Archive for the ‘Confidence’ Category

Tell Fear to Take a Hike

Tell Fear to Take a Hike

My members and I were having a very lively, insightful conversation the other day.

A new member who is in the very beginning stages of her administrative support business was considering offering her services pro bono for a limited time.

She asked the group if this was a good idea.

And the group, of course, validated what she herself knew deep down already—that it would only attract those seeking something for nothing.

Those folks almost never turn into real, viable clients. Even on the rare occasion they do, they inevitably turn out to be the worst kind of clients to deal with.

We explored where this idea might be coming from and the new member confirmed that a lot of it was being new to business and not having confidence just yet.

No shame in that.

Confidence is something everyone struggles with to some degree or another, in some aspect or another, no matter where they’re at in their business.

It’s completely normal and doesn’t make you any less worthy of owning and running your own business.

While this might be something you struggle with, what I can tell you for sure is that giving away your services for nothing will not help you grow in your confidence.

In fact, it’ll do quite the opposite and trample all over the professional self-esteem you need to develop in yourself in order to be successful and attract the right kind of clients into your life.

First, in practical terms, here’s why pro bono doesn’t work:

1. It devalues the very thing you are in business to offer and make money from. You never want to bargain with your value that way. If you don’t value yourself and what you have to offer, no one else will either.

2. It only attracts freebie seekers. Trust me, nearly no one ever turned a freebie-seeker into a long-term, retained client. It’s kind of like one-night stands. They just don’t turn into real relationships. And don’t let the one person in the world who is the exception to that rule try to sway you otherwise. Just because they didn’t happen to get killed walking across the freeway doesn’t make crossing the freeway on foot a good idea. 😉

3. It’s a very bad precedent to set in your business. Being a new business owner will require you to hold yourself and the work in high regard. Once you start chipping away at your value, it’s downhill from there in ways you will have never anticipated. Working with folks who are only there to get something for nothing will have you stepping all over your boundaries and standards and prevent you from gaining the healthy professional self-respect you need to survive in business.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free. And that’s exactly what those kind of clients think.

Selling yourself short and giving your work away for free will not help you grow your confidence.

What will increase your confidence is charging appropriately and asking for the fee.

At this point, you may be thinking, “Yeah, that’s all well and good, but I have to have confidence in order to do that!” Right?

No, you don’t.

It doesn’t take confidence to build confidence. All it takes is the self-knowledge that lack of confidence isn’t a place you want to stay in, a desire to grow into greater confidence, and a willingness to stretch beyond your comfort zones.

Charging clients is exactly one of the things that builds your confidence as a new business owner.

Not charging clients just keeps you stuck on a much longer, more draining, demoralizing (not to mention unprofitable) path.

How do you think you’re ever going to get it (confidence, money, respect, you name it) if you don’t ever push yourself to expect it and then practice asking for it?

Fear really is your only roadblock.

The crazy thing about fear is that it is self-imposed.

Sure, it’s real, but your confidence will only grow (and grow most quickly) if you put your foot down and simply decide to suck it up and ignore the fear.

Get angry about it even! Tell fear to get the hell out and don’t let the door hit its ass on the way out!

And then ask for that fee.

Once you pick yourself up off the ground and get over the shock of “Wow! They didn’t bat an eye,” your confidence and belief in yourself and what you have to offer will have just leapt over a tall building.

This is the beginning of your journey into healthy professional self-esteem. You’ll get more and more comfortable (and confident) charging what you’re worth and asking for—and getting—your fee!

Of course, it isn’t always going to be like that. You will get clients who balk at paying. You will get clients who aren’t a fit.

That doesn’t mean you shrink back down, lower your standards and change your business to suit them.

And you aren’t going to handle every experience smoothly. You’re going to be rough and imperfect and inconsistent in the beginning.

But that’s all okay because these are the experiences you absolutely do need.

The idea isn’t to avoid them altogether. They are valuable learning opportunities that will help you grow into your consultation skills and get better and better at articulating your value, honing your message and standing firm in your expectations and standards for yourself and your business.

Don’t let fear win. Don’t cave in. You ARE a hero. Overcoming fear is a success worth striving for and celebrating!

Originally posted June 12, 2009.

What Makes You Awesome?

What Makes You Awesome?

I was catching up on some of my ACA emails from last week while I was out on the road and some of the questions I received had me reflecting about self-esteem and confidence.

