How an Assistant Real Estate Agent Became an Online Business Manager

For this edition of Virtual Hangout, we will know how Alexis, a former Assistant Real Estate Agent transitioned her life into becoming an Online Business Manager (OBM). Let us also find out why she decided not to pursue it after getting her Real Estate Agent License.

Links to Resources Mentioned



What does an Online Business Manager (OBM) do?

An Online Business Manager (OBM) is a business professional that handles all aspects of an online company. This includes team management and project management. Making sure that everything runs smoothly with each department in their company to make sure they can provide outstanding service to their customers.

How Can an Online Business Manager Help?

An Online Business Manager (OBM) can help with many aspects of running a company. They will tweak and streamline your systems around project management. Making sure they have a project management tool in place that communication is streamlined. They will be able to take the load off your shoulders and free up some time for you to focus on other areas of your business strategy.

What Is the Difference Between a Virtual Assistant

and an Online Business Manager?

With the rapid growth of people looking to work from home, it is not surprising that many are turning to Virtual Assistants and Online Business Managers (OBM) for assistance. A Virtual Assistant will assist with a variety of tasks such as managing your social media accounts, doing research for you, or even scheduling appointments. On the other hand, an Online Business Manager (OBM) usually handles more complex tasks related to running a business including accounting and finances. So what is the difference between these two positions? The main distinction is in their specific areas of expertise: one provides general assistance whereas the other focuses on running a business. In order to decide which service might be best for you, consider what type of assistance you would like help with and then do some comparison shopping before making a decision.

Virtual Hangout with Alexis Fortier

Tanika de Souza: Thank you guys for joining us for this edition of the virtual hangout. I'm excited because I met Alexis online. She's awesome. Doing some great work. So you guys definitely have to check out her Instagram page. But today we're going to be talking about Alexis and her business as an online. Business manager, how she got there, how she's funding to grow the company, what her bigger goals are.

So you definitely want to stay tuned if you don't even understand what all I'm business manager is. We're going to be talking about that too. So thank you, Alexis for joining me. How are you? Yes. 

Alexis Fortier: Thank you so much for having me. I'm doing great. How about you? 

Tanika de Souza: I'm good. I am great. Okay. So let's start with the most most obvious cause your, I think when I was looking on Instagram and say, OBM right, and so I had to look it up and say, what is that?

But tell us like, exactly what you do as an online business manager. 

Alexis Fortier: Yes. So as an online business manager, a lot of what I do revolves around like the systems and tech, making sure everything's set up streamlined all of that. The other side to that is also like the team management, project management like making sure we have a really good company culture as well as like the planning high level and strategy.

All things business. 

Tanika de Souza: So that's more than I thought. So you're taken on a bit of HR components, project management. Yeah. That's awesome. 

Alexis Fortier: Yeah, for sure. And I do find that being in the industry for a while there, all of us OEMs have our different like specialties. I would definitely say mine is hands down.


Tanika de Souza: love system. Awesome. So you would come into a business like mine and really just break down what I'm doing, how I can do things better to help create the systems for me to run my business. Exactly. Yeah. Okay. So could you give us like even just a brief example of a client that you work with and like some of the systems that you help them.

Alexis Fortier: Yeah. Oh my gosh. There's so many, I would say probably the most comment when I first come into somebody's business, the most common thing, we'll take a look at. Tweak and streamline our systems around project management. Making sure they have a project management tool in place that communication is streamlined.

All of that, like throughout the team. And then client experience and like client journey is the other big thing that I'll typically get set 

Tanika de Souza: up. Awesome. So you hope in that with. Email campaigns or really just the CRM side of things. 

Alexis Fortier: Mostly the CRM side, but I do also, I set up the tech for like funnels and all of that, but I don't do any of the copy or nobody wants me writing their copy.

Tanika de Souza: That is a whole nother animal. I must say I have. I I now have a team of people who do writing for me, but yeah. I submit stuff and they're like, okay, we'll take it from here. I'm like, it's more bread. But then like you're not staying, like you're. One person broke it down for me.

Like you can, informs the welcome someone and introduce yourself. You can inform them of your products. That's the second tier and all the details, benefits features, or you can really talk to their pain points and like really make sure that you're addressing their needs and meeting their needs.

