This week in our “Jamaicans in Business” interview series we feature Omahar Stephenson, owner of BusinessMatcher. Born in Brooklyn, New York while his Jamaican parents were studying and working in the U.S., Omahar returned to Jamaica in 1977. After attending Wolmer’s Boys’ High School in Kingston, Omahar graduated from Florida International University (FIU) in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management. After working in the hotel industry, health & wellness, and sales for almost a decade, in 2005 he decided to take a leap of faith and open an event marketing company with a college friend and new friend and emerging leader in the business networking world. Business Matcher was born (Concept began as Business Events Florida).
A husband and father and adorable son, Omahar has been active in the South Florida community through his Calvary Chapel or his tenure on the YMCA Lauderhill/Lauderdale Lakes board of directors. In May, 2007 as Co-publisher of Business Events magazine he received the ‘Milestone of Excellence’ award from the Jamaica/USA Chamber of Commerce and was asked later that year to join its board of directors. In March, 2008 Omahar was sworn in as the Ambassador of Commerce of Florida to Jamaica with the International Business Council of Florida (IBCF). The IBCF is one of 8 organizations sanctioned to promote and solicit trade on behalf of the State of Florida. In that capacity he has led trade missions to Jamaica and is now laser focused on the Caribbean, Central & South America and Africa.
BusinessMatcher focuses on business matchmaking and connectivity for professionals, self employed and small businesses. TheBusinessMatcher.com
is a mobile business and social networking service that connects businesses and people. It was founded in September 2011 after being launched in May of that same year. It is owned and operated by Business Matcher, LLC. It currently has a few thousand users and is in its 2nd phase of a 7 phase build out.
Q: Are you a business person or entrepreneur or both?
I would say I’m both. A 21st century business person in the sense that business people find a need and try to fill it
cheaper, more efficiently and create brand loyalty. The entrepreneur in me constantly comes up with ideas. I’m the guy that
will wake up in the middle of the night with an idea and write it down immediately. I always walk with a notebook in my
back pocket just in case an idea pops up in my head.
Q: What was your profession before you started your business?
Sales & Management.
Q: Who or what motivated you to go into business?
My parents. I saw my father leave corporate Jamaica to open the family business. 5 or 6 years later my mother joined him and never looked back. The business was sold in 2006 served as their retirement fund and an investment base for them. In addition,
Q: Did you face any challenges in mobilizing your capital?
Q: Tell us about your business?
BusinessMatcher is a mobile business and social networking service that connects businesses and people. It was Founded in September 2011 after being launched in May of that same year. It is owned and operated by Business Matcher, LLC. It currently has a few thousand users and is in its 2nd phase of a 7 phase build out.
Q: Many businesses have a moment they call their “big break”, whether it be a news story, a big contract etc. Have you or your business had that “”big break ” yet?
It’s happening as we speak. There are private negotiations occurring that prevent me from giving details. Will be able to elaborate in Spring 2013.
Q: Currently what is your biggest business challenge?
Working capital. Nobody in this economy will move unless you can pay them a fair or competitive wage for their time or service. Whenever one tries to cut corners and not pay properly for a service you only hurt your product and brand.
Q: Other than the money what types of satisfaction do you get out of your work?
The satisfaction of knowing that what we created helped to solve a problem or fill a need.
Q: What motivates you on a day to day basis?
Optimism that comes from my faith in God that tomorrow will truly be better than yesterday. In addition, I have a clear vision of where we will be in 18 months, 5years and 10 years. With those pictures in frame it becomes easy to work the plan and adjust to conditions on the ground.
Q: How do you motivate people that aren’t close to you and enable them to see your vision?
Simple, find their vision/dream, embrace it and show them how working with you they will achieve. The caviat is to be sincere.
Q: How do you remind yourself of what’s important?
I feed my son every morning before work and kiss my wife heading out the door. When I get home I leave the negative of the day in the driveway.
Q. What time do you wake up and do you have a routine?
Q. Do you have any hobbies?
Gym/working out. Running. Reading
Q. If the economy crashed hard and there was no more room for you in the business sector, what would you do with yourself?
Mentor, teach and coach
Q: Seven day, six night, all expense paid, my vacation destination is…
Q: My favorite guilty pleasure is…
Cold Stone ice cream
Q: My favorite Jamaican food is…
Fish and Festival from Little Ochi or Hellshire, Jamaica.
Q: What advice would you give someone who wants to achieve the same level of success you have?
Remain a student who is open to learning and growing. Some of our best achievements have occurred when we submitted our egos and learned, then were tested on the subject matter. Eventually you master the discipline and then your path in life appears. Suddenly when you go back and look at the chapters of your life in 10 year increments i.e. what you wanted every 10 years, what major events personally & externally that shaped your beliefs and desires. Through this process you will begin to see a pattern, learn to set goals, take risks, plan your work and work your plan. Life becomes more fun and you will feel like you have more options and less stress.
Q: Thanks for the interview. Do you have any closing thoughts for our readers?
Faith, Family, Focus, Freedom
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