In the hustle and bustle of running a business, it’s easy to blur the lines between roles.

One common mistake I’ve noticed is businesses overloading their personal assistant (PA), executive assistant (EA) or virtual assistant (VA) with Online Business Manager (OBM) responsibilities.

We’ve all done it, so don’t feel bad!

While it might seem efficient at first, it’s important to recognise the distinct differences between these roles to prevent overwhelm, stress, and inefficiencies within your team and business.

Just as there is a clear distinction between an EA and a Chief Operating Officer (COO) in the corporate world, the same clarity should be applied when differentiating between a PA, EA, VA, and an OBM.

Phew, so many acronyms!

In this blog, let’s break it down and make it simple for you to implement so you can boost your business and make sure it works for you – while you work on your big future vision.

Differentiate the roles: VA, PA and EA vs OBM and COO

Understanding the different roles within your business is crucial for effective delegation and operational efficiency.

Here’s a breakdown of some key roles and how they can best serve you in your business:

Virtual assistant (VA)

What: A VA handles a variety of administrative tasks, such as managing emails, scheduling appointments, handling customer inquiries, and performing basic research. They are essential for keeping day-to-day operations running smoothly and ensuring that the business owner isn’t bogged down with routine tasks.

Why: This role is particularly valuable for small businesses or startups that need flexible and cost-effective support.

Personal assistant (PA)

What: A PA typically manages the personal and professional schedules of executives, handling administrative tasks, coordinating meetings, and sometimes managing personal errands.

They ensure that the executive’s day-to-day activities run smoothly.

Why: This role is crucial for executives who need to maximise their productivity by delegating time-consuming tasks.

Executive assistant (EA)

What: An EA provides high-level administrative support to executives, managing complex schedules, coordinating meetings, handling travel arrangements, and often overseeing other administrative staff.

They serve as a gatekeeper, ensuring that the executive’s time is used efficiently and effectively.

Why: This role is vital for senior leaders who need to focus on strategic decision-making without being distracted by administrative details.

Online Business Manager (OBM)

What: An OBM takes a holistic approach to managing a business’s operations. They oversee day-to-day activities, manage projects and teams, and ensure that the business’s strategic goals are being met.

An OBM helps streamline processes, improve efficiency, and implement systems that support long-term growth.

Why: By handling operational management, an OBM frees the business owner up to focus on vision and strategy.

Chief Operating Officer (COO)

What: A COO handles high-level operational strategies and manages significant parts of the business, often reporting directly to the CEO.

They are responsible for ensuring that the company’s operations align with its strategic goals and for driving efficiency across the organisation.

Why: This role is essential for larger businesses that need a dedicated executive to oversee complex operations and ensure alignment with the overall business strategy.

Each of these roles requires different skill sets and focuses, which is why it’s vital not to overload your PA, EA or VA with OBM tasks.

Don’t overload your VA with OBM tasks

Assigning OBM responsibilities to a VA might seem like a cost-effective solution, but it can lead to several issues:

1. Overwhelm and stress

VAs may become overwhelmed by the strategic and managerial demands of OBM tasks.

The transition from handling routine administrative duties to managing complex projects and making strategic decisions can be daunting.

This added stress can lead to burnout, which negatively impacts their mental health and overall productivity.

An overwhelmed VA is less likely to perform well in either role, causing a ripple effect of inefficiencies throughout the business.

2. Inefficiencies in your business

Without the appropriate training and experience, VAs might struggle with OBM responsibilities.

OBMs require a specific skill set that includes project management, strategic planning, and team leadership.

VAs who lack these skills might make mistakes, overlook important details, or mismanage projects, leading to costly rework and delays.

This can result in overall inefficiency, affecting your business’s ability to meet its goals and deadlines.

3. Role dilution

When VAs are spread too thin across various responsibilities, their effectiveness in their primary role diminishes.

They may find it challenging to balance their administrative duties with the more complex tasks of an OBM.

This role dilution can lead to a decrease in the quality of work in both areas, as they are unable to dedicate sufficient time and energy to either set of tasks.

The business may experience decreased efficiency, missed deadlines, and a decline in overall productivity.

4. Increased staff turnover

Assigning inappropriate tasks to VAs can lead to job dissatisfaction and higher turnover rates.

When employees feel overburdened or ill-equipped to handle their responsibilities, they are more likely to seek employment elsewhere.

This constant turnover can be costly for the business in terms of recruitment, training, and lost productivity.

By ensuring that roles are clearly defined and appropriately assigned, businesses can enhance employee satisfaction and retention.

How to work better with your VA and OBM

To ensure smooth operations and maintain a healthy work environment, here are some tips on working effectively with your VA or OBM:

  1. Clear task assignment: Clearly differentiate between the tasks assigned to your VA and those for your OBM. Ensure that each role has well-defined responsibilities.
  2. Structured projects: Break down projects into manageable tasks and assign them appropriately. This helps avoid role confusion and ensures each team member can focus on their strengths.
  3. Human consideration: Remember that your team members are human! Overloading them can lead to burnout and decreased job satisfaction. Maintain open communication and ensure workloads are manageable.
  4. Create a manual: Develop a comprehensive guide for each role. This document should outline procedures, expectations, and workflows, making it easier for team members to understand and excel in their positions.
  5. Regular check-ins: Schedule regular meetings to discuss progress, address challenges, and provide support. These check-ins help keep everyone aligned and create a collaborative work environment.

Investing in the right team members for each role in your business is a strategic decision that supports sustainable growth and long-term success.

Ready to work together? Book a discovery call today

This call is the start of better things to come because in our 30 minutes together, we will:
Look at your vision and goals and how to turn them into actions.

  • Create a roadmap to get you there.
  • Discover how to plug the leaks in your operations that are sucking your time and money.
  • Assigning the right tasks to the right people is a strategic move that drives growth and maintains a positive work environment.

Get in touch today for a discovery call and let’s transform your business and breathe new life into it!

Book your call here.