This educational experience, designed by Dani Roche and Chantel Chapman, doesn’t look like your average business program but aims to give aspiring entrepreneurs all of the tools necessary to succeed. Dani, founder of creative agency Kastor and Pollux, and Chantel, founder of What The Finances, recognized that some people don’t have the means to participate in the traditional education system and even fewer have the means to return to school for a specialized degree once they’ve graduated. Enter SCHOOL by KP.
What Is SCHOOL?
SCHOOL is an online skill-building platform that draws from the experience of creative entrepreneurs like Jamal Burger, founder of The Kickback Project and Toronto-based designer Mary Young, both of whom have signed on to teach courses on their areas of expertise. Whether SCHOOL’s students are taking these courses in addition to post-secondary education or in lieu of it, the program will offer photographers, designers, producers and other creatives a solid understanding of topics ranging from the very specific, like Wellness Design, to very broad, like how to know your worth.
On behalf of Student Life Network, writer and content creator Tamara Jones sat down with co-founders Dani and Chantel to get a quick lesson on saving, spending, and lending that thing that makes the world go ‘round: money.
Tamara: A lot of our readers are still students or fresh out of school and some are using OSAP to fund their studies. Is it possible to manage debt (like student loans) while growing a business?
Chantel: We have this mentality where if debt is hanging over us we feel guilty and think we have to pay off our entire student loan before we pursue anything, but I don’t look at student loans like I look at credit card debt. A student loan is used to invest in an asset: human growth. With that said, you need to be able to be in a position where you can make your payments on time. When you first start a business it might be a challenge to find customers or clients, so maybe the solution is to have a part-time job.
Tamara: SCHOOL’s model is geared towards people who want to work in creative fields and there’s often a learning gap between the arts and finance, so what should entrepreneurs focus on to ensure sustainable financial wellbeing?
Chantel: You don’t have to become the accountant for your business but you still need to have a handle on things and that starts with your personal finances. If you’re in a bad personal financial situation prior to going into business, you’ll bring forward a lot of stress and bad energy into your business and it’s going to impact the way you operate. It’s important not just for your mindset but also because you might want to open a business bank account or get access to a business line of credit. In order to get approved for that if your business doesn’t have years of solid cash flow, the lender’s decision is going to be totally based your personal application and personal credit.
Tamara: Speaking of credit, how do you improve credit scores?
Chantel: One of the quickest ways to improve your credit score is to make sure your credit cards and your line of credit don’t have a utilization ratio of over 70%. So let’s say you have a $10,000 credit card limit, don’t ever go over $7000. Even if you pay it off every month, you still don’t want to go over that amount because it’s showing the lender that you’re in this risk zone. Another huge tip is don’t ever miss a minimum payment. If you have a credit card and you owe like $100 and the minimum payment is $10, missing that $10 payment is the equivalent of missing a $1000 payment.
Tamara: Duly noted! Now let’s talk business: creatives nowadays are always seeking out new revenue streams. They’re freelancing in addition to selling services or products so prices may vary. How should they accurately assess the monetary value on their work?
Chantel: Look at the work you’re creating and try to understand the value you’re creating for your customers or clients. You want to create the type of business where a company can work with you, see value in what you’re producing, and hire you again.
Dani: And when you think about value versus time spent, it’s really about the use of your work not just your hourly rate. It’s about the value that you bring to the table and the reasons they’re working with you versus someone else.
Tamara: Since we’re on the topic of negotiating payments, what should we look out for before signing a contract? How can you make sure your intellectual property is protected?
Dani: If I’m asked to be apart of a campaign, [my rate] isn’t just based on my time. It’s about aligning my image to a brand. When it comes to protecting my image and work through licensing, contract always say “this brand has the right to your name and likeness in perpetuity”. What if I get really famous and successful in like 5 years *laughs* and I’ve allowed this brand to use my likeness in association with their product forever? How do I charge them for that? You need to take those considerations into account and know how to explain why a day rate won’t suffice.
Tamara: Let’s say I have business that’s turning a profit. At what point is it acceptable to pay yourself instead of constantly reinvesting all revenue into your venture’s growth?
Chantel: [Cameron Herold], who wrote the Vivid Vision plan, says to picture yourself three years into the future and write down every detail of your business. When you map out how to get to that point, you should be able to associate cost with getting there. If you’re not investing enough money back into your business to reach that goal, maybe it’s not time to pay yourself a salary yet. On the flip side, if you plan on working with a venture capitalist, they’re going to want to see that your business has the ability to pay a leader while operating profitably because their biggest question will be: when we want to scale this business or if anything happens to you, can we afford to pay a CEO? If the answer is no, why would they want to invest in it?
Tamara: You probably get asked for advice all the time, but what’s the one question you wish people would ask?
Chantel: I really wish people would ask why they’re overspending if they have issues with [debt]. I think a lot of people don’t really dig into that. Our relationship with money is so deep – even with entrepreneurs. A lot of the time, influences in lives cause us to overspend like avoiding pain or to trying to fit in so it’s just important to be aware of it and try to understand what’s behind those issues.
SCHOOL will be in session in September 2018. Until then you can connect with them on Instagram at @SCHOOLbyKP and stay updated by signing up for their newsletter at http://school.kastorandpollux.com/.
Interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
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*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.