What is an Online Business Manager?
Hey there, Sarah Noked here. Welcome back. Now, today, I want to chat a little bit about what it means to be an online business manager, or probably you've heard the term OBM but first, coffee. Okay. Now, we are all set. One more thing I got to do. She wants to eat.
Okay, I'm back. I got my coffee in hand and I'm ready to tell you more about the role of an online business manager. So this is going to be really, really useful for you if you are looking to hire an online business manager, or if you are looking to become an online business manager. You have definitely found the right video. So I want to speak a little bit about what the role of an online business manager is. An online business manager works directly with small business owners
and is responsible for managing the day-to-day activities. Now that's the official definition of an online business manager, but I want to dive in a little bit more to what business activities are and to clarify what that means. Because there's a lot of business activities that happen within a business that are related to the profitability, such as managing the day-to-day operations, managing projects, managing team, managing launch, managing a sales team for example.
There's lots of things that are managed. And I think it's important for an OBM or for a particular client who's looking to hire an OBM to really, really start to think about what the business activities are in their business. This is actually something I love to do. This is definitely a topic for another video, but this is something that I really love to do when I'm first getting started with my OBM clients, is have them really sit down and think about what they do day to day in their business.
And so that's just a little bit of a tip on the side here for another video. But back to the OBM role. So online business managers are really focused on managing business activities for their clients. Now, I mentioned earlier that we primarily work with small businesses, and I really want to be clear here, especially for those of you who are looking to hire an OBM. We always work with clients that fall into a few different categories. First of all, the team size. The team size, typically in a small business, I think the true definition I
Googled it last week. I think it's like 200 team members. So all my business managers work with businesses that have 10 team members or less. And honestly, it's usually the business owner and maybe a virtual assistant or some other freelancer role. It's usually smaller teams, usually 10 or less, or maybe 15 or less. Now, the other piece is revenue. The revenue is typically between 200,000 a year in gross revenue. I'm talking US dollars, to about a million in revenue gross US dollars. So that's also sort of a sweet spot because once you kind
of get the million dollar mark then I'm always encouraging clients to hire a full-time employee. One of the key characteristics of an online business manager is we are self-employed. We are freelancers or contractors, or however you want to deem that name. So typically, it makes financial sense for businesses once they reach a certain point to hire an employee. And typically,
for the small business owner making less than a million in revenue with a small team, online business manager is going to be a really great financially viable next step for you if you're looking to hire an OBM. Now, back to the role of an online business manager. So as I mentioned, we work very closely with our small business owners. Some would even say that an OBM partners with their clients. A lot of the clients I've worked with in the past have been wonderful, wonderful people to partner with. Whether that be me as
the OBM being the sounding board for that client who's sharing their ideas or helping to get clear. Now, the other key thing that I should mention here about the small business owner is that they really need to be clear on the vision, mission and goals in their business. This is one of the things that I also really focus on when I'm first getting started with a client and it's really kind of diving in and understanding in the first conversations that I have with this client, if they are very clear on their vision and goals. If you, as the online business manager are not clear on the client's vision and goals, it will be next to impossible to manage, to drive the team and to really make an impact in that business. So recognizing the
qualities of the small businesses that we love working with as online business managers is the first, first key to kind of unlocking the OBM role. It took me a very long time to honestly get clear about who my ideal client was. And I'm going to be talking about that in a video shortly here to come. So do hit subscribe and do hit that little bell to be notified so that you can get notified when I do drop a new video every Wednesday. Now, moving on. So I want to talk a little bit about the actual things that we do as online business managers.
So this is definitely for you now, if you're thinking about making this career change. And if you are, I'm so excited for you because there's nothing more freeing and more fun than working from home in your pajamas and being able to set your own schedule. So there's a lot of sort of freedom and flexibility that comes with being an OBM. But in that same breath, I will say to you that you need to really have some other things in place in order to make sure that you are designing your business to suit your lifestyle and to suit the hours that you want to work and the kinds of clients that you want to work with and all that good stuff. So I want to talk a little bit about these misconceptions and there's two big, huge misconceptions that I encounter day to day as an online business manager and as somebody who, a big primary leg of my business, aside from my OBM agency is training online business managers.
