What Is an Online Business Manager (OBM)? A Complete Guide (2023)

This post may contain affiliate links. See mydisclosurefor more info.

I’ve recently begun a new blog series highlighting different opportunities and niches within the virtual assistant industry, and because I’ve been seeing the term a lot lately, I decided to write a post about what it means to be an “online business manager,” or OBM. Many virtual assistants are interested in ways to increase their income and scale their businesses, and for some of them, becoming a Certified OBM® is a natural next step.

To clarify, an online business manager is not just a glorified virtual assistant or a VA that charges higher rates. Although it’s true that the earning potential of an online business manager is much higher than that of a virtual assistant, the role of an OBM also includes more responsibility and a set of skills that may not come naturally to all VAs. (Fortunately, many of these skills can be learned.)

In this post, we’ll cover:

  • What is an online business manager?
  • What’s the difference between an online business manager and a virtual assistant?
  • What are the benefits of becoming an online business manager?
  • Who can become an OBM?
  • What does an online business manager do?
  • What services does an online business manager offer?
  • Why would a business need an OBM?
  • How much can an online business manager earn? How do they set their rates?
  • What are the steps to becoming an OBM?

Definition of an online business manager (OBM)

So what is an online business manager? And how is an online business manager different from a virtual assistant?

Online business managers work with companies transitioning from the six- to seven-figure range and act in a similar role as an Operations Manager or Chief Operating Officer.

The official definition of the online business manager, as per the International Association of Online Business Managers (IAOBM) in their Certified OBM® training, is:

A virtual based support professional who runs the day-to-day activities of online based businesses, including the management of projects, operations and team members.

Let’s dig into this definition a bit more.

Like a virtual assistant, an online business manager saves the business owner a lot of time. However, this is where the responsibility of a VA ends. Unlike virtual assistants, online business managers are hired to be strategists and decision-makers – big-picture thinkers – not just doers. They function in a leadership and team management role, taking initiative rather than just taking orders. Most importantly, a good online business manager is there not just to free up the business owner’s time, but to impact the bottom line of the business.

Tina Forsyth, founder of the International Association of Online Business Managers, explains in her highly practical book Becoming an Online Business Manager, “The key is to change your mindset from how can I make this business owner’s life easier to how can I help grow this business?”

(Video) OBM Educational Series Day 1 - What is an Online Business Manager (OBM)

Because of the measurable value the online business manager adds to the business, OBMs often charge an incentive-based rather than hourly pay structure. They aren’t trading time for dollars and are therefore not capped in their earnings the way VAs are. (We’ll talk more about pay in a bit.)

Online business manager vs. virtual assistant: What’s the difference?

To recap, the most prominent differences between an online business manager and a virtual assistant include:

  • Online business managers function at the management level and take an active role in growing the company, whereas virtual assistants work at a micro or administrative level
  • Online business managers are delegators rather than doers of tasks, unlike VAs, who are usually only responsible for their own work
  • Online business managers can charge incentive pay, whereas VAs usually charge hourly

What are the benefits of becoming an online business manager?

There are many benefits to making the transition from virtual assistant to online business manager:

  • Greater earning potential, with most OBMs charging incentive-based payment plans rather than project or hourly rates
  • Less time and resources spent marketing for new clients, as most new business is obtained through referrals
  • Less time and energy spent onboarding new clients, as most OBMs only work with two or three long-term clients at a time

Who can become an online business manager?

In theory, anyone can become an online business manager. Just like being a VA or other type of freelancer, you don’t need a degree or certification to become an online business manager. (Nor do you need to work as a virtual assistant before becoming an online business manager.)

However, if you start promoting yourself as an “online business manager” without fully understanding what the role entails, it will almost certainly lead to burned bridges.

This is why many online business managers take the route of obtaining an OBM certification through the International Association of Online Business Managers. The IAOBM clearly defined and standardized the OBM role in 2009 with an established set of responsibilities and expectations for certified online business managers.

