Are You an Online Business Manager?

by Tina on February 10, 2016

in For OBMs,For VAs

After 6 years and hundreds of conversation with virtual support professionals about the opportunity to become an OBM, I can confidently say I know a thing or two about ‘who’ the OBM is. I say ‘WHO’ because in all actuality being an Online Business Manager is much more about how you identify yourself and your services rather than what you ‘doing’ when you provide them.

I can be sending a broadcast (doing) but it doesn’t make me any less of an OBM (being) because the reality is when I send that broadcast I am not simply copy /pasting someones content into an editor and sending it out the door. I am thinking about, testing, experimenting with and considering all the aspects of that broadcast. Is it informational or promotional, are their links that need to tracked, is there a specific outcome we need from the result of this email to ensure the next step of the funnel is being executed. I am often thinking of that single broadcast the same way the client who owns the business would. Sometimes even more so based on my experience and expertise.

See often we think of the OBM in a way that is only categorized as the doing:

  • Project Management
  • Team Management
  • Operations Management
  • Metrics Management

Certainly these are key elements in the role of the OBM BUT the reality is there are a lot of VA’s ‘doing’ these same tasks. After all, depending on what the client needs, we tend to just jump in and do it regardless of our title (and often our pay.) Sometimes the same goes with the OBM role… there may be a tech or customer issue we have to hop in and cover or take care of, which in and of itself might look like a VA task but the reality is the ‘doing’ simply doesn’t define what it is to be the Online Business Manager.

So what defines it and Are You an Online Business Manager?

There are 5 Key areas that I feel (and have seen as the DNA of those who ARE OBM’s):

1. Ownership – this is a biggy, because it really can’t be taught it is simply a way of being. Do you take ownership of the results you are creating in partnership with your client. I don’t say this in a way to scare you the result of their success is not on your shoulder but the result of the email that just got sent might be. Is it your responsibility to ensure the editing is correct, links work, the copy fits the desired result? Do you feel responsible to ensure all the pieces are set up correctly to support the over all strategy behind that email or are you simply content to copy/paste what the client sends over, do a quick one over, test the links and send it without another thought?

If it is the first: you see the big vision and you are always looking to fit whatever task is in front of you in with the bigger picture strategy you likely are an Online Business Manager
If it is the second: you want to accomplish the current task in front of you with excellence and with as few mistakes a possible and move on to the next task you are likely a Virtual Assistant (and trust me WE LOVE YOU and all that YOU DO!)

2. Strategy – This is an area that I find most of our OBM’s tend to get the most frustrated if they are not allowed to play all out in. When you are working with a client and see a lack of a plan or strategy in place does this frustrate you? Are you always trying to get your client to plan ahead, look at the over all strategy and hold to a specific course of action. (Let’s be honest with many of our clients this is a much needed ‘learned’ navigation in and of it’s self.) But if you find yourself attempting to do this on a regular basis with your clients there is a good chance you are an Online Business Manager (in who you are being!)

3. Vision – It’s important to you, not that you need to create it but you need to see where everything is going. The big picture, you want to plug into it and make sure it is being pursued. This is a great motivator for you. Ensuring the business is working toward a vision, that the client has a vision that you can understand the vision (either the big one for the whole business or the smaller one for this initiative.) The vision, or big picture means something to you. When it’s not their you are very aware of it’s absence, when it is there you are very aware of it’s pull.

4. Project Management – if it is simply ‘the way you do things’ to breakdown all the big pieces into bite size pieces so they can easily be managed and executed, you are likely an Online Business Manager. In case no one has ever told you this, that is a strength and a gift and not everyone has it. Sometimes we can get caught in the “well this is so obvious, can’t everyone see it” after years of working online and being a PM myself I can assure that NO not every one can see what is blatantly obvious to you in the progression of workflow to see an initiative accomplished. This is by far a DNA aspect of Online Business Managers. Yes project management can be taught but it is also a natural skill some have. If that is you, there is a good chance you are an OBM :)

5. Business – truly my favorite aspect of being an OBM is I get to make a difference in the business everyday. I love business, the understanding of the development, growth, sustainability, operations, marketing, sales, etc… everything that is business is intriguing to me… and not just to me, but also to many in our community. Often my motivation is more to serve the business properly rather than just serving the client. There is a huge distinction between these two things. As an OBM we are advocates for the business. It’s health and development. As much as we would like to think our clients are too, often they are not. They are chasing one month of cash flow to the next and whatever it takes to make that happen and the health and development of the business is not always at the top of the initiative for them.

