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VA or OBM? What's the difference?

Updated: Feb 7, 2023

As a Certified OBM (Online Business Manager) I couldn’t do what I do without the support of the Virtual Assistants (VAs) I work with. VAs are critical to a growing business and they are often the first (and 2nd) hires on the team. Many VAs are extremely skilled and bring a breadth of experience to the table.


The role of a VA is to be a DOER in the business. VAs provide invaluable ‘getting things done’ support that is visible in the business on a daily basis.


And while VAs and OBMs work closely together, the roles are very different and not interchangeable.


Often when I speak to frustrated business owners who are struggling with their team, it’s because they are expecting a VA to do the work of an OBM, or vice versa.


So, what is the difference between a VA and an OBM, and why do you need both?


  1. VAs are focused on their one area of the business. The specific task or tasks they were hired to complete.

    • Customer Service

    • Social Media

    • Tech Support

    • Etc.


OBMs are focused on ALL areas of the business. The role of the OBM is to make sure all those specific tasks get completed - by the right person, in the right way, at the right time.


  1. VAs need a manager, guidance & leadership.


OBMs provide management, guidance & leadership. A key responsibility of an OBM is to take the management of the team off their client’s plate. What my clients appreciate most about working with me is that I look after their team. I guide their team. I am the GO TO resource and support for their team.


It’s not that my client’s don’t love their team (they do!) but on a daily basis they cannot be the bottleneck that holds up progress. They need someone else (me!) to make sure the rest of the team has everything they need to be successful.


  1. VAs support the decisions that have been made.


OBMs make many of the decisions that need to be made. This is a big one. Part of that bottleneck I mentioned above is your team waiting for an answer, a direction, a decision.


  • Is this copy approved?

  • Do I have permission to upgrade that software?

  • Has the deadline been extended?

  • Can I process this refund request?

  • What date will the webinar be?

  • Can you show me how you would like this done?

  • Is this how you wanted that done?

  • Should I go ahead and do…


All important, reasonable questions. All questions even wonderful VAs will ask. All questions an OBM will step in and answer, so you don’t have to.


Decision fatigue is real. Working with a Certified OBM takes some of that load off your shoulders.


VAs are wonderful.

Certified OBMs are wonderful.

But they are not the same thing >> two different functions, two different outcomes.


If you know you’re ready for a higher level of management support in your business I’d love to connect to see if we might be a fit.


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