Archive for the ‘Colleagues’ Category

I’m Back from my Sundance Festival Road Trip!

I'm Back from My Sundance Festival Road Trip!

I’m back from my Sundance Festival road trip and it was amazing!

I had so much fun and packed so much stuff into a short time frame (left on January 26 and got back Feb 2).

I posted pix of my explorations on our ACA Facebook group. Come join us there if you’d like to take a look. (Note: If you request to join and your profile doesn’t provide any info about your administrative support business, be sure you also message me either on Facebook or by email.)

I just LOVE road trips. Travelling by car is my favorite way to travel because you can go at your own pace, stop when you feel like checking something out, and see cities and countryside up close and personal that you haven’t before.

It’s a much more intimate way to travel and see and explore places that would be bypassed in any other mode of travel.

Some of my road trip highlights:

  • Um, attending the SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL!
  • Meeting and talking with all kinds of interesting industry people from actors to a film composer to filmmakers and others who work behind the camera.
  • Having Robert Redford walk past me so close we actually touched. And yes, he is handsome as ever.
  • Also, walking past George Lucas as he was exiting one of the many celebrity Suburbans that began showing up later in the day on Main St.
  • Shopping for souvenirs and gifts.
  • Having an amazing pedicure in Park City.
  • Getting restaurant recommendations from locals and eating at some amazing places including some fantastic greasy spoons. (For anyone not familiar with the term, a greasy spoon is a high honor. It’s the kind of establishment that is usually locally/independently owned where typically fresh/home-cooked type food is served. These are often the BEST places on the planet for amazing down-home breakfast served any time of day.) I highly recommend No Worries Cafe in Park City.
  • Seeing the Great Salt Lake in person for the first time (I’ve only ever seen it by plane other than that).
  • Seeing country in Oregon, Washington and Idaho I’ve never been to before.
  • Oh, and lots of new souvenir travel magnets to commemorate my travels and explorations!

I'm Back from My Sundance Festival Road Trip

And it was scary crazy how everything worked out so perfectly. This was a totally spontaneous decision to go. I hadn’t actually registered for Sundance this year, didn’t know if I’d be able to even see any films (and if I didn’t, I was okay with that; it was enough just to go), and I thought there was no way in hell there would be any hotel rooms left, especially not without any advance reservation (and if there were, they’d cost a million dollars; most rooms start at $500 during festival week and go up into the thousands.).

I just left and trusted that everything would work out the way it was supposed to. And it did!

Everyone I talked to could not believe how lucky I was. When there were still hundreds of people on waiting lists for tickets, for some reason I scored seats. And the first hotel I called actually had a room available. For some inexplicable reason, they put me in a $500 room and only charged me $129/night (I stayed two nights). The only thing I can think is that I really hit it off with the gal I spoke to on the phone. She loved how I had just hopped in the car and took off.

This trip was also one of personal growth as well as it was the first time I’ve traveled such a distance (3 states!) all by myself.

Since I’d never done anything like this before alone, it was scary to me in a lot of ways.

And I aced it! Not one bit of anxiety being that far from home by myself and not one pang of homesickness (other than being ready for my own comfy cozy bed after a week).

I gained a huge sense of accomplishment and empowerment. It was a reminder to me that the world is my oyster and I can do anything I set my mind to do (and have).

And while I do love travelling with a partner, I also enjoy my own company and meeting and talking to new people immensely.

This trip was a precursor to a bigger plan I’ve had brewing for several years, which is to travel the U.S. (first) and some parts of Canada, meeting my members and colleagues, and seeing the country by car.

I’ve sort of kept it on the down-low because I wasn’t quite sure how to go about it. I’m also not one of those people who benefits from putting plans out there as a way to make me accountable to myself. The minute I do that, I get blocked, so I just don’t. And life also simply got in the way.

First, we moved to Europe for a couple years. Then six months after we returned to the U.S. for good, I left my man of 12 years which was a huge, life-changing decision. Then I wasn’t sure how to even undertake something like this all by myself. And then my dad’s health took a turn for the worse and I had to put him first and help care for him.

Once we got dad’s health stabilized in January, I decided to make this trip to do something for me to recharge and renew.

