In your opinion should an Administrative Consultant have one specific specialty, or should you specialize across a few specialties to maximize profitability. My idea is to focus on providing admin services to local small bankruptcy law firms, who may not have a paralegal on staff, as I have extensive work experience as a paralegal. Any insight on this would be most appreciated. Thank you an advance for your help. —TR
Thanks for the question… because it’s something I see a lot of people confused about in the administrative support industry at large.
In an Administrative Consulting business, you already have a specialization: administrative support.
What you’re in business to do is already your specialization.
What I see a lot of people not understanding is that administrative support is a specialization in and of itself.
They confuse being an administrative assistant when they were an employee (who very often had everything-and-the-kitchen dumped on them without any say-so or proper additional compensation) with administrative support as a business.
One is a role of employment while the other is a specific expertise. They are not one and the same thing.
And what you don’t want to do under any circumstances is run your business and work with clients as if you were their employee.
First of all, it’s illegal. Second, because it’s unprofitable and unsustainable.
When we talk about specialization in the Administrative Consulting business, we’re talking about having a target market, which is simply a field/industry/profession you cater your administrative support to.
You provide a good example: Bankruptcy attorneys is a target market.
Generally speaking, attorneys is a target market and the practice area of bankruptcy attorneys specifically would be called your “niche” or “specialization.”
My target market is attorneys as well, but specifically intellectual property/entertainment law attorneys.
See what I mean?
The reason this is the useful thing to focus on is because (in the case of our example of attorneys), one practice area can do such drastically different work from another practice area, that the administrative support would be completely different as well.
The marketing message you would need to come up with if you worked with estate law attorneys would be very different from the one you’d create if you were speaking to criminal law attorneys.
I have a number of blog posts that elaborate on this topic. Dig around in the Target Market category and I think you’ll find some that hit this right on the nose for you.
As far as profitability goes, I would need a bit more information about what you are worried about. I think it does, however, pinpoint a fear that a lot of people new to business in our industry have.
They think if they focus on a target market they’ll miss out on opportunities. In fact, focusing on a target market makes marketing your business and getting clients vastly easier.
That’s because instead of being a meandering generality, they become a meaningful (and more compelling and attractive) specific.
The market expects to pay those with a specific expertise (like that of administrative support) much more than those they perceive as merely gophers and jacks-of-all-trades (e.g., the person who will do anything just to make a buck, from whose website it isn’t clear what exactly they do, whose marketing message is all over the map).
Plus, there is so much constant mental switching of gears when you try to be this, that and the other. That in itself is unprofitable (Been there, done that.)
So I would tell you: focus your business on the one thing. You’ll be perceived as someone with a specific expertise (in our case, the expertise of administrative support), your business will be easier to run and the work easier to do (which makes it more profitable), you’ll get clients much more easily, and you’ll be able to command higher fees that allow you to make more money working with fewer clients.