The Online Business Manager tagline is - Where Strategy Meets Implementation.  Meaning it is vital to the success of the business and the sanity of the OBM to ensure there is a solid, tested, proven strategy in place for every element of the business.  From sending a Newsletter to managing a Live Event to setting up a Standard Operating Procedure to ensuring team training is in place.  If there is no strategy, no clear result based plan of action, then only chaos can prevail.

When we neglect the step of creating strategy we enable reactive execution to take place.  What I mean by reactive execution is making decisions based on whatever shows up in our inbox at any given moment, shooting from the hip, allowing the tail to wag the dog (if I may).  There is no way to create a strong predictable success in the midst of reactive execution… you are out of control, the business is out of control and the ability to grow is BEYOND your control.  Unfortunately, this is often how solopreneurs run their businesses.  Leaving us, the advocate for the business, at odds with our clients when it comes to ensuring proper strategy is in place.  So what do we do?

Do we wait until it is at the top of the clients priority list to ensure there is proper structure in the business?  Do we wait until the client says:  ’hey can you create a strategy for X for us to follow?’ Do we sit back and wait for the fires to blaze before we make an executive decision to set up proper strategy that supports the initiative of the client and vision of the busienss?  NO NO NO!

As OBM’s we must be strategic in our service to the businesses that allow us the priveldge of leading them.  We MUST be the proactive pivotal person on the team ensuring that proper structure, mapping and implementation are working together for the good of the whole.  We must step into the deep of what it takes to create strategy from scratch, research, decide, test and prove to see our businesses soar above the rest.

In other words, if you aren’t clear on what your clients wants and the strategy to get there – then you need to ask and get that information from them.

You need to be willing to stand in the space of your expertise and say “dear client, I can’t properly support you until we get our strategy in place”

When a client comes to us (Tina or myself) and they say, well I really thought my OBM was going to X — that X always has something to do with strategy… it is the higher level of support we promise when we call ourselves OBM’s.

Now don’t get me wrong strategy is not the same as making decisions around WHAT the client needs to offer, be an expert in, deliver on.. it is however, the plan to get it (the WHAT) to the target market, get it (the WHAT) implemented within the scope deliverability, creating the pathway for it (the WHAT) to be successful.  The strategy takes the WHAT of your clients vision and merges it with the HOW of implementation…. do this proactively, with purpose, at every level of the business and see if your being an OBM doesn’t become much easier! Results become more predicatable, clients feel a greater since of support and the business runs much more smoothly.

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It’s the first week of March AND we here at Online Business have 80% of Quarter 2 and Quarter 3 already laid out in our PM tool (Central Desktop) for all arms of Tina Forsyth Companies.  



Well don’t be… just do it for yourself.  Honestly it’s a very simply process:

  • Create a solid strategy for all product creation, marketing, offerings/services for the next 6 months. This is the WHAT and it comes from your client.
  • Put a plan together on HOW you are going to deliver on the strategy you created
  • Task out the plan in your project management tool so you can manage WHEN it will be accomplished … every detail of every aspect of the plan
  • Lead your team to implement based on the tasks assigned to them (WHO)

This cycle is by far the number one tool we use here with Tina Forsyth Companies to keep up with the onslaught of moving parts, projects and tasks.

However, when I coach OBM’s on doing this with the businesses they manage this is what I hear the most:

“How do you find time to do that, I can barely keep up as it is with all the day to day!”

The truth is that is an accurate statement, you (nor I) can keep up with a business that is in ‘runaway mode’. Which can often happen with online service providers.  So what to do?

First, prioritize the time to have a solid strategy in place (strategy means you always know: What, How, When, Who) for every aspect of the business operations, marketing, deliverables. If you aren’t clear on the strategy (or the WHAT as we like to call it) then you need to ask your client. Although you can certainly contribute to the strategy it is ultimately up to your client to decide what is being created… and as the OBM you need this information to move forward. So don’t be shy to “chase your client down” a little bit if need be. ;-)

Second, once the strategy is complete schedule time in YOUR calendar to plan out the strategy down to every detailed task.  At this time you may want to even schedule the processes that go with those task to ensure the process are being created along side the set up of the task.

Third, give clear deadlines to everything… you can’t manage what you do until you know when it is due ;-)

Fourth, lead your team to be effective and productive in fulfilling the tasks with excellence!

Really, it is just that simple BUT you need to make this your priority. And yes, we get that it can be tough when you are knee deep in all the day-to-day, but I assure you once you make this shift and start to work from a plan you will find in just a few short months that you are no longer buried in the craziness.



