With help from Verizon Small Business Digital Ready, an entrepreneur moves from grief to growth

After her business partner’s passing, Donna Oti continued down the path he set to find success.

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Donna Oti credits classes and coaching from Verizon Small Business Digital Ready with helping her win new contracts for her company, 3C Communication and Culture.

When Donna Oti’s business partner, Jared Critchefield, passed away in 2021, she was bereft. The two had been friends since college and together they launched 3C Communication and Culture, a consulting business based in Madison, Alabama.

“That was a really difficult time for me,” says Oti. “I wasn’t sure if I would go on. But then I thought one of the best things to honor Jared would be to make sure his dream became a reality.”

As the visionary strategist for the company, Oti was facing a professional challenge: Jared had managed day-to-day operations. “I knew I needed help to really understand the business,” she says. Oti turned to Verizon Small Business Digital Ready.

Using the free resources available online, Oti found guidance and inspiration. She took online courses in marketing. The lessons about improving social media strategy and website design helped increase online traffic to 3C. She learned to seek outside guidance on the company’s finances, networked with local connections, and put workflow procedures into place.

For a busy entrepreneur, the structure of the courses worked. “I love the way Verizon courses are set up,” Oti says. “I don’t have a whole lot of time to get a master’s degree in marketing, accounting and business process engineering. They give you very succinct, 30-minute courses.”

Oti’s personal history also fueled her determination to succeed. Her single mother sold fish and raised poultry in their home country of Guyana to raise the money that moved the family to the United States. “Being an entrepreneur is important for me,” said Oti. “I saw what happened to my mom in divorce. It's very important for me as a woman to be able to financially support myself.”

Working with Digital Ready, Oti not only picked up business knowledge, but also a community. “I was able to connect with small business entrepreneurs, just like myself,” she says about her work in group mentorship sessions and monthly Community Connect events.

The networking groups serve as a safe place for entrepreneurs to share ideas, problems, and opportunities. “It’s a no judgment zone,” she says. “In each forum, I felt like I was contributing. I feel empowered to help others and that helps me to get through tough days.”

With that support, Oti is thriving and leading her company to new heights. 3C recently secured two new contracts. Marketing classes inspired Oti to revamp her website, notably increasing traffic. The financial advice courses saved her “thousands of dollars.”

On top of it all, she’s proud to be following the approach her dear friend Critchefield originally mapped out for the company. “We want to be the most impactful consultants on the organizations we reach,” she says.

Verizon Small Business Digital Ready provides self-paced courses, live coaching, networking, micro mentorship, and grant opportunities for eligible small businesses. Sign up for this free program today.

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