Archive for November, 2009

Hysterical: Please Design a Logo for Me. With Pie Charts. For Free.

Omigawd, I can’t stop laughing. You HAVE to read this hilarious post by David Thorne:

The whole thing is just beyond witty, but I think my favorite lines are:

“I would then travel several months back to warn myself against agreeing to do copious amounts of design work for an old man wielding the business plan equivalent of a retarded child poking itself in the eye…”


“Usually when people don’t ask me to design them a logo, pie charts or website, I, in return, do not ask them to paint my apartment, drive me to the airport, represent me in court or whatever it is they do for a living.”

Oh, and the graphics… can’t forget the graphics, LOL. So perfect.

Obviously, the post isn’t supposed to be politically correct, and it just wouldn’t be as funny if it were.

But amongst the irreverence, there’s this little nugget of truth (in response to the client’s trivialization of the work and request for what amounts to free services):

“Actually, you were asking me to design a logotype which would have taken me a few hours and fifteen years experience.”

Anyone else find this as hysterical as I do?

Dear Danielle: How Do I End a Difficult Relationship with a Client?

Dear Danielle:

How do I end a relationship with a difficult client without burning bridges? This was a brand new retainer client. We’d finished the contract process and I had just received my deposit. I’d actually been talking to this client for three months about working together and I was so glad to finally close the deal. This client had lots of energy and seemed to be wonderful on the telephone and in email and on chat. We went through the contract process fine, no issues. I felt we would have a long-term relationship with lots of exciting projects to work on. But in one of our first exchanges, she got very nasty with me. She threatened that if I couldn’t do this, she’d do it herself or find someone else. Up until this point, she had been very nice. Ultimately, I refunded her deposit, but I was not really sure how to address the email to her regarding the tone of her letter, why I was refunding her deposit or how to explain why she needed to do these tasks in a way that worked for me, too. As you know, threatening to “do it myself or get someone else” doesn’t really bode well for furthering the relationship. I don’t like working with people like that nor do I really need the work that much. But I still feel guilty. I always feel guilty about these issues. She has emailed me more than once asking for another chance. I just don’t feel like we’d be a good fit at this point. I have recommended someone else to her who is probably more willing to put up with this type of thing. The situation is basically over, but I’d like to know what someone like you would do so maybe I’ll stop feeling guilty. Should I give people like that more of a chance or not? –NB

In answer to your last question (should you give people like that more of a chance?), given the context you’ve described, my answer is no, absolutely not.

This person showed her true colors and no matter what the circumstance, you are never obligated to work with anyone you don’t want to.

What’s going on is you are second-guessing yourself and beating yourself up.

I think you handled this just fine. I would have done the same thing: refunded her money and politely indicated that we weren’t going to be a fit after all.

As you recognize, the kind of behavior you describe right out of the gate doesn’t bode well for a happy, healthy working relationship.

As service providers, we simply can’t afford to work with anyone who makes us miserable.

It’s unhealthy for both you and the business, as well as the client. You can’t honestly take good care of any client you silently resent or allow to mistreat you. You’d always be waiting for the next shoe to drop and walking on eggshells.

As far as ending a relationship without burning bridges, you only have domain over your own actions.

It can be tempting to point out all the things a client did wrong or let’em have it in a letter.

But really, going into all the details serves no useful purpose and it’s a negative waste of your time and energy.

It’s enough to be unfailingly professional and simply explain that you no longer see a fit (or however you would say that in your own words) and wish them well.

Refunding the client’s deposit was a very honorable and ethical thing to do as well.

How the client chooses to view or handle things after that is out of your control and none of your business. ;)

I see this as a very healthy experience for you. It shows that you value yourself as much as you value any client.

Don’t second-guess things. There’s no right or wrong answer.

If you saw fit to try and regroup with this client, have some conversation about how you expect to be treated and bring some clarity about how dissatisfaction should be expressed so that neither of you feels demeaned or mistreated, in an effort to make the relationship work, that would have been perfectly okay, too.

