Dare to Ask Yourself the Big Questions

Dare to Ask Yourself the Big Questions

 

For as long as I can remember, I have tried to follow the “right” path and take all the “right” steps. I took school (very) seriously. Never got in trouble. Filled my plate with extracurriculars.  Everything society tells you is important was important to me. Maybe too important. This led to a lot of accomplishments but concurrently, a life of anxiety and stress…and not necessarily happiness.

 

I kept myself busy, always going, always moving forward to the next thing – college (4 years), grad school (4 years), then the next logical step, pursuing licensure…another 2 years minimum. Passions of mine like dance and theatre got pushed aside because they weren’t realistic options and the opportunities weren’t there where I grew up in Florida. Plus, I was good at school.

 

Upon graduating with my M.A., I was offered an incredible full-time job at Rollins College, my alma mater and dream school. No way I could pass that up. Additionally, I was offered part-time work at my counseling supervisor’s private practice where I could begin accumulating hours toward licensure with supervision included. I’d be crazy to pass that up, right? And just like that, my schedule consisted of a 8:30am-5:00pm full-time job, rushing to see clients at the private practice (almost running over Paul McCartney but that’s a story for another time) from 5:30-9:00pm, shower, maybe an hour tops to unwind…and up early for 7:00am boot camp if I wanted to get a workout in.

 

It was too much. But I had essentially been working like this since birth. Told that hard works pay off. But when? I had a lot going for me but I was not happy and started to question what I was even working toward anymore. Lost site of my end goal. Pushing forward without asking questions had just become second nature. When I finally stopped to breathe and ask the big questions, it dawned on me…life is short. I didn’t want to get stuck. We only have one life to live and I wanted to fully experience mine.

 

I started thinking about where else it might be exciting to live. Apart from a small stint in London for a semester study abroad in college and that time my family almost moved to Belgium when I was 8, I’d never lived anywhere other than Florida. I didn’t want to live a life with regrets, never knowing what could have been. That sounded much worse to me than any alternative so, I leapt. I gave notice at my jobs, cleared out the apartment I’d lived in for 10 years (including all the awards I’d racked up and thought were so important over the years), packed up my (small) car with whatever I could fit, and drove to NYC, without a place, without a job, without knowing anyone there. And it was the best decision I’ve ever made.

 

I made the move with a lot of unanswered questions and blanks to fill in (and spoiler alert, though I don’t want to say too much because there’s a whole book on this to come) but it all came together, one day, one step at a time. I’d be lying if I said it was easy. It was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life and I experienced all of the stages and emotions but it was worth all of the blood, sweat, and tears. People will think you’re crazy. You will start to think you’re crazy. But don’t let that stop you. Grab ahold of your life strongly with both hands. It’s about more than your job, your house, your car, your possessions. None of it means anything if your quality of life isn’t there. Is something missing? It’s never too late. Sure, it’s scary. I get it. But that’s half the fun. You will figure it out, I promise.

Angela is an actor and influencer in NYC. She graduated with her B.A. in Psychology and her M.A. in Mental Health Counseling from Rollins College in Winter Park, FL. Angela toured the U.S. as bassist and vocalist for alternative rock band SMB Project and is passionate about advocacy and activism. She is a lover of fitness, music, the beach, breakfast, traveling, and thrift store shopping. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @angelabelcamino

How to Listen to Your Instincts and Ditch the Fear

How to Listen to Your Instincts and Ditch the Fear

 

 

I remember sitting baffled, my backpack still in my lap, at the start of an elective course during my Masters. The course was a small one, and was geared towards teaching designers how to start their own design agency after university. The lecturer asked all of us what our motivations were for choosing the course. Some of the students had a really clear idea of what they wanted to do with the knowledge acquired which is why lecturer was somewhat surprised when it came time for me to share and I said, “I don’t really see myself as an entrepreneur, but the disciplines that this course addresses I want to develop 100%”. I won’t go too much into detail about the lecturer’s response, but let’s just say the conclusion was he believed I could best spend my time elsewhere. This struck a chord with me. Why on earth should I not choose to spend time learning something I don’t know much about yet, something I want to deepen my skill set with? It was a situation that resonates with me now as an entrepreneur because it shows the things I’d rather follow than fear.

