Like people who tell you to quit calling yourself an assistant when you are a business owner. 😉
Archive for the ‘Administrative Consultants’ Category
“Presently 81% of freelancers have trouble getting paid by their clients and, on average, each unpaid freelancers is owed over $6,000 in salary.”
Language like this drives me freaking nuts, and it’s responsible for the perpetuation of freelancers continuing to NOT UNDERSTAND ANYTHING.
Freelancers are BUSINESS OWNERS.
They don’t get paid a “salary.” That is the what EMPLOYEES get, which freelancers are not.
What they are owed is $X in unpaid invoices and fees from deadbeat clients (who probably think and act like they are employers because the moron freelancer doesn’t set them straight in the first place).
If they understood better the distinction about being in business for themselves, they would know not to allow any client to get that far into debt with them in the first place, stop work before it ever gets that bad, and if they were really being smart, require more money (if not 100%) upfront.
It’s yet another example of why no one should be using the term “freelancer.”
Not only does it make people think of someone who is only casually, incidentally, haphazardly working on the side for pocket money, as a result it sets the wrong expectations and mindsets in clients that are a cause of a lot of these issues in the first place.
Perfect example — here’s what one deadbeat client retorted to a “freelancer”:
“This isn’t your full time job, this is just a side job, so why do I need to pay you?”
As an Administrative Consultant, you are not a freelancer. You are in an actual committed, professional business with the intention of providing an ongoing and well-rounded body of support as a whole to clients for the long-term. (And if you aren’t, then you’re not an Administrative Consultant.)
You will be doing yourself a huge favor by deleting that word from your business vocabulary and never using it again.
As an Administrative Consultant, you aren’t selling “services.”
You are offering one thing: a collaborative and ongoing administrative support relationship.
See? ONE thing.
It’s the relationship that is the product, not the services.
What administrative work is involved in that support relationship depends on your target market.
What you should be focusing your marketing message on is what that relationship looks like and how it improves the life and business of your clients and all that they stand to gain by working with you.
- An Administrative Consultant is someone who is SPECIFICALLY in the business of administrative support.
- Administrative support is not one-off projects or tasks on an ad hoc basis. That is a secretarial service—completely different business model and type of service. Administrative support is an ongoing relationship where you are administratively supporting clients with the operations of their business across the board. So, it’s important to understand the difference between a projects/task-based business and an ongoing support one. If your business model is project-based, you are not an Administrative Consultant.
- If you specialize in transcription, then you are in the Transcription business and not an Administrative Consultant (or VA or OBM or anything else).
- If you specialize in social media, then you are in the Social Media business and not an Administrative Consultant (or VA or OBM or anything else).
- If you specialize in marketing (of any kind), then you are in the Marketing business and not an Administrative Consultant (or VA or OBM or anything else).
- If you specialize in web design, then you are in the Web Design business and not an Administrative Consultant (or VA or OBM or anything else).
- If you specialize in bookkeeping, then you are in the Bookkeeping business and not an Administrative Consultant (or VA or OBM or anything else).
- Are you getting it now? What you specialize in IS your business.
- If you are in the business of getting the work and farming it out to third party contractors, then you are in the staffing/outsourcing business and not an Administrative Consultant. Administrative Consultants work directly with their clients in close one-on-one relationships. That’s what makes it personal and where the magic happens—between two people.
- Administrative Consultants don’t have “teams” of subcontractors they farm their clients’ work out to. That is the antithesis of administrative support as it transactionalizes the work, turning it into a generic commodity and assembly line instead of an intimate relationship (which, by the way, is your value and competitive advantage as an Administrative Consultant). What Administrative Consultants do instead is collaboratively partner with another Administrative Consultant (or two) who administratively supports them in their business in the same way they support their clients.
- Administrative Consultants are not personal assistants who perform personal tasks/errands. That is a personal assistant/concierge service. An Administrative Consultant’s work is focused on the client’s business support needs.
- An Administrative Consultant is not an assistant who does anything and everything. That is a virtual assistant. An Administrative Consultant is a business owner and independent professional who specializes in the expertise of administrative support.
- If you specialize in the expertise of administrative support (i.e., it’s the chief thing you are in business to do), and work personally with your clients in an ongoing, collaborative partnering relationship to support the operations of their businesses, you are an Administrative Consultant.
When I started out (and didn’t really understand the concept of providing administrative support as a business), I was what is correctly termed a secretarial service doing one-off projects here and there where I could find them.
Someone would hire me to do their resume, make a flyer or brochure, type some documents, that kind of thing.
It’s equivalent to the business model of a print shop for example.
A customer might be someone who only ever uses you once or it could be someone who is a repeat customer, but still on only an as-needed basis—occasional and sporadic.
