What is an Online Business Manager? Understanding This Work at Home Job

Business owners have a lot on their plate. Maintaining the day-to-day tasks of the business while also looking ahead to the future requires a lot of work, which is why many look to support professionals for help. That help is increasingly coming in the form of an online business manager.

An online business manager (also commonly called an OBM), is someone who manages operations and teams for a business to ensure everything is running smoothly.  An OBM is a strategic thinker, a leader, and someone who implements processes to keep a business moving forward.

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online business manager

What Does an Online Business Manager Do?

An online business manager is a professional who works virtually providing managerial support to businesses and organizations. Typical tasks include managing projects, overseeing team managers, tracking goals, and creating workable systems.

For instance, a business owner might have a business model in place, but they need a professional who can implement that business model and keep it running efficiently. This would be the job of an online business manager.

While an OBM works virtually and needs to be a self-starter, she’ll also need to work closely with the business owner or other designated point person to ensure that her role is in close alignment with the company goals.

Regular tasks for an online business manager might include:

  • Overseeing projects
  • Managing operations
  • Managing people
  • Tracking metrics
  • Creating and following standard operating procedures

How Much Does an Online Business Manager Make?

According to Indeed, the average base salary of an online business manager in the United States is $54,740.

There is good reason to believe that that estimate may be on the low side. I’ve spoken to one mom who works as an OBM and she makes $5,000 per month, with plans to scale her business significantly. Read her story here.

The great thing about working for yourself is that you can scale your business. If you’re a freelancer (rather than working in-house somewhere), you’ll have complete control over the rates you set, which increases earning potential.

What is the Difference Between a Virtual Assistant (VA) and an Online Business Manager (OBM)?

A VA provides the hands-on work involved in business operations, while an OBM provides guidance, planning, and leadership. The tasks are delineated much in the same way you would see in an in-office setting, where a manager would take on a leadership role and an assistant would carry out required tasks.

To put it a little more clearly, let’s look at some of the actual tasks that the two might compete:

A virtual assistant provides administrative support. Regular tasks might include digital marketing or social media tasks, answering emails, corresponding with clients, or managing appointments. The VA does not assign themselves these duties, but they do the jobs that the client asks them to handle.

An online business manager offers leadership and managerial tasks. While the OBM works with a business owner, she’ll then take it upon herself to create strategies to ensure the business runs smoothly. Regular tasks might include project management, money management, operations management, and people management.  

Think that working as a virtual assistant is more your speed? Discover how to work from home as a virtual assistant here.

Are Online Business Managers in Demand?

Online business managers are in demand now more than ever before.

As more businesses expand their online presence and more entrepreneurs go digital, these business owners will need help. Just as a brick and mortar business in a physical location needs a business manager to oversee operations, so also do businesses in an online space.

What Skills do You Need to be an Online Business Manager

If you’re considering working from home as an online business manager, you should possess the following skills:

Leadership: As you need to manage teams and implement processes, being a good leader is a must. As an OBM, you can expect to work with people at all levels of a company or organization. Delegating tasks in a way that’s most effective for the business is a top expectation for an online business manager.

Effective communication: In order to effectively lead, you must effectively communicate. There are many tools you can use to manage your productivity as you keep in touch with your teams while working virtually; Slack, Trello, Monday, Asana, and Google Suites are just a few. Familiarity with at least some of these project management platforms will help you in your business.

Time management: As a manager, you need to ensure that things get done in a timely manner. Good time management is imperative for making this work.

Self-motivation: Working from home always requires diligence and motivation — especially if you’re working for yourself as a freelancer. Some people find it harder to manage virtually, without the in-house oversight and supervision of a boss or other superior. If you want to work as an OBM, be sure that you have the self-motivation to stay on-task when the comforts of home are beckoning.

Dependability: When a business owner hires an online business manager, they’re essentially handing over much of the day-to-day management of their business operations. This can feel scary to them, which is why they need to know that they can depend on you. Emphasize and prove that you are dependable and will get the job done right.

Organization: It’s very difficult to manage and delegate tasks if you aren’t organized yourself. If you don’t already have a good system of organizing and project management, now’s the time to implement one.

How to Become an Online Business Manager

One of the best ways to get started as an online business manager is to take a certification course. This isn’t required, but it will give you the training you need to know the ins and outs of the business, and it may make you more hireable to new clients — once they see that you’re certified, they’ll trust you know what you’re doing.

If you want to get certified, check out the International Association of Online Business Managers (IAOBM). According to its website, the IAOBM “is the leading global network dedicated to the ongoing growth, advancement, innovation, and success of the OBM profession.”

The IAOBM offers a course called Becoming a Certified OBM that will help you launch your career in this online business.

While certification can be helpful, you do not need to be certified in order to work from home as an online business manager.

If you already have a background as a manager in a physical location or you have education and/or experience in operations, human resources, or other leadership roles, you can advertise those qualities as you build your OBM business.

Additionally, if you’ve previously worked as a virtual assistant and therefore have a familiarity with dealing with clients and their wants and needs, you may feel confident enough to start an OBM business without certification.

Some people find it helpful, while others feel it’s a waste of time and money. Either way — you simply need to advertise your services, set a competitive price, apply for jobs and/or pitch to prospective clients. Once you’ve landed a client, you’re in business as an online business manager.

Not sure if working from home as an online business manager is for you? Check out these other popular work-from-home jobs:

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