Danielle Keister http://www.administrativeconsultantsassoc.com/blog ACA Biz Savvy Blog for Administrative Consultants Thu, 31 Jul 2014 04:10:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 Dear Danielle: What Do You Think of Odesk and Elance? http://www.administrativeconsultantsassoc.com/blog/2014/07/30/dear-danielle-what-do-you-think-of-odesk-and-elance/ http://www.administrativeconsultantsassoc.com/blog/2014/07/30/dear-danielle-what-do-you-think-of-odesk-and-elance/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 15:47:12 +0000 http://www.administrativeconsultantsassoc.com/blog/?p=3811 Dear Danielle: What Do You Think of Odesk and Elance?

Hello Danielle!

Hope you are having a great day. What do you think of Odesk and Elance as starting places for an Administrative Consultant? I currently am just starting out, just had a baby three months ago so I was thinking of starting out with these sites? Thoughts?  Thank you so much for all you do! —Maekeshia Smith, eOffice Business Solutions, LLC

Hi Maekeshia :)

It depends on what your motivations and intentions are.

If you’re just looking to make some pocket money on the side, then those places might serve your interests.

If you are looking to start a real business making real money (i.e., money you can actually live and operate profitably and sustainably on), oDesk, Elance and the like are no places for Administrative Consultants to be wasting their time.

That said, if you are not still working and need the funding, the little jobs you get here and there in those places could be a way to fund yourself and purchase necessary products, tools and training to grow your real business.

But don’t confuse that work with building your real business, because the kind of clients you need for the latter are not the kind you’re going to find on Odesk, Elance, etc.

Of course, whenever I say that, inevitably someone pipes up to exclaim how they got a great client from those places.

What I say to that is:

a) They are the exception, not the rule, and exceptions do not make for immutable laws of business. If you shop yourself amongst cheapskates, people who want to pay pennies and expect something for nothing (else why on earth would they be shopping for REAL professionals in those places), that’s exactly who you’re going to get. The odds of you finding that diamond client in what amounts to a yard sale are not in your favor. Has it ever happened at any time in the history of the world? Of course. But I would no more tell you to buy lottery tickets to build your business. The ROI is just not there as would cost you more in time and energy bidding and auditioning for “jobs” than you’d earn. There are better, faster, more profitable, effective and productive ways to build a financially successful business built with clients who value what you do for them and pay well for it. Leave Odesk and Elance for the hobbyists who have no business sense and don’t know or value their worth.

b) “Great” is relative. We would have to look closer at their business, under the hood, to see if their “great” is really all that great. Is their business really profitable? How much are they earning from that client? How hard are they working, how many hours a day, only to be barely scraping by? That’s not being profitable. They might think $15, $25, even $35 an hour is “great,” but that’s only because they have no frame of reference other than it is more than they were making as an employee. They don’t understand that the economics of employment are not the same as those of business. I’ve been in this business 20 years and all it takes is a few details for me to know how a business is really doing financially. And actually, their “great” doesn’t have any bearing on what your great is. So first order of business, so we can get real about what kind of money YOU need to earn and what kind of revenues your business needs to survive and be profitable, is to download the free ACA Income & Pricing Calculator.

Bottom line is the only kind of clients you’ll find in those places are cheapskates looking for the cheapest bidder, not ideal clients who value what the work produces and are ready and willing to pay well for it.

Here’s another blog post you should read on this topic: Dear Danielle: Should I Market on Craigslist?

You mention that you are just starting out and that’s the right time to be getting your foundations in place. I don’t know how far along in the process you are, but here are what I recommend for your next steps:

  1. Get your starting forms, documents and contracts in place so you have them and can adjust, update and adapt as you go along. You’ll be ready then when you get that first client.
  2. Get a website up. It doesn’t matter that you aren’t sure what to put on it or what to say right now. Just get it up there! Because otherwise, you’ll just stay stuck in analysis paralysis. The simple act of getting your site up is the catalyst for those next steps. A website is THE most important marketing tool you have in your business (people distrust and wonder what is wrong with a business if it doesn’t have one). It’s an integral and indispensible part of the process of properly educating prospects so you can get those ideal clients you’re seeking. AND I have a guide for building a website that works that gives you my own conversion system that you can implement in your website. It tells you exactly what pages in what order to have on your website and all the other vital elements that are needed to convert more of your prospects into clients and consultations. It also includes my patented 1-2-3 plug-n-play system that will walk you through, step-by-step, in creating your own unique, compelling and irresistible marketing message. It makes the process of writing easy as pie, even if you don’t think you are a writer (because you don’t have to be; this stuff writes itself with my formula).
  3. Choose a target market (i.e., an industry/field/profession you cater your administrative support to). Then gear your message and solutions to that market, and go start interacting with them on their industry blogs, forums and listservs and get involved in their groups, professional associations, events, etc. Be sure to download my free guide on How to Choose Your Target Market that will help you with this process and begin identifying the places to find them.
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Are You Being Phoney-Baloney? http://www.administrativeconsultantsassoc.com/blog/2014/07/28/are-you-being-phoney-baloney/ http://www.administrativeconsultantsassoc.com/blog/2014/07/28/are-you-being-phoney-baloney/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 14:00:27 +0000 http://www.administrativeconsultantsassoc.com/blog/?p=3797 Are You Being a Phoney-Baloney?

