Just because you can do everything doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.
People who are new in business don’t tend to understand this at first. They are too eager and excited to get those first paying clients.
But once you have more than one client, you begin to get an inkling of this truth: you don’t want to bog yourself down doing too much stuff and trying to do every. single. thing. for clients.
You’re going to come up against a wall of overwhelm real quick if you don’t get clear and focused about what you do (and what you don’t) in your business.
Keeping your focus on who you cater your support to and what you do for them is key.
I see a lot of people in our industry really enamored with the idea of doing anything and everything.
It’s an idea they are hit over the head with when they first enter the industry at large, almost as if there is something virtuous about it.
NOTE: It’s not virtuous; it’s misguided. In fact, I am here to tell you it is keeping you from providing a superior level of administrative support and service that clients will pay well for. Doing every little thing is keeping you small and under-earning.
Most of the people who come to me for help in our industry are those who fell for the BS of doing anything and everything only to realize later just how much it is keeping them from being able to develop their business, from making more money, from having time for a life, and from having a business and clients that actually make them happy.
Sometimes there’s a bit of “savior complex” rooted in this notion, which also isn’t good for you or your business (or ultimately your clients).
Sometimes it’s a lack of professional self-esteem (which is, again, common in people who are new in business). They don’t yet have a sense of confidence in their value and think they need to “prove” their worth by offering to do anything and everything.
Most of the time, though, the folks trying to do anything and everything are those who have not chosen a target market (which is simply a field/industry/profession you cater your administrative support to).
That’s how the cycle starts.
When you don’t know who you are talking to, it’s difficult to find a direction and form a clear idea of specifically what you do and how you help.
That’s because having no clear idea of who you are talking to forces you to think in a manner that is too broad, vague, and generic.
And so they end up offering anything and everything they can think of that might be of value to someone, somewhere (anyone? pretty please?).
What ends up happening, though, is you become a garbage disposal that clients toss any old thing at, making up their own rules and expectations in your business in the process.
This is what Seth Godin calls being a “meandering generality instead of a meaningful specific.”
When you get specific about who you work with (i.e., target market), you’ll be able to more quickly, clearly, and specifically identify exactly what you do and don’t do that helps clients.
(HINT: And that’s NOT everything and the kitchen sink.)
Here’s an example of avoiding the constant busy-ness of certain work that keeps you from really developing your business into a more powerful revenue and freedom-generating machine.
I’ve long advocated that colleagues never manage any client’s email in-box:
- You are not their personal, on-call employee/assistant. (What, do they need you to wipe their ass for them when they go to the bathroom, too? Look, there are just some things that grown-ups need to do themselves. You didn’t go into business to be someone’s lackey, did you? You can get a job for that. Just say no to work like that. It’s not the kind of thing you need to be doing in business.)
- You have enough of your own emails to manage to take on anyone else’s; and
- In-box management is drudge work that will keep you in the reeds on a daily basis, never able to get beyond the busy-ness to work on higher-value, big-picture stuff, both in your business and theirs.
This is a good example of “you don’t have to do everything to be of value” because even though in-box management isn’t something you do, the time you free up for clients by doing the other things you DO do allows them to better manage their own in-boxes.
What you can do instead is share your tips, advice, and guidance with clients on how to better manage their own in-boxes.
You could do that by writing an ezine article and/or blog post, creating an info product for purchase, putting together an instructional video or DIY email training, or perhaps do a paid online class a couple times a year.
(And by the way, inviting people to sign up to your mailing list to get any one or all of these will help you grow your list and continue to keep in touch and nurture those relationships.)
Dealing with it like that, you are providing additional value without bogging yourself down in that kind of work.
You don’t have to do everything to be of value. Let that sink in.
(If you need help finally choosing a target market, get my free tool that helps walk you through the process.)
So absolutely true!
