EDITORS NOTE: JULY
THIS MONTH WE’RE FOCUSING ON MEN OF COLOR! OUR 3RD ANNUAL CELEBRATION OF THE MEN IN OUR LIVES AND COMMUNITIES WHO ARE SHOWING UP FOR US AND FOR THEIR EMOTIONAL GROWTH. FIRST UP, CHEF AND FIANCE TO OUR EIC, DERRELL SMITH WRITES US ALL AN HONEST NOTE.
In the spirit of honesty and vulnerability, I wanted to share my truth when it comes to entrepreneurship.
Which is that, I haven’t had a day off since I lost my job 3 years ago and I can’t remember the last time I slept in, woke up and smiled while looking at the sunshine in my lady’s eyes — cooked her breakfast, served her in bed, wiped her mouth and rubbed on her booty. Shit like this was once weekend-ritual, but now that kind of luxury is far in between.
The funds I have now are not much more than what I started with three years ago. There are months where I still have to work extra hard to make rent, but I always find a way to do so. The shoes I wear have holes in them, but I tape them because they’re comfortable and molded to my feet (entrepreneurs and chefs are some of the most creative and scrappy folks I know, so amongst us tape on your shoes is indigenous behavior).
When I’m not working, I am left with my mind and forced to talk to it all day about whatever it wants. Sometimes these days can be productive, but often times they’re not. I’ve filled the unproductive time with riding my bike, which helps put my mind at ease and helps it to relax and to live in the present, for the life of a entrepreneur can be such a daze.
When I lost my job, I ate off-brand Cocoa Puffs and dollar slices — lunch and dinner for a month straight. I collected unemployment checks and missed some meals. I once had $127 to my name but still managed to deliver food on the MTA. I’ve stuffed resisting Uberpool trunks and backseats with catering boxes. Sacrificed vacations with my lady and watched Instagram stories of her on a beach while I stood in a sweltering kitchen, whipping up OG Sauce at 5am. I’ve served meatballs to Elmo, co-starred in a cooking show, got paid to cook around the world, and nearly lost a finger while filming. I’ve missed birthdays, longed for hugs from my family, cried in bathtubs, gone to therapy, failed my team, and felt defeated. But, through it all, I kept going and I will keep going because along the way I’m learning that if you’re going to sacrifice your sleep, your health, your mind, your time and your love—your passion better be worth it. I enjoy everything I do, because I know I am fulfilling one of my lives purpose.
The kind of experience being an entrepreneur is giving me is invaluable. I recognize that not many people are built for this like me. As they say, it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon — just so happens this marathon can sometimes feel as if you’re running in a dark and gloomy forest at night blindfolded with no shoes on, and act like you can see the finish line. Just know, you don’t have to see the finish line to know it’s there.
No matter how bad things seem, keep your faith. God always seems to step in and nudge me straight when when I go off course.
For anyone out there considering joining us in the wonderful world of entrepreneurship, just know that there are good times and there are hard times, but the successes along the way are validation that you’re headed in the right direction. If you don’t remember anything else, remember this: Don’t invest your resources in something you plan to rent. Know your worth and build with it wisely.