It’s not necessary to be a phoney-baloney in your marketing to get clients.

If you’re a solo, don’t pretend you’re a bigger company.

When it comes down to it, that’s just plain dishonest, a lie.

Is that really how you want to start your valued new client relationships?

And what kind of clients will you end up with based on false pretenses?

What happens to trust once they find out they’ve been snookered, manipulated?

Trust, credibility and rapport are established through honesty and by demonstrating your competence, professionalism and capabilities through your writing, the presentation of your website and other marketing collateral, and the polish and effectiveness of your policies, processes and protocols.

I get that people want to help clients see how skilled, competent and credible they are, and that some think the only way to do that is to portray themselves as bigger as if they have more people involved in their business than there actually are.

But dishonesty is never the answer.

Engaging in false presenses belies your own low professional self-esteem and the belief that you are not enough, that the way you operate your business as a solo is not enough.

It’s also presuming that prospective clients have any problem with it.

Imagine the better fitting clients you would get, client it would be more joyful to work with, simply by sharing honestly the size of your business and how you operate, and being the real you.

I have two categories on my blog here with posts that will help you learn how to instill trust and demonstrate your competence without being dishonest or unethical:

Trust & Credibility
Demonstrating Your Expertise

Check ‘em out!

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Dear Danielle: Can You Just Give Us a Ballpark Figure When It Comes to Pricing? http://www.administrativeconsultantsassoc.com/blog/2014/07/23/dear-danielle-can-you-just-give-us-a-ballpark-figure-when-it-comes-to-pricing/ http://www.administrativeconsultantsassoc.com/blog/2014/07/23/dear-danielle-can-you-just-give-us-a-ballpark-figure-when-it-comes-to-pricing/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 14:00:37 +0000 http://www.administrativeconsultantsassoc.com/blog/?p=3751 Dear Danielle: Can't You Give Us Just a Ballpark Figure When It Comes to Pricing?

Dear Danielle:

I recently purchased your Value-Based Pricing & Packaging guide which I LOVE! I love where your head is at! I was tired of reading about, seeing, experiencing and potentially lining myself up for selling hours in my business. Your Value-Based Pricing model has given me a fresh and positive outlook for amazing client relationships to come. I understand that you can’t single-handedly put a finger on exact prices for everyone, but perhaps a ballpark figure in examples would help? Kind of where I’m at now. I totally get the Value-Based Pricing model now after reading, listening and watching your guide. I’ve organized my service line and am ready to price each offering and…I’m stuck! How is one to know how much each service block should cost?! I understand that expertise is a major factor, as well as determining what you need to make annually to survive based on your AWESOME Income & Pricing Calculator, but a bit of guidance surrounding actual ballpark figures would be a MASSIVE help, just to kick start the process.  —NH

Thanks so much for your feedback. It is MUCH appreciated and I’m so glad my guide is helping you. :)

Regarding the ballpark figures, it is HIGHLY against U.S. antitrust laws to provide even ballpark figures.

We just aren’t allowed to do that in the U.S. Having any kind of conversations about setting fees within an industry (which constitutes price-fixing), it’s a very serious, prosecutable offense.

I know it sounds crazy because it seems like such an innocuous thing, and I know that we do see pricing conversations going on in the industry occasionally; however, that’s only because those people engaging in those conversations are ignorant of antitrust laws and the serious consequences involved.

When I first heard about antitrust and price-fixing in relation to our industry back in 2004 or so, I didn’t want to take anyone’s word for anything so I investigated myself.

I’m a firm believer in going straight to the source to get the facts, not hearsay and opinion from those who don’t know, so I spoke with our state attorney general office, as well as two federal attorneys with the U.S. Dept. of Justice Antitrust Division.

