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Old 08-15-2012
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Default Consultant, OBM, Virtual Assistant?
Hi,

I am tossing and turning with another question.

Are you a consultant, an OBM, or a Virtual Assistant? Most importantly how do you know?

I offer business services for small companies and need to know how to categorize myself.

Thanks in advance for your feedback!
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Old 08-15-2012
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Default Re: Consultant, OBM, Virtual Assistant?
HI,

What you want to figure out first is what you want to offer. Business Services is vague in the VA world. Some business services can be, typing, emailing, business setup, answering phones etc.

Some questions to ask yourself would be?
What do I want to offer?
How will this fall into the categories: Consultant, OBM, VA? or do they fall into any of those categories.

Another thing would be to ask yourself?
Do I want a niche market?
Do I have a skill no one or few others have that makes me a good fit for a niche market?

Also, don't forget to take a look at the VAF Business guides as they will help you narrow down, if you choose to, or pick up a market that you want to be in.

Good Luck
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Old 08-15-2012
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Default Re: Consultant, OBM, Virtual Assistant?
Good question,

I have been contemplating changing my title lately to up level my business and to reflect where I want to go from here.

The distinction for me is the definition that each of these titles have. OBM's is here: International Association of Online Business Managers Administrative Consultant's is here: Administrative Consultants Association and VA is here: Wikipedia (I looked for a definition on this site, but could not find one...if there is, someone please point me to it...thanks

For me, I personally would also want to be certified to use the OBM title...not sure why because I don't feel like I have to be certified to use the other titles. For me, an OBM does more 'managing' though (people, businesses, etc.) and somehow that feels like it needs some kind of credential (just my mind...LOL).

As of now, I represent myself as a Virtual Assistant but, I think a lot of people see that as a lesser person regardless of what we can do and I think that's due to the cheaper workers charging $3/hour.
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Old 08-15-2012
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Default Re: Consultant, OBM, Virtual Assistant?
I spoke to Tina Forsyth's assistant about the OBM cetification program. She defined the difference between VA & OBM as:

VA- gets work delegated to them
OBM- is the delegator, comes up with the solutions to problems (manages)

I am a happy medium, there are days when I love to problem solve and other times when I just want an assignment and a deadline. I decided to stick with the VA title until I get more clients and find out which types of services are asked of me. I may take the OBM certification program at a later date, the training program seems very interesting and thorough.
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Old 08-15-2012
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Default Re: Consultant, OBM, Virtual Assistant?
I have the Certification for OBM. I really like the feature for the RFP which you would not get elsewhere and the class was very thorough but I am not really sure any of my clients know what one is. We have been trying for almost a year for the OBM positions on the RFP and almost all of the rejections have been "we are looking for an experienced OBM" and at 50 per hour I completely understand. So we are now working as OBMs for some of our clients (without the title or the pay and also having to do the work) I think that this maybe a new field that will still require clients to learn the benefits and what an OBM really is. Most clients ask- if I have you- why do I want to pay someone else to do it?

Keeping my hopes up and keep applying to all of the positions I can- I am sure the "old timer" VAs had the same issues when the VA business was new to the industry as well.

Would love to hear from others on the topic.
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Old 08-15-2012
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Default Re: Consultant, OBM, Virtual Assistant?
Isn't part of the OBM Training to help you find clients? I mean to tell you "how" to find clients for that service? For example how to educate folks on what it is you do?
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Old 08-15-2012
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Default Re: Consultant, OBM, Virtual Assistant?
Honestly, your title is whatever you want it to be. A lot of times the clients don't know or care about the differences. I define myself as a Real Estate Office Consultant.
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Old 08-15-2012
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Default Re: Consultant, OBM, Virtual Assistant?
I just wanted to add my two cents here and say that just because someone in the field tells you that a VA 'has work delegated to them' and an OBM 'finds the solutions / delegates' does not necessarily accurately define one title or the other.

It's important to remember that the OBM designation was invented and developed by someone invested in creating a program/association and differentiating from the VA industry. That's not to say the training isn't good, or the designation isn't worth having but I do plenty of problem solving, taking concepts to clients in anticipation of their needs and problems, etc. so I have a hard time taking that explanation at face value.

It's equally important to understand that the Admin Consultant's Association was also created by someone invested in differentiating from the VA industry and if you read deep enough into the content on that site you'll see that there are some pretty denigrating thoughts on what a 'virtual assistant' is (as opposed to the supposedly 'better' admin consultant).

