I often hear how building a startup is like getting an MBA but on the job. Having an MBA and built a couple startups, I can say that it’s true… at least, partially. The downside of learning as you go is the otherwise lack of guidance and not knowing what you don’t know.
When I was at Body Boss, I had little experience in sales and marketing; however, I was the “Head of Business Development”. In a startup with three other partners with no experience in business development, I was the head, the foot, and the @$$.
I was always heads-down trying to figure everything out. I needed to learn a lot while tending to everything in front of me. This meant I didn’t dedicate time to self-development. Meanwhile, I was deep in the weeds without stepping back to see if I was oriented in the right direction.
Since Body Boss, I’ve taken steps to help cover the areas I don’t know while also accelerating learning in the areas that I care deeply about. (E.g. I’m no longer learning how to build iOS apps!)
Two ways I’m proactively seeking to deep learning:
- Read books! I used to hate reading growing up – the books did not interest me. Meanwhile at Body Boss, I wore so many hats that I focused on short online articles so I could maintain breadth of learning. Now that I’m doubling down on sales and marketing (growth), I am seeking depth in my self-education by reading specialized books (reading The Challenger Sale now).
- Seek mentors, coaches. I’m a big connector/ networker, so it’s curious why I didn’t reach out earlier for help and guidance. Perhaps I was too cocky to seek help before. Four years into this startup life, I’m wiser knowing there are plenty of people who know more than me and can help. I have mentors guiding me – talking entrepreneurship and other facets of life that influence my vision and goals. I’ve also actively sought out coaches – experts in specific areas who can guide me.