Entrepreneurship came at an early age for this Atlanta, Georgia resident, Mr. Chip Joyner, President, The Real Chow Baby. “I have been in business since I was young. In high school I went from selling sodas at the Lakers’ games to operating my own vending space for the 1984 Olympics. I grew up in an entrepreneurial family which is where I began learning every facet of the restaurant industry,” said Mr. Joyner.
In recognition of Dine Small and Small Business Saturday officials from the U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and Fidelity Bank visited a local Atlanta restaurant, The Real Chow Baby. The aroma and sizzling sounds from the circular grill fill the air as we witness the lunch crowd gathering as Joyner explains the history of Chow Baby. One of three locations here in Georgia for this unique dining experience, the Real Chow Baby specializes in fresh made-to-order stir fry alternatives to traditional fast food fare.
The SBA has partnered with the National Restaurant Association to promote dining out during Small Business Saturday on November 29th. The partnership amplifies restaurants during the national push to support our nation’s small businesses on the busiest shopping weekend of the year. “The Accommodations and Food Service industry represents the largest percentage of number and total dollars of SBA-related lending activity in Georgia,” states Terri Denison, Georgia, District Director. “So celebrating Dining Small this year as part of Small Business Saturday is truly meaningful here in Georgia.”
When asked what was going through his mind during the time leading up to expanding their business in Atlanta, Mr. Joyner reminds us of the troubled times in the nation’s economy during the recession. “This was not the ideal time to explore expanding ideas. No one was lending money and private sources dried up quickly,” says Joyner. “If it was not for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) and the SBA’s 7(a) loan program, we would not have been able to secure financing with favorable rates.”
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), commonly referred to The Recovery Act, was enacted by Congress in February 2009 and signed into law by President Barack Obama. To respond to the Great Recession, the primary objective for ARRA was to save and create jobs almost immediately. Under ARRA, the SBA offered a 90 percent guaranty on loans made under its 7(a) loan program and waived its guaranty fees. The 7(a) loan program is the SBA’s primary program for helping start-up and existing small businesses, with financing guaranteed for a variety of general business purposes. The SBA does not make loans itself, but rather guarantees loans made by participating lending institutions. In this way, taxpayer funds are only used in the event of borrower default. This reduces the risk to the lender but not to the borrower, who remains obligated for the full debt, even in the event of default.
“At this time in the planning phase we were introduced to Mr. Darren Davis, Vice President, Fidelity Bank. Fidelity was great, Darren really understood how SBA loans/programs worked and he was well versed in the 90 percent guaranty and no fee’s program designed to get America back on its feet,” said Mr. Joyner. “Times were tough and lending nearly came to a halt, except for the SBA backed loans,” said Mr. Davis who was also on-site to witness the nearly five years of success, “Chip is a great businessman with the perfect amount of business skills and entrepreneurship balance to be a success.” “I knew from early in the process that Chip and his team were going to be successful beginning with their well thought out business plan,” said Davis.
Darren and Chip discussed the importance of the business plan being a living breathing document. “Work your business plan in reverse to understand the real day-to-day requirements,” said Joyner. Both agreed that the plan is re-visited often. Davis, stated “that during the loan process, the plan is re-visited daily and Joyner explained it continues to be visited informally daily and formally quarterly. “Every morning at 5 a.m. I receive my first reports which are generated based on the projections from the business plan, so I rely on it everyday,” said Chip.
Mr. Joyner attributes the success of The Real Chow Baby to his dedicated team of employees and his wife. The Real Chow Baby currently employs over 100 employees and the future looks bright and fresh. Ideas of expanding the brand are currently underway and in development. When asked to give fellow entrepreneurs advice for success he paused a minute, looked up and said, “develop the ability to forecast how little leaks can become bigger leaks or problems and work the business plan backwards to keep occupancy cost low.”