Although anyone can enroll in the OBM certification program, certain career paths lend themselves naturally to the role of an online business manager. While the below list is not exhaustive, typical certification candidates include:

  • Established virtual assistants who want to take their income to the next level and are prepared for the added level of responsibility that comes with it
  • VAs who are already acting in an online business manager capacity without realizing it
  • People with professional experience in project or general management
  • Business school grads with an interest in online business
  • Entrepreneurs who are savvy in business, digital marketing, or tech

Learn more about becoming a Certified OBM® here.

Online business manager job description: What does an online business manager do?

Although the exact job description of an OBM varies widely among industries, typical responsibilities of an OBM include:

  • Spearheading projects, such as product launches and marketing campaigns
  • Freeing up the owner or CEO by making lower-impact decisions for the company
  • Hiring and managing a virtual team (including conflict management)
  • Making suggestions for improvements; for example, streamlining workflows using technology
  • Taking initiative by identifying opportunities for the business, such as new marketing channels or partnerships

Online business manager services

What services does an online business manager offer?

Whereas a virtual assistant may only perform one or two very specific tasks for a company, an online business manager is expected to work across a wide range of business functions. These include:

(Video) What is an Online Business Manager?

  • Project management
  • Team management
  • Marketing
  • Operations management
  • Analytics and financial management

Let’s look at each of these in a bit more detail.

Project management

One of the main roles of the OBM is to take the role of project management off the business owner’s plate. This entails communicating with the business owner to understand exactly what they want to achieve, and then executing the project. From start to finish, this includes:

  • Planning the project
  • Obtaining approximate costs
  • Setting completion dates for each milestone of the project
  • Hiring contractors or VAs to complete the work, or delegating the work to existing team members
  • Coordinating with team members and vendors to ensure that everyone gets their work done on time and to satisfaction

Team management

Online business managers are hired to manage the operations of the business, not do all the work themselves! As such, delegation and leadership is a crucial part of online business management.

The OBM is responsible for managing the business’ core team, plus any other contractors or vendors, such as writers, graphic designers, web designers, and marketing strategists. This includes following up with team members to ensure everyone gets their work done on time and to standard, as well as assisting with any conflicts that come up between team members.

Additionally, OBMs may act in an HR capacity by finding, hiring, and training new team members and freelancers needed for specific projects.


As discussed above, the goal of an online business manager is not just to save the business owner time, but to help grow the company. Therefore, marketing is a key focus for an online business manager. An OBM should be knowledgeable in all areas of digital marketing, including:

  • Content creation
  • Search engine optimization
  • Social media management and graphic creation
  • Copywriting
  • Digital advertising, especially Facebook ads
  • Email marketing
  • Website design (especially WordPress) and landing page creation
  • Sales funnels
  • Webinar management
  • Conversion rate optimization
  • Website analytics
  • Partnerships

An OBM is expected to help plan and manage marketing campaigns, promotions, and product launches. A good OBM will also take initiative and come up with ideas of their own to market the business or else make improvements to the current marketing strategy.

Operations management

(Video) How to Get Started and MAKE MONEY as an OBM [Get Started Online - Episode 1]

Because efficient, streamlined workflow systems and processes are critical to business growth, OBMs are highly involved in operations management. This includes:

  • Identifying and fixing bottlenecks
  • Auditing and optimizing existing workflows
  • Identifying and automating repetitive tasks using software (instead of spending more money on human resources)

A good OBM is always looking for ways to streamline the day-to-day activities of the business as much as possible. In her book Becoming an Online Business Manager, Tina Forsyth suggests creating standard operating procedures for a business as a “first date” project with new clients. Her OBM certification program includes an SOP guide template for students.

Analytics and financial management

Although an online business manager isn’t expected to act as a finance manager, they will still need to monitor the data that counts so they (and the business owner) can optimize for business growth. For example, an OBM might take on the task of identifying and trimming unnecessary expenses.

Examples of useful data include:

  • Website traffic
  • Social analytics
  • Email subscribers
  • Sales and revenue
  • Business expenses

Another advantage of data collection is that it demonstrates the value the OBM is bringing to the business, which is vital information to consider if the OBM is on an incentive-based payment plan.

Why would a business need to hire an online business manager?

