The Social Life of an Entrepreneur

“Live life to the fullest”, “you only live once”, and “life is what you make of it” are some of the things we hear all the time. Believe it or not but time is the most valuable asset known to mankind. Often, time is undervalued and taken for granted, unfortunately. What makes it so valuable, though? Time is one of the very few things in life that you will never be able to recuperate. As powerful as it may be, even money can’t rewind time. When you’re an entrepreneur, every minute counts and you want to make the most of your time by being as productive as possible.

Let’s be honest: The social life of an entrepreneur is almost non-existent in most cases. Countless hours are invested into transforming the next big idea into a reality. Sounds rough? Don’t forget to add many sleepless nights into the mix. Entrepreneurs are usually hard-pressed when it comes to making decisions for their personal and professional lives. More often than not, their professional lives take the cake while everything else is forced to take a backseat. What many people would consider as making a sacrifice would be considered as a stepping stone by entrepreneurs.

Certain qualities are necessary to live the entrepreneurial lifestyle: motivation, determination, passion, and risk-taking. Entrepreneurs are very passionate about what they do and in most cases, they get so caught up with their projects that they lose track of time. What’s the best part about all of this? Entrepreneurs don’t work, they create. Entrepreneurs don’t have jobs, they have ambitious endeavors. Most people are content and comfortable with working an office job for 40 hours a week, going home with a steady paycheck However, entrepreneurs want more than a paycheck. Therefore, they spend about 80 hours a week to paint their masterpiece, so to speak.

Don’t get me wrong, entrepreneurs are NOT superheroes. Although they tend to forget at times, they’re average human beings and as human beings, they still have a desire for interacting with fellow human beings and maintaining a social life. However, their social lives might not be as lustrous as their companions’. Without a doubt, there are many instances where they had to stay home on a Friday and/or Saturday night to meet their deadlines while their friends went out and had a good time. Truthfully, it gets lonely at times but entrepreneurs don’t see this as a negative.

Time management plays a vital role in the life of an entrepreneur – planning your day can offset some of the hardships. It allows you to maximize your effort and handle your workload efficiently. Despite some of the setbacks, the entrepreneurial lifestyle is a dream come true for many individuals due to a couple of reasons: 1) You are your own boss and you make your own schedule. 2) You reap all of the rewards. You also have to absorb the losses, of course. However, your success depends on your effort and decisions, as your fate is in your own hands.

Posted in Entrepreneurship

Paying it Forward

What exactly is paying it forward? Does it involve grabbing your wallet and forking out the cash? Not necessarily. Paying it forward is all about giving a hand to those in need. Admittedly, many of us take a lot of things for granted when in reality, most people don’t have the privilege of enjoying those luxuries. What might not seem valuable to you may very well be worth its weight in gold to others. Below, I’ve listed a couple of ways I’ve recently paid it forward in order for you to get an idea of what it truly entails.

Without a doubt, I’m really big on dog rescues. I’ve been around dogs for the majority of my life and therefore, I’m a little biased towards dogs – can you blame me? Countless dogs are abused and/or abandoned by their “owners” for no apparent reason. In December 2012, I came across a stray dog at the parking lot at my workplace. Assuming he was hungry and thirsty, I gave him some food and water. He ate the food and drank the water within seconds. Long story short, I ended up taking the dog to a local pet clinic where they inspected his health and took great care of him. The employees at the pet clinic named him “Sammy” and for some reason, it was a very fitting name. Sammy was a sweetheart – he was very playful and joyful. About a month after the rescue, Sammy was adopted by an elderly couple. I’m glad he was able to find a home. I’ve attached a “before and after” photo of Sammy and another photo of him with his new owners.

