Making Money… some initial thoughts
Always watch for ways to earn money because you need it to pay rent, car payments, take that special someone on that special trip, pay for your food, buy a house, etc.
If it has not yet happened, it probably will: You will be invited to get in on a ‘ground floor’ opportunity to make LOTS of money. Here is a very important truth to remember…if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. When you hear the words “ground floor opportunity,” if you are interested, listen very carefully but be careful. Always ask: How and when do I get paid? Does it cost me anything? This includes money, time and energy. If it really sounds good to you, before you invest in it, see the ‘books.’ At least see audited Profit and Loss Statements. These are legal documents and if they are not available to you… you might want to walk away. Audited means that the math and other data have been checked according to accepted bookkeeping standards and rules for accuracy, truthfulness, etc.
Getting paid should be simple, right? Not always. Your friend’s rock band is performing a few times a month and is expecting the “big break” that will make it the next Doors, Beatles, etc. Could happen, sure it could but how do you get paid now and in the future? You made the very popular circle logo (that you learned in your Photoshop class) that is starting to appear on the posters, mailers, websites, T-shirts, etc. Your musical friends want you to make more, but all they have paid you so far is 50 bucks here and there but not the “big bucks,” yet.
This is over simplified but to protect all involved (including the friendship) a written agreement is essential (see Legalzoom.com, take a business class at the junior college, etc.). This agreement states when you get paid and how much. It also looks to the future and states, as the band (or individual members) make more money, how and when you will get paid. Think of it this way, had the college student known this when she designed the Nike logo for just a few dollars, she would have earned much more money than she did.
As in most businesses, the effort of the band members will evolve and some may make it and other members will get on with their lives in different directions. For the one vocalist, guitarist, drummer, etc. who does make it… you helped launch that career. You invested your creative energies and time in that person’s success. This is similar to you investing in Apple Corporation Corporation by buying Apple stock when it was selling for $13 per share. Look at what Apple stock is costing today and you can see that you would have made a load of money. When your band member friend starts making money, you are entitled to some of it because you invested in their success and that was the agreement. If the relationship is based on any true value, putting this agreement in writing before the money starts rolling in will be an enjoyable process. Trying to do it after the money starts coming in will probably not be so enjoyable.
For those of you who go to work with small (and large) companies you may be offered pay in the form of something called stock options. This “option” gives you the legal right to buy the company’s stock at an agreed upon (lower) price. Be careful (again) because some employers will try to avoid paying you actual money by offering stock options. This could be a good deal. As an example, in the earlier days of Qualcom (cell phone technology) employees made millions of dollars by “exercising” their Qualcomm stock options. This means they converted the option into actual company stock at the agreed upon price which was less than the stock was selling for at the time. Before agreeing to accept stock options as pay, again, see the “books” and make sure the company actually has value. Having value means that they are actually selling something and making more money than they are spending… not just looking good on paper. If the company is a “gamble” that you truly believe in, consider taking a percentage of your pay in stock options. This way you make some actual cash and if the company really does hit that grand slam home run, then you make more money! If the company fails, at least you got paid. To just take all or most of your pay in stock options is gambling with your personal time and energy which you cannot get back. If the company starts missing pay periods or delaying paying you, this is a big red warning sign. This is especially true when they are paying other people but not you.
The bottom line:Keep your resume, cover letter and portfolio current and always be looking for other opportunities. Keep learning and protect your credit. Debt is like taking drugs and getting hooked on other addictive behaviors, it creates a larger and larger death-pit that you will need help to get out of. Get a used car, shop at the resale stores, budget your time and money so you can save (even a little) every month. Grow what food you can, learn about nutrition and exercise to stay healthy. Learn what makes people successful. History proves that they associate with people who know more than they do… so, hang out with people who are already doing some of this successfully – hang out with people who are clueless in these areas, and you also will be pulled into that vicious no-win behavior cycle. It’s your choice. Protect your reputation: Be known as a trustworthy person who keeps his or her word and does more than what they are asked. Be the person who shows up early and comes up with ways of getting the job done faster and better. Your reputation is like money in the bank. Increase it and protect it. Yes, the party animal will be popular but this popularity has a very short life span and has a negative impact on your worth as a trusted and valued member of the business team and family unit. If you are already slipping into a behavior death-pit, get help because your life depends on it.
You attract what you put out, so choose your thoughts, actions and friends very carefully because with these choices, you are writing the script that is determining how the rest of your life goes.
By: Paul Ruez, Oceanside High School, Career Technical Education Teacher 4-15-12