So let me ask: Are You an Online Business Manager? If you are passionate about at least 3 of the 5 above there is a good chance you are. If that is the case then the next question is are you being paid for ‘who’ you are being in your clients business. Because the result you are bringing them could be well above the ‘traditional’ result of a virtual support professional.

I would love to connect and see if I can help you determine the difference and your next steps. So be sure to check out the Online Business Manager Certification Training here: http://www.CertifiedOBM.com and follow through to have a conversation with me.

I look forward to connecting.

(PS: you don’t have to be executing all these areas to be an OBM, it’s really about are they are on your mind? Would you like to learn more about how to execute them more successfully and be valued for doing so)

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5 C’s of Customer Service

by Tina on January 27, 2016

in General Biz

Regardless of your role in an online business, customer service is the first step to making a good and lasting impression. Lets be honest, bad customer service annoys us all! There is nothing more annoying then going to a restaurant or a department store and dealing with someone who is poorly trained in customer service.

I remember over the holidays I was at a major department store and of course the holidays are crazy at these stores. This day was no different! So here I am (admittedly impatient, lol because ‘ain’t nobody got time for this’) and the two young ladies behind the cash register are in a very unpleasant conversation about a coworker… telling all her business, but completely ignoring the folks at the register as though they couldn’t be bothered to quit their gossip to do their job. Uber annoying to me! I was thinking, wow.. I may never come back to this store simply because they have so poorly trained these two young ladies on the importance of my time and my money.

Can I just say, when it comes to successful customer service online the same goes… how well do you honor my time and my money when I have to deal with you (either on the behalf of your client or your own company.) Because trust me, not only am I paying attention to this so is all of your prospective (or client’s prospective) customers.

So here are my 5 C’s for Customer Service. I guarantee if you will implement them with every conversation that you have via email or phone you will win over anyone you are communicating with. After all isn’t that the game of great customer service to win people over. Make them feel as they they matter and that you are hear to support their success regardless of what that request is.

1. Be Courteous – I am afraid to some degree in the ‘me’ generation we have lost the importance of simply being courteous to folks. What I mean by this is to be respectful of others, of their time, of their learning curve (in many cases) of their questions and requests. I know this is not always an easy thing to remember or put into practice especially when we are often jumping from one fire to the next, but the reality is a little bit of ‘well mannered’ conversation can go a long way.

Ask folks how their day is going, don’t skip the pleasantries. When in email you can do this by simply adding a “I hope you are having a wonderful day” to your opening line… on the phone you can ask if this is still a good time for them or if they are having a good day. These little moments of respecting peoples time and attention is important in building a solid foundation for trust.

2. Be Conversational – We are not robots talking to robots, a little bit of personality (as long as it is brand honored) is okay. I truly appreciate an email interaction with a person who saw a way to make me laugh or think, especially if it’s without the need for me to respond. Just a simple conversation leaving feeling good about that person or the day. When this happens I tend to trust that person a lot more and am comfortable with following up with them if I need something, there is something warm and inviting about that person that makes me want to continue the conversation or do business with that company. I must the opposite can be very true as well. If I open an email and find someone is being short to the answer and giving me the minimal of what I am asking for, I will quickly decide that person is not work my time (and neither is the business they represent.)

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I AM SYSTEMATIC

by Tiffany on November 18, 2015

in Build Your Team,For OBMs,For VAs,General Biz

Antique key with word success written on paper resting on wooden surface concept for aspirations and success

Yes, yes, yes!  The good ole methodical system…this is key folks!  The key to EVERYTHING online business success: Systems

I get that it’s not always that sexy to talk about processes, automation and systems.  But sexy or not it is the foundation of what any predictable success must be built on.  So as an OBM if you are a fly by the seat of your pants kinda guy or gal, you will likely not find yourself very happy in the OBM role (and even more so, your clients might not be that happy with you!)  Online business is desperate for solid systems and repeatable results. If you have to reinvent the wheel with every initiative it is hugely time consuming, money draining and over all stressful!

