You’ve probably heard the term Online Business Manager (or OBM) and are wondering who they are and what they do? So, let’s get started.
An online business manager works with other online entrepreneurs to run the day to day operations, although some OBMs don’t work exclusively for online businesses, some work for bricks and mortar businesses as well.
As an online business manager is a partner, sounding board and your new business BFF. We work in the back end of a business, making sure it all runs like a well oiled machine and typically manage a team (even if that happens to be just 1 other freelancer), whilst our clients focus on serving their clients and creating a bigger impact in the world.
Who hires an Online Business Manager?
When you first start out in the world of business, you end up doing all the things and wearing all the hats. You are the manager AND the employee. In the first instance, business owners will often hire a VA to take over some of the tasks for them, so they can stop being the doer. Continuing to try to do it all can become extremely overwhelming and we risk burning out if the situation continues for a prolonged period of time. At the end of the day, you didn’t start your business to work 24/7, did you?
So, at what point do you need to hire an OBM? I’d say most online business owners typically hire an OBM when they have less than 10 team members (15 at the most, but you really don’t need a big team to run a business effectively, more on that another day) and are generating roughly between £150,000 to £750,000 (200,000 USD – 1,000,000 USD). Once you hit over the 1 million mark, its probably better to consider hiring a full time employee in a Director of Operations role.
What does an Online Business Manager do day to day?
When you embark on hiring and working with an OBM, you are hiring your second in command. The one who is going to take over in your abscence, so it is really important that the business owner’s number communicates very clearly what their vision, mission, values and goals are. An OBM cannot help achieve the vision, mission or goals, if the client is unable to communicate where they are right now and where they want to be.
I would say it takes a good 90 days for an online business manager to get up to speed as well. We need to get inside the business, see the back-end to be able to fully understand the business model, what the team are doing, who is responsible for what, the income generating activities and most importantly the client, how he or she works. It gives us a chance to figure out what needs to be tackled first and to see what the client likes to do, doesn’t like to do and where the best use of their time really is.
Here are some of the business activities we tend to get involved in managing:
A huge part of our role as an OBM is implementation. If you have read Traction by Gino Wickman, we are integrators. We do a lot of the doing. For example, perhaps there is no project management system in place. Perhaps the onboarding and offboarding process is done manually, sporadically with no defined process in place. We would jump in and take that over, document the processes, put the systems in place, implement the tech needed, manage the team members and generally make sure shit gets done without any issues. We make sure everyone knows their role and responsibilities as well as managing any other projects.
Our clients bring the strategy and the goals and we bring our experience of working with other clients. We love to strategise and share our knowledge and experience of what has worked well for other clients. Using our experience, we make suggestions for improvements and then focusing on turning the strategy into a plan of action.
More often then not we are the person to hold space for our clients, so you can share your ideas and get clarity on them. I love being a sounding board to my clients, alongside the strategy part, it is the most enjoyable part of being an OBM because it enables me to solidify my relationship with my clients. I get a deeper understanding of where the business is going and our relationship then becomes one based on complete trust. This in turn creates a bond that serves to improve their business through a partnership.
An OBM’s job is to understand the vision, to be the keeper of the vision and goals. To steer the ship in the right direction. Understanding the vision and goals fully is very important, because sometimes we may be required to make decisions on behalf of the client. If we aren’t clear on the vision, it can be very hard to make a decision. Sometimes what can happen is that we actually end up being clearer on the vision and direction than the client! In that scenario, we need to have the confidence to speak up and say, actually no I don’t think you should focus on that because it isn’t aligned with the vision right now.
We are not just an OBM, we are entrepreneurs ourselves and with that comes the need for excellent soft skills. We need to fully step into our leadership role, bring the right mindset, have great communication skills and be able to manage things with a cool calm head when things go wrong. In some cases this may even goes as far as creating a company culture for our client by putting things in place to create the right environment.
