Archive for the ‘Mentoring’ Category

Final Hours: Opportunity Knocks

FINAL HOURS: Take 25% off now through midnight tonight only!

COURTESY REMINDER:

Today is the last day to get 25% off everything in the ACA Success Store. After midnight tonight, there won’t be another chance.

I’ll be launching something brand new soon, and it’s pretty darn awesome, if I do say so myself.

This will be a getting back to basics of sorts and it’s going to fit the needs of both new and already started administrative support business owners.

And don’t worry. What it will NOT be is yet another huge program that is going to cost a small fortune. In fact, a large part of it is going to be completely free.

BUT (and this is the important thing), you are going to need all the pieces of my administrative support business system in order to participate. As with any education, there are required school supplies and materials you need to get. Same idea.

So, toward that effort, I’d like to give you a little leg up in the meantime:

From now until midnight tonight, take 25% off all  Success Store products with this code: opportunityknocks

Simply paste that code into the discount field when you checkout and it will give you 25% off your purchase price.

If you’ve followed me long, you know that I don’t do sales and discounts. These are top-level professional-quality business materials and information. So, this is rare opportunity you don’t want to miss out on because it won’t be offered again.

Plus, we have hundreds of reviews from colleagues like you who love the products they’ve purchased and are so happy they chose the ACA to support them in their business journey.

Head over to the Success Store and place your purchase now.

I hope you’ll avail yourself of this chance so you’ll be ready to partake in something amazing!

Pinch Yourself Today, Right Now

Pinch Yourself Today, Right Now

I was chatting online with a long-time colleague yesterday, someone whom I greatly like and admire.

I asked how business was going for her since we hadn’t had a chance to catch up in awhile.

This colleague has always invested in herself and her business. She’s purchased my entire system of business success products and if I remember correctly, taken all my training classes as well, and she is doing all kinds of fantastic!

I didn’t want to say how proud I was of her (though I am) because that sounds so condescending. So I said I hoped she realized how stinkin’ proud of all that she’s accomplished she should be because SHE did this!

And I hope YOU are taking time regularly for “pinch myself” moments to honor and celebrate all that you’ve accomplished in your business journey as well.

I call them “pinch myself” moments because even having been in this business for nearly 20 years, I frequently marvel at just how fortunate I am to be living this lifestyle that my business affords me. And I “pinch” myself in gratitude that YES, this is REAL, this is my real life and I DID IT!

All anyone (myself included) can do is give you our best help, knowledge and guidance, but it’s YOU who makes it all happen in your own life and business.

So take a moment, right now, to celebrate all your accomplishments, every step you’ve conquered, every action you’ve taken, every fear you’ve faced, no matter how big or seemingly insignificant. Because they are all equally important in your journey.

Every time you learn a difficult lesson, every time you face down something you were scared of, that intimidated you or you felt daunted by, you make progress toward your goals for self determination and independence. And you grow not only in your business, but personally as well.

It’s My Birthday (and There’s Something for You, too)

It's My Birthday (and There's Something for You, Too!)

It’s my birthday today, the big 5-0. Happy birthday to me, lol!

And you know what would absolutely make my day? Letting me know how I’ve helped you in your business, how my products have helped you, and what you’re most excited about in your business from the help and guidance you’ve received from me and the ACA Success Store products.

Better yet, if you would tell others. I can’t reach others without your help and your recommendation is the best gift you could give me! I’ve got some big plans this year (plans that include traveling the country and meeting my ACA peeps all over the U.S.) and that means I have to get serious about promoting the ACA Success Store.

AND, I want to give YOU something in return. I’ve been trying to think of what I could do for you who are so supportive of me and my products, the help I give to people in growing and bettering their business and acumen, and the work I do in our industry.

What I came up with was INSTANT commissions on your referrals/recommendations! So instead of having to wait a whole month for payment of your affiliate commissions, they will be processed immediately within 24 hours.

Now, obviously, I only want you to give your endorsements and recommendations if they truly come from the heart and your own personal experience with the ACA products you’ve purchased.

Even if you haven’t purchased anything yet, you’ve surely gained valuable information and knowledge from the expertise and experience I share here on the blog, or on Facebook, or the free products you’ve downloaded. You are getting something valuable and worthwhile from my insight, otherwise, you would have left my mailing list and community a long time ago, right? And that’s value and quality that you can absolutely recommend in integrity to others.

