Virtual Assistant vs. Digital Business Manager & How To Transition From a VA To a DBM

Did you know remote work is projected to become “the norm” in less than 2 years? 

And as a Virtual Assistant, you are probably thinking, “well, duh.” 

You already know that remote work has great benefits:

  • The freedom to work wherever (hello, Bali) and whenever
  • The ability to set your rates and work with who you want 
  • The unlimited potential clients and space to grow into whatever you want 

And let’s be honest, there is no better time to be a Virtual Assistant!

With thousands of businesses taking on a new perspective remotely, it seems like everyone is now in pursuit of living their best life, online. 

But as a former VA, I know there are some thorns on that rose?

Let me explain- I started in the online world about 4 years ago, as a Content Assistant charging $10 an hour. 

I went through the honeymoon phase of online working loving my at-home office (aka my couch) and learning a new skill almost every day. 

Dog lying on couch typing on laptop

When you start working online, it seems like the possibilities are endless. 

You see everyone around you building best-selling products, hosting 5 and 6 figure launches, and accomplishing one goal after another in less time than it takes to change from summer to winter. 

It’s inspiring. You start to think, “Hey, I can do that too.”

So you get to work. 

  • You spend your free time taking courses and reading books on how to get ahead. 
  • You take on more and more clients, therefore working more and more hours.
  • You build trust and take on greater responsibilities in your clients’ businesses.
  • You raise your hourly rate after 6 months and raise it again after another 6. 

You “hustle,” and you “grind.” You hit a $2K month, and then a $3K, and maybe even a $4K. You also juggle 5-6 clients and work 50+ hours a week, but hey, that’s the price of this remote work freedom, right? 

But then, one day, you look around and see the end to your possibilities.

You can’t work more hours, you can’t raise your hourly rate anymore, and you can’t figure out how to get to the next level so your business can keep on growing with you. 

You want more. More money, more freedom, and more free time.

But, you don’t know how to get it. 

You’re stuck. 

At least, that’s how it went for me. I juggled 6 clients, worked 50+ hours a week, hit that $4K/month mark, and came crashing into a full-on burnout.  

It wasn’t until I took a step back and started looking where I was spending my time that made me wake up and realize, “I am bringing way more value to the table than what I am getting paid for.” 

And now, here I am—a $10/hour Content Assistant that turned into a $50+/hour Digital Business Manager.

So, how did I do it? How can you get unstuck and stumble your way into more money, time, and freedom?

After this, you will know:

  • 3️⃣ The 3 reasons why Virtual Assistants (aka VAs) are in the perfect place to become a Digital Business Manager (or, DBM)
  • ⚖️ The pros and cons of VA vs. DBM
  • ⭐️ My 7 biggest tips for VAs
  • 🖐 The 5 step action plan for a VA transitioning into a DBM role

So, let’s get started!

I also teach this in my free class: How to Get Started as a Digital Business Manager. ? You can grab your spot here!

3 Reasons Why VAs are in the Perfect Place to Become DBMs

As a Virtual Assistant, why are you in the perfect position to become a Digital Business Manager? 

Comic showing the the 3 reasons why VA's are perfect DBMS

#1: Your Client Already Trusts You 

You have the most accessible way into a business because you already work in one.

Trust me; a CEO would much rather work with someone they already know is reliable then spend time trying to hire someone new.

Plus, you already know the business inside and out.

If you compare the time and money spent to train someone new, your clients are getting a bang for their buck by internally promoting.

You already know the details, and you probably underestimate how much clients will pay for familiarity. 

#2: You Can Learn as You Go

You already have stable client work and money to sustain your business, so you can sit back and take notes without the pressure of handling the responsibility until you are ready. 

So just watch – see how others work, see how other team members do their roles and learn from the mistakes you see.

And then, step up and do a better job.

#3: DBM is SO New- Take Advantage of That

If you haven’t noticed yet- there is not much training out there to become a DBM. It’s hard to learn unless you’re actively pushed into the environment, and you are continually seeing what’s happening. 

Traditional Project Management work is only a part of Digital Business Management. There are some overlapping pieces, but the foundational structure is different.  

Because of this, there is a significant gap in the market for Digital Business Managers. Practically every online business needs a DBM, even if they don’t know it yet, they will realize it here in the next few years. 

