What are the differences between an OBM and a VA?

What are the differences between an OBM and a VA?

Sometimes my clients come to me unsure if they need an Online Business Manager or a Virtual Assistant. And one of the main questions I get asked a lot is “ What are the differences?”

The simplest answer I can give is: “An OBM manages online businesses.”

Which if we were to put into a diagram might look something like this depending on your team structure at present:


There are definitely some KEY differences between an OBM and a VA and hopefully this will also help to make it clearer:


  • VAs are implementers. They carry out tasks and make stuff 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.


  • OBMs are 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, often including VAs, web designers, writers and social media experts.

  • 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.

If we wanted to make it even simpler I guess you can some it up as follows:

When you’re hired as a VA, you’re hired to get your work done.
When you’re hired as an OBM, you’re hired to make sure that everyone gets their work done.

Was this a useful guide to the differences between the two roles? I hope so and as always I would love to hear your comments below.

How to Make Your Business Work for You

How to Make Your Business Work for You