Entrepreneurs Move Fast, So Should Their Education
At Teaching Startup the search is almost as important as the result
Think about all the ways entrepreneurs can learn their craft outside of actually doing it. It won’t take long, because there aren’t many.
For the vast majority of entrepreneurs, if they want to become a better entrepreneur, they have two options: Books or classes. There are several reasons why both of those methods are suboptimal.
Startup books aren’t textbooks
I read a lot. I’ve read dozens of books on startup and digital and eCommerce and every facet of the business world that I’m fascinated with. I think the first startup book I read was Guy Kawasaki’s The Art of the Start, and the most recent was — I’m sorry, I can’t remember the name of the book or the author or even enough about it to find it on the web.
The thing is, while all those books were enjoyable, I didn’t learn much from any of them, and what I did learn didn’t ever work when I needed it to. Business books aren’t textbooks. In fact, more often than not, they’re just vanity projects.
There is no textbook for starting a company — I mean, there are textbooks, but in economics, marketing, computer science, and so on. Thus, I think I learned the most about startup from fiction, mainly Max Barry’s Company.
No time for class
I would love to have six-weeks-to-a-year to spend learning something I don’t know, especially startup stuff I don’t know. Because even after 20 years and over a dozen startups, from happy exits to devastating failures, there’s a ton I still don’t know.
I’ve never had the time, so I learn by doing.
That said, I did spend a semester as an entrepreneur-in-residence for a class on entrepreneurship at a prestigious business school. It did not go well, for me or for the class. I mean, I know in that scenario I wasn’t supposed to learn but I sure didn’t teach much either.
The structure of classroom learning just doesn’t conform to the startup curriculum. Because there isn’t one.
The best way to learn? From other entrepreneurs. Good luck with that.
I’m very, very lucky in the sense that I live and work in an area where there are a lot of startups, including very successful ones, including ones that have IPOd.
Almost everything I’ve learned about how to DO startup — not theoretical, not philosophical, not hypothetical — I’ve learned from other entrepreneurs. While it helps to work closely with someone more talented, in fact I just came off of three years working shoulder-to-shoulder with an entrepreneur who is way better than me (one of the IPO ones), it doesn’t have to be shoulder-to-shoulder, and it doesn’t have to be an IPO entrepreneur.
I know I’m lucky to have this network of other entrepreneurs because I’ve been an entrepreneur here for over 20 years, and for the first five-to-10 years, that network didn’t exist. This place was an entrepreneurial desert.
Just in terms of numbers, the overwhelming majority of entrepreneurs are working in the entrepreneurial desert.
That’s why I founded Teaching Startup
The only requirement for learning from another entrepreneur is that the entrepreneur you want to learn from has been through something close to what you’re going through. The only requirement to get started with the learning is to ask a question.
I’ve been trying to help entrepreneurs become better entrepreneurs for most of my career, including founding a couple of organizations to do just that.
My latest project, Teaching Startup, is answers to actual entrepreneur questions from expert entrepreneurs in a weekly newsletter and catalogued in an app. It’s not a book, it’s not a class, it’s not linear. It’s none of those things people keep trying.
But it works.
If you’re an entrepreneur wandering the entrepreneurial desert, I believe Teaching Startup can be a gold mine for you. I’d love for you to try it free for 30 days, and use invite code DESERT to get half off your first month. After all the trials and discounts, you can continue on for just $10 a month.
It’s affordable, for everyone, and most importantly, self-directed and useful.