Martin Gruszka, Office Evolution franchise owner in Northern Virginia, shares his background and experience as a successful OE franchisee.
"I’m a technology professional, an entrepreneur, and a family guy. A proud American born in a charming little city in southwestern Poland."
I have kept this simple quote on the front page of my Twitter profile for many years because it gets to the heart of my profession and family. I moved to the United States as a kid, 30 years ago. Together with my parents and sister, we found a home in Northern Virginia, where I attended middle school, high school, and university. Northern Virginia turned out to be a great place to establish and grow a career. As a software engineer, I had an opportunity to work for both commercial and government clients on hundreds of projects. These ranged from the intimidating, like an inmate management system for the state of Virginia, to the quirky, like a social commerce platform (think Groupon, but different). Today, my wife, six-year-old daughter, and I still live in the same area. As for my “hobbies,” they include kids' birthday parties, driving to gymnastics and ballet, and learning about the many varieties of unicorns and fairies that apparently roam Northern Virginia streets.
My 20-year career in tech was transformational and rewarding. Yet it could also be frustrating, especially as my responsibilities and tenure grew. Software development is a creative endeavor. It's a profession where creativity and empowered decisions must reign. All too often, however, bureaucracy and unnecessary processes stifle that creativity. I wanted to make a change and re-join a creative environment, something that drew me into software development in the first place.
Entrepreneurship was the way, and as I looked and researched different franchises, Office Evolution presented a perfect opportunity to take the next steps in my career. Office Evolution is a great company with top management, fantastic resources, and a solid support structure. It allowed me to engage my creativity once again – first to build a center, then grow it, and finally to support its members.
Our first center opened in March 2019 in Herndon, and we are actively pursuing our second location. Our members represent a mix of suburban professionals and include solo-practicing attorneys, marketing companies, software and cyber security service providers, life coaches, and others. Office Evolution often attracts creative professionals who have been in business for several years and are now seeking to grow. This is precisely the makeup of our members, and we are thrilled to be able to support their goals.
The optimism, energy, and drive of our members are contagious and thrilling. Watching them run out to sales meetings and later come back to share their successes or goals for improvement inspires me to do more. The networking opportunities our center provides are available to our members, but I get to benefit from them as well. The most enjoyable aspect of owning and running a flexible workspace is this symbiotic network of professionals. An environment where my success benefits our members and their success benefits our center is a win-win for all of us.
Have a North Star. Make your mission big, like world-changing big. Something that is important to you. You don't have to share it if it's silly; it is more important just to have it. As an entrepreneur, you will often find yourself making decisions without all of the necessary information, or with unclear or risky outcomes. When that happens, ask yourself which choice will best serve your mission. Then, pick that path. Most of the time, you will be right.
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