Jim Phillips and Bob McKown have extensive backgrounds within the business and entrepreneurial sectors, working for the corporation XMI, based in Nashville, Tenn., for 15 and 10 years respectively.

Given the company’s motto: ‘Amplify your Ambition’, it’s clear the aim of the entire organization is to help small businesses get off the ground. Phillips, McKown and the rest of the employees seek to help ambition-minded entrepreneurs who have clear ideas but cannot sustain the plan necessary to implement a full-scale business.

Once young entrepreneurs themselves, McKown and Phillips understand the burden that a business places on owners who try to do it all.

McKown previously owned a small HR consulting firm for businesses. In 2007, it was acquired by XMI and he was brought on to run the professional employer organization (PEO). Currently, he heads up the human resource outsourcing team as Executive Vice President of XMI, and deals with payroll compliance, employee benefits, human resource consulting, employee relations and tax compliance and the management and meetings of business units.

Phillips managed a boutique business advisory firm and founded a small business investment company before starting his career with XMI in 2002. He began as the Director of Corporate Finance, before stepping up to Chief Financial Officer, and ultimately, Chief Executive Officer.

“I support the people within XMI who do the work,” said Phillips.

Small businesses often struggle with trying to balance the role of ownership with the necessary interactions with customers and products. XMI steps in and allows the business owners to focus on the aspects of the company that they are in the business for, rather than the extraneous tasks that have to get done but do not leave time for much else.  

As Phillips put it, “We’ve given them their life back; they were doing the same work we are now, but between 8 p.m. and midnight.”

All small businesses have the hope of launching themselves to a high platform, and XMI provides seven main services to do just that: human resources, managed technology, meeting and event planning, corporate finance, financial reporting, risk management, design creation and web hosting.

Essentially, when a small business joins XMI for one of these services, they gain the 51 employees at XMI as a part of their business, creating immediate scale and instant infrastructure. XMI doesn’t provide a computer system to increase growth, but rather a people system.

“People will come to us and want a software program,” said Phillips, “but we are bringing human beings to the table to create value.”

The company actively promotes the idea that entrepreneurs are the economic lifeblood of a community and a country. Phillips went on to explain that “entrepreneurs and small businesses are the key to economic development in the communities they plant themselves in. Once they thrive, they can hire more people, and great things begin to happen as communities flourish.”

This affects the national economy, because when high growth businesses prosper, more jobs are created and economic development expands.

The three parts of XMI’s infrastructure plan are revenue development, product development and people development. After a small business has mastered those key aspects of a successful business, they begin to outpace their competition. Through XMI, businesses and organizations are able to accomplish their goals at a faster rate with a lower cost.

XMI has significantly contributed to the community and to the small businesses of Nashville. Providing capital creates rocket fuel for the growth and development of these businesses. This company becomes the partner of each client and makes sure they have everything in place that they need as an employer in order to promote the best practices.

Mckown noted that XMI has seen substantial growth in the last 20 years, increasing the number of people they serve by 2000 percent – tripling their number of clients.

Businesses have thrived under the wing of XMI. One group in particular started with three individuals from multiple states who sought help elevating their business. Initially this group focused exclusively on sales, contracts, and training people. XMI handled the rest of the business plan, dealing with compliance issues in moving from two states to ultimately 30 states, and allowing the owners to spend time with their customers and grow their contracts. Six years later, what started as three individuals has become a full company of 700 employees, and the entrepreneurs were able to sell the company for millions of dollars.

XMI helped this client in a matter of days, and launched them into a fruitful business model. McKown even assisted with pitching services and finalizing everything.

“That’s the support,” said Phillips. “You don’t see many of our competition going into sales pitches with the client.”

Both Phillips and McKown had sage advice for those trying to enter the entrepreneurial market.

“Having been an entrepreneur,” said McKown, “it takes focus. You have to stay focused on the most important things. That’s the key for us as a company, and any company. You have to know the top three things you have to get done and not get sidetracked by the noise.”

“Timing is everything,” pitched in Phillips. “You need to know when to bring on the level of talent. It’s easy to be too slow, or bring them on too quickly, so you must stay apprised of where your competition may be lurking.”

Phillips has a passion for helping businesses make strategic decisions regarding new capital investments, acquisitions, selling divisions, and knowing when to cash in on a business after creating jobs.

The leadership of XMI hopes it will be known as the place where companies thrive.

“We’re constantly looking for new acquisitions,” said McKown. “Our concept is that we’re here to serve our clients to make them achieve a higher performance and become more effective in what they’re doing. The emphasis isn’t on us; it’s on our clients. If they do well, we’re also going to prosper.”

“Our business model is to make sure we achieve that level of recognition in Middle Tennessee and throughout the Southeast,” said Phillips. “We don’t want to be judged by the size of our company, but by how well our clients do.”


This article is featured in The Connect magazine’s Holiday 2017/2018 issue. To enjoy the full issue, including exclusive interviews with Hollywood power player Kiki Ayers and legendary branding guru Louis Upkins, expert tips for becoming your healthiest version in the New Year, as well as a peek at the 6,000-year-old goldmines resting inside of the Asian Art Museum, order here. Download the digital version here.