Do You Want to be a Leader in the Background?

Mar 4 / Pam Walrod
Here’s a story. Okay, before I start, I just have to ask! Did the Brady Bunch theme song pop in your head? Let’s start at the beginning. I love planning, organization, and all the behind-the-scenes work. However, my love of administrative work began long before that. As a child, my favorite thing to do was go to the office with my dad. My brother and I would go through the big trash cans and pull out carbon forms (dating myself, but this was long before privacy laws). I didn’t care what was on the forms and paperwork; I just wanted to organize it and set up files so my brother and I could set up our office cubicles with TV trays and couch cushions. My dad also gave us an old telephone (you guys - it still had a rotary dial! lol). I was “Sue Beazley,” the Assistant to my brother (whose office name was “Jim.”). I’d field calls for Jim, get him caught up on any paperwork, and type (on an actual typewriter) his notes. I loved it!
I got my degree in Communications with a major in Advertising and a minor in Public Relations. As I sought the first job in my career, I instinctively looked for the “Marketing Assistant” positions because that’s where I thrived, and not to sound boastful, but I was good at it! For goodness sake, I should be; I played office all through childhood! Hee. Hee. There was an expectation for me to continue to climb the corporate ladder and become an owner of my agency or go into upper management. But, as I advanced in my career, I still held onto the behind-the-scenes support work - filing and creating spreadsheets, checklists, and processes. It was my comfort zone, and I realize now, is my zone of genius. 

Fast forward to thirty years later of being in the corporate world. I advanced in my career. However, I still loved the “behind-the-scenes” work and just added those projects to whatever my job description was.  Working in the background, the “worker bee,” is where I love to be. I feel support staff are the foundation of the business, and without support staff, a business isn’t able to grow and be successful.

Do You Like Leading in the Background?

Do you love to work in the background? It’s my mission now to teach those wanting to build a business in the background as a support person and use their powerful skills to help clients bring ease and organization to their businesses. I strive to break the barriers and bridge the gap between the misconception of support staff and management. The illusion that the support staff is on the bottom of the totem pole. Because, in reality, all support staff is leaders - leaders in the background that are making sure things get done and run smoothly like a well-oiled machine. 

So, if you’re reading on, it may have piqued your interest in being a leader in the background.  You  may be asking yourself, “What do I do next?” You may also be thinking, “I’m a Master Reiki Healer. I’m a Business Coach. I am a Numerologist. So how can I work behind-the-scenes supporting clients when I should be offering services related to my expertise?”

Well, I’m glad you asked. All of your knowledge and experience are so valuable! I am a certified Numerologist and I'm currently in a program (Embody Reiki with Jen Kohler) to become a Reiki Master Healer.  Numerology is a superpower in knowing more about my clients’ personalities and what makes them tick. For example, if I have a client who is a Ruling Number 5, they want to have more freedom and adventure, so asking them to use a project management tool or providing them a lot of details may not work for them as it’s too much structure. See what I did there? Combining 30 years of corporate experience with Numerology and Business Coaching to help create a business that supports other healers and spiritual coaches so they can make more time to do what they love. At the same time, things are being organized and taken care of. A project specialist (also known as a virtual assistant), is a business owner who helps support other business owners.

First things first; it’s a good idea to sit and ponder for a few moments - ground in, perhaps meditate. Then, start making a list of all the things you love to do as part of your business.  Do you like creating graphics? Workbooks, lead magnets, and opt-in pages? Perhaps you like scheduling social media posts; Maybe you want to organize tasks or launching a product or service. Your imagination is the only thing that limits you. Let your creativity flow. Whatever the list contains, just jot everything down that you like to do (or wish you were doing). 

Next, write down everything that makes you a fantastic human being! What brings you joy? What are you really good at? What do you love to do?

Now take these lists and determine five things you could offer a client TODAY if you had a project specialist business.  Something to think about is what a top service you want to provide is? You may not know this yet, and that’s okay! Remember, you don’t have to know everything. Be honest with your potential client and let them know you have confidence in your ability to learn the systems they need. Everyone has to start somewhere, right? 
Taking a general approach when starting your business may intrigue you. You like variety. Your skillset allows you to go in several different areas. You like connecting and meeting new people. Perhaps project work is something to consider when first starting to feel what interests you and motivates you. However, you may be someone who wants to show you a superpower in a specific area or niche. Then, looking at targeting a particular type of client with a service (or services). For example, lean towards having a specialty. I offer support to spiritual coaches and healers. It allows me to use my knowledge and experience (and intuition) to help my clients. The sky is the limit on how you may (or may not) want to niche down your clientele and services.

As you work with clients, pay attention to what interests you most. Is there a need or pain point you can solve that makes you a specialist in your area? Perhaps you have a financial background and like to create content. You could focus on small business, personal finance, or investing and generate content for other financial specialists. You stand out as an expert in your specialty. Other financial entrepreneurs and professionals know that they can bring you onboard without needing a lot of training in their field.

There are some critical questions you want to ask yourself before bringing on a client. One of them is, “What are your rates? Are they hourly? By project?” You want to determine how much time is involved in doing the projects and tasks. I can relate to this one. When I first started, I priced myself based on the fact that I was starting a new virtual assistant business. I didn’t consider the experience, skills, and knowledge I could bring to the table. I can relate. Don’t price yourself too low. There can be a perception that to be competitive; virtual assistants should start with lower rates. That’s not necessarily true. For one-time projects, you may be able to charge less, depending on the level of work involved. If your client is looking for more of an ongoing relationship, you want to consider the different types of tasks you may be doing for that client before you quote them a monthly package.  
You also need to have a general idea of what your costs are. Starting a project specialist business doesn’t have to be expensive. But, there are fees and taxes to consider and other expenses. You want to consider this when quoting. It’s not just the work you’ll be doing, but also the costs as a business owner.

Now that you have your list of services, you’ve taken into account your experience and value, and you’ve come up with your pricing, the next step is finding clients. One of the places you can look first is asking people you know for referrals. Another way may be to network in social communities and programs you are a part of. Chances are, they may already know you and your style so it helps “break the ice,” so to speak. You can also become a part of freelance sites like Upwork or Fivver. Keep in mind that there are fees involved. If you charge $300 for a one-time project, a percentage goes back to the organization as they cover your contract, liability, etc. 

Working in the support business has many rewards, and being behind-the-scenes doesn’t mean you are not a leader. You are leading in the background. In my next article, we’ll talk about some of the tools you may want to look into using in your project specialist business.


I will be launching a course on setting up the basics of becoming a project specialist, including terms, conditions, boundaries, expectations. To get on the waiting list, click here.
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