Sydney VA Community: Where Collaboration Fuels Success!

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Harnessing the positive impacts of community for VAs, freelancers and business owners: Because together, we’re virtually unstoppable!

The Sydney Virtual Assistant Community (SVAC) was founded in 2019 by Amanda Primrose and myself, Deb Ricketts, to create a space where Sydney based virtual business owners could meet online and in person, socialise, learn, share, collaborate, support, and engage with other virtual assistants and freelancers in Sydney, Australia. 

What inspired Amanda and Deb to start a VA community in Sydney?

It all started here… I began my VA journey as Amanda’s subcontractor. Prior to this, I had come from the corporate world and didn’t know what a VA was myself. Neither Amanda nor myself knew other Virtual Assistants locally, although we both received feedback from prospects and clients about some Sydney based VA cowgirls and offshore VAs, creating a not so wonderful reputation for the industry.

While we were aware of other groups in Australia and globally, there didn’t appear to be anything for Sydney based VAs. There also didn’t appear to be any association holding the industry to a standard.  (We are now well aware that there is actually an association – shout out to the AAVIP).

Seizing the opportunity to give back to our community, we created a space specifically for Sydney VAs to find each other, learn, connect, collaborate, and hold each other accountable to a high standard of professionalism. We figured if we strengthened the reputation of the industry in our local communities and nationally, we were part of the solution. A win-win for businesses, as well as professional and ethical virtual assistants. So that is how this amazing community of incredible virtual assistants was born.

At the heart of the Sydney VA Community are various key activities carefully curated to foster connection, growth, and learning. Over the years, we have continuously sought to create meaningful experiences for our members, both in-person and online.

Sydney VA Community Meeting online

In person events

One of our core offerings is our celebratory events. These in-person gatherings provide a space for members to come together and recognise their achievements, milestones, and successes. It’s a time for us to celebrate each other’s accomplishments and build a sense of camaraderie within the community.

In person and virtual co-working

In addition to celebratory events, we also provide co-working opportunities. We understand that working as a virtual assistant can sometimes feel isolating, which is why we offer dedicated spaces where members can come together and work side by side. This not only creates a supportive environment, but also allows collaboration and knowledge sharing among peers.

Harnessing continuous learning opportunities

Furthermore, our online laugh and learn sessions are designed to educate our members on specific business topics relevant to their passions and purpose. We bring in experts from both within our community and external businesses to share their insights and expertise. These sessions serve as valuable learning opportunities that empower our members with new skills and knowledge.

The key activities offered by the Sydney VA Community include celebration, collaboration, education, and personal growth. We believe in creating an inclusive environment where virtual assistants can thrive both personally and professionally. 

In 2022, Amanda stepped down from the leadership position, and remains an active and valued member within the group. 

You guys are my go to whenever I have a question about a particular piece of software or tech. There have been countless times someone in SVAC has helped me fix something or a workshop so that I can bring better service to my clients. I have also loved giving back to those that are new VA’s. It has brought me so much joy to mentor newbies and then see them grow and flourish. #vafamily”

Amanda Primrose – Streamlined Organising

The group has organically grown from under 10 members in 2019 to over 160 Sydney (and surrounds) based VAs to date. It’s incredible to watch over the last few years how our industry is growing, as is the diversity of the members’ services.

With the growth of the industry (especially post COVID), coupled with Versatile VAs business growth, and let’s not forget my personal workload (Mum of 2 girls, a guinea pig, puppy, other voluntary commitments and the list goes on). I recognised that I couldn’t bring about the best opportunities for the members solo. So, in March 2023, active community members with aligned passion, professionalism and ethics submitted an expression of interest to co-lead the group and become the current 2023 SVAC support partners.  

Sydney VA Community Christmas party Deb and Amanda

What makes the Sydney VA Community unique?

We do things here a little differently, all leaders volunteer their precious time to make a positive difference. Members’ contributions also add incredible value to the group. We are founded on support, respect, trust, and good manners. This is a community environment where you can join knowing you have a supportive business community to cheer you on and help you grow. While this is far from an exhaustive list, members have been known to voluntarily support other businesses with:

  • branding
  • website support
  • Excel spreadsheet challenges
  • insurance recommendations
  • nominations for business awards
  • active listening when a vent is needed or concerns raised.
  • listed sub-contract opportunities
  • business collaborations
  • co-working opportunities
  • shared learning at each others houses
  • a drink at the local bar or cafe
  • we’ve had more experienced VAs offer to mentor newer VAs to the industry
  • referrals
  • guidance

2021-Sydney VA Community Christmas party-Arthur-Street-Cafe-Baulkham-Hills

We asked our members to share their experiences in the community. Here are a few:

“One thing I love about the SVAC group, it doesn’t matter how silly I think a question is, everyone is supportive. There is always someone willing to provide advice or assistance when I need it, or people who have checked in with me when I have been struggling. Being part of this group over the past few years has been invaluable.