I'm Back from My Sundance Festival Road Trip

I’ve long been a lover and devotee of independent film so it was perfect timing and the festival gave me a great destination focal point.

And besides being a business networking/writing retreat, I had also wanted to try to meet a few colleagues along the way. This trip was pretty much a spur-of-the-moment decision and since I announced it so last minute (like, the day I was leaving, lol), by the time I had heard from three Portland area colleagues, I was already near Idaho.

So, I did learn a lot of things in this first trip which are going to help me in my next member/colleague meeting travels:

  1. After a certain point, you have to stop planning and trying to identify every little detail and JUST DO IT! There’s no way you can figure everything out upfront and too much planning can easily become a procrastination vehicle.
  2. One of the things that was stopping me before was trying to figure out how I was going to accomplish a full cross-country trip. What I realize now is that the best way I’m going to accomplish it is doing it in different legs, not all in one shot. For example, I’m thinking my next trip will be down the Pacific coast and/or I5 corridor through Oregon and California and than maybe over to Nevada with a turn-around for the return leg of the trip in Sedona, NM. I haven’t completely figured out how I’ll work any midwest and east coast and southern legs, but I’m thinking for those trips, it might make sense to fly somewhere once I’ve mapped out that particular travel route, and then rent or lease a vehicle there. Anything west of the midwest states, I can use my own car.
  3. I love to travel and I can and have continued running my business and taking care of clients on the road (even in a different country). However, I do work best from my main command center (my home office, lol) and the luxury of my big main computer. I do not prefer working on a laptop. I can and have, but it’s not how I do my best work. In recognizing this, I can plan accordingly. And all the more reason why I will benefit from doing these trips in mini-stages instead of one long stretch. That way, I can come back to home base, regroup and then go on the next leg of the journey at a time that’s optimal for me.
  4. I need to figure out how to monetize the venture so that besides the expenses being a business write-off, it also funds itself instead of just being an expense. That includes putting more focus and attention on sales from the ACA Success Store. I’m thinking that in addition to just meeting up with my industry mentors and colleagues, I could offer some paid in-person, day or half-day consulting and coaching spots for those who want to take advantage of the opportunity while I’m in their city or town.
  5. There are people who are super smart about getting sponsors and things like that for trips like this. I would love to learn more about that, but currently I’m not one of them and I’m okay with that about myself right now. And the thing is, I don’t really want to make a huge production out of things. Because once that becomes the case, for me, it takes the joy out of it and then I don’t want to do it. I can’t let not having sponsors to make these trips pay for themselves be the thing that stops me from doing it.
  6. I need to find the balance between being spontaneous (which is what “does it” for me) and not having everything turned into a big production, and planning and making announcements with enough advance notice that people CAN have enough time to plan on meeting up when I’m in their city. What I know about myself, bad or good, is that I am commitment phobic, lol. Not about taking care of clients or anything like that. I don’t know where it comes from (though it does seem to be something I developed when my first/late husband passed away nearly 20 years ago). I just know that the minute I have to RVSP to something is the second I absolutely, positively don’t want to go. I know, it’s crazy. But that’s just me. Therefore, I know I wouldn’t do well making a big deal out of planning a meet-up, securing a specific venue or conference room, yada, yada, yada. Yuck! I hate that stuff! I like to keep things casual, informal, personal. What I envision is letting my peeps know (on the blog, via the ACA mailing list, etc.) that I am close to their city and inviting them to contact me to meet up. Then when I hear from someone, asking them where a great spot would be to get together, a fun restaurant or pub or something, and once we decide that, inviting others in the area to join us. Casual, see?

I don’t have it all figured out. I don’t know how it will all work out. And I don’t have any specific time frames right now. But that’s where all the magic, fun and adventure of it is!

If I was to come to your area, would you like to meet up for a meal, do something fun together, or maybe be my tour guide for a day? What do you like to do for fun and/or what would you show me in your city? I’m game for just about anything. (Except skydiving. I have no desire to skydive and I’m okay with that, lol.)

Would you love an opportunity for private, one-on-one, in-person business consulting and guidance if I came to your city? I’m exceptionally gifted at identifying where people need help in their business, but tell me, what areas of your business would YOU like more help with?