What makes a fantastic OBM?
Helping to get clients out of reactionary mode and freeing up clients from the day to day operations. But what does that really mean? Let’s explore this a little more.
Getting out of reactionary mode
Reactionary businesses are those that are in chaos for example, an email went out with the first name tag missing or the wrong link. People may be running around like headless chickens trying to constantly fire fight issues. OBMs help to banish the need to fight fires. We create and define the systems needed to implement structure, so that the business spends more time running on systems and not on people. We will also be proactive in assessing any gaps and bringing the right team members onboard to move the business in the right direction.
Free up clients from day to day
Sometimes we may walk into a clients business and see that there is no project management tool, 5 team members who have no idea what they are supposed to be doing, let alone what anyone else is doing, they haven’t had a team meeting in forever, mistakes keep happening and its just a complete and utter mess. An Online Business Manager’s role is to work their magic and release the client from this chaos so they can focus on the tasks that only they can do, such as writing a book, creating a new course, jumping on sales calls, serving clients, nurturing their own community etc… Enabling you, the client, to breathe a huge sigh of relief.
If after reading all that you are sat there thinking, god I really need to get out from under my business, and you feel like you may have reached the point where you need to hire an Online Business Manager, I’d love to hear from you. My DMs on Instagram are always open or you can book a discovery call here.
Let’s talk about how to manage your passwords. It won’t be long until the next big data security incident hits the headlines, where personal information including usernames and passwords are hacked. Leaving cyber criminals to their own devices to do as they please with this highly sensitive information.
Never has protecting your personal information online been so important. The best way to do that is by using a password manager. LastPass is one of the best and most secure ways to manage your passwords.
Are You Making These Password Mistakes?
You probably think have a pretty good system in place currently, right? If you do you do any of the following, you might want to rethink:
save your usernames and passwords in your search engine, (e.g. Chrome, Safari, Firefox or Internet Explorer)
use your contacts or notes on your iPhone or Android to store usernames and passwords (including pin numbers)
keep a record of all your usernames and passwords in Excel or Word
use the same username and password for EVERYTHING
If you do any of these please stop. RIGHT. NOW.
It’s time to manage your passwords, the right way. Safely and securely.
Let’s take a look at what a password manager is, how you use it and why you should be using it.
What is a Password Manager?
Let’s have a look at what Wikipedia has to say on the matter:
I was first introduced to LastPass back in 2015 when I was looking at setting up my VA business and its one of the tools that I could not run my business without. In fact it is the one tool I use EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I would be completely and utterly lost without it as I use it for my business.
I actually insist that all my clients create an account and then install the add-on to their Web Browsers. There is no need for me to see all their passwords, I just need them to share them with me securely enabling me to login, so I can help them run their business.
Did I mention that I don’t just use it for work, I use it to manage all of my personal logins as well?
4 Reason to manage your passwords with a Password Manager?
Here are my own top 4 reasons to use a password manager:
Increase your brain power
We live in a world of tech overwhelm. At times, it really is too much. Using a password manager is the fastest and most efficient way to log in to any website. You just click a button. We use so many tools to run our businesses today, using a password manager leaves you with the additional brain capacity to be creative, not having to remember a bazillion passwords (or worse, using the same one over and over again…).
If you use a spreadsheet or write them all down in a notebook, imagine if both of those were compromised? What is you were hacked? Or worse, a client was hacked? Is it really worth it.
Life is too short to waste time on trying 5 different passwords to login, only to get really frustrated because you can’t remember exactly which one it is. You only need to remember the master password to login and access your vault. Doesn’t that sound amazing?
Sharing passwords is safe and a breeze
Most of the top password managers will encrypt your data in a way that keeps you safe. The thing I love about LastPass is that they data you store in your vault is kept secret. Even LastPass don’t have access.