As the training manager for the Online Business Manager Certification Training Program one of the key questions I am asked on a regular basis is:

‘What is the difference between a Virtual Assistant (VA) and an Online Business Manager (OBM)?”

Although similar in many ways, there are some key differences between working as a VA or an OBM.

First, as a VA:

  1. You can work with any business at any level of revenue or operations, from start up to seven figures.  Everyone needs to hire the services of a VA.
  2. VA’s are implementers who are in charge of doing the work for their clients. Some VAs are generalists and others specialize in key skills (ie: social media.)
  3. VA’s are generally paid by the hour for their work.  Because much of the service provided is straight implementation is rather easy to both track and charge within this model.
  4. VA services often revolve around recurring tasks, specific software’s, various maintenance of processes within the business operation dynamics.

In comparison OBMs:

  1. Work with businesses that are generating no less than six figures in revenue (and more often closer to $250K). This is the stage at which time the OBM is desperately needed to step in and run operations freeing the business owner to grow the business.
  2. Are in charge of what everyone is doing, not just what is on their own plate. It is the responsibility of the OBM to ensure that the entire team is operating smoothly and accomplishing tasks on time and on target.
  3. OBM’s often work on a retainer + incentive based pay vs. hourly.  Because the focus is more on management vs. doing you cannot directly track hours easily at this level. This frees up the OBM to do what needs to be done without the restriction of hourly limits, and also gives them the opportunity to make more money as the business grows.
  4. Bring both strategy & implementation to their role.  Often it is the role of the OBM to both oversee the business development as well as the day in day out tasks needed to keep productivity in flow. They partner with clients to ensure that a solid plan for both growth and deliverability are on a steady progression.

Based on the above I often hear from prospective Online Business Managers who say:

“I think I am working as an OBM but really only getting paid for being a VA and my client doesn’t acknowledge the level of expertise I am offering them”… ouch!

This is truly a pain point for those who know that they really are partnering with clients at the OBM level, often leaving the VA (potential OBM) very frustrated and at times hurt.  So why is it happening like this?  Why are some of the most talented Virtual Support Professionals settling for less pay and less respect for the services they provide?

The answer I often hear is “I  really love this client” or “I know when they grow the business the compensation will be there” or my favorite “I don’t know how to change it”.

If this is your pain point – you are offering services as a VA but you feel you are ready or really desire to be compensated / valued as an OBM –  there are solutions!

  1.  Of course, I would encourage you to become a Certified OBM, where every aspect of working at this level is both laid out and on a very indepth level trained for successful implementation.  You can get full details here:
  2. Make the decision today to only work with ideal clients that will both support your expectation of compensation and value the service you provide.  If / when you see this is not the case, move on, move fast and don’t look back, honestly you work too hard to not be valued at the highest level!!
  3. Specialize your packages to charge more and focus in on a specific expertise.  This will make all the difference in how a business owner will view you… as it puts you on equal terms with them.
  4. If you know you are making a difference to the bottom line of the business… don’t be afraid to ask for an incentive compensation for your services.  If done correctly it’s a win / win for everyone and a great motivator for you to keep effecting the bottom line!




The simple truth is as OBM’s we often feel we are expected to be ‘the all in all’ for our clients and the businesses we serve.   It can, at times, be an overwhelming expectation we put on ourselves, to the point of not even enjoying the work we are doing and working ourselves to the point of burn out.   I should know I have been there!

After years of mentoring OBM’s and having many deep (at times tearful) conversations with seasoned folks in our industry, I have come to realize this is a very tempting TRAP awaiting many of us.  The trap of trying to ‘be the all in all for our clients’.  I had to ask myself why?  Why do we allow ourselves to get sucked into this trap?  Why are so many brilliant, talented, passionate, caring virtual support professionals (because I realize this is not just an OBM issue) falling prey to this painful TRAP?

Answer:  Hero Syndrome

Ultimately at the very core of most of the OBM’s I have worked with through the years there is a very deep rooted need within that person to serve their clients at the highest level possible.  To truly make an impact in the business and the lives of their clients in such a way that they are making a difference in the world around them.  This servants heart, can at times know no boundaries… see no options for weakness… allow no opportunity for failure.  Which is the TRAP – because it often doesn’t leave room for others to serve along side it, for the deep rooted need is for them to be the hero.  What starts out as a desire to serve at the highest level often ends up as what I call the Hero Syndrome.

