Business

Online Business Manager vs. Virtual Assistant

March 23, 2022

If you are looking to start working virtually, chances are an online business manager and virtual assistant both came up as popular work-from-home jobs. But, are these jobs the same? Surprisingly not! I bet now you’re wondering what are the differences between these two highly sought-after remote jobs? Let’s dive right in! What is an […]

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If you are looking to start working virtually, chances are an online business manager and virtual assistant both came up as popular work-from-home jobs. But, are these jobs the same? Surprisingly not! I bet now you’re wondering what are the differences between these two highly sought-after remote jobs? Let’s dive right in!

What is an Online Business Manager?

Online Business Managers (otherwise known as OBM) are service providers who support busy online business owners. The Online Business Manager’s role is typically responsible for the operations side of the business, which includes overseeing and managing workflows.

  • Operations Management
  • Project Management
  • Team Management
  • Recruiting
  • Systems Building

If you were to think about a physical in-person business, the online business manager would have the same role and responsibilities as an in-person office manager. But the main difference between an office manager and an online business manager is the OBM handles everything remotely. This means they can technically work from the comfort of their own home, or if they have a digital nomad spirit, they can work from their next vacation spot.

What is a Virtual Assistant?

A Virtual Assistant (otherwise known as VA) is also a service provider hired to support the busy business owner. But they tend to be responsible for the administrative side of the business. A VA can offer administrative support, social media management, business development, or other marketing tasks. Essentially, the VA takes care of the busywork, so the business owners or business managers can have their time back to handle more high-value or revenue-producing tasks.

Some of the administrative tasks a virtual assistant can be responsible for are:

  • Communication: email screening, inbox management, phone calls, etc
  • Calendar Management: coordinating schedules or confirming appointments
  • Travel Arrangements: researching and/or booking flights, hotels, and other transportation
  • Light Bookkeeping: create and send invoices, monthly reconciliations
  • Personal Errands: researching and sending gifts, dinner reservations, paying bills

If you’re trying to find a typical office job to compare being a virtual assistant to, it would be an in-office assistant. You could have an executive assistant who is responsible for assisting high-level executives, the CEO, or the owners of a company. But, as I’m sure you know, there are many different types of in-office assistants. 

There are so many opportunities out there for virtual assistants! Not being tied down to a physical location allows the business owner a wider range of expertise instead of hiring someone locally.

Do Virtual Assistants offer the same services as Online Business Managers - Virtual Career Girl

What Are the Differences Between an Online Business Manager vs. a Virtual Assistant?

You wouldn’t have a regular business without management and administrative support, so these shouldn’t be compromised with online companies either. Both OBM’s and Virtual Assistants offer remote support for your virtual or physical business. It doesn’t matter if you have a service-based business or a product-based business; they can easily help you with either. Another great thing both roles offer is the ability to hire them part-time. But what are the main differences between online business managers and virtual assistants?

Level of Support

OBM and the VA have entirely different roles inside a business or virtual office. They are essentially responsible for the overall success of the business. The Online Business Manager tends to focus on the company’s higher-level tasks and operations side. The Virtual Assistant role handles the administrative, smaller-scale tasks to help the business move along. 

Pay Rate

Virtual assistants’ pay rate can be significantly less than the pay rate of an online business manager. Some different factors come into play, like level of experience and where they’re located in the world. Still, typically a virtual assistant isn’t being hired for the operations side of the business. We tend to see the operations or management positions’ pay rate being much higher because they have more experience and play a more significant role in the company.

Number of Clients

Virtual Assistants can be hired on for as little as 5-10 hours a month, so they might have to work for more clients to make up for the pay rate. Whereas the online business manager typically has a higher monthly retainer. (The smallest retainer I’ve seen is about 20 hours per month.) Because of the nature of the position and having to have a higher level of understanding of the company, an OBM will usually handle 3-4 clients per month.

Priorities

Online Business Managers are responsible for tracking KPIs (key performance indicators) to help them reach their targeted goals. Their primary focus is to ensure the systems, teams, and workflows are in place to hit their goals and set and change their priorities accordingly.

Virtual Assistants are more task-oriented and often have a more flexible schedule unless they handle day-to-day administrative tasks. Because their priorities aren’t shifting, they can typically pick the hours they want to work.

Being an Online Business Manager vs. Virtual Assistant: What Is Right For You?

There will always be a need for business owners to outsource tasks. If you have the skills to be an OBM or a VA, it can be a hard decision to make because they both offer a lot of value to a company. Do you want to provide higher-level support with a limited number of clients? Do you want to be responsible for other team members? Or do you want to just have the flexibility to check things off of the business owner’s to-do list and work a more flexible schedule? You’re the only one who truly knows the right fit for you. 

Figuring out what service you want to offer to business owners can be a hard decision to make, and that’s okay! If you’re just starting out in the virtual world and want to see what roles and responsibilities you want to tackle, you should try out being a virtual assistant. Once you work for more clients and master your services, you can demand more responsibilities and a higher pay rate working as an online business manager.

Which position do you think you’d be a better fit for? Send me a message on the ‘gram and let’s keep the conversation going!

Tiffany Coyle
Author: Tiffany Coyle

Tiffany Coyle is an online marketing expert and CEO of Twinning Pros, an organic marketing company. She is also the founder of Virtual Career Girl. She teaches women how to swap their day job for their dream job by starting an online business.

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Back in 2017, I hit the invisible ceiling in my career,  as a single-mom living in Florida, working 60+hours a week in a salary-capped position. I wanted to be more than a 9-lifer, so I decided to go searching for virtual freedom. I quickly realized I could choose career opportunities to fit my lifestyle, and now I'm a 3x entrepreneur, living a life by design in Bergen, Norway, helping women from all over the world.

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