Get ahead of the demand and start transitioning your skills now to secure your spot in the future of online businesses.

If you are wondering exactly how to start that transition and get the necessary training to help you, watch my free class below ???? 

Want ALL the details on how to work online as a digital business manager?

Check out my FREE intro class which goes over what exactly a DBM does day-to-day, how much I make as a DBM, my 5-step plan to get you started and more!

DBM vs. VA: The Supreme Team of The 31st Century 

But wait, back up. What is the difference between a Virtual Assistant and a DBM?

Comic showingVA Tasks VS. DBM tasks

The difference between a Virtual Assistant (VA) and a Digital Business Manager (DBM) is in what they do (who would’ve guessed?).

A virtual assistant executes the work, and a digital business manager implements it.

Of course, there are pros and cons to each (after all, this is still life!)

As a VA, you do majority execution, or as I call it, “the doing.” 

  • You write the blog posts
  • You post the IG pictures
  • You answer the customer service emails 

Pros of VA work: 

  • Choose who you work with 
  • Work from anywhere  
  • Set your rates 

Cons of long-term VA work: 

  • Hourly pay is only scalable if you work more hours 
  • Your role might not change as the business grows.
  • Working under the CEO limits your ability to implement new ideas and strategies.

As a DBM, you stick to the management.

  • You create the blog post content calendar 
  • You approve the IG captions
  • You optimize the customer service email management system 

Pros of DBM work: 

  • Paid for value, knowledge, and results, not hours worked… which means it is much easier to scale quickly. 
  • Your role grows as the business grows.
  • Working side by side with the CEO, sharing ideas, and taking ownership of part of the business.

(+ work from anywhere, set your rates, choose who you work with!)

Cons of DBM work: 

  • You are responsible for ALL results, good or bad. 
  • Sometimes you have to be the ‘bad guy’ holding your team accountable (yes, I have fired people, and I still get nervous *thinking* about confrontation)
  • Again, ownership = responsibility. If you or your team fails, no ifs, ands, or buts about it, it’s on you. 

And if you are thinking, “Wait, I already do some of that stuff, but I am not getting paid for it…” then you might be a little DBM in disguise.

To learn how you can start transitioning your skills into being a DBM, let’s dive into my 7 Biggest Tips for VAs looking to level up. 

My 7 Biggest Tips For VAs

Tip #1: Be Open To Opportunities 

In other words, say yes to EVERYTHING, especially if you have never done it before. Of course, make sure you do figure out how to do it. 

Taking new opportunities is how you can learn to do almost anything. Sure, you can take courses, listen to podcasts, and watch from the sidelines, but nothing compares to getting in the driver’s seat and learning new skills in action.

P.S. Don’t overthink it- No one was born knowing how to do all of this online work stuff. You have figured it out this far, so what stops you from figuring out the next step? 

Tip #2: Always Over-Deliver 

And while you’re at it- underpromise! Under-promising and over-delivering is the way to a client’s heart. Give as much as value as you can, especially if you want to move up in business. 

How to over-deliver:

  • If you see something that could be improved, try to find a possible solution and bring it up to your client. 
  • If you are working on a project, put in some extra research to make it super comprehensive, or try to get it done under budget or before the deadline. 
  • If you see a team member struggling with something, ask if you can help with anything. 

The moral of the story is really to give, give, give without expecting anything in return. It will come back around eventually, and maybe even in the form of a higher-level position. 

Tip #3: Exhibit Leadership Skills With a Side of an Aptitude to Communicate and Manage

This one is easier said than done. It’s a scary move stepping up and taking more responsibility. There is more to lose if you mess up, but there is also much more to gain if you succeed.  

But the thing is: how can your client know you have those skills without ever seeing them in action? 

My mini-tip: If you are not sure where to start, ask your client.

“Hey, I was wondering if there is anything else I can take over responsibility for and help you manage?” 

Iphone showing a DBM talking to a client

This is the question every client didn’t know they were dying to hear until you ask it. 

And then, own it. Whatever it is, do your best.  

Tip #4: Show Your Commitment and Dedication 

If you want to move up in a specific business you are currently in, then your client needs to see your investment in their business.  

It is easy to go through the day and tick off the to-dos. But, to show your commitment and dedication to the business overall, you have to give more. 

Share new strategies and ideas that can help the business succeed, even if it doesn’t directly relate to your daily tasks.