So yes, writing is a whole, oh, yes. All right. Awesome. I'm glad that I did ask you that clarifying question, because I did already have an idea of what you did, but that definitely helps. And I think for a lot of businesses, you guys need to pay attention to working. Someone like Alexis, because most businesses absolutely need someone that's going to help them with systems.

So the difference between what you and I would do is with my clients. I do absolutely advise them. I can see the holes in their system. I can oftentimes help them think through what needs to be done, but I'm not the one that's going to create. Because I have my own VAs that do this for me, but they go into air table and Google sheets.

And these things they come up with are amazing. And I'm like, okay, now all I have to do is my one task. And then it starts like populating all this stuff. So I don't do any of that system creation, but I absolutely advise my clients on the systems that they need. And then they need someone like you, that's got.

Pull that off, make sure it's connecting to so many other systems and really helping them run their business. 

Alexis Fortier: Yeah, for sure. A big piece of what I do is the implementation around systems. Like getting everything, set up, all of that. 

Tanika de Souza: For sure. And that's pretty impressive that you can also do like the funnels and things like that.

Do you work specifically with like click funnels or any specific software? My 

Alexis Fortier: absolute favorite is Kartra because it's all in one, you can do your emails and the courses and everything all 

Tanika de Souza: in there. Yeah. I'm glad I, so you guys definitely needs to be following her now learn what you need to then later hire her to do, right?

Yes, exactly. Absolutely. So how did you actually get into this? As a, as an online businessman, It's been quite 

Alexis Fortier: a winding journey. So all the way back when I had, when I was in my nine to five, I was working as an assistant for a real estate agent almost became a real estate agent. I did get my real estate license decided I don't want to do that.

I ended up starting a photography business while I was working my nine to five. So I did brand in real estate photography. And that led me to all kinds of local networking events. I wanted to meet new people, especially business owners since I did brand photography. But while I was there, I started to realize, wow, people really need someone to do all the admin stuff.

I just heard a lot of talk around. Things that people had to do and they didn't know how to do it. And I'm like I know how to do that. And I had thought for quite a while about starting a business online, doing similar things I was doing for the real estate agent, but I just didn't think. It was possible until I came across the term virtual assistant online one day and I'm like, so off I went for awhile, I ran my photography business and virtual assistant side by side virtual assistant business side-by-side and eventually I was able to quit my nine to five.

I ended up dropping off the photography services because I was just getting so busy and really enjoyed the virtual assistant stuff. A lot more than the photography side. So I did, I continued to do the virtual assistant business for a while. I tried a few different things here and there. Pivoted a few times, and eventually I ended up doing online business management.

So it's 

Tanika de Souza: been a journey. Awesome. Okay. So tell me like what the big differences between a VA and an online business manager. So it could, it, could this be thought of as like a subset, like all virtual assistants, and then there are some that are. Online business managers or is this like really different?

Alexis Fortier: It is very different. So if you think of like a company org chart, you'll typically have your CEO is up here, your OBM is here and then like virtual assistant graphic designer, whoever else is under here. So it's the online business manager is really that go between and organizer of everybody.

Whereas the virtual assistant is going to be like in it, doing a lot of the work. And we'll receive instructions from the. 

Tanika de Souza: Got it. Okay. That makes so much sense and not definitely understand or charts and yes, confusing. But the thing that I love that you pointed out is cause virtual assistance is something that is a bit of a buzzword.

Everybody's getting into it. I'm not even going to. For, I have a lot of virtual assistance at this point. Even to the point that my kids are like planning out projects that they're going to take on and then train a VA to continue doing it, like my kids. My oldest daughter actually legit has a virtual assistant that works part-time for her.

And she like makes sure that she can constantly pay this person. They're like her personal assistant. She can't do without it at this point, but I totally hear the difference of the VA is really, they're doing tasks and then there's the person. And your position that is helping you really strategize what needs to get done.

And then you could assign VA's to get it done. After you organize it, not to say that you couldn't do it yourself, but your expertise is going to be the organizing, thinking it through and making sure it's all connected. Exactly. Yeah. Awesome. So did I hear you say the photography kind of brought it out of just an interest and like a passion, like something that you loved and then it rotated all the way through?


Alexis Fortier: I I always really love photography as a kid. I was like constantly out there with my camera photographing things. I did a lot of landscape and nature photography before I shifted and I wasn't doing it as a business. But then I decided to start the photography business and I'm like I guess if I want to get paid, I'll probably have to photograph people.

So yeah, I ended up, I chose brand photography because I was already. I guess I already had that entrepreneurial bug. And I just, I knew for sure, I didn't want to do weddings. That was my big thing. One. It was very stressful

Tanika de Souza: when I got married, I literally had a list of different shots that I'm on it. And so we did have a photographer and then I had the people in my family never taken photos. So I wasn't nervous that I wasn't going to get them, but I was absolutely so particular all this different stuff. So I totally can see how that could be a very interesting market.

Alexis Fortier: Definitely. And I will say like the couple that I worked with, they weren't. Picky or particular or anything like that? I think I just had put so much pressure on myself because it's like, it happens once in a lifetime, 

Tanika de Souza: absolutely. So as a business coach, the thing that I love is that you start it, like you understood that you had a call to war entrepreneurship, and you went with the thing that you could do.

So you picked up a camera, you got started. And that's what I really want you guys to hear from her is she started. And then as she was working and doing. Then she realized, huh? Virtual assistant absolutely better speaks to me because she was doing brand photography already working with businesses. And then she saw a need and realized this is a need that I could feel.

And this is something I would actually prefer to do right then from there, it transitioned to. Acting as a VA, but I'm really an online business manager and did that transition. So the thing that I want you guys to hear is she was working, she was doing the idea, she was implementing them. She was executing on them.

And that's where you realize whether this is or isn't the best thing for you. You're never gonna know if it's, if it can work. If all you do is write it down in your notebook, think about it. Because you don't want to make a mistake. You're likely going to find tune and refine your idea, see something that's slightly similar, but better suited for you and transition.

And that's perfectly fine, but you're never ever going to find that at ground zero. In the very beginning stages of your business, you find that as you continue to work what do you think about that? Alexis thousand 

Alexis Fortier: percent? I'll say it was. Terrifying to transition each time I transition every single time without fail.

I'm like, oh, this is this really the thing? Should I do this? What are people going to think? Are they notice? And then they're going to be like, with this chick, she's constantly doing different things. Nobody ever noticed. Nobody said anything. It all turned out so beautifully. And I am in love of where I'm at now.

And I wouldn't have gotten there if I hadn't made the decision to. Do the dang thing. 

Tanika de Souza: Yeah. So I love it. I love it. Absolutely. And just that you did it right? Because so many people are still stuck at that. I think I want to do this. I'm not totally sure. You're never going to be sure. And that's what your stories says.

It's just go with the first thing and the next thing will appear, like you'll become more clear as you do it. Yeah. 

Alexis Fortier: And I will say the other thing that I just thought of too is you don't necessarily like when you are pivoting. I think that oftentimes. People feel a need to go all in and that's all that they can do.

The thing that they're pivoting into. But when I was pivoting from my virtual assistant business into online business management, I had both virtual assistant clients and online business management clients for some time. And then I eventually transitioned that over. Same with the photography business I had both.

And then I'm like, no, we're going to get rid of that transition at over. 

Tanika de Souza: Yeah. Yeah. So in a similar vein, I have years of experience owning a bakery, right? Bakery, business coach, very different. I learned. Yes. I was an entrepreneur and train someone else. Because I knew I was in business, I have multiple locations open that also meant lots of staff.

I was very hands-on in the kitchen. Like I ran the kitchens and I was always training. The staff they're often they came from the culinary schools and other places and they came to me first. So I was constantly in that, like training. How are you going to position yourself for your career? What are you doing next?

And I was constantly helping people see, like, where are you right now? And where are you growing to? Even if you worked for me at one of my mall locations, you might've been working as a cashier, but maybe you want to be a manager. Maybe you want to be a manager over more than one. One location, which I did have one girl, she started as a cashier.

She started like making her coworkers, like they're not on your shift. She was on set goals and exceed the goals, make them do all the stuff. And so we saw management material in her and we trained her and she became that manager. And then she started like competing with the other local. So we did that in our culture.

