INTERVIEW WITH CRYSTAL CUMMINGS
while the Grand Nigeria Business Exclusive Interview serves as an effective platform for business/career mentorship and in keeping faith with our core vision of celebrating positive innovations. GNB News spotted the Lagos connect initiative, founded by Crystal cummings thus, considered her worthy of this special interview.
CAN WE MEET YOU?
Crystal: My name is Crystal Cummings, I’m the founder of Lagos connect also known as CMC Corporate services. Basically what I do is, I bring entrepreneurs, SMEs and business people together to network or for information and business development, trainings and skills to help businesses scale up and grow.
HOW DID YOU COME ABOUT LAGOS CONNECT?
Crystal: The idea behind Lagos connect came about when I first started my business. I had a community, a mentorship community called mastermind leaders. We are a group of entrepreneurs that helped each other. We also offered our skills and services to help each other grow. We also supported each other. It was a network, like a community and I felt like I needed to bring that to life here in Lagos. I felt like a lot of entrepreneurs that I communicate with, were struggling because they didn’t have access to grants and funding, they didn’t have anyone to mentor and encourage them in their business needs and I realized that maybe I should offer this mentoring and networking service to entrepreneurs to help them grow and scale up their business. As an entrepreneur, sometimes it can be very lonely, sometimes you do not have the support or even the assistance that you would need to help you grow your business so I decided that Lagos connect would be that avenue that can bring entrepreneurs together, can offer the networking where they can meet other business people and either gain valuable business interactions and work with other entrepreneurs. I offer training and development, where I partner with companies who offer either financial education training, accounting skills that entrepreneurs and SMEs need that they may not have access and knowledge about. We offer workshops and just basically any access to learning, development, networking and training that entrepreneurs need to grow and scale up their business
ARE YOU WILLING TO EXPAND BEYOND LAGOS?
Crystal: Yes of course! So my plan is to start off in Lagos and as the business grow, I would expand on to other states and possibly go international eventually.
WOULD YOUR EXPANSION AFFECT YOUR BRAND NAME?
Crystal: Yes! Definitely! So I use Lagos connect because I started in Lagos, but the company name is actually CMC corporate services. So we offer a wide range of services for businesses. We do training and development, corporate services, business consultancy. We offer different services for businesses as well.
WHAT SHOULD WE BE EXPECTING FROM LAGOS CONNECT THIS YEAR?
Crystal: So this year, I plan on partnering with bigger organizations and even having sponsorship from different companies that are willing to work with SMEs and startups especially there are a lot of startups that are in technology and they are looking for sponsors and funding to scale up their business and their business ideas. So the plan is to work with investors and different companies that are willing to invest in SMEs, entrepreneurs and startups.
WHAT IS YOUR OVERVIEW CONCERNING BUSINESSES IN NIGERIA AND WHAT BETTER APPROACH SHOULD NIGERIAN BUSINESS OWNERS ADOPT IN THEIR BUSINESS?
Crystal: I think Nigeria is one of the best places to start a business. I think that there is a wealth of opportunity here in Nigeria. From what I have seen and the businesses that I interact with, a lot of them may not have that guidance or the mentoring or access to what they need to grow their business and it’s not that these things are not available, it’s there, it’s available, it’s just that there is a disconnect from the people that need it and the company that offer it and my plan is to bridge that gap so that the people that need the funding, the grants, the training, the workshop can actually get access to that and I believe that, once people or businesses and entrepreneurs are aware of what they have available to them and how they can access it, I think a lot more businesses will do a lot more better and Nigeria is already a growing economy in terms of entrepreneurship, there’s lots of entrepreneurs here in Nigeria but I think that we can do a lot more and my plan is to bridge that gap so that entrepreneurs and SMEs can scale up and become multi-nationals.
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE SO FAR?
Crystal: Okay my biggest challenge is getting entrepreneurs and SMEs to see the value in networking, the value in the skills, the trainings and the services that we offer because a lot of entrepreneurs think that they can do everything themselves, they think that I can tough it out and become a millionaire overnight and it doesn’t work like that. A lot of entrepreneurs fail within the first year of starting their business and it’s mainly because they don’t have a support system or a network that they can leverage from and I think bringing more awareness to entrepreneurs so that they can understand the value of a network and how your network can be your net worth, I think getting that across to entrepreneurs is very important and I think that it will help a lot of entrepreneurs and small businesses even become better
WHAT IS YOUR BLUEPRINT FOR STARTUPS?
Crystal: Okay, so, one advice I would give is that, do your market research before you start your business, also, learn a managerial and business skills that is vital for your business. I notice that a lot of businesses and entrepreneurs, they might have a great business plan or business idea but they may not have the managerial skills to manage their business. Also, customer service skills, I think that, it is important that entrepreneurs and SMEs learn customer service skills so that they understand their customers, understand how to interact with their customers so that their customers feel appreciated and welcomed when they do business with them. I also believe that entrepreneurs and SMEs should seek out knowledge and information on how to manage their businesses, how to do their accounting and their book-keeping, also basic developmental skills that an entrepreneur and SMEs should know.
WHAT IS THE UNIQUE CHALLENGE COMMON AMONG BUSINESS OWNERS?
Crystal: I think one of the biggest challenges that a lot of businesses have is in marketing, marketing their business, knowing their target audience and reaching their right customers also, understanding social media because we live in an age where social media is the avenue to reach the majority of your customers and a lot of businesses and entrepreneurs do not really understand how social media works and how they can use social media to their advantage, to grow their customers and their client base
WHAT IS YOUR PROSPECTIVE ADVICE TO UPCOMING ENTREPRENEURS?
Crystal: My advice to entrepreneurs that are now starting off is that, don’t give up, remain consistent with your business, also seek out avenues and opportunities to network with other business people. Attend networking events, attend seminars and business developmental training because it will help you to grow and remain consistent in your business.