"Her husband died fifteen years ago, leaving her with a four year old child and a huge debt."
Joanne runs Entamio, a very successful educational business, for businesses, based in Brisbane. She has had many years of commercial experience building businesses, and she’s been significantly influenced by another person featured in this book; someone she rates as one of the people she admires and respects most in business; Martin Morris.
Some years ago, Joanne was one of many franchisees working as part of a training organisation which pulled the plug on them all overnight. Martin coached her into approaching the franchisor with a plan which allowed her to be paid for the professional course-writing she did for them and, with that money, she set up what is now Entamio.
At the same time, Joanne was looking for an accounting firm with a difference; not just a compliance accountant. Through Martin, she found the perfect match in Annette Bedford, who was partnering with Martin herself, under the Afirmmio banner. Annette and Joanne could see a lot of similarities in each other’s pasts, so much so they’re now running their businesses side-by-side in a complementary arrangement.
Apart from Martin’s vision, Joanne says their successful three-way collaboration is a direct result of their aligned values. “Without that, you have nothing. You’re only in it for the money, and for what you can get out of the other party,” says Joanne.
The second factor in their success, “is our ability to be truthful and driven, and to genuinely enjoy each other’s company. We all have our moments, however it’s the joint vision which drives our success. That end vision is expressed as ‘Experience Greater’ for our team members and for our clients.”
Annette liked Joanne because she had expressed a dream to improve the completion rate of her students, from a lowly 34%, to 80%. “To me, that was someone who really cared about her clients. Joanne’s background showed me she was prepared to do the hard work to make it happen, and wasn’t going to expect others to do it for her. She had been through some personally painful times, yet had survived. She also has abundant energy, and a rare level of drive to achieve her dreams.”
The trio took some time to get it right, and nothing was rushed. They had respect for each other’s talents and dreams, and wanted to help each other achieve them. They formulated business plans, in great detail, and kept focussed on the outcomes.
“All three of us saw a collaboration was possible right from the start. It was the caring for our team and our clients that were in sync. We believed the other two could offer our clients something they needed, in a way which would excite and engage them, yet at the same time, preserve our own trusted relationship with the client. It took three years of collaboration to ensure we were all on the same path, and to build trust between us. We wanted to make sure it was right for all of us before jumping in.”
Joanne was born in Wollongong in the 60’s where she developed a love for the beach and she spent many weekends there with her family. “I have two older brothers who have always been very protective of me. My stay-at-home mum was always playing sport, driving us kids around, and generally running the house, while Dad worked long hours as an engineer at the City Council.”
Joanne was incredibly shy as a young girl, and admits to spending many hours in her bedroom cupboard, playing with toys. However she also loved sport and the beach. “In 1974, Dad made the decision to move the family to the Gold Coast – without consulting my mother as I found out years later – just one week prior to a massive flood, which was very exciting for an 11 year old.”
Joanne’s parents had mixed success operating a lawn mowing business, but then once again her father made his own decision to buy a motel – also without consulting her mother – where the family then lived.
Living in a motel wasn’t much fun for a teenage Joanne: “No friends could visit; I had a room the width of single bed; no music, and no TV, except on Saturday afternoons, and I had to work in the motel every weekend. When I finished school, Dad wouldn’t allow me to go to university to study accounting, so I had to find a job, and my career in banking started.”
Whilst her father was very strict, Joanne learned many great lessons from him. “The only person who can help your career is you, he would say. At the age of 18, when I left school he had me sit the CBA bank exam. He then made me ring the local bank manager every day for a week until he finally called me in for an interview, and gave me the job. My results in the exam weren’t brilliant, however the bank manager said my persistence got me the job.”
The second lesson from her father was to save money, always. “I managed to save enough money to go halves in a block of land at just 19, and to build a house at 21 with my first husband, in 1984. However at 25, we decided to sell our house and travel the world.”
In September 2000, Joanne’s life took a big turn. “My husband was killed in car accident, which we later learned was suicide. We were devastated. Until this time, I’d remained a very shy and quiet person, but now I had a four year old, and a huge debt, and didn’t know what to do. My marriage hadn’t been all that happy as my husband was very controlling and unstable, which I didn’t realise until he wasn’t there anymore.”
In 2004, “I started my first business for the wrong and right reasons. I wanted to spend more time with my then eight year old daughter. I felt the skills I had as a commercial finance writer and trainer would ‘guarantee’ a successful business – but they didn’t.” Since then, it’s been a steep learning curve for Joanne. “Starting a business is exciting, scary, thrilling, gut-wrenching, and can often be a complete leap of faith,” she says.
So where did Joanne’s plan go wrong? “I was arrogant in the fact I had a great commercial finance background which I assumed would mean my business would be profitable immediately. For years I’d seen all the mistakes other businesses had made when I processed their finance applications, and yet took I no notice of that knowledge, and screamed ahead with no thought for what I knew.”
Joanne continues, “I assumed people I knew from my employed position would pay for my services. These people had received the services as a consequence of an agreement with my previous employer. They hadn’t paid for those services personally, so why would they pay now?”