Just like brick-and-mortar companies, online businesses, coaches, and creatives reach a point in their growth when it becomes necessary to hire additional team members. Depending on how many contractors or employees the business has, the business owner may also need to hire someone to manage that team.

The main purpose of an OBM is to free the business owner from distractions so they can work on higher-value tasks and move toward the original vision for the company.

Specific reasons a business owner may want to hire a OBM include:

  • They’re overwhelmed with work
  • Their business growth is stuck and they want to scale the business
  • They struggle with project or team management, or they just don’t want to do it
  • They’re a visionary – they have lots of ideas for new projects but no extra time

Not every business is ready to hire an online business manager. A business must have an established foundation already in place before the OBM can start building successfully on that foundation. This means the business needs a clearly defined target market, products and services that people want, a marketing and sales funnel that works, and a steady income. It’s not the responsibility of an online business manager to put these pieces in place for a struggling company.

In her book Becoming an Online Business Manager, Tina Forsyth suggests that, “in general, a business is ready to hire an OBM if they have at least a six-figure annual income ($15k/month or more) that is steady and reliable throughout the year.”

(Video) What Is An Online Business Manager (OBM) ?

How much can an online business manager earn? How do they set their rates?

VAs typically charge one of two ways: hourly or project-based rates. Even if a virtual assistant has created monthly service packages that work out to an optimal hourly rate, they’re still capped on their earnings at some point. This is because they can only work so fast, and they can only raise their rates so high before they start losing work to competitors.

One of the most exciting things about transitioning to an OBM role is the opportunity for incentive-based pay, which means you’ll be paid based on your performance and the value you bring to the business.

Tina Forsyth recommends that OBMs charge a base retainer, plus a percentage of revenue or profit of either individual projects or total business income.

Certified OBMs charge $65 and up per hour. Average retainers start at $2,000 per month, per client.

For more practical suggestions about how to structure an incentive-based payment plan, I recommend reading Tina Forsyth’s book Becoming an Online Business Manager.

How does an online business manager get clients?

“I never had to market my OBM business at all, because every single client I worked with came to me by word of mouth.”Tina Forsyth

Word gets around fast online, so online business management is a very referral-friendly industry.

Additionally, because OBMs work with their clients at a higher level of responsibility and for a longer period than VAs – and because they’re able to charge more – they typically only work with two or three clients at a time, instead of 5 to 10.

How to become an online business manager

If you’re interested in pursuing a career as an online business manager, the first step is to learn everything you can about the role. I recommend the following two resources:

Certified OBM® training program. Offered by the International Association of Online Business Managers, this certification program will give students the confidence and skills it takes to be a successful online business manager and charge professional rates.

Upon successful completion of the program, students are awarded the Certified OBM® credential and membership in the international Association of online business managers. New trainings start every quarter. Learn more about the online business manager course and certificate program.

(Video) How I Became an Online Business Manager // Tips to Becoming a VA or OBM

Becoming an Online Business Manager: Playing a Bigger Game with Your Clients (and Yourself). I read this book in a single Saturday. It contains plenty of details about the role of an online business manager as well as practical tips for structuring incentive-based payment plans. The author, Tina Forsyth, is founder of the International Association of Online Business Managers and the Certified OBM® training program. If you’re interested in making the shift from virtual assistant to online business manager, this book will show you how.

If you’re just starting out in your virtual assistant career, you may be also interested in some of my other posts:

  • Free virtual assistant training courses and resources
  • Recommended training for new virtual assistants

Thanks so much for visiting my blog, and all the best in your pursuit of a career as an online business manager!


What is an OBM in business? ›

An online business manager is a virtual support professional that helps organizations manage daily projects, processes and team members. They're in charge of maintaining the operations of the company by tracking key performance indicators (KPIs), establishing goals and measuring their progress.

What is the role of online business manager? ›

An online business manager supports the business' growth, reaches the company goals, and ensures the well-being of team members. OBMs direct daily operations on behalf of the business owner. The role is virtual support to manage daily tasks; deliveries; projects; and collaborations among team members.

