BDhire

BDHire is a virtual assistant company based in Chittagong, Bangladesh. The company was founded in 2008, and has since been providing virtual assistant services to clients and business owners worldwide.

About BDHire

bdhire reviewThe company is headed up by Abul Kashem. Being in operation since 2008 makes BDHire one of the longer established companies in the fast-paced virtual assistant space.

Their target customers are social media and web design companies, travel, hotels and real estate businesses, as well as individual entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Looking at their in-house experts available for hire, they have a lot of services aimed at the smaller online entrepreneur. This was confirmed when I asked what their areas of specialization were, BDHire said, “full-time webmasters, link builders, SEO specialists, internet marketing experts, SBI webmasters and WordPress developers.”

Services

A lot of the company’s services are directed helping online business owners with their websites through the use of their virtual assistants. Their core services can be summarized as follows:

Link Building – They have a team of dedicated link builders, submitting articles and website URLs to directories and social bookmarking sites.

Keyword Research – They can find and provide a list of keywords in your chosen niche. As well as preparing a content creation blueprint.

On-Page SEO – They can analyze your existing content and ensure you are optimized for relevant keywords and your content is SEO friendly.

Niche Site Creation – BDHire have a team of experienced niche site builders. They can start a site for you either by choosing a niche or following your guidelines.

WordPress Services – Complete WordPress support, so you can invest your time in other areas of your business and leave the technical support to their experts.

SBI Services – Their experts will build a site from scratch or work on a site you already have. They can also move your site over to WordPress with a “smooth and successful transition.”

Plans and Pricing

Their rates vary per project and expert being hired.

Their minimum hourly rate is $17 per hour to give you a good idea of how much you will be paying and how they compare to other virtual assistant companies. BDHire representatives are happy to discuss each project’s individual needs and give you a more accurate quote.

In addition to rates that are 2-3x higher than their geographic neighbors, they also charge a one-time $250 set up fee, which is actually pretty uncommon in the industry.

BDHire Alternatives

What sets BDHire apart from general VA companies is their expertise in SEO, WordPress and niche sites. If you’re looking for support in these areas I would discuss you needs with them and get a quote.

If your needs are more varied or don’t require that type of specialization, you can probably save money by checking out competitors like My Tasker or VA Talks.

Your Turn

Have you worked with BDhire? If so, please leave a review below and share your experiences as it helps others with their decision.

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Athandz Research

Athandz Research is a Sri Lankan based company specializing in carrying out customized research and business intelligence.

The company has been in operation since 2003. They gather data as per client instructions, filter and summarize the information and return it in an easy-to-use format. This gives clients the information they need to improve on their own KPI’s and the performance of their business.

About Athandz Research

athandz research reviewThe company is based in Sri Lanka. They work with clientele all over the world, with the majority of their clients being based across Europe.

Their services are aimed at companies or individuals who want to outsource any form of research. Searching the internet for information and formatting the results is a time-consuming process. Athandz Research has a team of people who specialize in these areas, and can do this at an affordable rate.

When asked what their areas of specialization were, Athandz said “medical related web research.” Their services are not limited to the medical field however, having worked with clients in the banking, software, telecom, pharmaceutical, insurance and consulting niches to name a few.

If you currently spend a lot of time carrying out research tasks or have a large task coming up, the starting point is to provide details to Athandz along with your budget to receive a quote. As with any virtual assistant services you need to weigh up the opportunity cost of tying up your time against other tasks within your business you could be focusing on.

Services

Athandz carry out a wide range of research and intelligence services. They can gather information on your competitors to help you better understand how others in your industry are performing. Helping you make comparisons with your business, and look for areas where you can improve.

They also carry out all kinds of online research, such as finding news articles, events, products, vendors, and any information as specified by yourself. You can ask for lists of information to help you with research you’re carrying out or help you put together a list of contacts to email.

Athandz Research specialize in the medical niche. If you are in this space you can use their services to data mine and summarize medical information for research and educational purposes. As well as carrying out medical transcriptions, formatting large volumes of information, and performing ad-hoc research.

Athandz Intro Video

Plans and Pricing

Their rates vary per project based on the individual requirements of the task.

Their hourly rate is usually $10 to give you an idea of how much a task will cost. To get an accurate quote I suggest you contact Athandz with as much detail about the tasks you want carried out and they will call or email you to discuss the project and provide you with a quote.

Athandz Research Alternatives

With most virtual assistant companies you will be able to hire a virtual assistant and have them carry out research tasks for you. What separates Athandz Research apart from virtual assistant providers is that they specialize in research and business intelligence. If you are after research only and not the general VA assistance I would check them out.

For general virtual assistant services companies like My Tasker and OkayRelax offer very competitive rates.

Your Turn

Have you worked with Athandz Research? If so please leave a review below to share your experiences and help other with their decision, thanks.

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Longer Days

LongerDays.com is a team-based virtual assistant company; they operate out of a single office located in Muskegon, Michigan.  Longer Days was founded in 2007, with the idea they could build a more valuable service than the overseas outsourcing companies who were all trying to compete on price.

Now, Longer Days is the one of the largest office-based virtual assistant companies in the US and serves busy professionals and entrepreneurs around the country.

longer days review 2015How it Works

LongerDays virtual assistants work as a team, so you get the benefit of a dedicated assistant as well as an entire office’s worth of experience and specialization. LongerDays VAs are capable of much more than just administrative tasks.

Longer Days makes significant investments in helping their clients document their business processes. The documentation phase is free to the customer, and because of this Longer Days is picky about who they work with. You have to apply to become a client. 

Upon acceptance, clients are assigned a business processing specialist who writes detailed task processes, delegates the work to the in-house team, and oversees productivity and quality control.

As a Better Business Bureau accredited business, they are held accountable for delivering on their promises.

Services

Longer Days specializes in recurring tasks in three main areas:

  1. Reception
  2. Ongoing Admin
  3. Blogging tasks

Unlike most VA companies, they do not assist with 1-time tasks. Their goal is to help customers achieve the lifestyle described in the E-Myth/4-Hour Workweek and they provide free business consulting to help clients process and systemize their businesses.

Additional value-added services include assistance with graphic design, web tasks, content writing, and reception. Much like an in-house employee, they can be trained to accomplish just about anything you need done.

Longer Days Review


A Longer Days virtual assistant is not for everyone. They aim to provide a premium service for clients with premium standards. They’re best suited for business owners who are looking for a wide variety of skills from a single source.

If you are looking for a personal assistant as a luxury service, this company is probably not for you.

Plans and Pricing

LongerDays virtual assistant plans start at $90 per week — a 10 hour monthly plan is $350 ($35/hr).

longer days pricing

As you might expect, as you bite off more hours, the rates get better. A 20-hour a month plan is $600 ($30/hr), and a 30-hour plan is $900 ($30/hour).

Of course these rates are significantly higher than what you’ll find in India or elsewhere overseas. The rates are on par with what you’ll find at other VA companies in the US, and Longer Days is rare in the fact that their virtual assistants work from a centralized office and not from their homes.

Longer Days Interview

Want to hear about the company direct from the source? Check out the short video interview below:


Afterwards Chad took me on a virtual tour of the office and I got to “meet” the rest of the team!

Longer Days Alternatives

For office-based American virtual assistants, you might consider Virtual Assist USA or RemSource. If you’re not picky about workplace, Time Etc has earned plenty of positive feedback lately.

Your Turn

For those with experience working with LongerDays.com, please feel free to share a quick review of the service below.

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Brickwork India

Brickwork India is probably the most famous of all virtual assistant companies. Brickwork India was featured prominently and favorably in two bestselling books: Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat, and Timothy Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Work Week.

Started as a 5 member start-up in 2005, Brickwork India today is 350 strong and caters to over 20,000 clients across 116 countries. They are India’s first ISO 27001: 2013 certified Virtual Assistance company.

About Brickwork

brickwork india reviewThe company is based in Bangalore, India, which has become a true technology hotbed – India’s Silicon Valley. From their modern facilities in Bangalore, Brickwork India has attracted customers ranging in size from busy sole proprietors to Fortune 500 companies.

Services

Brickwork India virtual assistants are diligent and focused professionals who can accomplish a wide variety of tasks, including everything from basic administrative work, to human resources, database management, and even social media marketing campaigns.

Because of India’s deep talent pool of educated workers, you can get well-qualified help that knows how to get the job done with little additional training.

The service menu consists of 3 main areas of service:

Admin Services: Here a team of executive assistants specialized in business support, accounting & taxation takes care of all your day-to-day routine back-office work, sales & marketing support, web based support, HR support, office management support, report generation, social media support, secretarial help, accounting and bookkeeping services, etc.