It may well have been a disaster waiting to happen. Thankfully two events occurred which turned the situation around; “I had the sudden realisation that something had to change, and I stumbled on a business coach.”
When asked for her mantra in business, Joanne says it’s to be passionate, know your product, and know why you are doing what you do. “Focus, passion and a belief that if I stick to my values and what I love in business, the success will come.”
She has set ambitious targets for herself. Five years from now, she aims to have a $100 million turnover, a University framework established, and also be involved with an established overseas market – educating students overseas to enable their career in their own country or to enable their migration to study in Australia.
Joanne advises, “Be tenacious, but be organised. Know the process, be passionate, and know your ‘why’. Be open to advice from the right advisors including a business coach. Not so much a personal coach, but a coach who knows business, knows the stresses. Business mentors, people who have been there, done that.”
Most importantly, “Check the ego at the door; it is understood you will know your product, but if you’ve never had your own company, you have no idea of what that means.”
To stay motivated, Joanne suggests surrounding yourself with positive people; “the negatives need to go, take time out to reflect and re-energise, and make time for yourself.”
Joanne admires and respects four people: Martin Morris, for his story and his belief in her; Wayne Milner, a past colleague who believed in her too, “and gave me a go with permission to fly”; her Dad, who taught her to save money, and that you’re only person who can get you to where you want to be. And lastly, Richard Branson, because he dares to be different, and goes for it.
Visualising and planning are critical. “The most important and pivotal activity I did a few years ago was to write my eulogy. I wrote about all the things I would like people to say about me, and the impact I had on their lives. I did this in a quiet space and just let the words flow. What this did was allow my mind to do a brain dump and I was surprised at what I wrote. It allowed my innermost goals and dreams to emerge. I then created a comprehensive business plan working backwards: How would I get there? Who do I need? Who are my competitors? Who is my audience? What would the revenue look like?”
What astounded Joanne was that once she opened her mind to the opportunity, the team around her became the right fit, and the business came in.
With the recent changes in Canberra, “Government seems to be listening to small business more, with a new attitude. Globally, Australians are well respected, as they were when I was in England where they were snapped up if they wanted to work. It’s a global world these days. Our education systems are well-regarded worldwide, and we’ll see more students coming here in the future. We can only benefit from that.”
Her business name is actually an acronym, as Joanne explains “Entamio stands for Entrepreneurial Training to create Acumen and Mastery to Individuals and Organisations. In other words, our company is an education group, where the outcome is critical for all our students. If the students cannot use what they’ve learnt, our job is not done.”
As a Registered Training Organisation, Entamio delivers nationally-accredited certificates and diplomas. These range from Certificate III to Diploma level qualifications, focussed on business as well as coaching, mentoring, workshops and webinars. “We’ve recently expanded our services to offer a Learning Management System to other Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) which also allows us to create online content for clients, business, corporate, SME and RTOs.
“What sets this business apart is that Entamio provides education with an entrepreneurial spirit. We deliver nationally recognised training with strategic acumen and mastery of your personal and professional skillsets. We’re a group dedicated to growing the futures of individuals and organisations. Our courses help individuals to energise their careers by building their business skills. To this end, we support the growth of business through the growth of people.”
Additional business needs are also supported through supplementary workshops and training for personal and professional development, enabling owners, management and teams in any organisation to develop new skills.
“My passion is people, and seeing people succeed. The opportunity afforded Entamio by being involved in people’s careers or businesses is a privileged one, and one I don’t take lightly. So much so that I only see our job as being done when our clients can demonstrate they are truly able to make use of and apply their new skills,” she says.
Personally, Joanne is a qualified trainer and assessor and she holds diplomas in Management and Financial Services (Finance/Mortgage Broking Management) as well as Cert IV qualifications in Training and Assessment, Business Administration, and Financial Services (mortgage broking).
An astute communicator, Joanne has highly-developed interpersonal skills and a proven ability to build relationships across all areas of an organisation. Her experience lends her a clear understanding of the various levels of business, management and administration, which enables her to link the needs of individual learners to their organisational requirements.
Joanne is a creative and supportive facilitator. She sees it as essential that learning is applied effectively to ensure a return on investment in regards to effort, time and dollars. This is reflected in Entamio’s delivery of training and education, where clients are enabled to experience their learning so they can make best use of it, and take their career or business to the next level. She sees their journey as not ending at graduation. “That’s just the first step in inspiring them to want more.”
Joanne is a member of the VELG Training Group and The Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD), Australia’s largest community of business leaders.
- “Be open to advice from the right advisors, including a business coach.”
- “The most important and pivotal activity I did a few years ago was to write my eulogy.”
- “The negatives need to go, take time out to reflect and re-energise, and make time for yourself.”
Joanne has seen more than her fair share of tragedy, adversity and personal anguish. Despite massive setbacks – mostly due to factors outside her control – she’s a shining example of perseverance, persistence and vision. Since her husband died fifteen years ago, leaving her with a four year old child and a huge debt, Joanne has not only turned her life around; she has, in fact, flourished.