So, if you share your praise, reviews, recommendations, testimonials (whatever you want to call it) with your friends and colleagues in the industry (on your blog, ezine, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, email, mailing list, wherever makes sense and will reach lots of people) and give them your affiliate link to the ACA Success Store, I will send you your 25% commissions on every sale that comes of it “instantly” within 24 hours.

I mean, if someone wanted to hand you a hundred dollar bill, would you turn it down? You can always use cash in your business, right? So I thought this would be an excellent way to give back to you for the all the love, support, referrals and recommendations you make.

I do need to mention, this is an experiment and right now, the instant commissions are for this week only. That’s because they have to be processed manually by a live human. We’ll have to see how it goes. If it goes well, I might just keep doing it beyond this week!

Oh, and if you’re not currently signed up for the ACA Affiliate Program, be sure and do that so you can get an affiliate link to share. Here’s the sign-up page: ACA Affiliate Program

My biggest, heartiest hugs and love to you! Thank you for letting me share in your business journey, for being part of my community and for being one of my online friends and colleagues! And thanks for making my big 5-0 day (and every day) great!

Dear Danielle: How Do I Obtain Financial Backing?

Dear Danielle: How Do I Obtain Financial Backing?

Dear Danielle:

Do you have any advice on how to secure financial backing? —Anonymous by request

What kind of financial backing do you mean or think you need?

Because these aren’t the kind of businesses that you’re going to be able to find “financial backing” for.

The great thing about our kind of business is that while all businesses require at least some investment of time and money, it costs relatively little to start up an administrative support business.

Best to bootstrap, build up your own capital for launch, make use of whatever resources you already have, and be putting your business foundations solidly in place before launching.

If you’re still working, that’s a great time to do all of that.

Thanks, Danielle. I’m pretty much set up. I have my equipment and such. So perhaps I am good to go. I keep seeing websites, though, that state I need to have a mentor and that it costs X amount of dollars for their insight. So that’s why I was thinking that I need to get a fianancial backer. What do you think?

I think you’re good to go.

Business learning is something that will be ongoing throughout the life of your business. You’ll always be learning.

And no one is going to give you money to get mentored so it’s really a non-issue.

Beyond that, as far as mentors go, you find people to follow who make sense to you and take advantage of their at-large mentoring.

For example, the ACA website and my blog here are where I mentor the industry as a whole with my blog posts, resources, etc.

As you go along, that’s when you might find you need some some personal coaching/advising/guidance here and there when you get stuck, and then you just pay for that when/where/if you need it.

How to Get Help When Starting Your Administrative Support Business

Here’s a little pet peeve of mine: leaving a Voicemail with no message other than your name and a request for me to call you.

I rarely return those calls. Almost every time, the folks who do this always want far more from me than I can provide them with in an unscheduled telephone conversation.

Once in a great while, I’ll make an exception and phone back one of these mystery callers. And nine times out of 10, it turns out they want me to personally walk them through all the ins and outs of starting an administrative support business.

I then kick myself in the butt for calling them back.

I resent being hijacked like that. It’s rude, plain and simple. It shows a complete lack of regard for the other person’s time and interest. What makes you think I don’t have other things to do except sit by the phone waiting to help you start your business… for free?

Of course, it’s my fault for answering or calling back. So these are reminders for me to honor my own boundaries and self-care.

Seriously. I get a jillion of these calls every week. I can’t help everyone individually. I have my own business to run, and my own life and priorities about who and what I give my time to.

Everything I can help them with is already here on the blog and the ACA website in the free resources and the business tools and guides I offer. I’m able to help many more people at once through these channels.

So, if you want help in starting your administrative support business, here are some tips to help you avoid any faux pas:

