Managing an online businesses, whereby their very nature means almost all operations are online, can get busy (often overwhelming) VERY quickly. It makes matters worse when it’s a ‘part time’ side-gig, as is the case for many people who are starting out.
How can you deal with this?
One solution is to hire help, which is exactly what I did to grow my business.
From Solopreneur To A Team Of 60+…
If you know my background already, you’ll know that I also started out online by myself with no team members at all (this ‘one-man-band’ approach is how most people start online businesses), squeezing a few hours in each day either side of my day job. Fast-forward to 2019, and I now have a team of over 60 people spread all around the globe.
I was able to dramatically accelerate my growth through strategically hiring other people to help, and that’s what we’ll discuss here today.
My team includes people from all walks of life, writers, designers, website builders, accountants, marketing managers, social media managers, support staff, analysts, programmers, and so on. A good number of my team, and indeed many of who I consider to be the BEST team members are based in the Philippines, which has become a hub for talent, particularly finding freelancers.
I FINALLY Hired A Personal Assistant
For over a decade now, I’ve become a specialist at, well… hiring specialists. I’ve almost always hired people who come in to perform a specific role, to be a ‘cog in the machine’, as opposed to a jack of all trade.
But that all changed a few months ago when I (finally) hired my own personal assistant (technically speaking, a Virtual Assistant).
This VA has helped me handle a broad range of tasks, everything from
- booking international flights
- writing reports
- investigating marketing strategies
- running social media campaigns
- and much more…
She has helped me blast through many of my to-do list items that would have otherwise be left unfinished, the experiment has been a HUGE success…
The Secret To Leveraging Talent
A VA can be a great resource, but they can also be a terrible time-wasting resource… I’ve found there are two key factors to ensuring that they are a great resouce:
- They need to have talent and initiative
- The need to be motivated
And you need both ingredients in order for it to all work.
In this blog post I’m going to focus on #2, how to motivate Filipino workers, which directly impacts how you can attract the best people.
But before we dive into that content, make sure you download our new cheatsheet that dives into how to hire a VA, and covers everything from planning to hire right through to filtering candidates and then managing your VA.
Grab that report now, then read on!
Let’s dive in…
1. Pay competitively, and pay on time
The cost of living in the Philippines can be very high, yet Filipino online workers still have a hard time looking for employers who pay a fair amount. You CAN hire someone for $2/hour in the Philippines, but it’s not going to be attractive to most people.
According to data from one of the leading online job sites from the Philippines, OnlineJobs.ph, this is how much you should be paying your VA depending on the main skill you need from them (below numbers are PER MONTH salaries):
This next tip sounds obvious, but many people still don’t do it… make sure you pay on time. Like any other working person, Filipino VAs also have bills to pay. They appreciate getting paid on time, and this should be a fundamental part of any employment arrangement.
2. Consider sharing in worker benefits (SSS, Pag-Ibig, PhilHealth, HMOs)
In the Philippines, employees are entitled to worker benefits, payments for which are shared by the employers and handled by the HR offices. These benefits are from the SSS, the social security system wherein workers can apply for salary loans, Pag-Ibig, where workers can apply for housing and multi-purpose loans, and PhilHealth, the national healthcare service provider.
Offering to share the monthly payment for these benefits will motivate your Filipino VA, as they would have to register as a volunteer member and pay for the monthly fee by themselves if they want to continue receiving these benefits.
Sometimes however, although PhilHealth acts as the Philippine’s national implementer of its healthcare system, Filipinos still often prefer to get private healthcare insurance (because PhilHealth benefits often fall short when it comes to insurance coverage).
Private healthcare in the Philippines goes for about $40-180/month, while SSS and Pag-Ibig cost about $30-40 and $4 per month respectively.
3. Give them their 13th month pay
This was bizarre to me when I first encountered it in Argentina… but here in Argentina, and in the Philippines, regular employees receive a 13th month pay, often given during the holidays season. This payment is equivalent to one month worth of salary, and paid in a lump sum.
This festive season is a big deal to Filipinos as it is the time when families get together and enjoy the holidays, but it is also a very expensive season which is why the “13th month” is so important.
Giving your Filipino VA the same 13th month pay policy that Filipino workers enjoy will be an extra motivator to work hard through the holiday season.
4. Give them a raise when they deserve it
Like any regular employee, this applies mostly after a VA has worked with you for some time.
If their performance has been outstanding and they have proven their key role in the business, don’t hesitate to give them a pay raise. This shows them that their efforts are highly appreciated, and that all their hard work is being recognised and rewarded.
If you start “testing” a VA with a low wage, but hint at pay rises to come, then make sure you live up to these promises, it’s only fair, and will further motivate your VA to do their absolute best.
5. Provide other incentives (equipment, internet allowance, travel, training, etc.)
Other incentives can be a sign of appreciation and support for the work that they do.