But your gut told you this wasn’t a relationship you wanted to invest in any further and you trusted and honored that. That’s very healthy.

As far as feeling guilty, that’s something only you have control over. It comes from that little, niggling Negative Nelly in the back of all our heads, the one that tells us we’re not good enough, make us feel that our needs and desires are less important than everyone else’s. That voice.

We all have to work at stifling our inner naysayer and not allow it to interfere with taking good care of ourselves.

And that you did!

You honored what was right for you and you did everything you could to do right by this client in ending the relationship. Celebrate that, girl!

You can’t beat yourself up for taking on a client who didn’t turn out to be a fit. You had every indication that this was going to be a great client to work with.

We can only do what we can to make educated decisions in accepting the best-fitting clients as possible into our practices, but none of us has a crystal ball.

We aren’t going to make perfect choices or do things perfectly 100% of the time.

We’re all going to make mistakes, missteps, have things turn out in ways we didn’t expect.

You have to say, so what. The world will continue to go ’round and you always get to start over.

At the same time, be sure and reflect on everything and see where you can glean other business nuggets. There’s always something we can learn from experiences that we think are all bad.

  • You might see spots where you can tighten up your client qualifying and selection process.
  • You might have a better idea of the kinds of red flags you want to be more conscious of in the future.
  • You might find that there are other questions you want to ask in your consultation process.
  • Maybe you can beef up your explanations of how things work, take more ownership of your processes so the client has the proper understandings and knows what to expect.
  • Maybe there are collaboration tools or services you can begin using (like Dropbox and KeepAndShare, for example) to make it simpler and easier for clients to work with you.

There are all kinds of things you can take away from this and use to improve your business, service and client selection for the next time.

I think you’re on a great path to a very happy administrative support practice that ultimately will serve clients well because of it.

PS: As a side note, I notice you use the term “deposit.” If this is a retainer client, why are you accepting a deposit? Perhaps you meant retainer and just misspoke, but I did want to clarify that a retainer is a full fee paid in advance (typically at the start of each month). There are no deposits when it comes to retainers as by definition they are considered fully earned and paid upfront fee. If a client is truly committed to working together, they are going to pay. You can’t waste your time on those who can’t commit or aren’t really invested in the relationship. Otherwise, it’s another area where you’d be setting a bad precedent in the relationship right from the start which will ultimately undermine its success.

You Are Not a Generalist

I frequently hear people in our business refer to themselves as “generalists” and I always wonder why they denigrate themselves like that.

It’s like saying “I’m just a mom” or “I’m just the help.”

It’s certainly not attractive marketing-wise.

It portrays what you do as unimportant and of less value or consequence.

It implies that there is no special talent, knowledge, skills or training involved in your expertise (and we know that’s not the case).

People simply hold specialists in higher esteem; they perceive greater value.

So I want to remind you that as you are not a generalist. You have a specialty:  the specialty of administrative support.

That makes you an administrative expert or administrative support specialist, not a generalist. Remember that. 😉

(Unless, of course, you really are someone with no skills, experience or talent for this work).

Dear Danielle: How Can I Handle Last Minute Work Requests at the End of the Month?

Dear Danielle:

My main issue around retainers is that toward the end of some months, I’m less than half way through some of my retainers (meaning, clients still have about half their hours unused). Then I get worried that the last week of the month is going to be a flurry of activity trying to get all the hours in. My clients know where they stand with my hours, and they also know that unused hours don’t roll over. However, I let this issue bother me and take up space in my head. How can I handle last minute requests on the very last days of the months from clients who haven’t utilized their retainers? –DB

This retainer issue is really all about standards, policies and procedures (and establishing sustainable business practices and workflows), and setting and managing client expectations around those things.

