NOVAD Management Consulting CEO Shares Entrepreneurship Essentials

September 15, 2011  |  

By Marc W. Polite 

The challenges of being an entrepreneur are many, especially for African-Americans. At a time when our economy is still in a weak recovery, some are opting to start their own businesses rather than looking for jobs. New entrepreneurs must realize that the business community requires its leaders to be able to grow their business, thrive, and embrace the notion of civic responsibility.

One successful black firm doing all these things is NOVAD Management Consulting. Founded in 2003, the corporation has grown to serve a wide clientele, and currently has offices in Maryland, Georgia, and New York. The CEO of the company, Davon Kelly, prides himself on steering his firm with high performance standards that exceed the needs of clients. In 2010, this level of commitment was recognized by the state of Maryland, as it named him as one of top Minority Business Enterprise owners of the year.

The Atlanta Post reached out to Davon Kelly to help us understand some of the challenges he faced in starting his business, his accomplishments after overcoming these obstacles, and the wisdom gained that every aspiring entrepreneur should seriously consider.

How did you start NOVAD Management Consulting?
I started NOVAD Management Consulting in 2003 based on my desire to grow a business and give back to the community.  I did not want my consulting firm to focus on quick fixes or short-term answers; instead, I focused on cultivating long-term relationships with my clients.  I work to understand my clients’ business and provide staff that can support and anticipate their needs.  These relationships are built based on ongoing dialogue, mutual trust and integrity.  Finally, and most importantly, I consider myself a “boots straps” businessman.  I did not have family or friends to go to for seed money, so I used money saved from previous employment and small individual investment plans as the start-up funds for NOVAD.   My personal mantra is, “slow and steady wins the race.” This philosophy has enabled my business to flourish despite the challenging economic times.

How did you grow the business?
NOVAD’s initial business came from relationships that I had developed with the CEOs of firms that I worked for as a consultant.  Instead of remaining a 1099 consultant [or independent contractor], I decided to leverage these relationships to establish capabilities for my company.  We developed a small resume by “pounding the pavement” like most other start up businesses – responding to RFPs [requests for proposals], and attending industry forums, government networking events and business leader groups.  Getting the business is always a great start.  However, the main reason our business has been able to grow is that with each new opportunity we have far exceeded the expectation of our clients, provided a viable solution to the problem that was assigned to us and helped integrate that solution into the client’s business.  Each day, I make sure our team members understand that exceptional performance and seamless execution keeps our clients coming back.  I also carefully select the consultants that work for NOVAD.  Currently, we have technical expertise in the fields of project management, accounting and auditing, strategic planning, business process re-engineering, financial advisory services, asset and property management, IT support — as well as training and coaching skills.

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