random- career limitations and such

Many burgeoning entrepreneurs with drive will at some point develop a superhero complex when viewing their businesses. Every opportunity becomes a life or death decision for their companies, and the fear of missing that dream chance pushes the entrepreneurs to take on more than they can handle. Projects begin stacking upon themselves, late nights turn into early mornings- the entrepreneur runs until empty. And then, it all comes crashing down. Deadlines pass, meetings are missed and, suddenly, the entrepreneur is overwhelmed trying to fix the problems caused by not pacing themselves in the first place.

When you are first following your dream, it is difficult to turn down projects offered to you. The continual fear of failure can often cloud your judgment when deciding what you are capable of doing. This can be especially true if your business follows the feast or famine model- some months you’re overwhelmed with projects, while other months you can barely pay the bills. If you are a project based entrepreneur, you have no set schedule for your business operations. The progression of the digital age makes the typical 9-5 business hours almost obsolete, so projects come in at all hours of the day with varying deadlines. If you find yourself becoming the type of entrepreneur who can’t set limits because of financial constraints or unabridged ambition, there are preemptive actions you can take to empower yourself.

1) Project Timelines- Setting a timeline with a client that allows you flexibility can also help you manage your projects. Before accepting projects, inform clients of the window of time needed for a project. Allow yourself a cushion of time to complete the project. For instance, if a client wants you to complete a project that you know will take two weeks, request that the client give you up to three weeks to complete it. In this way, if any issues arise, you have a 50% more time to complete the project. If you complete it in two weeks, your client is even happier that they received a quality project earlier than expected. This model can be seen often in companies that ship products for their businesses. A quick run through their reviews and you’ll notice client comments like “Product came earlier than expected!” or “Quick delivery!” This is not a happy accident, but a planned method of attack. These companies are highly aware of the amount of time it takes to move their products, but allow themselves a cushion to increase customer satisfaction.

2) Payment Plans– Most new entrepreneurs embrace payment in full when a job is completed. For project based entrepreneurs, the varying flux of income can be difficult to manage. For larger projects, consider putting your client on a payment plan. Many clients will embrace the idea of payment plans as it allows them to budget out the amount they owe over a period of time. From my experience, clients who are put on a payment plan are more willing to contract you for further long-term projects.

There is benefit on your end as well with payment plans. Though you do not receive the balance in full up front, clients with payment plans can secure you income over a period of time- a luxury many project based entrepreneurs don’t have. This secured income allows you to budget somewhat your expenses with the knowledge of the long term income you expect to receive. Knowing that you have the income security will allow you to decide on projects based on your ability to do them rather than your financial need. This can keep you from overwhelming yourself with projects you may not have the ability to complete.

Turning down projects is never easy, but the successful entrepreneur understands the ability of companies to grow too fast, too soon and fail. Accept your limitations and work with them, not against them. At the end of the day, it is better to have your name on a few quality projects than a large quantity of mediocre projects. And since your reputation ensures your success, think of turning down current projects as a method to secure your business’s longevity.

random- mentors and such

As you are aware, having a mentor is one of the best tools you can have to help you achieve your dreams. Mentors come in a variety of types, and knowing the types you need can help you decide on mentors. When looking for mentors it’s important to keep several things in mind.
 
1) What areas of your life need mentor-ship?
 
Usually, a person chooses a mentor to help them advance in a certain area of their life. This isn’t restricted to your career; many people have spiritual mentors, relationship mentors, emotional mentors, etc. When you are deciding about mentor-ship, it’s good to give your whole life an overview to see what areas could benefit from the advice of someone more experience. Remember that you as a person are holistic- this means that one aspect of your life in inextricably connected to every other aspect of your life. This means that improving in one area can also have benefits in other areas. This also means that improvement in one area can reveal a need for improvement in other areas. After you look over your life (which seems daunting, but you can do it), note the areas that give you the most anxiety. These areas are the areas that stay in the forefront of your mind, and therefore take the most focus. By identifying these areas, you can identify what types of mentors you need.
 
2) What can a mentor provide?
 
This seems like an obvious question and we’ve hammered on it tremendously. Mentors are like master keys to doors of opportunity (ooh, I’m copyrighting that, lol). They have the experience that you lack, and learning from their experiences can save you from figurative bumps and bruises in your career path. A mentor should have a direct connection to what he or she mentors. A specialist in the field is preferred because they tend to have more expansive experience than any other type of mentor. This doesn’t mean they need to have “Specialist” in his or her title; instead they have tangible evidence of his or her experiences. A mentor should also have connections. You’ve probably heard the phrase “It’s not what you know but who you know.” Your mentor should be able to connect you to others in his or her field if necessary. It’s much easier to get in the door with anything you are doing if you can have a common talking point with the person at that door. A mentor can also provide an evaluation of you that gives you more insight into yourself. This can help you figure yourself out a bit- the way you work, the needs you have etc. Knowing yourself is invaluable in the path toward self improvement.
 
3) What shouldn’t a mentor do?
 
Every mentor has an objective when it comes to those they mentor. Some mentors want to pass on their own knowledge so that others can use it to achieve similar goals. Some mentors take on mentees so that the mentees can preserve the mentor’s legacy. Then there are some mentors I dub as “stage moms/dads”. They sometimes forget that they are mentoring and instead begin living their unfulfilled dreams through their mentees. Of the three, the first is ideal and the second can be helpful, but the third would be very toxic. The third type can put pressure or demands on their mentees without realizing it. When it comes to choosing your mentors, trust your instincts. If a person slated to guide you gives you a weird feeling it’s okay to back off from the relationship, even severing it if you feel like it isn’t beneficial to you both. Remember to be open about what you hope to gain, and ask lots of questions. Knowing as much as you can prepares you for making a great choice.
 