The problem as I discovered was it was a paltry income, nothing I could actually live on. It was pocket money at best, and I still needed to work a full time job to pay the bills.
Okay, I thought, how do I make a living at that?
There is no recurring or consistent income when a business is project-based. You never know where your next meal or client will come from or when.
In order to make a living in a project-based business, it inherently requires that it be volume-driven, which comes with its own set of problems.
In a project-based, volume-driven business, you have to CONSTANTLY be marketing and networking and ever on the hunt for your next project, that next not one but five clients, all while you still have work in front of you to do.
It was EXHAUSTING.
It was a huge amount of work just getting those projects and clients I did have coming in here and there. It was this never-ending hamster wheel that left me little time to breathe.
And to have to multiply all those efforts 20-fold? No way. That was NOT the kind of business I wanted.
You also can never make up for in volume what you really need to make a living, not as a solo/boutique business.
The answer would seem to be add more people doing the work.
But that wasn’t a solution that worked for me either because:
- I have ZERO interest in being in the people management business, which is exactly what I’d have to do if I added more people;
- I would make even less money because my profit margins would be reduced with all the increased costs and expenses. Not only that, but my business would be much more complicated and less easy with all the added administration; and
- it would turn the work into an assembly line which is NOT what I want in my business or my life. I believe in artistry and craftsmanship in work product and that’s the quality I want to give to my clients. Churning work day in and day out as fast as possible (which is what you are forced to do in a volume-driven business) is NOT how I want to work or live my life.
It’s not that a volume-driven project business can’t work. But it’s a much bigger and more difficult business to build and sustain. And it’s simply a different business model altogether, one I had not the slightest interest in.
That’s when I started realizing that the way to make better money and more consistent income was to provide support as an ongoing RELATIONSHIP, not a one-off, piecemeal transaction.
Once I got conscious about that, I started building a retainer-based practice where clients paid me in advance on the 1st of every month for ongoing administrative support in their business, not a project here or there. I took on specific areas and roles that were ongoing in their business.
It was a lot more money—money I could actually LIVE on.
It was consistent, recurring CASHFLOW.
AND it didn’t require the constant merry-go-round of chasing after new clients and new work every minute of every hour of every day.
I could live and work in a much more relaxed, sustainable, breathable pace, growing my roster slowly one client at a time.
But I still had a lot of things to learn in my early years. I was still operating with the poor professional self-esteem that many in our industry suffer from: that I wasn’t enough, that admin support wasn’t enough.
Part of the problem was I still didn’t really have a target market.
And without that, I couldn’t really envision, much less paint a picture for prospects, about what admin support could look like in the context of their business and how it could help them in anything except the vaguest, most general (and uncompelling) terms.
So I thought I needed to offer a lot more. I thought I had to DO everything, BE everything, and be ANYTHING a client tried to twist me into at their whim in order to be of value.
First, I added web design.
And then I thought bookkeeping would be a good service to also offer because who doesn’t need bookkeeping?
What I failed to realize is that these are separate businesses in and of themselves.
It’s a full time job to just to provide bookkeeping to a roster of clients.
And design work requires a whole other part of the brain. It requires a switching of gears and lots of creative space that are simply too crowded when you are trying to do too many other things.
Eventually, as I got busier and busier (without really ever getting too far in anything much less making any better money), I realized that I needed to focus on ONE thing, be in ONE business, not multiple businesses.
Trying to be too many different kinds of businesses not only was keeping me from earning well, I wasn’t able to fully commit to any of them and was constantly distracted and pulled in different directions due to too many multiple focuses.
That’s not a recipe for doing your best work for clients.
I also realized that by focusing on ONE business (I got out of the bookkeeping business and then later discontinued doing any kind of design work completely), I did far better, more high quality work for clients, built my business faster, and ended up with far more discretionary time (i.e., freedom and flexibility) as a byproduct.
All of which ultimately benefited my clients in a multitude of ways.
I also realized (and look back now at how foolish I was back then) that if I had just gotten clear about being in ONE business earlier, I would have built my business and made more money so much faster.
Because once I did, I also soon realized that by focusing on the ONE business (admin support), I didn’t have the time or need to do anything else.
So now I’m VERY clear about what I’m in business to do and what I’m not.
If a client needs something I’m not in business to do (e.g., you wouldn’t ask a plumber to fix your car), I point out that they need to talk to the professionals who are in those other professions. If I happen to know someone good, I will refer them.
But I don’t bend over backwards making it my job to find them someone any more than it would be my doctor’s job to find me a lawyer. The only people who think that’s their job are those who are operating their business like an employee (or being trained to).
Hey, are you in the administrative support business?
I’m finding there is a lot more interaction and engagement on group pages.