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Many children take their parents for granted. They also take their possessions for granted and that’s why you see a lot of young children with the latest tech gear at a very young age – most likely due to peer pressure. Perhaps, they saw their friends carry these devices at school and felt left out. As a result, they demanded their parents to provide them with the same devices as their friends so they can “fit in”.. Unfortunately, they don’t realize that many kids their age don’t know who their parents are. Also, there are many children who don’t have toys. I took it upon myself to narrow that gap by a tiny margin, as I donated about 50 new toys to needy children. I dropped off the toys at a local LAPD station – where they were having a toy drive – and with the help of my donation, the female officer noticed that the total number of toys had more than doubled. She was speechless and thanked me for my donation as I walked out. It was a great feeling, to say the least.

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I’m sure you’re asking yourself the following question: does a connection between entrepreneurship and good deeds exist? You bet! Believe it or not but companies, regardless of size, have been giving back to their communities for quite some time now. When you think about it, it makes sense because they’re killing two birds with one stone, so to speak. Not only are they creating opportunities through the investments into their communities but they’re also strengthening their public image. Consumers are more likely to give their hard-earned working dollars to the companies who maintain a reputation of giving back to their communities than the companies that don’t. Some people may consider this as a marketing scheme but at least one individual is benefiting from the companies’ goodwill.

Paying it forward comes from your heart, not from your wallet – it’s an act of kindness, not an obligation. Whether you pay for someone’s groceries or tutor a student that’s falling behind in Math class, you’re paying it forward. The best part about paying it forward is that it’s contagious – the person you help will mostly return the favor to someone else and it will become an ongoing trend.

Posted in Self-Improvement

Are You Living Your Childhood Dreams?

Dreams – everyone has one. These dreams, however, don’t formulate in your sleep. These dreams are developed from your passions and desires. As a child, you picture yourself living your dreams in your 20’s or 30’s. The best part about these dreams is that the sky’s the limit and you’re willing to live these dreams by all means necessary. However, things change when you grow up and realize the world isn’t the place you imagined ten years ago. Therefore, are you living your childhood dreams? Are you as ambitious and driven as when you were younger? Has reality had an influence on your childhood dreams?

Personally, I wanted to become a professional basketball player and play for my hometown/favorite team, the Los Angeles Lakers. I loved watching and playing basketball when I was younger – it was my world. After watching a Lakers game, I would go outside and mimic my favorite players’ moves. I played for countless hours without any regard to what time it was. I loved what I did and I was so passionate about it. That led me to believe that I was going to be drafted into the NBA right after college.

As I grew up, reality knocked on my door and made me realize that the world didn’t need more basketball players or any athletes. It needed people who were willing to make a difference in their communities and change the world around them. So many questions go unanswered on a daily basis and normally, the people who ask these questions are the ones hoping for change. Unfortunately, they wait for others to be the change they hope for. As Gandhi once stated, “be the change you wish to see in the world.” When I came across that quote, it literally changed my life. Although I’ve always been the type of person to take initiative and dive head strong, so to speak, Gandhi’s statement reminded me that there’s always room for improvement and opportunities to expand your character while making a difference in the world.

Posted in Self-Improvement

5 Reasons Entrepreneurs Should Pay Down Student Loans In College

Without a doubt, school is expensive but it’s a lifelong investment that will pay for itself and then some. Nowadays, we live in a world where it’s almost impossible to find a job, let alone a job that pays well. Since they’ll be self-employed, some entrepreneurs are under the impression that they don’t have to attend college. They believe that the only people who need a college degree are the ones who will climb the corporate ladder. Fortunately, attending college isn’t only about a degree. It has many perks including meeting people who share the same interests as you and being able to create something with them. Entrepreneurs are artists, artists are entrepreneurs. Attending college provides you with the paintbrush and easel you need to create your masterpiece. Here are five reasons why entrepreneurs should pay down their student loans while they’re in college:

