Omega Digital Solutions helps small businesses become more efficient
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is another article in a series on Cohort 4 of “100Knoxville,” an initiative from the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center (KEC). The program aims to help Black-owned businesses grow by $10,000,000 in five years. Look for more stories in upcoming issues of teknovation.biz, and find our previous coverage here.)
By Kailyn Lamb, Marketing Content Writer and Editor, PYA
After losing his job during the pandemic, Marcus Blair jumped on the opportunity to start his own business. In his former job, Blair did business process optimization for a multi-national manufacturer. Now, with Omega Digital Solutions, Blair thought he could easily bring that same technology to smaller businesses.
There was only one problem, he said. “When I went to do it, I discovered no one down market knows what it is.”
Blair said that this type of technology is concentrated in the top five percent of businesses. He underestimated how much explaining he needed to do to sell his product.
“Our single biggest problem has been learning to communicate with our prospective clients,” he said. “There’s a huge educational component.”
Once the clients get it though, Blair said Omega Digital has had strong retention, adding, “everyone comes back for a second project.”
An example of something Omega Digital can set up for clients is automation. Blair said one of his clients used to take six hours compiling spreadsheet reports. Automating the process made it much faster – it now takes less than a minute to do the same work. Efficiency is increased, too, and there are no mistakes. For Blair, this is the key to why he wanted to offer solutions to smaller businesses.
“When you do that for smaller companies, that’s parents getting home and making their kids’ soccer games, and being more involved in the community, that’s volunteering for nonprofits, that’s a huge ripple effect,” he said. “When you go into business for yourself, no one thinks ‘I’m going to make these really awesome spreadsheets.’”
Right now, Blair said his focus is on helping retail businesses get the most out of the technology they have. Omega Digital can help businesses with building a Shopify website and inventory control, as well as automation and integration (in point-of-sale systems and email campaigns). “By the time we’re done, we’ve reinvented their business from the top all the way down to the bottom,” Blair said. He continued, “We are also hosting a series of workshops around the region to address the educational component.”
Omega Digital also gets contacted for specific projects. Blair said this is sometimes because companies don’t have the manpower to do it themselves, or because they need advice on how to proceed with what they want.
Blair began working with the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center after he started his business. As a Maryville resident, he is also on the board of the Sky City Entrepreneur Center. Local entrepreneur Brandon Bruce came to speak at an event for Sky City and told Blair about the “100Knoxville” program.
Shortly before participating in Cohort 4 of “100Knoxville,” Blair said he had reinvented his business. He was hopeful the program could help him refine his mission and push that information out to potential clients. Candice Troutman, Lead Facilitator for the program, was able to do just that.
Troutman also helped encourage Blair to take a more authoritative tone in proposals. As someone with a science background, Blair said he has always been hesitant to call himself an expert, saying it was a roadblock for him. As a business leader, he is an expert in the field, Troutman told him.
“We do know this stuff,” Blair said. “We have the results and the clients and the retention to prove that we know this stuff.”
Blair also said his mentor, Harry Boston, Founder and President of Boston Government Services, was also an invaluable part of the “100Knoxville.” He has been able to bounce ideas off Boston, who “has a much longer view than I do,” Blair said. Boston has helped Blair to set up a sales process. Blair just hired his first salesperson, and she is off to a flying start.
When asked about the importance of having a program like “100Knoxville,” Blair said he saw the disparity as more of an economic issue, although he admitted that disparity tends to be higher among minorities. For him, the money was a good resource from the program, but having a mentor was far more important.
Blair shared more of his thoughts on Black entrepreneurship in a blog on LinkedIn, which can be found here.
“There are people in front of you that have walked this road before,” he said. “The relationship aspect is more important than the economic aspect.”