AND because we have it set to private (only members can view the discussions), you can feel safe in asking any ol’ “dumb” questions you like without fear of any clients and prospects seeing them.
Your colleagues and I would love to have you there and get to know you.
Do you ever have one of those d’ops moments when you realize you’ve made a big huge blunder that’s gone unnoticed for months?
Yeah, that’s me this week.
I just realized recently that everyone who has been downloading our free ACA Income & Pricing Calculator has been getting an outdated copy that is several versions old (by like a year or more).
Here’s what happened…
With the admirable, but ill-advised, intention of making it more quick and convenient to download (i.e., fewer steps), I decided to attach it to the download message instead of having people go through our shoppingcart.
The problem? After awhile I forgot that it had been uploaded as an attachment, which means whenever it was updated and improved upon, the old version was never getting replaced with the current version.
I share this with you because it’s another excellent example of why adhering to our systems and standards is so important. They’re what make things simple and consistent and help us avoid mistakes.
By deviating from my usual standard and process of having ALL our downloads managed by the shoppingcart (so that the most current version of any product was always delivered), I introduced an additional, unnecessary step that ended up falling through the cracks.
Getting clear and conscious about your numbers in business is one of the very first important steps to your financial well-being. I want you to have the best and this is such an invaluable tool.
Click over to our Free Resources page and sign up for the ACA Income & Pricing Calculator. I promise you’ll get the most current version now, lol.
PS: As a token of my appreciation for your understanding, please use coupon code THANKS10 for 10% off your next purchase from the ACA Success Store.
You don’t have a portfolio when you’re in the admin support business because admin support is a service, not a tangible, visible product (like design is).
Rather, your “portfolio” is the experience clients get dealing with you.
It’s your service, your communication, your responsiveness, your policies, processes and procedures, your systems, your standards, how your website looks and works, what your testimonials say, your case studies…
These are all demonstrations—samplings and examples—of your expertise, competence, professionalism and the service experience clients will get should they decide to work with you.
And if they are positive, if they are smooth, if they are well-executed, those are the things that instill confidence and trust in your potential clients.
My name is Lourie Perry, solopreneur of a new business. I am new to your acquaintance and I have to say you have inspired me! I have since changed the title of my position on social media. I already had business cards made before changing my title of “virtual assistant.” I love the Administrative Consultant title because it sets me apart from the rest (my first goal to achieve), it’s a professional title that demands respect and (to be) taken seriously as women in business. My question is how can I transition from a virtual assistant to an Administrative Consultant? For example, while at a networking event I introduce myself as an Administrative Consultant, but they look at the business card and see “virtual Assistant.” By the way, I have changed from Virtual Assistant to Administrative Consultant on my website, as well! Your help will be appreciated! Thanks from saving me from the sea of normal! —Lourie Perry, A Nyvybe Virtual Office.
That’s so great! You’ve done yourself a huge favor in business that you won’t regret.
So, this is sort of an easy one: toss the old business cards and get new ones. These days, you can get a small stack for basically pennies on the dollar.
The reason is that consistency is super important. Everything needs to match.
Because if you call yourself this here and that there and yet something else somewhere else, or you try to use every term you can think of all together, all that does is create confusion and disconnect in your prospects.
And as the business adage goes: A confused mind says no.
They’ll walk away and put you right out of their mind because you’ve made it too difficult for them to understand who and what you are.
Better yet, don’t invest heavily in business cards or much of any printed marketing collateral. You just don’t need it.
Instead, I want you to read my post about how business cards should really be used and what to give people instead that is going to have far more impact on those you want to remember you and take interest: Are Business Cards Dead?
The other thing I wanted to relate for you and anyone else who is new reading this is that you never want to lead any conversation with your term. Your term is not for marketing purposes (I’ll explain its real importance later).
If people ask what you do, instead of saying “I’m an Administrative Consultant,” tell them what kind of problem you solve or a result/benefit you provide and who you do it for (this is your target market).
So mine, for example, is (and this is my tagline as well and no, nobody can “borrow” it. You gotta come up with your own):
I help IP and entertainment law attorneys do more wheeling and dealing from the beach.
(The beach being a metaphor for whatever they’d rather be doing and wherever they’d rather be than stuck in an office all day long.)
See how it clearly indicates who I work with and a benefit/result they get?
People are typically intrigued and want to know more (“How can I have more time for the beach?!”) and I’ll further explain that I provide administrative rescue for these solos without ever stepping foot in their office.
When they want to know how that works, that’s when I explain how I partner with my clients to provide them with strategic relief and rescue from the administrative burdens that suck up their time and energy and keep them stuck at the office.
I then tell them a story (a verbal case study) of how my strategic administrative support helped one of my clients reduce his workload, streamline and automate his operations, multiply his revenues and how he gets to travel extensively now while still running his business (which he loves).