So much of our business success depends not only on professional self-esteem, but also our personal self-esteem, from which a lot of our confidence arises as a byproduct.

If someone suffers from poor personal self-esteem, this can hold her back greatly in her business pursuits. She can be more risk-averse and talk herself out of trying things and stepping out of her comfort zones because negative self-talk has already told her she’ll fail.

Which got me to thinking how can this be combatted? How can a low self-esteem be uplifted so a person can focus on her strengths and increase her confidence and feel inspired that she CAN do it in her business?

It seems like one great exercise would be to begin a list of all the things you think are great about you:

  • What are you proud about in yourself?
  • What are your personal and professional strengths?
  • What personal traits and qualities about yourself do you love and embrace?
  • What kind of professional skill do you excel at?
  • What scary steps did you take outside your comfort zones (these are successes you should be proud of and celebrate)?
  • What small victories and successes have you had?

Think of every positive thing you can and keep adding it to this list any time you think of something.

And then when you are feeling down about yourself, either in your business or your personal life, read that list. It will remind you of all that is awesome and great about YOU, that you CAN do this, and that you DO help and give to others every day with your unique skills, talents, qualities, expertise and YOU-ness.

Dear Danielle: I Have No Confidence in Charging What I Need to Charge

Dear Danielle:

I have found your information on how to be an Administrative Consultant helpful and informative. I have a question for you regarding rates for my support. I have been trying to see what others are charging, just to see if I’m in the same range and not charging too much. I did the calculation from your Income & Pricing Calculator and my baseline is $50/hour. The challenge I’m having is feeling comfortable with my per hour rate. Is there any way to overcome this? —RD

I know everyone does this when they’re new, but the last place you need to be looking when it comes to determining your pricing is your colleagues’ sites.

Hear me loud and clear on this:  It does not matter what anyone else in the industry is charging. (In fact, most are earning poorly because they aren’t charging enough whatsoever).

The only two important ingredients in determining your pricing are:

  1. you and what you have to offer in relation to
  2. your target market and their needs, goals and challenges.

When you deeply know and understand those things, you’ll find it much easier to command your fees without flinching.

Charging poorly can have detrimental, even devastating, effects on a young business.

Your goal in business is to provide value (not cheapness) to your clients and earn very well for yourself so that you can stay in business. You can’t take great care of clients unless you take great care of yourself first and that means charging profitably.

Looking at what (little) others may be charging as your guide will keep you in the poor house, potentially put you out of business, and contribute nothing toward increasing your confidence and savvy as a business owner.

The other thing I would want to tell you is not to charge by the hour.

Billing by the hour is an archaic, UNbeneficial way to bill that cheats both you and the client.

In fact, you actually make less money billing by the hour.

Instead, learn how to price and package your support by value.

It’s a WHOLE lot easier for you, it’s more convenient for clients and makes it vastly easier for them to say yes to working with you (all of which are outlined in the guide).

Lastly, confidence is a journey.

Your confidence will absolutely affect how you valuate your fees.

What you feel comfortable charging at the start of your business will be much different a couple years down the road. That’s because when most of us start out in business, we tend to be stuck in employee mindset to one degree or another.

Many new business owners aren’t aware that when they were an employee still working a job, their employers actually paid far more than what they saw on their paycheck.

They don’t realize all the other costs involved. They don’t understand that business and employment are two completely different animals, and that in business, it’s a whole other dynamic with entirely different standards, protocols and mechanisms involved in pricing.

And because they aren’t sure of themselves or how clients will respond, and still think of themselves as an employee rather than an expert, they are timid about pricing confidently and boldly.

Eventually, though, they begin to develop certain realizations. Their view of themselves changes. Their professional self-esteem increases. They get an inkling that they aren’t charging enough when they are slaving away ‘round the clock and still not making enough money. They think taking on more clients is the answer—until they see that they end up making even less than before!

Some people are confident right out of the gate while others take a bit longer to get there. The good news is that the longer you’re in business, the more your confidence will increase. As you work with clients, the more you begin to recognize the value of the work you do when you see how it improves their businesses and helps them move forward, overcome challenges and achieve their dreams. Your confidence in charging more professionally will grow from there.

Whatever your confidence level is right now when it comes to pricing, it’s perfectly normal.

At the same time, I encourage you to step outside your comfort zone. Experiment. Take a risk in your pricing and see what happens. Most people find that clients don’t bat an eye and wish they’d stepped up in their business a lot sooner.