Final notes- Mentors are like parts of trees. I’m sure you’ve heard that saying before, but if you haven’t, I’ll explain. Some mentors are like leaves- only there for a season. They pop in your life almost like a whirlwind and pop out the same way. Some mentors are like branches- they can walk with you to a certain point, but are limited by other obligations (this would be the type of mentor that I am, if you were wondering). And then there are mentors who are roots- they are with you the longest, all the ups and downs. From my experience, this relationship usually develops into a friendship that is pretty enduring. 
Do not be dismayed if you label a mentor one way and they turn out to be another. Instead, appreciate the experience they’ve garnered and learn from it.

Remember that the efficacy of a mentor (how much you gain from them) is contingent upon your ability to apply what they teach you. Not every lesson you learn you apply. But those you do apply tend to stick. Application is always a good way to test what you’ve learned. It reveals the truth in the lesson, and truth is always a great path.
 
Okay, I’ve rambled enough. 🙂

random- college and such

Scholarship- The Cost of Education:
 
So there are a lot of scholarships out there for students with your potential. When looking for scholarship it’s important to keep several things in mind-
 
1) What needs do I need to cover financially?
 
The cost of going to school isn’t just the cost of tuition. Many things need to be taken into account, like whether or not you will be a full time or part time student, how you will get back and forth to school, the cost of books and supplies, eating every once in a while. All of these costs add up. The average cost of education for the freshman class of 2016 was about $37,000.
 
Now there are things to take into consideration that can cut those costs down. Living off campus or at home will probably be your most economical housing route, although many schools require freshman to live on campus so that they can have assistance in transitioning to a more independent lifestyle. If you do live off campus or at home, you would have to factor in transportation costs. 
 
The cost of books and supplies can also create quite an expense. Luckily, the average student doesn’t keep their class books for too long, so a little internet and campus searching can help you get the books you need at a deep discount. 
 
A lot of times students have no idea of the cost of food because the majority of their meals are purchased by their guardian. From experience, a student diet mostly consists of foods that are fast and easy to prepare. Unfortunately, most of these foods have a substantially higher cost than unprepared foods. Grabbing a quick meal from a fast food restaurant for all three meals a day could run you upwards of $23 a day. Now $23 doesn’t seem like much, but over the course of a year that’s more than $8000, which is a lot of money for food. This is where a support system comes in handy. Buying in bulk and care packages from family are two ways that many students cut down their costs. Should you ask for care packages? Probably not. But families will worry and in that worry they often send care packages. It’s a perk that most kids I know who went to school experienced. Buying and bulk kills two birds with one stone. First, the cost per item will generally be cheaper in bulk. Secondly, the amount of trips back and forth to the grocery store are cut down. Believe me when I say that when you are a student you often forget that necessities don’t grow on trees. Having extra around prevents you from making last minute more expensive purchases.
 
One of the most neglected costs in education costs calculations is the cost of campus life. Being on campus affords you the opportunity to experience tons of different things in one very small space. Campus games, concerts, organizations, even parties will come with some costs.
 
One way to figure out how much you need is to think about what you would want a typical week of school to look like. What expenses, outside of tuition, books, housing, transportation and fees will you have? Will you eat out with friends for lunch? Will you go to the game that weekend? Will you go to a friend’s show? It doesn’t have to be exact, just a ballpark. then multiply that times 52 and add it to the other aforementioned expenses. That will give you an idea of what you could possibly need for aid.

 
2) How do I find out where financial aid is?
 
Okay, now that the cost is out of the way, let’s talk about defraying, or lessening that cost. FAFSA- Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This is the form that EVERY accredited college uses to figure out how much aid they can seek from the government on your behalf. In addition, a school’s financial aid office will also use this form to determine whether or not you qualify for scholarships from the school that are not merit based. Which brings me to another vocabulary lesson- merit based vs financial based scholarships. The scholarship world is generally divided into three parts, the scholarships for kids from low income backgrounds, the scholarships for a kid’s biological or nurture circumstance (race, gender, orientation, parent’s background, etc.), and the scholarships for kids who have noteworthy achievements in academics, extracurricular activities and sports. Every scholarship has a different set of guidelines for applying and every scholarship has a different amount of aid they will give. In addition, some scholarships are renewable (you get them year after year), while other scholarships are given all at one time. I always say aim for renewable scholarships first because they guarantee you aid over the duration of your collegiate career, but one time scholarships can help you with one time costs, like a laptop or a car (no, seriously, i know kids who have done that).
 
Here are websites I’d like you to check out to get you started on the right path.
 
www.fasfa.ed.gov – this is the website where you fill out your FAFSA. You and your dad will need to do it together because it asks for your dad’s financial information in order to be processed. In addition, it will ask you about the schools you are interested in. It will send your information to up to ten schools so that their financial aid departments can prepare information for you.
 
www.fastweb.com These two websites give information on a variety of different scholarships offered to students. They both ask you to fill out a profile so that you can be better matched with scholarships that are applicable to you.
 
Even though you aren’t 100% on where you want to go, or even if you are, knowing you have a way to cover your costs can relieve a ton of stress! Happy hunting!