Is it okay if I just get real with you today? (If not, you may not want to continue reading this article. ;))
The online business manager industry is, for the most part, still in its infancy. Tina Forsyth founded and pioneered this industry with the book Becoming an Online Business Manager – Playing a Bigger Game with Your Clients (and Yourself) in 2008 which was followed by the Online Business Manager Certification Training in 2009. Although the industry was birthed and pioneered through Tina’s vision, we have always understood it would be bigger than us. (I say us, because, well… I was the first person ever to read the book, I have been working with Tina now almost since its conception, and I was in the very first OBM Certification Training.)
We have AMAZING Certified Online Business Managers™ we have trained and sent into the world. With them came all variations of “types” of OBMs. Which is an added bonus to the industry – that each us have our unique spin on how we serve our clients. Of course, just as with all industries, there are those who have not attended our training yet and offer OBM services.
With that in mind… I would like to clarify a bit the expectations of our industry, both on the client side and on the peer side, as to what it means if you decide to call yourself an Online Business Manager.
So if you call yourself an OBM…
Be an Advocate for the Business
What I mean by this is, as the OBM, your role is to be the person who understands and progresses the operational development of the business. It is your role to ensure the business is moving from a reactive state of operations to a proactive state of operations.
You are NOT simply the person who is getting things done based on the demands of the client or the urgencies of current projects. That is being a doer, not an OBM.
Your role is to ensure the business is being fully developed, which may or may not always be the client’s highest priority. Many times, our clients put the priority on the sales, revenue flow, etc. As OBMs, we need to keep those things in mind, but also be purposeful in getting all the foundational elements in place – processes, project management, team development, metrics analysis.
If you are not certain what it looks like to execute these four areas consistently and with strategic progression, you are not meeting the desired standard of supporting a client at the OBM level.
At the end of the day the OBM has to be about the business.
Granted, many clients may or may not see the value or understand the priority of leading a business from this perspective. Often, they just want to get done what is right in front of them to progress the cash flow. I get this. This is why we, as OBMs, have to be educators of the role, executers of processes that support growth, and drivers of automation to ensure both teams and systems can become streamlined in meeting the client’s priorities – which is generally, again, cash flow.
Be an advocate for the business.
If you call yourself an OBM…
Proactivity is a habit; it is purposeful, it is strategic, and it does not happen by accident! Most business owners hire an OBM because they have hope that they will be able to help them move their business from the chaos it is in to a proactive well running machine.
The #1 complaint we get from business owners is: “I thought the OBM would be proactive about what needs to get done in the business. Instead, I had to tell them every step, just as I did the VA.” Ouch!! If you don’t know what needs to get done to support a business owner at the OBM level, and you are always waiting on the client to “lead” you in how to support them… then please do not call yourself an Online Business Manager.
An OBM knows how to lead the business, the client, and the team. You understand the progression of work flow and what needs to be done next. You are purposeful in looking around the corner to see the next step to ensure no one is falling down, or getting tripped up, and above everything else you are ensuring none of this falls on your client’s plate!
Everything you do is for the purpose of putting proactivity into the operations of the business. I get that this is not an overnight possibility and that if you are new with a client you may be working out the kinks for getting this level of support created, but if you have been with the client for a while and everyone is still running around in chaos… this is not just the clients fault.
If you call yourself an OBM…
STOP being the VA!
This is, in my opinion, the #1 biggest OBM industry killer we are facing. Folks who call themselves Online Business Managers but are essentially VAs. When I say VA, I mean if you are the person DOING all of the day-in and day-out tasks for the operations of a business, you are a VA. Don’t get me wrong, there is NOTHING wrong with being a VA, and every business needs folks who will get the work done. (Not to mention that a good VA is worth their weight in gold, as they will always make the OBM and the client look GREAT!)
If you are trying to be a VA and an OBM… ie: doing all the VA tasks and therefore never really getting around to the higher level, proactive, strategic, managerial OBM tasks… then you are likely hurting your own ability to serve your client AND setting up a standard of what an OBM is that is simply not the role.
If a client hired you to be the Online Business Manager, it wasn’t because they wanted an assistant, they really wanted someone who would proactively be an advocate for their business.
When you are the VA, you can’t keep an eye on or give the attention needed to truly implement at the level of process or structure needed to truly serve at the OBM level. Therefore, you’re misrepresenting your role as an OBM.
Think about it this way: if you work at a manufacturing plant, the general manager can’t be on the line cutting, putting pieces together, operating the machines and STILL be leading, overseeing, developing the next production. One or the other will get done, but not both!
So if you want to be a VA… fantastic, the OBM community needs you, clients need you; you do a great and mighty service in this world!
If you call yourself an OBM… please, please, please actually be one!