What can an OBM do for me? ›

5 tasks an OBM can do for you
  • An OBM can help you with project management. ...
  • Help you set up and manage your systems, processes and automation. ...
  • They can help you with revenue stream management. ...
  • Team Management isn't something you need to manage yourself. ...
  • An OBM can manage your social media and digital marketing.
28 Nov 2020

What are OBM services? ›

What is an OBM, and what do they do? An OBM is an online business manager. An OBM is generally described as a virtually based support professional who manages businesses, including the day-to-day management of projects, operations, metrics, and team.

What does the acronym OBM stands for? ›

Original brand manufacturer, a company that sells a product made in whole or in part by a second company as its own branded product.

What is OBM and why is it helpful to a company? ›

An OBM leads projects and uses their initiative to ensure goals are met within planned timelines. After discussing priorities and outcomes with a business owner, an OBM develops strategies, plans and processes for their team to follow to achieve those desired goals.

Why do you need an OBM? ›

An OBM becomes the key point of contact for your team--where all questions, requests and check-ins are directed. Instead of micromanaging the team, an OBM will micromanage the process to maximise productivity of the team, as well as the business.

How much does an OBM certification cost? ›

Special Pricing: $895 $650

This program comes with a fillable PDF toolkit that includes content and tools that follow our SPACE (Scope, Pinpoint, Assess, Change, Embed) Model for applying OBM.

What are the 6 roles and responsibilities of a manager? ›

Leadership responsibilities of a manager
  • Goal-setting responsibilities. Managers are responsible for setting goals that align with organizational objectives. ...
  • Training and development. ...
  • Administrative tasks. ...
  • Team and individual organization. ...
  • Leadership.
  • Communication. ...
  • Time management.
  • Reliability.

How much do online business managers make? ›

Generally, I believe a good pricing guideline for an OBM is between $65 and $150 an hour. It all depends on what skills and knowledge they have and what services they'll be providing. OBMs on the lower end of the scale will typically manage a few small projects at a time and one or two team members.

What is the most commonly used intervention in OBM? ›

Feedback involves delivering information about past performance to the employee, which can vary according to format (verbal, written, graphic) and delivery agent (manager-supervisor, consultant-researcher or fellow employee). It is by far the most common intervention used in OBM.

How can an OBM help your business? ›

An OBM can help you:
  1. Identify the gaps in your marketing and operations and devise a plan on how to fill them.
  2. Give you clear direction on your business goals and how to implement the next steps. ...
  3. Position your offer in the market.
  4. Analyze your business goals and needs and come up with a strategy to meet them.
1 Dec 2021

What is an OBM consultant? ›

Organizational Behavior Management (OBM) focuses on assessing and changing the work environment to improve employee performance and workplace culture. OBM consultants and managers work in a variety of industries to achieve meaningful and sustainable behavior change and improved business outcomes.

What is OBM in freelancing? ›

The official definition of an Online Business Manager (OBM) is: A virtually based support professional who manages online based businesses, including the day-to-day management of projects, operations, metrics and team.

What is OBM product? ›

An original brand manufacturer, or OBM, is typically a company that sells an entire product made by a second company or including a component from a second company sources as its own branded product.

What does OBM mean after a name? ›

Of blessed memory

(Hebrew: (f.) "זיכרונה לברכה‎" \ (m.) " זיכרונו לברכה‎"). It is often abbreviated in English both as OBM and as “Z"L” The Hebrew abbreviation is " ז״ל‎."

What does data OMB stand for? ›

The Revisions to the Standards for the Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity (OMB Statistical Policy Directive No. 15) define minimum standards for collecting and presenting data on race and ethnicity for all Federal reporting.

What does O&M stand for in IT? ›

IT operations and maintenance, or IT O&M, is the process of monitoring, upgrading, and maintaining an organization's applications and IT infrastructure on a continuous basis. IT O&M is critical in keeping IT systems and networks secure and operating effectively and efficiently.

How much does it cost to hire a business manager? ›

Business managers tend to charge a monthly retainer of $1,500 and up or take a percentage of your income, usually 5%, as payment for their time.

What is the difference between a VA and an OBM? ›

OBMs are planners; VAs are doers.

