When John and Michelyn Farnsworth first started Stratus.hr (a.k.a. Innovative Staffing and ISIhr), they didn’t have a written business plan. Although Michelyn had experience with PEOs in the past, John had to convince her to start Stratus.hr rather than pursue an interest in real estate. Now that the company is celebrating 15 years in business, we go one-on-one with John to hear about the ups and downs of being a business owner and what it’s like to co-own a business with his wife.
What are the best moments that stand out from the past 15 years?
For me, the best moments always come back to our clients’ success. We have a client that we watched grow from 60 employees to nearly 1000; we trained them, helped them setup their own HR department, and taught them along the way. Spring Mobile was the same way – they picked us as their HR department from the beginning, took our advice on how to setup their departments, people, and programs, and were extremely successful. I was in a meeting with a client just last week and they were asking how much HR time they could get. I love when clients recognize the valuable service we provide them.
What are some of the most difficult moments you remember?
There have been plenty of sleepless nights, but the hardest time personally was when we first started our business; it was brand new, and our daughter needed heart surgery. I didn’t really even understand what our company did yet, we were only two weeks into it, and I had to relinquish everything, just walk away to take care of our sick child for weeks. There was so much fear and anxiety from not being able to control everything early on – but when I came back, our four employees were bright eyed and bushy tailed and hadn’t missed a beat.
You and your wife co-own the company. Have you ever disagreed on a business decision?
Certainly we’ve disagreed at times – but we’re both level-headed and don’t make emotional decisions. I actually think it’s easier for us to make business decisions because we know which buttons we can and can’t push and we’re able to keep politics out of our decisions. We don’t have to win just to win.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?
Sometimes ignorance is bliss. At the end of the day, you either have to go for it or you don’t – but if you analyze everything to death, you’ll never make the jump. Just be prepared.
In your opinion, what sets Stratus.hr apart from competitors?
It sounds so cliché, but really it comes down to the people we have. We’ve always been really basic by focusing on just a few key items of what we want our business to become – and that was the right people with the right clients. We can’t do and control everything ourselves, but the right people understand that and make sure we’re successful.
Congratulations to a great first 15 years in business! To learn more about our services, please visit stratus.hr.