How To Get Started As An Online Business Manager In 2023

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Online Business Managers are in high demand. Becoming an online business manager is a great way to get started in the online business space.

OBM in chair reading newspaper

What is an online business manager?

An online business manager, or OBM, provides business management services to businesses and organizations.  The majority of their support comes from a management capacity and not from implementation.

What types of business do OBMs support?

OBMs can support both online and offline (brick and mortar) businesses of varying sizes. Typically businesses in the online space are generating multi-six figures in gross revenue when they are ready to hire an OBM.  

They may do some degree of implementation, but their scope of work is focused on managing within the business.  They may specialize in a specific area, but most OBMs manage the business as a whole.  Some areas of focus may include:

  • Project Management
  • Launch Support
  • Team Management
  • Operational Management 
  • Metrics
  • Data Analysis
  • Financial
    • Working closely with the financial team such as a bookkeeper or CPA
  • Marketing Management

Roles that are similar to an OBM

There are a few roles that are similar to the OBM role, but distinctly different in terms of the support they provide and how they fall into the overall organizational structure of the business.

  • DOO:  Director of Operations
    • Typically more of a strategic partner
    • Reports directly to the Founder, CEO, or Visionary Leader
  • VA:  Virtual Assistant
    • Focuses primarily on implementation
    • Can have a variety of specialties including social media, tech, marketing, or general business support. 

How to get started as an online business manager

There is not a specific pathway that you must follow in order to get started as an online business manager.  Your existing skill set, experience, and background will determine the best place for you to start.

Option 1: Set up your OBM business and get started

If you have applicable experience that directly translates to managing businesses, then you may be ready to start as soon as you can get your own business set up. Focusing on establishing your offers, pricing, and basic branding would be your next step.

You will also want to make sure you create systems and foundations that showcase your excellence and provide an incredible client experience from the very start. A few of the key pieces that every successful OBM needs to create are:

  • Lead Capture Process
    • How will you connect with prospects and host discovery calls?
  • Client Onboarding
    • How will you onboard your new client?
      • Proposal
      • Invoicing
        • I use Dubsado for sending proposals, contracts, and invoices. Save 20% off of your subscription by using my code: melissajewel
      • Attorney-drafted contract
      • Welcome packet

If you are ready to start offering your online business manager services, or perhaps already offering them, a great resource for taking your business to the next level is the UpLevel Toolkit. This resource vault contains a multitude of assets that will help you elevate your new or existing business. These are the actual elements from my own business, packaged up, to help people just like you excel as service providers in the online space.

Option 2: Develop Your Skills And Offer Services

If you are new to the idea of offering OBM services, then you will want to consider how to gain the skills and experience necessary to provide this type of support to your own clients.

There are various ways you can do this:

  • Take courses, programs, and masterclasses to develop your skills
  • Offer services that reflect your current experience and continue to develop management skills as you go.

PRO TIP: One of the best ways to gain confidence as an online business manager is to simply do the work. Some people struggle with marketing themselves or finding right-fit clients in the beginning stages of their journey. A great way to gain confidence in terms of your skills and your marketing approach is to offer smaller package at first.

One of my favorite tips is to encourage people to offer strategy sessions as an entry-point offer to their OBM services. Strategy Sessions are typically a 90-120 minute session that focuses on one to three key objectives that a business owner is struggling with. Your job as the OBM or service-provider (any type of service provider can absolutely offer strategy sessions) is to create an actionable plan to move the needle forward to completing or making major progress in these key areas of focus. I lay out everything you need to know about strategy sessions in THIS MASTERCLASS.

Strategy Session Masterclass explainer graphic
Infographic explaining various uses for strategy sessions in your business.

Are you required to have a certification to become an OBM?

Technically speaking, there are no certifications or requirements for offering online business management services which is one of the reasons there are many different types of Online Business Managers.  Background, experience, skills, training, and individual personality all impact the uniqueness of each OBM. 

Trainings and Certification Programs

There are various types of training programs that can provide additional skills to support your growth as an online business manager. Below are two of the most popular in the online industry.

  • The Director of Operations Certification program from Natalie Gingrich is the best in the industry in terms of training for project managers, human resource professionals, and operations managers who want to build or further their careers.  Many OBMs go on to get certified as DOOs while others start their path with the DOO certification.
    • DOOs learn valuable skills in the areas of project management, strategy, human resources, data and analytics, and financials.
  • The International Association of Online Business Managers (IAOBM) provides training and certification specifically for OBMs.   It’s important to be clear that certification is not a requirement for anyone desiring to provide OBM services or market themselves as an OBM. 
    • Some people find that a certification helps to set them apart in terms of marketability, while others seek out certification to gain confidence or skills. 
    • You can use the term “online business manager” without any repercussions, even if you are not certified.

What If I Decide Becoming An OBM Isn’t Right For Me?

If you start to explore the path to becoming an OBM and decide it’s not right for you, you’re certainly not alone! I started out as an online business manager, did the certification, and then decided I didn’t love it!

Determine What DOES Light You Up

Building a strengths business is key. When I realized I that online business management didn’t light me up (although I was really good at it), I asked myself what specifically wasn’t fulfilling. The answer was — the lack of strategic support. My genius lies in strategy and I wanted to be working in a more strategic support role with my clients, so that’s eventually what I created. I started positioning myself as a strategic consultant and supported this shift with my marketing and messaging.

Over time I realized I wasn’t alone and a large percentage of women who enter into the OBM path eventually decide that the role simply doesn’t suit them. Many are drawn to the strategic-level support like I was. Honor your strengths and what lights you up. If you’re curious to learn more about consulting and if this might actually be the right path for you, check out this FREE GUIDE.

The sooner you start, the faster you’ll get clarity about what type of OBM you’d like to become, what types of serices you’d like to offer, your packages, how to best market, and ultimately — what lights you up. And remember, if you decide it’s not for you, that’s ok! You haven’t wasted any effort — you’ve simply gained clarity to go in a more aligned direction!


This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

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