Knowledge Services: The team consists of highly qualified & experienced business analysts who are qualified MBA’s, CPA’s and Engineers, specializing in providing insights and solutions to clients through business research, investment research, procurement and sourcing services.  

Technical Services:  This team is populated with professionally qualified software engineers and graphic designers with expertise in a wide range of technologies offering technology assistance ranging from simple technical support to creative web and graphic designs, web applications, desktop and database applications, Ecommerce solutions, CRM & ERP solutions and Mobile apps.

Brickwork India Intro Video

Plans and Pricing

Beyond the category of services needed, you also have the flexibility to choose from several engagement options:

  • subscription-based
  • retainer model
  • project-based
  • a la carte hourly

Subscription rates start around $15/hour, with dedicated assistant plans at the 40, 80, and 160 hour per month levels.

Rates improve with the more hours you buy. The time you buy does not rollover if you don’t end up keeping your virtual assistant busy, so it might be best to start at a lower amount.

For project-based tasks, Brickwork India will provide a bid specific to your tasks so you can compare with other options.

Brickwork India Alternatives

Make no mistake; their rates are higher than other virtual assistant companies in India. In fact, their hourly rates are higher than you might expect to pay for a local US high school or college-aged intern.

The difference is you get the well-known “brand name” of Brickwork, along with their infrastructure and security, and you don’t have to worry about additional payroll tax and employment filing requirements.

For a couple lower-priced alternatives in India, check out MyTasker or VMG BPO.

Your Turn

Have you worked with Brickwork? I encourage anyone who has used their services to rate and review their experience below.

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How Do You Know When It’s Time to Hire?

The other day, a reader asked me how do you know when it’s time to hire a VA?

My answer:

When the pain of inaction becomes too great.

Not when you launch a new project, not the first moment you feel resistance, and not because some expert says you need to.

Like I touched on last month, my latest “hire” was for a podcast editing service. After spending hours editing each episode for 2.5 years — and now with a newborn in the house — the pain of inaction became too great.

And the same has been true for just about every hire I’ve made.

when to hire

When you start to dread the task (warning signs include relentless procrastination), or think of all the things you SHOULD be doing instead, that’s a good indicator the pain is getting to the point of needing relief.

Where I’ve seen people run into trouble is in “pre-medicating”; or hiring too early. Their revenue didn’t yet justify the expense and the business model didn’t yet justify the investment.

They were excited and energized (and perhaps had budget to burn) and wanted to follow someone else’s prescription for success.

But they hadn’t felt the pain.

The pain makes you a better manager because you can tell your prospective hire exactly “where it hurts” and get the help you need.

If you don’t feel it, it’s really hard to describe the role you envision for your virtual assistant.

Your Turn

I’m curious, do you hire more to resolve “bleeding neck” problems or more for “nice to have” solutions?

(I’m definitely more on the bleeding neck side; and end up wasting time and money on the “nice to have” roles.)

In your experience, what was the tipping point that led to hiring your first VA?

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TayStone BPO

TayStone BPO is a business-class virtual assistant company, providing virtual assistants for entrepreneurs and small businesses all over the globe.

The company has been in operation since 2012. They are a family-owned business operating primarily out of Liverpool, England, while their virtual assistants are based throughout the UK, the Philippines, and in the US.

About TayStone

taystone reviewThe company is managed by CEO Keith Taylor, with Sarah Taylor providing training and educational direction. Their headquarters are in Liverpool, England, with satellite offices in Northern Ireland, New York and the Philippines.

The company is completely remote, however they do arrange meetings in any of these locations for staff training and events when required.

TayStone specializes in working with all sizes and types of organizations from startups to established companies, entrepreneurs to small and large businesses. Although most of their virtual assistants are based in the Philippines, they also have staff in the UK and the US. This is to offer a “local feel” to their customers where required.

Keith explained they are extremely selective in their hiring process, eventually bringing on less than 1% of all applicants.

TayStone Intro Video

Services

The company provides two different services:

Dedicated Offshore Virtual Assistance – With this service, you are assigned a virtual assistant based in the Philippines. You will communicate with the VA directly and build up a relationship over time.

On Demand US or UK Virtual Assistance – With this service, you submit tasks to UK or US based virtual assistant teams to complete.

Both services come with a wide range of benefits as detailed in the plans and pricing below.

The two different services give you the option of either using virtual assistance from staff based in your home country and working normal business hours similar to yours, or staff in the Philippines, which is naturally much less expensive.

TayStone points out that they put a lot of emphasis on ensuring there are backup plans in place should the worst case happen. They are aware that Internet connectivity or power issues can be a problem when working with VAs overseas and have set emergency backup plans in place to ensure work flow is not interrupted for long.

Their larger plans also include a backup VA in case your assistant falls ill.

TayStone Founder Interview


Virtual Assistant Assistant Exclusive: Mention referral code VAA for $50 off your first month!

Plans and Pricing

TayStone offers four dedicated offshore virtual assistant plans.

These start with a Lite plan, which includes 20 hours per month at a rate of $8.75 per/hr.

The Part-Time plan includes 80 hours per month at $8.50 per/hr, the Busy plan with 120 hours per month at $8.25 per/hr, and a Full-Time plan with 160 hours per month at $8.00 per/hr.

taystone bpo pricing

These plans are sold as a monthly subscription service with a dedicated virtual assistant.

All plans come with a local US phone number, unlimited in/out calls, secure PC and high speed internet with backup and local US management. The larger plans have additional services bolted on, such as a backup employee in place, SMS alerts, call transfers, and more.

Their on demand US virtual assistant plans start at 10 hours per month at $27/hr, ranging up to 80 hours per month at $22/hr.

Virtual Assistant Assistant Exclusive: Mention referral code VAA for $50 off your first month!

taystone bpo on demand pricing

With these on-demand plans, your hours are converted into buckets of tasks, each with a 20-minute allocation. For example, with the 10 Hour Bundle, you’ll get 30 20-minute tasks for your $270 subscription. If you have tasks you anticipate taking longer than 20 minutes, just let your VA know it’s OK to use more task credits.

(This seems like an unnecessarily complex conversion process, and would perhaps be simpler to just think of buying the promised number of VA hours.)

In contrast to the offshore plans above, these plans come with a dedicated account manager but tasks may be assigned across TayStone’s entire team of VAs, rather than a dedicated VA you work with each time.

Because there are a lot of services offered in their plans, I recommend contacting TayStone and detailing your exact requirements to be matched with the best plan. (This BPO division is part of a larger call-answering and admin assistance company, so they are well-equipped to handle a variety of business needs.)

TayStone BPO Alternatives

While the on-demand service is somewhat unique for US-based assistants, Time Etc is a well-rated alternative that offers a similar array of monthly packages in both the US and the UK.

For the dedicated offshore staff, your best bets are OnlineJobs.ph for direct hires or Task Bullet if you prefer working through a third-party company. With OnlineJobs you won’t have the infrastructure or backups, but you will have much lower ongoing costs. Task Bullet is a smaller operation than TayStone but has a unique pricing system where you just buy a bucket of hours that don’t renew monthly or expire until you use them up. 

Your Turn

Have you worked with TayStone, either with their US or UK team, or their virtual assistants in the Philippines? If so, please leave a review below to help others with their decision.

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NS Virtual Services

NS Virtual Services provides virtual business services to entrepreneurs and businesses ranging from general admin and customer service, to social media and web development. I like the tagline of “Getting You Ahead Without The Overhead!”

The company was founded in 2008 by Natalie Szabo, who serves as the business and project manager. Natalie steers the ship from Quebec, Canada, and oversees current team members in Canada and the USA.

ns virtual services reviewShe explains that their ideal clients are entrepreneurs and business executives, who are willing to work on long-term ongoing projects. “Due to the varied skill-sets of each team member,” she adds, “We are able to serve various niches.”

How it Works


NS Virtual Services doesn’t limit themselves to any particular specialization.

“We partner with our clients to ensure that we match the perfect assistant to their project, not just who’s next available,” Natalie explains. “If we don’t have what the client is looking for, then we will find that special person, screening and vetting them in advance.”

Services

Since each team member comes with different skill-sets, NS Virtual Services can cover the following services:

  • General admin
  • customer service
  • data entry
  • translation
  • transcription
  • bookkeeping
  • social media management
  • website management
  • online business management
  • affiliate management

There are several multi-VA teams out there, but Natalie explains what sets them apart is their personalized service from start to finish. With a hands-on approach, she ensures that her clients and team are completely satisfied, making any adjustments necessary.

