YOU Are the Captain of Your Ship

YOU Are the Captain of Your Ship

You have to decide — specifically and clearly — what you’re in business to do.

If you fall to pieces and think you have to start over the second one uninformed client doesn’t get it or looks at you cross-eyed…

If you blow with the wind every time a client thinks you should be doing this and doing that…

If you bend over backward twisting yourself into pretzels to be anything and everything for anyone and everyone…

You are never going to get anywhere, and your life and business will be anything but your own.

You can’t please everyone.

Not everyone is going to get it.

And you can’t be in business to do everything that everyone wants.

(Originally posted July 13, 2010)

12 Responses

  1. Julia Lilly says:


    I had this happen to me recently. A potential client was very “on board” until the very end when he started wanting me to veer from my minimum hours and waive signing of the retainer agreement. This was a big one (client I mean) and I almost, almost felt I had to do something “special” to keep the deal. But I didn’t. I refused to let someone else run my business. I said no and guess what… I got a yes! Not only did I set the right expectations from the very beginning, I actually think the client has a new respect for me and my business as a result.

  2. That is awesome, Julia! I love hearing these kind of success stories of standing firm in your standards and not settling for less than your ideal clients and commitments.

  3. Julia Lilly says:

    Thanks Danielle. It was very empowering and reaffirming. I feel like I am really rounding that corner from beginner to professional and I love it. I have to give you some credit too. I have been reading your post and purchasing your business products since nearly day one of opening my virtual doors and I KNOW they made the difference in my transformation. Keep up the great work. We need you! 🙂

  4. That means a lot to me. Thanks, Julia!

  5. Hi Danielle! Your timing with this was perfect! I had a client request my services today, at a rate of about a third of my hourly rate (even though I AM trying to escape that particular trap!). I almost agreed because I’m new at this and need to make money. Also, because I like to think to myself that MAYBE this will be a long term client if I do this for them. However, I know in my heart that all I would achieve is to allow a client to dictate my business and let them under-value my services. I thought back to your post (and others you’ve made) and decided to take back control! Thanks for always telling it like it is!

  6. I hear ya, Sheila. It can be tough when a person is in a place of financial need/lack. It leads them to make decisions that don’t end up serving them in the long run. That’s why I always talk about this stuff.

    While everyone has to balance “ya gotta do what you gotta do” to make ends meets, that never makes “take anything you can get” good advice (which I know you realize; I’m just talking out loud here for everyone else’s benefit who might be new and reading this). Because what ends up happening ultimately is they get trapped in a business that has them slaving away round the clock, still not making what they need or want while working with less than ideal clients. It’s a trap for failure and burnout.

    So even if newer Administrative Consultants don’t get it at first, they will eventually realize the wisdom of the advice and have an “aha” moment.

  7. Judy Reyes says:

    Good going, Julia and Sheila. And good post Danielle. This is very valuable information.

  8. Thanks, Judy! Nice to see you here. Looking forward to talking with you more in the upcoming clinic. 🙂

  9. Hey, anyone else who’d like to share their own success stories about biting the bullet, closing their eyes and taking a risk in standing firm for their standards and ideals, I’d love to hear them! I think everyone would.

  10. Cathey Kuhn says:

    Julia, it’s great that your experience turned out positive. My first experience went in the opposite direction. The prospect stated he could “get a college kid” to do his bidding for $20 an hour. It occurred to me at that moment there was no need to justify my rates because it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. No need to do business with someone who has no respect for your expertise or understanding of collaborative relationships.

  11. Thanks so much for sharing, Cathey. 🙂

    This is a great example of why it’s so important to be talking with the right audience and sending the right message. If a person’s marketing message is all about being affordable, cheap, less than an employee (that is, all about money and cost), guess who that attracts? That’s right — people who are focused on nothing but price: price-shoppers, cheap-seekers, devaluers and others who don’t get it and won’t ever get it because all they’re looking for is a bargain. These are the people who are penny smart and pound foolish. You can’t make those people your market or you will always have this kind of angst in your life.

    By the same token, people in our industry need to take responsibility for the message they are sending. I mean, they can hang up their hat and blame it all on the clients who don’t get it, but guess where clients get a lot of their education? Yeah, from our own industry.

    So the problem isn’t necessarily all the clients; it’s the people (often whom call themselves “assistants”) not knowing how to better articulate their value so that clients know the difference between a professional with real skills in a committed business and a college kid with no experience (hence, none of the sensibilities that come with years of administrative experience). They need to change their message and get better at articulating their value. The industry message right now is doing exactly the opposite.

  12. Anne Marie says:

    I am just starting out and appreciate all the good advice I am reading.

    thank you

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