This week on The Whin Big Podcast, Katie speaks with Jacky Clarke – an online strategy business coach. She shares how her experiences with burnout lead to her starting a business that gave her the freedom to live a life she loves. Katie and Jacky talk about the importance of figuring out what you want out of your business, focusing on tasks you enjoy and ways to align your business and marketing strategy.

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Build a business you love, and it will love you back.

Jacky helps business owners to take their confused, burn-out causing strategies and make them much simpler so people can earn good money in a way that’s aligned with your life.

Jacky started working with small business clients after a double whammy of redundancy from her Director role in a global corporation and total burnout from contracting with huge organisations.

In her Director role, she lead a team of 50 people, all working to the same goals. When she jumped to contracting, she worked to achieve the same results for her client, as a team of 1. Months of working longer hours on stressful projects, with less support and higher standards, quickly took Jacky to a place in her career where she was miserable.

But, as the saying goes – you can’t keep a good woman down! After some reflection time, she realised she could start her own business teaching people the exact strategies she used with global organisations. She decided to start small with a relatively simple online course to test the water and has never looked back. 

“I think aligning your business with your life is important, and not the other way round. People think about the need to make money, but they don’t think, ‘what is the life I’m trying to create.” – Jacky

The importance of believing in your own advice

Jacky’s is very clear on the importance of small businesses practising what they preach. For Jacky, that means taking her business through every step of her strategy process with no excuses. 

The main focus of Jacky’s work is centred around the 12-week programme she hosts three times a year. She works on a cyclical nature of fine-tuning activities, researching her strategy and implementing it and often works through the programme modules alongside her programme participants. 

This means her business strategy is ongoing proof of how her way works. 

“The world changes so rapidly, regardless of what you’re teaching, something will have shifted so thinking anything is permanent and will make passive income, it’s naive thinking.” – Jacky

Figure out what you love to do – and then do it.

Jacky’s favourite thing about running a business is freedom. Being able to decide who she works with, when and where is so important to her, and she’s hyper-aware this comes from her experience of burnout and overwhelm. 

Jacky and Katie talk about creating a business that centres around a few packages or offerings that you love to do, rather than being all things to all people. 

The reason being, if you enjoy what the work – and the people you do it for – you’re already closer to the freedom most of us crave as business owners. 

Katie shared her experience of taking every task available when she first set up because she was focused on keeping afloat. 

Jacky’s advice to anyone starting now is to work out ahead of time how to start your business doing the tasks you enjoy first, so you can avoid the need to transition out of anything in the first place. 

“When you start, you have the mindset of ‘whatever anybody wants, I’ll figure out how to do it for them’. You have to transition out of it and do it pretty quickly.” – Katie

Advice for structuring your business around your zone of genius

Jacky and Katie talk about the perils and pitfalls of doing too-many conflicting tasks and services for too-many different types of customers.

Get selective with who you serve and how you serve them

Jacky shared a statistic around the concept of multitasking and how it takes 23 minutes for the human brain to settle into a new task after bouncing around. She highlights how much harder it is to reach our goals if we bounce from wildly different clients and different activities.

Choosing a set of services you enjoy will not only make you more productive but help shape a business you love.

Look at the whole picture of your business

Ask yourself if you like the shape of your business based on the tasks you love. You can enjoy doing a task (like designing websites), but do you want to run a web design business and all that goes with it? This was Katie’s exact experience when she was offering services designing websites AND doing Instagram training. 

Figure it out by trying it out

If you don’t know what you want to do or how you want to shape your business, Jacky’s advice is to get started and try it out. She highlights the perils of waiting to find the tasks you enjoy rather than trying lots of things out to figure it out.

Set up containers your customers can pay you

Everything you talk about should point to one of these containers. Make it easy for people to figure out how they want to work with you, and then set your business and marketing strategy around that.

“I had created a business monster. I earned six figures every year, and so many people aim for, so many people define as success, but I was never home. I couldn’t do the things I loved. Once I got to breaking point, my whole purpose was to have freedom.” – Jacky

Setting healthy boundaries around marketing. 

Building workable models is what Jacky does best, so no surprises here, she’s made an easy model for her business marketing, too:

She starts with a bare minimum marketing plan

  • Put up a blog each Tuesday
  • Put out mailing list on Thursday 
  • Post at least three times to Instagram 
  • Show up in Stories every day Mon-Fri

The content ideas then fit around what’s going on in Jacky’s week. Jacky did a masterclass session that looked at ideal customer avatars. She used the content from her work in the masterclass as an Instagram carousel.

Jacky’s primary strategy is Instagram. She posts there and cross-posts everything to Facebook. Despite knowing it’s not the best strategy for the Facebook algorithm, she doesn’t care. For Jacky, this is where the boundaries come in. 

“As a business owner, I can try to have all the things in place, a pristine model of how it should be, OR I can do some of the things and go and go and live a life I frigging love. I can’t have both.” – Jacky

What’s on Jacky’s bookshelf? 

*First Sh!t Version by Lisa Bean 

Read this book if you don’t know what to do. The book has loads of activities to help you get clarity. Top of the list! 

* Do Less by Kate Northrup

Do less is Jacky’s tagline how women are cyclical beings and work within our cycle. The book shows how to align our business with our energy, step away from the hustle, and still make money, especially if you’re a mum in business. 

*Rise Sister, Rise by Rebecca Campbell

This book is about moving away from the masculine space of planning, productivity and strategy, and more into alignment with plans and ideas and asking if you’re showing up authentically.  

Resources

5 things dream clients will never say 

Jacky’s website (scroll to bottom to sign up to newsletter)

Lisa Bean’s First Sh!t Version review on IGTV

Jacky on Instagram

* Links marked with a star are affiliate links to Bookshop.org. When you buy through these links, a small portion of the cost of the book goes to supporting your local bookshop, and a small portion comes to The Whin. The books won’t cost you any extra!

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