Clients can choose to work with their assigned VA directly, or have their VA manage several team members depending on the various tasks required.

 

Plans and Pricing

The company has different packages available, and the engagement is often customized for each client. Here are some ballpark numbers for reference, in USD:

  • General VA, hourly blocks, $37-45/hr
  • Online Business Manager, hourly blocks, starting at $52-60/hr
  • Social Media Management packages, $475-$1375
  • Bookkeeping packages, $375-$1350
  • Affiliate Management programs, $645-1195

I think it will come down to your comfort level and budget. For instance, you can certainly get data entry and transcription done for less, but there’s always the question of what’s going to be lost in translation and how much time you’ll have to spend cleaning up the results after the fact.

NS Virtual Services Alternatives

For similar US- and Canada-based support, there are lots of choices. Both Virtual Assist USA and Longer Days come to mind for their similar team-based approach. Natalie herself is an “alumni” of top-rated Worldwide101.

Your Turn

Have you worked with NS Virtual Services? If so, please be sure to leave a quick review of your experience below to help others with their decision.

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Neyox

Neyox is a virtual assistant company based in New Delhi, India. The company was founded in 2010, and have since matched up thousands of customers across the globe with virtual assistants to help with their businesses.

About Neyox

neyox reviewThe company is headed-up and run by Neeraj Parnami. They have a team of virtual assistants all based in New Delhi. They operate with a project manager supervising projects, so you have a point of contact above the virtual assistant if necessary.

Neyox list their target customers as, IT and ITES companies, law firms, doctors, accounting firms, web design and social media companies, real estate companies, and travel companies. If you don’t fall into any of those categories, don’t let that put you off contacting them.

There is often a good deal of negotiating space with virtual assistant companies, and only after explaining your business and your own requirements can you gauge how well-matched the relationship is going to be.

Neyox has a number of guiding principles. One that stood out to me was, “At Neyox, customer satisfaction is essential to our success. We always first understand the customer’s requirement and deliver it flawlessly to achieve complete customer.”

It’s always reassuring to hear companies saying all the right things.

Neyox Intro Video

Services

In-line with most virtual assistant companies, Neyox covers a wide range of tasks that their virtual assistants are capable of taking on. They list IT and software consulting as their area of specialization, but have a long list of skills on their website, including:

  • administration
  • writing
  • marketing
  • online research
  • graphic design
  • social media
  • mobile app development
  • and much more.

Their virtual assistants are available from 20 hours a month upwards. There are no additional fees, just a flat rate per pricing plan. Each task you submit is overseen by a line manager, and you will have updates reported back to you.

To get the most out of the relationship with a virtual assistant company you need to be as detailed as possible with your requirements. Communication is key to the mutual success of you as the customer, and the company.

Plans and Pricing

Neyox has four different price plans.

neyox pricing

They start with a Trial Pack, which costs $240 for 20 hours of virtual assistant time in the month. This works out at $12 per hr, with no extra fees added on.

Their Economy Plan works out at $10 per/hr with an upfront cost of $400 for 40 hours.

Their Standard Plan is $9 per/hr with a cost of $720 for 80 hours, and finally they offer an Executive Plan at a total cost of $1280 per/mth. This give you 160 hours of virtual assistant time at $8 per/hr.

Virtual Assistant Assistant Exclusive: Mention referral code VAANEYOX for 10% off your first month!

It should be noted that their Trial Pack allows you to get started for just $240 and does not come with any contract commitment. However, the Economy and Standard Plans come with a two month contact, and their Executive Plan requires a three month commitment.

Neyox Alternatives

Looking at other virtual assistant providers in India, MyTasker offers similar pricing plans and skill sets, along with TaskAffair and 24/7 Virtual Assistant.

My suggestion would be to reach out to two or three companies on your short list and see how you like your interactions with them. Will they let you interview your prospective assistant(s) in advance? Do they have someone on their team who can handle your specific needs? 

Your Turn

Have you worked with Neyox.com? If so, please leave a review below for the benefit of others making a decision.

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Outsourced.ph

Outsourced.ph is an Australian based virtual assistant company with employees in both Australia and the Philippines. The company was founded by Mike Larcher, who has over 15 years’ experience in the digital space and also runs an award winning digital agency in Australia.

The company was founded in May 2012 to serve a core client base of small to medium sized businesses and entrepreneurs. They specialize in providing high quality technical virtual assistants to assist businesses with outsourcing tasks.

About Outsourced.ph

outsourced.ph reviewThe Outsourced head office is in Sydney, Australia. They specialise in providing offshore virtual assistants based in the Philippines to businesses all over the globe. The company has a quality assurance directive, stating:

“We are dedicated to delivering quality assurance and are committed to providing staff of the highest standards, all backed by our award winning management in Australia with over 16 years technical staffing experience.”

The company recruit their virtual assistants in the Philippines to supply skilled staff at the lowest possible cost to the client. Allowing busy business owners to outsource time consuming tasks at an affordable rate, freeing up their time to work on growing their business or other areas.

Outsourced.ph: How it Works

Services

The company provides virtual assistants who are trained across a wide range of job roles, but as you might infer from their logo, they specialize in technical roles like web developers, QA testers, and IT support.

You can choose a virtual assistant based on their skill set to meet your requirements. They also have accountants, telemarketers, customer service reps, graphic designers, and many more roles.

This narrows down the selection for you. It’s then down to you to communicate your exact requirements and see how their virtual assistants match-up. 

Plans and Pricing

Outsourced price their service with an hourly rate per position of the virtual assistant.

The least expensive option for example is a Customer Service Assistant which will cost you $8 per/hr. While a Mid Developer is $14 per/hr, or a Senior Developer is $22 per/hr.

Outsourced state on their website that their pricing is only a guide, there is some room for negotiation based on your own unique requirements and the skillset of their assistants. If you want to secure the best possible price, have all of your requirements clearly laid out and be prepared to discuss this with a customer service rep.

Understand that as a recruiting agency, Outsourced.ph is making a markup on these salaries (just as any 3rd party VA company would).

Outsourced.ph Intro Video

Outsourced.ph Alternatives

There are lots of companies to choose from when sourcing virtual assistants from the Philippines. One other recruiting service that might be worth checking out is Zen Virtual Assistants Finder

If you prefer the do-it-yourself route, you may be able to find similarly skilled staff through a jobs board like OnlineJobs.ph and save quite a bit on your hourly rate by hiring directly.

Your Turn

Have you worked with Outsourced.ph? If so, please be sure to share a brief review of your experience below to help others with their decision.

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AnswerAmerica

AnswerAmerica is a virtual receptionist company with 50 locations across the US. The company has been around since 1984 and is headed up by Gary Pudles. I’d say that definitely makes them a pioneer in this space, despite their outdated looking website (at press time).

With their virtual receptionists being based in the US, this service is definitely suited to business owners in the US. Although they do operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, so you can use their services anywhere in the world.

Virtual receptionists give smaller businesses the opportunity to have a receptionist on call at a much more affordable rate than employing someone full-time. This not only provides a better service to customers, it gives the impression the business is a lot larger than it may actually be.

About AnswerAmerica

answeramerica reviewAs you can imagine, being in business since 1984 makes AnswerAmerica one of the longest running virtual receptionist companies in the market. This gives customers some added reassurance that not only do Answer America have a wealth of experience, they aren’t going to disappear anytime soon.

The company offers cost-effective telephone answering services, and their receptionists are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The receptionists answer calls on a cost per call basis. They can also carry out some other receptionist tasks such as booking appointments, making notes, and forwarding on calls and emails.

Services

The company covers a range of services all revolving around taking calls on your behalf. This includes setting appointments, processing orders and taking messages. You can provide scripts for the virtual receptionists to use when taking calls, they also support scripts in different languages.

The company states that they put their virtual receptionists through in-depth training and are constantly monitoring the response time to answering calls. Putting the needs and expectations of their customers first and providing a high standard of work. They offer several different specialist answering services, and tailor their service to different industries.

You can request the receptionist’s forward specific calls on to you, send you an email about a call, or an SMS if that’s more convenient.

The service is designed to be flexible and customer-friendly, so whatever your requirements are you should communicate them to the customer care team at Answer America to see how they can accommodate you.

A feature that stands out as being particularly helpful is their online transcripts. You can log into your account and read transcripts of calls the receptionists have taken. Allowing you to catch up in your own time and be aware of what’s been said.

