Archive for the ‘The Portable Business Ezine’ Category

But I Only Need These Little Things Done

But I Only Need These Little Things Done

One of the things we in the administrative support business often hear from clients is some variation of the theme on why they keep trying to do everything themselves in their businesses:

“But I only need these little things done… they don’t take much time or effort or skill.”

“It’s just as easy for me to do it.”

“In the time it takes to me to email it, I could have gotten it done already.”

But here’s the thing… all those tiny moments can and do add up to huge chunks of time and energy — resources that are better spent building your business.

You see, the value in having an ongoing administrative support relationship with an Administrative Consultant isn’t in the tasks per se. It’s in what that Administrative Consultant’s support allows you to achieve and accomplish because you aren’t spending your own time laboring over details and implementation.

Think about it.

When you expend your time and effort on the “little things,” you are chipping away at those vital resources you need to tap into your creativity and stay focused and energized.

If you fritter those things away, you won’t have any left to spare. Ideas and products you’ve been meaning to get to languish forever on the back burner.

Plus, all those “little things” take up space in your head. They crowd out ideas and dilute the mental energy you need to take action.

By the time you get done taking care of them, you may not have anything left for the more important stuff.

You give away your critical thinking and brain space by trying to do it all yourself.

Don’t hang on to the “little things” because it’s “easier.”

It doesn’t matter how hard or how easy they may be. The point is to give them away so that you can move forward.

What are you trying to achieve in your business? Where do you want to focus your time and energy? What work or projects are you trying to get done?

The act of giving away the “little things” (along with big things, for that matter) can mean all the difference in (for example) whether or not you are able to work with x number of additional clients per month, create those new passive income streams, complete that program that will represent $x more in additional revenues, or write that new book that will generate more publicity, establish authority in your field and increase your expert status.

And the greatest thing about all this is that you don’t have to remain a prisoner to this thinking.

An Administrative Consultant can unshackle you from your administrative burdens. All you have to do is let go. It really will set you free to soar in your business.

RESOURCE: For more about what you can gain by working with an Administrative Consultant, be sure and read the ACA Client Guide article, “The Benefits of Support: Why Getting Administrative Support is Critical to Your Business Success.”

© Copyright 2009 by Danielle Keister for the Administrative Consultants Association. You are granted permission to republish this article only if used without alteration in its entirety with this copyright notice, title, article content, resource, and links intact.

How to Turn Business Slow-Down into Opportunity

How to Turn Business Slow-down into Opportunity

Business ebbs and flows for all kinds of reasons: seasonal fluctuations, industry shifts, client departures, to name a few.

If you’re currently experiencing a business slow-down, don’t panic. It’s the normal cycle of things. A slow-down can actually be a great opportunity to improve your business and make it stronger and more purposeful moving forward.

Here are some of the actions you can take to leverage the gift of extra time:

Processes & Policies

  • Systemize your processes. For each process in your business, map out the details step-by-step. Besides being a great start on that SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) manual you’ve been meaning to get done forever, the act of diagramming your operations and workflow helps ferret out gaps and inefficiencies you can then fix.
  • Automate repetitive steps. What actions or steps are always the same in a process or workflow? What questions do you answer over and over? What software or online service can be used to manage and deliver certain functions? The idea is to formalize in writing and consolidate with tools so you aren’t starting from scratch or reinventing the wheel every time. Creating an FAQ (frequently asked questions) that you can email to clients in PDF format or direct them to on your website is an example of automation. Using an autoresponder service to grow your mailing list and deliver scheduled follow-up messages automatically is another example.
  • Switch to upfront payments. You don’t do yourself or your clients any favors allowing them to get into debit with you. By moving to advance fees, your cashflow is immediately improved, administration goes down (because you aren’t dealing with payment terms, collection hassles and chasing down monies due), and clients know what to expect and when and can budget accordingly. (Better yet, get them on auto-pay!)
  • Stop billing by the hour. You limit your earning potential when you base your fees on time. Focus on value and results instead (how you improve your clients’ circumstances and what they gain from working with you). Update your support around packages of bundled value, not hours. This way, you won’t be cheating yourself out of being paid for the results and expertise you deliver just because it doesn’t take you as long to get things done.

Clients

  • Clean house by showing bad clients the door. Constant complainers, nit-pickers, late-payers, non-payers, clients who just don’t get it, anyone you dread hearing from or working with… These kinds of clients are unprofitable and cost your business far more than you realize. You have to let go of poor-fitting clients in order to make room and have more time and energy for your ideal, right-fitting ones.
  • Get feedback from your clients. Make a point of soliciting feedback from all your clients on their opinions and experiences working with you. Use a tool to collect client feedback (they’re more likely to be candid). Besides being a great way to capture testimonials and case study details, you’ll also glean invaluable insight into what clients value most and where you can adjust and improve. Be sure to incorporate regular feedback into your client relations as an automatic part of your process.
  • Get to know your target market better. Invite someone to lunch (you pay) and pick their brain about their field/industry/profession and the business they’re in. Find some folks in your target market to interview over the phone. Put an online survey on your website. The point is to always be learning about your target market, what they want, and what their common interests, goals and challenges are so you can craft your solutions to better fit their needs and speak their language.
  • Explore a new target market. If your current target market isn’t floating your boat or is otherwise not turning out to be a profitable path, it’s time to find one more suitable. Just remember that a viable target market must have a need for what you’re in business to do, able to afford you, and be easily found (online and off) so there’s enough of them to find easily (online and off) and work with.