Dear Danielle: Do You Ever Feel Pricing Remorse?

Dear Danielle: Do You Ever Feel Pricing Remorse?

Hi Danielle:

I wanted to know if you had ever felt what I call “pricing remorse” when you were starting out? Let me explain. A colleague recently contacted me to help with a project. After receiving all the information and discussing the details, I initially felt the project was too small and not really worth my time. Instead, I decided to help. I sent the colleague my pricing (using your pricing guide, I calculated what I felt was reasonable for my time & effort) and project requirements. Shortly after, the colleague graciously thanked me and declined. This left me feeling a bit shocked, but also kind of guilty. I started to doubt myself and the questions began to flow. Was I asking too much? Should I have asked for more information? Did I not do my job to convey my skills properly? During our conversation, did I come off as an apprentice? Was this the unideal or cheap client Danielle spoke about? So on and so on. I heard you talking in my head saying, “Don’t devalue yourself” but I’m still left with a bit of guilt. Any thoughts/suggestions, as always, are greatly appreciated. —Name withheld by request

Thanks for your question.

It’s been so long ago, I don’t remember if I had “pricing remorse” per se. But I of course had my own learning curve when I first started out, definitely.

When I was new, I was charging waaaaay too little. What I eventually realized is that instead of second-guessing what I was charging when I got rejections, I was talking to the wrong prospects in the first place. My fees weren’t the problem.

Once I started charging more, and got clear about who I was specifically looking to work with (i.e., my target market), I got better clients. This is practically an immutable law of business.

And I quit wasting time and energy on the wrong audience.

But let me tell ya, there were a whole lotta learning experiences in there before I figured all that out, lol.

So, first thing is I want you to know is these are perfectly normal growing pains in a new business. You’re figuring out where your footing is so there’s naturally going to be some feelings of being unsure of yourself.

Knowing that, I hope it will be easier for you to just embrace the unsureness, knowing that with each conversation and interaction you have with each potential client is going to help you get your business bearings and build your confidence. It’s all part of the journey.

I am a little unclear about what you’re really feeling. You mention “guilt,” but guilt over what? What do you have to feel guilty about? I’m not sure I’m understanding what you mean by guilt.

There’s nothing to feel guilty about in determing your fee and asking for it. There’s no wrongdoing in that.

Maybe what you mean is you feel rejection, that in reality you were hoping to get the project, and it hurt when they declined, and now you’re thinking should have asked for less. Is that more the case?

Either way, I do have some thoughts to help you explore all angles here.

First, before you let a rejection bring you down, we need to remember the situation were talking about. This was for a project, not a retained relationship of ongoing support.

And it was for a colleague, not an ideal client in your target market.

Always remember who you’re target market is. Colleagues are not your clients.

One of the reasons colleagues are not your clients is because we’ve got a whole lotta people in this industry who think they should be paying bake sale prices. These are not serious prospects. You can’t set your fees according to what non serious prospects want to pay.

So don’t fret over a situation that wasn’t even with someone in your target market for ongoing support in the first place.

My feeling is that our first instincts usually end up being the best. You gave her a price that you felt was right. All you’re doing now is second-guessing yourself. There’s no reason to do that over something that wasn’t even a real piece of business in the first place.

All of this does lead me to wonder, given that your initial reaction was that the project wasn’t of interest, why did you bother wasting your time then?

I mean, you are always free to do whatever you want in your business. Of course. At the same time, you always want to remember the standards you have set for yourself and your business. When we start stepping over our standards, trying to make a fit out of that which isn’t a fit, that’s when we create problems for ourselves.

Lastly, when it comes to pricing, and conducting consultations, and then having the pricing conversation with clients in a way that gets you more yeses, there are some tips I could give you, but they wouldn’t help you because you haven’t yet purchased my client consultation guide (GDE-03)  or my pricing and packaging guide.

You wouldn’t have the right context and these are topics that are more involved than I can help you with here in this format.

You really need to invest in that learning if you want to grow from this situation and my guides are going to help you immensely with that. I’m really hoping you do that, for your benefit. Because when you get the knowledge and learning to navigate these conversations, you’re going to have a lot better results and more successes—in any kind of client scenario.

