There are a few people who have truly contributed leaps and bounds to my understanding of running a business online.
Tina Forsyth is one of those people. I met her through my participation in lots of teleseminars about Multiple Streams of Coaching Income, a collaborative venture between Tina and coaching maven Andrea Lee.
Tina helped me decide the logical steps to take to build my virtual coaching practice, combining free information and services with targeted and useful paid services. It was her brilliant suggestion, for example, to invite new ezine subscribers to attend a once a month free group coaching call instead of taking hours each week to respond to individual questions on email. I felt like a gigantic yoke of guilt was lifted off my shoulders as I now had a way to meet the needs of new readers without spending hours of time online. (Gary Vaynerchuk may be the only person on the planet who still answers every single one of his emails. While I applaud his intentions and enormous heart, I question his sanity, as email can overtake your life, and keep you in an endless state of reactivity. He will be here in AZ at our entrepreneurship conference this month, I will try to talk sense into him then. 🙂
For those of you like me who started this whole virtual service business with zero understanding of lists and shopping carts and affiliate programs and e-products and virtual teleseminars, you will understand when I say it can be wildly confusing, complicated and frustrating.
You, like me, probably hired partners and virtual assistants to take over parts of the "back office," to moderate success. But I always wished that I could just turn everything over to someone who was hugely capable and not in need of tons of direction to manage it all for me so I could focus on the big picture, where I love to play. Tina says:
"We are seeing more business owners who are ready to hire at the management level. They already have teams of virtual assistants, webmasters, designers and other contractors, but what they really need is someone to manage all of this; to play a bigger role in their business so that they can grow to the next level. We affectionately coined the term online Business Manager (oBM) back in 2003, for the simple fact that it seemed to describe best what we do for our clients."
Now THAT sounds like exactly what I need. In Tina’s new book Becoming an Online Business Manager, she breaks down the role, responsibilities and advantages of Online Business Managers, geared towards people who might consider the role themselves.
A sample oBM job description from the book reads like this:
The Online Business Manager will:
Have 5+ years experience in one or more of:
- the fields of marketing, ecommerce, programming, coaching, business management, human resources, project management, personal development or other related area of study, or equivalent.
- Work with the very energetic CEO/Owner of the business to create new passive revenue streams, taking them from idea to sale
- Manage administration, logistics, human resources and infrastructure of a growing online business
- Recruit additional team members and train/manage them into their respective functions
- Be familiar with and/or practically experienced in all facets of Internet marketing including:
- Product planning and research
- Website design and creation
- Creation of graphics and user interface
- Product packaging
- Traffic generation
- Conversion and
- The overall strategic marketing plan that creates a cohesive whole out of these elements
- Have experience creating and implementing a business plan in a competitive environment
- Be a relationship builder, client service oriented and a team player
- Understand advertising, affiliate programs and joint ventures; be able to hold and cultivate key relationships
- Diligently maintain and create a standard operating procedure or business training manual for the business
- Be fiscally responsible
I read this description and literally felt my mouth start to water. If I could find a tried, trusted and true partner with these qualifications, there is nothing I couldn’t do in my business. So why isn’t it easy to find these people? Tina says:
"I believe that there are many professionals out there who have the skills to be working as an oBM; they just haven’t realized that this opportunity exists. having worked virtually for almost a decade now, it’s easy for me to forget that this way of working is still quite new to most people and because of that there is a gap between the business owners who are looking to hire oBMs and the people who could potentially be working for them in his role."
Why is there such an alarming gap?
"For business owners, it is a matter of not knowing who or what they are really looking for. They may have a faint idea they could benefit from hiring someone to help them manage and grow their business online, but they often have no clue what that role looks like. They aren’t clear themselves on what it is they need, which of course makes it quite hard to find someone! Quite often, when we describe the role of an oBM to the business owners we speak to, we hear, “yes! that’s exactly who I need on my team … now where do I find someone?” and that leads us to the other side of the gap, that there just aren’t a lot of people out there who are actively working as oBMs, consciously or unconsciously. so when these clients start looking to fill that role, they are having a tough time finding the person they need."
I think Tina’s new book is going to deliver a tremendous service to both cubicle escapees in need of meaningful work and business owners needing top-notch management. There is a lot of really practical information which you can use to position your services, or scope out the kind of support you need to take your business to the next level.