Working on your own, while it’s great, can be lonely. I don’t usually attend a lot of networking events, but love it when I can catch up with the SVAC group either in person or online. It’s so nice to talk to other VAs about our businesses, the juggle with families, etc… which makes working from home that little bit less lonely.” 

Julie McKone JAM Business Support Services.

“SVAC helped me at the start of my VA journey, when I was feeling lost. Through this group I have connected with and met some of the most amazing women. I love that we understand each other’s journey, and we are there to pick each other up and assist each other in our areas of expertise. It’s such a great group to be part of, and I am honoured to be here.”

Trish Keighran PK Virtual 

Working in isolation and small business ownership are two large contributors to mental ill-health. As such, I am passionate to provide a holistic approach, providing the community with mindset, mental health, and other personal growth strategies, as well as the more expected business topics.  The group provides a safe space for all members to share openly about their successes and challenges.

We encourage our members to ask questions, share wins, tips, share other respected VA community group activities, to ensure we are all connected as an industry.

Connection with the Broader Aussie VA Industry Leaders

  • We embrace being part of the larger Australian VA community, and will continue to collaborate, partner with and be affiliates for many industry leaders. Sydney VA Community members are also members in various other industry groups and participated in the
  • Virtually Yours VA Conference 
  • VA Institutes Summit (It was an honour to be a guest speaker at both of these events).
  • Then there are the new emerging groups, including regional NSW Seed VA who host industry awards.
  • Newcastle VA also hosts a conference.
  • We are currently promoting Kate Toon’s Marketing Conference, which allows members to attend at a discounted rate. *Squeal* She is a mentor of mine (even if she doesn’t know it).

Any affiliate tickets purchased through the group contribute towards the community’s activities.  A win/win for all involved. 

Connection with our local Sydney business community

Local Sydney community leaders have sponsored our events, provided prizes for awards, and promo and gift items for goody bags at events, and shared their knowledge in laugh and learn sessions.

We welcome expressions of interest for guest speakers to present to the group, sponsorships, grants, affiliates, co-working spaces or any other support you could provide to support 160+ small business owners working remotely and needing community connection. 

‌Introducing the gorgeous SVAC 2023 Partners 

Beth Newman

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“This group has helped me with information and tips for my business, but has also provided the friendship and support you miss from solo remote working. There is still somewhere to go to ask a question or run something by, or simply a lift when you feel deflated or defeated. I love the opportunities it brings if you simply give things a go when offered.”

Beth Newman – My Agile Assistant

Bianca Schwartpaul

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Bianca shares “I felt supported, particularly through the early stages of my business I always enjoyed the lunch and learn events. They are good to connect and to learn something, as the name suggests.”

Bianca Shwartpaul – B Thriven

Christine Longworth

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Christine shares the value and benefits she found from the group, which was

“Growth and confidence. I was so new at all of this when I first engaged with SVAC group, and I really do feel like a completely different person almost four years later. Now I get to be that support to other people, and it still enriches me. My favourite activities have been the Christmas gatherings. They’ve all been held at different locations and there are always new faces, and of course older faces like me. It offers such a relaxed time together and there is so much laughter, especially around the Kris Kringle gifts.”

Christine Longworth –  Juniper Road

Emily Grover

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Emily states

“I really enjoy meeting all the incredible people in the SVAC group and learning about their stories. Their reasons for becoming a VA, how they got there and started, what keeps them going. I really love being part of a community where I can help and support people on their journey in the VA world. 

I too always really enjoy the Christmas parties at the end of the year, it’s a great time to get together, relax and laugh. Great games and fun.”

Emily Grover –  Juniper Road

Melanie Ryan

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Melanie shares

“SVAC provides professional support, but more than that, I find the group helps decrease the isolation we VAs are prone to as self-employed freelancers who work from home and for whom most professional contact is via phone, zoom or email. I think we sometimes get too tied up with responsibilities and unplanned life stuff that happens to take time to smell the roses. SVAC’s approach is unique in that it is NFP, led by volunteers, and focused on professional AND personal well-being as well as connecting VAs across wider Sydney and their local communities”. 

Melanie Ryan – Nine Tail Fox Business Services

 

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If you’re a business owner who wants to collaborate, provide a complimentary laugh and learn session, sponsor an event, provide co-working space provisions or support the Sydney Virtual Assistant Community, your contribution will help maintain a space to call home for women (and currently one man, hiya Clayton), feel connected, inspired, motivated, learn new skills, feel nurtured, and most importantly build lifelong relationships like you would in a corporate setting. 

The best part is it’s mutually beneficial, as we can introduce you to over 160 small business owners who may utilise your products or services.

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About the author – Deborah Ricketts

Hello, I’m so glad you dropped in to read my blog articles. I’m Deborah Ricketts, founder of Versatile VA, a virtual assistant (VA) business, launched in July 2018.

My team and I are passionate about supporting small service based health and wellness businesses within Australia, who are experiencing the juggle to stay on top of it all! We want you to know, you don’t have to go it alone.