Real life often presents entrepreneurs with a new problem or opportunity, so they find themselves learning new skills and tools on the fly.
Six Activities for Learning New Tools and Skills
When entrepreneurs discover that the tools and methods they understand are not working well on the problems or opportunities they face or realize their skills and knowledge will not be adequate for the opportunities they want to pursue, they have several choices. They can adjust their goals, learn new tools and methods that are more likely to help them achieve their goals, or learn enough about what’s needed to manage someone with the right skills and tools.
While adjusting your goals to take more advantage of what you know should always be an option worth your consideration, in this article, I will focus on how to master new tools and methods. Most of the entrepreneurs I know are naturally curious and interested in changes in the market, new ideas, and new ways to differentiate what they offer. I see them do six activities in parallel:
- Look Around (Observe, Network, Read): see if others are encountering the same problem or have mastered the tools and skills needed to move beyond it to new opportunities. Learning from others’ mistakes and breakthroughs is faster and less effort than reinventing proven methods. Sometimes a solution from another industry or discipline can be adapted to your challenge.
- Look Back: reflect on when you have faced similar problems or taken advantage of comparable opportunities. What does this situation rhyme with? What can you apply from the solutions to similar challenges?
- Look Inward or Introspect: Is something in your mindset, your natural reaction, or your emotions blocking you from seeing a way forward? School gives us the method first and then the problem to solve using it. Real life often gives entrepreneurs problems or new opportunities first. They can find themselves in over their head, facing the need to learn new methods or skills to progress.
- Look Ahead or Predict: as you consider which methods to try or to learn, estimate their likely impact. Make separate predictions for the effort required, the time needed to see an effect, and the probable completeness or effectiveness of the approach.
- Act: It can be helpful to aim for partial improvements or mitigation efforts that should have a rapid result over a complete solution that may take considerable time and effort. If you face an emergency–you need to take action in a few minutes to a few hours–then pick the first alternative that you predict will be viable.
- Keep a Log: this should include all of the alternatives you considered, your estimates for how long it would take to see some effect (this can act as a checkpoint for an interim evaluation of results), and all that you did or observed along the way.
Join us at the Bootstrappers Breakfast in 2023 for a Year of Learning
We have identified 2023 as a year of learning. So you are welcome to join us at a Bootstrappers Breakfast and share: what problem you are trying to solve or an opportunity you want to pursue, what you are learning to make that possible, and what your results to date have been.
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