Here’s what I do in my practice…

  1. First, I set a standard in my business around how I work. I did not go into business to run around at non-stop hectic pace like a chicken with its head cut off. Okay, that was maybe a bit graphic, but you get my drift, lol. That kind of work pace also doesn’t serve clients well because that’s the kind of environment where you miss details and make dumb mistakes. And an overworked, stressed-out you is no good to anyone. So, my standard around the work I do for clients is that “I will create an work environment that gives me plenty of breathing room and allows me to do my best work for clients, consistently, reliably and at a humanly-sustainable, even-measured pace so that ALL my clients and their interests are given fair and equal importance.”
  2. Next, I translate that standard into the policies, procedures and protocols that enable me to work to that standard. For example, one policy is that I do not do same-day work requests. That’s because it creates the wrong kind expectation in clients that the minute they send you something, you’re going to drop everything you’re already doing to get it done. You can’t run and manage a business that way! And trying to do so will keep you from earning well. Likewise, when all your clients expect you to jump at the drop of a hat, you will very quickly end up disappointing them because there will be a day (sooner than you realize) when you won’t be able to deliver on that kind of promise because everyone wants their thing done NOW. This is what we call an unrealistic expectation. If you expect to work with more than one client, that’s simply not a standard or expectation that you will be able to maintain. So my procedure for that policy is that work requests must be given with a 3-day lead time. That means, clients need to plan ahead and give me at least that much time to get things done. Period.
  3. At the start of our business relationship, I given all clients my Client Guide which is simply a document that communicates all this information in positive, client-centric language so they see that they are dealing with a smart, professional, well-run business (which inspires their confidence in you) and that ultimately your policies, procedures and protocols are what allow you to take exceptional care of them. For clients, it’s a guide that tells them everything they need to know about how to get the most from your relationship: how things work in your business, how you will work together, what info they need to know and procedures to follow, how work requests are to be submitted, how those requests are managed and handled, and what to expect. For you, it’s a way to educate clients upfront and thereby set and manage their expectations the way you need them to be.
  4. I also hold a new client orientation with new clients to go over this guide, explain anything that needs elaboration, and answer further questions. These upfront steps go a long way toward a smoother and happier relationship moving forward and make working together much easier.

With regard to your specific situation, here’s how that would work if you also had a policy like mine where all work requests need to be submitted with 3-days advance notice.

  1. You add language to your retainer contract that specifies that with regard to end-of-month requests, they must be submitted at least three days prior to the last day of the month (our retainer contract comes with this language). The idea is to make sure clients understand that they can’t submit something on the last day, for instance, and expect that it is going to be covered under that month’s retainer, much less get done that same day. You need to have three days heads-up so as to fit things into already scheduled work and not be forced into last-minute, rush requests. If they don’t provide the proper notice, then it goes onto next month’s work and counted against those hours.
  2. Create a Client Guide (get my Client Guide template from the ACA Success Store) for all this information, and then distribute it to all your clients (new and current) from this point forward.
  3. You could stop selling hours entirely and instead use the value-based pricing methodology for administrative support that I teach. This way, you aren’t selling hours-based retainers so no one is scrambling at the end of the month to get all their hours worth. Instead, it focuses both you and the client on accomplishing goals and objectives (not using up hours), which is infinitely more productive and results-oriented.
  4. Of course, if you are still using hours-based retainers with clients, it the client’s responsibility to use them and plan accordingly. Just because they wait until the last second to drop the ball on you doesn’t mean you have to jump. The trick, however, is to communicate this standard/policy/protocol with them upfront, have it in your contract and Client Guide, and go over it with new clients in your orientation with them (as well as educate current clients).

You have to be able to manage the work that comes in and have time and breathing room to do it well, on your terms, at a humanly sustain pace.

When we’re rushed, we become sloppy and make mistakes, which is bad for your business reputation. It cheats your other clients out of your un-harried time and attention. It can also very quickly lead to resentment, which isn’t good for any relationship. It creates poor operating conditions which in turn negatively impact the quality of your work and service all the way around.

You’re not an indentured servant. You have a right — an obligation even — as a business owner and human being to care about doing good work and about how the work affects your morale, business image and operations.

Make sure you are instituting the protocols and procedures that allow you to create those conditions that lead to great service – for all your clients – and which take care of you as well.