As I have already mentioned I get my clients to use it to share their passwords with me and then I can share those with any team members that may also need access. I have folders within my vault for each client so I can find them easily. I can’t see the passwords or edit them, keeping the clients login details safe and secure.
The best part is the free version is perfect, you can do all the things you need to with the free version. The pro version only costs just £31 for the year and means you can use it on your Tablet and Phone too, great if you happen to be travelling. Winner.
Choosing a password manager
If you happen to be like me and work with multiple clients with multiple logins to hundreds of different systems, a password manager makes it fast and simple. Personally I love LastPass and like I said before I recommend it to all my clients. LastPass is the dogs bollocks in my personal opinion, but you really need to do your own research and find one that works for you and meets your needs. Just make sure you choose one with a good reputation, otherwise you could be unwillingly putting your data into the hands of cyber criminals.
If you are researching questions to ask a virtual assistant, I am guessing that you are considering taking that leap and hiring one? Congratulations, you are one step closer to enjoying more time and more freedom in your life and business.
Still not sure if a VA is for you right now? Hopefully this blog post will help get your head around the hiring process and give you the confidence to go ahead and get started.
The virtual assistant world has grown massively in the past nearly 7 years I have been a part of it. More and more people are branding themselves as virtual assistants offering a vast array of services and expertise. This is of course a fantastic opportunity for you as an entrepreneur, coach or consultant, as you can benefit hugely from highly skilled people to support you and your business. Equally it means there are so many people to choose from, which can be overwhelming. So where do you begin?
Before you even consider signing a contract, there are a few things you need to consider to make sure you are in the right place to hire a VA:
Get really clear on EXACTLY where you need help
Identify the MUST HAVE personality traits, who do you work best with? What type of person are you looking for?
Write a job description outlining the tasks so you can easily identify the skill set you need, this will help you hire for the role rather than just the tasks.
You could easily hire someone to help with your tasks on sites such as Upwork and Fiver. Although I wouldn’t recommend that necessarily, my first port of call would always be to ask your network for a recommendation before using a freelancing site to hire someone. More often than not you will find there are a number of VAs in the groups you are members of on Facebook or someone in there will at least know a VA and be able to recommend them. Lastly my suggestion would be to use social media, such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to find a VA using hashtags or a quick search.
My personal favourite is to go with a recommendation, as this is likely to increase your chances of finding the right virtual assistant for you. Now it’s time for some research
Questions To Ask A Virtual Assistant
Once you have found a few VAs, undertaken some social stalking, shortlist your favourites and then interview them. Most VAs that are running serious businesses will offer new clients a free Discovery Call to see if you are the right fit to work with one another. Use this call as your chance to find out as much as you can about them, to make sure you are on the same page and share the same values. To help you get started here are 20 questions to ask before you hire a virtual assistant.
So here are a list of the questions to ask a Virtual Assistant before your hire them:
How long have you been working as a virtual assistant?
Why did you decide to become a virtual assistant?
What do you enjoy most about your work?
What is your background, experience and do you have a specific skill set?
Do you work as a freelancer or do you have your own company?
What time zone are you located in?
What are you normal working hours?
How many clients do you have?
Will my work be subcontracted to someone else?
What are your main methods of communication?
What is your turnaround time on projects?
How soon can I expect you to respond to an email or voicemail?
Do you charge for time spent emailing or on the phone?
How is time billed? In 15 minute increments? By project?
How much do you charge an hour? Do you offer retainers?
How do you invoice?
Are you willing to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement?
What software/programmes do you use and are experienced with?
What security measures do you have in place? (Password, Data, Backup etc..)
Do you have any client testimonials?
Out of everything you do for clients, what is your favourite? Where is your zone of genius?
Do you have insurance?
What happens if you need to take a day off sick?
These questions to ask a virtual assistant are intended to get your started, I am sure you will think of your own as you go through them, ones that are more relevant to you and your business. However, hopefully these 20 questions are enough to help you feel less overwhelmed and more in control. I’ve created a copy of them for you to download HERE.