Oh, and one more thought: the idea that you need to charge less just because you are new in business is complete and utter rubbish!

You might have a learning curve when it comes to successfully running and managing a business, but that doesn’t make your administrative skills and years of experience any less valuable. And a business simply requires that it be solvent and sustainable.

So while my goal for you is to price boldly and profitably, I realize that sometimes there is a bit of a journey involved in getting there.

That’s okay.

I’m gonna keep educating, coaching, encouraging, urging and reminding you, keep you thinking on your toes, and sometimes even chiding you and giving you a little kick in the pants now and then. 😉

You’ll get there!

Pay What You Owe

I’ve recently heard from several colleagues who have been having trouble getting paid from the colleagues who engaged them. I hear from folks like this all throughout the year, but even more so recently for some reason.

Seems to be an epidemic going on. They’re frustrated, not sure what to do and wondered what I think about it. So here are my thoughts on the whole topic…

It’s bad enough when to get stiffed by clients. It’s adding insult to injury that they have to worry about this from their own colleagues.

I think it’s reprehensible and unethical to withhold payment from subcontractors because you are waiting for payment from YOUR client.

YOU engaged your subcontractors, not your client, so PAY THEM fair and square.

And if you don’t have the money, then maybe you shouldn’t be engaging them in the first place.

But subcontractors, you aren’t off the hook either…

Have colleagues who want to engage you sign YOUR contract, and YOU decide what rate you will accept. Just because you subcontract doesn’t mean you have no say-so about how and when and what you get paid—but these things need to be established upfront.

That said, you don’t have any business talking about money or accepting work directly from clients that belong to the colleague you are engaged with.

If you’re going to be ethical about this, then you need to inform any clients who approach you in this manner that they need to go through the proper channels and talk directly with the person whose client they are—and that’s not you. Those clients are not your clients; they belong to the person you are subcontracting for.

This is yet another reason why that whole “team VA’ term is so ridiculously idiotic. Unless you are an actual employee, you are not part of anyone else’s “team.” So stupid.

Never include in your contracts, or sign any contract that has this, any clause that says you don’t get paid until the client pays the colleague you are subbing for. If you do, then you’re stuck waiting or not getting paid if their client doesn’t pay on time or at all.

And if you do sign a contract like that, don’t complain when you don’t get paid. You’re the one who signed it.

From a business standpoint, this is yet another example of why YOU have to be smart in your OWN business.

I get that some folks think this is the experience they need to gain confidence to go out on their own, and sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to help keep some money flowing in. But never lose sight of the fact that when you are working for others (i.e., subcontracting), you’re building their business, not your own.

You’re paid less, you lose a great degree of control over your circumstances, and you waste time and energy that could be spent growing your own client base and long-term success.

My advice (if you’re still nervous about engaging directly with clients):

Stop with the subcontracting and instead look for colleagues who want to engage you as their own support partner in the same way that any other client would retain your ongoing support. You would charge them your full monthly fee just like any other client and you’re going to learn a lot more about the business, managing it, and what it is to provide ongoing administrative support than you ever will doing piecemeal, nickel and dime subcontracting projects.

Dear Danielle: How Do I Get Over the Fear that I’ve Forgotten Everything and Won’t Be Good Enough in Business?

Dear Danielle:

I sent an attorney the administrative support contract templates I purchased from your site. I contacted him knowing very well that it would be costly, but he offered to look them over at no cost. After not hearing back from him, I asked him once if he’d had a chance to look them over and he mentioned via email that he would look them over during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Well, as of today, I’ve yet to hear from him. Since he offered, I don’t want to bug him. I would really like to start marketing the business, but I’ve been hesitant because of this minor glitch. I’ve worked with contracts before and they looked fine to me, but contacted him because it’s smart to have an attorney look things over. I’m seriously thinking of writing him off and simply moving on. I really need to move forward with my business, but I’m nervous about working with my first client. I’m sure you can understand my dilemma and frustration. To be honest, I’m afraid I’ve forgotten everything I’ve learned in the last 15 years. Crazy, isn’t it? –DE

Not crazy at all. It’s scary starting a business and until we get things going and find our groove, nervousness, second-guessing, negative self-talk and low confidence are normal things we’ve all experienced. The trick is to power through them and go for it anyway!

So is that the only thing holding you up? If so, don’t give it another thought.

