Guess what, people?
Administrative support IS a specialty in and of itself.
You CAN specialize in just administrative support and do as well as any other kind of specialized service professional.
The problem, the reason why clients don’t get it much of the time and why we as an industry are not earning well, is because people continue to call anything and everything “virtual assistance” and lump everything under the sun under the “virtual assistant” umbrella.
When something doesn’t have any definition like that, then it isn’t anything at all, least of all a profession.
And clients don’t pay well for something that is nothing. They view it as merely gopher work.
If people would simply stop trying to call everything virtual assistance and learn to identify, define and separate business categories for themselves (and not let clients define that for them), they could begin to earn better. They could charge one retainer for administrative support and then charge separately for work and projects that fall under different business categories entirely.
A good example of this is the argument I hear new people put forth constantly: “Well, when I was an executive assistant, I also did bookkeeping and web design and copyrighting and this and that and the other.”
So, you’re saying that because employers piled a load of other work onto the shoulders of administrative staff because they were trying to save a buck at your expense, that means as a business owner you should lump everything you know how to do under one banner and offer it as all one and the same?
As an employee, you had no say in the matter and trooped along like a good soldier. And hey, learning new skills and tinkering with new programs can be just plain fun.
But it is neither smart nor profitable to carry that kind of employee mindset over into your business.
If you do, I guarantee sooner or later you will realize the consequences of this and the wisdom of the advice I give you today.
Just as a doctor is different from an attorney, there are different classifications of work and business.
For example, Web design, a separate profession in its own right, is inherently project-oriented work. It immediately differs from administrative support in that respect.
More importantly, it is something that requires entirely different skills, processes, knowledge and talents from administrative support.
For this reason, it is a completely separate category of business and expertise for which you can charge separately as an additional income stream.
No one is saying that you can’t be in business to do more than one thing (e.g., administrative support and web design and bookkeeping, etc.). But that doesn’t make them all the same thing.
You can be in the administrative support business and also be a web designer (or bookkeeper or copywriter, etc.) if that’s what you want to do. It’s just that they are not all one and the same thing.
Once you start grasping this, you’ll begin to gain more clarity about which business you intend to be in and what to more appropriately call yourself.
By making these distinctions clear, it will start you on the path to better earning because you’ll be able to see and think more clearly about what should fall under your administrative support umbrella and what falls under another business category altogether (you can call these “divisions” in your business) and should be charged for separately.
And it’s YOU who needs to make these distinctions and classifications in your business. Don’t let clients dictate these things.
Because that’s the other part of the problem–people in our industry doing (and giving away) all this other work beyond administrative support because clients keep trying to pile everything on without paying extra for it. And it’s keeping you in the poor house.
Of course, this is happening with your consent if you refuse to get conscious about these things. It’s not a partnership if you are being taken advantage of.
By the same token, you aren’t being taken advantage if you are allowing it. If you keep lumping everything under the administrative support umbrella, you will continue to deprive yourself of opportunities to earn better and grow your business in more profitable, sustainable ways.
These are excellent points! I know all too well what it’s like to do more than my title and NOT be paid for it and I want to go into business so that I can get paid in accordance with the skills that I am using to do the job.