Come Join Our New ACA Facebook Group

Hey, are you in the administrative support business?

Then come join our new ACA group forum on Facebook!

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. 🙂

Dear Danielle: How Do I Know to Whom to Refer?

Dear Danielle:

Love your blog. Just one question: In terms of finding other Administrative Consultants to refer clients to that I cannot or will not serve, how do I know who is good or not? Is there a way around shooting in the dark? –TJ

Great question! Here are a few thoughts and ideas for ya:

  1. Don’t feel like you have to refer to actual colleagues if you don’t know anyone yet. If you are new to the industry, it will simply take time to get to know others well enough to decide who you’d be comfortable referring prospective clients to. As you recognize, your reputation is tied to the referrals you make, so you want to make sure you only refer to those you have found to be competent and professional. You never want to make a recommendation willy nilly.
  2. Getting involved in industry organizations, forums and listservs is really the only way to get to know colleagues. As you interact with others, you’ll begin to notice those folks who really stand out in terms of demonstrating their competence, professionalism and knowledge.
  3. Taking that a step further, make a point of establishing relationships with those folks and become referral partners for each other.
  4. Another way to help those clients out that you can’t or don’t want to work with, when you don’t have a specific person to refer them to, is to simply provide them with a link to your industry organization. That’s a perfectly helpful gesture as well.

What Do You Love About Your Favorite Client?

What is it about your favorite client that makes him or her your favorite?

My favorite client is easy to work and get along with.

He’s been my willing guinea pig whenever I want to try something new (because he knows his business will end up benefiting in the long run).

He’s funny and easy-going.

He responds quickly to all my emails and never keeps me waiting or guessing.

We have great brainstorming sessions and he readily asks for and takes my advice.

I feel respected as a professional and the administrative expert in our relationship.

We’ve had some ouches along the way, like when he had to pay more money to keep working with me.

In the end, though he might grumble a little at first, he always realizes he makes more money, and his life and business are a lot easier, because of my support and expertise.

We make a great team.

How about you? What makes working with your favorite client a joy?

Where Do You Get Stuck in Your Consultations

Wouldn’t it be great if all we had to do was network, have business owners immediately want to work with us, and instantly sign on for our retained support without any questions?

The reality is getting to actually work with retained clients takes a bit more effort.

You have to get at least some small idea about the new client’s business.

You have to gain some insight into their needs, goals and challenges so you can figure out whether and how you can help them.

You have to be able to articulate your value in a way that makes sense to them so that they aren’t asking you, “Why should I pay you $X when I can pay bozo over there $5/hr.

Am I right?

So I’m curious about where colleagues are having trouble spots in their consultation process.

Do you have any particular stumbling blocks when it comes to conducting consultations?

Are there any areas of the consultation process you’d like to be better at?

Or maybe you feel like you do well in your consultations, but the clients aren’t signing on or calling back. Is that the case for you?

Whatever the issue is in your consultations, I really, really want to hear from you. Post in the comments or send me an email and let me know where you’re getting stuck and what you’d like to improve.

This Is One of the Most Important Skills You Need to Have

One of the most important skills an Administrative Consultant needs to have is the ability to pay attention to details and follow instructions.

To clarify, I am in no way, shape or form suggesting that you should be an automaton merely taking orders from clients. (On the contrary! Your role as a business owner and Administrative Consultant is to exercise initiative and critical thinking.)

You’re running a business. It’s your role to take clients through your processes and always be investigating and probing as much as you need to determine where and how to best support them administratively.

That said, you are still in the business of providing support and helping clients accomplish the things they want to accomplish.

Very often, they want those things done a certain way for their own intentional reasons.

By all means, gain clarity and deeper understanding of what your client is thinking — and why — because that is definitely going to help you be of greater service to them.

If you know of a better way or have an idea you think might be helpful, you should share your advice and suggestions.

In the end, though, at least when it comes to practical matters (barring anything unethical or illegal, naturally), the client has the final say about what they like and how they want things to end up. It is their business, not yours.

Let’s take our members forum as an example to show you what I mean…

On the forum, we’re trying to create a particular experience so there are a few seemingly insignificant details that we are persnickety about.

