Should I hire an OBM or Virtual Assistant. And what's the difference?

Lots of my clients are getting help to scale their businesses more rapidly with virtual support, usually in the form of freelancers 📈

Online business managers (OBMs) and virtual assistants (VAs) are proving to be a priceless resource for ambitious small business owners. And OBMs are definitely the “in thing” right now 👌

But, what’s the difference between the two? Business leaders often make the mistake of thinking one person can do both jobs. And to make matters worse, there are VAs out there, who are now marketing themselves as OBMs, and hiking up their prices as a result. Confusing, right?

It’s true that a VA and/or an OBM could be a hugely, valuable addition to your business (if the right person is hired). However, make no bones about it, they’re two VERY DIFFERENT roles.

Read on to find out why 🤔

WHAT AN ONLINE BUSINESS MANAGER (OBM) DOES

Like I said, OBMs are the new, “must-have” addition for small businesses. In other words, they’re hugely popular in SME circles.

Essentially, their job is the equivalent of an operations manager. They look after the people, processes, and systems associated with your business – with a view to scaling your company to the STRATOSPHERE of success 🚀🚀🚀

They’ll be tasked to devise and execute strategies that contribute MAHOOOSIVELY to the growth of your business. You’ll define the results you’ll want to see upfront. And they’ll take the initiative and make it all happen.

For example, they might: oversee the end-to-end management of your online shop, design and execute product launches, lead your marketing campaigns, manage your staff and stakeholders, project manage an acquisition – or all five!

From an employment status perspective, they’re usually self-employed freelancers, perhaps working for a couple of clients on a retainer basis. Although, not always. And they’ll tend to work remotely in the main.

WHAT A VA DOES

A VA will perform essential tasks – defined by you – that help to keep you and your business ticking over. These are jobs that you could undoubtedly do yourself, but it would make no commercial sense to do so.

For example, they might: send out your invoices, manage your inbox, proofread documents, book your travel, post on social media, and look after your diary.

By taking away these important jobs from your to-do list, you’re then freed up to do the things that bring in more revenue 👍

As the name suggests, VAs tend to work virtually, bill by the hour, and are often self-employed freelancers that probably serve many clients.

To learn more about hiring a VA, read my blog called I'M THINKING ABOUT HIRING A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT (VA). ANY TIPS?

THE KEY DIFFERENCES

Compared to a VA, an OBM…

😍 Will probably be your second in command

📈 Will help you to scale your business

🏢 Will have commercial and operational experience

👶 Won’t need to be told ‘what’ or ‘how’ to do their job. They’ll just need to know the results you’re after

👀 Will need little supervision

💷 Will cost you more

FIGURING OUT WHAT YOU NEED

Don’t go rushing into hiring either a VA or OBM without formulating your hiring strategy first 👍 Skip this MEGA crucial step, and you could end up paying for it further down the line ☹

To kick this off, ask yourself two important questions. These questions will help you to decide if you need a VA or an OBM. Or indeed, if you need to hire anybody at all!

1. Why are you hiring now?

You might be in the process of acquiring a new client – on a long-term contract – that’s worth thousands of pounds to your business. If that’s the case, you could use an OBM to oversee that project – including the people, processes, and systems work packages.

Or perhaps you’re hiring now, because you’re spending too much time answering emails and doing general business admin? Instead, you could be using that time to create new business opportunities. Therefore, a VA could help.

2. What will be different in six months’ time?

It’s incredibly useful to get down on paper what you expect to be different as a result of your new hire.

If you envisage being freed up from the day-to-day managing of your social media, then perhaps it’s a VA you’re after?

On the other hand, if you’re expecting to win new clients, then an OBM might be right for you.

To structure your strategy, download my FREE HIRING STRATEGY WORKBOOK.

PROTECT YOUR BUSINESS FROM A VA OR OBM

Okay, so I’m not suggesting your VA or OBM is a menacing character that you must defend yourself against ⚔

My point is this 👉 whether you get a VA or an OBM, that person is eventually going to know a lot about you and your business. They’ll be in a privileged position, with access to passwords, financial information, client lists, and more!

That’s why, it makes perfect business sense to protect yourself with a contract. Even if they’re self-employed contractors, you still need the security that a contract will bring you.

Check out my 👇


VIRTUAL ASSISTANT AGREEMENT (FOR WHEN YOU'RE HIRING A VA)

TO SUM THINGS UP THEN

🙋 OBMs are ultra-popular now, but it’s NOT a role that a VA could perform

👷 An OBM is a bit like an operational manager, overseeing things like your people, processes, and systems

💻 A VA will carry out essential tasks that you could probably do yourself, but it doesn’t make financial sense for you to do them

🤔 There are key differences between the two roles. It can be confusing when VAs market themselves as OBMs

📑 To figure out what you really need, start by formulating your hiring strategy

🔐 And, whatever you decide, make sure you protect your business with a robust contract. 

Feel free to book a free consultation with me if you have questions, or I can help you in anyway. 

Mandy Hamerla

Mandy Hamerla​


Virtual HR Director & Leadership Mentor. I create game-changing HR & Hiring Strategies for ambitious small businesses in the UK and support you to lead your team with confidence. Check out my shop to download HR Templates & Contracts designed to make life easier. 

​www.modernhr.co.uk