Integrators, Director of Operations, OBMs, and VAs… What do they all do? And why do you need them?

When a new/modern way of doing business emerges – there isn’t an accompanying Guide Book. 

The Online Business model is a modern form of what Generations older than Millennials might be familiar with from the ‘old school’ Corporate world. 

You know – same, same, but different!

The Structure of the corporate ladder looks something like this (depending on the size of the organization):

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) / President
/     \
Chief Financial Officer (CFO)   ,  Chief Operating Officer (COO)
\      /
Vice Presidents
Department Managers ,  Project Managers
Secretaries / Assistants

Heck, I’ve seen some companies with their ladders 20 levels deep (maybe just to throw titles around? make some Men feel important?) and some smaller companies keep their structure simple.

The structure of a larger Online Business can look more like this:

YOU (CEO/President/Visionary/Whatever You Want to Call yourself)
Integrator / Director of Operations and/or OBM
/      |     \
Project Managers / Marketing Manager
Virtual Assitants (VAs)

Well, many online businesses start as “Solopreneurs”… which is just a catchy way of saying an Entrepreneur who is doing it all on their own – wearing ALL of the hats and holding ALL of the titles.

Usually, they grow their business with little help – at first – in order to save on the capital expenses that someone who was opening up a brick and mortar business/office would probably be spending. After all, all you really need is a computer, the internet, and hopefully somewhere to sit!

But what happens when that business owner starts being successful and generates revenue (yay!)? In order to grow and scale their business, they need to start HIRING HELP!

The First Hire Is Usually A Virtual Assistant (VA)

To help with a certain reoccurring tasks that simply takes up more time than the business owner would like to be spending on it and needs that time to focus on other parts of the business. Some VA roles include, but are not limited to:

Web / Graphic Design
Website Updates (SEO, links, affiliates, etc)
Social Media / Blog Posts

Some keys about these roles are:

♦  VAs are implementers. They carry out tasks and make shit happen with the help of detailed instructions.

♦  VAs work on a task basis and are responsible for completing their work on time and to a professional standard, but they have a safety net of higher level guidance to catch them when they fall.

♦  VAs are team members and are usually responsible to an OBM or business owner.

♦  VAs get things done without having much control over workflow or priorities.

♦  VAs usually work for an hourly fee and have multiple clients in order to fill their schedule and earn a good living.  

The Next Hire Might Be Managers

A manager is going to, well, manage a specific part of the business. This might be, but not limited to:

Social Media / Marketing Manager
Launch Manager
Project Manager
Team Manager (meaning they manage all of the VAs)
Client Manager
Email / Content Manager
JV Affiliate Partnership Manager

This role does the doing at a higher level, and usually in some kind of software specifically designed to keep track and manage all of the parts to each area. And while the ‘tasks’ at this level aren’t as tactical and have a definitive ‘end’ to them (like creating a blog post, or sales page, etc) they are all tied to a larger goal and need to be accomplished in order to get the ball rolling on the NEXT step in the process (like if you’re managing a launch, you need that Product to be solidified before you record the Webinar, and the Webinar can’t happen until after your sales page and payment process is completed and set up… but you need an Audience first so you have someone to sent TO the Webinar/Sales Page to buy the Product… lol)

Project Managers are also the grey area between VAs and OBMs. If you have a tech savvy VA who wants to do “more OBM work”, then they tend to start taking on these types of tasks.

Have a small Launch coming up? A VA could potentially help out with the whole thing. But once your projects and launches are quite sizeable – you’re going to need someone who has gone through the training to manage things properly.

This is similar in the corporate world as anyone can be a Project Manager, BUT there is also an official ‘PMP’ designation to show that someone has actually done the proper training and taken an exam. Same with OBM training… you can find people who ‘can do it’ but going with a Certified OBM will ensure that none of the steps get missed.

This Is The point Where You Need The Online Business Manager
(or OBM for short)

As your business grows, you might get to the point where you have so many moving pieces that you’re micromanaging everything/everyone and you find that you can’t find TIME to work on parts of the Business that only YOU can do  – like be the Face or the Voice in video content…

What does an Online Business Manager do:

♦  OBMs are project managers – just big-project managers. They come up with the strategy for how to get things done, and then parcel out tasks to their team.

♦  OBMs are responsible for the daily operations of the whole business, or for the entirety of a project – which includes the work of other team members.

♦  OBMs LEAD a team – including VAs, and also lead the process of hiring new team members and onboarding them properly into the business.

♦  OBMs work with the biz owner to discuss strategy and priorities.

♦  OBMs work more deeply with a few select clients and are compensated on a retainer or retainer+incentive basis.

An Exceptionally Useful Role – Is The Integrator or Director of Operations (DOO)

What does an Integrator or DOO do:

♦  Integrators either change or set up new systems. They may come into your business and overhaul your storage and organizational structures, set up Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in order for your team and business growth to be more efficient.
♦  Integrators will take new ideas and new business ventures and then create and integrate them into your existing business – let’s say you’re running a successful blog and you want to implement a Store Front or Digital Course into the mix of things. Or you’re a service based business and you want to create a virtual Membership into your existing operations. The Integrator is going to take that initial idea and make it happen.
♦  An Integrator is necessary for a successful Business to really scale.
They are your STRATEGIC PARTNER. They are just as invested in your business, and your GROWTH as you are.
♦  Integrators act like business partners, albeit lesser-known but arguably just as important. This list of duos could not have accomplished what they did – without their Integrators

»  Steve Jobs had Steve Wozniak
»  Bill Gates had Paul Allen
»  Warren Buffet had Charlie Munger
»  Bill Hewlett had Dave Packard
»  Henry Ford had James Couzens

What’s The Difference Between An OBM And An Integrator?

Arguably – a lot, or a little.

You see, a certified and qualified OBM can come into your business and SET UP everything your business needs – and then Manage it.

Conversely, when a company gets large enough (let’s say 8 figures annually) then they can have both an Integrator AND an OBM. The Integrator focusing on the new and then handing things off to the OBM.

In one of my corporate roles at a company of about 8,000 people, this is exactly what I did:

♦ The Business Development team (we’ll call them the visionaries) would come up with the next major project, strategic direction, or joint venture that the company should take on.
♦ It was then our job (as the Integrators – although we were called “Commercial Development” to take the idea/project and vet it against the business, the stakeholders, calculate the ROI, sign contracts, get interested buyers, get all of the regulatory approvals in place, and work with the Project Managers to Scope out the project and do a thorough Estimate of what it was really going to COST.
♦ At the end of our analysis, if the project was a go, it would become “sanctioned” and we would hand it off to the Project Management team to Manage it from there

I’ve also seen in smaller companies that one team would manage it all the way through to inception as they didn’t have enough people in all the various roles.

I’d say that MOST Online Entrepreneurs who are really ready for an Integrator/OBM just needs one person who will do both sides… and thus, in the online space – the two titles are interchanged quite often.

What’s The Advantage Of Hiring An OBM or An Integrator/DOO?

The major incentive that people don’t talk about is that hiring an OBM and Integrator really means you’re hiring a Business Partner.

When you’re strictly paying someone hourly for their services, then there really is no incentive for them to go above and beyond to grow the revenue of your business. But when you have a partner as an Integrator or OBM, then they will also be looking for ways to:

♦  Cut Costs
♦  Increase Sales
♦  Streamline Processes
♦  Hire the Right staff
♦  Make your ENTIRE Business run more smoothly and efficiently

Why are they incentivized to do this? Because their compensation will then also include a percentage of the revenue growth, and thus a huge win for both of you.

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