It was like, what team is going to win? And we will have a prize because if I have two teams, Competing to sell the most who actually wins me. Of course, gift card lunch for everybody because increasing sales. Stealing from my register. Cause you want your sale to count. So all of these things were a lot of her brainchild. I It was our ideas, but her implementing, she became like the manager over multiple locations. And then she became a office admin.

And as I transitioned my business, Always found the space for her because she grew. And I realized that those are the types of things that I really enjoyed. So as much as I share with people that I've been own a bakery for 13 years and people are like, whoa, I realized that. Most of that time, what I was really doing was coaching people, pushing them in business, helping them realize what they needed to do, really investigating with them.

What are the next steps? And a lot of times I knew what you should be considering in business, even if it was outside of my industry. So as I learned more and did other businesses outside of the bakery, I realized that most of those principles translate it. And so two years ago, two years officially.

I just started doing the business coaching and I had that same thing. Are people gonna respect me because I'm weaker. And like you said, nobody cares. Like you're not the most famous person in the world that, oh my gosh, she's not running that bakery. It's they don't care that much about you. So you should just do what is going to be the most rewarding and fulfilling.

And of course, if you're one of my clients, I am making sure that you're making business income. That's what being in business is all about. So I love that. So what are you currently working on? What is your current goal in your business? Yes. 

Alexis Fortier: So currently I am working on slowing down and taking more time for myself.

So that has meant Setting more personal boundaries and trying to stick to those, which is it's been a journey. But also hiring people on delegating work, all of that good stuff. I've I feel like I've finally gotten to a really comfortable spot so that I can start to slow down and look at what's next.

Tanika de Souza: You and I talked before, so your slow down doesn't actually mean like turning your business off or anything. It means that you're training virtual assistants and other people so that you can take a step back and they can do the task. So what you're doing is really implementing a system that allows you to really just be the CEO and like brainstormed the business, but put the tasks and the daily work in other people.

Exactly. Yeah. So yeah, I love that. And I think you definitely share with me that you didn't have kids, but for a lot of women that are juggling, the spouse and the children, and like at my age, it starts to be the care for the parents too. It's a lot. And you do have to be honest with yourself about how much you can handle and where are your boundaries in business and your personal life?

Like all those things. So the. Burning yourself out. I definitely burned myself out in that bakery, but once you start having over a hundred employees, you feel like what? I felt like the bakery owned me, say no to it because the minute I even made a joke, once I, with my mom, I can't get sick if I'm felt well, one I'm in food service.

So that's one, but two, I felt like anytime I even thought I could be getting sick. Once at a doctor, I did everything I could to prevent a cold because I couldn't take the days off. Like the machine was just so demanding. And I shared with you that we were in malls. They're open every day. If I had my own location, I could choose to be closed on Sunday or set, set the hours that I want to work.

But a mall was literally open from 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM. Every single day, maybe shorter hours on Sunday, but yeah, I appreciate you sharing the slowdown. All right. Is it because you're pursuing something else or you're really just I need a break 

Alexis Fortier: for me. It's just been like, I gotta take a break.

I've got to make this a little bit more sustainable. I think as service providers, like in people's businesses, Doing things it's really easy to become attached and not shut off. And I have had very good boundaries because I figured out in my virtual assistant business, when I first started out, I really did get, I had no boundaries.

I worked at any time, any day, weekends, all the things So I have had really strong boundaries around like office hours, things like that. But now it's more being able to create even more space to where if I want to go and take a full day off on a random Friday, just because I can do that and not feel guilty or tied to anything.

So yeah, I'm just ultimately trying to make it a lot more sustained. 

Tanika de Souza: Yes. I love that. That is awesome. So what are your long-term goals for the business as you're slowing down at least right now for yourself? What are you building? 

Alexis Fortier: Yes. So long-term ultimate goal is to be able to retire my husband.

Yes, which I'm sure he's excited 

Tanika de Souza: about. 

Alexis Fortier: But in addition, I would love to, at some point have digital products, whether it be like a course or templates, not sure what it'll be yet, but I would love to share some of my tech wisdom with people. Cause I know. It's needed. 

