These days, most people know me as an OBM. After all, my business is called Sarah Noked OBM, right? It’s taken a lot of time, energy, and experience to brand myself as the OBM that I am today. But this is important…

Everybody starts somewhere.

And though I’ve established myself as a leading voice in the OBM industry in recent years, I started as a down and dirty tech VA!

I’ve realized that I don’t speak about my time as a VA nearly enough! I wrote recently about the transferable skills I leveraged during my transition from corporate to Online Business Management.

But today, I want to chat about that crucial year of transition between my corporate life and my decision to get certified as an OBM. Because that year as a VA was an ENORMOUS stepping stone (and a huge learning experience) that laid some seriously important foundations before it was time to up-level to OBM status.

Here are the 3 ways that VA work prepared me to be an OBM.

The digital marketing landscape & online business models

In corporate, I occasionally leveraged tech tools to stay connected to my clients abroad. But did I know shit about membership sites?


Did I know about the pros and cons of different email marketing platforms?


Did I know anything about tagging leads and contacts based on behavior? Or when you should use Youtube vs. Vimeo to deliver content? Or how to calculate if a FB ads funnel is delivering worthwhile ROI?

No. No. No.

My early VA work introduced me to a whole new world of digital marketing that I had NO idea about! And not only that…

I learned how to leverage these tools within different online business models for maximum impact.

Because the way that an online coach leverages Infusionsoft is very different than the way a virtual medical practice leverages Infusionsoft. The way that a real-estate agent uses ActiveCampaign is a totally different than how an online-course provider uses the platform.

This period also helped me become intimately familiar with how different business models function and the services that they need.

An online coaching business needs different types of support than an online photography business. But over time, I was also able to identify the crossover. For instance, certain aspects of their client onboarding procedures could duplicated across the board, using the same tech. While on the other hand, their content management strategies were an entirely different ball game!

Identifying my ideal client avatar

And while we’re on the topic of different business models, let’s not forget the different types of entrepreneurs behind those businesses.

As a VA, I was able to contribute to a wide range of clients and their diverse needs. Real estate agents. Doctors. Relationship coaches. Sex therapists. Bloggers. Photographers. The list goes on and on…

And my VA days were a perfect opportunity for me to get really clear about:

a.) The types of clients I love working with
b.) The types of clients who are impressed with my skills and my style
c.) The types of clients I get the best results for

In my case, I was able to zero in on my ideal client avatar:

Creative, female entrepreneurs, often coaches, who already have a proven business model but lack the systems and structure necessary to scale and GROW.

Money coaches. Love Coaches. Hell, my team has even worked with an actual PSYCHIC.

Regardless of their zone of genius, my clients are crazy creative entrepreneurs who tend to be “type B” and literally swoon over my ability to systematize and streamline.

But there are plenty of VAs and OBMs out there who much prefer working for newbies. Or prefer providing virtual support to doctors or lawyers.

We all have our special zone of genius. And hustling as a VA helped me find mine (Tweet it!)

VA projects led me to my passion

In the end, THE most important lesson I learned during my time as a VA was all about internal reflection. What are my strengths? What do I really ENJOY doing for my clients? Where do I provide added value that wows my clients?

And for me, it was working as a VA on high-level course launches.

I loved EVERYTHING about launching. As someone who thrives on the rush and the hustle of high pressure situations, I learned that my ability to troubleshoot tech issues in real time was critical to launching.

Because we all know…no matter how systematized and coordinated a launch plan is, there is always something that comes up. WITHOUT FAIL. And my agility in these situations was invaluable to my clients.

As I gained more experience working as a VA on these big launches, I also realized something that was a game changer. Where I really shined was in the big-picture strategy of launch PLANNING. As I become more and more familiar with the common pitfalls and hiccups of launches, I was able to anticipate problems before they arose.

I began building out robust launch SOPs that allowed my clients to run more streamlined launches. And if you’ve been following my blog for any amount of time, you know that systems are my JAM!

Almost 10 years into business as an OBM, I’ve position myself and my services around the promise of systems (SOPs) that will set you free.

Would I be the Queen of Systems today if I hadn’t rolled up my sleeves as a VA for that year and invested in learning the ropes? Hell no.

Now over to you: what did you learn (or are you learning) as a VA that will serve you as you build your business?


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