Tip #5: Be a Problem Solver

The most important tip I can give for working in the online world (and in life) is to learn how to figure things out on your own. 

And I’ll admit it; Google is entirely responsible for my online work success. 

Google Search: "Hey google it's me again"

Google is how I started freelancing. Google is how I learned new skills and leveled up into a DBM. Google is now the other parent of my online course. 

I’m not saying you shouldn’t ever ask anyone for help; You should just ask Google first. Consider it your business BFF. 

You will be shocked and empowered by how much you can figure out by simply typing that question into a Google search bar. 

What about when you face a problem Google can’t solve? Instead of going to the client empty-handed, pick out 2-3 possible solutions and ask their opinion. 

Hiring a problem solver is the dream of every client because you do not need your handheld every step of the way. 

Tip #6:  Absorb as Much Knowledge as You Possibly Can

The trick to quickly absorbing knowledge is to have a growth mindset.

Image with Growth Mindset definition

What’s a growth mindset? 

A growth mindset is when you believe that your most basic abilities develop through dedication and hard work. As a virtual assistant, we love a growth mindset. 

To apply this mindset to your current work: 

  • Start creeping through your clients’ stuff to find out what they have done in the past.
  • Study the plans and strategies
  • Try to understand how they went about it. 

Why did specific plans succeed? Why did others not? 

Then, you can apply this to any future plans and strategies that you think up. 

Basically, always have your growth mindset glasses on. 

Ready to become a
Digital Business Manager?

The Digital Business Manager Bootcamp is an 8-12 week step-by-step training that takes you through all of the technical skills of working as a DBM, such as project, team, and systems management.

Tip #7: Learn the Necessary Higher-level Skills If You’re Missing Them

This tip is the other most important tip you can put into action, and *shocker* Tip #5 plays directly into this. 

You can’t level up until you bring more to the table. When you learn the higher-level skills necessary to be a DBM, then you can easily apply all of the other tips to show your newfound knowledge and impress your clients. 

What skills should you learn? Let’s go into more detail here in your 5 step action plan to becoming a DBM. 

🖐 5 Step Action Plan: VA to DBM 

Step 1: Get comfortable with what your clients do. 

First things first, you need to know how their business operates behind the scenes. 

You won’t be able to manage a business that you don’t know the behind the scenes like the back of your hand. 

First, do an audit of your work relationship with the client.

To comprehensively answer these questions, I recommend working for a client at least 6 months before you try to move up.
  • What are you currently doing for your client?
  • What was the original agreed-upon work?
  • Are you doing more work or higher level tasks?
  • What more could you be offering your current clients?
  • What’s changed since you signed them? 
  • Have you been growing & learning lots? 
  • Are you giving away more value now?

Once you have the answers to these questions, then you can objectively look at what you bring to the table. 

Step 2: Tick the boxes for the tech

As a business manager, you need to be in the know of the latest and coolest technical tools. 

Iphone showing apps

My top 5 tools to learn (and I use the most) are

You do not need to immediately know the ins and outs of every app hitting the market, but you should have some level of expertise with your top picks. 

Once you know some of these tools, try to implement them with your clients to show off your new skills.

Step 3: Get familiar with the digital business strategy. 

And no, you do not need to have an MBA for this one. You should know the basic terminology and strategies of Digital Business if you want to be a Digital Business Manager.

The more knowledge you have, the more you can talk strategy and future ideas with your clients. 

Here are some of the most common terms to know: 

ROI: Return on investment

This number represents how well an investment is performing.
For example, I spent 100 hours creating my Bootcamp (at $150/hour) and $1,000 on technical tools. 

100 HR ($150) + $1,000 = $16,000

Once I make $16,000, my ROI will break even. Until then, it will be negative. After that, it will be positive. 

The goal is to have a positive ROI.
DBM at laptop saying funnels funnels funnels

Sales Funnels: How potential customers find and purchase your product. 

There are multiple types of sales funnels: 

  • A lead magnet (freebie)
  • self-liquidating
  • evergreen webinar
  • application
  • free + shipping
Sales funnels are how you make money online.

I would recommend brushing up on the basic knowledge of sales funnels and opting into as many as you can to see the different strategies in action. 

Digital Marketing Strategy: The basics of who is buying your digital products or services. 