You are so right, just because you can doesn’t mean that you should. I’ve been in an administrative role for all of my adult life. I’ve amassed a wide skill set because I try to be so many things for my clients. If there is something I don’t know, I’ll learn it and inevitably I take on more and more. I have been victim to my doing so. I do more for my clients than I really want to, I’m burned out and have accepted that things have to change. I’ve been living to work rather that working to live. Zeroing in on what I want to do has been intimidating because I know that it can and will substantially change my client engagement. However, I know that I can’t be everything to everyone and trying to do so inevitably means that I am so tired that I can’t sharpen my skill set or specialize in the things that really interest me. I’m guilty of hitting the wall of overwhelm and living there. The hamster wheel is real. Then too, I personally struggle with self-esteem issues in my personal life and had thought that it didn’t bleed into my professional life. Naive, I know, but that’s what I thought.
Indeed, I have only determined at a macro level my target market and as you and I discussed, it doesn’t allow for growth or becoming an expert in a niche (or two). And now I must give my clients a new playbook so that I can have the time and energy to do what I really want to do, er, whatever that is, LOL. Because I have grown up and subscribed to the employer/employee relationship it is not a surprise that I have run my business like I’m an employee and not the boss.
It’s like you were speaking directly to me! Thank you so much for all that you do. You are my mentor and I am a full and true believer in your processes.
Hi Latoya 🙂
Our conversation did inspire this post as it’s a common theme I hear from colleagues all the time. I love your phrasing: “new playbook.” That is it indeed! And always circle clients back to this reminder: “When I improve how my business works, it allows me to support you better.”
It’s such a pleasure to read your wise words. Thx!
I have finally realized that I have to maximize the value of my time. Thanks Danielle and ALL! 😉
So true. I’m trying to figure out what my specialty is.
Are you in the administrative support business? If so, that is your specialty. What you may need is a target market.
That’s what I meant. Thanks. And great site.
LaToya Davidson-Perez, it’s hard because of my many interests. One day I’ll have to sit down and write it out.
If I may offer some advice… writing down your list of many interests isn’t what is going to help you figure this out.
First you need to choose a field/industry/profession to focus on (my free target market guide walks you through a process of narrowing that down).
Then you look at what THEY do in that field/profession/business, what THEIR interests are, how THEIR business works, and what work is involved in running it.
That is what is going to help you devise your admin support offerings to them, more easily, clearly and specifically, which in turn is going to help you create a much more compelling marketing message to them.
Danielle Keister, thank you. I’ll download the guide.
I think you’ll find it very helpful. 🙂
Adrienne B., I’m exactly the same way. I’m just now, and with Danielle Keister’s help, starting to narrow my scope. I’m a Jane of All Trades and Master of None. I’m fortunate to have a large skillset but I can’t keep up with all of them. Things change so quickly and something that I was once an expert on, I’m now just a generalist. Plus, I haven’t had or made the time to keep up on the things that I really love since my entire working day is spent catering to my clients. Danielle has a mantra which she states in the “Power Productivity & Business Management.” “I take great care of MY business first so that I can take fabulous care of YOU and your business.” Reading her blogs and her system has been mind-blowing and such a great resource for getting out of the employee mentality.
Exactly, LaToya. 🙂 It’s not “skills” per se that you want to be an expert in; it’s the target market. Once you decide on who that is, you’ll then know what work and skillsets are relevant and what aren’t.
Me too LaToya… That day has come for me. Just because! 😉
I want to add this as well… After a a certain point, once you’ve recognized you have a problem client who wants to run your business the way THEY want instead of how you do things and it’s creating difficulty for you in your business, that’s when you have to step back and have a very pointed conversation with that client. This conversation doesn’t need elaborate explanation or rationalizing or “convincing.” It simply needs to be, “This is how I run my business and how I work with clients. If you aren’t able to work with those policies/protocols/procedures/parameters, it may be time for us to re-evaluate our relationship and decide whether are still a fit for each other/should continue working together.” They will either get with the program or do you a favor and end the relationship. Or, you can choose to end it yourself. It’s all up to you. However you decide to handle things, I guarantee you, once you zap those things who are creating a de-energizing drag in your business, you’ll feel the weight of a hundred buildings lifted from your shoulders.