Joanna Vaiou is a Search Engine Optimization Specialist and Owner of "Joanna Vaiou SEO Services" company, as well as a student and advocate of Personal Development. Self-belief has been one of the prerequisite pillars of their journey as a solopreneur. They took some time to share their experimental insights with The Industry Leaders on this crucial MUST-have mindset.
Firstly, can you give us a little bit of background about your business journey?
Hi there, thank you for having me. My career journey as a Search Engine Optimization Specialist started back in early 2009. I was 28 years young then and felt I was in crucial place in my life that required me to dive deep within me and completely change route. I was not happy with what I did up to that moment, which was going from one employee job to the other, both relevant and not relevant to my university degree from the "Science and Art of Economics" department that I got in 2004. I invested then in a Personal Development course from USA, as I needed to empower myself and work on my environmental limiting beliefs that were imposed on me, by my environment. This course also included a basic internet marketing training course. This is how I entered the digital marketing world and came across SEO, that I chose as my favourite one to focus on. I created my first email, and started diving into the digital marketing abyss. I was like a fish out of water, but also very excited about my new educational journey.
Deep inside, I knew that a career that would allow me to work from anywhere in the world, set my own prices and work schedule, was my destiny. I simply knew it was, and was willing to wait for as much time as it would take me to achieve this. I decided to devote myself to SEO specifically, and become great at it. I knew that it would take me few years, but had no idea how many exactly. Finally it took me 4 years from when I started studying SEO online by myself, to start my own SEO Management and consulting services business. I had strong self-belief that this was destined for me, even if I had no similar influences in my life (from my close environment at least) to inspire me, or empower me.
What role has self-belief played in your journey as a business leader? How has it influenced your decision-making and overall success?
Self-belief has played the most important role in my journey as a business owner. If I did not have it, I wouldn't be here today. I have zero regrets during my 14 years in total (so far) journey in the SEO industry. I have made mistakes, I have dealt with all types of people, clients, vendors, and partners, and I own all my successful and non-successful decisions and outcomes. Every failure is a lesson for me which makes me stronger, and wiser. I have no fear or losing, so I take risks constantly. I have zero shame in me, which is a result of working on myself so many years. I love my freedom, my independence, and my success, as well as the life that I live at the moment, and the life that I want from now and on for myself and my close circle of people. At the same time as a risk-taker, I make sure that I become better and better at my own risk-management, so my results as I grow up professionally (and personally) level up, every season. I am freedom driven as a person and a professional, so being a solopreneur so many years, is the best work style that I could choose. I never dreamed of becoming a large company with employees, and have a dress code, you know like the corporate style. I could live my life in peace and harmony wearing jeans, t-shirts, and sneakers.
I really do enjoy the peace of mind and the freedom I experience as a solopreneur working online at my own business, and I am also drawn by similar personalities in my professional life. I prefer to work with people who are freedom lovers like I am, and have become experts in their own respective fields, who also want to work with someone like me, instead of becoming a boss with employees. I have zero interest in that. I am exactly where I need to be in my business, and life.
Can you share a specific moment or challenge in your journey where your self-belief was tested? How did you overcome it and what did you learn from that experience?
During the pandemic, I could not travel abroad which is something I did every now and then before, and things started to change. My best friends were not close, and business was becoming slow. I felt trapped. I questioned myself, and my choice to have a business of my own. I felt that I wanted someone else's opinion about my state of business. The though of quitting crossed my mind, and going back to a simpler employee job. I felt anxious, which gives me the chills when I recall it. I overcame this crisis by walking every day around Acropolis. I walked a lot and I spoke on the phone with my closer people who I trust and love. I am generally very resilient in terms of spending lots of time by myself. I study a lot online, so solitude has been a circumstance in which I have thrived. It allowed my to get to know who I am, what makes me happy, and what I really want in my life, as well as the qualities of people that I want in it. If I hadn't chosen a profession and work lifestyle that required solitude, I definitely wouldn't be here now. I prefer to spend time alone, knowing that what I choose to do helps me advance my life, rather than be with people just to be with other people. Many people are nothing more than an unproductive distraction. I am very strict, and very precise with everything and everyone that can have an influence my life. I know my values and virtues very well, and I enjoy sharing my time with like-minded people. I know where I belong. It is such a peaceful state of mind.