  1. Don’t hijack people. You will be more likely to get help if you leave a full message with not only who you are, but WHY you are calling. Don’t be evasive or trick people into calling you back (yes, I’ve actually had people do this!). They aren’t likely to want to help you when you do underhanded, manipulative things like that.
  2. Better yet, email first. Be upfront and direct about why you are writing. Knowing your intentions, the person at the other end can decide whether or not to give their time and better schedule something in advance. Be yourself and let your personality shine through; it’ll certainly make you much more noticeable and interesting. I’m a real person and I appreciate real, unpretentious people who don’t put on airs. But do remember to put your most professional written foot forward at the same time. Be specific and state your question or request clearly. I can’t (and won’t) spend my time trying to decipher incoherent thoughts and poor communication. I am always happy to answer clear, focused, specific questions on my blog here, but no one can help you with, How do I start an administrative support business? That’s what my blog, classes and business guides are for.
  3. Think of the other person, not only yourself. Consider the fact that someone who is knowledgeable, successful and in a position to help you is most likely in high demand from hundreds of people, all wanting the same thing as you. If they can’t help you personally, accept that graciously. Be respectful of their time and appreciative when they are able and willing  to give it to you. Your good attitude about this may even warm them up to you and help you make a personal connection where they are more inclined to take an interest in you. The worst attitude you can have is one of self-entitlement. No one owes you their time and attention.
  4. Be prepared to pay. Really think about this. Why should someone who doesn’t know you from Adam set aside their valuable time to give you a personal tour and advice in starting your business? It’s really self-centered to think like that. People like myself offer a TON of free info and advice to help folks. But if you want my personal time and guidance beyond the things that I already provide, I charge for that.
  5. Do your own homework first. No one is going to do everything for you. I never, ever help people who I see have not lifted a finger to help themselves first. Read everything. Apply critical thinking. Take the first steps yourself. If you can’t narrow your questions down, you haven’t done enough reading and research on your own yet. The person who has specific questions has obviously done this. The kind of questions they ask make it very clear to people like me how much legwork they’ve done already and how serious they are about their business. Those are the folks I enjoy helping because I see the wheels turning and they’ve made some level of commitment. They’re easier to help, and there is more satisfaction in helping them because they really apply themselves and the advice given to them. When it comes right down to it, I just simply like those people more. NO ONE likes an ask-hole. 😉
  6. Give back. I’ll let you in on a little secret… those who contact me and the very first thing they express is that they understand that I may or may not be able to help them personally… those are the folks who get my attention. Because to me, that shows a person of character and awareness about the needs of others, not just their own. Those people are givers, and I enjoy helping them most. I have no use for self-absorbed takers who want to suck your brain dry (for free, of course), but then can’t be bothered to say thank you . Which leads me to the point of this bullet, how you can give back to those who help you. First, always, always, always, always remember to say thank you. Let them know how they have helped you. Then, remember the time and knowledge they gave you and when they ask for feedback, input, testimonials or contributions to a discussion, give that to them! Those are things people in my position really, really appreciate in return.

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.

It’s Not About the Price!

As someone in the administrative support business, if your only selling point is how little you cost or how much cheaper you are than an employee, you’ve already failed in business.

I get it… many people are new to business. They don’t have the faintest clue how to market themselves properly.

They see what everyone else in the industry (who also don’t know any better) is talking about on their websites and think that’s what they should be talking about, too.

Little do they know that most of those people they are mimicking are themselves struggling, making very little money and attracting all the worst kinds of clients (think cheapskates and nitpickers, the kind that do not make for a happy or profitable business).

Let me ask you:

  • Is it your rate that improves the businesses of your clients?
  • Is it your rate that does the skilled work that allows clients to move forward?
  • Is it your rate that streamlines their businesses and helps them run more effectively?
  • Is it your rate that creates more precious time in their lives?

No?

Why then do you continue to focus clients on nothing but your price?!

Surely there is more reason to work with you than the fact that you charge so little or that you are “affordable” or “cheaper than an employee.”

Isn’t there?

For that matter, why on God’s green earth do you think that that value (i.e., skills, expertise, knowledge and all the host of solutions and benefits that clients reap from those traits) should cost nary a thing?

Sure, you might have clients beating down your door (client’s are no fools; they know when there’s a schmuck to be taken advantage of), but are they the right clients?

Are they the kind of clients you will enjoy working with?

Can you build a real, sustainable business and make an actual living from the amount of money the cheap-seekers want to pay?

How long do you think it will take before you resent not making enough money or burn out before barely breaking even?

If you don’t work to understand this dynamic and the economics of business, you are going to forever be stuck on a hamster wheel chasing down clients, attracting the worst kind, and still never making any money.

You won’t be in business long if clients are the only ones who benefit. It has to benefit you as well. Otherwise, you don’t have a business.

I encourage you to keep thinking about the real value you bring to the table.

How exactly does your support put your clients in a better place in their business than they were before? What do they gain from working with you? How are their circumstances improved? What do they benefit from?

