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Will Jackson never went to college. He grew up in a poor community outside of Atlanta, Georgia with his three sisters and one brother and their parents. With five kids, senior Mr. and Mrs. Jackson weren’t able to send their kids to get a university education, but they always encouraged them to find a way.

Being tight on money taught Jackson to always work for what he wanted. Before he turned sixteen he did odd jobs around the community, helping with landscaping and other manual tasks to make extra money. Once he was old enough, Jackson found his first official job working as a busboy at a local diner.

Jackson was willing to put in the extra hours to succeed, knowing from a young age he would have to pay for his college courses himself. He was quickly promoted to server with his outgoing personality, but despite his all around people person personality, Jackson found himself hanging out in the kitchen watching the chefs and learning their techniques. (And maybe offering to eat any extras they had.)

After working one season as a server, Jackson made the switch to work in the kitchen.

“My job in that diner is what opened my eyes to how much I loved food. The creativity of it was something I wanted to be in charge of.”

The experience was a hands on apprenticeship that a college education couldn’t have given him. Jackson’s charisma allowed him to befriend the cooks, the waitstaff, the management, the customers and everyone else who worked at the diner. He knew the ins and outs of restaurant management after three years of working there, but despite his promotions and successes, Jackson still felt like he lacked the freedom to really make the diner into what he envisioned.

Start Your Engines

As Jackson’s love of cooking spread into his home life, his family encouraged him to start his own business. But nobody knew where to start.

“Some people grow up knowing they want to be an entrepreneur. I didn’t have any business owners in my life as role models to entrepreneurship so it never seemed like something I could or would do.”

With limited money available, Jackson had to make a choice. He could go to school and learn business management, but then he would say goodbye to his passion for cooking and wouldn’t have the money to actually start his business. His other option was to jump in and open up a restaurant, but there was so much he still didn’t know about accounting and business management.

When it seemed like neither future he chose would give him the future he dreamed of, Mrs. Jackson gave her son the advice to start small and work hard.

Jackson could open his own business while still working at the diner and learning from the owner there. He used his savings for college to buy a used food trailer for $7,000 and stock the inventory for his debut at the local food truck festival.

“It was hard to spend my savings on a food trailer, not even a food truck, instead of college, but there are some things that are better learned outside of the classroom.”

Jackson was nervous about his big purchase, but had enough confidence to do it. Why? He’d been perfecting his family’s BBQ sauce for nearly a decade and was ready to let Atlanta fall in love with it.

Learning On The Go

It didn’t take long for the cash flow struggles to set in on Jackson’s dream. With little to no reputation, he often had leftover food left unsold. People loved his BBQ, but getting them to try it was the challenge.

The next few years, Jackson had a crazy schedule, He started working at the diner during the week under the wing of the manager and owner while working food festivals with his trailer on the weekends. He then flipped his schedule and worked weekends at the diner and week days in Atlanta selling BBQ sandwiches to employees on their lunch breaks.

Saving every cent, Jackson built his savings again and applied for minority business loans to finance his next investment. He was now ready to buy a food truck and leave the diner, this time not worrying about college.

The problem was, Jackson had spent every cent on upgrading to a truck instead of a trailer, which, even with a minority business loan, he still had very strained cash flow.

“A business credit card wasn’t enough for the bulk inventory and propane purchases I needed to make.”

Business Line Of Credit

Jackson’s BBQ food truck, Slow Roasted Willy’s, had steady deposits, but irregular cash flow needs. He was turning down opportunities to cater parties and attend additional events because he wasn’t able to buy enough inventory before pay day for his employees.

Through New York Tribeca Group, Jackson was introduced to a business line of credit. It worked similar to a credit card but with a higher limit.

“Having an extra cushion of working capital to utilize allowed me to do more events with my growing food truck.”

Loyal customers began asking when the permanent restaurant was coming so they wouldn’t have to hunt down his best-in-town barbecue. Jackson loved the unpredictability of roaming around the Atlanta area in a food truck. He thought he would buy a fleet of trucks and build his brand as a food truck, but yet again, life was guiding him in another direction.

What Comes Next

Limited finances pushed Jackson to have to make another decision. He could open a brick and mortar restaurant or continue food trucking. After years on the road, the thought of staying in one place seemed too permanent.

Jackson turned to outside funding again. He decided he wouldn’t sell his food truck to open his restaurant, but rather keep it to continue catering while using another minority small business loan to open up his permanent location.

With a line of credit from New York Tribeca Group at his side, Jackson had a successful permanent location opening, stocked full of take-home bottled sauces, boiled peanuts, a larger staff and brand apparel. There was no more turning down opportunities for growth because he didn’t have the working capital he needed to do it.

With Slow Roasted Willy’s settled in the community, Jackson can now focus on the goal he’s had since he was young, to go to college and get his business management degree.