So you’re nervous about going live, so to speak. It’s perfectly understandable.

I’m willing to bet that waiting around for this attorney’s approval on the contracts is a way to keep dragging your feet (even if you might not consciously realize it). So I have two thoughts to offer you:

  1. Yes, I think you should write the attorney off at this point. It’s holding you up and when it does that, it’s no longer a kindness or a favor to you. Don’t allow empty promises to keep you from moving forward in your business. You were prepared to pay for this service originally. Find another attorney and pay him or her. Remember: You get what you pay for and you can’t expect much when it’s a freebie.
  2. For legal reasons I have to qualify my assurances by saying that you should always have an attorney look things over. That said, I work with attorneys, three of my uncles are attorneys, I developed these forms with my own attorneys and have been using them for over 12 years of business. So again, I want to encourage you to move forward. Waiting around for clearances and permissions and okays and not trusting in your own good counsel is going to keep you from rockin’ and rolling. Find another attorney to look them over when you get a chance, but in the meantime, you don’t have to wait on that to get started.

As far as being afraid you’ve forgotten everything, trust me you haven’t. It’s like riding a bike.

You’re simply experiencing the natural, usual fears that all of us have about putting ourselves out there.

We all have the inner self-critic in the back of our heads second-guessing everything we do. But you have to ignore that voice and plow forward.

Remember, you don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to know everything.

Some things you might be rusty at, but you’ll pick them back up with use.

There will be other things you might have to learn.

And then there are going to be other things you simply don’t need or want to provide.

Sometimes, the best advice is to not even think about all the what-ifs you may encounter.

Focus instead on getting that first client, taking that first step.

It might even be helpful to have an honest conversation with any new client letting them know that while you are an administrative expert and can definitely help them, you are new to business and there are going to be things that you’re still learning as you go along.

This will clear the air and take some of the perfection pressure off you. I also think most clients will find it such openness and honesty very refreshing and earn you their even greater confidence.

You’ll tweak and hone and fix things as you go along, which is to be expected in any business regardless, but if you don’t ever get started, you won’t ever get anywhere.

Go for it!

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).

There Is No Such Thing as Flubbing

So I was having a great time chatting online with some colleagues.

One, who I’ve always considered super sharp was lamenting how she “flubbed” her first consult.

And I’m thinking, flub? What’s to flub?

This isn’t a test. You aren’t on stage. No one is expecting you to be perfect.

And I told her as much!

But I know what she meant. She felt like she let herself down.

Well, I say, she didn’t flub anything.

So she she had a consult, and she wasn’t as smooth as she would have liked.

No big deal!

If I could show you a movie of all the bad consults I’ve had in my beginning business years, where I was tongue-tied or said something I wish I hadn’t; where I wasn’t as confident and polished as I would have preferred, you would be rolling in the aisles. I cringe and turn red at some of the memories.

I’m much better now, thank you veddy much!

And that only came with practice.

There are going to be a ton of consultation you conduct where you will think you absolutely bombed.

But here’s the thing — you can’t ever bomb at these things.

The world won’t come to a screeching halt. Much to your chagrin, you will live to see another consult.

Joking aside, these “practice” consults, as I like to call them, are absolutely necessary and worthwhile, every single one of them.

You get better every time. And you learn something valuable with each and every one.

You have to have these experiences. It’s the only way you will grow in your confidence and consultation skills.

They are what is going to lead you to becoming the smooth, polished administrative expert and who knows exactly how to lead her process, connect with her right clients,  and forge solutions that are truly going to help move them forward.

So don’t be so hard on yourself!

Do your best to relax and look upon the people you consult with as lovely acquaintances you meet in the road of life.

Maybe you’ll end up working together and getting to know each other more. Maybe you won’t.

But in looking at it like this, it takes a load of pressure off you and the focus to be perfect. No matter how things turn out, you haven’t lost a thing.

Trust me, one day you will laugh at how terrible you were (or so you thought) and smile proudly at how far you’ve come.

You’ll have a lot more fun in the process, too. 😉

Dear Danielle: How Much Can I Expect to Earn in this Business?

Dear Danielle:

I’m still in the market research phase of starting my administrative support practice. Recently, a colleague and I were discussing yearly salary and work hours with her practice, and I was wondering if your experience has been similar to what she’s explained, before you got into training and from what you know of others in this business. Here’s what she said:

“I consider myself well established now. Despite this, I work between 15-25 billable hours a week and another 20-40 non-billable hours each week (on marketing, accounting, non-billable matter, etc.).”