If there is a pattern of clients not utilizing hours and/or waiting until the last second every month to scramble, that is something that could benefit from some deeper examination.

  • Are these ideal clients? Are you taking on any ol’ client just for the money? Consider that un-ideal clients also prevent you from getting better clients. If this is a pattern in your business, it could be that there is room for improvement in prequalifying clients, being pickier about the clients you choose, clearly identifying exactly who you like working with, who you work with best, and the kind of person who benefits most from working with you, and/or better educating clients about your policies and procedures, how those things work and (just as important) why they’re in place.
  • What are you doing to help clients utilize your support? Sure, it’s their responsibility to use their hours, but if you’re passively waiting to be told what to do, you’re not truly being an administrative partner. This is where my Client Consultation guide can help you. It’s incumbent upon you to be proactive, take charge of the process and figure out how to help client make use of your service as well as identify what areas of support you’ll help them with. One way to do that is by taking what you gleaned from your consultation conversation and regular meetings and coming up with a plan of support for them. This provides both of you with clearer direction and helps clients more easily give things over to you.

Beyond that, it’s up to clients, which leads to another side of the coin to consider:

If you end up with a client who has a pattern of not being able to follow your protocols, who consistently is not utilizing the service they have paid for, you may need to evaluate the fit of the relationship.

Someone not in business or solo practice might think, So what? It’s business, it’s money. But they don’t realize how awful it is to work with someone who simply isn’t using the service.

I don’t know of a single colleague who enjoys taking money from someone who isn’t utilizing their support. It’s completely de-energizing and unsatisfying.

We want to make money, yes, but we truly want to be of help and service at the same time. We want our gifts and talents to be needed, valued and used.

So if you find yourself with a client who isn’t using your support, and you feel you’ve done everything you can to help them give stuff over to you and they still can’t get with the program, it might be time to consider letting them go because it’s not doing either of you any good.


Are last-minute work requests at the end of the month something you’ve experienced with your own retainer clients? Does any of this help give you some direction on how to remedy that? Be sure to check out the comments as there is some excellent continued dialogue on this topic (and leave your own comments and questions, too).

Create More Desk Space with These Organizing Tips

Create More Desk Space with These Organizing Tips

Piles aren’t necessarily a bad thing.

As long as you are managing them (and not the other way around), they can actually be quite useful.

But if you find that they are impeding your progress instead of supporting it, if you’re constantly working around your piles instead of with them, it’s time to gain the upper hand.

First Things First

  • Understand why you pile. Is your workspace really working for you? Do you need a larger area or more storage? A bigger or more efficient desk? Is it a case of needing more consistent, effective habits? Is there something going on in the business that is causing you to drag your feet? Identifying some of the root needs will tell you what your next steps should be.

Create More Workspace

  • Utilize closet storage to keep clutter you don’t need or use every day (such as office supplies) out of eyesight.
  • Install shelving to get books and other resources off your desk.
  • Use binders to group and store certain hardcopy information that can then be shelved.
  • Use stack trays. Assign each slot a particular category of information (e.g., by client or project). Instead of taking up several spots across your desk, you are making more use of vertical air space.
  • Get some wall slots. These make for perfect to-do bins, in-boxes, or storing active client files. I use magnetic ones that I place on each side of my lateral file drawer. Makes great use of space that would otherwise go unused.
  • Add more drawers. If your desk doesn’t have built-in drawers, buy a roll-away file drawer. Drawer space is particularly handy for tickler systems and keeping supplies and info you need regularly at your fingertips, but out of the way.
  • Write on the wall. Whiteboards and chalkboards are great for instantly capturing those ideas and to-dos that flitter across your mind. Once completed, you simply wipe them off — a sure-fire cure for post-it clutter. Whiteboards these days also come in magnetic models for double-duty and have come way down in price. Or, paint a wall with chalkboard paint.

