During my college years, I wondered how someone could walk away from a 6 figure job to do something totally different. I was extremely curious and without judgment. Maybe I was so curious because one day that would be my story.
Although people transition from their careers for a number of reasons, I transitioned to Operations after a long bout of burnout and a layoff.
My evening dinners with my good friends Tony and Lillian included me being excited about a job interview from time to time and also me deciding to stay at the job I was at a bit longer.
Then there were the supportive phone calls with Lillian (and mostly whoever would listen) of how awful I felt as a burned out provider and her calmly stating that she was not able to relate. There were providers that could relate but everyone couldn’t relate to the dynamics of my profession–yet I wanted “my people” to understand my experience.
The long hours in the hallways of the hospital, the patients I cared for so deeply, the deaths, despair, triumph, the big systems, people who cared, the people who didn’t care and the jacked up burned out leadership got me here. I was at a crossroads of another NP job or Operations.
Maybe you loved your job and transitioned anyway. Nonetheless, I can only recount my story and no matter what path you are meant to be on, life will set up with the journey to get you there.
Let’s dive into how I sifted through roles to find my spot in the Ops space.
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 task 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.
It’s so important to take a holistic view of your business systems. Mapping out your process before adding any kind of automation, is the key to having an automated process you can actually use. If you automate without having processes in place, all you are doing is supercharging inefficiency. Chris Davis, the master automation expert agrees with this point of view (and if you haven’t already, check him out and tell him I sent you).
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 integrate with each other and are able to 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 (ahem, done-for-you), that’s a red flag that you should take a step back and reassess. This likely 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.
Director of Operations
Another big role in the online space is the Director of Operations role. I talked about the DOO role in detail in this blog post about Why a Director of Operations Is The Perfect Partner to Help You Grow and Scale Your Business. As you can see, Directors of Ops are leaders who work hand in hand on business strategy to make sure your business goals are met and can support both online as well as brick and mortar stores.
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.