The Painful Truth About Hiring Overseas Assistants

I started hiring virtual Assistants nearly 15 years ago.

Since then, I’ve hired all over the world, from here in the US and Canada to the farthest reaches around the world, including India, Pakistan, and the Philippines, to name a few.  To date, I’ve now hired over 700 Assistants.  Some have been a total failure, and some a smash hit.

Early in my career, I thought hiring an overseas assistant was a slam dunk because they were so dang cheap.  When you’re paying only $4/hr, what could possibly go wrong?

Then the headaches started happening.  Big misunderstandings because of the language and culture gap, which meant I had to fix their mistakes over and over.

Then I quickly realized the dramatically different time zones meant it was nearly impossible to meet and collaborate on anything.  This created huge delays that drove me crazy.

Then some Assistants just wouldn’t show up at all.  In one case, my Assistant in India was a victim of government corruption, and the electricity was turned off to her neighborhood.  She was incredible as a worker – awesome English, keen to help, really effective – but that didn’t matter because the environment she was in was so unreliable I couldn’t count on her.

Fed up, one day, I said, “Amateur hour is over!”  I desperately needed a “Mini-Me” type of Assistant who could become my right-hand person, and overseas simply wasn’t cutting it.

So I started looking domestically.  Even though I was stone broke with over $200K in debt and barely making any money – I’d made only $39,000 the year before – I couldn’t stand it anymore.  It seemed unbelievably expensive to pay $15 / hr instead of $4 / hr, but I had to try it.

Within one year of getting a domestic, dedicated Assistant, my income tripled to $107,000, and my productivity quadrupled.  My psychic load was lightened, and I actually started enjoying both my business and my life once again.

As my business grew and I wanted to delegate higher-level tasks such as email inbox and calendar, I realized a domestic Assistant was even more valuable.  Because my Assistant was in the US, I knew I could trust the legal system and the confidentiality agreements I signed with her would be enforceable.  Furthermore, all of my data would exist inside a first-world architecture instead of my most-private information sitting in an unknown office or home in a developing nation where security standards are, how shall we say, “flexible.”


But having a US assistant made it possible for me to hand off these incredibly sensitive yet time-consuming tasks.  Looking back, hiring the right kind of dedicated, domestic, mini-me style Assistant was the biggest productivity jump on my life.  Delegating email and calendar is the second biggest of all time.

I realized: old me thought of getting an Assistant as an expense.  As long as I thought that way, I could never justify getting an Assistant.

But then I realized: even though an Assistant would technically always be an expense, my relationship with an Assistant could become an incredible profit center.  As long as my Assistant was taking over low-level work and I was using that new time to do higher-level, profit-making tasks, I’d always be making way more money than what I spent on an Assistant.

That’s when I realized that being cheap was one of the biggest mistakes I could ever make, and realized I’d only ever hire domestic for the rest of my career.

When it comes to getting a Mini-me Assistant, don’t sacrifice your sanity or the success of your business over a few dollars per hour.  Be smart. Get a Domestic Mini-me. You’ll actually have a shot at fulfilling your potential as an Entrepreneur and as a human.  And that is truly priceless.

Onwards and Upwards,


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