Instill More Productive Habits

  • Put things away. Everything should have a place of its own. When you are done with something, put it back, if not right then, at least by the end of the day. Make this a habit.
  • Observe the rule of 3. When you start to create that fourth pile, you know it’s time to stop, regroup and clear out the clutter. Piles should be a productivity tool, not a default.
  • Reserve piles for active projects. These piles might be comprised of any amount of paperwork, notebooks, reference books, etc., and sorted by project. Piles you aren’t actively engaged with need to be dealt with and dispersed.
  • Don’t let Shiny Object Syndrome get the best of you. By all means, indulge those creative, entrepreneurial ideas. Store them in a hardcopy or online notebook. But better to finish existing projects first than to start new ones that will only add to your piles, overwhelm and inertia. Completion creates a positive forward momentum in and of itself.
  • Use a tickler system. This is a set of hanging file folders numbered 1-31 (one for each day of a month). A ton of desktop paper clutter can be reduced and better managed with this system. Each morning, check that day’s folder. Keep out the work you can do that day. Move any work you can’t forward into the next day’s folder. Store notes and papers with dates and deadlines in the corresponding numbered folders. When that date rolls around, you have everything right there in the folder ready to go.

RESOURCE: Aesthetics are very important to me in my surroundings. I love See Jane Work because they get that business and organization can be both functional and stylish. They always have a large and ever-new selection of binders and desk sets in fashionable colors and designs.

Were these ideas useful to you? Let me know if the comments!

Don’t Fall for Dangling Carrot Syndrome

Incentive-based compensation…

Good work will lead to more immediately.

Work on commission and your income is only limited by your effort.

I pay on percentage… if I make money, you make money.

Let me pay you tomorrow for a hamburger today.

Work your ass off and maybe you’ll get repaid in proper proportion for all of the effort and value you give away, is how that should read.

This is all just more of the same… what I call Dangling Carrot Syndrome. They’re cockamamie schemes concocted by exploiters to do one thing: get out of paying you fairly and squarely.

Honestly, sweethearts, don’t fall for this crap. These are just more ways unethical people try to take advantage of you and be unfairly enriched by your good, hard work.

It’s a con. They sense your neediness for money, your desire to please. So they try to manipulate and smooth talk you into giving away your value with the promise of great rewards—in the future.

They prey on your kind, giving, nurturing nature. In the end, the only one who benefits is them.

It so disheartening to see those in our industry being taken advantage of like this. It’s not going to lead you into a financially successful, profitable business. All these types of arrangements do is suck you dry of your precious time and energy, cause you to give away the very value you are in business to offer, for only the promise of just rewards. And in the meantime, you are distracted from finding the real clients who truly value and appreciate you and your talents and skills.

That’s not what you want for your life, is it? Your dreams are just as important as theirs, aren’t they? But how will you achieve your life dreams if you allow others to take you for a ride and you engage in “opportunities” that don’t support the creation of a solvent, sustainable business? What about your children and your family? Is that fair to them? For your time, energy, hopefulness and good gifts to be squandered on hair-brained schemes and people who are only out to exploit you?

Stop letting clients lead you around by the nose. YOU lead your business. YOU decide what you are and what you aren’t. YOU decide what your role is and what it’s not. You are not an employee. You don’t need any “incentive” to be paid. You have a right to be paid today–at the rate and method you determine your business needs–for the good, honest work and expertise you deliver today. Not later. Not if… NOW. Insist on being respected and valued. Promises and dangling carrots are NOT forms of payment.

Good Client Hunting

There are all kinds of clients in this world, more than plenty to go around.

As an industry, we have only begun to scratch the surface of all the people and industries/fields/professions we can be helping, and will be helping eventually.

There are also way more good people — and clients — in the world than there are rotten eggs.

I clarify that lest anyone who hasn’t yet developed their world sense about this industry be discouraged by my vent yesterday.

Don’t be.

There is still all kinds of potential and opportunity and wonderfulness out there for you and everyone.

The biggest problem we face as an industry is not bad eggs, it’s learning how to market ourselves, in the right way, with the right focus, to the right people.

Our poor marketing, both individually and by the industry at-large, is part of the reason we are attracting so many of these bad eggs in the first place.

