What is a Director of Operations and how are they different from an Online Business Manager?

Outsourcing and Management

Curious to see if a Director of Operations or Online Business Manager is the right ‘next hire’ in your team?


I’m going to make two bets with you. One, I bet that you’re here because you decided being your own boss would give you more freedom than being employed. Two, I bet that ‘freedom’ feels a bit like being chained to your phone an awful lot more than you imagined. 

Am I right? Don’t fret, we’ve all been there. But this is about recognising that something needs to change. 

If your business has reached a point where you need someone to develop its future, and crucially free up your time, you might be wondering who the best people to help you are, and what exactly they could do. It’s a really exciting time, but getting the right roles set up is crucial to your next stage.

A Director of Operations and an Online Business Manager are both roles that will support your company to grow – it’s how they do it that differentiates them. Do you need someone who is hands-on at every stage, or a clear thinker that oversees goals from the top? 

In this post, I’ll help you see the benefits of each role and decide which is right for where your business is right now. 


What do each of these roles do?


Both roles can be hired to work as part of your in-house team, but just as easily (if not, easier – goodbye long recruitment process!) both can work as remote, freelance positions within your business. Hiring on a freelance basis can offer a lot more freedom for you. They have the autonomy to work in the ways their skills and knowledge have the best impact, and you don’t have to worry about the HR side or extra costs of employing someone. 

Let’s look at how the roles differ.

A Director of Operations vs an Online Business Manager 


So, what’s the difference?

Typically, a DOO will:

  • Develop & deliver business strategy
  • Set goals and KPIs for the business, and its team
  • Manage procedures
  • Coach team members
  • Look for ways to streamline the business
  • Manage external relationships
  • Make operational decisions on behalf of the CEO/business owner


Typically, an OBM will:

  • Manage the teams within a business
  • Manage projects & launches
  • Drive business growth
  • Delegate tasks to virtual assistants or ops assistants
  • Updates key business procedures (SOPs)
  • Maintain regular contact with other team members
  • Free up their CEO or business owner’s time


A Director of Operations is goals and strategy focused, whereas an Online Business Manager will do the hands-on tasks to make sure projects are delivered on time. It’s starting to make sense now, right? 

An OBM could commit a smaller number of hours to your business and still achieve a lot. Directors of Operations could be expected to have more interaction with the company’s board – whether that’s a room full of bums on seats or just you and your laptop – and benefit from spending more time in touch with the CEO (and if that’s you too, it doesn’t necessarily free up as much of your time!).

A common misconception is that companies will hire a DOO to fit in with a strong and established team. That doesn’t mean they’re not right for a small business or one-woman business though – if your revenue, workload and strategy could benefit from a DOO, this will be the case regardless of how big the team is. 


How can I benefit from each role?


It’s a great time to step back and consider what your business needs in its next twelve months and beyond. Would it benefit from strategic direction and someone to take it forward at a different pace? Or do you need to create space in your own workload to focus on opportunities and hand over the management of your team? 

When we put it like this, it’s easier to see where each role provides different opportunities. Both roles will allow your business to grow – it’s the how that makes the difference. 

Adding someone to your team will affect the whole business, so it’s also worth thinking about from the point of view of the entire team. Would the ethos of the company benefit from a new director, or would the team value a manager to support them through a high-pressure phase? 

If you’re thinking something along the lines of, “yes/maybe/how the hell do I figure this out?!”, you might want to take a look at my Business Freedom Formula. My four steps are designed to help you move from overwhelm and overworked to that place you set your business up for in the first place. It was designed specifically to help you achieve the balance you’ve been looking for using clear goals and a strong 12-month strategy.

There’s an FAQ here if you’d like to know more. 


What should I look for in a Director of Operations or Online Business Manager? 


Consider your own skills and knowledge – what’s missing? Or do you simply not have enough hours in the week? If it’s the latter, an Online Business Manager could be the best way to free up your time and remove a lot of tasks from your plate.


Related:  You can find out more about our OBM support here.


Either way, these roles should be fulfilled by independent thinkers, and people able to work without supervision. You’ll need an expert in business development to take on your business objectives and deliver great results. 

Detailed thinkers, critical planners and individuals with exceptional organisational skills suit both roles. They need to be able to communicate effectively and make important decisions. 

Make a list of the top things you would hand over from your own responsibilities, and this should start to show you which role is best suited to your business. 


…and if you’re here because you’re thinking about becoming a Certified DOO, read on!


Online Business Managers have started to become more widely known (and hired!) in the UK over the last 2-3 years, and Virtual Assistants more than 5 years ago. The number of Director of Operations roles are now increasing after gaining traction in the US. Here in the UK, we follow the trend a little later! When I heard about the Certified DOO Programme by Natalie Gingrich, my interest was piqued. 

The programme lasts roughly 6 months with modules and assignments on essential operational pillars of any business including strategy, project management, financials, KPIs and dashboards, HR, communication and leadership.


Related: If you’re interested in going through the DOO Certification too you can find out all the details here.


What you can expect to pay 


The crucial thing to understand when it comes to paying for any professional service is the value in a fee based on deliverables rather than specific amounts of time. Nobody wants to watch the clock when they’re working to deliver the best service they can, so paying for tasks carried out works in everyone’s favour. 

The benefit here is that if something urgent comes up, or takes longer than planned, you’re not going to be met with a surprise invoice. Fitting services into a retainer fee means you’ll get the same agreed actions completed when you expect them, and the professional you hire can allocate the time they need to do the job well without restrictions.

A Director of Operations is one of the top tier positions in any business, and the role will demand one of the largest outgoings amongst your team. A retainer would cost roughly £2500 and up per month. You’ll get what you pay for, however. DOOs bring with them a wealth of knowledge, often worth every penny.

An Online Business Manager can charge anywhere from £50 to £120 per hour for a highly skilled OBM. Again though, retainers based on deliverables are much more common and recommended. As always, pay should increase with responsibilities and experience. 

Want to compare the cost of an OBM with a VA? I’ve got that info too, right here. 

Our own online business management packages start at £1500 per month. The service will be totally unique to you, but you can find out more about what that package could include here. You can also get to know my OBM team here to find out a bit more about them and their zones of genius. 


Key considerations


  • A Director of Operations is a more senior role than an Online Business Manager. They focus on strategy and goals and generally have less involvement in the team activities. 
  • Both roles can be fulfilled by freelancers with numerous clients or people working exclusively for one company. More often freelance, they commit the number of hours you need to ensure projects are managed well and remove some responsibility from your workload.
  • OBMs and DOOs often have specialisms based on their backgrounds and skills. It’s a good idea to consider what kind of niche you’d like them to offer and reach out to those with experience of working with similar businesses to yours. How much experience do you need them to have in the areas you need support in?
  • OBM rates vary, but retainer packages are in the region of £1000 to £3000 per month, depending on your needs.


Want to chat about your options?


Growing your team with either one of these roles is a big step and reaching this stage of business is something to celebrate. I’ll cheer you on and recognise your wins with you, but I know it’s a nerve-wracking time too.  

Book in a call today and I’ll take you through everything you need to consider to make the best decision for your business. 

Prefer to email? Chat to me using hello@theassistantquarters.co.uk 


Thanks for reading!



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