Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Paz Pisarski, Co-Founder of The Community Collective, located in Torquay, Victoria, Australia.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
The Community Collective started as a meetup group back in June 2021 between the 4th and 5th Melbourne lockdowns. We brought 17 people together to connect and support one another to build stronger startup communities during the pandemic. After that first meetup, there was a strong interest in keeping the connection going. So we decided to run meetups monthly and invite others to join. Word got out, and our meetup community grew exponentially around Australia and New Zealand. Two years on, and our meetup community has grown from 17 to 430+ community builders, the majority finding us through word of mouth and LinkedIn.
In June 2022, I quit my job and dedicated my energy to supporting this growing community even more. I registered The Community Collective as a company and spent hours chatting with our members. So today, we exist to support people to build impactful and highly engaged communities. Ultimately we are a community for community builders in the Australian and New Zealand startup space. Our mission is to support community builders to build stronger communities and create a space where they belong. We do that through our free meetup community (which is still going strong!), jobs board, and 8-week Community Cohort, where community builders around the world level up together.
It was never our intention to actually start a business. However, we quickly realised that we had struck a chord with such a niche group of people that really valued our support. So it's been an honor to manage this community and now run this as a business. My role as a co-founder has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life so far. Plus, the positive stories we hear about how The Community Collective has helped community builders have been jaw-dropping.
Tell us about yourself
I love helping people build mind-blowing communities. The kind that people honestly couldn't imagine their lives without because they feel like they finally found their people. The kind that open doors that people wouldn't have even been able to knock on.
Before founding The Community Collective, I managed a range of different communities. Including Startup Victoria's founder community (Australia's largest startup community with over 60,000 people), RMIT Activator's entrepreneur community, where I grew their member base from 500 to 5000+ over 3+ years, and SisterWorks not-for-profit asylum seeker women community where we helped migrants start their own businesses. For years I've found myself at the intersection of supporting founders and building strong communities.
During that time, I experienced the absolute highs of building communities, as well as the plummeting lows. I felt the real challenges of what it's like to be the face of a community, supporting and connecting people day in and day out for a living. It's tough. It's challenging. And honestly, at times, it's lonely.
It's a strange paradox of being surrounded by so many people whilst simultaneously feeling like you don't have anyone to actually lean on. Where was our community to be a member and not a manager? In 2020 there was the day that I hit rock bottom. Since then, I've never wanted anyone to experience what I experienced. The feeling of isolation and confusion. Not knowing how to show up for a community that you manage.
So THIS is what motivates me every day to support community builders. To make their lives easier and their role just that little bit more enjoyable. Because whilst community building can be rewarding, it can be equally challenging. But I'm here to make that easier for people.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Honestly, it's building a community that is both impactful and financially sustainable. So many communities start out offering value for free and then later close down because they don't have the finances or team to sustain it.
But if the community can't financially support itself, it will quickly crumble. So this has been the biggest challenge and accomplishment. Because as of February 2023, The Community Collective has not only become an impactful community but a financially sustainable business. Hooray!
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Honestly, it's prioritizing myself and my own energy. I love working on The Community Collective so much that it can be easy to prioritize serving others over myself. But I've quickly realised that this isn't sustainable, and I have a much better routine to make sure my cup is also full. But it's a constant challenge!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Build a community around your business; it'll be the best thing you've ever done.
- Find mentors to help you along the way (in all the business areas!).
- Learn to say no so that you don't get distracted by things that aren't your true priorities.
- Plus (I know you said three, but I'm going to be cheeky and share 4), celebrate yourself along the way because acknowledging how far you've come will help you to reach higher heights.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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