Annette Tarver knows what it takes to identify potential clients and groom them as longtime customers. As president of Blackwell Consulting Services of Ohio, she specializes in providing information technology services to businesses and public sector organizations throughout the state.

HOW DO YOU BUILD SOLID RELATIONSHIPS WITH ORGANIZATIONS IN THE SMALL-BUSINESS SECTOR?

We build strong relationships through education, experience, leadership skills, and project management. It is very important to be entrepreneurial, because you can turn ideas into resources.

WHAT IS THE CORE OF STRONG PROJECT MANAGEMENT?

Training and experience and ... a clear understanding of the problem you are solving and good communication with the project team.

WHAT IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW BEFORE THEY START THEIR OWN BUSINESS?

Understanding the financial [side], because that is where most people fail. After you understand that, the rest is easier to manage.

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST CONCERN AS THE CEO OF A SMALL BUSINESS?

Having access to opportunities is a big concern. It is very difficult to get in the door. You need to have a solution-based company and know how to utilize market research and human resources. You need to know how to add value for your clients.

IS IT DIFFICULT BEING A WOMAN IN THE BUSINESS FIELD?

It actually may be a little easier, because there are a lot of women in the business field and we work together well. Women are good business leaders because we are good decision-makers and intuitive thinkers.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNG PEOPLE WHO ARE THINKING ABOUT GOING INTO BUSINESS?

You need to plan very carefully and ask a lot of questions. It's also a good idea to find a mentor. Things don't always work out picture-perfect and you need to have a plan in place to be able to bounce back.