My Top Tip
Always go with your gut. If it feels right and you think you’ll work well together, chances are you will. The times I haven’t gone with my gut instinct are the times when things haven’t quite worked out the way I wanted or expected and I’ve ended up kicking myself! If you still aren’t sure, give them a trial project before your hire them, ‘date’ them and see how they perform. Then you’ll know if you can trust your gut or not!
Today I am sharing how to get your systems setup in a weekend. This is pretty much the exact process I follow when it comes to setting up the basic systems for my clients.
If you are just starting out, or have perhaps been in business a while, I’m guessing that you probably have signed up for every software programme out there. Asana, Trello, Planoly, ClickUp, Later, Buffer, Dubsado, etc……the list goes on. But the fundamental problem you have it that so far nothing has worked. You’ve flip flopped from one system to another hoping something will work and wondering how the hell you actually create this time freedom every ‘guru’ keeps telling you about. The problem is you have no idea where to even start to maximise your productivity, simplify your business or make the tech work for you. That is because you are knee deep doing all the things, stuck in the day to day operations. Fear not, I’m here to help you get clarity on your processes.
By following these simple steps, you can get your systems set up with ease and get back to being the soul-led CEO.
Step 1: Define your Customer Journey
Your customer journey is quite possibly the most crucial step in your systems setup. Your whole business hinges on this, nail this process and the rest of the systems in your business will slot into place. Grab a piece of paper and a pain and write down every single touch point your customer goes through on their journey from cold lead to hot client.
Here is what it may look like:
Lead Capture: How do people find out more? Is it a form on your website? Your Sales page? Link from IG? Facebook? Download your freebie?
Discovery call: How do they book a call? Where do they schedule it? What does this look like? Do they need to fill out an application form?
Proposal, Contract, Invoice: Do you offer a standard package, could you can turn it into a standardised proposal? What about a contract? Do you have standard terms or different terms for your services? How do you invoice them?
Onboarding – What happens after a lead becomes a hot client? Do you have an initial client kick off call? This includes things like new client forms, welcome pack, welcome email, next steps.
Working with you/Setting boundaries: What is working with you like? Do they need to schedule calls? Fill out forms or questionnaires? How do they reach you, if they need you? Is this covered in your welcome pack?
Offboarding: archiving files, reviews, testimonial, deleting from any systems, goodbye/closing email
Step 2: Choosing your Tech and Tools
You’ve probably already got all the tech and all the tools (hello shiny object syndrome), but what do you really need? Let’s take a look at the 3 main functions you need to consider in your systems setup, in order to create a seamless, stress free experience for you, your team and most importantly your customer
Scheduling – This is going to save you a shit load of time because this is where your propects, team and clients have direct access to your calendar. No more going back and forth over emails trying to find a date and time that works for everyone. You get the appointments booked straight into your calendar, easy peasy lemon squeezy.
Ones to consider: Calendly, Acuity, Dubsado Scheduler (although this is still in Beta and can be a bit sketchy)
For this I would consider 17 Hats, Dubsado, Honeybook (You can absolutely build a custom set up with a little bit of work and the help of Zapier)
3. Project Management – the last piece in the puzzle. The number one place to keep ALL your tasks, process, projects and SOPs in one place. Perfect for managing your clients and your team, so you can stay on track and super organised.
For this consider: Asana, ClickUp, Trello or Monday (my personal favs are Asana and ClickUp)
Step 3: Setup your Client Management System
Now you’ve take the time to think about your customer journey, you need to grab that piece of paper again and get to work creating the various elements. Here’s what you need to consider creating if you don’t already have it in place:
Initial contact email
Scheduling email to book a discovery call
Client Testimonial/Case Study Email + Form
Do this once and you won’t need to do it again. It will not only save you time, but by using a tool like Dubsado you can automate a large part of the process, which will give your new and existing clients an amazing customer experience they’ll want to shout about from the roof tops.
