is larger or you foresee it to last longer, you may want to consider hiring a team of VAs who can get the job done more efficiently than one person. 


The rates that virtual assistants charge vary depending on where they live. This can be one of the biggest factors that determines how much they charge for their services. 

Although they may not be commuting to a workplace, there are other expenses that VAs do have to cover. They pay for their water, electricity, rent, and internet. Their cost of living in their respective countries will determine how much they charge. VAs can come from anywhere in the world, and it is certainly possible to find a VA that not only fits the job description but also fits your budget. 

You should also consider the working hours of your VA. Sometimes it can be hard to communicate through live calls when time zones are too dissimilar. Alternatively, you might want someone who works while you sleep, so that work is getting done regardless of the hour. You may even strike a balance where you’re both awake part of the day to provide an opportunity for questions, feedback, and progress updates.

Tips to Hiring Virtual Assistants For Your Online Business

A man smiling and giving a thumbs up.

We have a lot of technologies today that allow most people access to a virtual assistant. What you need to remember is that not every country has fast and stable internet, and you need to make sure that the person you hire has a quality connection.

Don’t expect a super high-speed hook-up, either, and with a backup to boot, if you want to pay something like US$5 per hour. That’s asking too much because it’s simply not feasible on the VA’s end.

Where Can I Learn More About Working with VAs?

A great place to start learning more about working with a virtual assistant is right here on our blog! We have a wide array of posts on looking for, preparing for, hiring, onboarding, and maintaining relationships with virtual hires.

You can also become an Outsource School member where you’ll gain access to our Cracking the VA Code course along with 15+ other courses and playbooks on outsourcing.


We are here to help you on your journey to making your work life easier by bringing a virtual assistant — or two or three! — into your business. Reach out to us for more information, and even guidance that speaks into your personal needs and unique business setup.

Virtual Assistants

What Is Outsourcing? How To Do It, Examples, & Tips

Outsourcing can be advantageous to the growth of a business. Still, outsourcing is a concept that some might not be comfortable with because of an exaggerated concept of the risks involved. In this post, we’ll talk about outsourcing, how to do it, and the pros and cons for you and your business.

What Is Outsourcing?

Outsourcing is the process of obtaining or “sourcing” goods or services from a third-party provider. That means hiring someone who is not affiliated with or is “outside” the company. The person you delegate work to does not, therefore, “belong to” the company.

How Does It Work?

People having a meeting to talk about how outsourcing works.

If a company cannot accomplish a certain task within its walls, outsourcing is a method to hand over that task to another company and pay them for their service. 

Business process outsourcing (BPO) refers to outsourcing front and back-office business processes to a different company. This is a time-saving and cost-effective practice that also allows business to direct their attention to other aspects of business operations. Production and manufacturing are perhaps the most well-known outsourced areas of business. Outsourcing has expanded, however, to include many other services for business operations.

Where Can You Outsource From?

One of the best things and probably also one of the most intimidating things about outsourcing is that you can outsource from basically anywhere in the world. The availability of the specific service you require will vary depending on if you prefer to source from local companies or if you want to look internationally. 

Some of the most popular places with the biggest talent pools to outsource from include Brazil, India, China, and the Philippines. You may have to weigh your options and see which countries have the specific talents (and the stable internet) for the tasks you need accomplished.

At Outsource School, we prefer outsourcing to freelancers and virtual assistants in the Philippines.

Examples of Outsourcing

Smiling agents with headsets to whom you can outsource eCommerce customer service.

Outsourcing comes in all shapes, sizes, and categories. Below are some of the most commonly outsourced services.

Virtual Assistants and Freelancers

Most online business owners use outsourcing to hire virtual assistants and freelancers to support the growth of their online business.

The roles vary from Exec Assistants to Marketing roles, Operations roles, Sales roles, and many Design roles.

You can find these types of individuals on sites like Upwork, Fiverr, FreeUp,, and many others.

Knowledge process outsourcing (KPO)

This is essentially the outsourcing of specialized professionals to help with core business activities. These services require a high technical skill level. This is a rather broad category of outsourcing and depends on the specialized needs of the business. These functions can involve data management, market research, accounting, and other financial services, design, engineering, content creation, or even healthcare. 

Information technology outsourcing (ITO)

Some businesses may not have in-house IT specialists or call center services, and so instead will hire outside help for their tech support and telecom needs. This may include hiring that company to build your software or application for you. 

Recruitment process outsourcing (RPO)

Companies that don’t have the time to scout for new talent may outsource to another company to take on the responsibility of recruitment. These recruiting services locate, vet, and interview individuals to determine if they are suitable for the positions you require filling. This reduces turnover because they have the expertise.

Human resource outsourcing (HRO)

HR roles can also be outsourced. You can hire an individual or a team to perform functions such as employee benefits and compensation administartion, payroll management, administering any changes to company policies, recruitment and hiring, and even training. 

