choose the right online business manager

How To Choose The Right Online Business Manager For You

By Staff Writer

Are you thinking about working with an Online Business Manager but you aren’t sure what it’s all about? A little planning and understanding will help you choose the right Online Business Manager for you. 

Working with an Online Business Manager can be business changing.

Making sure you choose the right Online Business Manager for you helps to avoid turnover. And will get you the most out of your OBM partnership.

Meet Tish. She's a coach who works with families to help them through the world of Special Needs services.

Most of her coaching programs are offered online. She’s grown a very steady pace over the last couple of years.

She's hired a VA and someone to produce her podcast.

She even has a go-to graphics designer.

Unfortunately, she’s starting to find herself spending a lot of time working with each of her team members. She is often frustrated by helping them understand what she wants. 

Stressed for time

Recently, Tish attended a Mastermind group, virtually - of course. She heard from several different members about their experiences working with online business managers.

She was intrigued by the possibilities. But after listening to the varied experiences of her peers, she left feeling confused and overwhelmed. 

It seemed like a great solution but she didn't trust that it wouldn't be another bad outsourcing experience.

Download our Ultimate Guide to Delegating for More Tips & Tools on How to Delegate as a Solopreneur

Know What YOU Need

Online business managers are a really great way to help coaches build and grow their coaching business without adding extra hours to their workload.

In fact, OBMs usually relieve you of work so you have more time to do the things that you choose to do.

But not all online business managers are created equal. If you don’t know what you are looking for, you may end up with more of a mess than you bargained for.

Rest Stop

Wondering why you might want to hire an Online Business Manager? Check out this article

Let’s explore a little more about what you need to know to find the right online business manager for you. 

What IS An Online Business Manager Anyway?

You’ve heard the term but you may not have a good understanding of what an Online Business Manager, aka OBM, is or what he or she does. 

OBMs are a category of freelancers typically known as Virtual Business Managers.

The terms Virtual Business Manager and Online Business Manager are often synonymous. However, there is a slight difference between the two.

While both can help manage businesses remotely.

Online Business Managers focus on managing online businesses. 

An online business could be an e-commerce site, affiliate marketing, vlogs or blogs, SaaS (software as a solution) companies, or digital products, just to name a few.

With this large variety of online businesses, it’s easy to see how the world of Online Business Managers is growing at exponential rates!

online business manager

Know What To Expect

What does an online business manager, um, well, manage?

There is often some confusion regarding the role and responsibilities of an OBM.

A great OBM is best utilized to manage projects and teams, not to perform most of the tasks.

While there may be some tasks that an OBM will perform simply because they can, many of the tasks will be outsourced to other experts.

Currently, Tish is acting as the business manager.

She’s in charge of making sure each person knows what to do, how to do it, and that they get it done. 

And this is where you start to see that not all OBMs are created equal.

One of the reasons that different people have different experiences with their OBMs is because they have different expectations than the OBM does. 

What Do You Do Well?

Part of the problem is that OBMs vary greatly in their expertise.

Many OBMs will come to you with prior management experience in specific key areas such as social media, content creation, or administration, for example. 

There’s a reason that traditional businesses have specialized positions. They have Office Managers, Production Managers, Marketing Managers, HR managers, etc…

It’s because each area of business has its own set of skills and challenges.

But, typically, there is one main general manager who handles the management of the entire company. 

Most often, an MBA is the ideal candidate for the general manager position.

Master of Business

Let’s look at it in terms of the MBA, from Wikipedia: 

The Master of Business Administration (MBA or M.B.A.) degree originated in the United States in the early 20th century when the country industrialized and companies sought scientific management.[1] The core courses in an MBA program cover various areas of business administration such as accounting, applied statistics, human resources, business communication, business ethics, business law, business strategy, finance, managerial economics, management, entrepreneurship, marketing, supply-chain management, and operations management in a manner most relevant to management analysis and strategy.

If your business is exclusively online, your online business manager can serve as your general manager. 

While you may not require your OBM to have an MBA degree, you are looking for someone with equivalent work experience.

work experience

Choose What to Delegate

If you work with both online and offline aspects of your business, your online business manager may only manage one part.

Good OBMs have a wide base of knowledge without going deep into any one area.

This varied experience allows them to help with the overall management of the online elements of your business.

