Crystal Stump launched her ABC Consulting business with a good idea. But as time went on, she found it wasn’t enough. “I was 27 years old and a five-year employee of the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority when I terminated my special agent position and started my own business,” Crystal explains. “I felt that the small businesses I worked with needed someone on their team with the knowledge to navigate the alcohol licensing process. I knew I was that person.”
While her business model was sound, Crystal found managing her own business to be a challenge. “Because I didn’t know how to manage a small business, I quickly created credit card debt,” she relates. At that point, Crystal decided she needed help. “I reached out to the Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce,” Crystal says. “They referred me to Jim Carroll, Executive Director of the Hampton Roads SBDC.”
Crystal sees it as a turning point for her business. “My first meeting with Jim Carroll was a painful one,” she admits. “I had to be honest with him so he could provide guidance. We looked at my biggest challenges and what was working — and what wasn’t — and started making plans. I found myself constantly thinking about not making enough money,” Crystal continues. “Once I changed my focus and looked at how I was helping my clients, it was amazing to see the difference.”
That positive focus led to a complete turnaround for Crystal, as well as for her business. “I will never forget Jim Carroll’s smile when we reviewed my profit and loss report a year later,” Crystal recalls. “My sales had increased by an unbelievable 300%.”
Jim also introduced Crystal to workshops offered by the SBDC. “The course on social media was especially helpful,” she adds. “I decided to outsource my social media to the speaker for that course, Wendy Craighill. That was a big help in reaching new prospects.” The SBDC, Crystal affirms, taught her to focus on things she could do herself and outsource the rest.
When the COVID-19 crisis brought a downturn to her business, Crystal again turned to the SBDC for assistance. “Jim Carroll and his team assisted me with applications for various grants, which were approved,” she adds. Since March, Crystal has used her expertise to assist restaurant clients placing skilled gaming machines in their businesses.
“When the state regulations changed to allow skilled gaming, I was ready to help game distributors apply the right way,” Crystal explains. “I also launched a YouTube channel to get information to my subscribers. As a business owner, you have to adapt and move forward.”
Moving forward has been the name of the game for Crystal since she signed on with the SBDC. “Today, I am out of debt, I have learned to hire great help for what I cannot do, I have retirement savings, and my dream is ten times bigger than it was ten years ago,” Crystal concludes.