So one of the misconceptions that I see happening, the notion that an online business manager just works with online businesses and this could not be further from the truth. Over the years, I've worked with a lot of online businesses. I've worked with course creators, consultants, coaches, all that jazz, e-commerce clients, selling stuff online. And that is such a wonderful, amazing world that's not going anywhere anytime soon. And I think for an OBM,
it can be very intimidating and fun to work with those clients, but there's this other side that is often overlooked by a lot of the OBMs that I train, simply because it's just maybe just not as fun or as unique or different. And that is the brick and mortar offline businesses. Over the years, I've worked with real estate agents. I've worked with doctors and lawyers and all that fun stuff, financial advisors. I have an OBM I'm training, she works specifically with profit first accountants. There's the brick
and mortar, the traditionally offline people and then there's the online people. But the truth is, is with the way the world is going and everything that's happened with the pandemic. I think it has become apparently clear to small business owners that they really need to be equipped to having their team work from home. So this has really opened up a lot of opportunity for us as online business managers. This has opened up a lot of opportunity to small business
owners who are looking to hire OBMs. It's a really big misconception. So I want to just put that out there, right off the bat. So that if you are a brick and mortar or you are an online business, or you're an OBM looking to work with brick and mortar and online businesses, it's more about the size of the business and the headspace of the client. I mentioned that they need to be clear on their vision and goals, but they also have to have a delegation mindset too. So there's a lot of stuff about the client.
It's not so much of their particular industry or if they're online or offline. The truth is an online business manager can work with any kind of business, just as long as it's not too big basically. Now, the other huge misconception is that an online business manager manages all the bits and pieces of a business, and that could not be further from the truth. Typically, an online business manager will manage, as I mentioned, business activities. But usually will have certain activities that we're responsible for. I'll give you an example here.
I worked with a very well-known online business owner and she is a fitness coach and she trains other fitness coaches on building and growing sustainable online businesses. And she's got a big ol, huge team. Now, particularly in her business, believe it or not, there were three OBMs. There were one OBM our team was responsible for managing client care, that business activity. There was another OBM that was responsible for managing the marketing activities. And there was another OBM that was responsible for managing the product delivery activities. So we
had three OBMs on that team, and we were just responsible for managing specific activities. One of the big misconceptions that I think one of the things that we feel like we need to do as online business managers, is we need to come in guns blazing able to manage all the things for our clients. This is what I teach my students is it takes a good solid 90 days to really kind of go through the learning curve of what this business does, what are their revenue streams, what's the team all about, what does the backend office look like? What's all that good stuff. So by no means, do we manage all the things. Usually, we manage parts and pieces. We create a plan for the client where we are going to be establishing what we're working on first, second, third, over those first 90 days. So this is also really important. You're not doing all the things for the client. You are taking baby steps into that business to really
understand fully the business model, the revenue generating model. What is it about the client? Because that's the other thing. There are lots of qualities, lots of differences between the types of clients that we work with. I once worked with a photography client. She has an amazing photography
business, where she sells courses online to photographers. Naturally, she's very techie. So she loved managing a lot of those marketing activities or being really kind of getting into the doing of some of that stuff. So every client you're going to work with is going to have strengths and weaknesses, is going to like doing certain things in their business and not like doing other things in their business. And these are all really key considerations when
you step in as an online business manager and are considering what you should and shouldn't be doing with that client. So those are the two misconceptions. We don't just work with online businesses and we certainly don't do everything in the business. We're not managing the whole entire business. Now, what can happen over time is that you might take on more and more responsibility as an OBM. And as you sort of bake out and hire on different team members, responsibilities will change and certain things will shift naturally.
