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Business Development

REI Outsourcing: Virtual Assistants vs. Interns vs. Employees

stickerIf you caught my last two lessons – Why I Use Interns and Hiring Your First Intern – then you know by now that interns can really help you crank-up your real estate investing business.  Not only will you be able to get more done, and have more time to grow your business, but interns are also going to breathe new life into your real estate investment pursuits.

However, interns aren’t always the best solution for your human resources needs.

In today’s lesson, we will differentiate between the various needs for hiring interns, virtual assistants (VAs), and plain ol' employees.  Understanding the types of projects best suited to each human resource will equip you decide whether you should be hiring an assistant, an employee or an intern, depending on the nature of what you need to accomplish.

First, you must ask yourself three questions …

3 Questions to Differentiate Your Human Resource Needs

Question #1: What needs in your business would require you to utilize additional human resources?

If you answer with any of the following tasks, then you probably want to hire an assistant or VA:

  • Customer Support
  • Customer Service
  • Data Entry
  • Scheduling
  • Day-to-Day Database/CRM Maintenance
  • Bookkeeping
  • Travel Arrangements
  • Managing Company Calendar
  • Maintaining Autoresponders/Lists
  • Transcription Services

(These are more day-to-day tasks to “maintain” your business, which are more suited for an assistant or VA.)

If you answer with any of the following tasks, then you probably want to hire an intern – or a virtual intern:

  • Video Marketing
  • Press Release Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Website Analytics
  • Research and Writing
  • Blogging
  • New Product/Service Development
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Copywriting

(These tasks are going to help you “grow” your business, which makes them ideally-suited for an intern.)

But if you answer with any needs that require (i) an ongoing project, (ii) a task that requires someone to be in your office daily, or (iii) the management of simultaneous projects/tasks, then you probably want to hire an employee.  The needs associated with hiring an official employee typically involve things that help you to both maintain and grow your business.

hourglassQuestion #2:  For how many hours/days a week do you need help? 

If you need someone for more than 10-15 hours per week, and more than 2-3 days per week, and if they MUST report to an office, then you probably need an assistant or VA, contractor or employee.

On the other hand, if you don’t need the person to be available for more than 10-15 hours a week and they can work all of their hours in 1-3 days, then you probably want to hire an intern.

Question #3:  Do you need regular/ongoing help, or just project-based help?

If you need help throughout the foreseeable future regarding projects and tasks that are ongoing and repetitive, then you should hire a VA, assistant or employee.  Interns typically work for 3-6 months, so they are best-suited for assisting with projects having a defined beginning and end (or projects that could easily be transferred to a new subsequent intern).

If the Shoe Fits, Wear It!

At this point, you should be realizing that there are some tasks and projects which are NOT suitable for interns, but there are also many projects for which an intern would be IDEAL.

shoesRemember, interns are learning on the job.  They aren’t experts, and they generally don’t work 9am-5pm, five days a week.  They will typically work for you between 3-12 months, so you must assume some attrition and turnover when assigning tasks to an intern.

The following chart provides a quick reference point for determining which of your tasks and projects is best-suited for an intern, VA or employee.

Human Resources Reference Chart

Type of Resource

Type of Task/Project

Hours/week or day or month

Ongoing or Sporadic Help


Repetitive task: customer service/billing/list maintenance.
Tasks that help you maintain your business

Set hours per week or month – some flexibility. Generally 10-20 hours/week



Large ongoing projects and tasks.

Tasks that help you grow and maintain your business.

Set hours per week and usually report to an office – generally 25-60 hours/week



Project based tasks with definitive end date and appropriate management/training available to guide the project.

Tasks that help you grow your business.

Flexible schedule: 10-40 hours/week

Sporadic or ongoing with new interns taking over where old intern left off

The Bottom Line

Remember, interns are learning on the job.  They aren’t experts and they have limited availability to assist.  With just a little planning and preparation you can create and run a very successful real estate investing internship program that will help you grow your business exponentially.


Do It To It! Immediate Action Steps

Revisit the List - Do you remember that list of tasks you drafted at the end of our first lesson? The list of all the tasks and projects you would like to complete, in order to help you grow your business? Revisit that list and look at all the tasks you wrote down.

Differentiate - Then mark each task as best-suited for an “intern”, “employee” or “VA”, based on the information you learned in this lesson.

In our final lesson, I’ll further help you refine your list of projects by telling you about what I believe to be “The Top 10 Tasks for Your New Intern”.

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