What is an Online Business Manager?

What is an Online Business Manager?

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:

  • Operations Management
  • Team Management
  • Launch Management
  • Website Management
  • Project Management
  • Speaker Engagement Management
  • Revenue Stream Management
  • Marketing Management
  • Business Metrics and reporting
  • Affiliate Management

If you want a breakdown of tasks or a more extensive list, you can grab a PDF copy of our OBM Services list here.

What do OBMs bring to the table?

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.

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How to Ask the Right Questions and Hire a Virtual Assistant with Ease

How to Ask the Right Questions and Hire a Virtual Assistant with Ease

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?

Getting Started

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:

  1. How long have you been working as a virtual assistant?
  2. Why did you decide to become a virtual assistant?
  3. What do you enjoy most about your work?
  4. What is your background, experience and do you have a specific skill set?
  5. Do you work as a freelancer or do you have your own company?
  6. What time zone are you located in?
  7. What are you normal working hours?
  8. How many clients do you have?
  9. Will my work be subcontracted to someone else?
  10. What are your main methods of communication?
  11. What is your turnaround time on projects?
  12. How soon can I expect you to respond to an email or voicemail?
  13. Do you charge for time spent emailing or on the phone?
  14. How is time billed? In 15 minute increments? By project?
  15. How much do you charge an hour? Do you offer retainers?
  16. How do you invoice?
  17. Are you willing to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement?
  18. What software/programmes do you use and are experienced with?
  19. What security measures do you have in place? (Password, Data, Backup etc..)
  20. Do you have any client testimonials?
  21. Out of everything you do for clients, what is your favourite? Where is your zone of genius?
  22. Do you have insurance?
  23. 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!

Are you looking for a VA? Do you need some advice? Let’s grab a coffee and have a virtual chat. You can book a call here.

How to Make Better Decisions in Your Business and Your Life

How to Make Better Decisions in Your Business and Your Life

How to Make Better Decisions in Your Business and Your Life

Emma O'Connell

21st July 2020

Are you terrible at making decisions?

Do you go back and forth a million times, agonising over what to do? Then in the end you get so overwhelmed that you end up making NO decision at all because quite frankly it’s just easier. Perhaps you’ve struggled to sleep, tossing and turning, worrying about doing the ‘right thing’. Sound familiar?

I am bad at making decisions. Not so much in my business, but give me a menu in a restaurant and I struggle to decide what I want to eat. I just find it very overwhelming because I LOVE food. But that isn’t the only thing I agonise over, choosing a school for my son was also a pretty overwhelming decision.

We are faced with making decisions everyday of our lives. Some are small, but some are massive life changing decisions that have the power to completely overwhelm us. But what if there was a way to lift that heavy weight off your shoulders and make decisions with greater ease? Well there is and it involves tapping into your menstrual cycle (and the hormones at play).

Here is how you can get started:

TUNING IN WITH YOUR BODY

There is no one size fits all solution here since we are all different, but the key lies in understanding the natural rhythms of your body through your menstrual cycle and knowing where you are in your cycle before making any decisions.

If you know that you feel terrible at a certain point in your cycle, it probably is not the best time to make any decisions. Be aware of making decisions around ovulation since any  decisions you make now you will likely need to be followed through on during the luteal phase when you are premenstrual.

We are faced with making decision every single day, some are small but some are big life changing decisions that have the potential to completely overwhelm us. What if there was a way to lift that heavy weight off your shoulders and make decisions with greater ease?

UNDERSTANDING THE SEASONS OF THE MENSTRUAL CYCLE

Winter (menstruation, your time to bleed) is the perfect time to reflect. You can go deep and meditate and journal, but equally grabbing some fresh air and being outside in nature can make a huge difference to getting some mental clarity. Take a break, get off social media and see what happens, you may find that suddenly all the pieces of the puzzle slot together.

Spring (pre-ovulation) is a great season to test things out. Go with what feels good and make a decision from that place.

Summer (ovulatory phase) is the part of the cycle where you feel more daring, ready to take a risk and try something new. This is the best time to make big bold decisions and take any steps that are going to propel you forwards.

Autumn (post ovulation) is a time to slow down and assess what is and isn’t working for you. For some, it is a great time to make decisions because making decisions can be easier. On the other hand, having to make decisions during this phase can be overwhelming.

MAKE TIME TO EAT RIGHT

If you are fueling your body with sugar and caffeine and have a tendency to skip meals as well, this really won’t help you make decisions with ease or clarity. Instead you are adding fuel to the fire as this concoction is a recipe for de-stablising your blood sugar and causing more mental confusion.

You need to make sure you eat regularly. Now is the time to stop skipping meals. If you ensure that every meal contains protein, this will help give your body the nourishment it needs to make effective decision, ones from your gut (the good old gut instinct) rather than being ruled by your head (and your ego).