While an OBM works with their clients to create custom-built strategies and then manages the project from start to finish, a VA is task-oriented and takes on assigned specific projects to help clients achieve defined outcomes.

Is Certified manager certification worth it? ›

Do you need a management certification? Certifications are always helpful, but they become particularly important during professional transition periods and when the job market is uncertain. At times like these, reputable management certifications can help accelerate the journey to your dream job.

How much do organizational behavior managers make? ›

While ZipRecruiter is seeing annual salaries as high as $145,000 and as low as $24,000, the majority of Organizational Behavior Management salaries currently range between $37,000 (25th percentile) to $57,000 (75th percentile) with top earners (90th percentile) making $113,500 annually across the United States.

What is organization certification? ›

A certificate of organization is a legal document that needs to be filed with the secretary of state when forming a new Limited Liability Company ( LLC ). This document registers the business with the state and proves that it is a legitimate, legally operating business.

What are the 3 most important roles of a manager? ›

Managers' roles fall into three basic categories: informational roles, interpersonal roles, and decisional roles.

What skills do you need to be a manager? ›

Best skills of a good manager
  • Communication and interpersonal skills. ...
  • Listening skills. ...
  • Relationship building skills. ...
  • Emotional intelligence. ...
  • Organization and project management. ...
  • Strategic thinking. ...
  • Decision making. ...
  • Trustworthiness and respect.

What is the most important role of a manager? ›

One main role of a manager is creating a plan to meet company goals and objectives. This involves allocating employee resources and delegating responsibilities, as well as setting realistic timelines and standards for completion.

Are online business managers in demand? ›

OBMs oversee the day-to-day activities of online businesses, including planning & managing projects, leading team members, and developing & streamlining operational systems. Certified OBMs are in high demand, making great money, living their desired lifestyle, and impacting lives in a big way.

Is being a business manager worth it? ›

Yes, being a business manager is a good job.

There is demand for business managers in numerous areas, as most businesses need professionals who understand business and technical principles. The business manager can use their specialized knowledge to help them make informed business decisions and increase profits.

Do business managers get paid well? ›

Yes, business managers make good money.

This can range from $60,000 up to almost $100,000 a year. How well working as a business manager can vary due to several factors. These factors include education, experience, industry, location, and organizational structure.

What are the 4 key components of a behavior intervention plan? ›

Essentially, the BIP shows the student a more positive way of meeting his or her needs. The steps of a Behavior Intervention Plan are best remembered through the 4 Rs: reduce, replace, reinforce, and respond!

What are four major types of interventions in OD? ›

As stated above, there are four main groups of OD interventions: human process interventions, techno-structural interventions, human resource management interventions, and strategic change interventions.

What is the main objective of OD intervention? ›

Organizational Development (OD) Interventions are structured program designed to solve a problem, thus enabling an organization to achieve the goal. These intervention activities are designed to improve the organization's functioning and enable managers and leaders to better manage their team and organization cultures.

Why organizational process is important? ›

Identifying processes allows an organization to begin visualizing the range of activities from beginning to end, helping employees discern what steps are necessary and who needs what along the way.

Why is performance management OBM considered a branch of behavior analysis? ›

Performance management/organizational management can be viewed as a branch of behavior analysis since the field utilizes behavioral analysis techniques and strategies (e.g., task analysis, antecedent analysis, reinforcement, token economy) in the organizational or management context.

Who is the founder of OBM? ›

OBM is a subdiscipline of ABA, thus its emergence stems from the foundations of behavior analysis developed by B.F. Skinner.

How do I get into OBM ABA? ›

This certificate requires a master's or higher degree in behavior analysis or an advanced degree in psychology or education with significant coursework in behavior analysis, as well as practicum or independent field experience and passing scores on the certification exam.

What is the ABC theory which is applied in the concept of OBM? ›

OBM is defined as the application of behavior analysis to organizational settings. 19. The three-term contingency, or “A-B-C model” (i.e., Antecedent-Behavior-Consequence) is the foundation upon which most behavior-based interventions used by OBM practitioners is developed.