Tomorrow, someone else could decide to start a program and association for Virtual Consultants or whatever you can imagine... it's a lucrative industry as people move more and more toward working for themselves and working from home, etc.

The point is, you should call yourself something that 1) feels and sounds professional (whatever that means to you) and 2) that your market can recognize and understand.

As a virtual assistant, administrative consultant, or an OBM you're still going to have to educate clients about what you do and how you do it - that's just the nature of an evolving industry.
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Old 08-16-2012
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Default Re: Consultant, OBM, Virtual Assistant?
Teresa & Tess are absolutely correct...signing on for certification that someone created is definitely just a matter of choice, but I think (I say 'think' because I have not taking the training yet) that the OBM training will teach some people some things they may not know about managing I say 'some' because they do say (without a doubt) that they don't teach you how to 'do' the work (i.e. customize WP, etc.).

Since I have been a VA this has all been funny to me; the issue of what we are called.

All industries evolve and that's not a bad thing. Everything was created by someone at some point and "Attorney", "Doctor"...both have definitions and courses you have to take to do the job and hold the title.

While again I totally agree that these distinctions do not tell us or our clients 'what ' we do, my concern is that the market that I aspire to service seems to be embracing one title over another to determine rates, tasks, etc. And, quite frankly, importance to their business.

I'd love to hear thoughts on this.
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Old 08-16-2012
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Default Re: Consultant, OBM, Virtual Assistant?
Tess, your comments are dead on. The titles of OBM and Administrative Consultant were created by people who saw a way to market a program. The difference is in the way they market. Those marketing the OBM programs are upbeat and positive and don't denigrate the VA industry. I can't say the same for the other one as you very politely pointed out. I subscribe to blogs for both and have received some great tips. In fact, when I first started out I purchased contracts and other forms from the ACA and all were of high quality. Now that I have learned more about them, I am hesitant to purchase anything that will enhance their bottom line.

If someone relates to the negativity I think it says more about how they feel about themselves than the industry. I have proudly called myself a VA since day one and will continue to do so. As far as I'm concerned, all the marketing around other titles are just ploys to generate revenue. It's not bad, as we are all in business to do the same thing, but the constant negativity directed towards the VA industry from the founder of the Administrative Consultants Association has created a strong distaste and distrust for its mission.

Tina, I'm curious as to what market you want to service that is embracing one title over another. If your services fit what the market wants and needs, I don't understand why it matters. Can you expand on this?
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Old 08-16-2012
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Default Re: Consultant, OBM, Virtual Assistant?
Hi Margaret,

The market I'm talking about is higher-end clients. I have not broken into that yet and I am really at a loss for how to do so. Higher-end as in 6 and 7 figure businesses...someone that may be able to allow me to work for one or two clients and be able to maintain the lifestyle I want. They all seem to favor the OBM title to pay at the price point I want to be at.

Admittedly, I was slow to raise my rates and when you do that, it takes longer to raise them the next time and I say that because raising them would also help get me to where I want to be.

RE: ACA....totally agree, but don't get it twisted...the other is really saying their title is above a VA too...just in a nicer way.

That being said...as we are having this conversation I am understanding that it's more about what I do and how I sell myself/educate the buyer than the title. But I need to learn how to target that market I want to work with.

I hope this makes sense??
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Old 08-16-2012
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Default Re: Consultant, OBM, Virtual Assistant?
I have gone round and round with this and discussed this in a few different venues. I do some local networking with what are potential clients and some of them say the first thing they think of when I say virtual assistant is the Philippines, some of them say they have no clue, some of them say they think of someone who answers their phone, ... LOL .... I am not from the Philippines I am from the US and I do not answer phones. I have put so much time and effort though into branding myself as a virtual assistant to go back now would be harder in my mind than trying to change it. I am virtual assistant. There is nothing wrong with my title. What is wrong is all the hooha. So just like with whatever title any of us choose we have to educate. EDUCATE! EDUCATE! EDUCATE!

So here's how I start with that education. I introduce myself as a virtual assistant - okay.