(Hint: It has nothing to do with how much you charge.)

Write these things down and use them in your marketing message. Take out every mention of how cheap and affordable you are on your website.

Go do this. Now.

Dear Danielle: Is Training Necessary?

Dear Danielle:

I am  currently  writing my business plan as I want to become a Virtual Assistant. I have been working in the Administration field as an administrative assistant since I graduated from college in 2000. My question to you is: does one need to enroll in a specialed training to persue a career as a virtual assistant. –PV

Depends on what you mean by training. Are we talking about skills training or business education?

As far as skills, you don’t necessarily need training to go into the administrative support business. If you feel you have the background and the skill level that qualifies you to do this work, then go for it. You’re going to be acquiring new skills and improving upon others all the time and as you work with more and more clients.

Of course, skills training is never a bad idea. Anytime you can improve your skills or your business knowledge, that’s only going to increase your value to clients. And this is a competitive market. Clients won’t shell out their hard-earned money to folks who don’t have a masterful, professional level of administrative skill and know-how. If you have little or no skill level, you’re going to have a very difficult time in this business.

Now, I do want to point something out to your attention because it’s going to be critical to your success in this industry. Spelling, grammar punctuation… all of it is very, very important.

I notice in your question, you have what I presume is a typo (“specialed”), an incorrect capitalization (“Administration”) and a misspelling (“persue”).  I’m personally not concerned so much with a typo here and there. That happens to the best of us. We’re not perfect and we’re not robots. We can check and double-check our work and still miss one or two occasionally.

However, grammar, spelling, punctuation, proper capitalization… those things are critical because it indicates a level of literacy that is going to be important in everything you do as an administrative support provider and business owner.

Your work and skills are a reflection on you and your business as well as on your clients when you are working on their behalf. There is simply no room for a less than stellar command of the written word.

It’s important because: a) clients don’t want the work you do for them to have these kinds of errors, and b) everything you write and type is a reflection of your competence.

If you don’t demonstrate competence in all that you do, it’s going to cast you in an unprofessional/unskilled light and undermine your ability to establish trust and confidence in your would-be clients.

Clients will see these errors and assume that the work you do for them is going to be subject to typos, misspellings and incorrect usage.

So if written (and oral, for that matter) communication is where you lack proficiency, then I would definitely encourage you to do whatever you need to do to improve in that area.

What most people lack when they enter this profession is business knowledge.

A lot of it you will learn from trial and error in the School of Hard Knocks.

That’s okay. It will be a much longer, harder road, but you will learn some very important, valuable business skills and lessons from those kind of experiences.

You will learn some good things from your colleagues who have been in business longer.

At the same time, you will also learn some not so good things from people who don’t have any more knowledge or experience in business than you do, nor achieved any kind of track record of established business and financial success, but seem to think that their opinion or guesses somehow qualify as smart business advice.

So be smart about who you take advice from. Try not to be the blind person following other blind people. ;)

Are You a Giver or a Taker?

Couple quick thoughts to share…

I can’t count the number of times I’ve extended myself to help someone out, both strangers and those I know, and never once received a thank you.

Some would say, when you give, you should be giving without any expectations in return.

And I wholeheartedly agree with that on one level.

At the same time, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with expecting a simple thank-you.

Everyone wants a little acknowledgement, even if they try to fool themselves into thinking they don’t.

It’s part of “being in this together” and building relationships. It’s about giving back to those who have given to you. And it’s just good breeding.

If we are all trying to be better people, I think it’s good to do take a personal audit every now and then and ask ourselves, Am I a giver or a taker?

Do you sign up for things just to mine other people’s stuff?

Do you join forums and then lurk around… making active, contributing members  feel uncomfortable, like there is a stranger in their midst who is eavesdropping on their conversations and whose intentions are unknown… who is just taking and benefiting from their input without contributing anything in return?

Do you use people to get what you want, but don’t consider what those who have helped you might need or appreciate in return?

When someone goes out of their way to help you when they don’t have to, do you acknowledge that? Do you remember to say “thank you?”

Those two simple little words go a long way.

Do you publicly acknowledge their help so others know?

This extends to your client relationships as well. You never want to take their business for granted.

One small little gesture I make that clients of mine have told me means so much to them is that when I receive their payment (even if I’m the one processing it to pay myself), I always, ALWAYS, email them and tell them ”thank you.”