You can buy her book here. You will see my endorsement on the sales page. I am including an affiliate link because I trust Tina enough to raise my own children, and because I am saving up to hire my Online Business Manager. 🙂
An online business manager sounds like an excellent idea. The person must be someone super competent, professsional and excellent at what they do, as stated, of course. I already have one picked out when the time comes that I need one. I actually worked out a lot of the details this morning for our working relationship. I would reccommend a online business manager to everyone, provided that they find the right person. Right now she is the only one I would trust. I guess I am picky! Good luck everyone on finding that perfect fit for you.
By the way, I just subscribed to your blog. It looks great and I’m sure I will get a lot of help from it.
Great post, and something I have definitely been researching. I saved your online Business Manager job responsibilities check list for future reference. 😉
I absolutely agree that time spent taking care of the managerial tasks is time taken away from your craft, which in essence, takes money out of your pocket.
Thanks for the great resource, I will be sure to check this book out.
Great post… I hope it gets around!
Most people who are qualified to be oBMs are currently consulting on smaller issues, but like many of us, have all the skills required to actually manage the entire online business.
It’ll be interesting to see how this area evolves over the next few years.
Business Manager For Your Small Business?
Pamela Slim runs across the world’s most precious commodity. A small business online business manager. It’s a book by Tina Forsyth describing how to be such a person, and it’s very timely. Pamela excerpts is well, so I’ll let her…
Great timing, and very necessary. I had no clue when I stepped into my wife’s business that 30% of my time would be taken up with small business tasks.
We’ve been fortunate that I’ve a good eye for detail, but that time isn’t time spent billing or selling. The hard part really is trust – it would be very, very hard to let someone in that far into our business, and count on them to be organized.
But if I found one, I’d work hard enough to afford them.
New entrepreneurs, both young and old, are choosing not to pursue traditional employment, but are defining their career paths as business owners. http://web2.blogtells.com/2008/10/28/web-technology-ecommerce-online-solutions/
Excellent content – as you always provide and inspires me to come again and again. You are on my RSS reader now so I can read more from you down the road.
By the way, there is one more valuable resource I’d like to share with others readers. It’s called GetMoreBuyers.com.
Trust me, it worked for me and I am sure IT WILL work for you.
Discover 10 killer strategies for building a list of buyers who scramble to take out their wallets whenever you send an email. Click on the link below.
You mentioned that finding such a person is difficult.
I have a similar question from the other side of the equation: if I believe that I can work as an online business manager, how can I find a business owner who would trust me and hire me for the position? Maybe we need a “matching platform.”
That’s a great idea. I am going to check with Tina about that, as I agree with you that a natural follow-on to being aware of the new role is being able to connect “buyers and sellers.” 🙂
OMG this is awesome. I could totally do this. You might have changed my life. (I say “might” because as we all know it’s the execution of an idea that matters.)
But seriously. I’ve been doing this for the past two years (although, obviously, it wasn’t called that) and have lately been wanting to start a new venture but I wanted to provide a service that hadn’t already been done to death by everyone else. This is great food for thought. Thanks so much for posting this.
Very cool – this is just what I was looking for and will use it as I look for talent over the next two weeks.
Thought I write the following because it came up – if you don´t like it – feel free to delete it, as it is not totally on topic;-)
Today I was reminded, that America has got a different culture than Europe – no surprise there, right? I simply forgot that from my point of view “Americans” tend to overdo things a bit.
When I read: “If I could find a tried, trusted and true partner with these qualifications, there is nothing I couldn’t do in my business.”
I thougt: really nothing? Like world-peace and everybody fed? I like your blog a lot and it inspires me to think seriously about my own shot at entepreneurship – I just have to keep in mind that there are cultural differences that I will learn to cope with. So thank you for this statement.
Gwen, you crack me up. You are so right, my exuberance got the best of me.
What I mean by “There is nothing I couldn’t do in my business” is “Not spending endless hours fiddling with a shopping cart system or responding to thousands of basic emails or managing my email list, I would be able to focus on things that bring me great joy like writing or speaking, or creating new products or connecting interesting people.”
Walking on water, creating gold from dirt or making peace happen in world is not the result of hiring an Online Business Manager.
Thanks for being a cultural checkpoint for me. As much as I feel a world citizen, certain (over the top) parts of me are decidedly North American. 🙂
Sounds like quite an interesting book, it’s too bad books are something I’m trying really hard to cut back on.
thnx for info 🙂
This is a great idea. This year, I have been in my first management job. I’ve discovered I am NOT a manager. I can work “on” the business in the entrepreneur role. I am also comfortable working “in” the business as a professional or technician. All of this administration, logistics, etc. stuff – uh uh. Not my talent!
What’s really nice about the option you’ve revealed here is this sort of role presents an opportunity for a person who loves to use those management skills to do so outside of an institution.