  1. As opposed to using the majority of your income to pay off your debt after you graduate, you’ll be able to put some money aside. This is crucial for entrepreneurs because it will allow them to fund their start-ups, as entrepreneurial endeavors require financial capital. Funding your business with cash as opposed to loans is highly recommended.
  2. The lower your debt, the higher your credit score – it’s that simple! Paying off some of your debt while hitting the books will only put you in a good position once you graduate. If necessary, you can apply for loans that will help you fund your business if you don’t have the cash right from the get-go.
  3. Depending on the type of student loan you were approved for, most loans accrue interest while you’re in school. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to pay down your student loans while you’re still in school because it’ll help offset the interest charges. Also, the money you save on interest charges could be used for something more important such as funding your own business. As the old adage goes, “a penny saved is a penny earned.”
  4. While you’re in school, you’re able to apply for grants and scholarships. Therefore, you should take advantage of this opportunity, as it will help offset the cost of tuition and related school expenses. If you think about it, it will help you pay down your debt without having to work those overtime hours. Not bad, right? There are many resources, including workshops, available to students on how they can pay their student loans. You just have to look for them!
  5. Sure, saving money and having good credit can be rewarding but the most important aspect is having less stress. The feeling of student loans breathing down your neck when you graduate isn’t very exciting – paying off some of your student loan debt will help reduce the tension. Also, reducing your debt allows you to focus and invest more time into your entrepreneurial endeavors rather than your student loans.

 

Posted in Entrepreneurship

5 Tips for Entrepreneurs in College

There’s a common misconception that entrepreneurs don’t need to attend college, assuming they’re going to be self-employed. Many believe that attending school only applies to individuals whose career paths involve moving up the corporate ladder. If you’re a true entrepreneur, you’re well-aware of the fact that resources is what’s going to help you become successful. Here are five tips for entrepreneurs to consider while they’re in college:

  1. Networking: When you’re an entrepreneur, having a college degree isn’t enough. it’s crucial to have connections in various fields of interest. As you develop new ideas, you’re going to need expertise from people involved in that specific field to bring your ideas to life. Joining organizations and participating in various events throughout the school will give you the opportunity to meet your peers and network with them. However, networking doesn’t involve just talking. In order to truly benefit from networking, make sure you exchange phone numbers or e-mail addresses with your peers. That way, you can contact them when you have something that’s right up their alley.
  1. Build good credit: When you’re a college student, debt becomes your next door neighbor, so to speak. Applying for student loans is understandable because college tuition costs a pretty penny and not everyone is going to inherit a large sum of cash from a long lost ancestor. However, maxing out credit cards can not only prevent you from obtaining loans for current and future projects but it can set you back as well. Don’t forget, credit card debt needs to be repaid. Now, you don’t have to go all out and create a spreadsheet (unless you want to) in order to track your spending. What you could do is run some numbers and assign budgets to various categories of spending. For example, you have a budget of $400 a month for food, including eating out. As long as you stay within your budget, you should be fine. Also, if you have some spare time on your hands, it wouldn’t hurt to find a part-time job that will you provide with income. You could always use that income to pay off some of your student loan(s). Remember, student loans accrue interest while you’re in school. Getting a head start on paying off your loans is always a good idea.
  1. Take care of yourself: Many college students take their health for granted when they’re in college, as junk food, alcohol, coffee, and “all-nighters” are all a part of the gameplan. One of the smartest investments you can make is taking care of your body. Let’s face it, you’re not getting younger. In the long run, many sleepless nights of studying and partying can really take a toll on your body. If you don’t take care of your body from the get-go, you can’t rewind time to fix it. As you get older, you’ll notice that you won’t be able to do everything you used to be able to do when you were younger. Think of your body as a car engine. The higher the mileage, the greater care it needs to keep going.
  1. Reputation: Having a good reputation in school goes a long way. After all, it’s a lasting impression in which people remember you by. Sure, making a good first impression is important but building AND maintaining a good public image is good as gold – it follow you everywhere you go. You can build a good reputation by getting involved with your community and helping others in need. As a matter of fact, doing good outside of school broadens your reach and allows you to market yourself to a larger audience. When you market yourself, you market your brands as well.
  1. Take advantage of what you’ve learned in school: This is something that many college students, including myself, take for granted. If you’re taking classes solely to fulfill the requirements for your major, you’re doing a disservice to yourself. The information you learn in class could help you succeed when it comes to your projects. It helps to keep an open-mind especially when you’re in class because it allows your mind to absorb new information and somehow incorporate it into your entrepreneurial activities. In a time where competition is growing very quickly, it’s important to gain an edge and using the information you learned in school is definitely one of them.