See how I never even used my term of Administrative Consultant in conversation? They’ll see what to call me on my biz card, my free giveaway, on my website, and all the other places where my name appears.
That said, your term IS important for two reasons:
- You need to give people something (ONE THING) to call you and with which to categorize your business—a mental coathook, if you will.
- It needs to clearly convey what your expertise is while setting proper, respectful perceptions and expectations.
In our industry, the problem we’ve historically had is that by (formerly) calling ourselves assistants, we created wrong perceptions and understandings in our clients. Since we called ourselves assistants, that’s what they wanted to treat us (and pay us) as. It caused a misalignment of interests and understandings right from the start and, in turn, serious problems in the relationship.
So we’d constantly have to deal with prospects and clients who didn’t understand the nature of the relationship, who would tend to treat us like under-the-table employees they didn’t pay taxes on, who thought we were supposed to be at their beck-and-call like employees, and who would balk at paying proper professional fees (because when they think of you like an employee, they want to pay you like one as well).
And because it was such a vague, ambiguous term that focused on a role (assistant), not an expertise (administrative), clients thought it was their place to twist you into whatever kind of pretzels they pleased.
These are all problems caused by the term “virtual assistant.” It creates wrong expectations, perceptions and understandings right from the get-go.
This is why those us who are in the expertise of administrative support are Administrative Consultants. We don’t want clients thinking we’re their assistants, treating the relationship as such and wanting to pay peanuts—because we aren’t.
We want clients who approach us as professionally and in the same manner they would approach an attorney, an accountant, a web designer or any other independant professional.
The Administrative Consultant term creates an entirely improved perception and demeanor in our prospective clients. They are more respectful and understand the correct nature of the relationship. Instead of approaching us as subordinate order takers, they instantly view us as trusted administrative advisors and business peers.
And because of those changed and improved perceptions, we are able to get better clients and command higher (proper) professional fees.
It’s all about setting and managing expectations and creating better, more accurate and respectful perceptions with the words and terms we use, in this case Administrative Consultant.
(For more on this topic, read my post Dear Danielle: We Loathe the Virtual Assistant Term; Is There Something Else We Can Call Ourselves?)
Since you’re here, I also couldn’t help but notice your business name. I know you didn’t ask, but I feel it would be a disservice not to mention something that I think may be very important to your success.
I always highly encourage people to delete the word “virtual” from their business vocabulary. This post explains all the reasons why: Dear Danielle: Should I Use the Word “Virtual” in My Biz Name?
The thing I’m also concerned for you about is the spelling of your biz name: A Nuvybe Virtual Office.
I fear the esoteric spelling and syntax is going to make it extremely difficult for people to remember and find you (which is the opposite of what you intend).
That’s because no one is going to know how to say or spell it. And trust me, they aren’t going to go to extreme lengths to figure it out. They’ll just move on.
I know you value being different. I certainly appreciate that. And we all should be striving to continually clarify for ourselves and our prospective clients what our unique value propositions are.
Stand out in your marketing message, your service levels and skilled delivery and work product. However, beyond that, there are certain things in business that you just need to conform to or you’ll defeat your purposes. Choosing a business name that people can easily read, spell and remember is one of them.
Check out my Naming Your Business category here on the blog. I’ve got several posts that I think you’ll really find helpful on this topic.
Even if you were to simply change to New Vibe Administrative, that would be an incredible improvement for your prospective clients and those who refer you. That’s because its spelling is something that makes sense to people, they’ll easily be able to say it in their head and, thus, remember it and find you again, and it clearly conveys what you do in business.
I hope you find all of this helpful, Lourie. If you have any questions on anything here and want me to elaborate, please feel free to post in the comments and we’ll keep the conversation going.
I’m very happy to meet you and glad you found us. Welcome to the Administrative Consultant community!
I shake my head in disbelief every time I see on someone’s website a “free 15 minute consultation.”
What on earth do you think you’re going to accomplish in only 15 minutes?
You’re going to learn more about the prospect, his/her business, uncover and identify their needs, goals and challenges, explore feelings and desired outcomes, and make a support diagnosis all in only 15 minutes?
Heck, it takes the first 15-30 minutes alone just for clients to feel comfortable and let their hair down.
If you’re going to offer a consultation, make it something real. Fifteen minutes is a joke.
You need AT LEAST 1 hour (I actually recommend blocking 2 hours so you have plenty of space to explore the conversation) to have a productive, probing and worthwhile consult that is not only going to be meaningful to the prospect and build rapport, but also help you devise smart, considered, high-value, customized support plan recommendations for which you can command top dollar.
Putting in the time upfront it takes to have a REAL consultation is an investment that will earn you more retained clients and better beginnings that have a real chance at success and results moving forward.