Adebukola Ajao is an online digital marketing guru equipped to help small businesses with the tools to compete.
Born and raised in Boston, Ajao grew up across the street from Northeastern’s campus. As an undergraduate student, she worked with the university’s John D. O’Bryant African American Institute to start a social justice activist coalition.
During that time, she also started BDY Consult, an online marketing company. But she quickly realized she needed to further her education if she wanted to grow her business. So she applied to Northeastern’s graduate program in digital marketing. She was accepted and received a scholarship.
That program allowed Ajao to combine her passion for marketing and helping underserved Black-owned businesses.
“During my time as a business owner, as a student, I also wanted to leverage my digital marketing knowledge to impact Black lives,” Ajao says.
Ajao is currently balancing three jobs. During the day, she works at Brookline High School as a project manager, helping students explore their entrepreneurial opportunities and secure college scholarships.
At night, she works as an adjunct professor at Northeastern, teaching in the same program she earned a degree from.
In between, Ajao works on her business. She has a team of six people located all over the country. BDY Consult works to help small business owners see themselves as marketers.
“My slogan is, ‘if you’re in business, marketing is your business,’” Ajao says. “It’s essential for every small business owner to have a working, walking knowledge of marketing at all times.”
The internet provides boundless opportunities to grow a business, Ajao says. Even brick-and-mortar businesses are digital. What a business does online shadows what it does in person, she says. Having an online presence allows people from around the world to touch a business.
BDY Consult, unlike larger online companies, helps clients build a business concept from the ground up—from brainstorming a name to registering the company to even legal paperwork.
Once the foundations are in place, BDY Consult helps build a marketing campaign, social media and personal relationships.
In seven years, Ajao has had about 150 clients. Her projects range from one-offs to regular work for long-term clients. The Women Who Empower grant will help Ajao expand her business and take her marketing campaigns to the next level.
Working with small business owners can be limiting, but very rewarding, Ajao says. Small businesses often can’t afford a marketing team. That is why she started a platform with free tips to help them find grants to support their efforts.
“I fundamentally believe that to create an equitable, accessible world, small-business owners, especially from disadvantaged communities, need the tools, capital, funding and support to even be able to compete,” Ajao says. “It’s not a good level playing field if people don’t have that.”