We provide registrants with very precise, clear-cut instructions so they can complete their profiles accordingly.

One of those details is that we ask registrants to enter their location with city, state (or province, etc.) abbreviation and then their country so that it appears exactly like this: Anytown WA, USA.

Note that we specifically leave out a comma between the city and state, but do have one between the state and the country. It’s not the traditionally correct way one would normally format that kind of information, but this is how we want it — consistently.

Once in awhile we’ll have someone register who doesn’t get that detail right the first time.

Some ignore the instruction and don’t complete their location at all.

Or they’ll put a comma where we specifically ask them to leave it out.

Or they’ll spell out their state instead of abbreviating it.

Or they’ll only enter their state.

Or they’ll leave off the country.

We give them once or twice to get things right, but every so often we’ll get someone who will do everything BUT follow directions and enter things the way we ask.

This is always utterly perplexing to me because to my mind, it couldn’t be clearer or simpler.

We tell them explicitly what we want there and provide an example.

Yet, after three, four or more attempts, they still just can’t get it right.

They aren’t paying attention and keep trying to make up their own rules.

So how does that relate to working with clients?

Everything!

Because if you have a habit of not paying attention to details and following specifications, you end up frustrating the client and wasting their time.

They have nothing to feel bad about in wanting things they want them, but when your inability to follow through on those wishes forces them to repeat themselves over and over, it makes them feel like a nag and they resent it.

Plus, when that is the case, you are not demonstrating competence.

They lose confidence in your abilities.

They won’t trust that they can rely on you to get things done properly.

They’ll feel the need to start double-checking your work.

All of which ultimately makes you difficult to work with.

They didn’t choose you so you could create more work and hassle for them, right?

In the case of my forum, we tend towards giving everyone the benefit of the doubt first.

But if they repeatedly can’t get it together, we begin to form the impression that this isn’t someone we should be representing.

We are constantly advocating for our members and touting their graces and competence to clients so we need for our members to actually be those things.

When someone can’t follow directions, especially when it comes to the simplest of things, over and over, we have to question their qualification and whether they are someone to whom we should be lending our reputation.

It’s not an indictment on the registrant as a person, but we are a professional organization after all.

We have a standard of excellence and competence we adhere to so we really need members to put their best foot forward and inspire our confidence in them.

And the same goes for your clients. They need you to inspire their confidence.

You don’t have to be perfect. You’re not a machine, and you will make mistakes every once in awhile.

And that’s okay because that’s not where your value lies. In fact, I advise you to have a conversation about that with prospective clients in your consultations.

But what is important is that overall you demonstrate a pattern and consistency of proficiency so they can trust in you.

When they have a specific detail they want adhered to in a certain way, honor that.

Because if you can’t, you create distrust and unease for them, and eventually they’ll start looking for someone else who doesn’t make it such an ordeal to work together.

Dear Danielle: Should I Be Concerned that a Colleague Has the Same Biz Name?

Dear Danielle: Should I Be Concerned that a Colleague Has the Same Biz Name?

Dear Danielle:

I have a question regarding my business name. I started my business on August 17, but just found out that there is another business in our industry with a name similar to mine. I know that this probably won’t matter, but I am in one state and she is in another. My long term goal is to go international, but right now, I am concentrating on local clients. By the way, I have business cards, a business license, etc. Should I be concerned about this? If so, what do you suggest I do? Thank you in advance for your advice. –FT

You are right in assuming that it doesn’t necessarily matter that you are in two different states.

This is especially true in our industry where we don’t have any geographic boundaries from each other.

If the person with the pre-existing, established use of the name takes their business interests seriously and is intent on protecting their trade name rights, you could be in for some legal problems and expenses.

In fact, the laws governing trademarks, trade names, trade dress, etc., matters requires them to defend their rights or they forfeit them.

When you’re in business, there are lots of important areas you have  a responsibility to understand.

They may be boring, complicated and not so fun, but they are imperative nonetheless because they protect us and the marketplace, keep things fair, and give us some parameters to ensure we can all play nice and get along with each other.

So the first thing I advise you to do is go to USPTO.gov and study up on the trademark and copyright information listed there.

