How to become an Online Business Manager
Google the phrase “how to become an online business manager,” and you will quickly find yourself staring at more than 1.5 BILLION results.
Overwhelming, I know! Even looking at the most popular results will have your head spinning because each one will show you a different route to becoming an OBM, and It will leave you wondering – which one is THE BEST?
Honestly, I can’t say one is better than the other because we all have different backgrounds, expectations, and unique learning styles.
For you, it might be easy to jump into it right away. For others, they might want to get certified. For me, it was a bit different. I took my time transitioning from one role to another until I felt confident enough to offer OBM services.
And while I can’t speak about other people’s journeys. All I can do is share mine with you because I think there are many women who will resonate with my story.
So buckle up because I am going to take you on a personal journey back in time and give you the exact 4 steps I took to transition from corporate lady to a successful online business manager!
Saying “I DO” To An Entirely New Chapter
My story is not one of overnight success, or things falling easily into place to build a multiple 6-figures business. It’s one of tenacity, resilience, and learning to roll with the punches as a mompreneur.
After university, I did what most of us do – landed a ‘stable’ and ‘secure’ job in the corporate world. I put these words in quotes because I now know how ironic it is to think that a job can be secure, especially when you rely entirely on someone else for your monthly paycheck. But that’s a story for another day.
Without fail, I landed this so-called ‘secure’ job and I could officially brag to all my friends and family that I now work in corporate and my life is set. But like most people, I became part of the daily grind – wake up, go to work, come home, go to sleep, and repeat. Sound familiar?
I honestly didn’t mind this lifestyle in the beginning. I was a single woman, making good money, and only worried about my wants and needs.
But once I met my husband, A LOT of things changed. You see, he’s active duty in the Air Force, and (if you are a military wife, you will know what I am about to say), that meant a lot of moving and traveling. And if you work for a corporation, you know those two things do NOT go well together.
Pretty soon I had to make a choice – work in corporate and stay “secure” OR quit my job and take a massive risk and go with him. Can you guess which one I chose?
That’s right! I left corporate and followed my husband across the country for his career. It was then that I realized true freedom for me would be leaving my 6-figure corporate job to make $12/hour as a Virtual Assistant. [Let’s be real…I didn’t know this immediately. It was a journey, but THIS was the turning point for everything in my life in terms of freedom!]
If you are wondering why I decided to become a virtual assistant – well, I wanted to create a portable (and sustainable) career that I didn’t have to start over every few years. And after tons and tons (literally hundreds) of failed attempts at finding a “traditional job”, I decided to dive into learning about the online space. I finally found an opportunity as a virtual assistant and I jumped on it!
While some may have seen this as an unreasonable compromise, I took it as an opportunity to start anew. AND as a source of motivation to work my way back up, closer to my dream of freedom.
It allowed me to work from anywhere, travel with my military husband, and build an online business that I knew could eventually provide the ultimate time freedom, location freedom, and money freedom in my life!
With time, I gained more skills, knowledge, and experience. I learned about different online businesses and how women were THRIVING in the online space.
But just like any good story, there are plenty of ups and downs. As my VA business grew, so did my family. I had a beautiful daughter and once again I needed to make a shift that would allow me to be a mom first and a businesswoman second.
I didn’t want to squeeze into the cracks between taking care of my baby girl and doing all the things for clients. Plus, I had so much MORE to offer!
Long story short, I became a certified Online Business Manager, and was completely booked out within a few short months.
As an OBM, I was able to play an integral role in my client’s business. I was responsible for managing and overseeing most, if not all, of the day-to-day operations. I also helped make strategic decisions that would impact their growth and long-term success.
The fact is that as an OBM I was a vital part of their online business. My role and expertise amplified my client’s experience in the best way possible. And that felt AMAZING!
One Step At a Time
Step 1: Goodbye corporate, hello virtual assistant
I don’t want you to think that I quit my corporate job and immediately landed clients with my VA business because that wasn’t the case. Initially, I worked for 2 different VA agencies while growing my own client roster. The agency experience allowed me to have steady access to clients without worrying so much about the sales piece.
