And How One Can Put Your Business on the Fast-Track to Success.
One of the questions I get asked a lot is what does an online business manager do?
It’s a fair question. Online business managers, otherwise known as OBMs, are a fairly new concept but, in this era where self-employment is common and online businesses are taking off, it is a highly useful field.
So, what exactly is an online business manager? And how do you know if it is time for you to bring an online business manager into your business? We will also talk about the difference between an online business manager and a virtual assistant–how to know which is the best choice for you.
Let’s dive in.
What Is an Online Business Manager?
The official definition of an online business manager is a virtually-based support professional that manages online-based businesses. Their duties include the day-to-day management of projects, operations, metrics, and team members.
In layman’s terms: think of an online business manager as a cross between a virtual assistant and a business coach. They are your go-to person for strategy, workflows, management, and long-term planning.
What Does an Online Business Manager Do?
There are 5 main areas that online business managers tend to focus on. Not every area is relevant to each industry, but these are the areas you most often see online business managers working in.
Online business managers help you track your metrics. You can invest 80 hours a week to yourt business, and if it isn’t fruitful, it isn’t worth it.
We ask the questions you don’t have the time—or brain-width–to ask.
Is where you are investing money seeing a return?
Is how you are spending your time making an impact?
As wedding vendors, are we taking inquiries and turning them into booked weddings?
Fundamentally–is what you are doing working?
Tracking metrics is one of the most important areas of industry for online business managers because it is data-driven and results-oriented.
You probably realize by now, that your business is more than the physical product or service you offer. It is an entire experience that you are uniquely qualified to give your clients.
But in order to actually give them an experience, you need to have a way to consistently and deliberately recreate that system. Therefore, it is necessary that every wedding professional needs a project management system. And–this is where a lot of wedding vendors fall short–they need to actually use it.
We call it project management but that term really encompasses anything pertaining to your workflow and your clients. So call it project management, client management, workflows, automation, or systems – whatever you want – OBMs will manage it all.
We manage from the time the contract is signed (or even before) to off-boarding them after their wedding day. We walk through your client’s experience step-by-step, leading them confidently and assuredly through the process.
And with happy, well-taken care of clients comes great referrals, more business, and the ability to raise prices.
Online business managers also work on income management within a business. Fundamentally, our job is to make you more money.
This is also where the business coach comes out and starts pushing you into high gear.
I always look at my client’s current business and ask how they can make more money and work less. Generally, this comes in two ways–how my clients can bring in passive income or how we can charge more without working more.
I’m always working through ideas on how to increase my client’s bottom line, without adding hours to their day.
Strategy and Day-To-Day Operations
This is similar to both metric tracking and project management but basically just ties the two together.
How are you spending your time? Are you spending your time on income-making tasks or are you doing manual tasks that could be automated or outsourced?
How can we maximize your time and your efforts to bring about the most income?
As an OBM, we look at your entire business strategy and operations and see where we can tighten things up–giving both you and your client a better experience.
Team Member Management
Not every wedding professional has team members, but chances are good that you probably need them whether you realize this or not.
These can range from team members behind the scenes, like social media managers, virtual assistants, second photographers, and copywriters, to on-the-scene people, like second shooters, stylists, or floral assistants.
Outsourcing or hiring help is necessary to grow your business. But with adding people to your team comes the need to train and manage these team members. Enter an online business manager.
By having your OBM manage your team you can ensure that everyone is onboarded properly, that they understand your brand and your values, and that they are properly trained. This not only gives your clients a better experience, but your team members will feel more informed and prepared also.
Online Business Managers Versus Virtual Assistants
First off, how is an online business manager different from a virtual assistant?
The main difference between an online business manager and a virtual assistant is that one is focused on the big picture of your business while the other is focused on getting smaller tasks done.
A virtual assistant is more task-focused. They aren’t going to look at your workflow and tell you what needs to be done. They are going to expect you to assign the tasks and guide them in the direction they need to go.
Virtual assistants won’t necessarily tell you if something isn’t working either. They aren’t involved in the strategy and they aren’t involved in the metrics. They are only focused on the tasks.
In contrast, an online business manager looks at the big picture, makes sure everything is running smoothly, and they fix what isn’t working. They want your business operating at optimum health.
Another way to look at this is to say that virtual assistants are focused on the current tasks that need to be done. OBMs are always looking ahead and planning that next step. They are looking towards future launches, holiday pushes, and next year’s bookings. By planning ahead, not only are they helping your business grow, but they are helping avoid stress and burnout from that inevitable last-minute procrastination.
So, Do You Need an Online Business Manager or a Virtual Assistant
As you walk through whether you are ready for an online business manager or not, here are some questions to ask yourself.
Are you ready to expand? Are you wanting to take on more weddings or bring associates into your business? Are you relocating to a different city or are you trying to uplevel to a luxury market? If yes, you are probably ready for an online business manager.
Do you need help managing your team members? If you have multiple people on your team, whether working behind the scenes or on the front line, you probably need an OBM. Keeping team members happy and prepared is necessary for growth and stability.
Is your business growing quickly and you struggle to keep up? Adding support staff is key when you are growing rapidly. It helps you avoid burnout and mistakes.
Are you ready to give up control of the online backend of your business? This is one that a lot of people struggle with. Hiring an online business manager means you will need to relinquish a bit of control. Now it doesn’t mean you will be giving up all of the control—of course not, it’s still your business—but you do need to be able to let go a bit and let someone else in.
Do you struggle with learning, implementing, and organizing all of the different systems that your business needs? An online business manager can help with that too!
If all you are looking for is someone to take over basic tasks like answering emails and implementing workflows then a virtual assistant is probably more of what you are looking for. If you are looking for a teammate and a soundboard, we probably need to talk about adding an OBM to your team.
As we enter the slow season, it is time to start looking forward to the next business year. Fall is a great time to bring in an online business manager because this is the time to update your business before the engagement/inquiry season takes off. Schedule a consultation today to see how I could help take your business to the next level!