In this student spotlight series, we are highlighting some of our wonderful Virtual Assistant community members to share their journeys. All the ups, downs and surprises on the way to building their dream business. Giving you a realistic insight into where this career path can take you and how it can impact multiple areas of your life!
Today we’re interviewing Joanna Gryżewska.
Hey Joanna! Who are you and what do you do? (aka what’s your elevator pitch)
I’m Joanna. I help professionals to achieve the impact they want to make in the world through meaningful videos.
Tell us more about yourself and where you are in the world these days…
I’m from Poland, currently based in Toronto, Canada. About my age I can give you a hint – 2021 is my zodiac lunar year.
Why did you decide to become a VA and what did your journey to becoming one look like?
I used to be an office manager for over 8 years. I was working for the others, helping them grow their businesses and manage their employees. I was doing my best, always ready to pick up the phone, even on holidays.
Starting this journey is like a different world to me. I am responsible for my marketing, social media presence, website development, customer support, and everything around it. All those things were done by employees I was managing for years.
I decided to become a VA after my half-a-year trips around the world. I came back when the pandemic started, and I strongly felt that I have to start something new, which would give me satisfaction and, at the same time, control over my work-related tasks.
Because of lockdown and suddenly plenty of free time, I started learning new things. I took many courses in different business areas, from social media management to advertising and video editing. One day, my friend told me about Virtual Assistant work, and I was really interested in this idea. I started looking into it.
I found a 5 Day VA Challenge on the Digital Nomad Kit page and signed up for it. I really loved it! It was my first social media challenge ever, and I have to admit that it changed my mindset in perceiving work as a compulsion to do unsatisfying things and left me thinking about what I could offer as my services.
This challenge gave me ideas on how to start, but I was willing to learn more, so I enrolled in the full course. I felt a connection with challengers, and I knew that I would meet like-minded people in the course. After joining Inner Circle Group, I’ve created an amazing accountability group and made some good friends there. While my friends started getting new clients, I was drifting with my ideas on services a few times to finally decide to do what I really enjoy, and I treated it as a hobby so far. I fully engaged with video editing work.
Besides virtual services, I’m also doing video production in my area now. I love that I don’t have to apply for jobs anymore! I’m just creating opportunities for collaborations with clients who are my business partners!
What lifestyle changes have you encountered since becoming a VA? How would you compare your life now to your life BVA (before virtual assistance)?
After becoming a VA, I have more free time and freedom. It’s me who is establishing working hours and how much time to devote to work per week. I can start later than while working in the office or even working at night as sometimes I feel more productive when everyone is sleeping. If I want, I sleep till 9 am, and no one will call me from the office, because I’m the only boss here. While working in the office, I was spending at least 2 hours commuting to work. Now everything is happening online, and no one judges me if I’m in my sweatpants or dress because no one even sees me.
I’m also happy with wearing all hats in my business. I have power over my own marketing and direction of business development. I’m choosing my clients who are becoming my business partners. I love that kind of collaboration because we feel equally important. If my clients like my work, they will refer me further, and if I like their services, I’m proudly speaking about them with my friends. I feel like I can build stronger connections now as everything depends on me, and I’m the face of my own business.
It’s hard to say how my VA adventure would look like if there is no Covid19. I started my business during the pandemic, so already everyone was active in a virtual world somehow. I feel like it was a perfect time to start.
What does a “normal” day (or week if a day is too varied) look like for you?
Every day I’m starting by having time just for me. I’m reading a book in the morning as the first thing after waking up, then exercise a little bit. I start my work around 10, or sometimes 11 am. I’m not too strict about it as I’m a night owl, and I know that I can be more productive in the evening.First, I’m catching up with my emails and checking tasks for the current day. Then I open my editing software and start working on videos. I feel like it’s easy for me to lose track of time when I’m really focused on my projects. Sometimes I’m ending my work at night, realizing that I didn’t take too many breaks during the day. But that’s the risk of being your own boss.
…Hannah’s note: Check out DNK graduate Kim Gorchs daily work break videos on YouTube
You have to build a good time management process, and I’m still trying to figure it out myself. The longest breaks I’m taking are when I have to refill my teapot. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t start working without my tea at all! I’m using this time also for cooking and small chit-chat with my friends. There are days that I’m working all day on my Client’s video projects and don’t spend too much time on my own business.Some days are less busy, and I’m participating in webinars, finishing my courses or creating posts, and engaging on social media. When I lack creativity, I finish my work for that day and come back the next day as I have to refresh my mind and refill it with new ideas for my video editing work. Evenings, if I’m not still working, I’m using for relaxation.
What do you wish you had known when you were first starting out?
It’s also you who is choosing a client. You don’t have to agree on working with everyone who reaches out to you. Most importantly – trust your guts.
Today we’re interviewing Joanna Gryżewska.
What has been your biggest fail/learning experience since you started this journey? Why do you think it happened?
I feel like the biggest fail was also my win at the same time. It sounds odd, but I gained knowledge of what I really don’t want to do because of this experience.
I almost started a collaboration with a client who wasn’t a good fit for me. I spent a few hours communicating with him and another few preparing proposals and documents. I even send my agreement to sign. Happily, at the very last moment, I asked the client not to sign documents and explained that it’s not the right decision.
To summarize, I wasted my time and energy, but I learned with whom I don’t want to work and what kind of job I don’t want to do. At that moment it was a big discovery for me. I didn’t know how to resist the client because he was already convinced we would work together. Now, I know that I can say no to a client as well.
What has been your best surprise in the past few months?
The first surprise was that I can start working at noon and still earning money. How cool is that? LOL. Another surprise is the power of referrals and that there are people who appreciate and support your hard work (which most likely is not possible in corporate work).
If you had an extra $2000 dollars of income per month what would you do with it/how would your life change?
If I had an extra $2000 of income per month, I would save it for more travels! I love traveling and observing the lives of indigenous people! I still have a long list of places to go or return. Actually, I never had a real nomad life before. All my travels were mostly my holidays out of work. I’m sure that I would enjoy traveling and working simultaneously. I would visit all places from my wish list without worries about the money.
What would you like to learn next and what’s your future plan?
I love to learn new things. Shortly, I plan to learn motion graphics so I could offer animations in my packages. I think of starting a course on Adobe Premiere Pro and color grading on DaVinci Resolve. I’m working in Final Cut Pro X now, and I think that learning new editing software would open more opportunities. I’m planning to create a creative agency with skilled video editors at some point in the future.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever had that you wish to share with others?
Start building your content and your brand even before you get your first client. Don’t overthink; show up everywhere, share values, and let people notice you and know you from your expertise perspective.
Thanks Joanna! Where can people connect with you?
You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.
Joanna joined The VA Starter Kit in September 2020, right in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, proving that a career in Virtual Assistance is a pandemic-proof option! We couldn’t be prouder to have Joanna in our wonderful graduate community.