Fortunuately, that’s a problem that can be easily solved with the right marketing training and education.  In fact, I wrote the most straight-forward, step-by-step system to do just that.

When I get my vent on, I say what I say for the colleagues who don’t feel they can say it themselves.

I keep it real and say what many wish they could, and would say, if they felt it wouldn’t hurt their business.

Sometimes, you just gotta tell it like it is, get it out in the open and out of your system, without all the maudlin woo-woo crap and without stuffing your feelings and apologizing for being a human being.

I say what I say, the way I say it, because I’m in a position to do so.

However, I wouldn’t ever advise you to follow suit.

There is no place for ranting about clients in your dialogue (your blog, your networking, etc.) as you build your business.

These rants are a conversation between me and you (and me to those particular clients) and our own industry. It’s not a conversation you should be having with your clients or prospects or anywhere within earshot of them.

All that will do is alienate good clients along with the bad. It’s a turn-off; they won’t know the difference and will think you’ll be difficult to work with.

As I’ve advised more than one of my members on several occasions: Unless you are an industry leader, have already built your practice and aren’t looking for clients, don’t be an evangelist for the industry. That’s not your job.

Your job is to be an evangelist for your business, your target market and your would-be ideal clients.

That said, there really are two essential groups of clients.

There are clients who get it, often easily, sometimes with just a tad more education and focusing them on the right things, and who do value our support and can afford some level of it or another, as well as prospective clients who get it, want it, honor it, but might not yet be in a position to have it for whatever reason.

These are people who deserve your every graciousness, regardless of whether you end up working together now or later or ever.

If you’ve purchased any of my administrative support business success store products and learning guides, you know that I’ve long advocated that people in our industry always focus and place their greatest attention and efforts on their primary offering — ongoing administrative support — while also creating one-time stand-alone services and DIY info products for those clients you can’t work with directly or who can’t yet afford your premium one-on-one ongoing support.

As I explain in my consultation training guide, Breaking the Ice:

Sometimes the client isn’t a fit for you. Sometimes you’re not a fit for the client. Regardless of the outcome, every consultation is an opportunity for learning and growth… even if you don’t end up working with a client, you can still make a new friend. Remember that it’s not all about the end goal. Investing in relationships, rather than outcomes, will always lead you down the path of happiness and success.

So that’s the first kind of client.

Then there are the sharks and slimeballs…

These are the people who are simply out to take advantage, of anyone and anything.

These aren’t people you can have any relationship with because they don’t value other people, much less you or the work.

They don’t get it and no amount of education will ever get through to them.

They aren’t out to be educated; they’re out for Numero Uno. They’re out to get what they want while giving nothing or as little as possible in return.

They don’t care who ends up with the short end of the stick as long as it’s someone else. For them, it’s always about them “winning,” benefiting, getting one over at someone else’s expense, not partnership and collaboration and mutually beneficial business.

These are not the people who are deserving of any of your extra time or kindness beyond your normal professionalism. You don’t have to do anything, if you don’t feel like it, to help them any further than that.

These aren’t people out to refer you because you’ve been nice and gracious and kind. The only referrals you’ll get from sharks are more of the same: “Hey, guys… there’s a live one over here. She’ll give you the moon and barely charge you the cost of a month of lattes for it all.”

With referrals like that, who needs hot pokers to the eye.

Don’t be held hostage to this notion that literally everyone is a potential referral source so you’d better be exceedingly nice and overzealously kind to everyone if it kills you.

This ultimately also makes you a dishonest, inauthentic phony.

Discern the difference. There are some people it’s just not worth dealing with, and there is more to life than business. Live it on your own terms and stop apologizing and second-guessing yourself.

No one can tell you precisely how to spot a shark. I would tell you to not preoccupy one second of your time trying to spot them. It’s the completely wrong focus.

However, should you ever sense that you are dealing with a shark (and not someone who is merely naive, innocently misinformed or unrealistic), this is my advice to you:

Always be unfailingly professional and polite. There’s no reason not to be.

