Learning on the Job
A number of years ago I went on an “interrailing” trip across Europe with friends from University. Although it’s a pretty standard rite of passage these days, it was a tough logistical slog back in the day. All those different languages and currencies.
The biggest difference with now? My mobile phone was bloody useless — they all seemed to shut down outside the confines of the UK. I was decent at Snake though.
When I consider the lot of a startup Founder, it brings to mind an unfortunate incident in Slovenia.
Now, we may or may not have been participating in a pub crawl. Largely irrelevant in my mind — the facts of the matter were that I had fallen asleep on a train and came to in a remote suburb of Ljubljana. Nowadays you’d have a quiet word with Siri and she would navigate you toward safety — and probably take a snapchat for posterity. Back then? I felt a bit like Robinson Crusoe.
Looking back, I wonder if that is how your average startup founder feels.
Lost, with so many questions and nobody to talk to.
Upon his election to the rather lofty office of leader of the free world, Donald Trump was described as “uniquely unqualified” by Barack Obama. Fair enough assessment in my opinion.
Startup CEO? Nearly all are uniquely unqualified.
A bit like POTUS, there is no job description — the buck stops with you.
That’s the scary part. You were a bright guy, with a good idea. You are now in charge of getting shit done.
The important part is admitting you don’t know everything.
If I could offer 3 tips that might just help…
Take office space in a co-working unit. Don’t sit in a corporate office or your own study scratching your head.
Why? Startups are a tough gig. You need to feed off energy and ambition — you need a dynamic environment where everyone is striving towards a similar goal — growth.
The thing I like most about them is the work ethic — a good one is still buzzing at 7PM.
2. Learn For Free
Consultants are ten a penny. Often they aren’t any good anyway.
You’ve taken space in a co-working space — it will tend to be a mix of industry and startups — use this knowledge. Buy coffees and lunches, not 3 month consultancy retainers. You will learn at a low cost, yes, but there will come a day when you will pay it forward to young entrepreneurs down the line.
Build relationships, pick brains and learn for free.
3. Be Selective
Realistically, a vast proportion of these events are spent stealing glimpses at your phone while you listen to a salesman pitch their services.
The informal interactions that occur on a daily basis in a co-working space are likely to be infinitely more valuable than most seminars and workshops.
BUT, if you insist ongoing — be selective. Ditch the naff ones.
Ask yourself; how will this seminar contribute to the strategic growth objectives of my startup?
If you are scratching your head, then you should probably be out engaging with customers.