The Wonderful World Of New Zealand Virtual Assistants
There’s no doubt about it. The Virtual Assistant community in New Zealand is booming!
Although VAs have been around for many years, and despite them being a well-known source of business support overseas, it’s taken New Zealand a little while longer to catch on.
The number of virtual assistants popping up across the country has been steadily increasing in the past 6 years or so, but since COVID-19 the increase in numbers has skyrocketed.
But the great news is that as VA numbers have increased, so has the demand for them.
Now more than ever, business owners are looking for affordable and flexible ways to grow their businesses. And if COVID-19 has taught us Kiwis anything, it’s that working remotely isn’t actually as scary as some thought.
Now I’m not here to tell you HOW to set up your VA business. Jo Jensen has already nailed that subject in her article … ‘How to Start An In-Demand Virtual Assistant Business From Home in 7 Steps’.
I’m here to talk about what happens next.
But first lemme give you some of my back-story …
The Accidental VA
Virtual Assistant is an umbrella term really for a wide range of business support service providers who work remotely.
We have all manner of titles but one thing we all have in common is our passion for adding value to our clients’ lives.
I personally tumbled headfirst into this wonderful world of VAs purely by chance.
After spending 20+ years in various EA and PA roles around the world, I had taken some time off to have my kiddos.
My youngest was only a few months old when a friend contacted me out of the blue to ask if I could help with some of her pesky admin.
The timing was THE WORST. I was barely holding it together with a prem baby suffering from severe reflux. But there was an annoying voice in my head that kept saying ….. “Do it! This opportunity may not come around again for a while”.
So I did it. And then I did it some more when via word of mouth I suddenly had a handful of clients.
I had no business plan, no online presence, no experience as a business owner and no idea that the term ‘Virtual Assistant’ even existed.
But I had been given a taste of the freedom and flexibility being a VA allowed me. No more 9-5. No more bosses. No more having to choose between my career and putting my family first.
However, it didn’t take long for me to realize that being a VA wasn’t always rainbows and unicorns. In fact, working for yourself from your home can be really lonely.
Yes, there were networking groups (both in person and online) for business owners that were great. But I never felt fully comfortable being vulnerable in these groups as they were filled with clients (current and possibly future!)
There was nowhere local that our wonderful diverse group of NZ VAs could come together.
So on went my thinking cap and after a few years of procrastination, I finally gave my magic wand a wave and officially launched the Virtual Assistant Network of NZ in 2019!
The Virtual Assistant Network of New Zealand (VANNZ)
Fast forward 6 months and our community is thriving.
As at April 2020 we have over 400 members who are either established VAs, are just starting out, or are figuring out how the VA world works.
Our members are a mix of freelance VAs as well as VA agencies, owners and contractors.
We hold regular networking events (in person and online), we co-hosted NZ’s very first VA Online Summit, we published a world first – a business planner for VAs, and we also share job opportunities with one another.
The VANNZ is without a doubt THE place for NZ Virtual Assistants to network, socialise, and share knowledge with others in our tribe.
We’ve well and truly put that yucky ‘C’ word aside (Competition in case you were wondering) and have replaced it with a better ‘C’ word … Community.
We truly are stronger together!
Raising the profile of local VAs
We have two main goals at the VANNZ. The first is to empower NZ VAs to be successful business owners (which I talked above above). The second is to raise the profile of our community through marketing, promotion and education.
And this is where our online Directory comes in!
Our members have the option to up-size to a paid membership whereby they are featured on our Online Directory.
It’s basically a business owner’s little black book of local VAs. And it’s the quick way for people to find a remote business support provider in NZ.
Thanks to our ongoing marketing and promotion, along with a sprinkling of SEO, already we rank Number 1 in Google for those searching for NZ Virtual Assistants, and we get well over 1,000 visitors to our website each month.
Virtual Assistant Matchmaking
Recently we took things up a level by introducing a VA Matchmaking Service for busy business owners who are looking to outsource, but simply don’t have the time to search through our Directory themselves.
This service was only launched 4 months ago and already we have helped 20+ business owners around the country with their search for their right-fit virtual assistant.
The morale of the story …
You don’t have to do this alone.
No matter where you are on your VA journey the VANNZ is somewhere you need to be hanging out.
It’s been said that Virtual Assistants are the staff of the future. Well, hold on to your hats because I’m pretty sure the future is officially here!
Samantha Browne, Founder of the Virtual Assistant Network of NZ