Excerpts from the book ‘The 4-Hour Workweek’

by Timothy Ferriss

Even if the cost is occasionally more per hour than you currently earn, the trade is often worth it. Let's assume you make $50,000 and thus $25 per hour (working from 9-5, Monday through Friday, for 50 weeks per year). If you pay a top-notch assistant $30 per hour and he or she saves you one full 8-hour shift per week, your cost (subtracting what you're being paid) is $40 to free an extra day. Would you pay $40 per week to work Monday to Thursday? I would, and I do

First, per-hour cost is not the ultimate determinant of cost. Look at per-task cost. If you need to spend time restating the task and otherwise managing the VA, determine the time required of you and add this (using your per-hour rate from earlier chapters) to the end sticker price of the task.

One can give the remote personal assistant in India their assignment when they are leaving work at the end of the day in New York City, and they will have the presentation ready the next morning. Because of the time difference with India, assistants can work on it while they are asleep and have it back in their morning. When they wake up, they will find the completed summary in their inbox. These assistants can also help them keep pace with what they want to read, for example

I recommend that you hire a VA firm or VAs with backup teams instead of sole operators. Examples abound, of course, of people who have had a single assistant for decades without incident, but I suggest that this is the exception rather than the rule. Better safe than sorry. Besides simple disaster avoidance, a group structure provides a pool of talent that allows you to assign multiple tasks without bothering to find a new person with the qualifications. Brickwork and YMII both exemplify this type of structure and provide a single point of contact, a personal account manager, who then farms out your tasks to the most-capable people in the group and across different shifts. Need graphic design? Covered. Need database management? Covered. I don't like calling and coordinating multiple people. I want one-stop shopping and am willing to pay 10% more to have it. I encourage you to be similarly pound-wise and penny-foolish.

Team preference doesn't mean that bigger is better, just that multiple people are better than one person. The best VA I have used to date is an Indian with five backup assistants under him. Three can be more than sufficient, but two is toeing the line. www.b2kcorp.com ($15 per hour+) From Fortune 10 oil companies and Fortune 500 clients to Big 5 accounting firms and members of D.S. Congress, Brickwork can handle it all. This is reflected in the costs of this pure suit-and-tie operation-business only. No flowers for auntie.

Outsourcing is no longer just for Fortune 500 companies. Small and mid-sized firms, as well as busy professionals, can outsource their work to increase their productivity and free time for more important commitments. It's time for the world to take advantage of this revolution.

- VIVEK KULKARNI, CEO of Brickwork India and former IT secretary of Bangalore; credited as the "techno-bureaucrat" who helped make Bangalore an IT destination in India