What’s An OBM and How Is It Different Than a VA?

Many people confuse an Online Business Manager and a Virtual Assistant. The two can seem very similar, and some services (like me!) can offer both. But there is a distinct difference, and which one you need depends on what services you need.

What’s a virtual assistant?

You can read a more in-depth description of a virtual assistant in this blog post. A virtual assistant, or VA, is someone who assists you by taking over tasks such as email, social media, scheduling, etc. They work at your direction, with only a certain amount of control.

The virtual assistant is what you need when you’ve still got a pretty good handle on things but you just need to hand off a few tasks to free up a little time. Or maybe you just want to hand off those tasks because you don’t like them.

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What’s an online business manager?

An online business manager is just what it sounds like: someone who manages your online business. An online business manager would be the office manager in a traditional office environment.

An online business manager gets to know your business in depth, understanding not only what you do, but why you do it. They understand your bigger picture goals, what you want to accomplish, and can help you break down those bigger pictures into smaller, easier-to-achieve tasks.

More than that, they take over the business management aspect of your business so you can get back to why you got into business in the first place – doing the work you love.

Your online business manager will manage your team, including the creation of the team if needed. They’ll assign tasks to team members, make sure that tasks are completed on time and up to standard.

An OBM will create and maintain SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) to make sure that no matter who does a particular task, it is always done in the same way. They’ll implement systems to get your business running more smoothly and find the platforms and programs that will help your dream become reality with greater ease.

Your OBM can help you take a hazy idea and bring it into focus, then break it down into manageable chunks and hand out tasks to your team so that you don’t have to handle it all by yourself.

Perhaps one of the greatest things your OBM can do is step in and fill the gap when you can’t be there. When you’re on vacation, dealing with a family emergency, or otherwise unable to work on your business, your OBM can fill your shoes and keep things running until you return. They’ll have an intimate understanding of the decisions you make and why you make them so that they can know what you would do if you were there.

Do you need a VA, an OBM, or both?

After reading this, you may be thinking, “I still don’t know which one I need.”

This might mean that you need both. Here’s an easy way to figure it out:

  • Do you want to hand over boring, mundane, “anyone can do them” tasks like reading and responding to emails, managing social media, booking your schedule, writing blog posts, or writing sales copy? You need a VA.
  • Do you want someone who will brainstorm and strategize with you, who will embrace your dream as their own and work as hard on making it a reality as you do, and whom you can trust to handle your business in your absence? You need an OBM.
  • Do you want to stop working on “anyone can do it” work, but you also want someone who can handle things when you’re not around or help you make half-formed ideas whole? You need a VA and an OBM.
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Can your VA and OBM be the same person?

That depends. The size of your business, the number of tasks your handing over for a VA to do, and a number of other factors come into play to answer this question.

Some OBMs will do VA work initially just so they can get a good feel for all the different parts of your business before handing the VA work off to a VA.

Others, if you have a small enough business and not a lot of VA tasks, can do both.

However, an important thing to keep in mind before trying to hire one person to fill both roles: a VA does work as directed by someone else, while an OBM does the directing. By hiring the same person for both of these roles, you run the risk of having a VA who does their own thing (which means you then have to fight to regain control) or an OBM who doesn’t take control and handle business (which means you are still having to have your hand in all the things you were trying to hand off).

Want to discuss your needs in more depth?

If you’re still uncertain whether you need a VA or an OBM, why not set up a free consultation? We can discuss your needs in more depth and figure out exactly what it is that you need. Then we can create a plan and get started on the path to freeing your time.

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