They assured me that talking about fees within one’s industry with colleagues was no small matter (e.g., how much to charge, starting prices, coming up with standardized fees), and those offenses are taken very seriously.

In fact, after explaining how new people in our industry didn’t know what to charge and that it was common to see conversations where colleagues were talking about how much to charge, etc., they started trying to get me to give them specifics, asking for names and where these discussions were taking place. They were not amused. It was very scary!

The bottom line is that we absolutely cannot have pricing conversations as it goes against our entire system of free and open competition and carries very serious criminal penalties if found to be engaging in them.

The other thing I wanted to mention is there is no “should” when it comes to pricing. It’s whatever you deem appropriate and well worth what you offer and the results and benefits you achieve for clients.

Of course, there are considerations to take into account when setting your fees. Here’s a blog post that might be some additional help to you with that:

How Do You Price Your Service?

Beyond basic business economics and practical matters (i.e., profitability), pricing is largely a marketing effort.

And what is marketing but simply the communication process of educating and informing your audience of would-be clients and illuminating for them what you do, who you do it for, how it helps them and all that they can expect to gain by working with you (as well as what they stand to lose if they don’t).

When you get good at articulating that value to potential clients and helping them to see and understand that value in the context of their own business and life, the sky is the limit with regard to what you can charge.

But only YOU can decide what that will be. No else is allowed to tell you, not even a ballpark starting point.

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How NOT to Market (to Me or Anyone) http://www.administrativeconsultantsassoc.com/blog/2014/07/21/how-not-to-market-to-me-or-anyone/ http://www.administrativeconsultantsassoc.com/blog/2014/07/21/how-not-to-market-to-me-or-anyone/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 14:00:57 +0000 http://www.administrativeconsultantsassoc.com/blog/?p=3776 This message came to me via my Ask Danielle page (the mentoring page where people are free to submit their business questions to get my insights, advice and guidance):

Question: Hello there – I hope this email finds you well. I am running a Virtual Assistance / Web Design & Development firm. I was just browsing and reached to your website. You did awesome work on it. My question is regarding partnership, can you think we can engage in some manner where we get mutual benefit? My biggest advantage is that I am sitting in the economy where assistants cost me a few hundred bucks and if you can refer some clients to my company you can save a lot. Willing or not, kindly give me a response so I can move on. Thanks, – Ali

  1. My first issue is that if you had actually looked at the ACA website, you would see that I don’t deal with virtual assistants and that term is anathema to me. I deal with Administrative Consultants, who are grown up business owners and experts in their own right, not assistants. If you can’t even pay attention enough to get the terms right, why would I ever do business with you?
  2. Second, using my mentoring question submission form to market to me shows a lack of business sense and manners and is completely annoying. There is a Contact page at the top of every page of the ACA website. If you don’t have the ability to find that and follow its instructions, why would I think you’d have the competence to handle anything more complicated?
  3. Here again, if you had been paying attention, you would have noticed that my site is a MENTORING website, not a website for procuring clients and work for people and the request is inappropriate.
  4. If you had actually familiarized yourself with the work I do on behalf of those in my industry, you would know how abjectly abhorrant your request is. I don’t believe in farming out client work to third parties, and I certainly don’t believe in devaluing the important work we do. I believe in people running their own businesses taking care of their own clients and making damn good money doing it. I don’t believe in exploiting and paying others poorly so that I can make more money at their expense.
  5. It’s clear that English is not your first language and even if none of these other issues were present, I couldn’t—wouldn’t—do business with you. The communication problems cause too many practical, time-wasting problems and delays that would get in the way of my smooth, efficient operations. I’ve worked with vendors from non-native English speaking countries and it is an exercise in torture and extreme aggravation. I might visit your country and love your culture, but I can’t work with you.

This is the difficulty I have with parties running these support farm type businesses in third world countries.

Lord knows I love me some Indians. Beautiful, colorful place, wonderful people, and I can’t get enough of the joie de vivre of Bollywood movies where even with serious dramatic films they somehow find a way to fit in a dance sequence, lol.

But they have such a devaluing culture in that country, and they just don’t grok providing services in the business manner of an independent professional. They treat the work and business like an assembly line. They don’t understand how expertise works.

Plus, what they call “virtual assistance” really isn’t so they don’t even have that right.

What they do is more concierge/secretarial service, which are transactional, not ongoing, relationship-based administrative support.

