This month’s strategic partner spotlight is Crescendo Growth Advisor and founder Brenda Ferguson. We sat down with Brenda to discuss her entrepreneurial journey from Intrapreneur to Entrepreneur, her expertise on business growth strategies, and how her commitment to continuous improvement as an EOS® Integrator is driving success.
Brenda, what inspired your transition from being an Intrapreneur to becoming an Entrepreneur and how does your experience with EOS® play a role in your new venture, Crescendo Growth Advisor? Can you explain to our audiences what an Intrapreneur is?
I first encountered the term ‘Intrapreneur’ when a new acquaintance described me as one. An Intrapreneur spearheads entrepreneurial initiatives and drives results within a company they don’t own. It resonated with me. I relished fostering growth, transformation, efficiency, and scalability for both the organizations I worked for and the clients they served.
Joining a company as a COO and full-time EOS® Integrator opened my eyes to the incredible power of this business framework. Running the business on EOS® enabled us to pivot our market strategy and entire business model swiftly and systematically. I was amazed at how much we achieved each quarter with a relatively small team, and I knew I could make an even bigger impact.
So, I decided to put my consultant hat back on and embark on my own entrepreneurial journey. By starting my own business, I could assist numerous entrepreneurial companies realize their visions. Smaller businesses often can’t afford a full-time Integrator with extensive business and EOS® experience. As a Fractional Integrator, I get to be an Entrepreneur while still doing the Intrapreneurial work I’ve been passionate about throughout my career!
Describe your role as a Fractional EOS® Integrator and what it entails in helping company leadership bring their business vision to life? How does your company name, Crescendo Growth Advisor, reflect how you approach working with your clients?
Success in EOS®-run businesses hinges on a strong Visionary/Integrator Duo. As companies evolve, it becomes challenging for a single person to effectively occupy both seats, as they demand distinct skills and bandwidth.
At this juncture, the Visionary faces a choice: find an in-house candidate with the right experience or hire externally. The expense of a full-time Integrator often doesn’t provide a quick enough ROI. Internal candidates, while promising, may lack the experience for such a role, risking time, money, and talent. A Fractional Integrator, part-time and experienced in EOS® and business leadership, acts as a bridge for the company’s growth phase, delivering impactful results at a cost-efficient ROI.
I named my business Crescendo Growth Advisor because I believe an orchestra is a great analogy for companies that run on EOS®. The Visionary composes the music (i.e. the Company Vision) and the team members sit in their respective seats and play various instruments. As a Fractional Integrator, I serve as the Orchestra Conductor, harmonizing efforts to crescendo the business toward its full potential.
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You have three decades of experience in various corporate settings. How has this diverse experience shaped your approach to business orchestration and leadership?
My career journey spans various business environments, from fast-growing startups to publicly traded corporations, Private Equity-funded firms, and bootstrapped ventures. Starting as a software implementation consultant in a people-focused startup was foundational to my career. I had the opportunity to play a crucial role in its transformation, market capture, and acquisition by a global company, which led to my growth as a leader.
The acquisition showed me what it was like to report to Wall Street and work in a much larger organization, where I gained experience in Strategy, Marketing, Business Development, Sales, Global Leadership and more. I later joined a mid-sized Private Equity-funded company, broadening my business skills to include Customer Experience, Managed Services, Help Desk Support and PMO.
My passion for smaller entrepreneurial environments was rekindled in a bootstrapped company that used EOS® to pursue its market disrupting vision. This experience inspired me to help more Visionaries make their visions come to life. My multi-disciplinary experience spanning departments and ownership models has taught me how to collaborate effectively across departments, fostering harmony in companies that run on EOS®.
Could you please share an example(s) of your experience as an Impressive Growth Catalyst, such as the notable increases in qualified leads and recurring revenue customers?
I spearheaded growth initiatives at every company I worked for. I established a Business Development team, developed related KPIs and processes, and orchestrated marketing campaigns to convert the Marketing department into a revenue generation engine. We consistently increased ROI for five consecutive years, with the peak year yielding a 665% rise in qualified leads valued at $346M of qualified pipeline.
I led teams responsible for retaining and expanding recurring revenue at multiple companies. In one instance, I assumed various operational leadership roles to drive organizational transformation initiatives that protected and fostered recurring revenue, ultimately doubling EBITDA over 2.5 years.
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As an Organizational Turnaround Expert, can you explain your process in retooling and stabilizing a company to align with the company’s vision, and how you achieved significant growth in recurring revenue? How do KPIs help measure performance?
Leveraging EOS®, we orchestrated a significant market pivot, aligning quarterly ‘Rocks’ with annual goals that took us closer each quarter to realizing our market disrupting vision. This involved establishing a new partnership, training the entire team, launching a new website, developing a new go to market strategy, and leveraging advanced technology to automate people intensive tasks.
My first foray into recurring revenue involved halting its multi-year decline. I built a lower cost Account Management team to manage client relationships and renewals, as well as the related processes and KPI’s they used. We stabilized and then grew this recurring revenue stream by 41% in the first year and 79% in the second.
Establishing KPIs has been instrumental to success in all my leadership roles, setting clear expectations and tracking progress with both leading and lagging indicators, just as the EOS® scorecard provides objective insights to keep us on track and take the appropriate actions when we are not.
You mentioned your unwavering commitment to continuous process improvement. Can you provide an example of a challenging situation where you applied this principle and the results it yielded?
As a perfectionist, I embrace the notion that everything is a work in progress. My motto, “Don’t wait to make it perfect before you make it better” drives my approach to continuous improvement.
In a leadership role, I streamlined cloud migration projects to support a significant increase in new customer onboarding and revenue growth. Before this initiative, each migration project was a time-consuming reinvention of the wheel due to low project volume, leading to inefficiencies. Leveraging my prior experience, I challenged the team to establish a standardized methodology. While initial skepticism prevailed due to unique customer traits, we assembled experts, documented standard procedures, and successfully implemented a process with 80% of the steps identical. The remaining 20% that had variations were addressed proactively with a list of discovery questions designed to prevent delays and unexpected costs.
We introduced ‘lessons learned’ phases and applied Six Sigma Lean Continuous Process Improvement principles to simplify labor-intensive steps. By the end of the first year, we had achieved a 10X increase in scalability and improved quality that resulted in a 33% reduction in time to reach ‘steady state’ post-migration. We also achieved significant cost savings with a repeatable and scalable process and heightened customer satisfaction.
Finally, where can people find you and work with you?
Are you looking to sell your business within the next 6 to 12 months?
Buying a business is a long, in-depth, detailed process. This is why it’s important to work with a trusted exit planner.
We are NOT business brokers or investment bankers. We are a group of entrepreneurs who have successfully built and sold our own businesses. We recognize that one size does not fit all. Each of our business were unique, were in different industries, and sold in different economic conditions. Each had its own success and imperfections as well as reasons for selling.
That is why we start with a free, no-obligation consultation. We work with you to determine your exit planning goals and make them achievable. We also believe you should pay for what you need and what you will use. This is why we have aligned our service offering and fee structures to match that philosophy.
- Over 25 years of experience.
- Business selling success rate of over 75%.
- Entire evaluation and exit planning process is handled for you.