 

Following your eagerness to learn

 

Looking back at this situation is now funny to me. To think that I have ever said the words “I don’t really see myself as an entrepreneur” would make most people that are close to me smile a little. In the years after accidentally landing my first freelance design gig, I’ve built a business where I sell, license and create art for many different clients. Interestingly, that accidental project began a few months after taking the course I talked about before – isn’t it funny how that stuff works? The reason I am now putting myself out there as a creative is a simple one: I followed my eagerness to learn and grow as a person.

 

What’s weird about thinking back to that moment, is the fact that there is such a clear difference in how I approached learning something new versus the expectations that were apparently there regarding the enrolled students. My insatiable hunger to learn, develop, grow, and find topics that can help me get ahead is what helped me discover an entrepreneurial spirit within me I never thought I possessed. This is also the reason why, aside from my artwork, I looove putting creative video workshops into the world to help out people like me!

 

The Magic is In The Doing art print – by Anna Lena Illustrations

 

Follow the thing you like best

 

Taking bold risks in your career to follow the path you believe in most can be pretty freaking frightening. I remember having freelanced for a year or so while also finishing my Masters degree and working part time as a designer in an IT company, and realizing I had to choose a freelance focus. In that time I was doing some app design, some web design, some consulting, and only a little bit of illustration projects. So, while I was working on my part time job, I was already busy with tech projects. Even though those tech projects covered the starting cost of my business, a laptop, a drawing tablet, and a ton of art supplies, I decided to focus on illustration jobs. That was also around the time I rebranded to where I currently am and started building my portfolio, online shop, and designed new workflows for client projects. I talked about it to my friends and family so much, I was afraid their ears were going to fall off or take a spontaneous holiday…what if the thing that allowed me to save up for after college, money I made ALL by myself, would suddenly go away? Could I go get the clients back? I didn’t know. I decided to go with my gut – after the fiercest research ever seen, that is. You could definitely say I’m an organized chaos muppet, yes. I have some pretty handy ways to stay productive and happy, even though my ideas are running at 1000 miles a minute :).

 

Listen to your instinct to fight back

 

There have definitely been moments where I was scared out of my socks. Truth be told, I found the whole admin stuff a bit overwhelming, especially in the beginning. From the get go, I have been very organized with my finances and contracts, even though they have definitely improved. Still, I felt really overwhelmed when issues popped up that I didn’t know how to solve. In those moments, I said to myself, “I’m going to quit. This sucks so hard.” But, the thing that kept me going was that I always knew someone I could ask for advice. That was my instinct to fight the fear and inform myself, so it would not be so scary anymore. There are many ways to connect with entrepreneurs even as an introvert and digital nomad. The key is to build connections with people you think are doing great work, people who are on the rise with you. Those are the people that can offer support in those difficult moments and help you fight back.

 

Pursue collaboration

 

Speaking of working with people, I totally understand the instinct to hide at home or in your office and just dig into the work. This can work really well, but in my experience only for so long. I personally love those days where the only people I talk to are the mailman, the people at my fav coffee place, and my significant other. Yet, the whole point of business is to get your work and your mission to the right people. It can be hard to market your work or yourself when you have no audience especially when you’re just starting out. That’s why I loved connecting to other creatives which helped me fight the overwhelm and get info I wouldn’t have heard of otherwise. New ideas, new info, new connections, new opportunities, people who truly understand you.. all that is the true value of collaboration!

 

The thing I loved most about starting my own business right out of college was that it didn’t have to be perfect right away. Because I started while studying, I had time to experiment with my branding and figure out what type of clients and work I was most interested in. I could switch between the security of having a job and a freelance career, and learn and play without having to think about the rent and a myriad of other adult responsibilities. It brought me to this point, where I am sometimes still overwhelmed or anxious about where I am going, but I do have good collaborations, business friends, a fighter’s instinct, and my eagerness to learn. What I also have at this point is a successful illustration career, an online shop, an eBook, and handy resources for creatives who are just like me. I know what defines me and it is not the overwhelm. What I really would love for those of you who dream of making bold decisions to take away, is to never follow fear. Please, follow one of the above options instead or find intrinsic motivations that describe you way better! You will be so glad you did.