I would never in a million years, I don’t care how cheap it was, outsource my clients’ private, confidential and important work to a third party. To me, that is just crazy and beyond comprehension.

But I get that people do it because they’re just in it to make a buck any way they can (AND because they don’t know how to create a well-earning business working with only a handful of clients).

So, yeah, there are people in the world who are running these assembly line farms. What they do is get the clients while they outsource the work to cheap workers in the Philappines, India and elsewhere.

Do they have a market? Sure. There’s a market for everything.

Do their clients get the kind of deeply personal and insightful one-on-one relationship we provide? No, simply by virtue of how they operate.

Do those clients get high quality work? Not likely, especially given the the examples I’ve seen.

Are there some clients who are okay with that? Of course. But they aren’t my clients and that’s not the kind of business I show others how to create. I do high quality work which inherently requires an ongoing relationship and I only work with clients who value that ideology and quality level.

And when you outsource like that, you might get assurances of confidentiality, but really, you have no control over where, to whom and how many people you and your clients’ information is getting passed around to. I’m not okay with that and neither are my clients.

Here are some of the take-aways from all of this for you:

  1. Don’t cold-call (this gentleman’s contact was a form of cold-calling as I don’t know him from Adam, have never heard of him, and never asked him to contact me, nor would I want him to if I’d been asked).
  2. If you’re going to contact someone, get their name, titles and terms right. Visit and actually READ their website so you can give the respect of actually familiarizing yourself with them, what they do and what their ethos is.
  3. Use proper business channels and sensibilities.
  4. Don’t market to people who aren’t your ideal prospects.
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Dear Danielle: How Do I Deal with Recruiters on LinkedIn? http://www.administrativeconsultantsassoc.com/blog/2014/07/16/dear-danielle-how-do-i-deal-with-recruiters-on-linkedin/ http://www.administrativeconsultantsassoc.com/blog/2014/07/16/dear-danielle-how-do-i-deal-with-recruiters-on-linkedin/#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 15:00:18 +0000 http://www.administrativeconsultantsassoc.com/blog/?p=3736 Dear Danielle: How Do I Deal with Recruiters on LinkedIn?

Dear Danielle:

I received the following email on LinkedIn and am so confused as how to respond or even treat this:

“Hello. My name is [BLANK]. I am a Healthcare Recruiter with [BLANK] Staffing. I am doing a search for a client of mine, a hospital in Los Angeles, that is looking for a Transcription Support person. The person doesn’t have to be a transcriptionist. They should have anatomy and physiology knowledge, medical terminology. But they really need to be technologically savvy. Someone comfortable with computer systems. Someone that can also communicate clearly and effectively with doctors and their office staff. The shift is 1-9:30 pm, Monday – Thursday and 7:30 am – 3:30 pm on Saturday. I wanted to reach out to you to se if you or someone in your network may be interested in this opportunity. This is a long term contract. I can be reached at…”

Would this be considered contract work? Your advice/suggestions are greatly appreciated. —MP

No, this is not contract work. This is a job an employer is trying to fill.

You’re a business owner right? You don’t work “shifts.”

Just because they’ve used the word “contract” doesn’t make it business.

What defines employment is control. If they are dictating the days and hours you must work, where you work, what equipment and systems to use, and if you are subject to supervision and time reporting, by law that is an employer, not a client.

I mean, if you want a job, that’s perfectly okay. But it’s important you understand the difference either way so you are not cheated out of the Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment, Workers Comp and other benefits that employers are required BY LAW to pay into your accounts on your behalf.

Anyone who tries to pay you as an independent contractor when you are really working with them like an employee, not only is a lawbreaker, they are cheating you out of your rightful benefits and treating you like a schmuck.

They also want someone in medical transcription, not administrative support. Big difference.

This is the problem with LinkedIn. It was originally created for employers and those seeking employment. Even though B2B business owners have since jumped on that platform to connect with colleagues and clients, it’s still really not ideally suited for business.

So you’re going to get contacted by a lot of recruiters. Just ignore them.

It’s neither business nor an opportunity. They’re looking for an employee, and it’s not your job to waste your time finding one for them.

Trust me, they have messaged this to a thousand other people besides you, basically indiscriminately spamming anyone and everyone, so you weren’t specially singled out. If they were really interested in you personally, they would have read your profile and seen that you are in business, not seeking employment.

Then again, it’s important that everyone in business make sure that their LinkedIn profile clearly portrays them as business owners seeking CLIENTS, not employment.

