Archive for January, 2016

What You Call Yourself IS Training Clients How to Treat You

Something I like to remind people of frequently: When you are a business owner, you are not anyone’s assistant… for both legal and practical reasons.

It’s so funny how threatened the minions in the VA world are by the Administrative Consultant term.

They try every which way to discredit it. They want SO much for you to stay down in the weeds with them. How DARE you think more highly of yourself and what you do and hold it in higher esteem than they who are too scared to call themselves anything other than “assistant.”

Was listening to a long video conversation where someone asked a group of VAs what they thought about calling themselves something like Administrative Consultant and they said things like “I don’t care what they call me as long as they pay me.” “A consultant is someone who only tells people what to do, they don’t actually do the work so no one is going to hire you.” (We are not “consultants”; we are ADMINISTRATIVE Consultants–read the definition.) “My clients don’t care what I am called. It’s how I educate them and set boundaries.”

In the same breath they talk about not being able to charge the fees they want and need, about having clients who think of them as employees at their instant beck and call, about having clients who don’t respect them as business owners, about having to constantly educate and remind clients that they are business owners, not employees, about being treated and spoken to with a lack of respect for what they do, about not being able to get clients period… the list goes on and on.

What you also don’t hear or get to see is that a lot (if not most) of these people are NOT making a lot of money either, much less an amount they can actually live on. They are charging paltry hourly wages and slaving away day after day, week after week, working with anyone they can get just to keep some money coming in.

The fact that they try to malign the term only serves to emphasize its firm, established foothold and growing reach.

They did make one important point: It is about education. And client management and education starts before they ever become clients.

But let me be clear: No amount of education and conversation is going to fix that when you turn right around and call yourself an assistant. You wouldn’t even need to have those constant, tiresome, annoying coming-to-Jesus boundaries and “education” conversations with clients if you didn’t call yourself an assistant in the first place.

And that’s exactly what the Administrative Consultant term is about.

Marketing is about education. And your term is the very first place that you are educating and training prospects–before they ever become clients–that you are a business owner and how they should view you and treat the relationship (i.e., as a business-to-business one, client-to-engaged expert, not as employer-to-employee/gopher).

That then shapes their demeanor and attitude toward you–not as their little assistant there to do their bidding, but as an expert in administration whose work and expertise is valuable and can actually move them forward in their business.

It’s the critical shift in their perception of who you are in relation to them and what you do that makes all the difference in your ability to charge higher fees and not have them balk… because you are an expert in their eyes whom they are hiring to help them accomplish a goal and improve their life and business. And they expect to pay higher fees to pay someone with an expertise.

It’s one of the things that is going to help you get better, more ideal clients.

I could care less about those who want to keep calling themselves assistants. Who cares what they do?

Who I care about is YOU, someone who has matured beyond an entry level sensibility in business and is ready to graduate to a higher level and gain a more sophisticated understanding of business in professional service so you can market better in order to have a better life, get and work with better clients, and charge higher fees and make more money.

That said, here’s what you have to understand if you want to get there: At some point, you are going to have to let go of trying to keep your feet in both worlds. You’re never going to get the buy-in of the people in the VA world who are committed to keeping everyone at their level. Those people don’t get it, are committed to not getting it (because, gasp, that would mean actually learning something new), and are threatened by it (although how they think what you do in your business has anything to do with them is beyond me).

Keeping yourself in that kind of company is going to keep you from growing. Stop asking them what they think. What do YOU think? And if it’s something you’re ready to learn, ask the people who are doing it (like me 😉 ).

I also want to make this clear… really think about this: It would be SO MUCH easier for me to stay on the VA bandwagon. I could be making so much more money off those people feeding them all the same regurgitated crap they copy and parrot off one another.

So why don’t I do that? Why make things more difficult for myself? Why set myself in the gun sights of the VA trolls and bullies? (What’s ironic is that the same people who love to bash me also rip off my stuff at the same time. Such integrity, I tell ya.) Why not just exploit everyone for my own financial gain?

Because it’s garbage. And it goes against every value and belief I have.

I’m not in this to prey on people. I’m here to make a change. Because I am PASSIONATE about helping teach my colleagues how to change their mindset about themselves, how they view who they are and what they do as administrative experts, to hold themselves in higher esteem so they can learn how to change their conversation in their marketing and in turn get better clients and charge higher fees.

And that ALL starts with your language and the terms you use.

Results Colleagues Are Getting Using the ACA Business Training Products

Results My Colleagues Are Getting Using the ACA Business Training Products

It’s always so happy-making to hear of the great results my colleagues get after studying my business training and learning guides from the ACA Success Store.