My research suggests that someone who’s been in business for five years could anticipate gross earnings of approximately $30,000 per year. However, very specialized people make far more (in the range of $40,000 to $55,000).” –RD

If after 5 years someone is still only making $30,000 a year, there is a something seriously wrong in their business. They haven’t done proper business planning, are not charging appropriately and most like are charging hourly rates (selling hours/time) instead of setting fees based on value and results.

If you base your income on how many hours you have to sell, you will always limit your earning potential. I teach people how to use value-based pricing methodologies instead. Once you increase your business knowledge around pricing and how to price, package and present your fees and support plans, your earning ability goes up dramatically. In fact, you can earn more working with fewer clients that way.

Before we talk about what you can expect to make, I want to first make sure we are on the same page about what this business is about. This is important because your understanding of this will directly impact the profitability of your practice.

You mention the word “specialize.” What this usually indicates is a fundamental lack of understanding about what administrative support is.

Administrative support is already a specialty in and of itself. An Administrative Consultant is someone who specializes in providing ongoing, right-hand, across-the-board style administrative support. That’s an important distinction to understand for a few reasons.

For one thing, it’s a completely different business model from, say, a secretarial service, which is in the business of providing individual, transactional, project-based secretarial services.

They’re the Kinko’s, so to speak, of the administrative world. And the reason it’s important to understand the difference in these business models is because the businesses earn money in very different ways, they operate very differently, they have very different labor and administration needs, expenses and operating costs, and they market very differently and attract a completely different kind of clientele.

However, the very most important reason to understand the distinction is that these two business models deliver completely different solutions.

Administrative support is a relationship, one where you’re providing a long-term, more impactful and integral solution that supports the client’s business as a whole and where the focus is the ongoing dynamic and evolving work relationship.

A secretarial service is more like a one-night stand, where what is provided is a quick transaction where the focus and sole purpose is the completion of a single project or task at hand.

As you can see, then, administration is a specialized function already. It’s also work that is inherently ongoing. So going back to what it means to specialize, we already have a specialty: ongoing administrative support for clients we work with in continuous, collaborative relationship.

If someone specializes in some other function, then they are something else completely. For example:

  • If someone specializes in marketing, they are a marketing professional.
  • If they specialize in web design/development, they are a web designer/developer.
  • If they specialize in bookkeeping or accounting, they are a bookkeeper or accountant.

Your colleague is confusing specialization with categories of business. What you specialize in IS the business. If you specialize in administrative support, you’re an Administrative Consultant.

People in our industry also commonly confuse specializing with the tasks involved.

When we talk about specialization, what that really refers to is not the work or tasks, but rather a target market.

Those who specialize in a target market (which is simply a field/industry/profession you cater your administrative support to) have a much easier, quicker time getting started and gaining clients. That’s because it provides them with greater focus and direction.

Now, that’s not to say that you can’t offer additional related services and support. The point I’m making is just because you offer something else doesn’t make it all administrative support. Web design is web design. Bookkeeping is bookkeeping. Marketing is marketing, and so on. These are each their own separate and distinct professions and categories of business.

There are lots of folks who offer creative and technical services in addition to their administrative support. But that doesn’t make those additional services or divisions or specialties in their practice the same things as administrative support.

They are still distinct from one another.

This is all very important because your understanding of these distinctions will directly impact how you structure and charge your fees to earn well.

Is this becoming clearer to you?

If so, you can begin to see that your ability to charge well doesn’t have to do with specializing in any one task.

As an Administrative Consultant, you already have a specialty (that of ongoing administrative support).

What earning well in this industry has to do with is your view and understanding of your value and the solution you are in business to provide, how you frame and portray yourself as a professional,  how you effectively articulate your value to your desired clientele in the context of their needs, goals and challenges, and the pricing strategies you employ to focus them on the value and benefits rather than hours.

Earning well also doesn’t have to do with how long you’ve been in business or how many billable hours you have at their disposal.

(And if after five years someone is still only earning $30,000 a year, there is something seriously wrong and need to get the help of someone like me).

Those who intimately and more deeply understand the solution they provide and its value to their target market have much more confidence.

This understanding, in turn, allows them to have more effective, resonate, compelling conversations with clients and command professional fees.

