Tennessee Entrepreneur Daniel Watson, the owner of Visions Enterprise and the Beneva Mayweather Food Brand in Memphis has been involved in the food business for most of his life. His late grandmother, Beneva Mayweather, who raised him, was a successful caterer.

Watson, who has a business degree from Morehouse College, started his business in 2008, initially producing seasonings sold to grocery stores. Shortly after starting, he transitioned to cinnamon rolls and yeast rolls, products that not only had higher sales recurrence but also were specialties of Beneva Mayweather for 40 years.

Watson aimed to ensure Mayweather’s legacy lived on through his food products after her passing in 2000.

"I wouldn't say I've stepped into Beneva's shoes, but carrying on her legacy is a labor of love and an honor. It's about hard work, dedication, and striving for excellence. Every product we make embodies her commitment to perfection. Her legacy is powerful and enduring, and it's incredible to see how it still resonates with people today. The relationships and opportunities her reputation has created are invaluable, and it's a privilege to continue building on what she started. This journey goes far beyond business; it's about making a lasting impact.”

— Daniel Watson, Owner, Visions Enterprise and the Beneva Mayweather Food

Watson expanded his business in 2019 and 2020, acquiring additional equipment with a loan from Pathway Lending. A year after COVID-19 started, he received a significant Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), which he used to invest in additional labor, expanding the business from a one-man operation to five employees.

However, the sales volume wasn’t enough to sustain the increased expenses, and after a year, the EIDL money ran out, leaving the business in debt and forcing Watson to let go of the employees. He then took out additional loans to cover basic business needs, indicating an issue with the business model that needed to be addressed to avoid closure.

“It was hard finding the right people, dealing with people, getting them to perform to your benchmarks,” Watson said. “On top of that, the inflationary period was challenging. I didn’t raise my prices for about a year, which wasn’t sustainable given my salary costs. Relying on volume to maintain revenue instead of adjusting prices to combat inflation got out of control, and we bled out our resources.”

Daniel Watson owns the Beneva Mayweather Foods brand originally created by his grandmother.
Daniel Watson owns the Beneva Mayweather Foods brand originally created by his grandmother.

Currently, Watson is a one-man operation, handling all the production and delivery of his products. He has struggled with cash flow due to increased debt from his expansion but has managed to maintain operations.

This includes working with the Entrepreneurship and Lending Teams at Communities Unlimited (CU). In late March 2024, Watson worked with CU Economic Development Loan Officer Chris Tillman on a loan for working capital to keep operations going and cover ongoing expenses while he collaborated with the Entrepreneurship Team to turn his business around.

CU Senior Management Consultant Rhett Douglas worked closely with Watson to benchmark his financials, identify issues, and develop projections to support his growth plan, including acquiring a contract with Here’s Everything Better (H.E.B.), a supermarket chain. He also advised Watson on his current loan payments and was instrumental in helping him apply for a loan with CU.

The loan helped Watson bridge the gap until new revenue streams from sandwiches and farmers’ market appearances were established. With Douglas’ help, Watson is now experiencing growth. He has continued to grow his presence in convenience stores, furthering his goal of getting into Food Giant, and is working on hiring new staff to help with the increased deliveries.

“Rhett's cost analysis sheet was a game changer for me. I have QuickBooks and a bookkeeper, but I couldn't put it all together. Rhett provided a template to align my performance with my costs, which helps me plan for expansion. Now I can confidently focus on attaining more stores, knowing what it will cost in terms of goods and labor. Communities Unlimited also gave me funding and resources to understand my needs more deeply. Thanks to Rhett, we’re moving forward, and I’m excited about our growth beyond Memphis.”

— Daniel Watson, Owner, Visions Enterprise and the Beneva Mayweather Food

Tillman found Daniel easy to work with, noting his dedication and deep understanding of his business.

“Before coming to me for a loan, Daniel worked with our Entrepreneurship Team and had a well-thought-out and thorough plan to grow his business and improve his cash flow,” Tillman said. “It made my job helping him with a loan much easier.”

Douglas says Watson is fully committed to the Entrepreneurship Team’s process, trusting that CU could help him achieve his goals.

“During a cash crunch, I reached out to our Lending Team and knew they would be there for him,” Douglas said. “Daniel and I came up with a roadmap to sustainable growth, and I’m so happy to say that he’s now on it.”

Watson is already planning for an exit strategy because he values being a dad and spending time with his kids. While he enjoys the business, especially the food industry, he is aware of the competitive realities and the nature of profit in this field. Like his grandmother before him, his focus remains on providing the best through Mayweather Foods, accessible via platforms like DoorDash, Uber Eats, Grubhub, and sometimes at local farmers markets.

“We’re here to give our best, be our best, make our best, and nothing less than that,” Watson said.