Adam Torres and Jessica Brandenburg discuss small business success.
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Tackling barriers to help small businesses succeed is important. In this episode, Adam Torres and Jessica Brandenburg, Independent Consultant, Blueprint by JZB, explore business success especially in underserved communities.
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About Jessica Brandenburg
Jessica has worked in many areas in enterprise SaaS companies from Deal Desk Strategy, Professional Services Operations, Implementation Project Manager, Program Manager for Product Release and Director of Customer Success Operations, always entrenched in enablement for high growth. A combination of these different roles has given her the Swiss Army Knife skills that will help her support a new start-up as Head of Customer Success and Operations.
The first part of my new endeavor will be to design and execute all of the customer success and operational procedures for the product/platform to scale the business. What is new and exciting to her is to become a domain expert to enable very underserved business profiles – entrepreneurs and Business Support Organizations both small and large. Her new role is critical to keeping the day-to-day business running smoothly and for the overall success of the company by working with stakeholders on customer satisfaction, adoption and retention.
Full Unedited Transcript
Hey, I’d like to welcome you to another episode of Mission Matters. My name is Adam Torres, and if you’d like to apply to be a guest in the show, just head on over to mission matters.com and click on b e r Guest to apply. All right, so today is a very special episode for those of you that have been watching this show for a long time.
You know my favorite episodes is Welcoming new Authors into our Mission Matters community, and today’s guest, Jessica Brandenburg will be, Participating in our upcoming Business Leaders book series and, and first off, Jessica, I just wanna say, hey, congratulations and welcome to the show. Thank you so much.
I’m so excited to be part of the 10th edition book. It’s amazing. All right, Jessica. Yes. This is, this will be our, our biggest book launch ever and really an honor to have you part of the team. And just to get us kicked off, we’re gonna start this episode the way that we start them all with our mission matters minute.
So Jessica, we at Mission Matters, we amplify stories for entrepreneurs, executives and experts. That’s our mission. Jessica, what mission matters to you? You’ve had so many main guests on your show and I feel like my mission really just got by in the past six months, I, my job title should reluctant entrepreneur, but my mission is exemplify that we can overcome our brain’s patterns.
So we’ve been telling ourselves for a lifetime. To go further, bring realization that we all pass a superpower, improve lives in our community by living with an open mind. Fantastic love bringing mission-based entrepreneurs and executives on the line to share, you know, why they do what they do, how they do it, and really what we can all learn from that, so that we can all, we can all grow together.
That’s. Points so great to Aion and Jessica, maybe just to get us kicked off here, just give us a little bit more about your background and really how you got started in business. Certainly. Thank you. So, grew up in Madison, Wisconsin. My parents owned men’s clothing store and I knew after graduating college Val Brazer University, that I did not want to be an entrepreneur.
Entrepreneur. So I went and did, I love technology, so I. Went and started a consulting firm, then eventually moved a SaaS company, soft business service. My foundation was always operations. I just have a very organizational type mind. Mm-hmm. And always enjoyed what I was doing. But like many people that have worked in tech, I found myself without a job the summer I was kinda looking to see how to do and everything that.
I have one mine, reading the job interviews, or excuse me, a job posting. Yeah. It was like I could check all the boxes until they excite me. Hmm. And then a woman reached out to me she was running a startup and she evangelized me. And lo and behold, I became an in contractor and I now work for a true, honest startup.
So I never thought I’d work at a startup nor be a. Own business, so to speak. Yeah. Wow. That’s and I’ll tell, I’ll tell you what, Jessica, we, we share a lot of similarities here. First off, so I, I was an accidental entrepreneur or, or hesitant entrepreneur. I don’t know what you wanna call it, but I some of the, some of the same track and I never thought I’d work at a startup either before.
So I worked for my background, I worked for. For a lot of big companies. I mean, I was in finance almost 14 years, and I and I kind of see making that transition when I started, you know, mission matters with the other co-founder Charag, it was a completely different feel because I feel like when you work in a.
Startup one. One of the good things I think is that you have the opportunity to really be a contributor. So with your tech skills and all the other things like have you noticed like some, some differences there? It’s like when you do something you see kind of immediately, good or bad, like feedback, right?
Yes, precisely. Yes. It is immediate feedback and especially when you’re working with a product and can influence a product that’s really amazing. Hmm. So one of, one of your niches, and I just know in general, that, that you’re that you’re really a part of and proponent of is really working with small businesses and helping small businesses.
With, with your skills and really in, in the success side of things. So as you’ve kind of transitioned through your career, I would ask you why, or, or I should say, what are some of those skills that you’ve kind of carried on from, let’s just say corporate, corporate America to the, to the startup scene?