If you simply need someone who is great at social media and can manage social media marketing for you, then you’d want to hire a social media manager, not an online business manager. 

Clarify Your Expectations

But those expectations should be made clear in the interview process and discussed when things change.

Trouble may also happen when a business owner expects their online business manager to manage things outside of his or her areas of expertise.

Think of asking an HR manager to manage production.

Often, the OBM is not upfront with their client to let them know the request is not a good fit.

Matching Expertise With Projects

Having conversations early, and often, will help to make sure everyone is having the best possible experience with the greatest possible results.

As a business owner, your job is to guide your team and focus your time on doing the things that only you can do.

When you hire a virtual assistant, you are choosing to delegate tasks.

When you work with an OBM, you are delegating projects.

Which projects you delegate will be determined by your OBMs areas of expertise.

choose the right online business managerChoosing The Right OBM For YOUR Needs

With there being such a huge discrepancy in the quality of online business managers, how do you hire the right one? 

How do you choose the right online business manager?

How do you ensure their experience is well-suited for your particular project management needs?

Write a clear job description

Depending on how you do your hiring, you may or may not be posting an actual job description somewhere.

But even if you don’t, a well-written job description will help you to have a clear idea of what your needs and desires are. offers some great tips on writing a good job description.

For example, they suggest clearly describing tasks without using jargon or vague descriptions.  

Interview Several Candidates

Hiring well takes time.

Don’t look at the first few resumes, have one interview, and offer the job on the spot.

From our experience, the first candidate usually looks pretty good until you interview several more!

Take your time. Make a list to help you evaluate the prospects, and check out our article on online business manager interview questions you can ask.

online business manager interview

Ask for Referrals

Referrals are generally going to provide glowing reports about your potential candidates.

It can be tricky to know what questions you can and can’t ask.

However, when you’ve nailed down a few key questions, you can get the 'inside scoop' on what your candidate may not share with you.  

Check Social Media 

We hate to admit this but checking what your candidate is posting on is such an important step these days.

There are stories everywhere of employees who said or did something, shared on social media, and ultimately damaged the reputation of the company.

While we can’t avoid ALL of these situations, we can minimize them by reviewing social media profiles before hiring.

Pro Tip

Because some discriminatory information (such as race or religion) may be revealed from checking social media, it’s important to do this step only AFTER you have considered a candidate as a valid option.

Do a Careful Review

Hopefully, you took some great notes on each candidate up to this point.

Virtual A Team potential candidate ranking system.

We've identified the skills and traits that are most important and rate them throughout each step.

This helps take the guesswork out of hiring and makes the process less subjective.

That being said, gut instinct is something we measure but it's only one part of the overall candidate rating. 

right candidate

Interview Again

That’s right. The best companies will tell you to conduct more than one interview with your top-pick candidates.

The second interview is an opportunity for you to chat with a candidate when they are more relaxed.

It gives you the opportunity to clarify their answers to any outstanding questions you might have.

It also gives you another chance to ask more granular 'pocket questions' to further evaluate if this is the right Online Business Manager for you. 

Red Flags

If you’ve never hired an Online Business Manager before, you may not know what to look out for.

Here are some red flags that may signal a less than ideal candidate:

  • A Yes Ma’amer - This is the person who agrees with everything you say all the time. While an OBM isn’t a coach, he or she should be able to give you ideas or call you out when something doesn’t fit with your goals. They are there to help you grow your business and sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know.
  • Negativity. It’s rare to see this in an interview when prospects are on their best behavior so if it does come out, you know it will only get worse. 
  • Short Answers - While not everyone is going to be thoroughly expressive in an interview, someone who is able to talk through ideas and concepts with you will likely be a better long term fit.
  • REALLLLLLLLYYYY LONG Answers - on the flip side, if someone is extremely long-winded, that may use up a lot of your time.
  • Someone who is JUST LIKE YOU!  - One huge trap coaches fall into is getting along so well with someone because they are just like them and then hiring them. You don’t want or need a clone (as much as you think you do). You need someone who compliments your abilities and can pick up slack in areas you aren’t great in.

That’s a Wrap!

The right Online Business Manager can help to relieve a lot of the overwhelm of managing the online areas of your business.

Take your time in finding the right fit.

Experience the greatest return on your investment by determining your exact needs. And investing time to find the 'right-fit' OBM who will compliment your skills and can help you manage your online business needs 

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