Administrative Specialist and Assistant Are Two Separate Concepts

One reason I think administrative expertise has for so long and so often not been given the same kind of respect as other expertise is given is because in the world of employment it tends to be inextricably tied to also being an assistant, which is automatically/inherently subjugating.

I want to say this loud and clear:  being an administrative expert and being an assistant are two separate ideas, and in business, they are NOT one and the same thing and don’t have to be.

You do NOT have to be an assistant to be an administrative expert and focus on administrative support.

Beware of virtual assistant “gurus” (many of whom weren’t successful in their own business or who haven’t run their own practice in decades, if ever) and “certification” programs that are simply training people to be glorified assistants who only call themselves business owners.

That’s not a new paradigm whatsoever. It’s just another name for the same old thing.

I see so many people in our industry struggling because they’ve been taught to continue being “assistants” in the same manner as an employee.

This is exactly what limits their earning potential and creates practices that enslave them instead of empower them.

It’s why we see many of them turning into virtual staffing/multi-VA businesses or starting their own training programs or professional organizations instead of supporting and collectively strengthening the established ones already in existence for the betterment of the profession.

They think that’s the only way they can begin to earn better and not be buried in the work.

But it’s a lie.

If you are running a business, you are not anyone’s assistant.

The term “assistant” itself is the root cause of all kinds of problems, misaligned expectations and confusion about the nature of the business relationship, which forces you to do double-time in educating clients.

Our lives could all be a lot easier without it. It’s why we’ve moved on to the term Administrative Consultant and a different, very specific business model entirely.

Being an administrative expert and being an assistant are not one and the same thing.

Pick one. Or do both if you choose. But know this:  you absolutely do not need to be an assistant in order to deliver value and expertise and have very personal, collaborative relationships with clients.

I know I certainly didn’t go into business for myself to continue to be anyone’s little assistant. I went into business to deliver my administrative expertise and talents to clients and help them achieve real results in their own businesses.

10 Responses

  1. Jody Higgins says:

    You are absolutely right – I prefer to think of myself as a partner to my clients. I am not truly assisting anyway, I am managing parts of their business that they either don’t want to manage or don’t have time to manage themselves. And in many cases, my clients know what they want to do – they just don’t know HOW to do it. I am not providing personal services and I am not a gopher – I am a business owner providing valuable services.

  2. I’m right there with ya, Jody! Partner, not pawn. 🙂

  3. Franni Ferrero says:

    As always, thanks for great food for thought. You’re the Queen when it comes to making us think outside the box. Thanks for that and so much more!

  4. What an awesome compliment, Franni. Thank you! That’s exactly what I hope to do — shake people out of these idiotic indoctrinations that are keeping them from really doing well in this business.

  5. Jeannine Lawrence says:

    Thank you for addressing this Danielle! This is something that I struggle with. People think that I am an assistant and do not take me serously. I was told once “You are an assistant! What do you know about business?” So many times I have to educate others in what it is I do and that I am NOT an assistant. Turning down potential clients is hard to do but I cannot bow down to allowing them to control my business and tell me what it is that I do.

    Thanks Again Danielle!

  6. Jeannine, you’ve hit it right on the head… that word “assistant” just goes against everything we try to educate clients about so it’s like we’re giving them mixed signals. “I call myself an assistant, but I’m not an assistant.” That’s not helpful for anyone and that term just creates all kinds of misalignment in expectations and understandings.

  7. Thank you for writing this post. I see so many virtual assistants out there who are still in that mindset of being an assistant vs. being a partner in their clients’ businesses. As business owners ourselves, we can’t act like someone’s employee. We have to be proactive, forward-thinking, constantly learning and updating our skills and figuring out how to continually be moving our own and our clients’ businesses forward. Glad to hear there’s others out there who feel the same.

  8. Preach it, Crystal! Thanks for adding to the conversation. 🙂

  9. I am just starting my VA business. Before I read the posts on this subject, I was starting off on the wrong path with a remote \assistant\ mindset. This dialogue has opened up a completely new arena in my mind.

    At first, the distinction seemed awkward and forced, and I could not imagine a conversation with a client that did not focus on hours and tasks to be accomplished. But, after a couple of weeks of thinking about, and embracing the value proposition, I now know I will offer a much higher quality service to clients. I am far more creative and feel like I was like a race horse with blinders on!

    Thank you.

  10. That’s wonderful, Joanna. That’s what I want to do… shake people up out of their indoctrinations and unconsciousness… So many are operating on pure rote and simply doing what others do without knowing or understanding why they do it or if those things are even working. That’s a recipe for failure and mediocrity. Good for you for allowing yourself to examine something new and different. That quality will definitely serve you well in business! All my best 🙂

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