How I did it: Grew my business by branching out

March 07, 2023

Meet the Ferguson, Missouri, businessman who took his communications firm and added a slice of Southern flavor.

Johnny Little is a man with enough energy that he runs two highly successful businesses; one a national public relations firm, and more recently, a Southern style restaurant serving customers in his hometown of Ferguson, Missouri. 

Little is CEO of eLittle Communications Group, which provides public relations, marketing, advertising and other services. He started the firm in 2007, and while it’s based in St. Louis, he now has employees across the country. He is also the owner of Elicious, a Southern-style breakfast and brunch restaurant that he opened in Ferguson in November 2022.   

Dream turned reality

Having the drive to create something of his own is in his blood. “My father and mother were entrepreneurs,” Little said. “My father used to take me when I was kid to pay his workers on his fence business. That was the beginning of my love for entrepreneurship.”

Little graduated with a communications degree from Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi, then earned a master's degree in business from Western University in St. Louis.  

Part of the Greater St. Louis metropolitan area, the Ferguson community has remained important to Little whose made it his mission to bring together businesses and opportunities. 

“I wanted to invest more in Ferguson, so I purchased a building that had closed during the pandemic in November 2020,” Little said. “My No. 1 goal is for people who want to visit our city to feel safe and want to be a part of this resurgence in the community.”

Little took out a loan with U.S. Bank to renovate the restaurant, opening it in 2022. The restaurant specializes in chicken and waffles, catfish and grits, pork chops and Southern style potatoes.

Little was able to apply his communications skills to this new venture, “I am very strategic with my marketing,” he said. “Far too many times, new owners jump the gun at promoting their restaurant. PR has taught me patience and to be strategic.”

Giving back

Elicious has taken Ferguson by storm with many elected officials and St. Louis and Ferguson natives coming out to support it. Little gives back in return. He is a donor to the Ferguson Youth Initiative and has given out scholarships to teach high schoolers the hospitality industry.

“I love what I'm doing because the restaurant is community focused and has filled a void in North St. Louis County. That's why we're a success so quickly.”

Little knows that running a restaurant is not easy, “It's one of the hardest industries around.”  As for other business owners, his top tip is, “Study your craft and remain focused and tunnel-visioned. My parents helped me learn that running a business takes grit and grind to be able to accomplish.”

The success of Elicious is just the beginning. “I have to do my work as an entrepreneur…the skies the limit with what I am getting ready to do next.” 

 

Explore more inspiring stories from other featured business owners and learn how U.S. Bank can help your small business find success.

Learn about U.S. Bank

Related content

Staying organized when taking payments

How to fund your business without using 401(k) savings

7 tips to help grow your business after launch

Mapping out success for a small-business owner

Unexpected expenses: 5 small business costs to know and how to finance them

How to identify what technology is needed for your small business

Key considerations for online ordering systems

Tools that can streamline staffing and employee management

How increased supply chain visibility can combat disruptors

How one organization is funding equity in the Chicago area

Making the leap from employee to owner

Starting a business with a friend: How to talk about it

How to get started creating your business plan

How to choose the right business savings account

5 tips to help you land a small business loan

7 uncommon recruiting strategies that you may not have tried yet

Checklist: What you’ll need for your first retail pop-up shop

4 restaurant models that aren’t dine-in

Streamline operations with all-in-one small business financial support

Planning for restaurant startup costs and when to expect them

The moment I knew I’d made it: The Cheesecakery

Business tips and advice for Black entrepreneurs

Make your business legit

How a bright idea became a successful business (in Charlotte, North Carolina)

Starting a business? Follow these steps

How to establish your business credit score

Talent acquisition 101: Building a small business dream team

What is needed to apply for an SBA loan

How does an electronic point of sale help your business keep track of every dime?

Opening a business on a budget during COVID-19

Refinancing your practice loans: What to know

How I did it: Grew my business by branching out

6 common financial mistakes made by dentists (and how to avoid them)

How I did it: Turned my side hustle into a full-time job

Quit your job to start a business: How to save enough

How a 13-year-old created a clothing line that reflects her passions

How to test new business ideas

How running a business that aligns with core values is paying off

Meet the Milwaukee businessman behind Funky Fresh Spring Rolls

From LLC to S-corp: Choosing a small business entity

Costs to consider when starting a business

The different types of startup financing

Making a ‘workout’ work out as a business

How mobile point of sale (mPOS) can benefit your side gig

Disclosures

Start of disclosure content

Loan approval is subject to credit approval and program guidelines. Not all loan programs are available in all states for all loan amounts. Interest rates and program terms are subject to change without notice. Mortgage, home equity and credit products are offered by U.S. Bank National Association. Deposit products are offered by U.S. Bank National Association. Member FDIC.