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6 Common Mistakes New OBMs Make – And What to Do Instead!

As a new OBM, navigating the nuances of the online space can be difficult, especially if you’ve been in the corporate space previously.  

I’ve seen many OBMs start businesses and, unfortunately, quit their businesses. There are so many things people don’t tell you when you’re first starting – how to get clients and retain them, how to have hard conversations, or what to do when something goes wrong. 

No more gatekeeping – I want to share with you six common mistakes new OBMs make and what you should do instead! 

Taking clients from a place of financial scarcity

If you’re starting your business, taking on any client that comes your way simply for the paycheck can be tempting. While this is understandable and sometimes necessary, keeping this habit can affect your long-term vision for your business. 

Here’s something to think about – every business has a target market at the cornerstone of its brand. Successful brands know who they are selling to and what will push them to purchase their product or service. And they don’t waste time convincing everybody else to buy, too!

The same should be true of you as an OBM. Taking any client that comes your way establishes your brand as something for everybody, meaning that you are an expert to none.

And I’m not necessarily saying you must choose a niche and never go outside it! But you do need to know what your ideal client looks like, and I don’t just mean their demographics. What do they value? Who are you when no one is watching? What do they love about their business? Who are they as human beings?

So, what should you do instead of taking any client that comes your way? Make it easy for your people to find you! Whether joining a network of OBMs like OBM Associates® or just going out there and having conversations, put yourself in the room and speak up! 

Don’t allow financial scarcity to compromise your values. Staying true to your values often pays off in the long run. Aligned clients will love working with you so much that they’ll stay on for extended periods, resulting in recurring revenue. So, you can take the unaligned client now for a quick buck or go for the long game by staying true to yourself and seeking out the people who appreciate you. 

Allowing clients to overstep their boundaries

As OBMs and strategic partners, it’s often the case that clients begin to feel more like friends. While this can be great for your strategic partnership, sometimes the lines become blurred when clients overstep boundaries. 

It’s very trendy nowadays in the online space to preach about “boundaries,” but what does it mean to have and enforce boundaries? Boundaries are for the sake of both you and the clients you serve. It establishes a clear expectation of how, when, and in what way you will complete tasks.

Let’s discuss why this is important for you, your business, and your life. If you don’t establish boundaries and allow clients to pile on out-of-scope tasks or contact you outside of business hours, you enforce this behaviour. Over time, burnout will begin to seep into your work and life. You’ll find you’re less eager to go after new ideas, or you’ll find yourself skipping out on self-care. 

For your clients, allowing any one client to overstep boundaries can limit your working with other clients. Any uncompensated extra time you spend chips away when you’ve committed to another client can affect your quality of work and client experience over time. 

So, what can you do instead? 

Set boundaries from the very beginning of your working relationship with a client. Communicate them clearly and enforce them when necessary with gentle reminders. Boundaries can include your working hours, the tasks you are and are not willing to do, or when clients need to have deliverables to you. 

For example, if a client sends you a message outside of working hours expecting a response, instead of responding, answer their inquiry first thing in the morning and gently say, “Friendly reminder that my working hours are 10 AM – 6 PM!” 

Boundaries can also sound like this: 

“That task is unfortunately outside of the scope of our project! I’d be happy to assist you in other ways, including the tasks we established in our contract.”

Or “I appreciate you getting this item to me! Just a friendly reminder for next time that to execute work on time, I need to receive items by the deadline we established in our contract.”

And remember – having boundaries don’t make you any less committed to your clients! Enforcing boundaries can be complex for many. Setting boundaries signals to clients that you’re showing up as an authority, not an employee. 

If you’re a people pleaser type, it can certainly feel uncomfortable to stand your ground – but remember that it will benefit you and the clients you serve in the long run!

Building your lifestyle around your business instead of the other way around

We’ve all heard the saying: “Don’t live to work; work to live!”

But it can take a lot of work to apply this to your business. You’re passionate about your work! Why wouldn’t you make it a priority in your life? But unfortunately, many get to the end of their life and regret the time they spent working overtime instead of with friends and family. What are you missing out on in your real life by working nonstop? 

