Here’s the Tea: Answering My Most Frequently Asked Questions About Online Business Management

Erica Macauley asks your online business management questions

So, you finally got your creative business off the ground. After months, maybe years, of working your ass off, you’re seeing a profit and are *gasp* starting to feel successful. Then, like so many entrepreneurs who’ve come before you, you have that oh shit moment: You know to keep growing, you need to make some grownup online business management moves. And that, my friends, is when you reach out to someone like me.

Running an online business ain’t for the faint of heart. And to do it well, you have to put all the right pieces into place. But where the hell are you supposed to start? When you’re a new online business owner, it’s kind of like walking into Target… or Zellers. Ahh… I miss Zellers. You think you know what you need, but there are SO MANY THINGS popping up left and right that you think you need, too. 

I hear from creative entrepreneurs just like you all the time, who want to take the next steps in their business and hire the right people, but have total Target-syndrome (or Zellers-syndrome. Shoutout to my Canadians!) So today, I’m answering the questions I get most often about online business management. Take a seat and get ready to scroll, because this post is full’o knowledge bombs that will make building your online business a lot easier.

“All This Online Business Management Jargon Is Confusing. What’s the Difference Between a Tool and a System?”

Hey, we’re all new to the lingo at some point. If you’ve figured out the difference between LOL and LMAO, you can get a handle on online business management terms with no sweat.

Here are some of the common terms you’ll see online and what they mean.

“Which Client Management Tool/Project Management Tool/Email Software/etc. Is Right for Me?”

If you were to ask me what kind of car you should buy, I could give you my best answer based on what your wants and needs are (Please never ask me about cars, though, I’m making a point here). You know what matters to you and what you’ll actually like driving, though. So when it comes to online business management tools, you have to be the one to decide which options are the best ones for you and what you’ll use

There are soooo many out there, and new resources coming out of the woodwork every day. I know it can be challenging to look at a sea of project management tools, for example, and pick the one that will be best for you. But you have to consider your needs, your personality, and what will help you be consistent. I mean, I’m a lot more likely to cook when I have a cool kitchen gizmo I like using. Feel me?

In my blog on choosing automation tools, I gave some good tips for narrowing down your choices–That post is a good place to start.

The other kinda crucial thing to consider is your currency. Not every tool works with every currency (i.e. If you’re Canadian, you can’t bill in USD in Honeybook), so make sure you can make money moves before you invest in anything.

“What Does an OBM Do?”

More like, what don’t we do? *dusts shoulders off* Alright, seriously, OBMs (Online Business Managers) are collaborative partners. We work with CEOs to handle online business management elements like projects, teams, and clients for their businesses, in addition to metrics tracking, basic financial analysis, and more. Basically, we’re the behind-the-scenes ninjas who keep shit moving on track.

“Why Can’t I Train up My VA to Be My OBM?”

Hey, I’m not here to say you can’t. Maybe you can… if you have a shitload of time and experience teaching someone how to be a successful OBM. The average business owner has neither of those things, though. It’s kind of like spending a bunch of money on some trending DIY project instead of just buying a finished product. Sure, you can do it, but is that really how you want to live your life? 

An OBM uses their finger to swipe on a tablet while working.

Also, to teach someone how to be an OBM that will kick ass in your business, you have to have a solid understanding of what OBMs do. And, you have to be working with a virtual assistant (VA) who has some serious chops: the kind that take them from task-based work to a management role, NBD. That’s not a super common combination of skills. But, if you have a unicorn VA that fits the bill and is qualified for that kind of move, more power to ya.

“How Can I Become a Project Manager or OBM? 

Umm… Have you looked this up yet? Because the answer is definitely on Google, and if you can’t do a basic search, I’m a little worried about your work as a project manager (PM) or OBM. 

The thing is, what you can bring to online business management all depends on your background. There are all sorts of roles that can give you the important skills you need to be a knockout PM or OBM, and if that’s you, get after it. If you don’t have the experience yet, but you’re ready to bust your ass and get yourself good and qualified, look into certifications or training programs that will get you where you need to be. Check out the Google Project Management: Professional Certificate or The Certified Online Business Manager® Training Program from the International Association of Online Business Managers.

“My Budget for Hiring Help in My Business Is Low Right Now. What Should I Do?”

Hey, we’ve all gotta start somewhere, and hiring someone awesome can help you move your business to the next level. It’s an investment but it’s worth it. So, take what you have to spend and get the best and most qualified help you can get at the top of your budget.

Getting someone good should bring some nice ROI to your business, and eventually, you’ll be making it rain (or, you know, expanding your budget a bit). Then, you can promote, retain, or replace your hire when you have more resources to work with.

“Do I Need to Hire a Full-Time OBM for My Business?” 

Look: Unless you’re absolutely crushing it and running a 7+ figure business with a big team, you probably don’t need a full-time OBM. If that is you, OH HEY, good for you!

More often, I see creative entrepreneurs who are still on their way to 7 figures. In that case, a part-time OBM can probably get all the things done that you need in part-time hours. Or, if you need a one-time system set up or audit, they can swoop in and save the day on a project-based setup.

An OBM writes in a notebook while their laptop sits on their lap. Online Business Management professionals can get a lot of work done with part-time hours.

“How Can I Find the Right OBM for Me?”

I say this in all seriousness: Do not mess around with hiring an OBM. It’s a super important position because of how closely they’ll work with a CEO and manage the team. It has to be someone capable, but more than that, they have to be the right fit.

Personality and company culture are a lot more important for OBMs than other roles you might hire in your company. Every OBM might not have my dazzling wit and sense of humor, but they should fit in with the type of business you’re building. Plus, OBMs are usually pretty speedy when it comes to learning new skills (thanks to our admin and management backgrounds). So, you can focus more on making sure they’re the right person for you than on hard skills. 

Now that I’ve wowed you with my online business management prowess, let’s see how I can help you. Check out my services page to learn about the different ways I give creative biz owners a hand with running their businesses… and doing less of the shit they don’t want to do.


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