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updated: 11/25/2013 11:36 AM

People drive HR firm's buisness, owner's enjoyment

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  • Adriane Johnson, owner of Populus XP LLC in Riverwoods

      Adriane Johnson, owner of Populus XP LLC in Riverwoods


An interview with Adriane Johnson, owner of Populus XP LLC in Riverwoods.

Q: Describe your business. What do you do?

A: Populus XP is a boutique HR consulting firm that provides customized services to help our clients effectively manage their investment in people. We work with small, emerging, and large companies on engagements ranging from outsourced HR department support to ongoing compliance services.

Q: What made you start your business?

A: I was inspired to start Populus XP to address the changing shift in the business arena from companies supporting full HR departments to businesses outsourcing HR services and/or augmenting these services so that they can focus on their core business.

And as an HR professional with 20-plus years of experience with a sound business background, I knew that I could parlay my skills and dedication to facilitating business success into a thriving consultancy.

Populus XP's success centers on providing customized solutions and services.

Q: What has been the most difficult obstacle in running or starting a small business?

A: The most difficult obstacle in running Populus XP is building a "business landscape" of clients as opposed to having a small number of clients. Another obstacle is securing long-term projects. We plan on overcoming these obstacles by hiring a business development resource to help secure new business opportunities. We will continue our focus on repeat engagements, which we have a track record of more than 98 percent. To address short-term contracts, we will increase project scope opportunities and enhance our services.

Q: What do you enjoy most about operating your business?

A: The most rewarding part of operating Populus XP is meeting people. We like to say that we are the human capital experts and our business is people.

We enjoy helping our clients' businesses become best-in-class and ensuring that they are maximizing their investment in their most valuable asset -- employees.

Q: Is this what you pictured yourself doing when you were young? When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A: To be honest, I did not envision myself working in the HR profession and running an HR consulting firm. I wanted to be a nurse like my mom.

But with the vicissitudes of life, my career journey had many sidetracks. I am so glad that my journey led me to the HR career path because I really love what I do, and I am proud of my accomplishments.

Q: What keeps you up at night?

A: I stay up late some evenings thinking about my dream of expanding my business. I would love to secure projects in Asia and Europe. When I was studying at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, I thrived in my international and comparative employment law class, and I have a keen interest in learning more about employment laws in other countries. I also stay up at night thinking about securing new projects.

Q: If you could give one tip to a rookie business owner, what would it be?

A: If I were to give one tip to a rookie business owner, it would be to establish a solid brand identify before setting up shop. And once you get your business going, keep working on brand expansion and recognition.

• Every Monday we feature a small, suburban business. We want to hear about yours. Contact Kim Mikus at

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