Today we’d like to introduce you to Wendy O’Donovan Phillips.
Wendy, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
How I Grew a Start-Up Idea into A $1 Million-Plus in Revenues Woman-Owned Business.
In 2007, I started a healthcare marketing agency with a single client – my dentist, one employee – my cat, in humble beginnings – my guest bedroom. By 2009, I had ten clients and hired my first three real employees. The cat stayed on, too. In 2011, I hired an unpaid intern who today is our General Manager. In 2014, we moved the business out of my home and into a commercial property in RiNo before RiNo was a thing; I bought the space with an SBA loan. The cat stayed at the house. In 2017, we diversified from serving mainly small specialty clinics to serving larger, more profitable industries like medical technology and senior living. Next week, the cat turns 24 years old.
The end of 2019 marks the second time in a row that Big Buzz, a woman-owned business, exceeded $1 million in revenues. In 2018, the first-year Big Buzz crossed that threshold, Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) reported only 1.7% of U.S. women-owned businesses generated more than $1 million in revenue.
In 2014, I pitched my firm for the Make Mine a Million initiative, which inspired me to go for the goal. The number of businesses generating $1 million run by women increased by 46% in the past 11 years, as reported in American Express OPEN’s State of Women-Owned Business Report. It is my vision to help people create marketing, careers and lives they never dreamed possible.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Success has come with its challenges. Just last year, despite the fact I was financially qualified and approved weeks later by another bank, I was turned down for a corporate line of credit with a prominent national bank. I was told in writing, “I know you don’t want to do this, but we need your husband to cosign on the loan.” Big Buzz is 100% owned by me.
Big Buzz – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
For leaders at the heart of healthcare, Big Buzz combines strategy and consultation to drive focused marketing efforts that leave a legacy. For the last twelve years, my team and I have been working one-on-one across the nation with executives in medical technology, specialty clinics and senior living – all to vastly improve marketing inputs (by the people) and outcomes (for the people and the organization).
We understand that it starts with people. We work with CEOs, COOs, CMOs, Vice Presidents of Marketing and other executives to get down to what really matters in marketing. From that point of clarity, we help focus the internal marketing team on the objectives and measures that add up to ROI. Beyond that, our marketing team acts as an extension of the internal team to ensure all projects get to market with high impact and solid results.
Our ability to focus on marketing efforts is unprecedented. We evolve our clients’ marketing programs as their organizations grow and evolve. We monitor and report results via custom-built, web-accessible dashboards updated in real-time 24/7. Most importantly, we build lasting working relationships with the people we serve. The Big Buzz team truly wakes up wanting to come to work.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Celebrating with my team crossing that $1 million threshold, then heading home where my husband, daughter and, yes, the cat, played the song “If I Had a Million Dollars,” and we all danced in the living room.