If you loved this blog post, don’t forget to sign up to my newsletter to get weekly doses of inspiration and insights. You can sign up at the bottom of this page.

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How to Conduct a Business Systems Audit for Growth

How to Conduct a Business Systems Audit for Growth

How to Conduct a Business Systems Audit for Growth

Emma O'Connell

4th July 2020

You might not even be aware, but running an online business involves a lot of processes and systems. Every task you perform is linked to a process and a bigger system.

Systems don’t last forever, sadly. They are in fact an ever evolving part of your business that change as you build, grow and scale. With that in mind, it is a good idea to audit your business systems every quarter to six months by blocking out time in your calendar to take stock.

Time to step into your CEO shoes.

WHY YOU NEED TO AUDIT YOUR SYSTEMS

The whole concept of systems might seem overwhelming, but our everyday life is full of them. The way you clean your bathroom, do your washing, even putting your children to bed at night, is your own little process or system. But systems don’t last forever. Your children grow up and things need to change.

Sometimes systems just stop working.  It isn’t because they weren’t good systems in the first place, but rather our needs shift and our systems need to adjust in line with those changes.

Before the whole world was thrown into a pandemic and covid-19 created a new normal, my grocery shopping was disorganised. I didn’t meal plan. I frequently dragged my two children to the supermarket in search of food and inspiration. When the government told us that we were to “Stay home. Save lives. Protect the NHS”, suddenly things needed to change. So we actually started meal planning, making a list of the things are needed for those meals and then going shopping once a week, our one essential trip. I’ll be honest, it has been a complete game changer. The stress of looking at the fridge and wondering what the hell I am going to cook, and then making a desperate trip to the supermarket has stopped and with a new process in place it has suddenly become so much easier, even more joyful. And it is a process that is here to stay.

At times it can be very obvious that things aren’t working out and something needs to change. Other times you might not be fully aware that things are broken. This is why taking the time to check-in and review is so important, so you can actually ask yourself – is this really working? Or could this be done better?

Whilst conducting a business systems audit in itself isn’t really rocket science, blocking out time to go through every process with a fine tooth comb, is pretty dull and boring. But it is essential. Take the time to ask yourself whether the systems and tools that you DO have in place are being used and leveraged to the best of their ability or if there are further systems and tools you need to look at implementing. Doing this will save you time (and subsequently more energy) and will help you move your business forwards.

Having clear systems and processes in place will remove the overwhelm each time you have to tackle something you dread, such as client on-boarding or writing a blog post. It might not be the most fun or sexy task (like creating graphics in Canva), but trust me, taking the time to go through this will be worth it in the end because you will be able to remove yourself from a lot of the ‘busy’ work and that is the end goal we are all working towards.

Whilst conducting a business systems audit might not be rocket science, it is pretty dull and boring. But oh so worth it to see your business grow the right way, without the stress and overwhelm.

HOW TO AUDIT YOUR SYSTEMS 

The best way to approach a systems audit is to break it down into three parts: Reflect, Review and Refresh. 

STEP ONE: REFLECT

Make some time to sit down and reflect on the past 6 months. Ask yourself these questions:

 

  • How do you feel about the past 6 months?
  • What has worked well? What hasn’t worked so well? 
  • How do you feel about your business over the past 6 months? What are you happy with? What needs to be improved?
  • How was your work/life balance?
  • How did you spend your time over the past 6 months? How do you feel about that?
  • What did you prioritise over the past 6 months? How do you feel about that
  • Have the past 6 months bought you closer to your big goals, your big picture vision or taken you further away?

STEP TWO: REVIEW

Time to walk through and review all of the systems in your business and ask yourself these questions:

 

  • How do you feel about the systems you have in place? Are they working for you?
  • What systems and tools are working well? What aren’t working?
  • Do you have recorded processes and systems for ALL parts of your business?
  • Do you feel like something can be improved?
  • Are there people or automations that can replace some parts or even some steps?
  • Is there a step that doesn’t make sense?
  • Is there a step that is missing?
  • Has something shifted or changed in your business that now renders a particular step obsolete?

STEP THREE: REFRESH

Now you have identified what is and isn’t working and the areas for improvement or change. It’s time to implement. Re-record any videos you have created, rewrite the checklists, update the documentation, tell all team members about the changes and run through them. Either test them yourself if you don’t have a team or get your team to run through them and check they are working.

Now the only other thing left to do is to schedule in another business systems audit for the next quarter or for six months time.

 

I’ve created a Business Systems Audit Worksheet for you, that you can print off and reuse every 3-6 months. Click here to download it now.

If you want to join other like-minded female entrepreneurs who want to create a simplified and streamlined business that enables them to focus on maximising you impact, income and influence come and join the Facebook Group.

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