Let's really dive into what this role entails. And the first big piece of being an online business manager is the implementation piece. It's the actual doing piece. A big part of what we do as online business managers is getting into the tech, getting into the systems in the business, getting into what the team members are doing in the business. And whether you are documenting a system and, or creating a particular file in Google Drive so that your client can access all their standard operating procedures in one place, or you are helping the client plan a launch. So
perhaps you're sitting with a client and they are telling you, "Hey, you know, this is what I want to happen. These are the types of things that I'd like to see. These are my goals for revenue and all that jazz." So when it comes to being an OBM, the first thing that you should know is that online business managers implement. We do quite a big degree of doing in our clients businesses.
And this is really important to understand because I often talk a lot about the different types of clients that I want to see my OBMs working with and all that good stuff. But the truth is is that depending on where your client is at in their business and what the team size is and how many people are on the team is going to determine the amount of actual implementation you do. So I'll give you sort of the worst case scenario so that you can really understand what this looks like. So typically, when my students, when my online business managers start working with clients, very small clients, maybe they have a freelancer or a virtual assistant on their team. There's no systems documented. There's no project management tool in place. Perhaps this client does their own
onboarding and offboarding of clients. There's no customer relationship management in place. So as an online business manager coming in, you're going to be implementing. So you're going to be doing stuff like coming up with job postings, posting those job postings, figuring out what the client onboarding process looks like and documenting it and setting up the technology or the customer relationship management system that's going to be really suitable for your client. You
might be doing a degree of research. That's a huge piece of what we do as online business managers. So there's always stuff happening. There's always implementation happening. The second key thing that we do as online business managers is we strategize with our clients. Now, would I call
ourselves or would I call an OBM a strategist? That might be something that you become very proficient in. I know myself personally, I have a big passion for digital marketing strategy. On my better days, I've occasionally called myself a digital marketing strategist. It's just part of it. Typically, our clients come with the strategy, right? That's part of being clear about the vision and the goals and the strategy around the business. There might be certain things that I might bring up to the client, especially in a brainstorming session, which is another huge thing. Another huge piece of the role of the OBM is being that sounding board, which I'll talk about in a second. For me, one of the tips that I have for you today
is that I will always try to speak in relation to experiences I've had with other clients. So if you're just getting started, this is why it might feel a little bit difficult. But I promise over time it will become your sort of second language would be like talking in strategy tongue.
So for me, I always tell my students, like when you're talking about strategy or when you're helping a client strategize around perhaps the launch angle, maybe they want to do a webinar. They want to start their launch with a webinar, and then they want to do X, Y, and Z. I will always give my client advice based on the experiences that I've had with past clients. So I will say to a client, "Hey, I totally hear you on wanting to do a webinar launch. I had a client a few years ago who did X, Y, and Z with their webinar. And
they had really great results. Perhaps this is something that we can try in your business?" So I would be coming at it from that angle. So am I wearing my strategy hat? Yes. I'm also really expecting the client to be driving the force on what the strategy is. And then once
we're clear on the strategy, then I back to rule number one, it's all about implementing that strategy. Third really big piece about the role of the OBM is the sounding board. I had briefly mentioned that in my last tip. But I want to dig in a little bit deeper here because I think as OBMs, we don't necessarily recognize the importance of being a sounding board for our clients. And being that person to bounce ideas off of, to share opinions. More important than a lot of the role of the OBM is really leading the client and this is a little bit of that soft skill again, talking, but it's really about being able to hold space for your clients and giving them an opportunity to share their ideas so that they can get clarity themselves. That's a huge, huge benefit of bringing on an OBM on your
team, but it's also hugely beneficial to us as online business managers, because I really enjoy this part with my clients. I think this is a huge piece that really solidifies that sort of partnership that we're having, that real trust and bond with your client. That's so important. And you'll hear me say this 8,000 times, but I lovingly joke that I niche on personality but I really do. So for me, it's important when I'm vetting out a client as an online business manager, to make sure that there's that personal click so that I know that I can like be having these honest conversations. And also for me as an OBM that I really love what my clients are doing. That their business model, that their vision and goals are really aligned with me
personally. That's important to me. I think more than ever in today's world, it's important to find businesses that are really resonating with you. My fourth role of the OBM is being the keeper of the vision and the goals and all that good stuff that your client needs to be really clear on.
