Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce interviews Jennifer Brown, Founder and CEO of PeopleTactics
Tell us your story of how your company got to where it is today?
In 2002 I was working at a high-paying Human Resources position in a Fortune 500 company. This was a position I had been working towards since a very young age. At five years old, I decided that I wanted to be a “business woman.” Everything I had done professionally up to this point had been focused on a senior executive HR career path in a big company. However, in the wake of 9/11 and with two small children, my goals shifted. I still wanted to work, but wanted to do it on MY terms and with more flexibility.
In June of 2002 I left that position. And, in December 2002, I had my first client—a small business! Throughout my years of consulting, I started to notice that I was working more and more with small businesses and loved it!
Since that time, PeopleTactics has grown (as my children have grown) and we have served many small business owners. I’m proud to say that all of my original clients are still with me today!
What would it mean to you and your company to win a Small Business Award?
It wasn’t until a few years ago that I even thought of PeopleTactics as a small business. When I started PeopleTactics, it was just me —an independent contractor consulting to a handful of clients. Over the years, the business grew through referrals and without any marketing or business development. It wasn’t until about 3 years ago that I realized that I actually had a small business! At this time, I started to work more on the business by implementing processes, developing marketing strategies, networking, and growing the team in an effort to serve more small businesses. It would be an incredible honor to be recognized for these efforts. Moreover, receiving this award would provide PeopleTactics more visibility in the Loudoun County small business world. It would help us reach additional small businesses that need help with their HR efforts, but are simply overwhelmed and don’t know where to turn!
If you weren’t running your own business, what would you be doing?
I’d teach, volunteer and travel. I love Jazzercise and would get certified as an instructor. When I first started my business, I was an adjunct at University of Maryland and would love to go back and teach again. I also have a passion for working with youth and would volunteer more in helping them achieve their goals and objectives.
What book are you reading right now? What is your favorite book?
Work Simply: Embracing the Power of Your Personal Productivity Style…one of the business goals for 2016 is to bring more efficiency and process to the business as well as myself!
I don’t have a favorite book but love reading business-related books in addition to non-fiction, especially mysteries!
What is your favorite app?
As my two teens will tell you, I’ve been slow to adopt apps…in fact, I have less than 5 — but my current favorite one is my online banking app – (I’m sure most people have had this app for several years now). It has eliminated the need for bank deposit runs and is saving me a ton of time!
If you have 24 hours off, and your family was out of town, what would you do?
I would spend it with my girlfriends! When we have a day together, we usually treat ourselves to some pampering (e.g., massage and facials), then do a bit of shopping and wrap up the day with some great food, wine, and talk.
What is the smallest thing that has made the largest impact on your business?
The realization that I didn’t have to do “business as usual”!
After about 10 years in the business, I discovered that there was a more significant challenge posing a barrier to growing the business—that is, using the traditional consulting model of billable rates.
My roots and primary business culture were based in one of the premier Consulting firms (Accenture) where the mantra was “billable rate” and the goal was to be 100% billable. Consequently, this was the model I initially adopted for my business. However, I discovered that using the traditional consulting model of billable rates was posing a barrier to growing the business and serving more clients.
Therefore, we are breaking through barriers brought on by traditional service models. Observing the need for a more “value focused” service, we are developing and adopting a model based on transparent, fixed fees associated with our service and product offerings. This shift is allowing us to grow while meeting the mission of serving budget-challenged small businesses.
What did you want to be when you grew up? What was a childhood dream that you had?
From a very young age, I wanted to be a “business woman”…I think I got this idea from my parents who had a real estate appraisal business that they operated from an office in our basement and my grandparents who owned a “biergarten” in West Virginia. I was always asking to help out…my parents let me file and my grandparents let me organize the sodas and chips!
Who is the one person that has influenced you the most in your career?
My mother…she always had an incredible work ethic and resilience. She grew up without much in rural West Virginia and neither of her parents completed high school; rather they both went to work at young ages. My mother graduated high school with the “most likely to succeed” vote and set off to pursue her nursing administration certification in Washington, DC. After working in several medical offices, she joined my dad as his office manager in his real estate appraisal business. After his death (when I was 11), our world was forever changed.
My mother went from working in a home-based business to commuting around the Beltway daily. But she was on a mission to provide for my sister and me. She always told us that she wanted us to have choices and she believed that going to college would afford us those choices. Therefore, she worked very hard to ensure we could go to college without any debt. In fact, I was the first one in my family to graduate from college and to get an advanced degree. I have no doubt that without her as my role model I wouldn’t be where I am now.
What is your favorite thing about living in and running a business in Loudoun County?
I love everything about Loudoun County — its opportunities, diversity of offerings, and people. With great schools and many extra-curricular options, it is a wonderful place to raise children. In addition, you can be in an urban, suburban, or rural setting with just a short drive. My husband and I love hopping on his bike on a Sunday and riding out to Western Loudoun to explore the countryside. I also appreciate the people in Loudoun – our County is filled with people who truly want to help one another. The Loudoun Chamber members are a great example of people throughout Loudoun – it is an incredibly giving group that wants to help one another and ensure Loudoun County continues to be an amazing place to work and live!