So, you’ve decided it’s time to hire an Online Business Manager…
But — where should you even begin?
Before you put that OBM job posting up, ask for referrals from your mastermind, or send out a DM blast to all of your biz besties, take a deep dive into these five factors and set yourself up for hiring success!
While an OBM is almost always a contractor, they usually require a retainer agreement that spans several months. And, though I’m a little biased, I have to say that once you have a great OBM on your team, you won’t want them to leave when your contract runs out. After all, an OBM is coming in to take a whole job off your plate to free up your focus and energy for other things you love to do.
If you are thinking you’ll ‘test out’ an OBM to see how it goes, you might not be prepared to hire an OBM in the first place. Lapses in your service relationship with an OBM can lead to a loss of momentum, organization, and team productivity, so it’s best to determine a sustainable budget that you can back up with your savings if you have a dip in business.
If this is your first time hiring a team member, determining your budget for an OBM may feel like a bit of a mystery. Here’s the best rule of thumb: your business should be at least at the $10K/mo revenue level before considering bringing on an OBM.
To get a good idea of where you’re personally at, I recommend taking a look at the following:
You’ll want to look at your past revenue to determine what you can depend on in the next 6-12 months. I highly recommend looking at these real numbers vs. projecting your revenue based on anticipated growth, as this can get you into a lot of trouble! Combining your revenue info with your current costs will give you an idea of how much wiggle room you have in your budget. And your savings account balance will clue you into how much of a buffer you have if your revenue is low for a month or more.
If you’re unsure of your ability to keep your OBM or fear that budget constraints could lead to a broken contract, opt for the support of an OBM through a one-time immersion or consulting engagement where you can tap into the OBM’s strategic support without the ongoing monthly payments.
OBMs are exceptionally skilled at bringing systems, structure, and strategy into the backend of your business. And when it’s time to scale, these are essential. Lay out your business goals for the next 6-12 months and what you feel might get in the way of achieving them. Stick to logistical concerns rather than mindset concerns when you do this.
When interviewing an OBM, you’ll want to determine if their specific skill set and approach can help you optimize your business to reach your goals. A great OBM will be able to address many of the things that will potentially get in the way of your business goals while adding value to your team that keeps your momentum going over the long term. Hiring an OBM can be more about hiring for where you are going than hiring for where you are in your business right now.
I recommend remaining flexible and open to recommendations the OBM might make for your team and support system as well. Some OBMs may have the skills and capacity to take on more of your administrative or VA tasks than others will. And others will give you an idea of how a VA could fit into your team and help you achieve your business goals in addition to their support.
The differences between OBM’s skill sets brings me to my next point, considering the scope of work you’re hiring for. If you haven’t already, you’ll want to read about how to do a time and task audit so you can determine the areas you need the most support in your business.
You’ll also want to think about the four layers of support in every business — visionary, strategy, management, and implementation — and the roles that you and your OBM will fill on your team. When you have a good idea of the responsibilities you need your OBM to take over, it will simplify your search and help you choose an OBM with the strengths your business needs.
One thing that will kill your team fast is assumptions. Assuming that people you hire will have the same work ethic, preferences, and style of communication will set you up for conflict and more challenges than you’ll want to deal with!
A great first step that I always recommend is defining your values and using them in your hiring process. Once you know your values, defining how you prefer to communicate and the level of communication you expect from your OBM will be that much easier.
OBMs vary in how they engage with a team and the type of workflow they maintain during the week. If you’re looking for an OBM who checks in with you daily or would like to have weekly meetings where you wrap up the week behind and cover next week’s sprint ahead together — you’ll want to know and express that up front.
Communication software and platforms are important to discuss as well. If you and your team currently work through email only, but your new OBM would like to transition all work communication to Slack, that’s something to know beforehand. Differences in communication platforms aren’t necessarily a deal breaker, just a transition you’ll want to plan for proactively. If the frequency and type of communication with your OBM is something you feel flexible on, make sure you understand how your OBM likes to work before hiring.
Of course, professionalism and transparency in communication should always be key. You’ll want to pay attention to how your OBM communicates with you in scheduling a consultation, on your consultation call, and in their follow-up or proposal submission. That said, it can be beneficial to have an OBM who isn’t afraid to point out weaknesses in your business and who will offer up different solutions than you would think of yourself. Your OBM doesn’t need to be a clone of you. They need to be able to support your strengths, handle conflict and differences well, and bring cohesion to the backend of your business.
OBMs can take on a lot of responsibilities that involve sensitive information (such as passwords) and have access to all of your softwares, online accounts, and documents. For this reason, hiring a very reputable OBM is essential. When you’re searching for an OBM, look for the training they have undergone and professional credentials they have. During a consultation, ask about how they became an OBM and how long they have been an OBM. You can even ask for client testimonials or a past or current client you could contact directly to ask about their experience.
Once you’ve made your OBM hiring list and checked it twice, shoot me a message here and tell me a little about what you’re looking for. I or someone on my team will be eager to help and can get you set up for a complimentary consultation where we can see if we’d be a great fit for each other!
May 9, 2023