A virtual assistant is someone who can take a variety of tasks off your plate. Think of a VA as your personal assistant, only they are remote. Just like personal assistants, VAs can almost do any kind of business tasks assigned to them.
Most VAs in the U.S. charge anywhere from $15-40 per hour depending on task and experience level. While there are companies that vet VAs for online business owners, it’s important to do your due diligence and make sure you are hiring someone who is aligned with your mission, vision and values.
While VAs do not typically help with business strategy, they are a great resource for delegating tasks so you can focus on more strategic business objectives designed to help your business grow and succeed.
Tech Tool Experts (aka System Experts)
A Tech Tool Expert is someone who will implement third-party tools and applications (like Dubsado and ClickUp) that work within your tech stack. It is very common for tools experts to set up tools that work beautifully except they may not always communicate with the rest of your system.
In fact, I know many business owners who have invested in tech tool setups only to have to piece that part of the system together with the rest of their system. What ends up happening is the business owner has to get other tools to support the integration but ultimately they will need to rebuild their tech system set up from scratch because all the tech tools don’t communicate or play well together.
My colleague, Meagan Beltekoğlu, a fellow DOO and ClickUp Consultant, knows the importance of taking a holistic view of your business systems. Meagan suggests mapping out tool integrations in a systematic way before performing any kind of automation.
Meagan says, “Here is one way to think about this process. Imagine building a house. The first thing you do is build a framework, right? You get an architect to build a blueprint even before you layout the foundation or build walls. Automating and implementing tech tools is very similar. You have to lay out a framework and then tie everything together.”
I completely agree with her approach. If you automate without having processes in place, all you are doing is supercharging inefficiency.
There are many savvy business owners out there facilitating this process correctly. When you are ready to invest in a systems consultant, make sure that they plan to take a look at all of your tools to see how they communicate with each other, support, and optimize your current process. Then look at the new tech tools you want to bring in. See how and where they fit (if at all). Ideally, you (or a team member) want to participate in this process as much as possible. This way you can walk away with a setup you will use.
When a tech tool expert offers to build out your workflow in a vacuum, that’s a red flag that you should take a step back and reassess. This means that the tech tool expert is tool-dependent and not process-driven. There’s a place for those people too but the tech strategy or workflow needs to be mapped out before you hire them. It’s important to look at the entire system including existing and new tools so that everything flows instead of working independently.
Some tech tool experts have designated VIP days for support. This can leave you feeling like you have the right support you need. But without working on the build with you or your team, you may end up with something you don’t use in the long run. Make sure that you will get the support you need with your investment.
Online Business Manager
The Online business manager typically manages the operations and marketing of larger businesses and their certification covers project management, operations management, metrics management, and people management.
Some OBMs promote themselves to the OBM level from a more traditional VA role. Sometimes this can occur as a natural progression as they get more experience under their belt or maybe they have the necessary skill set from a prior job role. Others may come over from corporate and decide the OBM role is the next logical step in their career path.
Additionally, many OBMs are starting to come into the DOO space as a level up. This progression has merit because a director is an executive-level position while OBMs are managers.
On the other hand, there is a set of OBMs who have leadership experience and are ready for the DOO role right away. This set of OBMs wish they had started at the DOO level, but for whatever reason, they enter into the OBM certification before joining the DOO certification. This pathway is a bit more interesting. I don’t know if we are witnessing the early stages of an industry disruption but when two programs are compared they are, by default, competitors. Time will tell but I am betting that the OBM leaders have their eyes on this phenomenon and will adjust accordingly.
I am a certified Director of Operations and in our cohort, we focused on Human Resources, Project Management, Leadership, and Financials & Data. Certification is a sign-off on my innate abilities and skills that have been refined through experience. Of course, this doesn’t mean that DOOs who are not certified don’t have the chops for this or cannot perform at a high level.
However, certification assures you as the business owner, who may be just meeting me (if this is you, welcome), that when you partner with me, you are benefiting from my experience and professional development.