Entrepreneur Interviews - All Business Owners

Interview with Midsouth Consulting President, Richard Tatum

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Nashville based Midsouth Consulting Group has been helping businesses with their human resources issues since 2002. President Richard Tatum tells us how he got started.

Tell me about your current business. What are you doing exactly?

At Midsouth Consulting Group, we offer web based payroll, human resource, and 401(k) services. We help businesses integrate these services to run more efficiently and increase profits.

When did you start the business?

We purchased the 401(k) business in 2002, and started the payroll and human resource services the following year.

What were you doing before this, and is this your first business?

I was in college. This is my first business, and I started working here as an intern. After graduation I purchased the business with another partner.

What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?

Decide on whether you want to be one of the following types of businesses: Innovative, Customer Intimate, or Operationally Excellent . You can't be all things to all people, and focusing on your identity will help you define who you are and where you're going.

Did you write a business plan? Was it an effective tool for you?

We did not write a business plan. We had a plan, but felt that putting down something formal in writing may have inhibited our growth and flexibility. Business is a very dynamic thing, and sometimes written plans can be stifling. You have to be able to change quickly. We are very focused on metrics and accountability, but our plans change frequently.

Did you have a partner when you started your business? How did you select a partner?

Yes. My partner and I were friends and had worked together, so we knew that we had the same vision and values and could build a business together. We have complimentary strengths.

Have you hired additional staff? What is your greatest human resources challenge?

We currently have 25 employees. The biggest challenge is making sure that we hire people based on culture first and skill set second. We have made hiring mistakes where we selected a candidate that had a great skill set but did not fit our culture. This can be detrimental to an organization. We feel that having the right people who fit your culture is the foundation of any business.

Green business is all the rage right now. Has it really been practical for you as an entrepreneur to incorporate green business practices?

For us going green really helped our operations become more efficient and our team members have more flexibility with their working schedules and location. We went paperless 7 years ago, and because of this employees began working flex schedules from home since they could access any information they needed online. Our clients also like the fact that they can interact with us without using paper which helps the environment and saves everyone money.

Have you outsourced any portion of your business? Has that worked for your business?

Since we are in the outsourcing business ourselves, we are very open to outsourcing portions of our company that are not our specialty. We have had great success with using an outside marketing firm to help develop our marketing approach, sales materials, and messaging. They work with our website developers and sales team to make everything consistent. This allows us to focus on our core competencies and do what we do best.

Thank you very much for your time Richard, good luck with Midsouth!

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