A good system is one that can be repeated over and over again without any real need for adjustment.  Every time we set these systems up we get to reap these benefits and many more:

  1. Once its set up we don’t have to think about it anymore. Isn’t that nice to give our brains a little mini vacation from that specific tasks.  Think about a good customer service system.  There are templates in place for various inquiries, there is a solid lead/follow up in place to ensure all upsells are made, there is a data tracking in place to ensure trends are being noted… ahhh that is a sweet smell isn’t it.  The smell of freedom!  Now instead of chasing these elements down when you need them, you have a container in which they can grow and flourish.  But the best part is someone else can ‘maintain’ it now that you have the process all systematized for success!  Freeing your mind to think about the next system or process that needs to be developed.
  2. A predictable result…essentially this is the real joy of being systematic, you get to experience a predictable success pattern or projection from the initiatives you are executing. This might look a bit like a solid plan/execution for social media.  You know exactly what is needed to be created and posted to ensure you are generating the expected leads or list growth.  Once you have this sweet spot figured out you can put it in cruise control and watch the leads come in.  Sure the formula may vary from client to client but the process of getting it set up systematically and running smooth is the same every time 😉
  3. Minimizes the need for continual decision making. Once the system is set all the decisions have been made then it is simply the execution that needs to be maintained.  That is a beautiful thing.  Think about how many decisions you make in a day… what if you could cut that in half by setting up a system for various areas of your life or business.  One of the ways you can minimize your decision is by meal planning a week or a month in advance.  If you have a monthly meal plan where you cook the same things each day of the month… wouldn’t that minimize your need to ‘figure it out’ on a daily basis… want to know what’s for dinner just look at the date… on the 17th we eat spaghetti… wow that is easy!

    The same goes with a cleaning chart or how you lay out a project… I like to lay projects out:  Creatives first, then Technical pieces, then Marketing elements… I do it the same way every time.  This allows me to not have to go back to the drawing board with every project I work out… and there are specific tasks in each of those areas that are key to the success of that plan so I automatically add them in (if they are not a perfect fit I can always go back and change it).

I would love to hear from YOU!  What is your favorite systems that help you as an OBM, wife, mom, etc… I know you have them… let’s share a bit and see what is working!

Share here on our facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/iaobm

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I AM CREATIVE

by Tiffany on November 16, 2015

in For OBMs,For VAs,General Biz

creativeIf I am being completely honest our team would not consider me the most creative person.  When a ‘creative’ needs to be produced someone else on the team is doing it.  Specifically as it pertains to graphics. My creativity doesn’t flow through pictures or vision.  Even to the point that my husband does most of our decorating 😉

But… that doesn’t mean I am not creative.  I am just creative in a different way.  Such as I created this I AM Series… I like words over pictures.  I love to create when I have the opportunity to share my experience and teach someone something that will help them avoid mistakes or get to their result shorter time frame.

I feel most creative when I am problem solving.  As an OBM we spend a lot of time problem solving!  We are exploring new systems, fixing broken processes, developing new structures… we have to get creative at times.  If you have ever tried to piece-meal all the parts of a WordPress site with all the variations of bells and whistles a client wants you know what it is to be creative in the problem solving arena.

Being creative (or at least my version of it) lets me get out of the box a little…

Most the time I am trying to stay in the box (and keep everything else in the box too… after all it’s a lot easier to manage when it’s in the box), but sometimes I have an itch to break free of the box and just do something a little different.  Get out of maintain mode and explore something new.  This is where being creative comes in for me.

Learning a new technology is creative.  I get this isn’t overly creative to super ‘creative’ folks… but those of us who are linear in our thinking and really like our straight lines and super processed tasks… a new tech can truly be a walk on the creative side for us..

Leading my team requires creativity.  After all I have to connect with each one based on their strengths and what will essentially serve them in the highest to ensure they are empowered to do great work.  This takes getting creative at time.  Especially if the team member is the client and we don’t think/see eye to eye on things.

