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5 Common Roadblocks Busted, About Becoming An Online Business Manager

Michelle Dale - Wednesday, June 22, 2011
If you’re a virtual assistant you may have come across the term “online business manager” – in a general sense I would consider an online business manager as someone at the helm of their VA business, but utilising members of their team (other VA’s) to assist them with providing services to clients. They manage clients and tasks ensuring the end result is that they have satisfied clients and team members, and the business remains profitable and functional. Changing the role of the virtual assistant who owns the company, or started solo, into more of a manager, online business consultant or project coordinator.

Some virtual assistants will feel nervous or apprehensive about making this transition, concerned about the implications that this may have on their business. I was too, before I decided to take the plunge, but I am so glad that I did.

So, what are the 5 most common roadblocks which virtual assistants have when they are considering progressing into an online business manager?…

No. 1: I can’t afford to hire people.

As a natural result of hiring people to help you in your business, you will be able to take on more clients/work, increase your income into your business, and as a result you will be able to charge back your VA’s time to the client. By getting the balance right, and the ratio between the cost of your VA’s and the rate you charge your clients, you will be able to make an additional passive income to a certain degree, allowing you much higher earning potential. By hiring people to help you, you will potentially make more revenue, providing you do it wisely. Start with making connections with other VA’s and getting a price point from them, as it’s essential as an online business manager you know what your cost price will be when outsourcing to members of your team – it doesn’t hurt to see who is out there, and whether they are willing to team up with you for mutual benefit.

No 2: My clients may leave if they know I no longer do the work.

Your clients will likely only care that the work is getting done to the same standards that you set forth. As long as you are honest and straightforward with your clients and keep them informed of your transition, ask them to let you know if they have any concerns that you can address for them, they will likely have no issues with it, all of mine certainly didn’t. Clients can often find it comforting to know that you have support in your business, ensuring that you don’t burn out, and they have additional resources which could be available to them if they need them. It’s a “win-win” situation.

No 3: The authorities in my country may consider my sub-contractors as employees.

This will effect some VA’s in some countries, as hiring sub-contractors and then having them potentially being considered as employees to the Inland Revenue, suggesting this ‘could’ have tax or legal implications, but having a ‘virtual’ business opens many more doors and avenues, allowing you to potentially work your business around this issue. Virtual assistants can consider opening an IBC (international business corporation) thus moving their company into a jurisdiction that doesn’t have those same regulations, you can then pay taxes where you reside on dividends or a salary from the company, this combined with a sturdy contract for hiring sub-contractors, limiting your liability, could be a potential option for you depending on your circumstances. Speak to an offshore consultant or international accountant who properly understands the workings of a virtual, border-less business for advice and options available to you. Basically get professional advice from somebody qualified to be advising in this sort of thing.

If this route just isn’t for you, or is not feasible, hire a company that ‘employs’ the virtual assistants, this way you can completely eliminate any liability and still get the support you need to progress into online business manager. I hire a variety of different VA’s in my business and some of them are hired by a 3rd party company, but are assigned to me full or part time. Another option is to partner with a multi-VA company, so you would have a team accessible to you for assistance with your clients, but wouldn’t be directly hiring that team yourself, you would hire the company, again, you would be going through a 3rd party provider.

I am not saying this will be the answer for everyone, but where there is a will there is always a way, and multi-VA teams are still doable somehow, regardless of where you live.

No 4: I can’t trust anyone to do as good of a job as me.

You need to choose your VA’s and sub-contractors very, very wisely, you will need to invest in quality providers who ideally can show they are capable of managing their work and time effectively – simply put, micro-managing sucks. The fact is, you are responsible for the work your clients hire you for, so don’t skimp on the people helping you. You may have to go through a few trial and error scenarios, you won’t always get it right first time, but once you do find the right people to work with, you could find that your service improves.

If you’re concerned about finding good quality support, try out a service like Live-Hire who can help you step-by-step through the process of hiring, and present to you pre-screened virtual assistants that are matched perfectly to your requirements and budget. Some VA’s will particularly set their business up to be in a ‘supporter’ style role, with the capacity to assist other VA’s with their business, as opposed to or in addition to, developing their own client base. Check out a service like Seeking Serenitys VA Relief option.

No 5: Sub-contractors don’t do things the way I like them done.

Some sub-contractors can be surprisingly adaptable, however it’s your role as an online business manager to ensure you make their life as easy as possible. Communication is the key, and a searchable Intranet filled with information relating to your business and clients is an essential part of expansion. Document everything related to your VA company and how you do things, how to use systems, processes, procedures, all sorts of “how to’s,” use video, written instructions, anything that will assist and help the VA’s you hire to do their work with minimum hassle. If you want things done a certain way, you are the one responsible for making sure that happens. It’s the same with clients, if we are handling anything in their business that they need doing a certain way in order for it to work for them, we can often adapt, if of course we don’t find a better way of doing it, that we can propose to the client.

Whether you choose to evolve into an online business manager or not, the most important consideration is yourself — do what feels right to you and for your business. What I have been through are the 5 most common questions that I get from virtual assistants looking to change their business model and make a transition from a solo-VA, potentially giving them more free time and higher income. Be open to possibilities, weigh up your options and lifestyle choices and choose a virtual assistant business model that works for you. Expansion needs good organisation, but once you are able to get your team together, you can potentially free up much more of your time to pursue additional business, or simply take time off!

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Hi I'm Michelle, an entrepreneur specialising in virtual assistance, a digital and real world nomad, and a down-to-earth mother of three.

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