Without an OBM, your online business will almost certainly fail. I don’t want that to happen. So let’s find out what an OBM is, what they can do for you, and how to find one.
What is an Online Business Manager (OBM)
According to the International Association of Online Business Managers, an OBM is a virtual support professional who manages online based businesses including the day to day management of projects, operations, metrics, and team. They also say that the role of an OBM is to make sure the right things get done at the right time, in the right way by the right people.
You may have also heard the term integrator used for this role. This was outlined in the book, Rocket Fuel by Gino Wickman that highlighted the pairing of a visionary leader plus an integrator. As one of the most successful combinations in business leadership, they are the trusted second in command whom you’re able to delegate most of the day to day management and operations of your online business too, so that you as the CEO, can focus on CEO level activities like strategy products, and raw content.
What does an Online Business Manager do?
Now that you know what an OBM is next, I’m gonna show you the three critical functions and OBM can do. Later. I’ll also reveal how much it costs to get an OBM working for you. And here’s a spoiler alert. It’s not nearly as much as you may think, but first, let’s start with a huge failure. Like most valuable lessons, failure taught me about the importance of having an OBM.
My first attempts at building an online business failed. Just like you, I thought I had to bootstrap and do everything myself. I thought, Hey, once I’m successful and have revenue, I’ll start building a team. Then instead, I started trying to learn and do everything myself, from content to marketing, to sales and support and everything in.
For each of those and many more, I bought courses and programs promising to make it easy or make me an expert in blogging or Facebook ads or webinars to even have a chance at making progress. I had to juggle at least seven different critical functions and not let any of them drop, but inevitably they did drop.
No one, no matter how talented, is an expert or even good at the seven to fifteen different functions an online business needs.
If such a unicorn existed, there isn’t enough time in a day, week, or month for one person to do all that anyway. The breakthrough for me came when I interviewed successful six, seven, and eight figure online entrepreneurs for a virtual summit I ran a couple years ago.
None of them were running their businesses alone. All of them had at least a few people, even if just part-time working for them. Nearly all of them also called out a key role that turbocharged their progress. Yep. An online business manager.
I dug in more, and that’s where I discovered the three critical functions and OBM provides.
An OBM manages your team and service providers
The first is managing your team and service providers. The biggest difference between a struggling solar entrepreneur and a successful virtual ceo. Is a team and delegation at first, most struggling. So entrepreneurs here and then believe that hiring a virtual assistant is the answer. The problem with that is that it takes a massive amount of time and effort to hire, train, and manage virtual assistance.
So yes, you may be delegating, but you really just turned yourself into a project manager, since it’s still on you to document all your processes, manage your team, check their work, and so on. The OBM is the key. You as the CEO, work with them to set strategy in direction, but after that, everything else is managed by the OBM.
For example, as a ceo, you may decide that you need a new webinar and sales funnel to market and sell your program with that direction. Said, you delegate to your OBM or your virtual CEO to make that happen. They’re responsible for defining and managing everything that needs to be done, starting with collecting more details from you about your vision and requirements.
Then turning that into a detail plan. Then defining and delegating the work to the rest of the team. In the funnel example, there are needs across a wide range of skills like tech design, copy, video ads, and many more. It’s a big job just defining and managing that work, even when you have access to the team members to do it.
That’s where an OBM is critical. If you’re the CEO and have to get bogged down in all of that, then you may make progress on that one funnel, but think about everything else that’ll be stuck. While you’re doing that, in our agency’s expert team model, we put an OBM and virtual COO between you and your. The ideal virtual team for online businesses in their first one to three years is a combination of an OBM running the day to day operations, along with a part-time team of VAs freelancers and service providers.
An OBM takes key business functions off your shoulders
The second thing an OBM can do for you is take key business functions off your shoulders. In addition to key projects like a funnel build, when you have an OBM, you can delegate entire functions of your business to them. Imagine never having to think about or struggle with technology or advertising. The right OBM is either already an expert in tech or those area.
Or they know how to find and manage tech experts. Imagine never having to think or deal with customer support from setting up ticketing and chat solutions to tracking how well your customer support processes are working. All of that should be delegated off so that all you have to do as the CEO is review metrics and approve action plans periodically.
Again, the key is you aren’t delegating tasks and then having to manage the people doing the tasks. You delegate functions and the OBM manages the people doing the tasks. The third thing they can do for you is take point on customer facing needs. With the right OBM, you can also have them take on customer facing roles like managing the onboarding of new clients or customers serving as an escalation point in your support processes or working with your joint venture partners or vendors.
These are also critical functions with the potential to eat a lot of your time, but that can be delegated to an OBM in many. When you add them all up, managing your team, taking entire business functions off your shoulders, handling most of your customer facing needs, it frees up a huge amount of your time while also getting much more done in your business.
When to hire an OBM?
It may sound too good to be true, but as I mentioned earlier, it’s exactly the model that almost all the highly successful online entrepreneurs eventually put in place. In fact, our research and working with clients and partners has shown that how quickly you put this model in place really determines how quickly you see.
Meaning, the longer you try to bootstrap and DIY everything, the longer and less likely it is that you’ll succeed. On the contrary, the sooner you put an OBM in place with a team, the sooner and more likely it is that you’ll succeed, even if it means taking on some debt to do that. Okay, so an OBM sounds like unicorns and rainbows, doesn’t it?
How much does it cost to hire an OBM?
You’re smart enough to know that someone that valuable isn’t gonna be found for $10 an hour. I mentioned earlier that I’d reveal some costs, so here we go. A good OBM is a highly skilled resource. If you were to hire a fulltime well qualified OBM, the typical salary would be 60,000 US dollars and often a lot more.
Now, before you throw your phone or a computer at me, let me reveal a key insight. If you’re in the first year or two of your online business, you don’t need your OBM to be full-time as a virtual role. They can work anywhere from four to eight hours a week for you, all the way up to full-time eventually.
So for just a few hundred dollars, you can get this critical role working for you as soon as possible. The key mistake you wanna avoid is going. There are a lot of virtual assistants, social media managers, and others that try to market themselves as OBMs, but that don’t have the breadth of management and customer facing skills.
You need to be careful in your hiring and vetting to make sure you get someone truly qualified. Once you have an OBM, you still need a team for them to manage. There are also fractional team models that are more budget friendly as well.
What type of team model should I use?
I’ve prepared a quick 90-second assessment that helps you figure out what team model makes the most sense for your business right now.