Building a solid team for your online business can be a daunting endeavor.
First, there’s dealing with resistance to outsourcing and nerves around delegation. Then, there’s the overwhelm of figuring out who to hire, what roles are most important to fill first, and what each team member will and will not do for your business.
In most small businesses, a team begins with hiring a VA or an OBM; both are crucial when building an effective team. Knowing the difference between the two and when to hire them will save you time, money, and so many headaches!
The main differences between a VA and an OBM are:
Task completion and making things happen in a business’s day-to-day is VA territory. No matter how unpredictable the needs of a business may be, VAs are responsive and adaptable to them. The fluctuating nature of a VA’s responsibilities is why most VAs charge by the hour and work for a set number of hours per week. Within their working hours, they could address any number of tasks, from posting on social media to answering emails. VAs focus on their individual work.
Some VAs have a specialty and focus on a specific business area like marketing, client support, or customer service. Many VAs will act as a catch-all and take care of whatever tasks you send them.
OBMs are a second brain focused entirely on the back-end of your business. They are experts in strategic thinking and are responsible for developing plans, processes, and systems to make your business run smoothly. Team management and operations are at the top of an OBM’s priority list.
OBMs are likely to have a more sophisticated model of delivering their services. Because their work is “big picture” focused and requires them to do more than respond to task requests, they may offer a monthly package of hours or a retainer that completely covers your needs.
While each OBM has a unique portfolio of experience, they all offer roughly the same service. If an OBM has a specialty, it is more likely to be related to the type of business they serve than what they do for the business. For instance, I help impact-driven entrepreneurs. My clients are coaches, consultants, course creators, and influencers. An OBM could work with a specific type of coach, such as health coaches, or within a particular industry, such as finance.
To determine if a VA or an OBM is the best fit for you, ask yourself the following:
Am I looking for a box-checker or a leader?
VAs are box-checkers and team members, and OBMs are team leaders. VAs look to you or the OBM to tell them what they need to do. OBMs take more initiative and hold the vision of your business with you.
Am I overwhelmed by my to-do list or my team?
Make a list of what you’re hoping someone could take over for you. Are the things on your list to-dos that you could pass off to just about anyone? VAs are great at following step-by-step SOPs, taking action, and completing repetitive tasks that don’t require your personal expertise.
OBMs ensure that the right people are on your team, in the right roles, and taking on the proper responsibilities. They’ll manage your projects, establish how things should be done, and keep everyone focused on your business objectives. An OBM is the way to go if your team is overwhelming you.
Do I need more time, or do I need more bandwidth?
Of course, both VAs and OBMs save you time because they’re doing work that you’d otherwise be responsible for. However, OBMs also increase your bandwidth. By taking over the more complex parts of your business and monitoring back-end metrics, they not only free up time but also free up brain space that you can use for leadership, creativity, and service.
It’s easy to think that you could just hire a VA and train them to be your OBM, but I strongly advise against this. If you blur the line between your VA and OBM roles, it can be difficult for your contractor or employee to prioritize their responsibilities. VAs should be singularly focused on execution and not distracted by big-picture strategy.
If an OBM is your first hire, chances are they will need to take on a few VA responsibilities in the beginning. It should never be your long-term plan to keep an OBM in a VA role. OBMs are there to make sure everyone gets their work done and to oversee development and growth. Pinging them with tasks and expecting them to keep up with day-to-day minutia can become a significant drain on their big-picture skills.
If you suspect you need an OBM and a VA for your business, hire the OBM first and let them help you hire the right VA!
VA’s rates can range from $20-50/hr and up, depending on their specialties and the needs of your business. An OBM usually charges $50-100/hr when they’re relatively new, and rates increase from there. As mentioned above, OBMs also offer retainer packages that cover your needs and simplify budgeting. OBM retainers can range from $2,000-$10,000 a month, depending on the size of your team and your business’s speed of growth.
OBMs are paid more than VAs because of the strategic value they bring to the table and the level of responsibility they take on. OBMs are more proactive, strategic, and discerning than VAs. They don’t just show up to work and get things done; they take control, advise the business owner, and have to keep boundaries clear within the business back-end.
That said, you can’t underestimate the value of a great VA. Someone resourceful, responsive, and efficiently retains your preferences will be an invaluable asset to your team.
Is it time to add an OBM to your team?
I’d love to hear more about the awesome work you’re doing in the world and see how I can help get your biz back-end in shape. Click here to send me a little info and myself or someone on my team will get in touch with you ASAP!
September 27, 2022