ActOne Group: Janice Bryant Howroyd

  • What does ActOne do?: Helps companies handle hiring, recruiting, employee screening, and payroll.

  • Janice grew up in a small town with 10 siblings: I learned about the world by reading encyclopedias, magazines, and books. She looked up to her mom who ran the household like it was a business. They had weekly family meetings. They’d take inventory of what the family has done and what it needed to do in the future.

  • How Janice got the idea to start ActOne: She was doing temp work. She needed a full-time job. Her brother-in-law suggested she open up her own agency finding people jobs so she’d have a full-time job.

  • Janice bootstrapped ActOne: I started with $900 of savings and borrowed $600 from my mom. Act One was profitable from the first year. I kept overhead low. I had a high frequency of transactions. I was as good as my effort allowed me to be. ActOne now does about $1 billion in sales per year. It is private and the family owns 100%.

  • Janice built the business on what she calls the WOMB: Word of mouth baby.

  • How Act One was able to compete with much larger employment agencies:They built a technology called Acceleration. Acceleration was an internal tool that would give very detailed reporting about the employees being hired. Companies wanted to buy the technology. Janice refused to sell. She decided to make it a service and sell that instead. That service was a way to be different. 

  • Act One is a family business with a catch: Before family members can come work at Act One they have to work at a larger company for 3 years. They learn and bring what they learn into the company.

  • 5 things you can’t teach people: You can’t teach experience. You can’t teach common sense. You can’t teach confidence. You can’t teach people anything if they don’t want to learn it. You can’t teach people anything if they know it all.

  • What she learned from her Dad: Attitude > aptitude. Education is freedom. We all wake up on purpose.

  • Full podcast here.