We have some brilliant, talented and super creative OBM’s in our community who can do everything from design to copywriting to construction… but I don’t know that you always see yourselves as creative.  I just wanted to give you permission too.  Sometimes we are just as creative (or more so) then the super creative clients we serve.  But know this… you, my OBM friend, are a creative genius!

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I AM INSPECTING

by Tina on November 13, 2015

in For OBMs,For VAs,General Biz,Uncategorized

The word Inspected around a check mark and box to illustrate home inspection, or personal evaluation, review or assessmentOne of my husband’s favorite quotes is:

You get what you inspect not what you expect!

As a leader there is really not a truer statement.. but as an OBM we have to be purposeful to ensure we are inspecting our teams execution and performance.

Working with virtual professionals creates a different dynamic as it pertains to ensuring things are getting done and being done properly.  Most team members come to the table with a predisposed way they want to execute specific tasks and as they are contractors and experts in their own right we have to give them the lead way to this.  However, that does not mean we do not inspect their work.

To be honest, it’s easier to just simply have an expectation and hope that everyone works like us and will exceed expectations without much nurture or time being spent on them.  But that is not the reality in many cases.  So it is vital that we take on the role of inspector as it pertains to the businesses we lead.

A few things to be inspecting on a regular basis:

  1. Are processes being updated – if there is not a standing agreement with the team that when a process changes that an update be made there should be.  So get that in place then be certain you are inspecting those process are being updated as needed
  2. Is customer service following all the small tasks needed to fulfill the desired out come. Often customer service tasks are very small admin related elements that may or may not be being checked on a regular basis and because of that they can end up with pieces being skipped…. This might not be much of a deal if it happens once or twice but if happens over a course of time you may end up missing key data that simply needed to be entered into specific areas for the customer service recording.
  3. Is Metrics being collected… if metrics isn’t a part of the business ensure that it is. But from there an admin team member should be able to go through all the systems and collect the data.  Often this data is not the current fire on the team’s plate so you want to ensure they take seriously circling back around to it when there is time to ensure the proper data is being collected for when it is needed.
  4. That processes are being excuted as they written… this happens to us all. The more familiar we become with a process the less we feel the need to open the documentation.. after a little while though small elements can get skipped or deemed unnecessary by a team member who doesn’t have the big picture and then you are losing a piece of your process.  That is really frustrating because it will inevitably lead to a mistake (after all the process is written that way for a reason) and then you have to have the undesirable conversation of ‘why are you not following the processes.  No one enjoys those convo’s with team members.

So I encourage you to take my husband’s advice and be proactive in the inspecting because you may not always get what you are expecting!

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I AM CONFIDENT

November 12, 2015

Can I just start by saying confidence is not arrogance.  I feel like there is such a negative vibe around being confident.  When you think of confident people do you automatically think of the most arrogant person you know?  Confidence is not what you are doing (or saying) but who you are being. Let me […]

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I AM PURPOSEFUL

November 10, 2015

Google says purposeful is:  having or showing determination or resolve. I like it! I have found very few things in my life require me to show determination or resolve at the same level of being an OBM has.  After all, we are the get it done folks.  We start it, maintain it and ensure it […]

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I AM INNOVATIVE

November 10, 2015

Online Business Managers do not always think of themselves as the innovators of the business.  After all isn’t it the business owner’s responsibility to come up with the content, programs, ‘next best thing…’ Yes… as it pertains to the ‘what’ of the business, as it pertains to what will be promoted, what will be sold, […]

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I AM STRATEGIC

November 7, 2015

EVERYTHING in the online business world revolves around having a solid planned out strategy.  Of course, we like to say the Online Business Manager is where strategy meets implementation!  So with that in mind, it’s only natural one of the key attributes to being an OBM is strategy. Strategy, as it pertains to the OBM […]

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I AM ORGANIZED

November 6, 2015

Have you ever considered how much time gets wasted in searching for stuff?  If you have ever started with a new client who was less than ‘tidy’ in the management of their files and ops, you know exactly what I mean (and if you are a virtual support professional, I dare say you know it […]

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