Signing Up for AnswerAmerica

Plans and Pricing

There is a flat rate of $1 per call. This rate falls to $0.75 a call on larger packages that are available on request.

answeramerica pricing

There are no monthly, or other additional charges unless you add on some bespoke options. All you need to do is load up a minimum of $20 credit to your account, then keep an eye on your account and top up when necessary.

AnswerAmerica Alternatives

Ruby Receptionists is probably the most well-known company in the virtual receptionist space. Conversational and Gabbyville also offer similar services, although their pricing models are based on paying for minutes rather than calls. So it’s difficult to compare them on a price-by-price basis.

Your Turn

Have you had AnswerAmerica acting as your virtual receptionist? If so please leave a review below to help others with their decision.

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Outsource2Africa

Outsource2Africa is an outsourcing company in Kenya, Africa. They have been in business since January 2013 and provide virtual assistants based in Africa.

They specialize in services such as transcription, online research, data mining, data entry, OCR cleanup and various other day-to-day tasks a business would look to outsource.

About Outsource2Africa

outsource2africa reviewThe company was founded by Catherine Muriuki, who serves as CEO. While three years isn’t a long time for a company to be operating, it’s long enough to establish them as a serious and trustworthy player in the African market.

Africa as a continent is growing rapidly when it comes to innovation and technology. It’s still cost effective to outsource tasks, while you can expect highly skilled virtual assistants if the company do their part and find them for you.

When asked what their areas of specialization were, Outsource 2 Africa listed online research, data mining, data entry, transcription, OCR cleanup, and more. This gives the impression they handle more of the administration type tasks rather than specific skill sets such as graphic design, or WordPress support.

For any tasks outside of what they mentioned, I’d recommend contacting them and explaining your exact requirements to see where their skills match up.

Services

The company supplies virtual assistants trained in a wide range of areas to meet the requirements of their clients. Some of the services they advertise are as follows:

  • Transcription (this seems to be their primary focus)
  • Data entry
  • Online research
  • SEO and writing services
  • Index scanning

As with most virtual assistant companies communication is a major factor. By providing as much information as possible about your requirements, you can evaluate how well the company is able to match you with a virtual assistant.

Plans and Pricing

Outsource2africa does not offer any set pricing plans and only provides quotes upon request.

This is unusual for a virtual assistant company, but gives you the opportunity to open dialogue with them and request a custom quote for the work you want to outsource.

For transcription, I reached out and asked about their rates and they provided the following information:

  • If you need 24 hours turnaround time – $1/min or $60/ audio hour 
  • 2-3 business days turnaround time (48- 72 hours) – $0.92/min or $55/AH
  • 4-5 business days (96-120 hours) – $0.83/min or $50/AH
  • No rush: over 5 business days – $0.75/min or $45/AH

They do offer a short free trial where you can have the first 4 minutes of an audio file transcribed. This is a good way to test their services and see how promptly they turn your work around, even if it’s a bit tedious to reduce a podcast (for example) to only the first few minutes to upload into their trial system.

Outsource2Africa Alternatives

The virtual assistant market in Africa is still growing. Pixels-VA is the only other company I’m aware of at the moment, though you’ll be able to find transcription and admin support services worldwide.

One of the best-known transcription services is Rev.com ($1 per audio minute), and as far as other virtual assistant companies go, you might consider TaskBullet or Uassist.ME.

Your Turn

Have you worked with Outsource2Africa? If so please leave a review below to help others with their decision.

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TimelyPA

TimelyPA is a UK based virtual assistant company that provides virtual assistant support to tech startups. Starting up a new business can feel overwhelming and daunting, handing a lot of the work over to a team specializing in startups can make a big difference to the speed and growth of the new company.

The company has been in operation since 2013. All of their staff are based in the UK, and they aim to provide the highest quality native English speaking staff at a competitive price.

About TimelyPA

timelypa reviewThe company is run by Patrick Collins who is the founder. The team has their own page on the TimelyPA website outlining their roles, which is a nice touch. There is Edi, co-founder and social media manager. Aura, data research specialist. Chris, social media and graphic design, and Josh, SEO and blog writing.

When I spoke with TimelyPA they explained that they “Work only with tech startups, and so have great experience in the startup environment in what processes, skills and software are the best to apply to the startup that we are working with.” They are not a general virtual assistant company, but specializing in startups allows them to channel their skillset into what they do best – helping startups grow.

Starting up a new business can be incredibly time consuming. Outsourcing a lot of the tasks in the early days of a business can free up your time to work on being creative and concentrating on the areas of the business you enjoy more.

TimelyPA Intro Video

Services

There are three core areas to TimelyPA’s services.

Leads for Startups

You can outsource all of your data research, CRM set up, data cleaning and email and call validation.

Social Media Management

Incredibly important for startups looking to promote their new brand and spread the word. TimelyPA will set up profiles on all major social media platforms, increase the amount of followers to your social media accounts, as well as manage the day-to-day running of your social media.

Customer Support

The team at TimelyPA will deal with all incoming inquiries (well, enquiries, being a UK company) and help secure new customers. As well as manage the live chat function on your website and carry out any customer orientated tasks as directed by you.

Plans and Pricing

There are three different pricing plans depending on how many hours of virtual assistant time you are buying. Their entry plan is an hourly rate of $25 per/hr. The minimum amount of time you have to purchase at this price is 5 hours, and the maximum per month is 80 hours.

Their other plans are $500 for 20 hours, or $2000 for 80 hours. These work out at $25 per hour and come with the same minimum and maximum thresholds.

TimelyPA Alternatives

TimelyPA have crafted themselves a niche with their focus being only on tech startups. There are other virtual assistant providers in the UK that offer similar services within their virtual assistant skillsets however. Time ETC is one of the larger companies in this space, they are worth checking out along with Virtalent.

Have you worked with TimelyPA? Have they helped you with your own startup? If so please leave a review below to help others with their decision.

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Remplo

Remplo enables small business owners and entrepreneurs to outsource tasks to their team of virtual assistants. The company has a large team of hand-picked virtual assistants (primarily based in Sri Lanka) with a range of skills to meet their clients’ needs.

About Remplo

remplo reviewRemplo have been providing virtual assistant services since 2006.

Being in the virtual assistant space for that long and still going strong is testament to a good reputation and a lot of satisfied clients. The company is headed up by Roshana Mallawaarachchi, and their target customers are small businesses and entrepreneurs.

They claim to have worked with over 1,000 clients, and saved them time by having their skilled virtual assistants handle their tasks at a cost effective and competitive rate. 

Roshana pointed out that they have, “minimized issues associated in working with staff in autonomous and distant locations by keeping the contractors accountable and productive no matter where they are working from in the world.” That’s a mouthful, right?

He added that their hiring process utilizes a 10-step process designed by Richard Branson’s former executive assistant.

Remplo’s assistants are located in Sri Lanka, with sales offices in Australia and the UK.

Services

The company provides clients with VAs ready to tackle any day-to-day tasks a business owner would look to outsource. They do however group their virtual assistants’ skill sets into six categories as follows:

  • Admin and Organizing
  • Writing
  • Marketing and Social Media
  • Research
  • Sales
  • Medical Transcription

If your needs fall under any of the categories above, or you just have routine tasks you want to outsource, provide Remplo with as much detail as possible. The more detail you provide upfront, the better the communication and understanding is going forward.

One potential customer service hiccup: their “live chat” widget said they were online (“We are here!”), but after several minutes of no response to my message, it said no agents were available.

Plans and Pricing

Remplo has three easy to understand pricing plans.

Their Startup Plan costs $120. For this you get 20 hours of VA time @$6/hr to be used within one year.

Their Small Business Plan costs $400 for 80 hours of time, giving you a reduced hourly rate of $5/hr.

Their Dedicated Plan is $640 for 160 hours of time or $4/hr.

remplo pricing

$640 for a full-time dedicated assistant is among the lowest rate I’ve seen. (Most other overseas virtual assistant companies charge in the $1000 per month range.) One reason for this is the lower overhead; Remplo assistants work from their home offices instead of from a dedicated call center-type cubicle farm.

As is common, the more hours you pay for upfront the better hourly rate you secure. All of their plans comes with a free consultation and setup to familiarize yourself with the company, and you can choose to have a dedicated virtual assistant.

There are no long-term contracts and each plan comes with a 30-day money back guarantee.

Remplo Alternatives

Among Remplo’s top competitors are companies like My Tasker and TaskBullet, but you’ll pay a slightly higher hourly rate at either of those.

Remplo has been in business for a long time and they do have a lot of experience in the virtual assistant space which goes a long way. I always recommend doing some due diligence and making contact with companies to see how they fit with your needs.