Yes, thank you. I think one of my biggest qualities or bigger rates is I’m able to take a really large prod problem mm-hmm. It down to consumable chunks. And I think that that’s what happens with entrepreneurs to when they’re starting out a brand new business. Mm-hmm. They’re so to do all at once, but it’s very overwhelming.
So I just like kind of break it down and do the. Sequence and may not seem as overwhelming. That’s a huge, yeah. What would you you know, there, there’ll be a lot of entrepreneurs, startup founders, a lot of, lot of business owners that’ll watch this. And from your experience, like, and obviously, you know, hindsight 2020, as you go further and further working through the, through, through a startup, like different, there’s different phases, right?
But up to this, Point, like what kind of advice would you give to those startups out there in terms of like how to move their project forward? So you said one thing is maybe don’t try to do I, and I’m taking notes on this too, just so you know, Jessica. So one thing, don’t try to get everything done at one time, right?
Sort of break it down into, into some pieces and manageable chunks. What else would you tell them? To document things as you’re going along. Mm-hmm. I think especially entrepreneurs as much as in your head, but I just use some note based them cuz then you look back and see where things have changed cuz business does move so quickly.
Mm-hmm. Kind of see your intent and where you’re at and, and be able to pivot a little bit sooner. Do have that frame of reference, what you did six months ago. Yeah. And what, any, any kind of, I like to lead people with some actionable tips. Any, like, any tips on how, how to do that? Like, cuz we all wanna do it right?
But, but like, do you, what, what’s your system? I’ll tell you mine by the way. I, I’ll share. So I have my running Google sheet where I document things and I have, my team laughs. Because I have one, I have one heading that says graveyard. And it’s literally, that’s an idea we’re never gonna do. I have some, that’s my wishlist.
I have some, cuz there’s always, as, as entrepreneurs, as startups, as founders, as, as business owners, as contributors, as executives out there that are working in startups. We all have more ideas than money. Right. Apple has more ideas than money, believe it or not. But what, what tips would you give there?
I have a action base plan. So, and again, bringing down to consumable chunks, so kind of like when you reach cer a certain threshold dollar or whatever, whatever threshold you have whether it’s dollars or our case, like people users on a system. Mm-hmm. And then, and break it down to different categories so you know, what, what those will be in the future.
I think it’s all my, one of my favorite models is do something today. Your future self. Yeah. It takes a little bit of time, especially so the, but just to write things down at the end of the day I have a line on my calendar at five 30 and I just. Document at 30 every day. Kind of like the things to, to memorize the Yeah.
What I did during the day, and then things get to do tomorrow. Oh, it’s good. It’s good. And I, and by the way, I get granular and I ask these questions because you never know. Like I, I know I always pick up things and, and I’m always. Trying to figure out how other people are managing their day to make mine better as well too.
So I, I wanna maybe pivot or, or shift the conversation just a little bit here. So we, we have a book coming out and I’m really excited about this and we’re not gonna give it. All away today we’re not. So for everybody watching this, don’t worry, we’ll be bringing Jessica back on for part 2 0 2 of this interview series.
So today we’re gonna keep it a, a little high level. But again, keeping it high level Jessica what are some of the things that you hope to present in the upcoming book? I really go at able to help other in the immunity that may not have the same background as as you. Yeah. To go back to my mission, those limiting beliefs that we had.
I didn’t want entrepreneur cause I knew how much work it was. Mm-hmm. So I saw my parents struggle. Just, just the stress of it. Yeah. So that was a limit I put on myself. Mm-hmm. But I’m also very fortunate. I never lived with food scare or had violence or safety issues. Yeah. So I think we limit your experience.
You’re able to shed light onto others and be more compassionate. Been before in Chicago in doing some volunteer work that give me insight to how my neighbors, who are only just a few miles away how they live. And it’s different than how I grew up. Yeah. And and I know one of the organizations that you’re very active with I believe it is SciTech.
Tell us a little bit more about that. Certainly. So that is a Chicago based book school and I got involved with it because it is STEM school. So it was all about entrepreneurship and it is a Chicago based school, which means most minority students may of whom. Do have subsidized food and the school’s really, their, their shelter and it’s also a place where they know and grow.
Mm-hmm. And go to college and better their lives and the better the lives of their children. Mm-hmm. But the how, yeah. Going back to saying how different we’ve lived, we all went through a pandemic, but these, a lot of these students were having to do homework on their phone cuz they don’t have internet.
At home. So that’s a huge shift. And then also when you do rely on school’s food and that off a dime, that changes everything. And that’s a lot more stress than, than what the rest of the world that was going through a very stressful time. There was just a great degree of stress for those students.
Yeah. Yeah. And can you talk maybe just a little bit more about just the mission of the organization and kind of, and how they’re involved in the community? Just go a little bit further. Yeah. Thank you. Yeah, school, I, that is very proponent of project-based learning. They really try and give students experience outside the classroom, so they push hard on internships and they’ll do mentors and Speaking and then what I, what I become mostly involved in is a fundraiser that’s in the spring.
