The following essay was written by Dante Labricciosa, a finalist for the 2017 SuretyBonds.com Small Business Scholarship. You can vote for Dante to win one of three scholarships here.
Life of an Entrepreneur
Any business mogul would typically tell you, do not mix business with friendship. But, I am not your typical business mogul; I am also just a 19-year-old Penn State student that started his business adventures as a 17 year-old-high school student from the mall-town of King of Prussia.
I co-own a food-trucking business with one of my lifelong friends. The Hedgehog Grill, LLC is its actual name, but most locals call it the “Grill.” It’s a small, traveling food trailer that has since grown to an operating food-trailer and an operating food-truck with the same image but on wheels. With the help of some self-contracted friends as employees, we operate throughout my township and county. When it comes to inspections, documentation, and taxes, we are a legitimate business. The Grill has everything we need to make it as real as any restaurant you would normally visit and our food is better!
Selling food is just part of this business, it is my friendships that I am strengthening along with making cheesesteaks. The Grill acts as a sense of direction, a cornerstone within our community. I had never thought of starting my own business before, but this opportunity presented itself and turned into something so much more than a moneymaker. For my friends and I, it is a place of wellbeing, our home away from home. It didn’t just make my friends and I closer, it allowed us to establish a better relationship with our school, assisting the clubs my school has to offer, whether it be donating to our Mini-Thon Fund, or acting as a symbol for our business club, DECA. Working together to make money while building our relationship with each other gives us the drive to keep on going, defying the belief that business and friendship cannot coexist. These rolling aluminum boxes that sell food has done more than generate an income, it has turned friends into family and given me a strong sense of self.
Life seems to revolve around the grim and gloomy perspective of business, the grey streets of New York with people always stressing to make a payment. The Grill has enlivened the streets of Upper Merion, my home away from my new home, Penn State, giving investing a seemingly different definition. It has given me a brighter view of what business is actually about, of how operating, managing, and financing a business is more than what you’d think. It taught me, from what I feel, more about business than any business class could teach me. Although, we invested for property and profit, in reality we invested ourselves in the culture of our community. The farmer’s markets, community celebrations, sporting events, and parties provide the canvas we use to paint a brighter future. To cater to both the people’s hunger and the community’s unity, the Grill does more than vend food. It creates friendships and conversations and as we meet new people every day, we always strive to leave someone other than us smiling.
As an entrepreneur, I want to be successful. The Hedgehog Grill LLC and business in general to me however, are more than just money – it is an opportunity, a gateway to something more. Though it had been tough, especially with my friend in college while I was operating in high school, or now that we are both in college, we find a way to make it work. Starting a business is not meant to be easy, though it is encouraged to boost our economy, and I am glad to know I have my community support and partner with great ambition. The Hedgehog Grill, LLC has created bonds of friendship that will never be broken, and continues to make me a better person every day. I no longer view business as gloomy and grey as a textbook could display. The Hedgehog Grill, LLC has provided the perfect mix of business and friendship.
Dante will attend the Pennsylvania State University in the fall and will major in business.
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