After feeling unfulfilled in her corporate career, Danielle Demi worked her way up the freelancing ranks and self-educated herself to a management level in the digital world. When she met her mentor and soul sister, Liz Illg, they founded GrowthFocus to help women ditch the 9 to 5 life and create fulfilling and growth-driven careers. Today, Danielle mentors freelancers and emerging entrepreneurs and helps them structure and grow their service-based businesses.
Q: What's your background, and what are you working on?
Growing up with two nine-to-five, corporate working parents, I always wished for more time with them. I knew at an early age that I wanted to live a life where I balanced family and a career and never had to choose between the two. After I graduated college, I started writing blogs as a side-hustle and fell in love with the freedoms of freelancing. Very soon after starting my side-hustle, I became a virtual assistant and then worked my way up the ranks in the digital world. After successfully replacing my full-time job income with a sustainable freelancing business, I began advocating for self-employment.
Now, I'm a freelancer mentor and I teach first-timers how to get started in the digital world and how to create a strong, sustainable service-based business.
Q: What motivated you to get started with GrowthFocus?
Leaving corporate life and creating a career from my own talents and skills was a dream come true. Any chance I would get, I would encourage my friends and colleagues to explore freelancing and show them the steps. When I became a freelancing career expert, I met my business partner and soul sister, Liz Illg, and we had this vision of GrowthFocus; professional growth guidance for the starting solopreneur.
When I met Liz, she had been a successful entrepreneur for years and I'd had my own freelancing business for some time. We knew that if we combined our strengths and gifts, we would set freelancers up for success. Liz has the business scaling strategies and I have the career map expertise.
I was perfectly happy with my freelancing business but Liz really opened up my eyes to the idea of sharing my gifts with those in need. Now, I'm motivated every day to help our students find inspiration, answers, and opportunities.
Q: How have you attracted clients and grown your firm?
We've organically built our student community by making connections on social media, collaborating with other brands, and spending time creating relationships with aspiring entrepreneurs.
Liz and I both have years of experience in digital marketing, social media, and advertising, so we've been able to lock in press relations, social media strategy, and an innovative, informative website.
We work on our online presence constantly to easily connect with freelancers that need education and mentorship. We're both proud students as well! Whenever there's a new platform or strategy, we take the time to learn all about it and build our confidence around it.
Q: What are your goals for the future?
Our first educational product was our Full-Time to Freedom Virtual Assistant Basics Course, which was created to help first-time freelancers get their start in the digital world. We were inspired to empower freedom-seekers and answer the questions we were constantly asked about solopreneurship. Because we work with first-timers and growing entrepreneurs, we want to create more courses to further prepare our students at whatever point they're at in their careers.
We're also working on a group mentorship program and we're super excited about working with students in a new, collaborative way.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you've faced and obstacles you've overcome?
One of the biggest advantages and disadvantages we have as a company is that we launched our first course in the fall of 2020. Last year was the year of the online course! Because of the pandemic, people sought out new knowledge, new jobs, and trying to grow their skillset.
While we're excited to have launched in such a popular time, we know there are other courses that people are going to choose from.
It's definitely motivated us to make sure our course is super value-packed and contains our tested, tried, and true industry advice. With our friendly, comfortable approach to career mentorship and freelance career building, we know that our students will align with our mission and start their journey with GrowthFocus.
Q: What's your advice for female founders who are just starting out?
Surround yourself with people that see your value and potential. It's hard enough to press forward and believe in yourself every day but it's even harder to try and do incredible things when your inner circle doubts you.
I love having a business partner that trusts me and believes in me. Find a squad that encourages you to think bigger and that reminds you of your potential, constantly.