Your Turn

If you have worked with Remplo, please leave a review below and share your experience. This helps others with their decision, thanks.

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x.ai

x.ai is a personal assistant service that schedules meetings for you. It not an assistant in the sense of a receptionist, or a virtual assistant however. It’s an automated service that schedules meetings, replies to emails, and reminds you when your meetings are.

About x.ai

x.ai reviewThe company has been operating since May of 2014. They are based in New York and their product is an artificial intelligence powered personal assistant that schedules meetings for you.

The personal assistant is called Amy Ingram. It’s an artificial intelligence app designed to read and understand language and actually engage in conversation via email. Amy will learn what your personal scheduling preferences are, and arrange meetings on your behalf at a time that’s convenient for you.

You can set some rules, such as no meetings on Monday mornings, or let Amy know what your favorite locations are. All of this information will be stored and used to arrange the meetings, and save you the time of going back and forth with clients or colleagues to arrange the meetings yourself.

x.ai Amy Ingram Artificial Intelligence Video Introduction

Services

To let Amy know that you want to arrange a meeting you simply copy “her” into your email conversation by CC’ing: [email protected]. It’s that simple, and from there on the artificial intelligence will take over the conversation and book in a meeting.

A lot of thought and testing has gone into what makes an email effective. Here is what a typical email generated by Amy looks like:

Happy to get something on Stefanie’s calendar. Does Wednesday, Dec 16 at 11:30 AM work? Alternatively, Stefanie is available Wednesday, Dec 16 at 4:00 PM or Thursday, Dec 17 at 10:00 AM.

I’ll include the dial-in on the invite.

Amy
Amy Ingram | Personal Assistant
x.ai – artificial intelligence that schedules meetings

As you can see from the above email, Amy uses times and data you have made available to communicate on your behalf. Once your correspondent agrees to a time, Amy will add that meeting to your calendar.

The first question most people ask is going to revolve around, “what if the AI makes a mistake and I miss an important meeting?”

The team at x.ai have an interesting answer to this question that I had to share: “People have more to fear from a human assistant, who can gossip and make mistakes such as sending an email meant to be confidential to ‘reply all.’ As to confidentiality, it’s a huge priority to keep all their data securely locked down.”

The service is currently in beta, the company are accepting more users at the time of writing this. You can apply to join the beta on their website.

Plans and Pricing

There is no information on pricing and plans as the service is currently in private beta. I’ve applied to test it out but am still waiting to get in!

x.ai Alternatives

Alternatives to x.ai include Calendly, which manages your calendar based on pre-set preferences. As well as EasilyDo, which performs some similar tasks in the way of a smartphone app. But doesn’t cover the automatic meeting booking in the same way that x.ai does.

I currently use a tool called ScheduleOnce that for $5 a month gives me a custom “schedule a meeting” link with my calendar availability.

Your Turn

Have you used x.ai? Very curious to hear your experience and would love if you could drop in a review below.

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UrBackOffices

UrBackOffices is a virtual assistant company based in Bangladesh, and the company was founded in 2014. They don’t offer the usual wide range of virtual assistant services you’d expect from a virtual assistant company, instead specializing in providing virtual assistants to business in the real estate industry.

About UrBackOffices

urbackoffices reviewThe company is headed-up and run by Mohibul Bhuiyan, along with a small but growing team of experienced virtual assistants in Bangladesh. Their target customers are real estate professionals, attorneys, credit companies, insurance companies, and companies in need of data entry support.

They offer support updating ad postings and property details for real estate companies, loan modification and bankruptcy, and large data entry projects. As a relatively new company and in such a specialized area, most of their client’s come from referrals and repeat business at the moment.

I think it’s good to see a company offering experienced VAs in a particular niche. It makes the process of evaluating if the skillsets match up with your tasks a little easier.

urbackoffices team

Services

UrBackOffices group their services into the following areas:

  • Real estate law office management
  • Real estate ad posting
  • Customer Support
  • Administrative support
  • Personal assistants, and
  • Data entry

As you can see from the above their virtual assistants are skilled and experienced primarily in the real estate industry. UrBackOffices isn’t the kind of VA company that provides general virtual assistants for everyday tasks for a growing business.

This gives real estate companies that added peace of mind that they are in the hands of experienced assistants that will be familiar with the industry jargon and practices. It’s still always good practice to ask a lot of questions and be as thorough as possible when communicating your needs however. This will ensure you have the best possible understanding and working relationship with your virtual assistant.

Plans and Pricing

UrBackOffices has three different price plans.

They are Starter, Standard, and Professional. All of the plans offer all of the services as mentioned above, the difference being the amount of hours in each plan. The pricing structure is very straightforward, you pay a flat rate of $6 per hour to start, with price breaks depending on how many hours a month you commit to.

urbackoffices pricing

There is a free trial available so you can sample their services for two hours with no obligation. All you have to do is fill out your details on their website and someone will get back to you within 24 hours with further details.

UrBackOffices Alternatives

There are no shortage of virtual assistant companies operating out of South Asia, with My Tasker being among the top-rated. However, targeting their services at real estate professionals sets UrbackOffices apart from most of the other companies. Two others I know that serve a lot of real estate clients are Uassist.ME and My Outdesk.

Your Turn

Have you worked with UrBackOffices? If so please leave a short review below to help others with their decision. Thanks.

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Reps Direct

Reps Direct is virtual employee company specializing in providing virtual employees to handle contact center needs like call answering, appointment setting and confirmation, and order processing. The company is headquartered in the US, while most of the virtual receptionists work from Managua, Nicaragua.

About Reps Direct

reps direct reviewThe company was founded by Scott K (he apparently has no last name in email or LinkedIn) in response to seeing other virtual assistant providers either charging too much, or not delivering enough. He decided to start his own virtual receptionist agency and offer more value to the company’s clients.

The company has been operating since 2015. Their target customers are small to medium sized businesses looking to outsource their contact center tasks at an affordable rate. When I asked Scott what the company’s goal is, he said “to be a customized solution for your virtual employee needs, not just a generic answering service.”

He went on to add that they assign reps to each client, building up a good understanding of the business over time and becoming a valuable part of the team.

Services

The core of Reps Direct services include telephone call answering, handling text messaging, replying to emails and live chat. If you are a small business and the volume of calls and inquires are starting to build up, outsourcing the receptionist type tasks to a virtual assistant is a cost-effective way of getting on top of things.

These type of services also have the added benefit of giving small companies a much bigger appearance.

Being greeted by a dedicated receptionist when calling a company always helps give a good first impression. While Reps Direct does not offer a complete virtual assistant solution to all the ad-hoc tasks a business owner would typically outsource, they do offer a dedicated solution to a particular area of a business.

Plans and Pricing

Reps Direct have three different plans. Their Basic Package starts at $4.99 per week. You get a free phone number, call answering, call transferring, and message taking. Each minute you use is billed out at $1.25/minute. 

(You can also forward your existing number to Reps Direct, or set it up to only forward during non-business hours as they’re open 24/7.)

This plan is Pay-As-You-Go, with a minimal weekly cost and charges based almost exclusively on how much you use. If you anticipate more than a couple hours worth of call volume each month, it probably makes more sense to look at one of their higher tier options.

reps direct pricing

Their next package is their Reception Package. This costs $199 per month, and you get a free phone number, 225 minutes included, and their call answering, appointment setting and message taking services. There is an additional charge of $.99 per/min for extra minutes used.

Their largest package is their Small Business Package. This plan costs $499 per month, you get all the services of the other packages along with 625 minutes of call time. There is an $.89 charge for additional minutes, and I’d say this plan is aimed at a busy and growing small business.

All packages include a 7-day free trial to test out the service and see if it’s a good fit for your operation.

Reps Direct Alternatives

Ruby Receptionists are probably the most well-known company in this space. Gabbyville and Conversational also offer similar services and are worth looking into.

What sets Reps Direct apart from these alternatives is their starting price. Their packages are very competitively priced. While it’s hard to match all the services on a like-for-like basis, Reps Direct pricing structure is lower than their competitors.

Your Turn

Have you worked with Reps Direct? If so, please leave a review below to help others with their decision.

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Alfred

Alfred (HelloAlfred.com) is a shared neighborhood real-life butler service. Members have a personal butler who visits their home each week to carry out chores as directed. The company gets its name from Batman’s personal butler! 

The company was formed in 2013, and at the time of writing this, the service is available in New York and Boston, and coming soon to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Chicago, Seattle, Portland, and Austin.

(I’m in the San Francisco suburbs and got a “coming soon” message when I tried to sign-up.)

