(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first article in a two-part series spotlighting Bill Brown, a long-time Nashville healthcare executive who has recently relaunched A2B Advisors.)
Nashvillian Bill Brown says he learned early on in his professional career that he “enjoyed growing and improving things.”
Now, after joining a Big 8 accounting firm fresh out of Murray State University and after engagements with several different large healthcare companies, he recently reactivated his consulting firm named A2B Advisors with a focus on helping organizations sharpen goals, execute better and accelerate growth.
“It’s initially me and some trusted subcontractors,” Brown says of the new venture. And, much like the old Marine Corps saying, he’s looking for a few good clients where the C Suite has the commitment to grow the business strategically.
“I have a seven-step process,” Brown says, noting that it was developed through more than two decades of senior executive experience after he made what he describes as “a big career shift” in 1998. At that time, he moved out of the profession he knew well – finance and accounting – and into one running physician practices.
The company was PriCare, a then $35 million practice management (PPM) company serving primary care and internal medicine physicians with operations in seven states. Brown says he found that he was good at operations and quickly grew the profits at all his locations. As a result, roughly 30 months into the role, he became Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and quickly learned the company was down to just six months of cash.
“If I don’t do something quick, I’m not even going to get my severance,” the father of two daughters under the age of four at the time realized. After all, cash is king!
Brown says he was able to reverse the shift and get the company profitable, but the PPM industry crashed a year later, forcing him to explore ways to pivot PriCare. They did some consulting and imaging center development but, in the end, he sold the practices back to the physicians, closed the company, and founded A2B Advisors in 2005.
“I thought I would do it for a few months – developing business plans, advising on acquisitions, and helping with due diligence,” he says. After all, Brown had gained good experience in those areas, particularly with PriCare.
In reality, the business took off, and he eventually became a fractional executive for Series B and C companies with three long-term retainers. Yet, the urge to grow and improve things became too much, so he suspended the consulting work and accepted the position of CEO for three-year old Entrada in the fall of 2010.
“I took a crazy risk,” Brown admits, but it clearly was a good decision.
Entrada provided a dictation and transcription platform for physicians. When the federal government mandated in 2009 the rapid adoption of certified Electronic Health Records (EHRs), he knew there was going to be a market to help physician practices deal with this change. The company sunset its existing products and went all in on smartphones and deep EHR integration. This turned out to be a good move and led to years of rapid growth. During that time, Entrada won many best places to work awards, made the Inc. 500 and received patents for its pioneering manipulation of data files on smartphones.
“We were making doctors more compliant and more efficient,” Brown says of the platform that made it easier to transfer dictated doctors’ notes into the EHRs along with several other functions. That, in turn, created a good deal of interest in the company from financial investors and strategics. In the end, there were four offers for Entrada and it was acquired by NextGen Healthcare Information Systems for $34 million plus other considerations in April 2017.
“We were generating about $100,000 in annual revenue when I joined Entrada,” Brown says. When it was sold seven years later, the company had a run rate of $13 million and was described in media reports as one of the Nashville area’s fastest-growing and best-known health-technology companies.
With a retention package that kept him with the acquirer until mid-2018 and after family time along with service on a few boards, Brown decided to get back in the game and use his knowledge of growing and selling companies in a way that helps others.
NEXT: A2B Advisor’s approach called “The 7-Step Playbook.”