Who needs online business manager? ›

An online business manager is a virtual support professional that helps organizations manage daily projects, processes and team members. They're in charge of maintaining the operations of the company by tracking key performance indicators (KPIs), establishing goals and measuring their progress.

Can a manager be a freelancer? ›

Freelance professionals are often self-employed, and they might work on a contract basis with the organizations that employ them. Some freelance managers work with agencies or employment companies, while others work completely independently.

How does a freelancing platform work? ›

A freelancer works independently, not as an employee for a company. Since freelancers are self-employed, they generally make direct contact with clients to discuss hiring terms and service rates. Companies often hire freelancers as independent contractors for a short period or a specific project.

What does OBM stand for in manufacturing? ›

ODM (Original Design Manufacturing) OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturing) OBM (Original Brand Manufacturing)

What is OEM example? ›

In the hardware industry, the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) usually refers to a company that builds a product designed for end-users, like a PC, laptop, or printer. Apple, HP, Dell, Canon, and Brother are all examples of original equipment manufacturers.

What is the difference between OEM ODM versus OBM in term of production and in term of design? ›

The OEM produces the template of the cases and the ODM uses additional processing to print their logo on the products, then sell to the market. The ODM business requires less start-up capital, but the competition tends to be higher and resulting in slimmer profit margins.

What is the difference between OBM and OEM? ›

Definition of OBM:

OBM is the option for the manufacturer who wants to produce sophisticated products. Compared with ODM and OEM, OBM usually involves higher costs (included money and time) to produce the products.

Are VA employees DOD employees? ›

They are not even part of the same cabinet department – the VA system is part of the Department of Veterans Affairs, while the military system is overseen by the Department of Defense. Here are some common questions about the two systems.

How tough are VA appraisers? ›

VA appraisers aren't necessarily harder on homes than conventional appraisers, but they do evaluate properties against different standards. The VA has strict requirements for properties it will finance, both to ensure the homeowner's safety and the property's value in the long run.

What is OMB control number for VA? ›

OMB Control Number: 2900-0795. Type of Review: Reinstatement of a currently approved collection. Abstract: Legal authority for this data collection is found in Public Law 116-315, Sec.

What does OEM mean in a job title? ›

An OEM is an original equipment manufacturer or a company that produces equipment and parts that are then used, marketed and/or sold by another company known as a value-added reseller (VAR). OEMs focus on business-to-business (B2B) sales while VARs sell products to the public or other end users.

What OEM means? ›

An original equipment manufacturer (OEM) makes systems or components that are used in another company's end product. Computer manufacturers, for example, commonly bundle or integrate OEM parts – such as processors and software – into the solutions they sell. OEMs can save time and money.

How much does an online business manager cost? ›

In general, rates for OBMs range in the $50 – $80*+ / hour range depending on skill set and experience.

What are OBM strategies? ›

There are two categories of OBM interventions: antecedent-based interventions and consequence-based interventions. Antecedent-based interventions include task clarification, equipment modification, goal setting, prompting and training. Task clarification involves clearly defining employees' tasks.


1. Become an Online Business Manager | Habitual OBM Course
(Alanna Thomas)
2. Online Business Management Training The OBM Blueprint
(Alanna Thomas)
3. Become an Online Business Manager in 2022 with The Habitual OBM
(Alanna Thomas)
4. #obm #dbm How To Become an Online Business Manager
(Chloe Tunningley)
5. What Is An Online Business Manager?
(Daisy Virtudazo)
6. OBM Educational Series Day 2 - The Role of an Online Business Manager
(Kiva Slade)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Duncan Muller

Last Updated: 09/11/2022

Views: 5783

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (59 voted)

Reviews: 82% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Duncan Muller

Birthday: 1997-01-13

Address: Apt. 505 914 Phillip Crossroad, O'Konborough, NV 62411

Phone: +8555305800947

Job: Construction Agent

Hobby: Shopping, Table tennis, Snowboarding, Rafting, Motor sports, Homebrewing, Taxidermy

Introduction: My name is Duncan Muller, I am a enchanting, good, gentle, modern, tasty, nice, elegant person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.