So let’s talk about Hero’s for a moment… when we look back at our childhood fantasy entertainment,  there was always a hero  there to save the day (and serve the world).  So, whats wrong with wanting to be someone’s hero?  Nothing in my opinion.. however, we could look also that Wonder Women did not attempt to catch bullets,  Batman did not scale walls using spiderwebs, and though both were green the Hulk was no Flash Gordon ;-)

The key to being a Hero is knowing your strengths.  Understanding fully exactly what makes you uniquely brilliant at being you and how to activate those strengths at the highest level to ensure you are serving the business at your complete hero status.  Running around trying to be everything will only leave you with kryptonite  to deal with:  Overwhelmed, exhausted, creatively depleted, frustrated and possibly resentful.

Here are 5 ways to let your Hero soar -

1.  Find out what your strengths are .. be purposeful in both becoming aware of your strengths and developing them.  So many people know what comes natural to them but they don’t take the extra effort to really develop it into a strength that empowers them to stand STRONG on their strengths.

2. Understand your weaknesses – I hate to say it friend but you really are not good at everything, and even if you are good, you are not GREAT at everything.  Know where your weaknesses are then go one step further and surround yourself with people who are actually strong in your weaknesses.  If you work with a team and you are not a detailed person (such as myself)  be sure to hire a VA that is extremely detailed.   Covering your weaknesses with people or process will save your butt time and time again.. so do it ;-)

3. Find out the strengths and weaknesses of those on the team… including the client.  The truth is our clients often are doing a hundred things that are not in their strengths too leaving them to deal with their own kryptonite.  Lets be honest that usually turns out unpleasant for everyone involved.  Same goes for those supporting the business on a day to day (ie: VA, Customer Service, Administrator), take the time to find out what the strengths of those on your team, ensure they are working within their natural strengths and make adjustments to tasks/roles if needed.

4. Commit to being the Servant Hero – without hero syndrome!  This means to commit to work within your strengths, do great, amazing work that you love and allow the support of team and process to do the work that you don’t.  Stay out of the TRAP of doing it all and being it all!  This is literally a decision so make it and commit to it.

5. Join Tina Forsyth, for the Annual OBM Trends Call  on 1/30 @4:00pm Eastern / 1pm Pacific -  Find out more about how your strengths help develop a stronger relationship with your clients and essentially allow you to BE better at your service.  Tina will also be sharing the Top Trends of 2013 – and how they will effect 2014 for you the OBM!

Sign up here for full details:



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As the Certified OBM Training Manager one of my many duties is to have conversations with potential Online Business Manager Trainees (for our Certification Program). Often I start this conversation with a simple question:

“What do you want to create and how do you feel becoming a Certified Online Business Manager can help you reach that goal?”

Interestingly enough after hundreds of conversations I am still amazed that most of the folks who end up becoming Certified Online Business Managers have the same answers:

  • “I want to create a business that allows me to support business owners at an executive level.”
  • “Where I can take my past experiences and combine them with my passion for (project management, team management, operations, business development etc…)”
  • “I want to work WITH my clients on a thought partner level not FOR my clients simply fullfilling delegated tasks.”
  • “I am tired of the dollar for hour trap that has me working with 8-12 VA clients to barely make enough money at the end of the month to pay my bills, instead I want to work with less clients that I can focus in on their businesses to support their vision at the highest level.”

Perhaps you can relate? It is obvious that the people who are ready to take this next step have a bit of a stirring going on within themselves.  They are not always virtual assistants looking to work with clients at a higher level (although many are), but sometimes they are people who are currently working full time jobs but really want to break out on their own.  Sometimes I talk with coaches who are really interested in the implementation side of business development or stay at home moms who really want an online business to support their decision to stay home and care for their kids while earning a great income.  See the type of person who desires to become an Online Business Manager is very diverse however, the desire of those people is often very close to the same.

Ultimately folks who decide to become online business managers do so because they are passionate about business, serving at the highest level, and are comfortable making decisions at an executive level regardless of their background.

So my question to you today is: 

Are you ready to become an Online Business Manager?

Here are couple of questions to consider:

  1. Do you get frustrated when you see there is a better way to do something but feel you have no authority to make the change within the process?
  2. Are you passionate about working with a team of people who all value each other and who you are able to mentor and lead to do even better work then they expected?
  3. Do you enjoy managing multiple projects at once, keeping all the balls in the air and being the go-to person on the team?
  4. Is business development something you are passionate about, enjoy learning about and implementing various tasks to do it more effectively?
  5. Does it annoy you when a project never gets completed, started but left hanging with no one really taking ownership of completing it?

If you answered 3 of the 5 questions above I really encourage you to check out this Free Video Series by Tina Forsyth, Author of Becoming an Online Business Manager and founder of the International Association of Online Business Managers as she shares exactly what an Online Business Manager does:

Do you have further questions if becoming an OBM is for you? Feel free to post a question below k?


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