Some employers provide equipment incentives, such as laptops and computers, to their VA’s. Filipino VA’s appreciate equipment incentives as computers in the Philippines are more expensive than in other countries (and wages are lower). Providing the equipment needed for them to do their work more efficiently would not only make them even more motivated, but their productivity will increase too.
Some employers offer to shoulder the monthly fees for their VAs internet connection. The Philippines is known to have expensive internet packages yet very slow connections, and VA’s often have to invest in the higher speeds options and incur higher costs as a result. Taking care of this for your VA is another way you can show that you’re invested in them.
Another incentive you can give is more of a bonus: a travel incentive. This could be an all-expense paid vacation as a reward for a job well done, or giving them the chance to travel to your business’s HQ. Filipinos have a penchant for travelling, and this incentive will definitely motivate them to work hard for you. An extra side benefit is that you can get to know your VA on a personal level, which will help further build the working relationship.
Have you downloaded the cheatsheet yet?
If not, get it now! This cheatsheet explains in step-by-step details how to hire a VA, from the planning stage right through to selecting your candidate.
6. Agree on paid days off
At the onset of your working relationship, be clear about how you’ll treat public holidays. If you want to compete with local employers, then prepare to pay for about 20 public holidays per year.
You can also discuss sick days and vacation leave as well. Most VA’s work from home, but that doesn’t mean they’re immune to getting sick! Your Filipino VA will appreciate having clear terms (from the get go) on how you want to approach paid day’s off.
7. Maintain an “open door” policy
Communication is key when it comes to managing virtual employees. Encourage transparency between each other, more importantly because you can only communicate virtually. Check up on them regularly, and communicate in a way where they won’t feel nervous or afraid of speaking with you.
8. Be clear on the tasks, but be open for questions too
To save each other some time, always try to be clear and concise when giving tasks. Crystal clear job descriptions gives them more time actually working on the job than going back and forth in asking you for clarifications. This might be a small aspect compared to the others, but your Filipino VA will find it motivating to follow clear-as-day instructions.
Nevertheless, keep your doors open to questions!
9. Express appreciation for a job well done
As this working relationship runs on communication, words of appreciation and encouragement will never go astray when motivating a virtual employee. A simple reply saying you’re happy with the work done will make their day better and motivate them to be on their best at all times.
It costs nothing to praise someone, so might as well splurge out on it!
10. Share the company goals with your VA
Make them feel like an actual part of the company, not just an outsourced talent.
Your Filipino VA would appreciate being able to call himself/herself as an actual employee of the business, working with everyone else towards the same goal. A sense of belonging, that they are part of the company can be an additional motivator.
Find Your Own Style
In addition to the 10 tips above, it’s important that you find your own style. Everyone communicates differently, so find what works for you, and think about what you can do to get the best out of your communication and management.
Don’t Forget The Cheatsheet
Make sure you download this… click the link below to register for instant access!
Do you have a Filipino VA, or a VA anywhere else for that matter? I’ve love to hear your thoughts, so leave a comment below.
Thanks for reading,
This could not have come in the best time! I just hired my very first VA last week, also from the Philippines!
GREAT move Linus!!
I downloaded your hiring cheatsheet, Aidan! Very helpful. Just a question: is there a fee for employers in Onlinejobs.ph and Upwork? Which is better?
Hi Paula, for pricing for OnlineJobs.ph, check this out: https://www.onlinejobs.ph/pricing
Upwork is free, but OnlineJobs.ph is better (they also have a free plan). I would recommend using Online Jobs if you’re looking specifically for a VA. Upwork also works, but Online Jobs is more catered to VA’s.
I’ve had a filipina VA for more than a year now and she is great. really one of the best hiring decisions i have made!!
Awesome Gale, hope you found this useful then!
Hi Aidan! I’m a VA from the Philippines and these are indeed spot-on!
Glad to hear a local perspective Alicia, thanks for commenting!
Referring to the pay scale above, are those numbers per week, per job, per month, or what? You mention getting someone for $2 per hour but may not be the best, but I guess I missing the clarification on the pay scale graphic.
PinPoint Local Franchisee
Hi Donny, I should have clarified that, sorry! Those figures are PER MONTH (I’ve added it into the post now). Based on 160 hours (4 weeks) per month, $2/hr would give a $320 monthly salary. I normally start VA’s on about $5/hour though during testing, and raise that when I find someone really good.
I really like the emphasis on fairness in this article, and all the suggestions you offer to make the VA feel rewarded in their work. I can imagine it could be too easy for unscrupulous employers to rip off VA’s (to their own disadvantage). Thank you.
Hi Aidan 🙂
I am experiencing difficulty in actually downloading the Cheat Sheet, can you help please, thanks.
Hi Kristine, contact our support, we’ll get it sorted: http://support.blueprintcentral.com