'Sometimes, it’s about what you do after you hit rock bottom,' writes Pinky Cole.
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Dear Entrepreneur,

Welcome to the wild world of running a business. Most days we don’t know if we’re coming or going, and the smiles we paint on our faces are just masks we wear to hide the stress. We could’ve taken the easy route—woken up and punched a clock and asked for permission to get a fraction of freedom. But no, we decided to bet on the thing that keeps us up at night: success.

In 2016, I faced my biggest challenge as an entrepreneur. My restaurant had caught fire, and I watched everything I’d worked for fall apart right in front of my eyes. It felt like the end of my career as a restaurateur. Soon after the fire, I was evicted and my car was repossessed. The stress was unbearable, and the defeat was heavier than any weight I’d ever held.

Sometimes, it’s about what you do after you hit rock bottom. The universe had a pivot in mind for me that I never imagined. After losing the restaurant, I got an opportunity to work on a therapy show. It had nothing to do with my goals as an entrepreneur, but that job brought me the space and time I needed to overcome the pain of walking away from my failed business. While I was working on the show, I fixed my credit, I paid my bills down, and I focused on my mental health.

Read More: How to Start Your Own Business When You Have No Money and No Idea What to Do

That feeling of bouncing back from failure gave me my stripes. Looking back, it’s because I went through it that I now know I’m unstoppable—and it’s because I spent that time rebuilding that I found the clarity and confidence to double down on pursuing my dreams. I was building Slutty Vegan as a side hustle when I was fired from the show—and now I’m only grateful for that. The day I got fired was the day that Snoop Dogg tried our food.

I tell you this story because I want you to know that it gets better. I understand what it feels like to be broke, to look good on the outside while wondering how you’ll make next week’s payroll. I’ve fought the burnout. I remember days when the relief of my own tears was the only thing that stopped me from throwing in the towel for good.

So, if you need to hear it: I am so damn proud of you. I believe in your ability to stand tall in the face of your fears and to see your vision through until the end, even if it shifts along the way. You are a rockstar, and any war wounds from inconsistencies in your business are just part of the armor you wear when you show up to your calling.

In this challenging journey, remember that setbacks can become stepping stones to success, that resilience is your greatest asset. Stay determined, stay focused. The path may be tough, but each hurdle we overcome brings us closer to unlocking generational wealth. And when I say generational wealth, I don’t just mean money—I’m talking about the kind of emotional, spiritual, and physical wealth that gives us the freedom to become leaders who can inspire the next wave of entrepreneurs. Remember that your passion is your driving force, and it cannot be disrupted by the ebbs and flows of the economy.

So whether you have a billion-dollar idea or are just starting to think about a concept, I salute you for your courage and willingness to show up and try to build something your children will be proud of. This is your American dream, and don’t you ever forget that.


Pinky Cole

Cole is the founder of the restaurant chain Slutty Vegan and the author of I Hope You Fail. She is a member of the 2023 TIME100 Next list.

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