I’m going to post some info we share in our forums on this topic and why it’s in your best business interest to come up with your own unique business name.

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO FIND YOUR OWN UNIQUE NAME

In our industry, we have no geographical boundaries from each other. Therefore, having a unique business name is even more important.

When starting an administrative support business, beyond just the impoliteness of stepping on a colleague’s toes (someone who was there first), here is why it’s important for you to have a unique business name:

1. You don’t want to get sued. A colleague with established first use of an existing trade name has legal rights and can sue you for infringement, and possibly even damages. It costs a lot of money, time and energy to defend yourself. If you lose (which you can by either default or because the court finds in the complainant’s favor), it can cost even more. If they win a judgment against you, they may be able to go after your personal assets, garnish wages, get an injunction to freeze bank accounts and force you to disgorge any monies you earned while using their IP (intellectual property). This is not “mean”; it’s business, and every business has a right to defend its rights and its turf if it feels it’s been infringed upon. Likewise, every business has a duty and self-preserving interest to make sure it is not infringing. It’s just not a ball of wax you want to even potentially find yourself in.

2. It’s not a great way to be welcomed into the community. Ours is a relatively small, tight-knit community. People will know you are infringing on one of their comrades. How do you think they will look upon you? And imagine if it were you… how would you feel if someone new came into the industry and started using your business name, the one you’ve been using for X years and around which all your identity and marketing has been based? It would not feel good. Trust, good will and polite society can not exist where we allow this kind of thing to occur. It’s just not cool, much less professional or ethical.

3. You don’t want to be confused with another business in the same industry. It’s going to be really important to differentiate yourself from everyone else, and that includes having a unique business name and identity. It doesn’t do you any good to be using someone else’s established business name if traffic and name recognition is going to be diverted to someone else who was there first.

4. You don’t want to have to redo everything (e.g., website, marketing materials, etc.). If you are caught infringing, you can be compelled to relinquish domains, destroy or hand over other intellectual property, and it’s going to be a lot of work and more money to start all over again.

STEPS TO ENSURING YOU DO NOT INFRINGE

So, what do you do? A bit of homework is in order. To make sure you come up with a unique name and do not infringe on the established trademarks and trade name rights of any of your colleagues, there are things you can and should do:

1. Search industry directories. Make sure no one else is using the same or similar name already.

2. Search the uspto.gov database. Check to see that no one else is already using the same or similar trade name. Bear in mind that while federally registered trade names have even further protections and recourses, a name does not have to be registered there to be protected. Changing a letter or word is not going to help you if the name can be considered to be substantially the same and/or would still create confusion.

3. Conduct a search for the name (or the predominant unique identifier) in several different search engines. Use Google, MSN, Yahoo, Chrome and any others you might think of. Better to be thorough now than sorry later. Example: If you want to use Dizzy Admin, you should search for  “Dizzy Admin,” “Dizzy Administrative,” “Dizzy Administration,” “Dizzy Administrative Consulting,” “Dizzy Administrative Consultant,”“Dizzy Business Support,” ““Dizzy Virtual Assistant,” “Dizzy Virtual Assistants,” “Dizzy Virtual Assistance,” etc. If someone else in our industry, regardless of where they are located, is using “Dizzy” (which is the relevant novel/ substantive part of the name), forget about using it.

WHAT TO DO NEXT

Once you find a name that is unique and that in no way can be confused with anyone else’s existing, established trade identity in our industry, you’re home free.

If you think you were the first to use the name, contact the colleague and see if you see if you can work things out.

If you know you were not the first, contact the colleague with the same or similar name, and see how they feel about it.

And then consult an attorney about whether it would be a wise course of action to pursue the name anyway, what the possible ramifications are, and what it might cost to defend or protect yourself. ;)

If You Want Ideal Clients, Be an Ideal Administrator

I always say to clients and business owners:  If you want an ideal administrator, be an ideal client.

You should absolutely get the kind of quality support you deserve, but great Administrative Consultants are not going to deal with prima donnas who don’t value their AC’s contributions, don’t want to pay for the value of skilled, competent expertise, or are in any other way a negative drain on their time and energy.

