Janice Bryant Howroyd Used $ 1,500 To Start A Billion Dollar Business


Janice Bryant Howroyd is a multi-millionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist. As CEO and Founder of the world’s largest women-owned workforce management company, ACT-1 Group, and the first black woman to own a billion dollar business, she forged her own path in business.

His company, which generates $ 1.1 billion in net sales, made her one of America’s richest self-taught women, with a net worth that Forbes puts at $ 420 million. Here is how she did it.

Photo courtesy of Janice Bryant Howroyd

“Doing a lot from nothing”

In 1978, Howroyd started ACT-1 Group at the front office of a carpet store in Beverly Hills, California, with a loan of $ 900 from his mother.

“I wanted a really fancy address, but I didn’t have really fancy funds, so I borrowed $ 900 from my mom,” she says. CNBC do it. “It gave me about $ 1,500 to start my business.”

She used that money to buy the start-up equipment she needed to get her business off the ground.

“I thought I was Judy Jetson when I got my fax machine,” she says. “My business literally started with my fax machine, my phone, and my contacts.”

With very little entrepreneurial experience, Howroyd says she relied on her parents’ early lessons to help her grow her business.

“A lot of the business practices that I still use in my business today are practices that I learned from my mother,” she says.

Growing up in Tarboro, NC as one of 11 children, Howroyd says his parents taught him the benefits of being innovative with few resources. She attended separate schools until grade 11 and says she often learned from textbooks that lacked information pages.

Once, when she complained about her lack of resources, she said her father challenged her to continue to be better.

“He wouldn’t accept it,” she said. “He said, ‘You are smart enough to find out what is missing.'”

Her mother took it a step further and told Howroyd that once she found out the missing information, she should write it down, paste it in the book, and leave it to the next person behind her.

“She taught us a lot of principles for making batches from scratch,” she says. “And I think what she did and the way she worked with us really taught me a lot not only about how to grow my business, but also how to support and innovate on the platforms. -forms I’m working on today. ”

Photo courtesy of Janice Bryant Howroyd

Globalization vs “glocalization”

In the beginning, ACT-1 Group was a full-time employment agency based in California. Today, 40 years later, the company has grown to offer full-time and temporary placement options to more than 17,000 clients in 19 countries, including the United States, Canada, Denmark, Brazil and the United Kingdom. The company has more than 2,800 employees.

According to Howroyd, ACT-1 Group provides services to its clients through a number of different platforms, including its technology and management solutions company AgileOne, its recruiting company AppleOne and its background check and screening company. A-Check.

“When you bring these organizations together, you get the ACT-1 group,” she says.

While the business started out with just a fax machine and a phone, Howroyd knew that to be successful it had to keep up with technology. In 1995, his company became one of the premier recruitment agencies on the World Wide Web with the launch of appleone.com. During this period, his company also continued to report annual revenue growth, due to the increased demand for tech workers.

Today, the company is one of the the largest recruitment firms in the world. Howroyd attributes much of his success to the operation of the $ 429 billion global staffing market. In 1989, she opened her first office outside of the United States in Ontario, Canada. She says the key to her business success was understanding the difference between globalization and “glocalization”.

“Globalization requires all the regulations, finances and infrastructure you need to grow business in different regions,” she says. “Glocalization is what happens at the local level, like understanding immediate cultural needs and how to adapt them as part of a much larger business initiative that a company may have hired you to achieve for them. . “

Aside from expanding business operations beyond the United States, Howroyd says another key to his business success is to make the applicant the center of attention when serving clients.

“When we work with companies to identify talent, it means that everyone looking for a job is the center of our attention,” she says. “We act as agents for them, if you will. It’s a little different from what many companies in our industry have achieved. It’s definitely a dynamic part of how I think we’ve been able to grow.

As a mother of two, Howroyd says her family was also interested in ensuring that the ACT-1 group continues to be a success. His son Brett is president of AppleOne and his daughter Kay is in charge of the company’s online branding.

Photo courtesy of Janice Bryant Howroyd

Keeping the millennial spirit alive

In addition to continuing to grow his recruiting business, Howroyd is also using his entrepreneurial success to give back.

“There are some wonderful side benefits to my gig, I’ll tell you, and one of the best was when I was asked to join the North Carolina A&T State University board,” says- it.

As a school alumnus, Howroyd says it’s a surreal feeling to come to campus as a board member.

“I am able to come back and not only financially support the school, but be an integral part of how the school continues to respond to its initiatives and to provide these wonderful students with the opportunities and careers that l school offered me, “she says.

In addition to giving back to her former college, Howroyd sits on the Harvard Women’s Board of Trustees and the Board of Trustees of USC’s Marshall School of Business. In May 2016, she was appointed by then-President Barack Obama to serve as a member of his council of advisers on historically black colleges and universities.

“Maybe that’s why I keep my millennial spirit alive,” she explains. “It is the work I do on campuses that gives me such a testament to the extraordinary talent we have in this world today and the desires of students who work not just to graduate and come out and earn money. silver, [but who] strive to express themselves in a way that enables them to achieve what is important to them. “

Her mantra for success is something she says many young people can also experience as they strive to make the right decisions in their careers.

“During the growth of my business, I have had many opportunities to make decisions that, while not illegal, would not have been consistent with who I am and how I like to practice. business, ”she said. “And [those opportunities], frankly, could have fueled the business a bit faster financially. But, I always had to go back to the way I opened my doors, and I opened my doors with a commitment to myself never to compromise my personal self for my professional self – so, this continues to happen. ‘be my mantra. ”

Video by Beatriz Bajuelos Castillo

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