Why an Entrepreneur's Place Is in the Classroom
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Entrepreneurs are a naturally curious bunch. So much so that a 2012 Gallup survey found that 71 percent of entrepreneurs polled said they learned or did something new "yesterday." Some of that can be attributed to curiosity, and another part of it is just a function of building and running a business.
As an entrepreneur, you never know what challenges will await you when you wake up in the morning, and more likely than not, you’ll regularly be put in situations that you’ve never been in before.
But for an entrepreneur, learning can’t just be about reacting to what the day throws at you. You need to anticipate the new skills that you and your business will need to survive into the future. Luckily, for most entrepreneurs, learning is fun.
Last month I embarked on one of the most unique learning experiences of my life: I decided to take 30 classes in 30 days to promote life-long learning. In that whirlwind of a process I learned a lot of valuable things about learning. Here are five of them:
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1. There's no excuse to keep putting off learning or trying something new. As co-founder of a startup, I am always working. But I was able to carve out an hour here and there to spend some time learning. Plus, this has made me better at my job as I have brought back many insights for my business, Allclasses.com, which offers a search engine for courses.
Money is not an issue when it comes to taking courses because there are so many options available. Learning should be viewed as an investment in you, whether it's career or health related.
2. Try multitasking while taking some online classes. Taking an online course does not mean you must be 100 percent engaged all the time. I took an online Instagram marketing class that lasted seven hours a day for three days. During the live class, I noticed through the community social-media feed that many people were multitasking the same way I was. I would listen for things that piqued my interest and shift over my full attention only then. There are also ways to snack on learning piece by piece, one short lesson at a time.
3. Go outside your comfort zone. Learn to do things that you never thought about doing or try to improve at doing a skill you know you're less accomplished in. Every successful entrepreneur must learn to put himself or herself in uncomfortable situations.
Taking 30 classes in 30 days made me realize that classes are a great way to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. It's very rare that you are immediately good at something, and classes are the perfect place to ask for help. Fail quickly, fail often and learn so you don’t repeat the same failure twice.
4. Diverse learning experiences enrich your life. Since embarking on this challenge, I have made amazing food and cocktails for my friends. I am firing up my creative side again. I am prepared in the event of an emergency, and I often have more intelligent things to say about a wide range of topics.
For anyone who spends so much time focusing on running a business, taking a class can be a great escape. It’s hard to balance all aspects of life while running a startup, but you will be a greater asset to everyone around you when your health and outside pursuits are not suffering.
5. You will never be perfect at everything. But you can always progress and improve. Perfection is unattainable. Every teacher and expert I talked with was still working on his or her craft and still looking for ways to get better. We all are.
As an entrepreneur, you need to be a jack-of-all-trades but not necessarily a master of everything. You try to understand the underlying principles and then delegate out what you are not the best at. This is one of the reasons I love learning in classes so much. It gives you the chance to learn the basics, put them into practice in business and then return to class for more advanced principles and techniques.