The word “budget” is also much too associated with negative meanings for startups, entrepreneurs, or innovative discoveries. It doesn’t take much experience to know that these exploratory ventures usually entail a large deal of “waste” from the necessary trial and error required to succeed. This strategy, however, tends to be a nightmare for accounting or financial administrators whose job is to create balanced books and sustainable practices for the business/institutes.
Budgets can help you understand fixed costs, like salaries and maintenance contracts. However, everyone in science knows that the variable costs associated with research are as predictable as the hypothesis itself. Therefore, to understand what those variables are, and to predict them, requires collecting the financial data associated with the science. It requires us to be able to separate those costs relative to the projects and operations.
Your mental energy matters significantly, because knowledge work requires deep concentration and creativity. Many young research scientists struggle with time management, not only as a product of time, but that of mental energy. The cognitive load that one experiences can be tremendous, especially when it comes to intellectual focus and decision making. This is a critical resource that shouldn’t be taken lightly. The results can be catastrophic when we’re deciding whether to invest our time into completing a manuscript or completing another assay. Therefore, we need to make room to reserve our most critical thinking during times where we’re most refreshed and focused.
The solutions is to focus on core scientific objectives. This helps to filter out the negative noises, that would otherwise, cloud judgement and careful planning. This is why having a clear outline or budget, before looking for faculty positions, can help to understand how to manage career obstacles.
There’s many ways to negotiate that can be either adversarial or cooperative. However, within a community that has a natural shared value of new scientific discoveries, those conversations can be more enjoyable rather than dreadful.
Have you negotiated your start up award already? How did that conversation go? Share your story with the rest of us.Leave a comment below.