 

Anna Lena is an illustrator who loves french fries, making jokes and everything that is creativity-related. Her work is colorful, captivating and helps her clients get the right people really excited about their mission. When she isn’t working on her illustrations, she is talking about creativity and productivity at events or in video workshops for creatives.
Connect with Anna Lena through www.annalena.nl

Why Every Entrepreneur Needs A Personal Website

 

Being an entrepreneur is tough and time consuming. When you first start out, all the responsibilities of your business fall on you. R&D, marketing, business development, partnerships, human resources, accounting – pick a thing, you’ve probably done it at some point when it comes to growing your business. All of these immediate needs make it easy to prioritize your growing company over everything else. But by getting tunnel vision and focusing only on your company’s website at the expense of your own, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.

 

As an entrepreneur, you obviously know you need to provide the best product or service possible. However, creating an incredible customer experience and figuring out how to grow your business likely dominate a lot of your time and energy as well. You know you need to gain exposure to potential customers, but also cultivate relationships with existing ones. This is where having a personal website as an entrepreneur or owner of a small business comes into play.

 

If you’re a huge company like Pepsi, your brand recognition does a lot of the heavy lifting for you when it comes to growing the business and connecting with your customers. There are also a considerable amount of resources you can put behind your efforts.

 

When you’re just one person starting out, you need every advantage you can get to connect with consumers and expand your company. Trust is essential if you want to develop long-term customer relationships.

 

If you’re trying to grow your business as an entrepreneur, a great personal website can help you reach your goals in a number of ways. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

 

It creates another way for potential customers to find you

 

By investing time in creating a personal website, you develop one more way for clients to find you and your business. Your personal website can passively and proactively direct leads to your company’s website, which is always a good thing.

 

While your website should be focused on you and your story as an individual, think of it as a tool to get people interested in your business venture. Even if your company isn’t featured prominently on your personal website, make it available if they’re interested. From featuring your company’s social handles, to including links back to company pages within your own blog posts, make it easy for visitors to get from your site to your company’s.

 

It humanizes your business

 

The numbers say it all, customers have to trust a business in order to engage with them and remain loyal over time. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that humanizing a business by showing the actual faces behind the company can go a long way in encouraging that trust.

Your website should be an authentic expression of who you are. And if you succeed in that, there’s no doubt that this alone will win and keep customers for your business. It can also be a fantastic way to differentiate yourself from competitors. So be true to yourself, make your mission clear, and customers will naturally look at your business as an extension of you.

 

It makes gaining press and partnerships easier

 

Once your business starts to grow, you can expect that more eyes will be on both it and you.

As people start to look you up online, what they find can have serious impacts on you and your company.

 

Think about how you feel when you look someone up online and find that they have a great personal website and strong personal brand. “Reassured” is a pretty common reaction. A clean, well-designed and informative personal website makes potential partners much more likely to do business with you because this reinforces their perception of you. A successful partnership is all about trust, so get things started on a good note.

 

Your solid online presence will also make you a more legitimate choice to be featured in a publication, which can be a huge source of growth for any small business. It helps show that you know your stuff, and that you’re approachable and engaged in your industry. Take the first step by creating a great personal website that you can be proud of.

 

It’s time to get started!

 

While these certainly aren’t the only reasons to get started working on your personal website, they are some of the most compelling that can make your life as an entrepreneur a whole lot easier. As you can see, your personal website is an extremely high-leverage way to help existing and potential customers connect with you. As an entrepreneur actively trying to grow a brand or business, this is crucial.

 

By creating your personal website you can cultivate a sense of trust in your customers and partners just by being yourself! So get started building your personal website today to help your business grow tomorrow.

 

Sabrina Clark is a proud Marist College alum with degrees specializing in public relations, business administration and Spanish. While at Marist, she co-founded the Marist Student Entrepreneur Network to support students with entrepreneurial aspirations. Upon graduation, she accepted a marketing position with a tech startup focused on the home improvement industry where she managed integrated marketing, sales and strategic partnership initiatives. She is excited to now be a part of the BrandYourself team and help sculpt the future of the online reputation management industry.

 

 

 

Three Types Of Insurance Every Entrepreneur Needs

 

Three Types Of Insurance Every Entrepreneur Needs

 

As an entrepreneur, you are probably used to dealing with uncertainty. Starting a new venture in an undefined market with an untested customer base is the epitome of uncertainty. Most may not know it as you do, but that is the very uncertainty that defines life. You may have also figured out as an entrepreneur that you must hedge your bets against potential loss. Picking the right insurance policy is very similar to picking the right venture. It means that you minimize the chances of irreparable loss if the unthinkable happens.

