Hiring a Virtual Assistant: Should I Use An Agency or Freelancer?

Hiring a Virtual Assistant: Should I Use An Agency or Freelancer?

As an entrepreneur starting your own business, there will come a time when you realize that you are doing so much, yet nothing seems to be getting accomplished. Every day may feel exhausting, using every ounce of energy just to keep everything afloat. Perhaps you've thought of hiring an assistant to take a load off your back - but where would you find one?

Realizing whether to partner with virtual assistant services or freelancers is another issue. You may have a general overview of what they have to offer, but you aren’t quite sure which investment is worth the risk.

Both roles are different: VA services offer a middleman to manage your VAs and have contingency plans alongside management tools while sometimes working directly with the client such as yourself. Freelancers are self-employed and work directly with you since they applied to work for your business.

The best thing about hiring either is that they are beneficial to your business. They can handle tough workloads that are tedious and suffocating on your end during dire needs when you can’t employ full-time employees.

Making the right choice between the two will rely on your needs as a business owner. Here's a quick list of their pros and cons.

Offered Services

Pros

Virtual assistant services give you a variety of talent and skills to work with. You are hiring an agency that handles a pool of talent right at your arsenal. They are capable of doing different tasks arranged under a single contract. The best part is, you aren’t limited to providing them with the workload in only one asset of your business.

Freelancers on the other hand may be limited to only one asset of the business. However, since they are specifically groomed and certified in such a role, you can guarantee that their output is close to perfection. It’s because they are external contractors that are hired for a specific project in which a specific skill set is required.

Cons

Given the idea that you are being provided a wide array of skill sets from a pool of virtual assistants through an agency, you aren’t given the transparency of their portfolio. Yes, the agency itself may have a brief overview and sample of what they can offer - however, there are instances wherein they aren’t as easy to work with.

Since freelancers are only highly skilled with one asset of your business needs, you may have to hire several or more freelancers just to accomplish different tasks. The more people you have to hire/employ would mean the more you would also have to spend in paying those people.

Limitations are not desirable, yet they are also inevitable. Both freelancers and virtual assistants have a variety of capabilities but they will also have their weaknesses, it’s up to you to maximize their weaknesses and make them strengths.

Coaching and Support

Pros

Since you would be hiring a pool of talent through an agency, their direct report and supervision are cared for by their respective project manager. This would mean that coaching and support wouldn’t be necessary on your end as a client. Once you have given your feedback and direction for revisions, all you have to do is wait for the revised output.

The freelancers hired directly can literally be individuals under your wings. They can grow, adapt, and learn your ways to ensure that they are getting things done right. Active communication and character development should also be nurtured throughout the process, but it will be energy- and time-consuming, and perhaps even inefficient.

Freeing up time from your busy schedule will surely be an added asset when hiring agencies, however, that personal touch when hiring directly will always be fulfilling. The way you want to manage coaching and support is entirely up to you.

Cons

Virtual assistants hired through an agency would need to get acquainted with your project. They may need numerous chances to get things right without giving you a clear overview of what to expect. It may also take a number of assistants to get to know your workflow and requirements if you didn’t click with the ones that were provided to you on the first run.

If you aren’t happy with the output provided to you by the freelancer you hired, you don’t have a choice to get it reviewed by someone else. They are directly under your supervision and the issues they are faced with will not guarantee that you can get your money back.

There are instances wherein misunderstanding and communication can become a pitfall with hiring agencies and freelancers, then again, these instances help you grow and improve your progress in the business.

Availability

Pros

Agencies that provide you with a pool of people are usually available around the clock. All you have to do is contact their project manager and should you need something done, they would be happy to find a VA to get it accomplished. They are built of big teams who are more likely to respond quickly to guarantee that you aren’t left unattended.

You are working directly with the individual that you hire and they can adjust to the schedule that you prefer. You may even work something out to the extent that they get hired to work in your office during the agreed-upon time model that fits your needs.

We all want the leniency of getting a hold of your employees or making sure that you have access to employees 24/7. How you manage time and tasks is still up to you. There are moments wherein a schedule is still more convenient, rather than resolving tasks on the spot.

Cons

There may be availability for random VA’s to cater to your need should it be an emergency and the one assigned to you isn’t available. However, you can’t guarantee that they are capable of producing the same output as the VA that you have been working with over time.

Freelancers have specific hours and days to work with you and may not be available during emergencies. They are usually serving different clients in different time zones and have only allocated specific portions for your projects. They wouldn’t be available beyond the hours they are paid for.

VAs and Freelancers are people too. We can’t assume that they would be more productive with a schedule or with flexible hours. This is why hiring an agency or a freelancer is solely at your discretion.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, both services will be the added assistance you need. We can try our best to run everything on our own and expect to become successful over time, however, no one can succeed without a team. You can listen to countless success stories and all of them will mention a team, pool of individuals, or even one person that helped them throughout the challenges and struggles of running a business.

You can only do so much, don’t expect to do it all on your own, there’s no shame in building and molding a team that is driven to achieve all your goals and aspirations. The best time to do it is yesterday - so go for it today!

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