Tech VA vs Tech Expert

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In my early career as a tech VA, I probably took home a measly $2/hour. It wasn’t because my employer was miserly. In fact, she paid $20/hour, but when you’re a tech VA you’re being paid for the actual work you do, not the learning it takes to do the work. I spent hours and hours and hours and hours learning tech stacks, software, and automations.

Here’s the good news: all that learning helped me pivot from serving clients as a tech VA on retainer to serving my clients on complex projects that required a tech expert.

What’s the difference between a tech VA and a tech expert

You might be wondering what the difference between a tech VA and a tech expert is. Having been both, the best way to explain it is, a tech expert:

  • Has more technical training than a tech VA
  • Takes ultimate responsibility for project outcomes
  • Possesses problem-solving talent
  • Understands the entire scope of work
  • Has experience managing or training project teams

Tech experts are just that: experts. To use a housing remodel example, it’s the difference between hiring your go-to handyman or hiring an expert fixer upper team like Chip and Joanna Gaines. No one would argue that the Gaines are experts in their field. They can see the potential and all the steps needed to take a house from UGH to AMAZING. They understand the market, the strategy, the sequence of the steps, and they can literally map out the end result before they even start the work. They can present options and the pros-cons of each choice. They have their arms around the whole thing. They can usually spot the hiccups in a project and mitigate them in a cost-effective way.

And here’s what they are really good at: the end result always has a wow-factor.

By contrast, the experienced handyman has wired in a beautiful light fixture under the supervision of the Gaines. He does his part with excellence and he stays in his lane. At the risk of pushing this analogy too far, maybe that experienced handyman (because he’s been working for the Gaines for half of a decade) knows a thing or two about big picture renovations, but ultimately, you don’t hire a handyman to manage all aspects of a home renovation.

Who should I hire?

With this analogy in mind, let’s turn back to your business. Once you’ve identified the scope of work, you’re ready to identify who will actually do the work. A good rule of thumb is if you’re bringing in between $50K-100K per year in your digital business, you might already have a tech VA on retainer. What you might not realize is that you probably have the financial resources to hire a tech expert for a few special projects a year. That’s kind of exciting when you think about it, isn’t it?

What are those pet projects that you’ve been wanting to tackle in order to scale your business? Give yourself permission to splurge on a tech expert who comes highly recommended to you by sources you trust.

Can my tech VA uplevel her skills?

Something to keep in the back of your mind about your current tech VA. Sometimes tech VAs can transition or uplevel to micro tech experts with a bit of education. Let’s say you have someone on your staff who really understands 2-3 pieces of your tech stack, but doesn’t really understand how to leverage the power of the stack for optimal profit or time savings. By investing in additional education or coaching via a mini-course or tech membership for your VA, you could help them uplevel and avoid a pricey tech expert. 

Your current tech VA might even be sharp enough to migrate from tech VA to tech expert in your particular tech stack. This is not always true, but if it is, all the better. This gives you the best of both worlds: you have someone in-house you already like working with who knows the ins and outs of your business and your team, but you’re giving them the resources to uplevel in order to solve problems as your business grows so you can save time and maximize your profits by fully leveraging your tech stack.

Questions to ask yourself about your tech

Here are a few questions about the current tech needs of your business that may help you determine whether you need a tech expert or tech VA:

  • Where are the current tech hiccups in your business?
  • Do those hiccups cost you money each month in the form of time lost or sheer profit?
  • Does your tech VA fully grasp the big picture and come to you with ideas for troubleshooting or does your tech VA wait for you to call attention to problems and look to you for ideas to solve them?
  • Do you have a special project coming up that is outside the scope of expertise of your tech VA?
  • Does the tech expert you are considering hiring have an offer that includes a post-project training or intensive so your existing tech VA can take over the management of the tech that the expert has installed or created.

Through years of tech education and development, I have fully migrated from tech VA to tech expert. I love swooping in as an expert and solving a complex problem. At the end of the day, I leave the client with a top notch automation, course or workflow. If you’re a business owner ready to outsource a tech project, check out our website.

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