Once you are happy with your customer journey, you can turn it into a process. List out all the steps as individual tasks and add it to your project management system, so that every time you onboard a new client, you know with certainty that every single step has been completed.
Step 4: Setup your Project Management System
A project management systems is the key to running a successful uncomplicated business. It’s a good exercise to sit down and draw an organisational chart, with all the different departments of your business and then set your project management tool up like this.
For Example: Marketing (department/team), Editorial Calendar (project) in Asana
There is no one size fits all up set up, you need to find what works best for you. Start simple, play around with your set up and then you can continually add to it.
Here are a few ideas for departments to get your started:
Vision + Planning
Sales + Marketing
Launches + Funnels
Step 5: Get More Strategic
Now you have found a set up that works for you, it’s time to build it out. Start adding all your projects to your project management tool of choice. Here are a few ideas to get you started and how I have mine set up.
Vision + Planning – great place to map out your goals for the year and the next 3,5,10 years. Also the perfect place to record your values, mission statement and anything else that is essential to building and growing your business. You could even put your vision board here, so you see it daily if a digital rather than a paper version works best for you.
Team – use this to create a list of all the roles within your business, who does what, their responsibilities, who you have already hired, what positions are still open, even the recruitment process with possible candidates could be included here.
Marketing – editorial calendar, instagram plan/schedule, FB Group, Pinterest, Ad campaigns, basically any marketing activities you do that will be useful to keep track of.
SOPs – this is your business bible, the guide to running your business should an emergency arise and you can’t be in your business running the day to day. Every task you perform is a process, whether you realise it or not. So next time you are undertaking a task, note down the steps, use Loom to create a video and add it in this section. You can either add all your project templates here or create a separate ‘team’ to put them in.
Step 6: Reflect, Review and Refine
Follow these simple steps and I guarantee you will be able to get your systems setup in a weekend. Remember, no process is perfect. As you grow and evolve, systems and processes change, and that’s ok.
It is important to regularly review processes, to reflect on what is working, review it in action and then refine it to make it better and more efficient. Don’t forget that some of the tools mentioned about enable you to automate some of these tasks, e.g. Dubsado. It is fantastic for this, it enables you to create workflows that just happen in the background, removing you from parts of the process completely.
Never forget that this is your business, so you get to run it in a way that feels good for you. No one person’s processes are the same. We all do things differently, that is what makes us all unique. It is also the reason why it is important to create SOPs for every part of your business, it creates consistency and efficiency. We only want to do the hard work once, not continually recreate the wheel.
Building your business systems takes time. It doesn’t have to be perfect, you just have to make a start.
If you still feel overwhelmed or feel like you don’t have the time for this, get in touch. Tech and systems are my jam and I’d love to help. Shoot me a DM on Insta or find out how to work with me here.
Today I’m delving deeper into my spiritual side and sharing what I do when there is a full moon and/or when I am ovulating, because my cycle mostly is in sync with the 29 day cycle of the moon.
The full moon is a great time to connect with yourself, clear any unwanted energy, as well as open your heart and mind to what is possible. I love the natural rhythms of the moon and my own menstrual cycle. It gives me a chance to reconnect with myself and tap into my inner wisdom. I find doing this helps me to manage my anxiety and to live a life more in flow.
To mark this shift not only in the lunar cycle, but my own menstrual cycle phase of ovulation (typically cycle days 14-20), I will be setting my intentions and making my wishes for the next 29 days.
Here is what I do…⠀
☾ Light a candle, ground myself (take 3 deep breathes) and focusing purely on being present. Letting go of the thoughts that plague my mind (which can be overwhelming at times).
☾ Next I’ll take a few moments to think about what I want to let go of and what I want to receive.
☾ Grab a piece of paper (or your journal) and note down all the things you would like to show up in your life over the next month – let’s call these your full moon wishes.