So what does it look like to build an OBM business?
In my experience training/mentoring virtual support professionals for over 5 years now I’ve come to see a very distinct “journey” in the building of an OBM business. There are three distinct phases that OBMs will go through in creating a business that serves both them and their clients.
Phase 1 – Start-up AKA “Show me the clients!”
Any type of business goes through start-up mode, and of course an Online Business Manager will do the same in the early stages of their business. Once you’ve got the proper training and foundation in place your focus is on getting clients and starting to apply those skills – starting to “be an OBM” if you will.
The challenge here for OBMs is to learn how to find and get clients. – how to “talk about” what they do and the value they bring to the table so that people want to hire them. They learn where/how they can connect with potential new clients. There can also be a period of figuring out who they want to work with (or not) and defining who they can serve best. As you start working with new clients, there can be a pretty big learning curve getting to know a new client’s business and putting your new OBM skills to work… but we OBMs love a challenge right? So it’s all good. 🙂
Phase 2 – Full to Bursting AKA “Help! I’m in overwhelm!”
When an OBM has a full-client roster – usually 2 to 3 OBM clients – then the focus shifts from having to “find clients” for themselves to helping manage/support the growth of their client’s business. This is of course a dreamy spot for most OBMs to get to, however there is another set of challenges that arise here for most OBMs.
The biggest challenge here for OBMs is to truly put their management skills to the test. They learn how to delegate to a team vs. trying to do everything themselves (which can be a BIG challenge for those of us used to being the doers). They make sure that they are establishing proper systems and documenting procedures that will support the growth of the business. They learn to always be aware of keeping an eye on the big picture of the business while at the same time ensuring that they are truly “freeing up” the business owner from the day-to-day. The goal of the OBM is to get the business, their client, the team and themselves in a place where they can be proactively moving forward vs. being in reactive/crisis mode. This stage can be a bit of a bumpy ride, but the outcome is well worth it.
Phase 3 – Mastery AKA “Smooth Sailing”
You have your clients, you’ve set up strong teams/systems for everyone and it has all seemed to “click” – woo hoo! Now is not the time to sit back and relax… not that you would want to anyways, right? (That would be too boring, i know. ;))
Instead, when you are at this stage with a client, you can truly help focus on the continued growth/leverage of the business. Because there is a strong foundation in place for the business, you are able to really plug into the bigger picture in a more proactive way and easily manage the day-to-day of the business. It almost becomes second nature. The idea of mastery is in some ways an illusion as there is always something more, something new on the horizon. However, an OBM at this stage has developed their “OBM muscles” to a point where they can easily roll with the punches and keep things smooth and effective.
Some OBMs will look for other ways to contribute to the business at this stage, which could look different for everyone. I’ve known OBMs at this level to become coaches/trainers in their clients business, or to start playing a stronger role on the marketing side. Some people have even been able to partner with their clients in bigger ways, either on creating products or in the business as a whole.
It’s worth noting that how long each stage takes someone will of course vary from person to person – depending on their own goals, objectives and how dedicated they are to getting the right support/guidance for THEMSELVES in this journey (it can be a pretty lonely ride otherwise).
So where do you fall in the mix?