Legal process outsourcing (LPO)

Need some legal advice or other legal services? Well, companies that don’t have an in-house lawyer or legal team can outsource this service. Now, it’s worth noting that the scope of work that these types of legal teams can do is limited.

Engineering process outsourcing (EPO)

Engineering process outsourcing is where a company enlists another company to take care of engineering services. It is a cost-effective way for companies to be able to market products faster without compromising the quality. Some of the most outsourced EPO categories include automotive, electronics, utilities, and construction.

Pros of Outsourcing

By outsourcing, time, money, and human resources can be saved or repurposed elsewhere. Below are some of the areas where outsourcing can be advantageous to your business. 

Reduced labor costs

Sometimes keeping on full-time employees to perform certain tasks is less cost-effective than outsourcing those tasks. Outsourcing typically comes with lower labor costs when you factor in the benefits one must pay to employees and the costs of renting office space for them to work in. Not only that, but you can also outsource to countries whose labor costs are far less than your own country or region. A company can also cut costs by hiring virtual assistants or freelancers because these individuals pay for their own utilities, typically work from home, and do not receive the same benefits as a full-time employee.  

Additionally, companies can be more flexible in their hiring practices. If the company is in indeed of more workers during times of the year when demand is high, they can simply outsource the necessary help for a limited time. This is helpful for businesses that may not be able to afford a high volume of employees year-round.


Sometimes, a business will have employees performing a broad range of tasks requiring an arsenal of different skills. This is especially true for smaller businesses. However, some tasks may be too technical or require a professional in the field in order to accomplish the job. Outsourcing specialists can be more cost-effective than taking the time and money to train your employees to perform the task. Because you are taking employees away from their other duties, this would be less efficient and would not meet the same quality standards that a seasoned expert would bring to the table. 

Focus on core competencies

Some companies will outsource tasks that take their time or workforce away from business processes that require more attention. When these tasks are more valuable to the growth of the business, taking them away can harm the business. Outsourcing also allows companies to temporarily expand their capabilities to effectively deal with scenarios like fulfilling a large project or order in a short amount of time.

Cons of Outsourcing

How to Outsource

While there are quite a few advantages to outsourcing, there are also several risks to take into account. Below are a few reasons why you need to be very careful when choosing your outsourcing partner.

Data and security risk

Be careful with the information you share and make sure that if you need to share sensitive information, it should be with a company that you trust. There are also preemptive legal measures to take, such as contracts that provide you additional protections. 

Operational control

When you outsource, you have less control over how certain operations are done or the quality of the outcome. Throughout the chain of processes, you have less of an ability to check the finer details. This is why it’s important to partner with companies that have a good reputation and produce results that meet the standards of your business. 

You also need to establish communication channels and regular updates with your outsourced team. Otherwise, you will end up with misunderstandings and results far from what you originally expected. 

Unforeseen costs

Outsourcing may come with additional costs that you are not prepared for. This is especially true when you are new to the process. Hiring a freelancer or workers connected to an agency is different from hiring your own employees. For example, an existing contract with the previously agreed contract fee will not always cover changes in your project scope. The change is not as simple as shifting around workload or task types. Unless you are paying hourly and agreeable to increasing working hours or hourly rates, as the case may be, you may need to renegotiate the contract. 

The fine print of project contracts with agencies and individuals may also contain hidden fees. Be very careful to review the conditions before you sign any contracts. On that note, contractual agreements themselves take time and money to put together. You may need to hire legal counsel to review the documents. You will definitely need to allot time for negotiations and document processing.

How Do I Get Started Outsourcing?

To get started outsourcing, we suggest first understanding what tasks you want to outsource and take off your plate.

Spend 30 minutes writing down all of the most repetitive and mundane tasks that you and your team still handle.

These are the best tasks to start outsourcing as it will be easiest to find someone who can handle them for you without needing a ton of technical expertise about your business or niche.

Once you’re ready, go to the sites listed above like Upwork, Fiverr, FreeUp, and and post your job to start getting applicants. Interview, test them, and then hire the best one for the job.

Also, the best way to get started outsourcing is before you feel overwhelmed. This will give you more time to figure out what you really need to delegate. If you wait until you’re already stressed out, you will probably not have the patience or energy to get everything set up properly. If you get off on the wrong foot, you’ll probably not have a great experience.

By joining Outsource School, you’ll learn all of our tested and proven tactics for outsourcing and hiring virtual assistants and freelancers from all over the world.


Outsourcing can be a daunting and unfamiliar territory to venture into for those newer to the scene. You will encounter one or more of the risks involved with outsourcing. You will also need to make an investment into mitigating these risks. This involves researching the best companies and individual talent to partner with. It also means making contractual deals and maintaining clear channels of communication. 

However, when partnered with the right company, outsourcing carries with it a number of benefits. These advantages can certainly save businesses a lot of time and money in certain areas. Weigh the pros and cons of investing in outsourcing. This will help you to see if your business would be better off delegating some of the workload to an outside source.