#44: [Client Case Study] How Firing Clients Clarified My Business Strategy with Joanne Sweeney-Burke

September 5, 2017

How Firing Clients Clarified My Business Strategy
Joanne Sweeney-Burke is a passionate entrepreneur, podcaster, speaker and author who has built a thriving social media business in Ireland. However, it wasn’t until she niched down her business that she was able to work less and earn more. Here, she reveals what it took to transform her business. 

The First Lightbulb Moment
“I had been watching Sigrun and her work for 18 months,” Joanne remembers. “But I guess at that stage in my business life, I wasn’t ready to join a Mastermind. To be honest, even though I’d been in business for eight years, I didn’t even know what a Mastermind was and I’d never had a coach of any sort in my life.” Joanne had 11 academic and professional qualifications and always thought that was the reason why she was successful in business. “Then I went to the Pendulum Summit and started reading Sigrun’s emails. It slowly dawned on me that maybe I needed to invest in myself to benefit my business. I needed a business coach.” 
Joanne had been self-employed for nine years, working in public relations and marketing and later in digital marketing. “While all my skills from my old work and business life were actually really relevant when I moved to the digital world, I still felt that sometimes I was making things up as I went along. Sometimes it went well, other times it didn’t. But I knew I wanted to get to the next level. I just didn’t know how.” Joanne was looking for someone who could give her clarity. “That’s when I signed up for Sigrun’s VIP Mastermind.” 
During the first strategy session, Joanne gave some background on her career and her clients. “I have a degree in politics, am a trained journalist, was working for politicians in the EU and big public sector bodies, I’ve written a book on how police forces use social media, and then I worked with corporate clients ranging from healthcare to nightclubs and restaurants.” Joanne realized that there was no congruence with the clients she was working for. “I didn’t really know where I wanted to go. That’s when Sigrun said to me: You are a digital transformation expert in the public sector. And I was thinking: Am I? It was a lightbulb moment.” 

Going a New Direction
Joanne sat with that for three months. “I felt a bit off. Not because I didn’t want to do what I was doing, but because I felt blocked. All my Mastermind colleagues were selling and building and launching, and I was the slowcoach in the group.” However, during this time, things were actually happening in her business. 
“My business was predominantly an offline consulting and training business. My new direction was going to be a business that works offline and online, and I had to change things. There were some clients that didn’t fit with my new direction but I was afraid to let them go.” Joanne had worked with some of these clients for up to five years and had established a sense of loyalty. “I loved their business, their brand, the income they provided, but I knew it was wrong to continue with them.” 
It was hard for Joanne to accept this, and equally hard to disconnect from them. In some cases, it took her a couple of months. “So while I was frustrated and felt I was moving really slow compared to my Mastermind colleagues, I was actually making changes in my business to fit my new direction, which was totally the right thing to do for me.” 

Keeping the Same Income by Working Less
Today, Joanne is working 100% with clients in the public sector who retain her on an ongoing basis. “I specifically work with clients in politics, policing and the public sector health education. I have completely stopped working in executing digital strategy. It was taking up so much of my time. Now, it has completely gone from my business. The only consulting that I do is strategy or writing a particular training program.” This gives her a lot more time to think and write. “The best thing? My income hasn’t been affected in any way. It was a huge transformation for me, but by getting out of my own way and with the help of Sigrun and the VIP mastermind, I turned my business around.” 
What helped Joanne to keep her income stable even though she was working less was being focussed. “I was focusing on the right clients, didn’t get distracted anymore and also learned to give value to myself and my knowledge. I learned how to have the right wealth mindset and am now charging my fees competently and people are reacting positively. That’s been a huge game changer for me.”
At one stage, Joanne had 20 clients to generate the revenues that she wanted. Now, she can reach the same amount with four or five clients.

Taking a Step Back to Move Forward
Having the time to think and reflect has changed her whole outlook. “I used to fill my working days with chaos, with emails, with being 100% responsive to all my clients all the time and that wasn’t sustainable. When I removed myself from the situation, I remembered that there is a reason why people pay me to walk into their companies or their organizations and help them transform. I don’t think I gave myself enough credit.” 
Joanne works with a content plan and has her own podcast and blog where she posts quality content consistently. “I write in long-form. This means I produce 5,000 words, which might be a chapter of a book, and then I repurpose it into an online program or an eBook, a podcast, a video, a webinar and lots of other product types, but they’re all consistent with my goal of building and launching an online business. All of that focus keeps me on the right road.” 
Looking back, Joanne always thought that she had the answer. “That’s the type of person I am. I love fixing problems. But sometimes, you need to take a step back and have conversations with other people to allow you to get your clarity back.” 

Key Takeaway:

  • Sometimes you need to take a step away, especially in your business, and have conversations with other people to get clarity.

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