So the vision, the goals, the strategy, all that stuff, you need to be the person on the team to really fully understand that, at times even more than the client. You might be reminding the client here and there. That happens. But I will say that this is really, really important. Why is it important? Because as an online business manager, when we are managing business activities, naturally things happen. Naturally hair goes on fire. Naturally, there are decisions to be made for a manager and for an online business manager. It's important for us to really, really be aligned
with the client's goals and visions so that we can make decisions on behalf of the client. So that we can make suggestions knowing what the goals are, what the vision is, what all of those juicy pieces are in our client's businesses. If we're not clear on that stuff, they're going to be some problems. If you don't know what your client's goals are, you're not going to be able to create a plan for them. And you're certainly not going to be able to execute that plan. If you're not clear on
the vision, a team member is doing something that isn't the best for the business. You're not going to know that if you're not clear on the vision. The fifth big, big role or the fifth big part of the OBM role is this soft skills piece that quite honestly, when I started off at my OBM journey, I didn't really understand the influence that my soft skills have. And how important it is for me as an entrepreneur as well because online business managers are entrepreneurs. And it might be hard for you to say that at first it might be freaky, but it's the truth. So as an online business manager, you need to flex those soft skills. Soft skills are things like leadership,
mindset, all that good stuff that's really, really going to help you be a better leader for your team that you're managing, be better leaders for your client, be able to communicate. So your communication skills, how you are communicating with your clients, what happens when something runs a muck? Which naturally will it happen? Do you blow your top? Do you stay calm, cool and collected. How are you approaching situations? How are you creating a company culture for your clients? Because this is the wonderful thing that we do. Even in my own business with the OBMs that I've hired. I've been blessed over the years to have of teams and managers in my own business that bring in very distinct management soft skills that have really helped to build the community culture in my own business and in my own community of online business managers, which is a really great place to be. It's just all around good stuff. Now, I've spent some time talking to him about the OBM role
and what it entails and what the clients look like. And I want to just touch briefly here on what success looks like as an online business manager. How do we define success? I mean, it's important to understand what we do as OBMs, how we manage the business activities, how we leverage our soft skills and our hard skills and how we implement and how we work with the client on defining strategies and all that good stuff. What actually does success look like for an online business manager? So number one, wringing the business out of reactionary mode. My goodness. If you are an OBM or you are or small business owner, you know what I'm talking about. Reactionary businesses are those where their hair is on fire. We're always like five steps behind.