Your profile should include a link to your business website and a clear call to action instructing potential clients to visit your website where they can learn more about how you can help them in BUSINESS and what the next step is to working together (typically a consultation and process that YOU dictate, not them).

If not, then your profile could be the thing giving out the wrong signals.

In business you’re going to have to get good at discerning what is real business.

Anyone coming to you who doesn’t read your profile, doesn’t go to your website, and approaches you inappropriately (e.g., sending you recruitment messages) is not a business prospect.

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You Don’t Have a Portfolio http://www.administrativeconsultantsassoc.com/blog/2014/07/14/you-dont-have-a-portfolio/ http://www.administrativeconsultantsassoc.com/blog/2014/07/14/you-dont-have-a-portfolio/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 15:00:01 +0000 http://www.administrativeconsultantsassoc.com/blog/?p=3133 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.

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Dear Danielle: How Should I Transition My LinkedIn Profile from Work to Business http://www.administrativeconsultantsassoc.com/blog/2014/07/09/dear-danielle-how-should-i-transition-my-linkedin-profile-from-work-to-business/ http://www.administrativeconsultantsassoc.com/blog/2014/07/09/dear-danielle-how-should-i-transition-my-linkedin-profile-from-work-to-business/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 15:00:51 +0000 http://www.administrativeconsultantsassoc.com/blog/?p=3384 Dear Danielle:

How would you recommend transitioning my LinkedIn profile from having a 9-5 job to being in business as an Administrative Consultant without giving the impression you are unemployed and want to start your own business? The reason I ask is I am a caretaker and executor of my uncle and his estate and handle all his finances. I am also a fitness coach. I also created my own website. Currently my profile shows all my administrative experience, but I just don’t know how to make it sound like I am in business to help others and am just starting out. I would appreciate if you could give me a tip —GR

Oh, this is SUCH an easy one!

Get rid of EVERYTHING you have on there now in the “Experience” and only list your admin business.

Just because LinkedIn focuses everything on employment doesn’t mean you have to. ;)

How you market a business is different from how you go about finding a job.

You don’t need to list every job or bit of experience you’ve ever had.

For the purposes of your LinkedIn, you don’t need to focus on the “features” of yourself, “features” being things like your work history and all the jobs and positions you’ve held. That’s all just a bunch of blah blah blah.

Plus, you’re not applying for jobs or seeking employment, you’re looking to attract prospective clients, not employers, recruiters and HR people.

Instead, use the “Summary” section for your marketing message.

In a conversational voice (i.e., write how you would speak with anyone in person), talk about how you help clients, how the work you do helps them grow and what kind of benefits and results they can look forward to from your work together.

And have a good headline that clearly states what you are/do and who you do it for (your target market).

For example, mine would be “Administrative Consultant. Administrative rescue for IP and entertainment law attorneys.”

In looking at your profile, you also have wayyyy too much going on that is going to confuse and detract from your business purposes. You’re putting your entire life history in there and trying to make your profile do too many different things, work to too many different “titles.”

Get rid of anything that doesn’t relate directly to your business and stick to ONE term (i.e., Administrative Consultant).

Also, move the “Summary” section to the top of the page. That’s your first opportunity to educate those who come to your profile with your message. That’s the first thing you want to focus them on and what you want them to see.

Remember, LinkedIn is just another inbound marketing avenue.

While yes, you’ll be participating in groups and connecting with people, you want your profile to just be a stepping stone leading them to your website. Give them just enough to intrigue them and provide a clear call to action directing them to your website where your full marketing and educations efforts happens.

Let me know if that helps!

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Dear Danielle: How Can I Transition from Virtual Assistant to Administrative Consultant? http://www.administrativeconsultantsassoc.com/blog/2014/07/02/dear-danielle-how-can-i-transition-from-virtual-assistant-to-administrative-consultant/ http://www.administrativeconsultantsassoc.com/blog/2014/07/02/dear-danielle-how-can-i-transition-from-virtual-assistant-to-administrative-consultant/#comments Wed, 02 Jul 2014 15:00:14 +0000 http://www.administrativeconsultantsassoc.com/blog/?p=3698 Dear Danielle: How Can I Transition from Virtual Assistant to Administrative Consultant

Greetings, Danielle:

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.

Hi Lourie :)

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:

  1. You need to give people something (ONE THING) to call you and with which to categorize your business—a mental coathook, if you will.
  2. 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!