While it’s great to be passionate about your business, I can’t say enough how important it is to prioritise your life. Right now, you may feel too deep in client work to travel or take time off to see family, but will it be worth it in the future? Is it good for you, your clients, or the people around you that you’re burnt out, unhappy, and overworked? 

Remember, you are a human first and a business owner second. Instead of thinking about the OBM you want to be, think about the person you want to be! Being an OBM is simply a part of you, not who you are at your very core. 

The way we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives! 

So, what can you do instead? Build business goals that work towards your personal goals and establish a strong why. Do you want to travel full-time and have location independence? Do you want to, now or in the future, be able to stay home and raise your family? How many days a week would you like to work, and how would you spend your days off? 

When you allow your “why” to inform your daily actions, you’ll soon find that you’re doing much more of what matters in work and life!

Seeing yourself as an employee of your client rather than a strategic partner

Acting like an employee instead of a business owner is one of the most common mistakes I see in the online business space. 

When you’ve been an employee all your life, I can see why it would be difficult to escape this mindset when you become a business owner! 

Here’s the difference between an employee and a business owner: An employee performs a task at someone else’s request. A business owner partners with another business owner to determine what it will take to achieve a goal. 

So, instead of waiting on your client to tell you what to do or completing any task they ask you to do at any time, what if you stepped up to the plate and gave them something even more valuable?

The most valuable thing any business owner can have is a trusted partner to allow them the space and time to do what they do best instead of constantly working in the weeds of their business. You’ll be unstoppable if you can find a way to do this as an OBM. You must be willing to take the lead, assert yourself, and establish your authority as someone who can work alongside the CEO. 

So, what should you do to establish this? Don’t be afraid of honest conversations with clients or giving some tough love when needed. Take the time to research and become invested in your client’s business. You have the unique value of seeing the business from an outside, expert perspective. 

And remember, you have to value yourself as both a human being and a business owner by taking accountability for your growth. Develop your skill set and invest in education independent of what you’re doing with your clients, and don’t be afraid to allow yourself time for self-care. 

Seeing other OBMs as competition, rather than community

As a fellow OBM, I totally get why you might be tempted to view other OBMs as competition. It can be easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others in your industry and feeling like you need to “win” at all costs. 

But let me tell you, that mindset is SO yesterday. In today’s world, community over competition is where it’s at. When you shift your focus from competing to collaborating and building relationships with other OBMs, you open yourself up to so many new opportunities. 

By treating other OBMs as community rather then competition, you can share resources, bounce ideas off of one another, and even refer clients to one another. Plus, when you’re part of a supportive community, you’ll feel more empowered to take risks and pursue your goals. 

So, don’t be afraid to reach out to other OBMs and start building those connections. Together, we can ALL succeed. 

Not seeking out community support or mentorship

Being a business owner can get lonely. For many of us, no one in our personal lives understands what we do in our business or what we go through daily. 

When you’re stuck in this cycle of isolation, it can be challenging to gain the momentum to seek community support. Even though you speak with your clients frequently or follow OBM peers on Instagram, it still doesn’t feel like enough, making you feel resigned to loneliness. 

Beyond that, knowing what to do when trouble arises in your business can be difficult. Who can you turn to for guidance and support? 

Here’s what to do instead – become an OBM Associate. Yes, it’s a thing! I know the feeling of loneliness and isolation working online, and I decided to do something about it. 

I started OBM Associates® as a mentorship and online community for OBMs. We’ll train you using tried and true methods from my corporate and online experience as a COO, source high-quality, aligned clients, and support you every step of your business journey. 

In addition to mentorship and training, you’ll become part of a thriving community of other OBMs, where you’ll be able to find and share resources, offer support, and just chat about all things OBM and beyond with people just like you!

If you’re struggling as a new OBM, I hear you; this is a safe space! I’m here to tell you you don’t have to do it alone. Want to see if you’re the right fit for OBM Associates®? Receive and fill out our application today! 

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