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Alumni Spotlight: Onyx MS

Starting a business can be difficult. It takes countless hours, hundreds of phone calls and emails, as well as vast amounts of self-discipline. Starting a business and getting clients like Coca Cola, Volkswagen Group, and Homeland Security is even more difficult, but Ted Cummings, President and CEO of Onyx MS, has done just that. Since founding the company in 2006, Ted has turned his company into the premier provider of digital signage, IT services, and audio and visual needs in the Atlanta area.  Whether a company needs graphic design, trade show management, or digital production services, Onyx MS has been able to keep an ever-increasing roster of clients happy. ICIC, in partnership with NOW Corp, recently spoke to Ted about his experience, his participation in the Inner City Capital Connections program, and the tools he is using to keep delivering client satisfaction.

To understand Ted’s drive, it helps to look at his past. Growing up in an inner city, he learned how to make his dreams a reality even in the face of adversity. During his high school years, he had a formative experience when he nearly became the victim of a shooting. A classmate who took exception to him pulled up in a car after school and pointed a shotgun at him. The gun failed to fire and Ted walked away without injury from a situation that could have taken his life. This transformative incident spurred his dedication to living life to the fullest and always working to fulfill his highest aspirations. For Ted, this meant that when he wanted to start a business, he would aim high and always adhere to high standards to ensure the best chance for success. When Ted later founded his business in a distressed community, he took this attitude with him, saying that he makes “a conscious effort every day not to look at the negative,” and that his location exposes him to a lot of untapped talent looking for an opportunity to better themselves. However, even with the right attitude, any business faces difficult choices as it attempts to rise to the top.

Ted said that if he could give any advice to his younger self, it would be to “structure the company and operate as if it was a Fortune 100 company,” believing that “you must walk and talk just like what you want to be in the future.” Fortunately, programs like ICCC exist to help business owners like him learn to operate in that manner. Attending ICCC in 2013 and 2015, he said that the program was “an eye-opening experience” that exposed him to a number of potential businesses with which he could build a productive relationship to grow faster and expand his capabilities. One of these is Atlanta-based NOW Corp, whose unique payments service, NOWaccount, enables Onyx to have its invoices paid immediately. This has dramatically improved the company’s cash flow, allowing Onyx to pay their vendors much more quickly as well as “alleviating the dreaded 30-45 day waiting period to be paid.” Because Ted doesn’t have to worry about the less-than-glamorous task of dealing with accounts receivable, he’s able to focus on what really matters, such as investing in new technology and developing new strategies for growth and competitiveness.

Currently, those next steps have Onyx MS focusing on increasing their government contract work at all levels, and ironing out details concerning how to make that work. “The biggest issue is the ability to be able to finance a contract for at least six months,” Ted stated, and he continued to express that assistance with funding can make or break a company like his. However, with the support of ICCC and services like NOWaccount, business owners like Ted can feel more confident that they have the tools they need for continued growth.

On Wednesday, August, 29th, Lara Hodgson from NOWaccount will conduct Solving the Net 30+ Dilemma Without Debt, an hour long webinar discussing how to put your capital back to work by getting paid in days of invoicing without loans, factoring, debt or liabilities. Register Now!

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