Again, no need for a degree in marketing here! It is not your job to plan marketing strategies, but it is your job to understand them. 

You should know who your client is targeting and why.

Shift your mindset: what’s in it for the target audience?

Everything you share about the business must be shared in a way to relate to the audience. 

  • How will this benefit my target audience? 
  • What do they struggle with?
  • How can I help them?
  • What’s in it for them?

No one is expecting you to be a business expert, so, again, no need to sign up for your local business school.

Becoming familiar with the underlying business terms is an essential step in understanding and owning your role as a DBM.

Step 4: Get management training.

venn diagram of 3 pillars of a digital business manager


  • Project management
  • Team management
  • Systems management

These three are the key components that makeup being a DBM.

How do you get this training? 

You go back all the way to tip #1 – say yes to everything! 

I learned all of my management training by saying yes, figuring it out (cough, cough Google), and doing it.

So, for project management – say yes to the opportunity to manage big projects, and learn by trial and error.

For systems management – research, some of the tools listed above. Put on your x-ray goggles and look behind the scenes: 

❔ What could be optimized in your current clients’ business to save time and money? 

❔ How can you integrate organizational tools and automation to make the day-to-day operations run even smoother? 

For Team Management– brush up on your leadership and people skills. 

Here are the 3 pillars of being a great team manager: 

  • Supporter: trusts & supports their team to deliver; they delegate & let go, allow & encourage them to grow
  • Learner: seeks out ways to improve, optimize, & become better for the business & the team
  • Communicator: great listener, communicate clearly, fairly, & proactively
Once you have these skills, there is no stopping you!

Step 5: Have “The Talk.”

Now that you have the foundation set to be an excellent manager for your clients, have the talk. 

FIRST, and most importantly, be honest with yourself: Does this client & their business require a leveled-up version of your role? 

If the answer is no, that is fine. Start putting together a portfolio full of your new skills, and applying to other management roles. 

If the answer is yes, explain that you have been putting in the extra work to learn new skills and show them any numbers or examples of ways you have improved. 

Tell them that you would like to transition into a DBM role, and ask them how that transition would work for them.

Need Help? I’ve Got You. 

The process of becoming a DBM is one of those things where it’s hard to know all the moving pieces at the beginning.

You have to slowly and surely peel back the curtain and unpack the backstage clutter one by one until you can see how the stage is set. 

The thing is – you don’t know what you don’t know. And there is always more to know. 

You don’t get to unpack everything in a few hours and then sit back and watch the show. 

You are always learning more…  for years and years. 

✅ You are always standing on the sidelines
✅ Figuring out a better way to get from point A to C
✅ Creating the next fun event to get the crew back in high-spirits
✅ Replacing the old systems, and then dusting them off every once in a while to make sure they are still in tip-top shape.

And apart from learning all of the different components of being a digital business manager, you are also having to learn the up-and-coming online business. 

It took me 3 years to transition from a Content Assistant at $10/an hour to a DBM at $50+hour.

It’s all a process of research, trial, and error, learning from mistakes, and getting up the next day to try it all again. 

And then, I put all of that knowledge into a super-comprehensive Digital Business Manager, Bootcamp

DBM Bootcamp is a comprehensive training that covers all the aspects of leveling up into a management role- but in 8 weeks instead of 3 years.

I put everything I have learned in the past 3 years into this Bootcamp.

It covers everything from:

  • Digital Business 101
  • Projects, Systems, and Team Management
  • + How to set up your one-stop DBM shop

You will learn everything that I have learned- just a lot faster and with a little less Googling. 

Cat typing on laptop

If you’re ready to become a Digital Business Manager you’ll find EVERYTHING you need to transition from a Virtual Assistant into a DBM in my Digital Business Manager Bootcamp.

Ready to become a
Digital Business Manager?

The Digital Business Manager Bootcamp is an 8-12 week step-by-step training that takes you through all of the technical skills of working as a DBM, such as project, team, and systems management.

Want ALL the juicy details on how to work online as a digital business manager?

Check out my FREE intro class which goes over what exactly a digital business manager does day-to-day, how much I make as a DBM, my 5-step plan to get you started and more!

What's in this post?

Want ALL the juicy details on how to work online as a digital business manager?

Check out my FREE intro class which goes over what exactly a digital business manager does day-to-day, how much I make as a DBM, my 5-step plan to get you started and more!