5 Steps to Turn a Business From Failure to Success

Greg Brenneman is one of the best CEOs that you’ve never heard of! He is responsible for the turnaround of firms like Continental Airlines, Home Depot, Burger King and others. He currently is the Chairman, President and CEO of CCMP Capital, an equity investment firm that specializes in making buyout and growth equity investments.

CCMP Capital look for underperforming and undervalued businesses and invest in them in a way that they can control them and turn them around. Although Brenneman is a “low key” leader and doesn’t seek the limelight, he is one of the best business leaders in the marketplace.

He has written the book Right Now and All at Once in which he describes the leadership philosophies that he uses to acquire, lead and turnaround businesses. One of the philosophies he describes is his five step plan to turnaround and grow a business. As he emphasizes in his book, this five step process should be used in all businesses, not just businesses in trouble!

I had the opportunity to take over the leadership of the Canadian project engineering branch of a large multinational company back in 2009 at the worst part of the “great recession.” At the time, things were very dismal. The business had let about 1/3 of its staff go and we needed to move back into profitability and renew the spirit of the staff that were left.

Although I had not heard of Brenneman at the time, I basically followed his five step plan and we were able to turn the business completely around. We hit new records for profitability, employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction!

These five steps focus your business on the most critical things that make the biggest difference in the most important areas.

So, what is Brenneman’s business leadership philosophy?

Brenneman’s five steps to turnaround and grow a business are:

Step 1 – Have a plan and track your progress: What actions must you take to fundamentally improve your business. Identify 3 to 5 of the most important and impactful actions and communicate these to your organization. Then, relentlessly track your progress against these goals until they are realized.

Step 2 – Build a fortress balance sheet: Make sure your business has a long enough runway to execute on the goals identified in step 1. This means that you need enough cash to follow through on your plan. Too much debt or improperly time debt maturity can sink your plan and your business.

Step 3 – Think money in, not money out: Don’t just grow your business . . . Profitably grow your business. This optimizes returns for shareholders and increases opportunities for workers.

Step 4 – Build a team (clean house if necessary): Build a company from the top down that can execute your plan. This starts with you, the board of directors and all levels of leadership. If someone is not on board with the vision and won’t come on board, remove them from the organization and bring on staff that are in alignment with the vision and have the proper skill set, energy, passion and attitude.

Step 5 – Let the inmates run the asylum: Empower, motivate and encourage your co-workers to make decisions consistent with your plan.

Take the time and build your five step plan today and start delivering on it! Watch your business “turn the corner” and begin to grow!


That the leader’s basic challenge is to do two things. One is to envision the future and to enroll people in making that future become reality, and secondly is to engage people in the business of the business so that they see the organization’s success as the platform for their success.James Belasco


Leave a comment below on how these five steps could have helped or did help your business.


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Watch for the upcoming release of my two new books: 12 Steps to Business Transformation and The Thinking Business System

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