All too often entrepreneurs are dramatically slowed down by “black swan” events. Here, we will discuss the three types of insurance you will need as an entrepreneur to protect your ventures, your family and yourself.

 

 

Life Insurance

 

 

Two things are certain in this life: death and taxes. Now while we can manoeuvre taxes and perhaps hope they get lowered, death is of a permanence we cannot control.

Life insurance is a partial answer to the puzzle of death. As an entrepreneur, your family may depend on you as a breadwinner. As you are not employed formally, you may not have the luxury of company-sponsored insurance schemes. Taking up life insurance is therefore a must.

You may opt for either term life insurance or permanent life insurance. The former, as the name suggests, is for a period. Perhaps 20 years. After the term lapses, you get paid a lump sum. Permanent life insurance is only payable after you die. It is paid to those who survive you. In both cases, the money paid out goes a long way in covering funeral expenses, federal death (estate) taxes and creditors.

Do note one major factor. Depending on your type of entrepreneurship, it might be a smart idea to opt in for AD&D (accidental death and dismemberment insurance). The problem with life insurance is that it only pays out when you die.

Imagine you are in an accident and you survive but are left maimed and unable to work. If you died, your family would be well off – but you did not, so now you are at risk of transforming from the breadwinner to a financial burden. This is where AD&D comes in. According to Meetfabric.com, entrepreneurs who are involved with riskier businesses or hobbies such as extreme sports, driving, construction and a few others are the ones that would benefit most from AD&D.

The chances are you losing an eye-ball to your office stapler are pretty low, so AD&D is not for everyone. But if you are one of the more risk prone people out there, then it is an important option to consider.

In other words, when you walk out of life, your insurance walks in.

 

Auto Insurance

 

 

As an entrepreneur, chances are you own a car. Driving a car without auto insurance is illegal in most states. Therefore if you have no insurance, do not hesitate to visit a website like One Sure Insurance and consider getting a quote. Some states, however, only require third-party auto insurance. This covers only the damage to the other car and any harm to passengers in the other car. However, some states require you have comprehensive auto insurance. This covers both your vehicle and the other vehicle. This also includes occupants of both cars.

For an entrepreneur, this is unavoidable as you probably move around a lot. You also must manage your expenses as a costly accident could cripple your finances. Imagine having to pay for someone else’s car and whatever medical bills that other person concocts.

Auto insurance also applies to commercial vehicles. Again, this could either be third party cover or comprehensive cover. One thing to note is if you have third party auto insurance and your car gets totalled or stolen, the insurance company will not compensate you. That is why comprehensive auto insurance is highly recommended. Finding out what requirements your state has on auto insurance is the first step to getting the right auto insurance cover. It may also be helpful to visit the Auto Finance Online website if you need a financial hand with buying a new vehicle, such as a caravan.

 

Health Insurance

 

 

Finally, health insurance is a must for entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship is a stressful field. There can be crushing amounts of uncertainty and unrelenting pressure as you build your business. In such a scenario, you do not want to fall ill and not have health insurance.

Health insurance allows you to walk into a hospital, receive treatment, and leave without paying a thing. The cover also allows for medical checkups. While most people get health insurance through their employer or their spouse/ partner’s employer, there are policies available for entrepreneurs.

These are often termed as self-employed health insurance covers. You can purchase these polices from most insurance companies that offer health insurance. The average cost as per a 2016 Department of Health and Human Services survey was $106 per month after subsidies. This gives a rough indication of how much it would cost you. Factors that will push this figure either up or down include copay arrangements, level of cover, inclusions and exclusions, among others.

While insurance often seems like an unnecessary expense, statistics bear it out: 100% of Americans will die; 100% of Americans will fall sick in their lifetime; 100% of Americans who drive will have at least a 1% risk of having an auto accident in their lifetime. With such statistics, it is easy to see why everyone needs these three types of insurance, and not only entrepreneurs.

 

 

 

For the last 22 years Brandi Zeledon has worked for major firms analyzing market data, interviewing world-class entrepreneurs, and studying global finance. With the massive demand for accurate, potent, and game changing information out there, she decided to start her Bulletproof Financing blog. By combining her passions for finance and writing, she has now found the perfect medium to continue her career.