I didn’t attend college until a few years after I graduated from high school. My parents were successful without obtaining a college degree and I believed I could achieve the same lifestyle. Therefore, I was under the mistaken impression that only company employees needed a college degree. However, I noticed having a college degree nowadays is far more important than it was a couple of decades ago. After attending college for a year, I realized that I wasn’t going to college for the degree. The people you meet and the things you learn is a once in a lifetime opportunity and you can’t put a price or value on that, as it makes you a well-rounded person. I wrote this article to shed some light on the importance of entrepreneurs attending college. Attending school isn’t just about obtaining a degree. It’s all about getting the tools you need to become successful. Some may argue that you don’t need a college degree to become successful and while that’s true, it’s not the college degree that makes you successful but rather the resources you gain while you’re in college.

Posted in Entrepreneurship

The American Dream: Has It Become A Nightmare?

Chances are, you, your parents, or your relatives traveled to the U.S. in pursuit of a dream. However, this isn’t your average dream. There’s only one dream powerful enough to change your entire life. This dream allows you to rise to the top from the bottom. What’s the best part about this dream? You can start off with nothing – that’s right, zilch. All you need is hope and faith in yourself. As long as you have those two, you’re good to go. However, has that changed over the years? Many people tend to argue that it takes a lot more than faith and hope to succeed and while that’s true, is it possible to succeed without a strong foundation?

There’s no doubt technology has changed the way we live. From the way we make money to the way we spend it, the writing is on the wall. Whether this change is for the best or the worst is a completely different story but I think we can all agree with technology bringing convenience to our lives. Remember, convenience doesn’t come without a cost. As a matter of fact, we could be taking two steps back with every step forward. What do I mean by this? Allow me to elaborate: Remember riding a seesaw as a child? One side would rise as the other would fall. Believe it or not but that is a good way to look at the economical changes we’re currently witnessing – as online businesses flourish, many traditional businesses have been forced to close their doors, resulting in job losses.

We are in the middle of a transition from brick and mortar stores to online stores. In the past, the American Dream was all about starting your own business in a small store and expanding gradually. There was a certain feeling of excitement about seeing your business grow – renting a bigger space, hiring more employees, and watching more customers walk into your store. Needless to say, those aspects of running a business filled the business owner with pride and a sense of achievement. With e-commerce on the rise, has that excitement disappeared? We’re seeing a shift in consumer patronage from your average “mom and pop” establishments to online retailers. Lower pricing is one of the motives for consumers willing to give their hard money to an online seller. This transition has flipped our economy upside down – online retailers are thriving while brick and mortar are struggling to keep their lights on. As a result, this raises an important question: has the American Dream become a nightmare?

Times have changed, haven’t they? With the explosion in social media usage and the Internet, it’s not surprising to see them at the forefront of our economy. They are driving entrepreneurship and opening new doors that weren’t possible two decades ago. Whether you’re trying to collaborate with your peers or promote your project, it has never been easier to connect with others. From a business owner standpoint, advertising your business through social media networks has become a lot more efficient thanks to the Internet and social media. They [the Internet and social media] serve as a platform for entrepreneurs who have an appetite for ambitious endeavors. Therefore, entrepreneurs are more encouraged than ever to create start-ups and take their ideas to the big stage.

Without a doubt, this transition has taken a toll on many of us in the form of an economic recession. Job loss has become the “new norm” and it has become more difficult to put food on the table, as there are more applicants applying for the same position than there were in the past. However, when one door closes, another one opens. The good news is that the American Dream is still very much alive. The torch has been passed on to the Internet and social media. They embrace entrepreneurship and allow them to not only create opportunities for themselves but for others.

