A day in the life of Shahram and Shana Shafii, owners of the Donut Connection in Fairmont, includes being the boss, repairman, accountant, business manager, night-shift production employee, marketing representative and cheerleader. Pretty much it means working 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Although Shafii’s life now revolves around his business, you will never hear him complain. What you will see is him tackle his day with a contagiously positive attitude and sweet demeanor.
The Donut Connection has seen quick success during their first year of operation. Shafii’s eyes lit up when he spoke of what the future holds. “It’s exciting, we are so blessed to be in this community,” Shafii said. “We have great employees and Fairmont has really embraced the shop. Because of this, we are currently looking into a larger space and expanding our product line.”
Although the success he is experiencing is sweet, it hasn’t always been easy. Getting a loan to open the franchise was a challenge. Since it was a start-up loan in the restaurant industry, many banks that Shafii visited wouldn’t take the risk. That’s until he was connected with Tim James from First Microloan of West Virginia.
First Microloan of West Virginia is a designated lender for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Through the SBA microloan program, First Microloan of West Virginia is able to provide up to $50,000 of capital to higher risk small businesses. They don’t take business away from banks, but offer banks another option to provide their customers.
“Shahram was great to work with, he knew exactly what he wanted and he did his homework,” said James. “He really took the time to do research and then asked questions.”
Shafii, a former college football coach for Fairmont State University, has the same determination in business as he had on the field. “You have to see it - have the vision, smell it - be persistent, and taste it - don’t take no for an answer,” Shafii said. “I wasn’t going to let one, two, three or even a hundred banks telling me no, stop me from pursing my dream.”
It is because of that persistence that Shafii is now a small business success story. When asked his words of wisdom for other’s who may be experiencing the same struggles, Shaffi said, “You have to do your research, you have to find people like Tim James and ask them questions, and you have to follow through.”