As a Virtual Tech Assistant (or Tech VA – depending on who you speak to), I enjoy “lurking” in Facebook Groups – not to find more clients, but to provide insight to those who “want to do it all”.
The questions may vary (and for fun I have provided some of my answers):
- What is the best CRM?
- When choosing a CRM or email marketing system, consider what you need not only now but in the future. The biggest complaint I see from clients is migrating email templates, automations, etc. Ask yourself what you need it to do – do you need an email marketing system (newsletters, marketing blasts, etc) or a CRM (managing your sales pipeline, making notations on client account, and provides email marketing features)? Does it need to have a shopping cart? Would you like to be able to have landing pages directly in the app without having to use another system (such as ClickFunnels or LeadPages) to capture leads? Do you want it to integrate directly or are you using Zapier/Integrately to integrate it. Figure this out first and it will filter most systems out for you.
- Who do you use for creating a membership?
- Mighty Network and Circle.so allow you to build memberships and forums for your subscribers. Thinkific and Teachable are excellent as well. Thinkific allows more customization while Teachable has a cookie-cut setup and easier interface to navigate. Kajabi is excellent but expensive. The most stripped down, bareboned (and EASIEST to use) is Membervault. If you use a ClickFunnels or HighLevel, these two programs also have Membership options.
- Why is MailChimp down again and is there another email marketing system that won’t give me a headache?
- First part I can’t answer but they have crashed several times this month. As for the second – plenty! ActiveCampaign, ConvertKit, MailerLite, Aweber, GetResponse – all around the same price points. A lot of people have moved from MailChimp to MailerLite lately.
But the top two questions I have been seeing consistently are:
- I am overwhelmed, who can I hire to help me? What can I outsource?
- What is the difference between a VA and an OBM? Do I need both?
First, I am going to quickly address those who may have just nodded in agreement but then simply dismissed the above by saying: “I can’t afford to hire someone”.
Listen, as a VA – I can’t STAND the fact that the option is available because some business owners expect that same thing from US-based VAs; BUT, the Philippines does have VAs that charge about $3 an hour so there is absolutely NO reason to say you can’t hire someone.
If you can buy Starbucks, you can hire a VA. That is the exact reason why places like Fiverr and UpWork exist.
Delegation is not a dirty word!
With the average small business, many of the same roles need to be filled, despite what the niche may be…
- Accounting (Bookkeeper)
- Projects (Project Manager)
- Marketing (Digital Marketing Manager)
- Writing (Copywriter)
- Social Media Engagement (Social Media Manager)
- Lead Generation (Growth Hacker)
- Email Marketing Automations (Email Marketing Specialist)
- Sales Funnel (Funnel Specialist)
- Customer Service and Sales (Sales Associates and CSRs)
- Branding and Graphics (Graphic Designer)
- For those who have podcast – Show Notes and Show Distribution (Podcast Manager)
- Video and Audio Edits (Video/Audio Editor)
- Emails, Phones Calls, Traveling (Administrative Assistant)
Before you begin to hyperventilate from the above list of potential staffers, you wouldn’t need to hire all of these people at once (or some at all depending on your business needs) and you certainly wouldn’t need to manage them. This is where an Online Business Manager or a Virtual Assistant would step in.
OBM vs. VA
The point of an OBM or a VA is to be YOU so you can do what you love to do (or just rest and only step in when your clients have paid higher fees to connect with you personally).
What is the difference? Honestly, it depends on who you ask. If you ask most OBMs, they will state they are the managers while VAs are the work horses. If you ask a VA, they will tell you OBMs are unnecessary middle management and VAs are capable of doing both jobs.
I have a feeling there is no love lost between the two but together, they do complement each other when it comes to effectively running a person’s business.
OBMs are your strategists, planners, and help you create flows to implement the long term and short term goals of your business. They are your living SWOT analysis. They are your walking business plan.
VAs are doers, executors, the ones that get their hands dirty and do everything you would do for your business.
An OBM keeps their client pool relatively small in order to focus exclusively on the management and growth of a business. They focus on the overall picture of the business, your business is their business.
They are your General Manager, Operations Manager, Project Manager – i.e. “eyes in the sky” and your sounding board when it comes to what you want to do with your business. If you want to go left – they will ask why and make you justify your decision.
They are the remedy to “Shiny Object Syndrome” as they curb the impulsive nature of business owners and strategize each idea to ensure it is practical, capable, and what’s best for your business. They are the BRAIN and HEART of your business.
Virtual Assistants are the MUSCLE. They get the job done. If you have a random idea at 2am, they are the ones that complete it. They are the “military” of your business – executing orders as delivered by their commanding officers – no questions asked. They work alone, focusing only on the tasks provided, and live in a perpetual state of large client loads and last minute tasks.
By the way, the above is a definition of a VA through the eyes of an OBM – see, no love lost.
Is that what a VA really is?
Some but not all.
VAs vary because with a VA, just like an OBM – it is dependent on the person. Before I transitioned to being a Tech Manager, I was a Virtual Assistant but if you looked at what I did for my Retainer clients – I was more of an OBM and VA combo. As a VA, I helped strategize, plan, and acted as project liaison for other members of the team. I also completed tasks (some routine, some in the moment) and support all aspects of their business.
For my Pay As You Go, yes I was much more of the OBM’s definition of a VA. I completed my tasks and move on. I didn’t ask why they were doing it, I just got it done BUT if I was familiar with their business and had worked with them for some time, I may have asked “why” out of sheer curiosity.
At the end of the day, it is up to you to decide who will manage the people you need for your business. You, your VA, or your OBM.
Take the leap
Whether you hire a copywriter to help you move your marketing funnels ahead, a graphic designer to help with your branding/look/feel of your business, or a social media manager because you just don’t have time for the increasing engagement requirements of social media – an OBM or a VA can manage those contractors on your behalf. They don’t add to your plate, they clear it!
So get out of your own way, let go of the reins, and trust someone else to guide your business forward. You will be SO happy you did!
Photo by Firmbee.com on Unsplash
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