 

Learning To Unplug As An Entrepreneur

 

Learning To Unplug As An Entrepreneur

 

When you’re attempting to detach yourself from your work and social media, it can get tough. Facebook, Twitter, and other websites and apps are used so often they feel like routine. Breaking the habit of checking each one every so often outside of working hours isn’t something that can be done overnight, nor should it be taken lightly. Social media, emails, et cetera can be addictive despite being necessary to function in our increasingly smartphone-laden world.

The key part of the unplugging experience is not that social media and technology are bad. They’re convenient tools to keep up with friends and handle business as a busy, but singular entity. It’s overuse and overreliance when you shouldn’t be focusing on work that can make them toxic to your ability to function without, and like most good things, should be done in moderation. If you’re finding yourself already down the slippery, compulsive email and phone-checking slope, you’ll want to take these steps to back away from technology. Here are some tips and suggestions to ease you out of your dependence and unplug yourself from your business.

 

Little by Little

 

Unplugging should be done piecemeal, with baby steps and breather periods. Like any other habit or routine, the “cut it cold turkey” method seldom sticks for long. You should begin unplugging as soon as you leave your place of work. Wind down your busy thoughts during the commute home. Listening to podcasts
during your commute is a great way to divert your thinking. At home, start with the simplest exercise by putting your phone on silent during morning and evening hours. That includes notifications in addition to your ringtone. The less it rings and buzzes, the less often you think about it. Go about your off-hours only checking messages and calls as necessary, and keep your mind on your family and personal tasks. The less you think about your phone, the better. Removing any notification-laden apps from your home screen can also be helpful in this exercise. Anything that helps you access work-necessary content without also tempting you to check the unnecessary apps and websites is key.

Replace some of the tools you otherwise used your smartphone or computer for with their more mundane counterparts. Buying a traditional alarm clock to replace the one set by your phone lets you place your phone far away from you overnight, decreasing your likelihood to check it first thing in the morning and letting you avoid scanning your phone before bed. If you do need to use your computer outside of work,download an internet lockout program to prevent your usage from drifting from the intended. Keep notes or to-do lists on good old-fashioned notepads.

Set boundaries on what you can and can’t engage in, and for how long you’re going to allow yourself to spend on social media and other pursuits when with family, friends, and away from your business. Test yourself to see how long you can go without checking your phone after you wake up in the morning. Push the limit with each successive day, until you no longer feel compelled to look immediately at work notifications on waking. Make your phone a method for easy access, and not your sole tool to complete tasks.

Start reading a book on your off-hours. If you have an alternative to checking your phone while you wait in waiting rooms or during other downtimes, you’ll drop the compulsion. While it might be tempting to use an E-book app on your phone to read, steps like these are much more effective if you are not acknowledging your phone for longer swaths of time.

 

Off the Grid

 

Perhaps the most drastic way to properly unplug is to physically remove yourself from your business for a period of time. Everyone has somewhere they’ve always wanted to go, and the best opportunity for a relaxing tech-free adventure is with a good, old-fashioned cross-country road trip. Give notice to those who might wonder where you’ve been, or even bring along a pal, but make sure the rule stays: no social media, no emails, no unwarranted phone calls, and certainly no talking about it. Make the road trip something you’re experiencing as it happens and not something you experience to post for likes on Facebook or Twitter.

If you’re not feeling so dramatic with your unplugging, you still need to find a way to divert your attention. Picking up a new hobby is an ideal way to channel your former tweeting and emailing time into something constructive is one of the better ways to handle it. All your newfound free time can be used in learning an instrument or other skill, like cross stitching or knitting. Starting a small garden is also an option, as it provides a constructive routine. Exercising on a regular basis can also keep your mind away from the invasive entrepreneur-oriented thoughts.

Diligence and repetition are the best way to build new, healthier habits. Whether it’s about exercising, eating, or social media, habit-building is a full-time job that can’t be expedited. Keep yourself calm and distracted from your smartphone compulsions and engage more with the physical world around you, as it will be just as—if not more—rewarding.

 

 

Haley is from Gilbert, Arizona. She loves reading and writing just about anything under the sun. In her spare time, you can find her exploring outdoors or sippin’ on a craft brew.