Tanika de Souza: Yes. Awesome. Because I'm a business coach this is something that I think people would appreciate hearing one.

She started her business out of a passion out of something that she loved to do, that she knew she could do. And that. Make money doing so that was starting as the brand photographer. You saw a need, you transitioned to being a virtual assistant. So that was still you offering a service and taking, taking appointments and really doing that one-on-one exchange for time and money.

Maybe the VA. Could allow you to leverage some time and because you're then starting to leverage tools and other systems and things like that. And then now as online business manager, you're definitely starting to leverage people, time tools, like you're adding definitely more leverage into your business.

So those things. Awesome. And I want you guys to hear the transition and in truth you really could have still I guess being an OBM is different from being a BA, but now you manage, it sounds like, do you manage VA's at work specifically for you? 

Alexis Fortier: So I have one virtual assistant right now.

Okay. Could change in the future. Could be more in the future, but just one 

Tanika de Souza: for now. Yeah. So the thing that I like about what you're sharing is the way that I teach is about figuring out how you can make business fit your strengths. Like the things that you love that really speak to who you are, things that are going to come naturally to you.

And you're a systems person because that's what you shared. And you're like, even as a VA, I was always doing more of this. So you're playing to your strengths as an open. Then, and right now you're doing absolutely what I teach, which is making sure your business fits your lifestyle. I had to have that wake up call when I was missing family events.

I just couldn't be there sometime because the bakery is open or I think I hadn't celebrated a mother's day on actual mother's day in so long, because that literally is. That one weekend I can make what I would normally make in like a month, like a slow month is like two of those right. In one weekend.

So I would ramp up, but it was tiring. It was exhausting. And here I am a mom, like I wouldn't even sell it the mother's day. So I, I decided over time, like how I want it, like. How I wanted my life to be structured. And so that's what I hear you saying as well. Yes, I was the VA, but now I realize, or even as an OBM that you have to put up boundaries and you have to really be honest with yourself about what's going on.

With your life and the life that you're trying to build. So the important things, and then the third is what does the, what do your clients need? And I feel like you've never walked away from what they need it, and you're constantly with them. In the forefront of your discussion because it was as a photographer, I realized they needed and I stepped into that place.

And then I realized my strengths really took me here. And that just shows that allow you to show up powerful. And use your best skills. All right. Use your superpowers to do your best job. So that's still absolutely making sure you're giving your best to your client. So I think you like embody all the things that I teach over and over.

So I hope you guys are getting the point of what this looks like in real. And how it forces you to make decisions kind of transition your business, but it's all for the better, because I'm sure you feel so much better about where you are right now in business then like where you started, right? Oh yeah.

Thousand percent. Yes, definitely. Yes. And for a lot of service-based businesses going into digital products is absolutely a game changer, right? Because when you want to slow down and you want to continue making income digital products, I know you talked about courses, but there's eBooks. There's. Even masterclasses that you can do by video, or even by just something written out, giving instructions, creating templates, creating workbooks guided journals, whatever it is that's going to help your client get to their end result.

You can create the answer and the solution for them and put it on your website. And when they're looking for that answer solution, you have given talks, written blogs, done all those things that attract them to your website. And then they're like, oh, this is what I was looking for. Click buy, download, and guess what Alexis was doing when they did.

She was out having fun with her husband who is retired. And the thing that I love as well about the digital products is when the client has a question and they want an answer, they want a quick way to get it. So if you put a. Then they're just going to decide, okay, do I want this for this price? Is it going to answer my questions? They might want to know a little more, so you make a really great sales page and it's there.

So digital products are definitely like near and dear to my heart. I think everybody should have them. Just because it runs such a huge gambit, like anything that you could put on your website with a. And get the information, get the download. That is a different, 

Alexis Fortier: yeah. Yeah. I am very excited to start putting that in place and getting that implemented that way since I am service-based and ultimately, unless I'm, if I'm not doing the work, I'm not making money unless I've hired someone.

So that'll be a really good next step. So I'm excited about that, 

Tanika de Souza: but. I became the biggest fan of digital products because I started my business in 2019, and we all know what happened in 2020 with this global pandemic. And so there were so many people that I was starting to coach or helping with their business that literally, I think I had several clients who were personal trainers.