Those fees can earn them well into six figures, but you only get there by doing things smartly and strategically. It will require some shifts in thinking about the pricing you offer clients. People who are still stuck selling hours in their retainers don’t commonly earn into six figures.

I really recommend you get my marketing guide. It will walk you through a systematic, step-by-step process of understanding more deeply and clearly the solution and value you provide to clients, choosing a target market, profiling your ideal client, and then putting it all together to come up with your own unique value proposition.

You can also get off the hourly rate merry-go-round (which drastically limits your earning potential) by learning how to implement value-based pricing and how to focus clients on value and results rather than selling hours.

Should We Expect Colleagues to Demonstrate Competence?

Someone new registered for the forum a couple weeks ago.

She met all the minimum criteria and was approved to complete her profile.

Her username had to be changed since she did not follow the registration directions for that (obviously rushing through too fast to actually read them or just didn’t care to honor our request).

When she sent her email to us that she had placed the membership seal on her site, the link she provided showed that she had not in fact actually done that. What she did was place our logo on her site. This was the second step where she didn’t follow directions.

My administrator gave her the standard reply in those situations (“that is not an approved use of our logo and must be taken off the site; please refer back to the instructions for placing the approved membership seal code on your site and let us know when you have made this correction… “).

When she emailed us back that she had made the correction, her profile was double-checked to make sure all steps had been followed (standard procedure).

Unfortunately, she had yet again failed to follow just about every instruction, wasting everyone’s time and attention in the process.

Here’s the message I sent her:

“Hi, [NAME WITHHELD],

“My administrator has passed this onto me to handle. I’m afraid you have failed to follow several of the instructions. We’ll give you one more try to get things right (you’ll need to go in and read the instructions thoroughly this time). We won’t be able to approve your membership if you are unable to do so. We need members to demonstrate a professional level of competence, qualification, which includes the ability to pay attention and follow directions. That may sound harsh, but as a professional organization, we uphold a promise to clients that we takes very seriously: the the administrative support experts in our group are the best of the best. Not following directions, repeatedly, does not convey to us that level of competence.”

Now, to her credit, this person did not get hysterical like so many do, blaming us for their own failings. She did, however, reply that while she appreciated the chance for “one more try,” it wouldn’t be necessary.

This is a very tame example. You wouldn’t believe some of the ugly hate mail I get when people are not approved.

In this case, we didn’t even “reject” her. We were willing to give her another opportunity to take things a little more seriously, not rush through the instructions, and show us — demonstrate — that she is a competent professional who is able to handle the demands of taking care of clients to a professional standard.

Here’s my frustration in these instances:

We don’t know these folks from Adam or Eve. It’s their job to show us (demonstrate) that they are skilled, competent, qualified professionals.

Would you go to a job interview on your worst behavior, wearing your sloppiest clothes, talking like a street thug?

Would you expect to get the job if you filled out forms incorrectly or didn’t pass any tests you had to undergo?

Of course not.

So why are these people so insulted when the first face they present to us isn’t one that inspires the greatest of confidence?

This society where everyone thinks they are entitled to be catered to and coddled and have everything handed over to them baffles me.

It’s not our job to give them the benefit of the doubt.

If they can’t follow the simplest of instructions here, what on earth are clients going to get?

We can’t represent those who don’t take this seriously or who otherwise don’t demonstrate a level of professional skill and competence.

Our word has to mean something when we tell clients that they are going to connect them with skilled individuals from our group.

We also have an obligation to our members to uphold our standards of excellence and qualification to ensure their reputations as well. You are judged by the company you keep.

If a client has a bad experience with someone who touts our name on her site, our other members may suffer from that association.

The client may think if that’s the level of competence in one, the apple may not fall far from the tree, so to speak. They might not want to hire anyone else from our group after that.

And frankly, no one (not clients, myself, my administrators nor members and colleagues) wants to deal with someone who is a pain in the ass because they consistently don’t pay attention or have to be constantly asked to please follow directions.

We welcome all administrative experts who are in business to provide ongoing administrative support, but they have to step up to the plate and put their best professional foot forward.

So what do you think? Is that too much to ask?

What happens if there are no standards of excellence or at least a minimal display of the most basic ability?

Do you think clients want to partner with anyone who is difficult, defensive and frustrating to work with this respect (because they don’t read thoroughly, need to have requests repeated over and over to them, and don’t follow specifications or directions according to the client’s wishes)?