The same goes in reverse… If you want ideal clients, you had better be an ideal Administrative Consultant.

What makes for an ideal Administrative Consultant? Here’s my list:

  1. An ideal AC has the skills she says she has.
  2. An ideal AC does what she says she will.
  3. An ideal AC is respectful of her clients’ time.
  4. An ideal AC follows directions and pays attention to details.
  5. An ideal AC asks questions and obtains clarification when needed.
  6. An ideal AC is an active listener.
  7. An ideal AC has great communication and follow-up skills and doesn’t leave clients guessing.
  8. An ideal AC runs her business like a business.
  9. An ideal AC takes pride in her work and service delivery and doesn’t do things sloppily.
  10. An ideal AC is consistent, committed and follows through.
  11. An ideal AC has excellent organizational skills.
  12. An ideal AC is able to maintain focus.
  13. An ideal AC is proactive and takes initiative.
  14. An ideal AC is a critical thinker.
  15. In the same way that she expects to be valued, an ideal AC doesn’t devalue others or expect them to work for free or below their worth.

Do you have any others to add?

Dear Danielle: Do You Subcontract Your Work to Others?

A prospective client recently contacted me and asked a good question. Here’s how I responded:

Dear Danielle:

If we work together, will you be outsourcing any of my work? Do you subcontract to other Administrative Consultants? —LA

Just as clients shouldn’t be doing everything themselves in their business, neither should Administrative Consultants. We are business owners/solopreneurs just as our clients are.

However, I know why you are asking.

There is a trend lately where a certain segment of people (often those with no experience or expertise themselves) starting businesses in our industry where all they are doing is farming the work out to third parties.

That is not administrative support. It’s an attempt to exploit an industry and mine it for whatever money they can get any way they can.

That is most definitely NOT what we as Administrative Consultants are in business to do.

There’s no personal one-on-one dynamic involved in working like that, which is precisely what defines ongoing administrative support: that deeply collaborative, personal relationship.

There are all kinds of pitfalls when working with a company that treats the work transactionally like that. I hear about them all the time from clients and from colleagues who are being farmed out or taking on subcontracted work.

The chief complaints I hear are that clients don’t like having their work sent out to people they don’t know. (If they wanted to hire someone else, they would have done that in the first place).

They frequently complain of problems with consistency in service and poor work quality in these arrangements as well.

And for the colleagues working for these companies, they simply don’t make much money and often have to deal with issues of late or non-payment.

It sounds like you have encountered your own negative experiences with that type of arrangement as well.

My business model is not one where I do the marketing and then spread out and rely on non-employees to do the work.

I am the craftsman in my business. When clients hire me, it’s my brain and my skills and my expertise they get.

That said, I do have my own small panel of long-time support administrators who help me in my business.

I have this help not only so that I can create the same kind of smooth-running business and life of freedom that clients are seeking to create themselves, but also, ultimately, because it allows me to provide my clients with vastly superior support and attention.

It does my neither me nor my clients any good whatsoever if I’m frazzled, overworked and spread too thin from trying to do everything all by myself.

But here’s the difference:

My relationship with clients is never outsourced.

When clients hire me, it’s me they work with directly.

Mainly, my panel of support help me with things related to the running of my business.

There are also some instances when I might delegate certain tasks or non-critical, non-confidential, non-sensitive parts of my work. However, my responsibility and control over the proper completion, quality and accuracy of the work is never abdicated or outsourced.

I don’t farm out or subcontract anything to any stable of third parties I may or may not know well (which is what happens in those subcontracting farms, often to other countries that are rife with identify thieves and credit card hackers).

I only work with my small, consistent, long-time support administrators who are colleagues I’ve known and worked with for many years.

In answer to your question, No (emphatically), I never subcontract your work. Your business, information and trust is too important to me to ever betray that.

What I do have is my own Administrative Consultant whom I monthly retainer for a body of support in the same way you retain me. Huge difference.

If there’s something additionally a client needs that is outside the scope of administrative support (e.g., they need a bookkeeper or a web designer, etc.), I can refer them or help them find the proper professional whom they can hire directly.

If a one-on-one partnering solution is what you are seeking, there is no place for a middleman in the equation.