Beyond that, however, you have no obligation to extend them any further help or kindness, nor play any part of foisting them upon some other poor, unsuspecting colleague.

You don’t have to wish them any ill will or anything like that. But you do have the option of simply thanking them for their time, walking away, and doing nothing more, giving nothing more, if that is what you see fit to do.

There are, and will always be, a million other more ideal, deserving, giving clients out there to more productively focus your time, energy and kindnesses on.

When you focus on the bad eggs, you deprive the good ones of your gifts.

No, We Can’t Help You

Omigawd, I just have to vent a little here today…

You know, we work so hard to educate the public about what we are and what we do… that we are experts who specialize in administrative support, not unskilled gophers and flunkies.

And then those stupid fluff articles come out, written by industry outsiders who didn’t do their homework or talk to the right authorities, and we get a flood of contacts from business owners who really, in all honestly, are just looking for people they can exploit and take advantage of.

“Yes, I need someone who can take all the administration off my hands, grow my business, create my marketing plan, build me a website, perform all my social networking for me, ghostwrite my blog, manage my public relations, handle all my customer service functions and order fulfillment, and just generally be available whenever I call to do whatever else comes up. The person who fills this role won’t be paid until they start showing results (and I start making some money). Once that happens, they’ll be paid on a percentage basis (or $10/hr). This would be a great role for a work-at-home mom looking for some side income.”

Seriously! I’m not even kidding.

I get garbage requests like that all the time through our Virtual Assistant Partnering service.

We don’t even entertain them.

I’m just not going to disrespect and devalue my members like that.

My feeling is Virtual Assistants have a hard enough time trying to earn a living at this work and find clients who value them as professionals. They don’t need their professional associations perpetuating or condoning these kind of crap requests on their behalf.

Gee, isn’t it great that there are Virtual Assistant associations out there enabling that mentality, making it even harder for VAs to create viable, sustainable practices?

Look, you unethical morons, Virtual Assistants are professionals who are running businesses–JUST LIKE YOU.

They can’t be expending their time, energy and expertise for a pittance or only the promise of being paid later (and which is dependent upon whether you are even successful or not).

When you go to the grocery store, do you think you get to pay later for the groceries you take home and eat today?

Do you go to your accountant or bookkeeper or attorney and tell them they’ll be paid on a percentage basis?

I think not. You’d be laughed out the door.

I mean, REALLY?! Get lost. How do you even look at yourselves in the mirror?

Granted, there are people out there who have no business calling themselves Virtual Assistants.

But pay competent, qualified professionals their fees and quit devaluing them. It’s not their job in life to subsidize your business growth and success.

That’s your responsibility and you don’t get to decide how or what they are to be paid for lending their skill and expertise to your business.

And let me ask you this, you completely selfish and self-absorbed person who wants to rip other professionals off of their time, skills and expertise–if you think like that about others, why on earth should anyone pay your fees?

Think about it. This really is big picture stuff here.

If you want people to honor and value what you have to offer in the world, and pay you what you are worth, you have to be willing to extend that same respect to others.

Don’t Waste People’s Time

I was reading a fellow’s blog recently where he was talking about some of the people he was really grateful for in his life.

One of the people at the top of his list was an old college professor.

He related a story about how one day this professor ripped everyone a big, fat new one because they hadn’t done the homework they were expected to bring in that day.

Then he stormed  out of class and didn’t return at all again that period.

So did this guy whine about how “unprofessional” his professor was?

Did he wail and moan that people should be treated with more respect, who did this professor think he was, talking to students like that… yada, yada, yada?


What he came away with, he said, was one of the most important lessons he’s never forgotten: Don’t waste people’s time.

This guy really gets it.

Respect is a two-way street.

That professor didn’t owe those students his time if they were only wasting it.

They were disrespecting him by not being prepared for class and doing what was asked of them.

Respect would have been reciprocated had they done their homework and come prepared and mindful of just who was doing who a favor there in the education department (hint: it wasn’t them).

Keep that in mind the next time you think you are “owed” something.

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?


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.