About Alfred

alfred reviewThe company assigns a staff member, known as an ‘Alfred’ to each client that signs up to their service. Their Alfred then carries out everyday chores from both a preassigned list, and any spontaneous requests.

The company is best described as a “shared neighborhood butler service.” Chores can include picking up your groceries, putting them away in your kitchen, taking out the trash, doing your laundry, and so on.

The company’s objective is to take care of those many small but time consuming tasks, freeing up more of your time to spend with your family, work on your business, or do with as you wish. Alfred has recently secured a large amount of capital through Series A Funding and are looking to “step on the gas” as CEO Marcela Sapone stated, so expect the company to expand into more cities.

Hello Alfred Press Video

Services

The service is broken down into two plans. You can either have your Alfred visit your home once or twice a week. They do a tidy up of your home and take care of your errands as directed.

The core services they carry out include:

  • Picking up and dropping off groceries
  • Taking care of your laundry
  • Cleaning your home
  • Tailoring
  • Posting out mail and packages
  • Pharmacy collections
  • Special requests

The limit to what an Alfred can do for you is almost endless (within reason of course). The rule of thumb that you shouldn’t expect your Alfred to do anything you wouldn’t be doing without their help.

Plans and Pricing

There are two different plans.

Alfred Basic, which costs $32 per/wk. With this plan your Alfred visits your home once a week to tidy up and carry out some basic chores. You can also use them to carry out other chores by submitting the request.

The other plan is the Alfred Service, which costs $59 per/wk. For this you get two visits a week instead of one.

alfred review

If you are using your Alfred to pick up your groceries the company works in partnership with large retail stores like Whole Foods, CVS and Walgreens. They don’t mark up the price of any items or charge a service fee.

Additional services do of course come with a fee. For example, cleaning services range from $65 for a one bedroom apartment to $105 for a four bedroom home. The prices for individual items being washed and dry cleaned, tailoring and other bespoke tasks are all listed on their website.

The subscription fee is charged every four weeks. You are also billed for any goods or services you have received weekly. They provide all the receipts along with the invoice, so you know exactly what you are being charged for.

Alfred Alternatives

Hello Alfred seems to be a combination of on-demand services like TaskRabbit, Instacart, Handy, and others, though squarely aimed at busy urban working professionals for the very specific functions listed above. If keeping your fridge stocked and your home tidy is a constant challenge, Alfred may be worth checking out as they expand across the country.

Your Turn

Have you worked with Alfred? Please be sure to leave a review of your experience below to help others with their decision.

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Toptal

Toptal is a US-based company specializing in connecting clients with the services of remote engineers and developers.

The company was founded in 2010 and is headed up by CEO Taso Du Val. Toptal has been expanding their network of talented designers and software engineers based all over the globe.

About Toptal

toptal reviewToptal was started by co-founders Taso Du Val and Breanden Beneschott, two engineers with a wealth of experience in the online engineering world, as well as with company start-ups and consulting. They recognised it was difficult for talented engineers around the globe to connect with large companies and entrepreneurs in need of specific skillsets, and set up Toptal as a solution. 

The New York-based company was formed in 2010 and boast a client roster with brands like Airbnb, Gucci, Ideo, Zendesk, J.P. Morgan, and more. They hire engineers and developers from all over the globe, putting them through a rigorous five step screening process.

Their screening process is one of the most detailed I have seen.

Applicants need to pass language and personality tests, an in-depth skill review, live screening, test projects, and are then monitored for continued excellence. Toptal states that only 3% of all applicants make it through to their team. (The company’s name is short for Top Talent.)

Toptal Press Video

Services

If you don’t have engineering or design skills yourself or within your own team, Toptal can provide you with a freelancer on an hourly, part-time, or even a full-time basis. You liaise directly with the freelancer as you would any member of your team.

The skillsets of their freelancers fall into four general categories:

  • Front-end Developers (HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, etc.)
  • Back-end Developers (Python, Django, Java, C++, PHP, Ruby, iOS, Rails, etc.)
  • Quality Assurance (Unit Testing, Selenium, PHPUnit, JUnit, Cucumber, etc.)
  • Designers (UI, UX, Visual, Interaction)

Using the Toptal platform is simple and quick to use. There are just three basic steps to go through:

  1. Tell them what type of technical support you need.
  2. They will find you the perfect freelancer to match your needs.
  3. The freelancer becomes part of your team and you can start working together.

Plans and Pricing

Toptal’s pricing reflects their stringent screening process and highly skilled freelancers. Their pricing is outlined as follows:

  • $1,800 – $3,200+/week per full-time Front-End or Back-End Engineer
  • $1,000 – $1,600+/week per part-time Front-End or Back-End Engineer
  • $1,800 – $3,200+/week per full-time Digital Designer
  • $1,000 – $1,600+/week per part-time Digital Designer
  • $1,200 – $1,800+/week per full-time Quality Assurance (QA) Engineer
  • $600 – $1,000+/week per part-time Quality Assurance (QA) Engineer

They are keen to point out that there is a lot of flexibility, so don’t take these prices as set in stone. Contact Toptal directly and discuss your requirements for more accurate quote.

The platform is designed so that you can hire pre-qualified help quickly and move ahead with your projects, without long, drawn-out candidate searches or hassles with finding the right freelancer.

Their invoicing plan is twice monthly with Net 10 terms, so you have time to review the invoice and the charges before paying.

Toptal Alternatives

For project-based technical help, I usually turn to Upwork, though lately have found it to be a bit of a crapshoot in terms of the quality of applications you get back on your posts. I will say this though: the bids you receive will likely be much lower than Toptal’s quoted price structure.

I also recently ran a project through Codeable, which specializes in WordPress development support.

For design tasks and projects, there are a handful of on-demand services that might worth checking out, including Undullify.

Your Turn

Have you worked with Toptal? What did you think? Please be sure to leave a review of your experience below to help others with their decision. 

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Virtalent

Virtalent is a UK-based virtual assistant company that has been in operation since 2014. Although they are fairly new on the virtual assistant scene, they have grown rapidly and picked up a lot of exposure in the UK.

They specialize in helping small businesses and entrepreneurs across the UK by providing highly skilled virtual assistants.

About Virtalent

virtalent reviewThe company employs university-educated professional virtual assistants. They have a strict recruitment process to ensure they are hiring highly skilled VA’s, and currently only hire virtual assistants based in the UK.

Virtalent VA’s work from their homes in the UK, and with their clients being based in the UK this means there are no time differences or language barriers to navigate.

If you sign up with Virtalent you will be assigned a dedicated assistant based in the UK, with an account manager based in Virtalent’s head office in Birmingham. Their ideal clients are small business owners and entrepreneurs looking to outsource some of their workload to free up some of their time.

Virtalent Intro Video

Services

The services offered by their virtual assistants are generalized into the following categories on their site:

  • Marketing
  • General VA work
  • Research and analysis
  • Design
  • Business Development

As with any virtual assistant company there is almost no online task too large or too small. You should always contact the company and ask as many questions and be as detailed as possible to get the most out of the relationship.

I asked Virtalent’s co-founder if they had any areas of specialization, and he explained when clients sign up, “They’re assigned a dedicated VA with a particular skillset, but if they want a variety of different tasks to be completed they may also be assigned someone else with a different skillset too (e.g. a web designer). It is very rare that a customer would work with more than one VA with the same skillset however (i.e. we don’t intentionally swap around VAs as this is not a very pleasant experience for the client).”

The company uses a task management portal which allows clients to log in and view all their activity, from virtual assistant hours worked, jobs completed and outstanding, current invoices, and any notes or feedback.

Plans and Pricing

Virtalent supply virtual assistants at a flat rate of £21 per/hr (approx $30). All work is billed to the exact second it takes to complete the tasks. There are no minimum hours a month commitment, so you can use as little or as much VA time as you need. This makes the service as flexible and cost-effective as possible, which was the company’s directive.

The way I interpret this is almost as a membership program that’s free to join, and you can use Virtalent’s virtual assistants as much or as little as you choose.

If you have a large project Virtalent will provide you with an estimate based on how many hours they quote for the work. This means you can have a budget to work to, and you will be in constant communication with your account manager as the job progresses to see if it’s on track.

Sam explained, “We will provide an estimate based on our hourly rate (e.g. 100 hours at £21 per hour = £2100) to help the client budget for the work, but don’t ever agree a fixed project fee for the work to be completed. The VA can also stop after X hours and report back to the client with how much work they have done, before continuing.”

