How a Washington, D.C. entrepreneur went from nearly closing his doors to transforming his business

By: Letisha Marrero

Marcus A. Williams, CEO of MW Consulting, shares how he grew his PR firm with the help of a grant and new skills learned through Verizon Small Business Digital Ready.

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Marcus A. Williams is the CEO and owner of MW Consulting, a PR firm in Washington, D.C. Credit: Tania Fernandez

Marcus A. Williams remembers sitting in a bistro in Paris, crying tears of joy. After growing up in an impoverished D.C. neighborhood amidst family trauma, Williams struggled with low self-esteem, but had gone on to graduate college and launch a successful journalism career. Arriving in Paris brought home a remarkable fact: He had made it. “I was overwhelmed,” Willams says. “I cried for so long, my soup got cold.”

Three years later, Williams reached another goal: he established his own public relations firm, MW Consulting, and has since signed over 40 contracts encompassing over 100 projects. Then the pandemic hit. Williams’ business faced closure, flaring up his self-doubt. “It was very depressing, dark and scary,” he says. “I was up every night, trying not to be stressed or depressed, as I mapped out a game plan.”

Williams is a pro at strategizing for his clients, but rarely found time to evaluate his own business practices. Verizon helped to change that. Credit: Tania Fernandez

Fortunately, an email from the Local Initiatives Support Corporation led Williams to Verizon Small Business Digital Ready, an online portal that provides entrepreneurs free personalized courses, live coaching, networking and a chance to apply for a $10,000 grant. Williams applied for the grant and received it, which helped to keep his doors open. But for Williams, the surprise benefit was the free courses.

‘I can finally breathe again’

“The courses provided easy-to-understand information that I was able to put to use," Williams says. Credit: Tania Fernandez

Thanks to the Operating Efficiency Essentials course, Williams lasered in on his company’s standard operating procedure (SOP) — something he had overlooked. “I wasn’t even taking my own advice,” Williams reflects. After the course, he went back to a “year-one” mentality and laid stronger groundwork for business development and client management, both of which have made his operation more efficient and effective. “This has taken so much weight off my shoulders and directly showed us the importance of SOPs,” Williams says. “I can finally breathe again.”

“As a Black, pansexual man, I am already the odd man out when I walk into a room. This is why one of my personal goals is to keep challenging myself to be better today than I was yesterday,” Williams says. Credit: Tania Fernandez

With a more efficient operating structure, the sky’s the limit for his firm. “I see us securing at least one corporate contract with a Fortune 100 company, filling vacant consulting slots, and rolling out new service offerings in the coming year,” Williams says.

As for his journey to self-confidence, Williams hopes to inspire others. “I want to show people that a little black boy who grew up in the ghetto, struggled with his self-esteem, and some days still struggling, can break through all of those traumatic walls, achieve and heal.”

Verizon Small Business Digital Ready provides free personalized courses, live coaching, networking, planning aids, and grant opportunities for eligible small businesses. To sign-up for this program, visit verizon.com/smallbusinessdigitalready

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