Dear Danielle: I’m Not Sure the Administrative Consultant Term Fits, but Neither Does VA

Dear Danielle: I'm Not Sure the Administrative Consultant Term Fits, but Neither Does VA

I had a short, but meaningful conversation on LinkedIn with a new colleague who was wanting to get away from the VA term, but wasn’t sure Administrative Consultant was right for her either.

It’s important to understand the correct underlying definition of a term (not merely the surface words that it is composed of) in order to determine if it is apt and appropriately applies to your own situation.

If you are at the same crossroads, maybe this interaction is helpful to you as well. (I’ve kept the colleague anonymous for privacy.)

COLLEAGUE:

Dear Danielle, I have just had chance to read your LinkedIn summary properly and oh yes I agree. I know I have been calling myself a VA, but I would like to get away from this (it doesn’t feel comfortable with me) as I don’t think it actually says what I do, and I think business owners don’t really understand the potential. It is a descriptive word to bulk us altogether. Although the word consultant I don’t think fits in with what I do either. I have this idea that a consultant comes into a business, suggests ways to improve, and leaves. I’m more of an implementer, but that doesn’t sound right to promote this either. I did speak to a “mentor” once (only once) and he suggested I charge quite low as people won’t pay more for an admin assistant. That was right to begin with, mainly to get me the confidence to work for myself, but now it is a lot different. Anyway, lovely to make acquaintance with you and look forward to hearing further from you.

ME:

Nice to make your acquaintance as well.

Yes, that “mentor” was no mentor at all. No business mentor who knew anything about business (especially a professional service business) would tell you to charge quite low because rule #1 in business is that it must be profitable (or you don’t have a business, you have a hobby).

You can’t be profitable undervaluing yourself (which in turn attracts clients who don’t value you or what you do).

You also see how calling yourself an assistant wrongly influenced his perceptions, right? This is exactly why it doesn’t do anyone in business any good using terms of employment (which is what “assistant” is) to describe themselves.

Have you been to the ACA website? The home page further explains our definition of Administrative Consultant. After reading that, you might find that it does fit for you after all.

For example, the people in our group aren’t just implementers because as experts in administration, our clients also come to us to guide and advise them on their administrative set-ups, operations and workflows. So, in that respect, we are consultants.

Administrative Consultant is the marriage between someone who provides both administrative support AND guidance and expertise on best practices with regard to systems and operations.

Even if right now you still might feel that you are only an implementer, after a few years in business and working with clients, I’ll bet you’ll see yourself differently.

The best clients naturally don’t see you as just their little worker bee (and if that’s all they think of you, they will only want to pay peanuts). They see you as their administrative expert and will look to you for your advice, guidance and recommendations on these matters.

It’s the natural progression of the relationship, which is also exactly what makes us Administrative Consultants.

Either way, I’m sure you’ll find a whole lot of useful insights and confidence-building resources on the ACA website. Check it out here.

COLLEAGUE:

And yes! Just looked at your website and video and that is exactly what I’m doing for one of my clients. Your explanation of Consultant I like for the “all inclusive” role. I will start moving away from the VA term, as I do prefer to work with someone on a long-term basis. Thank you for providing me the explanation and the confirmation I was really looking for.

ME:

Wonderful!

On the topic of confidence and learning how to command professional fees, you might find this category on my blog helpful.

I very much appreciate our conversation today. I know it’s something a lot of people in our industry feel as well, but aren’t sure how to articulate or ask about it. Thanks for reaching out!

5 Responses

  1. Judy Reyes says:

    Good advice to the “colleague” and she is asking good questions, too. Dump the VA term, and move ahead! Wishing her success.

  2. Terri Whitbread says:

    Your timing is amazing Danielle Keister. For the past few days I’ve been thinking I really don’t like the term ‘Virtual Assistant’, I’m so much more than that! Virtual Consultant maybe? I like the sound of that and it fits well with what I actually do. Thanks for the post Danielle.

  3. A consultant of what? If you are in the administrative support business, the word “administrative” is integral. Otherwise, it doesn’t mean anything.

    I’m also not a fan of the word “virtual.” Here are some posts you might find illuminating:

    This Isn’t the Sims

    Dear Danielle: Should I Use the Word “Virtual” in My Biz Name?

    “Virtual Professional” Is About the Stupidest Term I’ve Ever Heard

    Dear Danielle: We Loathe the Virtual Assistant Term

    What Makes Someone an Administrative Consultant?

  4. Terri Whitbread says:

    That’s the thing though it’s not just administrative support that we’re giving. We also give professional advice on various subjects. It’s a tough one.

  5. Administrative Consultant would not apply to you in that case. Administrative Consultants are business owners who are focused specifically on administrative support, not this, that and the other. Administrative support is an expertise, profession and business in and of itself. 😉

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