This’ll be the ninth, ninth year of it. You can tell it’s a little bit dated cuz the name of the fundraiser is The Little Black Dress Night. Hmm. And this is specifically for the Young Woman’s Leadership Society. Mm-hmm. And I like that because being tech as a female, I was often the only person at the table.
Mm-hmm. But there’s so few people, women of color are, yeah. So just try and elevate them. And by mentorship, so this event that we have in the spring, It’s kind of fold is a booking event. So to get these girls comfortable to talk about, you know, in a social work setting. Mm-hmm. And then there’s all a amazing panel.
So bring women from, or people representing tech in the community come and talk and they’ll talk about their shared experiences. And the one common theme is that nobody’s rear path goes in a straight line. Hmm. They all zigzag. And I think that that’s just a good lesson to show that nobody really goes from point A to point B to point C to point D in their lives.
Hmm. It does vary. Then I’ve, I’ve had the past months. Wow. What, what an amazing story. And and you said that happens in the spring, right? Yes. Yes, in May. Oh, fantastic. And and how do, how do people really learn more about the event? Is there a website or, yes, it is SciTech Academy and the event is Little Black Dress Night.
Fantastic. And yeah, def definitely wanna give them a, a shout out for the work that they’re doing. And on, on my end of this, when I, when I kind of look at your career, especially your career in tech I’m interested to know like what excites you right now? I mean, there’s a lot going on out there, whether I’m not even gonna name any of the buzzwords cuz they’ve been said enough.
What, but what excites you, like from your vantage point in tech right now? The growth. And I think the fact that we’ve all like realized it’s mm-hmm. You know, 10, 15 years ago, so many companies got upset if you had like the outside APIs is why they’re one system just to only connect to their one system.
Yep. I’m so glad that has been blown away and it’s, it’s a necessity. You can run even a small business without technology. Yeah. It’s interesting too because I see as like people are developing and looking at their, especially small businesses at their tech stack and what’s next, I feel like the, you know, the cost like for for small businesses that now it can add up, right?
You add enough. S services to your, to your bill. It adds up over time. But like at one point, even something like, you know, let’s talk about something pretty basic, like CRMs or something like that. Like that was like reserved for enterprise, right? Like you couldn’t necessarily like do that as a small business.
Now, like between different automations and small business, I just feel like we have such a more level playing field to be able to succeed. Yes, but I think also a conflict with that is when there is much to choose from. There’s almost analysis paralysis if you’re a food vendor and trying to figure out what your sale should be.
Yeah, they differ. Which one is the right one to choose. I almost feel like it’s gets to be so scary as an entrepreneur. Like to pick the wrong one and then you’re stuck. Oh, for sure. I’ve been there, done that, and I’m not claiming that we’re not stuck with one or two things that we’re like, why did we do that?
But you know, living, you learn on that one, right? Y Yes, exactly. Yeah. Well, Jessica, I will say first off, it has been great having you on the show today and catching up, learning a little bit more. And I know we’re just getting started really on our, on our work together and working on this book.
And as I mentioned before, for everybody watching, we’ll be bringing Jessica, of course, back on the show for part two of two of this interview series. And we’re gonna go way further into her writing and the upcoming book. But for today, Jessica I mean, what’s next? I mean, what’s next for you? What’s next for your career?
Next. I think just diverse and being able to use my experience like my bound, I do not regret any of the train, the decisions I’ve made in life, like live enterprise space. Mm-hmm. So I liked all the building blocks that I was able to achieve my career, but I was feel like I’m in a mentor state and want to help others, other sort of, that I’m working for, or they’re small businesses that they’re, they’re trying to help.
Hmm, fantastic. And and I’ll be sure to to put the links to this and have my team put the links to SciTech in the show notes so that people can just click on the link and head right on over and check out the gallon, check out the work they’re doing overall. But if somebody wants to follow your journey and follow you what’s the best way for them to do that?
You can find me on LinkedIn at Jessica Brandenburg. And spelled b u r g at the end. And we’ll, and we’ll definitely put all that information to show notes so people can your head right on over and check out your page. And speaking of the audience, if this is your first time with Mission Matters or engaging in an episode we’re all about bringing on business owners.
Entrepreneurs, executives and experts, and having them share really their mission, the reason behind their mission why they do what they do, how they’re doing it, and really what we can all learn from that so that we can all grow together. That’s the whole point of the Mission Matters platform is, you know, for us all to grow together through education.
If that’s the type of content that sounds interesting or fun or exciting to you, we welcome you Hit that subscribe button because we have many more. Mission-based individuals coming up on the line and we don’t want you to miss a thing. And Jessica, it’s been a pleasure until the next time we get to work together.
Thanks again for coming on the show. Thank you so much.