The gym is closed. People don't want to be in groups. They can't go to the gym. What are you supposed to do? So some of them created digital products. Some of them went online and started doing my group zoom or other things. But I find that what we have to start doing without businesses is start thinking outside the box.

So if right now every time. You make money is when you show up. Think about the day. What if you're sick? What if, as me as a parent, what if my kid needs me? I'm never going to choose my client over my kid and how awful is it to choose to hang out with your kid? And then you're not making money because then you feel bad about that.

Then you have the guilt of like I'm spending money, not making it. And it's like that whole loop. So I love that. You're really structuring your business. You're growing in such a way that you are able to leverage several things as the OBM, but now you're going to add in that stream of digital products.

So I think that's just a great example of how to grow, how to expand, how to continue meeting the need without overextending yourself. Those are the things that I really love about. 

Alexis Fortier: Oh, yeah. Yeah, definitely. 

Tanika de Souza: Is there anything that you would like to share before we wrap up for this virtual hangout?

Alexis Fortier: I think I'd just like to reiterate that when it comes to pivoting, it can be terrifying. But it's. It's something it's worth it. Cause ultimately like you mentioned earlier, you won't know, unless you try. And you may not find what you're really meant to do or what really lights you up unless you try.

And that it doesn't have to be something that you just like totally dive into. You can do both feel it out for a little while. And no, one's gonna, no, one's gonna know. I think anything bad of you for it. 

Tanika de Souza: So they go to your Instagram page. What are some of the things that you do their, 

Alexis Fortier: yes.

So over on Instagram, I post a lot of informational stuff over there. So you'll find a lot of educational posts around like metrics, why you should track them. I try to really keep everything That's super simple and not overwhelming. Cause I know a lot of what I can, what I do can be overwhelming with tech and systems and all of that.

So they'll find a lot of educational content over there. 

Tanika de Souza: Got it. So if you're not totally sure that if your business needs an OPM, I suggest you go to Alexis Page. Alexis. For a year. I know people always 

Alexis Fortier: think, oh, it's not that fancy

Tanika de Souza: her page because even if you're not prepared to hire her as an OBM, there's so many things that. Business owners need to be aware of and understand this should be systemized, even though you're doing the roundabout right now, and maybe you hadn't considered that you are doing some things that really is wasting your time, that if you hired someone, they could really help you.

Especially when you're a solo preneur or only have one employee or one virtual assistant, whatever it is, you really need to make sure your systems are in place so that you can get the maximum productivity. So I'm all about. Oh BMS. I didn't even know that was the name for it. I think I have always thought of using virtual assistance for the different things that they do, but I'm definitely going to explore a little more about what that is to just make sure I'm, systemizing my business properly as well.

I appreciate your time today, Alexis. It was awesome. Speaking to you. I know that my community would really appreciate hearing from you and just seeing that you're like living out what a lot of them are thinking about and writing in their notebooks. But now that they see you doing it, they're going to.

Inspired. I also am the founder of the hundred cane society, which is a business coaching community. So for all of you listening, if you are in that place where you're trying to grow your business, and you don't understand all the questions to ask or even how to get some of those things done, I do the coaching and then Alexis, you go to her for the creations of the systems.

That's how these two businesses will work together. And I'll definitely talk to you more offline to see like how we really can work together because my clientele is all business owners, for business coaching, which also means they probably need some great systems in place to. Yeah, definitely.

Awesome. So thank you so much. And thank you guys for joining us for this virtual hangout. You guys have a great day.

Tanika de Souza

Hi I'm Tanika,

The $100K Challenge Chick. 
Empowering women to break the $100k income ceiling in their businesses!
You are not crazy or behind.  The problem is, you have been trying to run your business in ways that worked for someone else, and force it to work for you. 
Your business will only work if it were customized for you and your lifestyle.
Think about sizes of clothing.   You have to find the right fit to wear it confidently. Otherwise you are forcing yourself to make someone else’s size fit you. Disaster!!!
I’m here to help you gain business clarity through systems, activate your millionaire mindset, and get you the time and financial freedom you deserve by just being authentically you.