Virtalent Alternatives

There aren’t a lot of UK-only virtual assistant companies to choose from but the market is steadily growing. The best-rated is Time Etc, which has slightly higher rates and a variety of plans to choose from.

Your Turn

Have you worked with Virtalent? If so, please leave a review of your experience below to help others with their decision.

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Virtual Valley

Virtual Valley is a UK-based virtual assistant company specializng in connecting entrepreneurs and small business owners with virtual assistants based in the Philippines.

The company is headed up by Tom Hunt, who started accepting new clients in 2016.

About Virtual Valley

virtual valley reviewVirtualValley.io is one of the newer virtual assistant companies to enter the marketplace, starting operations in January of this year. The company is founded and run by Tom Hunt, an entrepreneur who has appeared on Dragon’s Den, Location Independent Entrepreneur, and is a TEDx speaker.

Tom started the company to help connect business owners who are in the early growth phases of their business, with virtual assistants capable of taking on some of their workload. All of Virtual Valley’s virtual assistants are home-based in the Philippines to make them available at an affordable price. Allowing the business owner to use their time in more profitable ways.

Virtual Valley has a curated database of virtual assistants already vetted, and have designed their platform to be quick and easy to use. (Allowing clients to browse their database, post jobs, and hire a VA within minutes.

Services

Being a new company, Virtual Valley are currently just offering virtual assistants to fulfill general VA roles. So data entry, inbox management, research, etc. They have plans to expand and have more role-specific virtual assistant options in the future, such as web development, graphics, accounting, and more.

Their services have been designed to offer a quick, streamlined solution to hiring and managing a virtual assistant. Tom explained that with Virtual Valley, “You can hire a virtual assistant within 5 minutes and 7 clicks of creating a Virtual Valley account, as opposed to searching through pages and pages of VAs just relying on reviews/ratings for assessment.”

There are six steps to follow when filling out an application to find a virtual assistant:

  1. Title of the role you are submitting
  2. Select the hourly rate you want to pay the virtual assistant
  3. Select a start date
  4. Choose either a part time or full time VA
  5. Add a detailed description of the role
  6. Add any desirable skills required of the VA

The time your VA works is tracked using their proprietary time tracking software managed in-house. The software provides screen shots and data to your own dashboard so you can keep track of what tasks have been completed and how much time has been used.

Plans and Pricing

When hiring a virtual assistant you choose either a part-time assistant at 4 hours per day, or full-time assistant at 8 hours per day. Then you agree to their hourly rate which is typically between $3-6 an hour.

For example, this means if you were to hire a part-time virtual assistant at $3 an hour, you can expect to pay around $240 a month. Virtual Valley take a 20% fee which is included in the VA’s hourly rate.

When I filtered for part-time VAs, these are the results I found:

virtual valley virtual assistants

There is no upfront fee and payments are taken from PayPal at the end of the month.

Virtual Valley Alternatives

There are several companies vying for your Filipino VA recruiting attention. Zen Virtual Assistants Finder will perform a similar candidate search on your behalf for an upfront fee, and then set you loose to work with your virtual hire with no ongoing markup on their salary.

OnlineJobs.ph is for the do-it-yourselfer. For $49 a month you’ll have access to their massive resume database of virtual assistants, ability to post your job, and communicate with candidates.

But where Virtual Valley falls is somewhere in between; you won’t pay the upfront fee or have the recruiting headaches you might encounter with OnlineJobs or Upwork, and you also won’t pay anywhere close to the same markup you’d pay through a more traditional virtual assistant company. 

Your Turn

Have you worked with Virtual Valley? If so, please be sure to leave a review of your hiring and working experience below.

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The 2 Types of Delegation (One is WAY Harder to Pull Off)

types of delegationWhen you’re looking at your list of potential tasks to delegate or outsource, you’ll find that the items fall into one of two categories:

1. Stuff you know how to do, but your time would be better spent elsewhere.

2. Stuff you don’t know how to do, but needs to get done.

A few weeks ago I told you about my current virtual assistant “stack”. Nearly everything on that list fell into the first category: stuff I know how to do and very easily could do myself.

Years ago, I really struggled with this type of delegation. Why pay someone to do work I could do myself? 

And of course that question leads to the classic time arbitrage discussion of getting work done for a lower hourly rate so you can focus your time on higher value activities.

You already understand that argument, so I won’t dwell on it here.

Still, it’s a challenge (at least for me) and it might be helpful to categorize some of your tasks in this way.

The second type of delegation is MUCH harder.

If you don’t know how to do the work you’re asking your virtual assistant to do, how will you explain it to them?

How will you know if they’re qualified?

How will you know if they’re doing it right?

This is where I’ve run into trouble, especially when trying to outsource large-scale technical projects. Sure, I drew up the project specs as best I could, but could I really tell if my contractor knew the best way to deliver the work?

(I feel the same way when I take my car to the shop. “Sir, we inspected the vehicle and found your front drive shaft power steering discombobulator is worn out. I recommend replacing it immediately.”)

OK, if you say so.

There are a couple ways around this.

The first is to get a second or third or fourth opinion. If you approach each VA or contractor or outsourcing company with the same goal or desired outcome, you can compare their proposed solutions apples to apples.

The ones who take the time to understand your problem and desired destination are probably the ones that will be best to work with long-term.

The other method is to learn the process yourself first. For example, if I want to delegate my social media marketing, I can take the time to learn the strategies and tactics, and develop the processes and the documentation around them.

Then I’m in a much better position to train a VA to take over those tasks, and can probably find someone more affordable than if I was hiring for the “strategy” portion as well.

The tradeoffs are time and money. The first method is faster but more expensive, while the second is slower but cheaper.

But there aren’t any shortcuts, at least that I’m aware of.

Your Turn

Do your delegation efforts focus on the tasks you know how to do but shouldn’t be doing, or the tasks you don’t know how to do? Or both?

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Bench.co

Bench is a remote bookkeeping service specializing in providing tax-ready financials for small businesses. Their clients are primarily spread across the U.S and Canada.

The company was formed in New York and has been in operation since 2002. They relocated to Vancouver, BC in the summer of 2013.

About Bench.co

Bench reviewBench is a software company offering bookkeeping solutions for small businesses. They provide the tools for business owners to track their finances, as well as assigning a professional accountant to help manage the finances of the business.

The company moved from the U.S to Vancouver, B.C. in 2013, and this is where all of their employees are based.

Although 95% of their clients are U.S based, their bookkeepers are versed in the accounting practices and laws across several countries. So if you’re based outside of the U.S you can still contact them and discuss your requirements.

They are a tech savvy bookkeeping service, and use their own intuitive software as well as an app to keep in touch with clients. So you can easily connect with them directly and ensure your financial records are up to date, as well as keeping in constant communication with your assigned accountant.

Bench Intro Video

Services

Preparing tax returns and balancing the books is a time consuming part of running a business. Bench takes the burden of managing the financials from small business owners at an affordable price. Using their systems and team of bookkeepers and accountants, they take care of all the day-to-day financials of running a business so you can use your time working on other areas of your business.

Bench uses their software and an account manager to prepare the financials for a business on a monthly basis. They prepare cash-basis, tax-ready income statements and balance sheets and provide ongoing support.

They have a simple three step plan in place for new customers:

  1. They set up a call to discuss your business and answer any questions you have
  2. They prepare your financials for the first month for free so you can try their service and see how it works with your business before committing
  3. You review the income statement with your account manager and decide if you want to purchase an ongoing plan

Plans and Pricing

Bench have four main packages to choose from. Each package comes with monthly cash-basis income statements and a balance sheet, as well as ongoing communication with the team.

The starter package is the Micro package. You get 2 bank and credit card accounts, and 1 custom add-on with this package and it costs $125 per month. Each subsequent package provides you with one more bank or credit card account and 1 more custom add-on, with the prices being $175, $250 and $350 per month respectively.

bench pricing

They understand that every business has some individual needs and welcome anyone to contact them directly to discuss their financials and what package would be most suitable.

They also offer a free trial. This is for one month’s worth of bookkeeping, allowing you to give their service a try and a get a feel for their software and processes.

Bench Alternatives

Hiring a bookkeeper is one of the first additions many small businesses make. Bench seems like a nice hybrid between hiring a contract bookkeeper from an accounting firm or a freelance bookkeeper on Upwork or another platform, and the full “do-it-yourself” option of just using Excel spreadsheets, Freshbooks, or Quickbooks Online.

Your Turn

I think the one month free trial is a great opportunity to give Bench a try if you’re unsure of what to expect. If you have worked with Bench please leave some feedback below to help others with their decision.

