I met Malik while buying a mango smoothie in his West Hollywood health food restaurant, Muscle Maker Grill. He’s a young guy from the Bay that just recently moved to Los Angeles with bright eyes and big plans for his future.
With black women being the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs over the last 20 years, up 460%, black male entrepreneurs are struggling to keep up. After chatting with Malik for a while, I felt compelled to share his story.
Can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers? Tell us a little about your background.
“My name is Malik Hutchings and I’m a 21 year old entrepreneur. I own a restaurant named Muscle Maker Grill in West Hollywood. I’m originally from the Bay, San Francisco area. I moved down here two years ago to open a franchise restaurant with my brother Michael.”
What led to opening up Muscle Maker Grill?
“When I was still living back at home in the Bay, there was one right down the street from our house. I was eating there to help with my weight loss. I started to see results and ended up losing 55 pounds which I attribute to the grills health food plans I was eating. During that time my brother and I were trying to find something to invest in that we thought would be both beneficial for ourselves and the community.”
Malik decided to skip college and start a business and after moving to Los Angeles two years ago. He and his brother Michael, a recent USC alum former football player, opened their joint restaurant-business venture in January in a West Sunset Shopping Center. He’s also the author of Age Is Just A Number: How To Become Successful At A Young Age, a newly released self help book. He shares with us how he came to be a successful, young business owner, and what he believes it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.
How’d you develop the key partnerships that helped with your business?
“I developed most of my key business relationships through Instagram honestly. In the past people always used to ask why I was always on my phone, on Instagram. I would literally search all day on Instagram through celebrity friend groups to reach the right person for networking. I would DM people I knew could connect me to the big fish. It was a tool to me and if you use Instagram in the right way, and not just get caught up in it, it’s perfect to network and it’ll get you a lot of business. I gained a few relationships in the plaza where my restaurant is located as well, but mostly through social networking and mainly Instagram.”
What do you think you’ve learned so far as being a business owner?
“It’s extremely stressful and honestly if it were easy everyone would do it. It’s not always sunshine and rainbows and roses. It’s a lot to it, it’s a process. Every day is different. Every day is not going to be a great, amazing poppin’ day. You truly have to prepare yourself mentally for the ups and downs in the business. Bad days are always going to come. You have to be mentally prepared for this hustle and stay positive. You just gotta keep grinding.”
What do you think it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur?
“I’d go back to being mentally tough. Working for yourself you’re your own brand and exuding that every day. You have to present that confidence on a daily. Mental health is the biggest thing because it is stressful. You’ll lose sleep, you’ll get sick. It’s been times I’ve been up for days straight just stressing because things weren’t working out as I had planned. You really have to wear different hats and if you’re not mentally tough enough it’s easy to fail. Especially in our generation where everyone wants to be their own boss, but once they get in the fire they realize it’s not easy to do. It’s not like you see on social media, as easy as influencers make it seem, you’re working around the clock it’s literally 24/7. You can be at the coffee shop and end up networking with someone. It’s not about making money every single day which is something people don’t understand. Connections and networking are important as well.”
What makes you stand out?
“I’m a beautiful black man. Nah, really it’s just the confidence that I have in myself. Sometimes it’s misconstrued as arrogance because I truly believe in myself and it’ll just be seen as me being a cocky asshole. You have to be confident though and have that belief in yourself. There will be times you’ll walk into a meeting and immediately be turned down and you have to keep going. I don’t let anything faze me. If I have a bad day I know that tomorrow will be a good day. Confidence. Confidence. Confidence. It’ll help you stand out.”
What’s your best piece of advice for a young entrepreneur?
“Hmm. Trust your process, don’t trust anyone else’s. Just because you see them moving faster don’t think that means you’re not doing something right. Everyone’s process is different, everyone has a different road to take. Sometimes you may have a longer road, you may fail more than the next person but just stay in your lane and trust that everything is going to work out for you and it’ll all be good.”
What other business ventures are you looking into?
“We’re looking to open another grill location very soon. Definitely want to dip into real estate soon. My brother has his commercial real estate license and I’m in the process of getting my residential real estate license so we can flip them and rent them out.”
Where do you see yourself professionally in the next 5 years?
“In 5 years I see myself progressing more as a business owner. I definitely see myself getting more into real estate and owning several properties. Still being a student of the game, being humble but confident at the same time, trusting my process and enjoying life.”
Follow Malik’s entrepreneurial journey on Instagram: @MalikHutchings , purchase his book Age Is Just A Number: How To Become Successful At A Young Age, or visit Muscle Maker Grill at 8000 W Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA!