An Online Business Manager vs a Virtual Assistant

Ten years ago, virtual assistants were mostly unheard of. 

The thought of having someone working for you, that you’d never actually met and never came into your office, seemed pretty strange and certainly out of the norm.

Now it is so commonplace, it’s almost weird NOT to have some of your staff working virtually.  

In fact some companies, like buffer, have embraced the virtual concept so well, they don’t even have a head office and their entire team works virtually in 14 different cities around the world.

Doist is another company changing the workplace paradigm with a completely remote team in over 20 countries.

Virtual and online teams are the future of business.

Online Business Manger vs Virtual Assistant.png

It is fair to say, most people are very aware of virtual assistants and what they can do for your business.

But an online business manager may not be something you’ve heard of before.

To be honest, I’d only heard of that role description in the last year, despite that being pretty much exactly what I was doing for some time now.

I had previously explained my role as like a “hands on” business consultant - an advisor who helps you not just work out the strategy, but actually helps you implement it as well.

Which is exactly what an Online Business Manager does.

Skilled Virtual Assistants often move into Online Business Management roles as they gain experience and there can be a little bit of crossover between the roles.

You could say that an Online Business Manager is a bit like a virtual assistant on steroids crossed with a Business Consultant.

Here are some ways Virtual Assistants (VA’s) and Online Business Managers (OBM’s) are similar, yet different.

  1. Freeing up time in your day
    A virtual assistant will complete tasks you give them. You will need to train them on how to do each task. An online business manager spend a time getting to know you and your business and will then suggest to you which tasks to outsource.

    The OBM may complete those tasks personally where appropriate or may suggest a virtual assistant to do the tasks AND train the virtual assistant how to do them. An OBM can save you a lot more time, as they generally require minimal/far less training than a VA.

    ✓ VA - does the tasks
    ✓ OBM - creates the tasks (and may do some of the tasks)



  2. Different skill level
    A virtual assistant tends to have more basic experience or experience in one or two specialised areas - for example blog posting, customer service or social media.

    An online business manager is usually someone who has extensive experience and knowledge across a broad range of areas - either from working in a corporate role like an Executive PA, Office Manager or Operations Manager, or extensive experience running their own business(es). This means they know what needs to be done and how to do it. 

    ✓ VA - basic to intermediate skill level or experienced in a few areas
    ✓ OBM - advanced skills and broad range of expertise and experience



  3. Using the systems as opposed to creating the systems
    An online business manager tends to look at the processes and running of a company and find ways to set up systems to make everything run more smoothly. They will also refine existing systems to be more efficient or profitable.

    A virtual assistant may be able to do that or suggest changes to existing systems, but will more likely just perform the work of the systems someone else has put in place.

    ✓ VA - uses the systems, may offer some suggestions
    ✓ OBM - creates and refines the systems



  4. Different experience level
    An online business manager is usually very proactive and as someone with managerial experience, is able to work at a high level. This means they can look after many of the day to day aspects of running the business, so the business owner can take time off, or focus on their own work when required.

    A virtual assistant may be able to do many tasks in the business, but could struggle to handle things if something goes wrong and there is no-one to tell them what to do. 

    ✓ VA - junior to intermediate experience level, may need guidance
    ✓ OBM - senior to management experience level, will give guidance



  5. Different rates
    A Virtual Assistant can cost anywhere from $5-$100 an hour, but generally around $10 an hour for a VA based in the Philippines (which is the VA hotspot of the world) or $25-$50 for a VA based in English speaking western country.

    An Online Business Manager will cost anywhere from $50-$150 an hour but will often work on a package rate for projects or a monthly retainer to make things more cost effective for their clients. Prices for both VA’s and OBM’s are generally a reflection of their skill set and experience, naturally you’ll pay more for experienced professionals.

    ✓ VA $-$$
    ✓ OBM $$-$$$$


Hopefully that helps you to better understand the difference between an Online Business Manager and a Virtual Assistant.

Could outsourcing some of your work to a VA or OBM help give you some more time every day?

If you have any questions about how an Online Business Manager can help your business feel free to schedule a free 15 minute chat, I would be happy to talk to you any time.

Sue x