However, there were A TON of downsides I couldn’t just sweep under the rug. The most obvious one was the limited earning potential. I couldn’t charge clients what I thought I was worth because, essentially, they weren’t my clients. I definitely wasn’t a fan of that. The second thing that bothered me was that I felt like an employee again, not an independent contractor. Sure, I didn’t have someone checking on me every second, but I wasn’t free to make my own schedule either. This route just wasn’t for me, personally.
Of course, there are some pluses too! Working as a VA prepared me for the OBM role. I gained a lot of hard and soft skills that are invaluable.
And if you are wondering what the heck is the difference between the two – essentially, the VA is the implementor or ‘task doer’ whereas the OBM manages the business as a whole.
Think about the way a restaurant operates. The waiters (or VAs) ‘do’ a lot of the work that keeps the restaurant moving, but the manager (or the OBM) oversees the waiters and makes sure everything is running smoothly. Both are critical roles but serve entirely different functions.
Step 2: Online Business Manager… hmm I think I would be good at that!
I was a part of many online communities (thank you, Facebook) because they helped me connect with other service providers, get support from people who understood my challenges, and help me feel as though I was a part of a greater community!
If you are on the hunt for such a community, you are welcome to join my Facebook group, The UpLevel Lounge! We’d love to have you.
One day I was scrolling one of these groups, and I noticed a woman asking for advice from OBMs. I don’t know why it caught my attention, but I am glad it did because, with the help of my curiosity, I was soon hours deep into the search for “how to become an online business manager.”
The crazy thing I realized is that I was doing the work of an OBM already! The only thing I was missing was the pay! When I found out what online business managers were charging, I was A) shocked and B) excited because I knew that could be my new salary!
Step 3: Going back to (virtual) school to become Certified Online Business Manager
Although I knew how to do most of the work that OBMs were offering, I still wanted to get certified to feel more confident with my skills. After getting my certification, I started positioning myself as an OBM, and pretty soon, I was attracting quality clients and was able to increase my revenue significantly.
Disclaimer: This is NOT a requirement. Despite a lot of misinformation, you do not need to be certified to call yourself an OBM. You do not need to be certified to charge premium rates as an OBM. However, certification is the right choice for many people, but certainly not everyone.
Also, note — you do not have to be a VA before becoming an OBM. In my opinion, it greatly shortens the learning curve, but depending on a combination of your background, skillset, and savviness, it might not be necessary at all.
If I had to do it all over again, knowing what I know now, I would’ve chosen a slightly different path that aligned with my unique abilities. Because I enjoy more strategy and being in a higher level support role with my clients, I would’ve taken the path of Director of Operations (had I known this role even existed online!). Good News: It does! And my friend and colleague, Natalie Gingrich runs an incredible program called the Director of Operations Certification Program.
If you love everything about the OBM role, then I highly suggest you read about the DOO role, too. It might be an even better fit!
Step 4: Strategy sessions were born!
I started offering strategy sessions as a stand alone offer because it was something I was incredibly good at and absolutely loved to do! It was also they way I positioned the kickoff of my long-term retainer packages, so it made perfect sense. Strategy sessions are designed to focus on the top 3-5 key priorities in the business. The goal of a Strategy Session is to create an executable plan, usually 90 days in length, for reaching specific milestones or making progress in targeted areas.
My sessions were incredibly popular, and I couldn’t believe that other women were not offering this to their clients! I came up with the idea to create an offer that could teach others how to effectively sell 90-Day Planning sessions to their clients, regardless of what industry they are in, and provide them with amazing results!!
If you are reading this and thinking – I NEED THIS – you can find all the juicy details right here!
I may have taken the hard road to get to where I’m at in business today, but that does NOT mean it was the right way or the best way.
In fact, there is a much more sustainable way to do it. And turns out, you don’t have to do it alone, either.
You already have a poof of concept.
You have the clients, skills, and know-how to reach your level of success. Now, you just need to see it, feel it, and believe it for yourself!