Left brain support for right brain creatives




Business Management



How to run your business like an OBM


Running a business is hard work, which is why my clients hire me, so they can stop trudging through the admin and get back to what they actually want to be doing in their business.

Before I dive in, let me breakdown what an OBM is and why you’d want to run your business like one.

What is an OBM and why would I want to run my business like one?

An OBM (online business manager) provides holistic support for your business. They are the strategists, give oversight, and can implement the strategies created for various goals and projects. They support the day-to-day operations of a business, make sure that all projects and goals are on schedule, and adjust as needed. OBM’s are your right hand, your wing-woman who knows the ins and outs of your business. In some instances they will implement parts of the strategy they come up with, however, the bulk of implementation is done by the VA (virtual assistant) on your team.

The 3 biggest reasons you’d want to run your business like an OBM is because…

  1. They are highly organized
  2. They’re big planners and love setting and keeping deadlines
  3. They know how to delegate the right tasks to the right people

So now that you know why you’d want to run your business like one, let’s dive into the 4 things that’ll help you run your business like an OBM.

  1. A CRM to track your clients and leads
  2. A PMS to track your client projects and internal business projects
  3. A system for managing your inbox
  4. A system to get your digital files in order

01. You need a CRM to track your clients and leads

But first, what is a CRM? A CRM is a Client Relationship Management, which is a program or software that will help you track your leads and clients.

Some examples of CRMs that are perfect for creative entrepreneurs: Dubsado, Honeybook (use that link and get 50% off), Hubspot.

Instead of manually keeping track of your leads in your inbox or by a spreadsheet, start using a CRM that is dedicated to the management of leads and clients. You’ll not only be able to stop manually (or via Zapier) tracking everything, you’ll also be able to get rid of several programs.

I use and recommend HoneyBook to do all of that. It is a nearly all-in-one platform where you can track leads/clients, send contracts and invoices, create proposals, questionnaires, track income and expenses, and schedule appointments.

By having all of these in one place, I’ve been able to cut out third-party apps like HelloSign, Google Forms or Typeform, and Acuity. Even with a CRM, you’ll still need a payment processor (like Stripe or Square), but I no longer send invoices through there. And with HoneyBook, they are actually the payment processor so I don’t even need Stripe or Square anymore.

In your CRM you’ll most likely have the option to setup workflows and automations that will cut even more time off of your onboarding and offboarding. Check out this blog post outlining a short workflow that you can use for connecting with new leads.

A couple of the things that I do for my clients in their CRM is create and update workflows for new services, handle tasks within workflows for onboarding and offboarding clients, and create and send proposals to leads. While you can do all that yourself, having an OBM means one less admin-related thing you need to do.

02. You need a PMS to track your client and internal business projects

Oh boy, another acronym. In this case, PMS doesn’t mean that monthly visit from Aunt Flo (🙈) it actually stands for Project Management Software.

There are a lot of PMS tools out there, and I’ve tried just about all of them, but I always came back to Asana. It’s easy to use, easy to understand, and has an amazing free version.

A former OBM friend turned business coach, Andrea Layne, once said, “Asana isn’t a project management tool, it’s a business management tool.”

Whether you’re flying solo or leading a team, you need to start using a PMS. My clients and I all use Asana for managing our businesses. I currently don’t have any team members (besides a bookkeeper), so everything in my Asana account is just for me. The bulk of my Asana account is used for my editorial content and internal business projects. Because of what I do for my clients, I have my own project on their account to track my tasks. So my Asana account is purely for me to manage my business.

A few PMS’s to check out: Asana, Trello, ClickUp, or Monday.

03. You need a system for managing your inbox

If your inbox gives you anxiety complete with sweaty palms and heart palpitations when you get ready to open it up, you need a system. One of the first major projects I do when starting with a new client is to set up their inbox for success. Once you have a system for how you manage your inbox you’ll be able to either continue managing it on your own, or hire a virtual assistant to do it for you.

There are 4 things you need to do to create an inbox management system:

  1. Create canned emails
  2. Setup labels
  3. Create filters
  4. Setup the view of their inbox

Read this blog post to learn how to set up your inbox using labels + multiple inboxes. Then once you’ve built your system, read this post for the 4 things you do each time you open your inbox.

04. You need to get your digital file system in order

If you’re like me when I was a brand + website designer back in the day, each client project comes with LOTS OF FILES. From all of the different mood board images to the drafts of each phase of the design, to all of the final files in each format for print and web. I’m not even going to think about how many files there are when you’ve got a website project.

So when it comes to organizing all of them, you may be left scratching your head.

Creating a system for your files will not just help you, but will help any team members (or future members) locate and save files fast. You’ll spend less time trying to figure out where that one document went, and spend more time doing what you actually should be doing, like creating that incredible logo mark that your client will fall in love with the first time they see it.

Head over to this blog post that walks through the digital file system I use for myself and clients.

Wrapping it up

Now that you’ve got the 4 key elements to running your business like an OBM, it’s time to sign up for that CRM and PMS, and create a well-organized inbox and digital file system that will free up your time and mental energy.

If after reading all of this you’re realizing just how much you’re really not wanting to set it all up yourself, let alone run it all and you’re a designer or copywriter, let’s chat. Setting the back end of a business is one of my favorite things to do for my clients.

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