 

Posted in Entrepreneurship

3 Ways NOT to Spend Your Financial Aid

As college students, the two most important days are comprised of financial aid and graduation. From the moment we submit our applications to the first day of class, the two things we look forward to the most are the day we graduate and the day we receive financial aid. Although receiving financial aid might feel similar to winning the lottery, most of it is money you have to repay once you graduate. As a result, you have to be frugal and think twice about how you spend your money. Here are five ways not to spend your financial aid:

  1. Don’t use the debit card pre-loaded with your financial aid: Many colleges provide financial aid pre-loaded onto debit cards. In my opinion, this is one of the worst ways to gain access to financial aid because you’ll be tempted to swipe that debit card left and right, without thinking twice. Also, it will throw any budgets you might have created out the window. In other words, it will turn you into a “reckless spender.”
  2. Only use grants, not subsidized or unsubsidized loans: Yes, loans are considered as financial aid because they help you cover the costs of attending college. Although you won’t have to repay most loans while you’re in school, it is money you will have to repay nonetheless. As a result, you’ll be “burying” yourself in debt.
  3. Don’t use credit cards in hopes of repaying them with financial aid: Several students apply for credit cards and use them BEFORE receiving their financial aid, which is a disaster; need I say more? First of all, most schools, if not all, provide students with an estimate of the financial amount they’re eligible for, not actual. Your financial aid award is based on several factors, including the number of units you enroll in. Therefore, most students assume they’re going to receive the maximum financial aid award and spend “accordingly.” This leads to students burying themselves in credit card debt, which charge an arm and a leg of an interest rate.

College students graduating with large amounts of debt has become ubiquitous and shows no signs of slowing down, unfortunately. While this article might not help students completely eliminate debt, it can help reduce it. I cannot stress the importance of managing your financial aid wisely and I HIGHLY recommend working part-time if your costs exceed your grants, as opposed to using loans to cover the costs of attending college. It might seem difficult to balance school and work, it’s not as difficult as it may seem. How would I know? Currently, I’m in the same boat and believe me, it will pay off!

Posted in College

5 Reasons You Need to Hire a Brand Ambassador

As a current Sony Specialist at a Best Buy store, I’ve learned a lot from my experiences and interactions with consumers. I was hired to demonstrate and build value in Sony’s new digital imaging products (cameras). Before I began working there, I thought I was going to get approached by several consumers wanting to “play” with Sony’s cool new products. Boy, was I wrong!

We all know Sony is a juggernaut and a household name when it comes to electronics. However, none of that seemed to matter in a retail setting. I’ve lost count of consumers who’ve walked past Sony’s beautiful end caps and didn’t take a moment to look at their innovative products. This got me thinking: If consumers aren’t taking the time to check out Sony’s products on their end caps, why would they take the time to check out my products on an endcap? I learned the value of a brand ambassador and here are five reasons why you, the entrepreneur, should hire a brand ambassador(s):

  1. Increase sales: Granted, this is the ultimate goal but not the only goal. A brand ambassador can help you, the entrepreneur, differentiate your product from all of the other products on store shelves.
  2. Build brand equity: If you’re a start-up, no one has heard of your company, let alone know anything about it. As a result, I strongly encourage start-ups to hire a brand ambassador. As a result, the brand ambassador can provide consumers a brief description of your company and what it stands for. Consumers purchase products from companies who stand for a good cause and if you don’t have someone in the store to tell consumers what your company stands for, your company’s mission is irrelevant.
  3. Demonstrate value in your product(s): When your product is available for purchase in a retail store, most consumers will walk past your product and not even notice it. However, the brand ambassador can approach them and explain, demonstrate your product to them. Although not all consumers will purchase your product the same day, they will at least be aware of your product and chances are, purchase it in the near future.
  4. Marketing: A brand ambassador can spread the word about your product with potential customers and fellow store associates. Although this a great way to build product/brand recognition, you shouldn’t limit your marketing to this strategy. This could be one aspect of a marketing strategy, not the main nor entire marketing strategy,
  5. Support: Brand ambassadors can answer questions and address concerns your customers might have, whether they have purchased your product or not. In most cases, a brand ambassador can help your customers with your products by solving any issues they have and essentially, prevent a return.