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Crew.co

Crew.co is a marketplace that provides a platform for freelancers, or “members” as they refer to them, to connect with business owners and entrepreneurs. They specialize in providing professional services of web designers and developers.

The company was founded in 2012 and their headquarters are based in Montreal, Canada. Through their platform they connect freelancer designers and developers to business owners from all over the globe.

About Crew.co

Crew.co reviewThe company is headed up by Martin Konrad, and they have been in operation for over three years. Crew is not a service company and does not carry out or oversee any of the work for their members or manage projects, rather they provide the platform for business owners to find designers and developers, and handle the contracts and financial transactions.

The company screens and vets the freelancers, and matches them to the best-suited projects for their skills. They also hire additional freelancers from around the globe to meet demand when required.

How it Works

When you post a project, the team at Crew matches you with 3 fully-vetted freelancers for you to choose between to complete your project within 48 hours. This is different than platforms like Upwork or Freelancer.com, where unlimited freelancers can bid for your project and you narrow down the applicants.

Anyone who have had a bad experience on an open marketplace may feel more comfortable with the way Crew are operating. With Crew manually selecting freelancers, you do not need to invest as much time vetting the applicants yourself.  

Services

Unlike some other freelancing marketplaces, Crew focuses specifically on programming and graphic design projects.

They specialize in providing website development, app development, eCommerce support, logo design, branding, and custom graphic design work.

There is a three-step process when submitting a project to the Crew platform:

  1. You post your exact job, or “project” requirements
  2. You will receive an automatic budget recommendation to look over
  3. Three handpicked freelancers will contact you within 48 hours, you then decide who you want to work with

Because Crew use their own vetting process when taking on freelancers to join their platform there should be a higher level of consistency than open marketplaces.

Their target customers are busy business owners or entrepreneurs who do not have in-house web or graphic designers and need individual projects completed. If you’ve been thinking about a logo redesign or having an app developed, Crew is worth checking out.

Plans and Pricing

Because it’s a project-based platforms, pricing varies depending on the specific work you need done. Once you and your chosen contractor agree on the scope of the project, you pre-pay into Crew’s escrow account.

Crew holds the funds for the project until the work is completed and both parties are satisfied. The company takes a 15% fee from the total payment to cover processing, overhead, customer support, and of course, their profit.

The company uses a third-party payment system through their platform for safe and secure transactions.

Crew Alternatives

The biggest competitor to Crew is the giant freelance platform Upwork.comThe main difference is that they try to be a one-stop shop for all your outsourcing needs, instead of just focusing on only designers and developers.

If you’re looking for development help, you might consider Codeable (for WordPress projects) or TopTal (for a wider range).

For one-off graphics work, 99designs and DesignCrowd are popular choices.

Your Turn

Have you worked with Crew.co? If so, please leave a review of your experience below to help others with their decision.

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eLuminous Technologies

eLuminous Technologies is a professional virtual assistant company. The company is a partnership firm owned by Sandeep Aher and Hrushikesh Wakadkar, and they have been operating since 2002. 

Being in business for over 13 years makes eLuminous Technologies one of the more established virtual assistant companies in the industry.

About eLuminous Technologies

eluminous technologies reviewThe company is based in Nashik, India, where they operate out of a huge facility with a team of over 80 staff. They work around the clock to accommodate all the timezones of their clients, offering services during EST, PST, GMT and AEST timezones.

As you would expect with a company of this size, eLuminous have a large pool of skills within their 80+ staff. They have split into several different departments, and aim to match clients up with the most suitable assistant or team.

Their target customers range from small business owners, to managers and CEOs of large organizations. eLuminous Technologies find that most of their clients work in industries like web development, Internet marketing, eCommerce, eBay and Amazon sellers, and other online businesses.

Services

eLuminous breaks down their services into four main categories, and have a separate department for each of the following:

  1. Virtual Assistant Services
  2. Web Development
  3. Mobile App Development
  4. SEO and SMM

So depending on the client’s type of business or requirements, they can direct them to a department specializing in that area.

Their virtual assistant services cover all the day-to-day business tasks you would expect. As I always advise, you should provide a detailed list of the tasks you’re looking to outsource and check they have experience with each task before committing to a price plan.

Their web development team specialize in maintaining and building websites. They have a dedicated mobile app development team, which is a service not offered by many virtual assistant companies. Finally they have a SEO and SMM department, ideal for outsourcing your social media accounts.

Plans and Pricing

For their virtual assistant service, eLuminous Technologies charges a flat rate of $7 per/hr, and have six fixed packages to choose from.

Their entry package includes 20 hours of virtual assistant time, with their other packages offering 40, 80, 120 and 160 hours. They also have a WordPress and CMS support package, aimed at businesses wanting ongoing website support.

eluminous technologies pricing

When paying for a package you are purchasing a number of hours. The hours will be used up as your tasks are completed, and you can keep an eye on the progress.

When I asked eLuminous what sets them apart from their competitors, they cited their 15 day money back guarantee, quality of service and flexible payment options.

eLuminous Technologies Alternatives

The virtual assistant marketplace is a competitive and crowded one. If you’re looking at virtual assistant companies based in India I’d look at My Tasker or VMG BPO as viable alternatives.

They offer similar pricing and it’s worth getting a custom quote from more than one company with your task requirements.

Your Turn

Have you worked with eLuminous Technologies? If so please leave a comment below to help others with making an informed decision.

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EasilyDo

EasilyDo is a tech company with a smartphone app that works as a personal assistant and automation machine from the palm of your hand. Their company directive is “to save people time and delight them with convenience.”

Everyone has their smartphone close at hand during the day, so any apps that make managing a business easier and helps to free up time is worth a closer look. So far, they’ve attracted around 30,000 users and are working at building up a larger user base.

About EasilyDo

easilydo reviewThe company was formed in 2011 and their headquarters are located in California, US. With their developers working globally.

EasilyDo raised $4.3 million of seed funding from U.S. Venture Partners and Mayfield Fund, and have some individual investors. The funding is going into developing more apps and accelerating the growth of the company.

The company have developed a smartphone app that helps the user navigate their day, receive notifications, and get more organized. With the end goal being to save time, and allowing business owners to spend more time where it really matters – working on scaling up their business.

To get started with EasilyDo you need to connect the app to some of your other services, such as your mail, calendar and your social media accounts. Once you authenticate the app it starts looking for tasks it can automate for you.

The app is 100% automated. So once you set your features and preferences you can leave the app to get on with managing your calendar and arranging things for you.

The app is not a direct replacement for a virtual assistant, and neither is it intended to be. However, there are some really useful features on the app to help you manage your time better. Not to mention setting reminders to make sure you don’t miss all-important deadlines.

EasilyDo Intro Video

Services

To get started with EasilyDo you need to connect the app to some of your other services, such as your mail, calendar and your social media accounts. Once you authenticate the app it starts looking for tasks it can automate for you.

Some of key services of the app include:

  • Setting reminders so you don’t miss birthdays, meetings, deadlines, etc
  • Automatically adding new contacts to your address book
  • Tracking packages and deliveries
  • Monitoring your social media accounts
  • Booking hotels and flights
  • Sending SMS when you leave or enter certain areas

EasilyDo is a good travel companion as it integrates with a number of airlines and hotel chains to provide you with up-to-date information and pricing, as well as booking a flight or a hotel.

One of the aspects that sets EasilyDo apart from Google Now or Siri is that being a third party app it’s compatible with a wider range of platforms. Siri is built-in to Apple devices, and works with other Apple services. Likewise, Google Now works well with Gmail and Chrome as you would expect.

EasilyDo will sync with Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, Microsoft Exchange, Evernote, iCloud, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and more, offering a less restricted experience than Siri or Google Now.

Plans and Pricing

The app is free to download and will give you access to the basic features. There are Premium and Business level accounts which unlock a lot more features, such as contact backups, real-time email alerts, and automatically forwarding receipts.

easilydo features

The Premium packages costs $4.99 per month, or $49.99 per year. While the Business package costs $25 per month, or $240 a year. The annual one-off payments represent decent savings and are certainly worth considering if you pay for a month and want to keep your subscription.

easilydo pricing

If you rely on apps to help with reminders or arranging your phonebook and email, it’s worth giving the free trial of EasilyDo a workout.

EasilyDo Alternatives

As mentioned above, Siri and Google Now may be already built into your phone and provide some of the same functionality as EasilyDo. If you’re in need of real human support every now and then, check out GoButler or OkayRelax.

Your Turn

Have you used the EasilyDo app? If so please leave a comment below any feedback you have.

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