Every single time.

Some might think after the first few times you wouldn’t need to bother. But it’s the small things and paying attention to seemingly insignificant details that are often make the most meaningful, memorable impact.

So don’t be a user. Don’t be a taker.

Give back as good as you get.

Remember to say thank you to your clients for their business (and payments) and to all the colleagues, mentors and others along your journey who help you, each and every time.

What Would You Do: Educating the Marketplace Properly Matters

Here’s the situation…

About a month ago I was approached by someone who is writing a book about successful Virtual Assistants.

She didn’t give me too many details and my usual position is that I have no interest whatsoever in being mentioned in a book unless that book, its context and those involved are in alignment with my standards, values and beliefs regarding our profession and the business we’re in.

This is because who we align ourselves with informs our marketplace and sets their expectations and understandings, rightly or wrongly.

So it matters very much that those you align yourself with are educating clients in a manner that is consistent with what you view as true and proper and responsible.

Otherwise, we just perpetuate the confusion that is rampant in our industry and continue to send mixed, contradictory signals that miseducate both new colleagues and clients alike.

For me, part of my integrity lies in the fact that I don’t sell my soul or change my principles for the sake of earning a buck or gaining the spotlight. If that means I have to say no to an opportunity, so be it.

So I asked her for a bit more information and it was revealed that a survey was done with over 100 virtual assistants who listed who they believe play a major role in our industry, with my name being in the top 10.

She provided the list of names to me, and it was a bit disappointing.

I emailed her back letting her know that it was flattering to be on the list and my interest was piqued, but before I could make a decision, I needed more information on the project, the intentions for the projects and what the goal and purpose was.

I let her know that my main concern was that if a book was being written about our industry, the people interviewed should be those actually in the administrative support business.

Her list included one person who became successful in a completely different field that doesn’t have anything to do with the administrative support business, and there were at least two others who weren’t running administrative support businesses at all: one was a secretarial service (not the same thing whatsoever) and the other was a virtual staffing agency, and neither of whom was an industry veteran or thought leader by any definition. They were newbies themselves who were actually recycling and, in many cases, plagiarizing the established writing and speaking of me and others.

I said I was sure she could understand that I would be leery about participating in anything that miseducated the industry and our marketplace and clients about the true nature of the administrative support business and those who have truly become successful in it.

She was very nice and replied that she was excited to hear from me, thanked me n said she would forward more information shortly.

That was the last I heard from her until yesterday when I received an inquiry about discussing the process of providing a seminar to our network and beginning a relationship with our organization to promote her marketing program to our members.

I went to the website and it only took reading the first page to know that it is definitely not a fit, regardless of how nice of a person she may be.

For example, on the very first page, it is instructing clients to expect:

1. That every Virtual Assistant should provide at least three references and one character reference.

There isn’t anything inherently wrong with having one or more current or former clients who are willing to talk to your potential clients about their experience working with you, but the way she’s got this framed is absolutely WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.

Business owners don’t provide “references” as if they were applying for a job!

MARKETING (which includes testimonials and case studies with full contact info of satisfied clients) is what businesses do to establish the credibility and confidence clients need to inform their decisions.

The way she frames this, she is educating the marketplace to view us as “workers” and employees looking for jobs instead of business owners who are in business to provide a specific expertise.

2. To look for a Virtual Assistant who understands and is comfortable with your communication needs.

This could be taken a few ways, but given the context of the rest of her site, I interpreted this to mean that she thinks we should go with whatever clients want.

One thing I think is very important for people in this business to understand is that they shouldn’t confuse customer service with servitude. You are the administrative expert in the relationship, not their lackey.

For example, if you are a solo practitioner and you haven’t had a phone policy up until now, once you begin working with more than one client, you begin to realize that you simply cannot be at the beck and call of clients on the phone and expect to concentrate and have uninterrupted time to get work done.

That kind of realization leads you to set up specific policies in your business regarding communications and how work requests are submitted and handled, which is not only for your benefit, it’s for the benefit of clients as well.

If you are fried from taking unscheduled calls while trying to get things done, mark my words, it WILL affect the quality of your work and your ability to keep track of things and stay focused.

None of that is helpful to your clients and your service will definitely suffer. Therefore, it is absolutely a service to clients that you set intentional policies and boundaries. Those things HELP you deliver superior customer service to them.

