Enterforce: SBA's 2014 Small Business Person of the Year Runner-up
Marie O’Brien was working at an engineering staffing firm in 2001 and saw an opportunity. Most staffing decisions were influenced more by the proximity of vendors than by the benefit to the clients’ bottom line. Could she create a model that better served clients? The answer became yes. O’Brien established Enterforce in 2001. As she was preparing to start her business, she turned to SCORE to help lay the groundwork, consulting extensively with SCORE mentor John Patzke. He helped her in all aspects of developing the business, including structure, bylaws, financial issues, developing a business plan and more. He also connected her to her accountant and banker as well as other professionals. Marie attributes her tremendous success to the early work she did with SCORE.
Ultimately, Marie developed the “Enterforce Advantage”, a business model that creates value for her customers by providing a vendor-neutral competitive procurement process for human resources. With this model she has helped her clients find contingent workers, consultants, independent contractors, and direct hires while lowering acquisition costs, improving labor productivity, and reducing compliance risk. Marie works with Fortune 1000 companies in the U.S. and abroad.
The recession in 2008-2009 brought changes in Enterforce’s industry contacts and a recognition that their approach needed to shift. The business focused on marketing the company’s value proposition and maintaining relationships with existing as well as new customers. As the economy improved, the firm saw continued growth. By 2012, the firm had grown to 248 employees with revenues of $75 million, and O’Brien’s value proposition was being emulated by many major international staffing and consulting firms.
Marie O’Brien has earned extensive recognition for her firm’s success, receiving awards from Mount Mary University, the Women and Girls Fund of Waukesha County, the Women’s Business Development Center, the Wisconsin State Senate, TEMPO Waukesha, The Milwaukee Business Journal, and others. Her many community leadership positions include the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council Conference Host Committee. She also holds leadership roles with the Mount Mary University Board of Trustees, Catholic Memorial High School Board of Directors, and Board Chair of the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts, the Women’s Business Development Center and the Women’s Club of Wisconsin.
Says Marie, “True entrepreneurship involves creating something new—something that was non-existent. It involves committing your dreams and goals to paper and going through a long process of becoming familiar with what you want to create so you can explain it and determine what the market will bear.” Now Marie’s focus is on leading Enterforce in a more transformational way becoming forward thinking about customized workforce management and talent acquisition solutions she’s crafting to solve client’s problems. With Enterforce, Marie O’Brien has achieved true entrepreneurial success.