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What does your business need….an Online Business Manager or a Virtual Assistant? By Andrea Ives on Sep 11, 2023

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The demand for remote support and management services has soared over the last few years, particularly after COVID*. When I started working remotely 14 years ago, working from home was pretty new. And I am still working for my first client from back then, who was located in the same city. It just made sense to work remotely even with the technology then.

Two popular roles that have emerged in response to this demand are virtual assistants (VAs) and online business managers (OBMs). While they both offer remote assistance to businesses, and there are some similarities. In this article, I share six key differences between VAs and OBMs and which will help you work out what is right for your business.

Defining the Roles:

Virtual Assistant (VA): A VA is a skilled professional who provides remote administrative, technical, or creative assistance to businesses. They undertake various tasks such as email management, scheduling, data entry, social media management, and more.
Online Business Manager (OBM): An OBM, on the other hand, is a strategic partner who helps business owners manage and grow their businesses. They focus on higher-level tasks like project management, team coordination, system implementation, business planning, and client communication.

Scope of Work:

Virtual Assistant: VAs typically handle day-to-day operational tasks and provide support on specific projects. They are usually task-oriented and assist with various administrative, technical, or creative aspects of a business’s operations.
Online Business Manager: OBMs take a more holistic approach to business management. They are responsible for overseeing and streamlining operations, coordinating projects, implementing systems and processes, and ensuring the business operates efficiently and effectively.

Level of Expertise:

Virtual Assistant: VAs are generally skilled professionals who specialise in specific areas such as social media management, content creation, graphic design, or bookkeeping. They often have expertise in multiple tools and platforms relevant to their area of specialisation.
Online Business Manager: OBMs possess a higher level of expertise and strategic thinking. They have a deep understanding of business processes, marketing strategies, and technology. They can provide guidance and recommendations to help businesses achieve their goals.

Business Impact:

Virtual Assistant: VAs contribute to improving productivity and efficiency by handling routine tasks, allowing business owners to focus on core activities. They play a crucial role in reducing workload and enhancing the overall functioning of a business.
Online Business Manager: OBMs have a more significant impact on the overall growth and success of a business. By implementing effective systems, managing projects, and streamlining operations, they help business owners scale their operations and achieve long-term objectives.

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Working Relationship and Collaboration:

Virtual Assistant: VAs typically work on a project-by-project basis or offer ongoing assistance as needed. They collaborate with business owners and provide regular updates to ensure smooth communication and successful task completion.
Online Business Manager: OBMs establish a long-term partnership with business owners. They work closely with the client, understand their goals, and develop strategies to achieve them.

While both virtual assistants and online business managers offer remote support to businesses in Australia, their roles and responsibilities do differ greatly. Virtual assistants focus on task-oriented assistance, while online business managers help with strategic plans and operational oversight. Understanding these distinctions is crucial for businesses to leverage the right support to enhance their productivity, efficiency, and growth.

While I started as a VA after many years of experience my value is now best used as an Online Business Manager to help you grow your business as a strategic partner. Think of me as a high level Executive Assistant. If you would you like to discuss your businesses requirements, please get in touch.

A view from a client:

It was a miracle that we located Andrea to assist us with our activities way back in 2009 and continues to the present day. Our two directors are time poor with a large number of commitments. Andrea exemplifies what an Online Business Manager should be. She’s not afraid to get out the stick when she needs things from the directors. She’s proactive – always looking for ways we can improve as a business. All things in a package of professionalism, trust and reliability. In a business where all of us work remotely, she is the glue that holds us together.

The best decision we have made was to go down the road of engaging Andrea as our remote business manager. It transformed our business.

David Smith, Director, Smithink



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