I say, "Hello, I'm Rhonda Holscher the Owner/CEO of Rhonda's Virtual Office and I'm YOUR Virtual Assistant. We offer administrative, bookkeeping, desktop publishing, transcription, and web services. If you would like to more I would love to speak to you further. -Rhonda Holscher, Rhonda's Virtual Office"

This is what I say at every single networking event when I introduce myself. This is my elevator speech if you want to call it that. Notice it tells my name, it tells my position/title in the company, it tells them I am vested in them by saying I am YOURS, but then I also tell them each service category admin, books, desktop pub, transcription, web, that says I do more than answer phones and then I invite them to talk to me afterwards. Always end by repeating your name and company name.

Someone always talks to me afterwards. I usually talk to more people than I can remember. I get new clients this way, and when I speak to them afterward I continue to educate them. I answer their questions and if they make a comment/ask a question that reflect misnomer's I deal with them politely and accurately. Never dismiss someone else's ideas or beliefs just politely and accurately explain who you are. (This last event that I went to the B2B max I collected over 75 business cards. That means that I personally spoke to that many different individuals. Did I get a new client? Yes, I got 2 new clients.)

Also, your blog and your website are suppose to be your portal for their information. Again, it's not about your title it's about who you are and what you offer. Give them something to read, watch, or listen to that will help them to understand this. And remember they are human beings just like we are give them something to connect to. Show them a little bit of your personality. A picture of yourself is always a good thing, and a video is great if you can muster up the nerve to record yourself.

And I have to add. I have to agree with Tess on her analogy some of that stuff is purposely created to create a new avenue for someone else to make money and some of that stuff I've read is underhandedly giving the VA profession a bad name whether it's intentional or not, and I'm not mentioning names here I don't even remember who Tess who said I'm just speaking in general. The idea is we have to use good common sense when we read other people's ideas. Some of the people on the web are so good at selling what they have, but if you really step back and look at it is it really worth all the hype.

It's kind of like those late night infomercials that you are only watching because you are slap happy from not sleeping 3 nights in a row and would only spend that money on that crazy doom a hickey because you are half out of your mind at that moment. Well don't by into all the tantalizing hype. Just be careful is all I'm trying to say.
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Old 08-17-2012
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Default Re: Consultant, OBM, Virtual Assistant?
Hi Rhonda,

Thank you...this is what I was looking for. I just need to know how to sell myself and tell people what I do. And if I want to offer more management, make it a separate package and give the value for what I charge. Simple

Even though I have been doing this for 5 years, I still need education too. 99.9% of my business has contacted me through other clients so marketing had not been done or needed, but it is now.

I totally understand that people created programs for their bottom line, some because they seem to be bitter, others I think they did it because they truly believe in what they are offering...2 very different reasons. Just saying that from my short observations...I do not get paid to endorse either one!

But the best thing I have learned through this exchange so far is whatever title I use, this is really just a matter of what I offer in services and how I educate people about those services.

I'd say the OP should think in those terms too.
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Old 08-17-2012
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Default Re: Consultant, OBM, Virtual Assistant?
Tina, You hit the nail on the head. If you ever need someone to speak with feel free to get in touch. That goes for anyone. I'm RhondaHolscher on Skype, and I'm usually on between 9 - 5 EST. If I'm too busy to speak at the moment we can arrange a time. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! -Rhonda
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Old 08-17-2012
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Default Re: Consultant, OBM, Virtual Assistant?
Tina et al, my philosophy as a general rule is that anything that helps you grow as an individual and/or business owner/service provider is worth pursuing. Continuing to educate myself in new skills and technologies is the cornerstone of my own business growth.

Surely the OBM program has direction and guidance to offer someone looking to tackle that angle - my point solely was that the terminology we each use to describe and explain what we do does not necessarily have to be 'formalized' to be effective and 'certifications' are somewhat meaningless in my opinion. In the end it's what you're capable of and how well you market those services that's going to be the determining factor in the success of your business.

I love Rhonda's response - she's clear, concise, helps PCs understand what she does and opens the door to further discussion and exploration of how she can help them. She's not hinging her marketing message on any one 'term'.
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Old 08-17-2012
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Default Re: Consultant, OBM, Virtual Assistant?
Originally Posted by RhondaHolscher View Post
Tina, You hit the nail on the head. If you ever need someone to speak with feel free to get in touch. That goes for anyone. I'm RhondaHolscher on Skype, and I'm usually on between 9 - 5 EST. If I'm too busy to speak at the moment we can arrange a time. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! -Rhonda
Thank you Rhonda! I appreciate the offer and I am sure I will contact you.

@Tess totally agreed!
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