How do you cultivate and maintain a mindset of self-belief amidst the inevitable ups and downs of life?
Self-belief is a second nature to me after 14 years in the self-development industry. It is who I am. Nevertheless, when I am dealing with challenges and difficulties, it really helps to go back in time and remember my younger self. I travel back in time to when I started my personal journey of becoming the woman I wanted to be, which fills my heart with certainty and confidence. I have successfully made it through all of the challenges so far. I have become stronger and wiser. I am super grateful, and I am ready for more.
Are there any specific strategies or practices you follow to boost your self-confidence when facing uncertainties or setbacks in your business?
My self-belief is very strong in the majority of time. When challenges appear, I take more time by myself, I travel, and generally do something outside my comfort zone. I socialize with my circle of people, I read inspiring stories, and go wherever there is the right "food" for thought for me to consume. I simply choose my influences, what and who deserves my reaction, my attention, my time, and finally occupy space in my mind. I like to keep it super clean.
How do you handle self-doubt or negative self-talk that may arise as a business leader? Do you have any specific techniques for reframing negative thoughts?
I remember how well I have dealt with my challenges since I started this journey, and I have deep rooted knowledge and faith inside that whatever happens, I will be just fine, either more successful, or simply wiser (stronger).
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs who struggle with self-belief? How can they start building a stronger sense of confidence and belief in themselves?
I advise aspiring entrepreneurs to think of self-confidence and self-belief as a muscle. It takes practice and there are many ways to start working on one's self to build this mucle up. Personally, I chose a digital course in the self-development industry and have been following the teachings of global self-development mentors since then. Others can hire a business coach or a life coach. Others can go to a psychologist to work on their deeply rooted limited beliefs and programs. Each individual must find what works best for them, and build the mindset of a person who will be just fine, whatever happens. We must do things regularly that are outside our comfort zone. This is the way self-confidence and self-belief becomes a second nature to us.
Have you ever encountered external skepticism or negativity regarding your business ideas or decisions? How do you stay grounded in your self-belief despite external influences?
Of course I have encountered external skepticism and negativity regarding my lifestyle's and work choices, from family, friends, and environment. With my Personal Development self-work I simply stopped caring about what others think of me, and only cared about what I think of myself. I have zero interest in controlling other people. I only focus on what I can control which is not other people. What others do and what they believe, is not my business. I learnt to only mind my own business. I assure you, there is so much freedom in this state of mind, when you know that you are the person who knows what's best for you, and when you stop expecting the approval, and the encouragement of others, and just do what you believe you can do, even if you are the only one who does have faith in your abilities.
Are there any books, podcasts, or people you'd recommend checking out for anyone who wants to change to a more self-confident and belief-rich mindset?
I have many suggestions for empowering one's self in the form of audio-books or books including: 1) Robert T. Kiyosaki – "Rich Dad’s CASHFLOW Quadrant" and "Rich Dad Poor Dad", 2) Gary Vaynerchuk – "Crushing It!", 3) George S. Clason - "The Richest Man in Babylon", 4) Elio D' Anna - "School for Gods" book, 5) Tony Robbins – "MONEY Master the Game", and more.
Finally, what are some practical tips or exercises you can recommend for entrepreneurs to strengthen their self-belief and mindset on a regular basis?
I have learned that maintaining and strengthening our self-belief is not a rocket science. My practical tips are simple. Be careful and mindful in terms of your food and your thoughts. Be aware of what type of food and information you put in your body. Take care of your body, exercise regularly even if it is just a 30 minute walk daily. It helps the brain and your whole body. Think of your body as your temple. You will forever live in it, as long as your "forever" lasts. Act accordingly. Sleep well. Avoid toxicity and negativity like your life depends on it. Don't be with people, just be with other people. Choose the right people for you and your life's vision. Learn to enjoy solitude. It is the only way to realize what you are made of. Allow others to show you who they are and what they've got for you. Allow others to be who they are. Allow yourself to be who you want to be. Step out of your comfort zone regularly. This will help you continually strengthen your self-belief muscles. At one point, you will have no fear of failing. You will be ok, no matter what happens outside of you. It is a deep rooted feeling.
Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge with us here! Where should people follow you to find out more about your work?
Feel free to add me on Linkedin.