What is a Virtual Partner / Virtual Business Manager (VBM)?

The official definition of a Virtual Business Manager (VBM) is:

A virtually based support professional who manages online based businesses, including the day-to-day management of projects, operations, team members, and metrics.

However, I like to look at the role from a bit of a different angle: What is the purpose of a Virtual Business Manager beyond “what they do?”

The role of the VBM boils down to one simple thing:

To free up business owners so they can focus their time and energy on the things that only THEY can do in their business.

Most business owners look to hire a Virtual Business Manager (VBM) when they simply cannot grow their business further being the only one in charge. In order for them to take their business to the next level, they need to pull themselves out of the day-to-day management activities and focus on growth.

This includes areas such as product development, strategic alliances, and big picture business planning – all of which are essential to the growth of a business. Managing everything else becomes the responsibility of the VBM.

What are The Key Competencies of the VBM?

  • Hard Skills: What a VBM Does
    A VBM manages the day-to-day activities of a client's business using his or her skills, knowledge and experience with business tools, systems, and strategies.
  • Soft Skills: How a VBM Acts
    A VBM has the communication skills that enable him or her to excel in working with high-end clients, their team, and customers.
  • Inner Game: Who a VBM Is
    VBMs love what they do – they get to structure their work environment in a way that gives them the most satisfaction and fulfillment from being a VBM.

What makes someone a great Virtual Business Manager?

  • The “soft” skills are more important than the “hard” skills (this can truly make or break the Client / VMB relationship!)
  • VMBs need to know how to work with their clients!

What is the difference between a Virtual Business Manager (VBM) and a Virtual Assistant (VA)?

This is the one question I’m asked most often by business owners and the people they hire. Although similar in nature, there are key differences between the two roles:

FOCUS The challenge for the VBM is to shift from “doing” to “managing.”

  • VBM – The focus of the Virtual Business Manager is on “management” – you hire a VBM to keep an eye on the big picture and manage all the pieces (projects, team members, operations, expenses) to ensure that all projects are getting completed in a timely and efficient manner.
  • VA – The focus of the Virtual Assistant is on “doing” – you hire a VA to perform specific tasks (e.g., customer service, shopping cart maintenance, etc.), or to complete specific projects (e.g., set up a new members area or blog), and VAs are the ones actually doing the work.

MEASURES OF SUCCESS The VBM has to manage ALL tasks and projects, not just their own.

  • VBM – Everyone's tasks and projects are being completed and delivered in a timely fashion. The team is happy and motivated. Systems are running smoothly and efficiently.
  • VA – Your own tasks and projects are being completed and delivered in a timely fashion.

LEVEL OF RESPONSIBILITY – A VGM has a much higher level of responsibility and needs to be up for it.

  • VBM – Responsible for the success and smooth functioning of the entire business (as outlined above), not just his or her own individual work.
  • VA – Responsible for his or her own individual work.

NUMBER OF CLIENTS – The VBM goes deep with a select few clients vs. juggling the expectations of multiple clients.

  • VBM – Because of the level of responsibility a Virtual Business Manager has with each client, he or she can only effectively work with 2 or 3 clients at a time in this capacity.
  • VA – Virtual Assistants will generally work with 5-10 clients depending on the workload with each client.

COMPENSATION – VBMs are motivated by incentive-based pay.

  • VBM – Base + incentive structure. I start out working on an hourly or retainer basis, for about the first 90 days. Then I'll discuss the various opportunities for incentive-based compensation.
  • VA – Hourly or project based. Most VAs charge for their work on an hourly basis, which can be billed in advance as a retainer or monthly for hours worked. Some will charge a flat rate by the project for certain services.

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