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Another Word to Delete from Your Biz Vocabulary: Delegate http://www.administrativeconsultantsassoc.com/blog/2014/06/30/another-word-to-delete-from-your-biz-vocabulary-delegate/ http://www.administrativeconsultantsassoc.com/blog/2014/06/30/another-word-to-delete-from-your-biz-vocabulary-delegate/#comments Mon, 30 Jun 2014 15:00:03 +0000 http://www.administrativeconsultantsassoc.com/blog/?p=3684 Another word to delete from your biz vocabulary: Delegate.

Delegate (like the word “assistant”) is a term of employment that denotes an employer-employee relationship. It keeps clients thinking they are some kind of employer to you which in turn causes a whole host of problems in the relationship and your ability to command proper professional fees.

You aren’t some subordinate peon clients dump their junk work on. And clients should never be abdicating responsibility for their own business.

Employers delegate. But in a business relationship, it’s not any client’s role to “delegate” to you.

With clients, you consult with them, determine what their needs, goals and challenges are, determine your recommendations and present your suggested plan of support. Client’s should never be delegating to you at their whim.

The words you use shape how clients treat the relationship. Do you want to be their flunky or their trusted advisor? Because there’s a big difference in how they treat those two roles and the relationship.

So if you want to be treated as their administrative expert, their trusted advisor and business peer, don’t use the word “delegate.” Use words and terms like “share,” “release,” “free” and “let go of” instead.

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How Do You Handle the Naysayers? http://www.administrativeconsultantsassoc.com/blog/2014/06/26/how-do-you-handle-the-naysayers/ http://www.administrativeconsultantsassoc.com/blog/2014/06/26/how-do-you-handle-the-naysayers/#comments Thu, 26 Jun 2014 15:00:49 +0000 http://www.administrativeconsultantsassoc.com/blog/?p=3677 How Do You Handle the Naysayers

Someone asked a great question today on our ACA LinkedIn group:

Q. I am curious to know how you handle naysayers. When I tell people that I am starting a business I get all sorts of reactions, but when people tell me that it can be “daunting” or “difficult” I start to doubt my own intentions. I know I am on the younger side with less than 10 years experience and a newlywed looking to start a family in the next two years. But I do have a lot of experience if not in years but in quality. I also feel that this is something I really want to do. Please let me know how you hand this, I’m interested in your feedback. Thank you again. —MA

I don’t know if there is any solution to this, really. If there is, I sure never found it, lol.

To this day and in the face of all that I’ve achieved including the money and the lifestyle, I STILL get no respect from my dad.

His generation seems to think anyone “working from home” is just playing around on the computer or that they’re running some kind of Internet scam.

He literally never asks about my business. I take him to the nicest places and he never has to pay a dime. You’d think he’d be at least somewhat interested in and happy about the success of his daughter. In nearly 20 years, I’ve gotten exactly ONE attagirl from him. ONE!

And my significant other who had the patience of a saint would also go back and forth between being very supportive (as long as things seemed to be moving along) to “maybe it’s time to give up on this and get a real job” (when it was tough-going).

He met me right when I was getting really serious about my business and there was no way in hell I was walking away from it. I was prepared to lose the relationship rather than do that and told him as much. I HAD to make it happen.

So, what I learned is to just not talk about business with family. They just don’t get it and they are the WORST with the naysaying.

I’ve found friends to be much more supportive. Heck, they wish THEY could do what I do and live the way I live.

But even they don’t really get it.

Although I do have an extremely flexibile and freedom-filled lifestyle (because I worked my ass off for many years engineering my business to have it like that), you still always have family and friends who think just because you’re home, they can pop in and interrupt any ol’ time they please to gab. They just don’t see it as a “real” business in many ways.

And there are some family and friends who are going to be jealous (consciously or subconsciously) and will want to pee in your cornflakes at every turn. Who are you to better your life and take chances when they are stuck toiling a 9-5 every day, is how they think.

What I can tell you is that starting this business was the best thing I ever did, despite all the hard work, the time, the set-backs and all the rest.

This journey of self-actualization, self-determination and personal growth and discovery never stops. It’s rewarding and exhilarating every day, and now in the years when I am really reaping the fruits of my labor, I am so proud of myself and pinch myself every day in gratitude at how lucky I am to have this life and lifestyle.

When it comes down to it, you have to believe in yourself, and have the determination to stick with it and the ability to tune out and ignore the Debbie Downers.  Don’t ask them for their opinions and don’t talk about your business with them if you know they’re just going to try to discourage you.

So how about you? What kind of naysayers do you have in your life and how do you handle it? Does it daunt you or make you more determined than ever? What advice do you have to share about dealing with the naysayers?

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