Offerings & Marketing

  • Innovate for your best/current clients. It’s been said that catering to existing clients costs 11 times less than it does to drum up new ones. So ask yourself… are your current clients aware of all the skills, support areas and services they could be taking advantage of that you offer? Do you see a consistent need within your current client-base and market that you can create new offerings around? How can you hone your current offerings to create even more value?
  • Write at least one awesome freebie white paper/report/guide/tool. Create something that addresses a specific problem or question your target market has and allow it to be disseminated freely around the internet. It’s called viral-marketing and it’s a fabulous way to get the word out and demonstrate your expertise, understanding and know-how.
  • Create new and/or passive income streams. You know your target market. What information can you bundle up for them? What simple, stand-alone services can you offer them separately? What DIY instructions or training can you create for those you can’t work with directly or who otherwise aren’t ready to commit to your premium one-on-one retained support?
  • Devise a simple marketing plan. Consistency is key. Focus on just two or three activities and then commit to taking action, following up and tracking results.

Invest in Yourself

  • Brush up or learn something new. Now is a great time to take that class you’ve been putting off. Increasing your knowledge, updating your skills and learning new ones is always smart business.
  • It’s a no brainer — hire your own Administrative Consultant! An Administrative Consultant can take on much of your back-end administrative work and help you implement all of the ideas on this list. You’ll then have more time to do more marketing and networking, strategizing, working with clients and enjoying life.

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Any of these ideas get you fired up? Have some to add? Do share!

Find an Administrative Consultant Who Specializes in YOU

Administrative Consultants are administrative experts. They are in the business of providing ongoing, right-hand administrative support to business owners who don’t have the time or space for employees.

They’re the perfect alternative to employees for those folks, and since they are also consultants in their own right, they bring a whole other level of business knowledge and administrative know-how to their clients that you just don’t find in an employee.

Different Administrative Consultants focus on supporting different target markets.

For example, there are those who specialize in supporting authors, speakers and others speak, write and publish books.

Others who have the experience and special paralegal training are in business to support attorneys.

There are those who specialize in supporting coaches while others focus on the real estate industry or financial planners.

Wherever there is a specific field/industry/profession, chances are there is at least one Administrative Consultant who caters her administrative support exclusively for that group.

There are so many advantages to working with an Administrative Consultant who specializes in supporting your industry/profession.

For one thing, she comes to the table with a ready understanding of the unique aspects of your field, how things work, and what your singular goals and obstacles are.

She makes it her business to learn specifically about your particular field so that she knows the work inside and out and can structure her offerings to best suit your unique support needs.

She becomes an expert at the special software and tools used to get that work done and can advise you on your best options.

Need an example? Let’s take real estate.

A real estate agent is going to have many areas of highly specialized administrative work that just aren’t going to be done in any other kinds of business.

Much of the work requires specialized skills and knowledge to perform it which means not just anyone can do it without specific training and understanding.

But an Administrative Consultant who focuses on support the real estate profession specializes in that work. She gets to know it exclusively and better than any other kind of Administrative Consultant out there.

In another example, there are a million different practice areas that attorneys specialize in.

One area of law may have a high level of litigation whereas another may not entail any at all.

The work can be vastly different from one practice area to the next. That’s why, if you’re an attorney, you want to find an Administrative Consultant who specializes in your particular practice area. When you do, you will increase your efficiency two or three times over, be able to work with more clients, and have more time available all the way around to use in any way you see fit.

You get the same kind of difference between, say, a consulting or professional services business, and a business that is retail or sales-based. They are completely different business models that are going to have very different objectives, operations and administrative work involved.

An Administrative Consultant who specializes in a specific target market is going to have a greater, in-depth level of understanding, knowledge, and specific skills needed to best care for clients within that field.

So if you’re between Administrative Consultants or just beginning to seek out your first Administrative Consultant, look for one who specializes in your industry. It will make ramping up and working together that much more effortless and beneficial to your business.

RESOURCE: The ACA Administrative Consultant Directory allows you to search specifically by target market. Check out our Administrative Consultants (all of whom have been screened to meet our standards of competence and excellence) at the ACA Directory.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Danielle Keister is a business advisor, innovator and thought leader in the Administrative Consulting profession. A business veteran of 12+ years, her logical, no-nonsense approach to business development has gained her recognition as one of the leaders in the field. Her business acumen is a hot commodity among industry peers who regularly consult her. She loves what she does and is passionate about sharing her knowledge and know-how with the world. She’s all about inspiring others to reach for their highest excellence. When not taking care of clients in her own administrative support practice, she’s busy leading the Administrative Consultants Association. 

© Copyright 2009, The Portable Business.™ All U.S. and International rights reserved. You are granted permission to republish this article only if used in its entirety with this copyright notice and title, article content, resource, author’s bio and links left intact.