We forgot about that. The email went out without that first name field, whatever. Part of what we do as online business managers is we help to really define the systems in a business and implement structure in the form of standard operating procedures so that the business runs on systems and not on people. That's how you're going to really take it out of reactionary mode is about being proactive and documenting things and bringing in the right team members on and all that good stuff. That's a huge, huge part of the success of an online business manager. Now, the second success thing that we do for our clients is we really free up our clients from the day-to-day of their business. There are a lot of really awesome clients out there for you, if you were an
online business manager, this will be an upcoming video. So again, don't forget to subscribe. You know, a lot of the times that you meet these clients who are just doing all the things in their business. And I lovingly call these clients successful despite themselves. Because you're like you get into their business, oh my God, there's no product management tool. Oh my God, there's five team members and nobody really knows what anybody's doing. They haven't had a team meeting in ages. They're communicating
on WhatsApp and Facebook chat and all these different platforms. And it's such a hot mess. Getting the client out of that day-to-day and freeing them from that day to day is such a huge sigh of relief for the client. They can go on to really focus on what they really need to do in their business. So this is really important to point out here. The thing to remember here is that sometimes, and this is especially for you if you're looking to hire an OBM. Sometimes when an online business manager comes on a team and we work our magic, the online business or offline business owner, the small business owner is like elated. They're like, oh my God, I've got all this free time. I'm going to go and do yoga,
spend some time on the beach. And while that's all fine and dandy because I'm all for work-life balance. I want you to remember that when you free up that client's time, they need to be focused on the things that only they can do in their business. It might be about creating that
course. They might be writing that book. It's things that only they can do, the sales calls or focusing on nurturing their own community. Those are things that only the clients can do themselves. So when they do have more free time, they need to be focused on staying in their lane. This goes back to those soft skills and really flexing the soft skills. Because sometimes you're
going to have to say to your client, "Dear client, I love that you love scheduling email broadcast but it's just really not a good use of your time. I'd rather you be focusing on engaging that joint venture partner who said that they would promote your product to their list and so on and so forth." You get my drift. So the other thing that is really going to define your success as an online business manager is giving it to yourself. When you have success with a client, whether you get them out of their day to day operations, implement that project management tool, hire that team member that takes the client care and is able to be in there implementing and doing that day-to-day stuff, whatever this looks like for you, I really want you to celebrate your success.
I know that this might sound a little bit cheesy, but if you don't document your successes. When it comes time at the end of that first 90 days with a client, and you're like, huh, what have I been doing all this time? I want you to have like documented things that you've been successful at, or perhaps things that maybe haven't been so successful, but that you have come back and done something different or you've made some changes. It's all about improving. It's all about growing. One of the things that I think is important to point out here, if you don't know this already, which kind of, I think to me, it seems like first nature or it seems really obvious. So apologies if this is like really obvious. You need to
recognize the fruits of your labor. So when it comes time at the end of that 90 day mark, to talk to your client about all the fabulous things that you've been doing in their business, I want you to have that go-to place that you've been documenting your successes. So make sure that you actually document your successes and that you celebrate your successes, whether that be at home, by yourself, in your pajamas, in the bathtub. Whatever that looks like to you, scream it from the rooftops. This might sound obvious, business is a personal growth journey. I know if you are a business owner watching this
looking to hire an OBM, you likely know this. But if you're just getting started as an online business manager, it might not be apparent that being an entrepreneur is a personal growth journey. Part of recognizing your successes and even some failures and being able to document these things and celebrate these successes is going to be huge, hugely important to your ongoing success. Now, the next tip that I have for you, if you are getting your feet into this career as an online business manager is to celebrate your uniqueness.
Now I've trained hundreds of online business managers. I think I'm up to about 400 now. And I have never, in all of my years met two OBMs that were the same. A lot of us have similar qualities, but we all have these unique flares. Whether it be something that you did in corporate or in a nine to five or as a kid or some sort of uniqueness that you have that you're bringing to the table. Maybe you're a really great writer, maybe you are a strategist, maybe you're I have a coaching background, maybe you come from a project management background. Whatever you are coming from and whatever makes you
tick is so important to really embrace your uniqueness. I mean, I think this is sometimes overlooked or sometimes maybe even kind of pushed down and made to be not as important, but if you celebrate yourself and celebrate whether that be splashing yourself on that website and owning it and being who you are. It's really, really important to own your unique strengths. It really is important to your clients. It really is important to you in the long run to
really nurture yourself as an online business manager. The better off you are going to be, the faster you're going to reach success, the faster you're going to get confident. So thank you for sticking around. I'm going to drop some juicy links below this video for some free resources that I have, especially if you're looking to get started as an online business manager. And stay tuned next week for my next video, where I will be diving into the differences between an online business manager and a virtual assistant. See you soon.