One of my favorite colleagues, De’Lona Moultrie, who invested in The Whole Shebang, recently shared the fabulous success she has been having after following my consultation process included in that set:

Results My Colleagues Are Getting Using the ACA Business Training Products

As I also told Dee, I can only share my experience and expertise and what I know works. It’s YOU who makes the magic happen in your practice, and she is obviously bringing it!

Thank you for allowing me to share this, Dee. Much love and continued success to you!

10 Tips for Cleaning Up Your Email, Online and Print Document Files for the New Year

10 Tips for Cleaning Up Your Email, Online and Print Document Files for the New Year

How is your new year going so far? Splendidly I hope!

Following up from my last post on prepping your calendar for ease and success, the next thing I do to gear up for the new year is clean out my email, online and paper files.

This exercise helps me clear space for fresh, new opportunities and possibility — both mentally and in practical terms. Maybe some of my tips will help you, too. 🙂

  1. EMAIL: Organize your email folders according to whatever system you employ. I pretty much always keep my emails organized so I don’t tend to have a ton of work here. How I organize my client emails is by client last name. Under each client, I have folders for each month of the year (e.g., “0116” for January 2016). Labeling them numerically keeps them in sequential order. And because I work with attorneys and we go by client matter, I then have folders under each month for each client matter. It may seem like a lot of work, but when you are dealing with a lot of accounts and information and often having to refer back to different things, this is what works best for me and my clients. The search function, I’ve found, is woefully inadequate, inconsistent and unreliable. I’ve thanked myself on more occasions than I can count for putting in this little bit of effort upfront.
  2. EMAIL: At the end of every month (or on your weekly Admin day), sort your sent and received emails into their respective folders.
  3. EMAIL: In January (this month!), archive your previous year email folders. You can archive the PST file or simply put them into a year folder for each client. For example, create a 2015 folder for each client and move the monthly folders for that year there.
  4. ONLINE FILES: Organize your online file folders similar to your email organizing system. For example, in my practice, each client has a main folder by last name. Under each client, there are matter and subject folders. Under each client matter or subject folder are monthly folders. I use a numbering/dating system that keeps documents organized sequentially. For example: (Matter Number) SMITH 2016 0101 Description. Using this or a similar system, your files will be automatically organized as you work throughout each month so no other effort is required.
  5. ONLINE FILES: In January, create a 2015 folder under each client/matter and move the monthly folders there.
  6. ONLINE FILES: When it comes to documents and files, I try to keep as much electronically as possible. If you’re looking to go more electronic and convert paper documents to PDF, I highly recommend the Fujitsu ScanSnap products as they make quick work of scanning multiple, two-sided pages into PDF. Of course, it’s still very useful to have a flatbed scanner as well and you can get that with a good all-in-one printer. I tend to like HP’s products.
  7. ONLINE FILES: That said, we can’t get away from print documents entirely. For example, I’m not going to tear apart a 100-page health insurance guide and scan it to PDF. That wouldn’t be a good use of my time and when it comes to those kind of things, I prefer them to read them in print anyway. So my tip here is not to get too OCD when it comes converting to PDF just for the sake of going electronic. Be smart about how much time you spend on it and what kind of documents you put the effort into.
  8. PRINT FILES: As far as organizing print files, I have a two-drawer lateral file and hanging files for that. I organize files by subject and color-coded tabs. Clear is for miscellaneous subjects. Green is for clients/income/accounts receivable files. Yellow is for employee/contractor/HR files. Red is for vendors and accounts payable files. And blue is for tax/license/legal/financial files. I tend to keep the green, yellow and blue files all together in their own color sections while I file the clear and red-tabbed folders together alphabetically.
  9. PRINT FILES: In January, create 2015 folders for any subjects that collect a lot of date-related material and archive your documents accordingly. Keep in mind your state and federal rules for how long you are required to keep business files, which generally tend to be 7-10 years.
  10. Add a date and reminder on your calendar to do this again next year.
  11. BONUS TIP: SHRED EVERYTHING! Having been a private investigator in a previous life, safety, security and confidentiality are always concerns of high priority, for myself and for my clients. With that in mind, I keep shredder within arm’s reach of my desk and scanner. If you’re in the market for a shredder, my advice is to ignore the cheap ones. They have smaller feed capacity, get clogged clogged too easily, have their blades warp and burn up their motors too quickly. For just a little bit more money, you can get a better quality one that’ll last for years. I would get one that shreds into little diamonds (not strips) and that has a larger feed capacity (the one I have has a feed capacity of 6 pages at a time).

Power Productivity & Biz Management for Administrative ConsultantsRESOURCE: Get my entire practice management system with more in-depth examples and illustrations over at the ACA Success Store: Power Productivity & Biz Management: The 14 Simple Systems that Will Breathe Freedom, Flexibility and LIFE Back into Your Business and Client Relationships