Working ‘on’ your business, not ‘in’ it

When starting EHQ I spent most of my days on maintenance tasks. Realizing how little time I then had left in a day for everything else we needed to do to move forward left me frustrated.

It all became a matter of keeping up, rather than growing. And that’s a dangerous trap to get stuck in.

I decided quite quickly I needed to outsource. And I’m glad I did!

There was one task in particular that pushed me over the edge…

Clearing my email inbox!

I’m sure you’ve got a repetitive task like that too. One that eats time, sucking the energy out of you.

You’ve got to get rid of it! And the sooner the better.

Not only will you make more money, but I can almost guarantee you’ll be happier as well, which is a success, right?


What can I outsource?

Yes, we all have boring tasks in our business. And I’m not saying you shouldn’t do any of them.

The stuff you end up doing on a daily business – repetitive and straightforward tasks, such as responding to support emails, editing video and audio – you shouldn’t spend your time doing.

Discussing this with some successful entrepreneurs who use outsourcing to scale their businesses, they’ve given me the advice to never outsource 2 things to your VA’s: money and marketing. These are key aspects for your success, that you can’t risk getting wrong.

Why the Philippines?

It’s no coincidence that companies from all over the world choose the Philippines for outsourcing.

Filipinos in general have excellent English skills and many are university educated.
They are known for their great work ethic and politeness, which are sought after qualities in customer service representatives.

The low hourly cost, even when paying a competitive salary, makes hiring a possibility, even for a business that’s just starting out.

Finding great candidates

You can go with an agency, to save you some of the hassle of hiring.

Although, I prefer hiring myself and by cutting the agency out, more money ends up in the pocket of my staff. This means I can hire someone more qualified, with the same budget.

I use a website called and the process is simple: you post a job and applicants respond. And they do so quickly!

Your position requirements will vary depending on what tasks you are looking to outsource, but here’s my general advice:

Hire for attitude, rather than skills.

It’s normally easy to teach someone a procedure. Their attitude and work moral however, is difficult to do much about.

Other crucial criteria for all my employees are:

  • Good internet connection (ask for a speedtest)
  • Computer and webcam for video calls (super important when getting to know your staff)
  • Great English (written and in speech)


Filtering out the not so good

You’ll generally get a lot of applications. Typically more than you can handle.

Therefore, my first step in the selection process involves a little test to filter the ones who have ATD (attention to detail) from those who don’t.

So, I ask applicants to respond using the subject line “Attention to detail”, or something of the sort, when applying.

If they missed that, I’m not going to look at their application.

Next, I go through the applications. Or to be honest, my long-term VA Joyce does this for me! Yes, I’ve outsourced the outsourcing.

We usually boil the applications down to 10-15, to whom I send a simple task. This should be something similar to the work they’ll be performing if they’re hired.

For a customer service applicant for example, I send them a few typical emails we receive, and see how they handle the responses.

I sometimes send a second task for applicants to complete, to really dig out the best VAs.

Choosing your first virtual assistant

Once you’ve picked out the top 3-5, get them on a video call.

Establish if they’ve got the right personality to work with you. Are they motivated to learn and grow? Are they looking for long term commitment? Is the person easy to communicate with?

Again, keep in mind to focus on attitude before skills.

This process will take a bit of time, and once you’ve found the successful applicant, it will require some effort from your side to train and educate your VA about your business.

But once you’ve onboarded someone, a huge weight will be lifted off your shoulders, and you’re probably going to ask yourself:

Why didn’t I do this sooner?!

Action Steps

  1. Write down the tasks you hate, and the tasks you’re struggling with. Decide what repetitive tasks should be outsourced.
  2. Go to and post your ad.
  3. Add ‘catch’ to sort out the ones with attention to detail.
  4. Ask first selection to perform tasks similar to what they’ll be doing if employed.
  5. For your second selection, get on a video call with each one. Focus on personality and aspirations rather than skill.


Result You Will Achieve

More time and freedom to do stuff that matters to you.

Mentor: Liam Austin

Co-founder of Entrepreneurs HQ, a community of 150,000+ small business owners. Liam delivers one marketing tactic each morning via his email newsletter EHQ Daily, and runs live training and masterminds inside EHQ Club.

This article is based on a live mastermind training call inside EHQ Club.