It’s not a client’s place to set your business policies. If you decide that you can only do scheduled brainstorming calls once a week and “here’s how my business is set up in order to deliver the  best service consistently and reliably to each and every one of my clients,” all you have to do is inform them how things work. You don’t let them dictate how things work in your business.

If you frame it right, it will look like a benefit, not an un-customer-friendly policy (which it’s not, anyway).

This is called STRUCTURE and it is absolutely your best friend in business.

3. To look for a Virtual Assistant who is available during the same hours you need assistance.

The problem here again is that this framing trains clients to look upon Virtual Assistants as on-demand employees or workers of their company.

I’ve said it before and it bear repeating: You are a business, not their employee, and this is a business-to-business relationship. As a business, you have your own policies and schedules that set and run independent of any client. Trust me, you will live to regret the day you trained clients to expect you to work on demand or certain hours of every day.

Yes, do set official business hours, not because that’s the time you are limiting yourself to working, but because it provides framework, parameters, boundaries and respect.

It says, “These are my business hours during which time you may contact my office.”

That doesn’t mean you are at their beck and call or that you are going to answer the phone instantly every time it rings, or that you are necessarily going to be around those days and those times, all the time.

You might set certain times of the day for checking voicemails. Or you might hire an employee or engage an answering service or virtual receptionist to handle your phone lines.

But you can’t allow yourself to be drawn into phone conversations or brainstorming sessions without a proper appointment. You have to inform clients what your communication policies are.

Since you aren’t working with clients in an employee-like capacity, it won’t matter a whit when you accomplish their tasks and projects.

And don’t take on clients who have on-demand needs or expect you to work like an employee.

You, of course, need to have some policies for some kind of timely turnaround. No one is going to work with anyone who can’t competently manage workloads in a timely, reasonable manner.

But I guarantee you, you will not be able to sustain any kind of instant, on-demand assistance once you begin working with more than one client. You just won’t.

Clients are fine with all these things as long as they are informed upfront.

That upfront information is what manages expectations.

So, for example, you could inform them:

“All work requests must be emailed to my office at this address. Work is processed within a 3-day turnaround (or whatever your system is). We’ll have a weekly telephone meeting on Mondays (or Tuesdays or whatever your system is)…”

And all of it will be just fine with the right-fitting clients because they’ll have been properly educated and informed in advance of working together about how things work, what you need from them in the relationship, and what they can expect within that framework.

Just because there are one or two clients you come across who have a problem with that (and there will be those) doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with having intentional business policies and set-ups.

You HAVE to have those or you simply won’t be able to manage your business very well or very long, regardless of whether it’s just you or whether you have your own support staff.

There are going to be some clients who aren’t a fit for what we do.

There are going to be business owners who don’t work very well with email. So what? You aren’t going to be able to work with them.

And there are some who simply need an employee, not us.

That doesn’t mean you are doing anything wrong by having structure in your business and smart policies that help you run efficiently.

And again, the hours and days you work should have no bearing whatsoever. If it does, then that client is under some mistaken understandings and has been trained to expect instant, on-demand, employee-like support, which is wrong all the way around.

(This all yet another good example of why the virtual assistant term doesn’t serve us — because it miseducates people into thinking we are some kind of employee when in fact we are independent business owners.)

So here’s my brainstorming question…

A lot of times, I just have to ignore requests when they are not a fit.

It takes up so much time and energy to come up with an appropriate response.

There is some communication that my administrators simply can’t handle for me, that I have to answer myself.

But I often get lambasted no matter what I do.

If I don’t send a reply, then I’m a jerk.

If I do and I make an attempt to construct a friendly, but candid, honest response that there isn’t a fit and why, I get hate mail on that as well.

Ya can’t win for losing!

No, you can’t please all the people all the time. You can only be true to yourself and do what’s best for you.

However, I would like to know what you think.

This is a perfectly nice person I have no doubt, but she is clearly operating under some ideas about our business that are completely wrong and do a disservice to our industry. I couldn’t possibly align my organization with hers because of it.

So, do you think I should reply at all? And if so, do you have suggestions for how I could nicely word a “thanks, but it’s not a fit at this time” response?

Well, I guess that’s pretty good right there, isn’t it?

But usually that invites more communication because they often will write back and want to know why.

Should I provide the why? Do they really want to know my honest reasons? What recommended wording do you have?