Without an investment or some type of funding, hiring brand ambassadors can be difficult; these types of programs don’t come cheap. As a result, if you’re a start-up and in the early stages of your product launch, I advise NOT to sell your product through brick-and-mortar retail stores, let alone hire brand ambassadors. However, if you experience some success with online sales/e-commerce and would like to scale/expand your business by selling your products through major retailers, I HIGHLY recommend hiring a few brand ambassadors and find out how effective they are for your product. Also, if you decide to hire brand ambassadors, make sure they’re energetic and have excellent people skills, as these two qualities will play a huge role in your product’s success.

Posted in Entrepreneurship

Don’t Attend College for the Degree, Go for the Experience

Why are you/do you want attend college? Is it to earn a college degree and find a well-paying job, maintain a comfortable lifestyle? If so, you’re not alone. However, it somewhat bothers me seeing people who claim they go to college just for the degree but in reality, college has so much more to offer. In my opinion, you’d be doing a disservice to yourself if you went to college and didn’t take advantage of the resources available to you.

What I’m trying to say is there’s so much to do besides going to class, cramming for exams, writing 10-15 page essays the night before it’s due. Here are just a few ways to enhance your college experience and truly make the most of it:

  1. Talk to your professors before and/or after class and build relationships: Most of them, if not all, enjoy connecting with their students and sharing their experiences, knowledge with you.
  2. Join student organizations of your interest: Nowadays, there’s a student organization for almost everything you can imagine. Joining one of these organizations will allow you to meet like-minded individuals with common interests and goals.
  3. Take the time to talk to other students in your class and around the campus: I talk to fellow students when I’m waiting in line for coffee or lunch. If there’s a long line, a good way to start a conversation and break the ice is to make a joke about the long line.
  4. Live on-campus, if possible: If you can afford to live on campus. I highly recommend it because it’s a great experience, as you’ll meet a lot of new people and make a ton of new friends within a short of period of time.

To sum it up, college isn’t just a place for you to complete classes required for a degree. Take advantage of EVERYTHING college has to offer because once you graduate, most of those resources will be gone. Attending college and making the most of it will help you become a better person and not only will you have a college degree, you’ll be able to provide for yourself and/or your family. Also, you will become a well-rounded individual, which will help you gain a new perspective on life.

Posted in College

Don’t Attend College for the Degree, Go for the Experience

Why are you/do you want attend college? Is it to earn a college degree and find a well-paying job, maintain a comfortable lifestyle? If so, you’re not alone. However, it somewhat bothers me seeing people who claim they go to college just for the degree but in reality, college has so much more to offer. In my opinion, you’d be doing a disservice to yourself if you went to college and didn’t take advantage of everything else that’s available to you.

What I’m trying to say is there’s so much to do besides going to class, cramming for exams, writing 10-15 page essays the night before it’s due. Here are just a few ways to enhance your college experience and truly make the most of it:

  1. Talk to your professors before and/or after class and build relationships. Most of them, if not all, enjoy connecting with their students and sharing their experiences, knowledge with you.
  2. Join student organizations of your interest: Nowadays, there’s a student organization for almost everything you can imagine. Joining one of these organizations will allow you to meet like-minded individuals with common interests and goals.
  3. Take the time to talk to other students in your class and around the campus. I talk to fellow students when I’m waiting in line for coffee or lunch. If there’s a long line, a good way to start a conversation and break the ice is to make a joke about the long line.
  4. Live on-campus, if possible: If you can afford to live on campus. I highly recommend it because it’s a great experience, as you’ll meet a lot of new people and make a ton of new friends within a short of period of time.

To sum it up, college isn’t just a place for you to complete classes required for a degree. Take advantage of EVERYTHING college has to offer because once you graduate, most of those resources will be gone. Attending college and making the most of it will help you become a better person and not only will you have a college degree, you’ll be able to provide for yourself and/or your family. Also, you will become a well-rounded individual, which will help you gain a new perspective on life.

Posted in College
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