Mar 21, 2020

Steady Your Shoulders

Written by Tory Cambell, Founder of Mercatus Collective                      Artwork by Savina Fierro

The venerable saying, “Standing on the shoulders of giants” expresses the discovery of truth and knowledge that builds on the contributions of those who’ve gone before us.

The journey of the entrepreneur embodies that discovery, while also filled with lonely moments, isolation, and daunting challenges to the realization of our dreams: Bills pile up. The cost-of-goods calculations don’t make sense. Employees get sick. We lose sleep. We struggle to remain present in conversation with loved ones or friends. The pressure to present a positive outlook in public is enormous. And entrepreneurs of color face the particular challenge of discriminatory systems rooted in racism. In the push to get our business off the ground and hit our projected goals, we keep our heads down.

Overwhelmed by the fierce urgency to make the dream work, it’s easy to lose sight of the impact that the effort has on the next generation. And yet those who come after us will stand on our shoulders. They’ll draw inspiration from the courage we showed to act on an enterprise dream. They are watching our daily moves, following on social-media, taking notes, and listening attentively as we churn through the daily grind.

What we model today is what they’ll understand as possible in their own futures. Our struggles and heartbreaking failures–and our successes—offer the lessons that will fuel the passions of those following after us. As an entrepreneur of color, your work reaches beyond a “side hustle” or small business. It will stand as a reference point and motivation for a brown or Black kid growing up today with similar entrepreneurial impulses.

Eventually, they’ll stand on the sturdy shoulders your effort is building–that entrepreneurial muscle that grows stronger day by day as it bears the weight of your business dream. We are blessed if we can create a trusted foundation for the aspirations of those who follow us. As we keep our eyes on the goal, bolstered by the giants who inspired us, let’s also steady our own shoulders and press forward on behalf of those who come next.  

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