er firm was selected by the Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council (GMSDC), as the 2003 Supplier of the Year-Class I, announced May 26, 2004 (See press release emailed to you earlier). It was also selected by Atlanta Tribune: The Magazine’s 13th Annual Salute to Minority Business Owners, 2004 Nominee and the Atlanta Business League, HR Management Solutions, Home Based Business, 2000 Finalist. HR Management Solutions, Inc. was established in late 1996 when the former employer of its founder, Gwen Thomas, announced plans to relocate their corporate headquarters from Atlanta to Charlotte, North Carolina. Gwen took this as an opportunity to establish her own HR consulting firm. She also took this opportunity to share her knowledge with IN FOCUS Magazine.

IN FOCUS: What are you most proud of when it comes to being an entrepreneur?
Thomas: Having the freedom to make choices and take risks by creating opportunities myself and others through the realization of our dreams.

IN FOCUS: Why did you decide to go into this particular field?
Thomas: What lead me to start by business was a combination of the extensive knowledge and experience attained from these dynamic organizations and the people I encountered along the way.

IN FOCUS: What is your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur?
Thomas: This challenge ebbs and flows; for now it’s focusing on ensuring that our systems and processes support our sales strategies for obtaining the best business development results.

IN FOCUS: What was your biggest setback as a business owner, and how did you overcome it?
Thomas: I understand HR like breathing. However, to realize my entrepreneurial dreams, it was necessary to strengthen my business operating knowledge. To overcome this setback, I invested in structured business development programs. I am a graduate of the Michael Gerber E-Myth Mastery Program and the GMSDC/SBA FastTrac Business Development Program. Now, I understand the precepts and concepts of running a business.

IN FOCUS: What kind of innovation have you brought to your business and to your industry?
Thomas: Connecting people, their ideas and feedback through technology – understanding that the people are first and the technology is second to support and enhance the human experience. For example, HR Now! conducts various types of web-based, on-line surveys. We always consider the people first in this process and achieve positive results.

IN FOCUS: What are the 5 major elements that are essential to your success?
Thomas: Outstanding customer service. Realizing and appreciating the strengths and struggles of my team. Thus, being able to lead, inspire and direct others successfully. The development and utilization of an Advisory Board. Unrelenting networking and relationship building with centers of influence. Scrupulous ethics.

IN FOCUS: What are the biggest mistakes you see most entrepreneurs making today?
Thomas: Working in their business vs. on their business – this means doing the work vs. growing the business. By providing opportunities for others to do the work creates synergy which frees the entrepreneurs to dream, plan, and develop their business.

IN FOCUS: Do you find that marketing is a challenge for you as an entrepreneur?
Thomas: Yes. Making the correct marketing choices and measuring the results is very important. For example: What’s worked and what hasn't; what results (ROI) were achieved through advertisements, associations, marketing materials, speaking engagements, etc. We track all the ROI (return on investment) from these and many more.