Thoughts on startups by investors that
fund them & entrepreneurs that run them

8 Ways to Surf the Entrepreneur Information Wave

Being an entrepreneur these days requires an understanding of a thousand topics, many of which don’t even exist today in traditional learning vehicles, like schools and textbooks. The Internet and its information wave have changed everything – it’s the problem with constant change, and it’s the solution, if you use it to navigate quickly and self-educate.

True entrepreneurs love to learn, unlearn, and relearn, whether they are 20 years old, or 60 years old. A new business means change, so they deal in change, and relish the journey. Usually it’s called initiative, dedication, and can-do attitude.

But under these words are some common principles that every entrepreneur needs to follow implicitly or explicitly, to keep up with change, and actually make change:

  1. Stay open to learning. Unlearning and relearning doesn’t require that you toss out any of your accumulated experiences or know-how. It just requires a relentless focus and willingness to do better things, and accept better ways of getting things done.
  2. Challenge your assumptions. Resist the instinctive urge to only use your proven assumptions. When you believe you know the best way to do something, you are less willing or open to unlearn it or try something new. Routinely check the Internet for alternate approaches.
  3. Strive to understand, rather than memorize. You have to understand why you do things a certain way, before you can hope to improve, or even recognize a new and better way. You have to understand why people need something they don’t have, before you can create it, or market it effectively.
  4. Share what you do know. The process of sharing what you know forces you to better understand it yourself. When I do mentoring and writing about current experiences, I realize all the things I don’t know, and this gives me more incentive to learn more.
  5. Never assume you can’t learn something. With the Internet, new things are much easier to learn than many years ago, when you had to wait for the textbooks and the experts. Perfecting your knowledge is like dealing with competitors, if you aren’t gaining on them, you are rapidly losing ground.
  6. Actively look outside the box. The Internet today, with its vast array of sources, and sophisticated search engines, is the perfect vehicle to take you out of your known realm, and allow you to make your own rules. Take the time to follow a couple of results you would normally discard, and you will learn something every time.
  7. Focus on relationships. Business relationships with people who know things is the only way to trump the Internet. Their expertise, and their ability to explain it, are a combination you can’t match any other way. You can’t know too many experts, and social networks are the new way to find them.
  8. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Avoid the arrogance trap of never asking for help or asking for feedback. The more open you are to other input, the more accurate your sense will be of how other people perceive you, and which actions to unlearn. At least with the Internet, you can ask for help anonymously.

Entrepreneurs who depend on the ‘traditional’ learning process (schools, formal classes, practice problems, and risk-free iterations) are doomed in founding a startup. Either they never get started, they take too long, spend too much on experts, or they fail using obsolete methods.

Yes, our education system is part of the problem, still pushing the traditional learning process (which bores the kids of today), and our culture is part of the problem, where everyone assumes they will learn all they need in the first 30 years, and can relax and enjoy their leadership role after that. But if your business fails, you are the problem.

If you haven’t started yet, the first thing you need to learn is how to use the Internet effectively. If you are thinking classes and training, you are already in trouble. Try the Internet today – you can’t break it, and it won’t break you. You can ride the information wave, or be swamped by it.

 

You can contact Martin Zwilling directly via email or through his website.

 

All opinions expressed are those of the author,  and do not necessarily represent those of Gust.

Written by Martin Zwilling

user Martin Zwilling Founder and CEO,
Startup Professionals

Martin is a veteran startup mentor, executive, blogger, author, tech professional, and angel investor. He is the Founder and CEO of Startup Professionals, a company that provides products and services to startup founders and small business owners.

prev next

You might also be interested in

The UrbanTech Movement is Transforming Cities

Urbanization is a defining process of modern life.

More than half of the world’s population now lives in cities, and the number of urban citizens around the world is projected to rise to 66% by 2050.

In the US, over 80% of the population lives in urban areas with 1 in 7 Americans living in New York, Los Angeles and

Read more >

Angel Investors Spotlight: An Inside Look at Hudson Valley Startup Fund’s Investment Process & Advice for Founders

Hudson Valley Startup Fund brings together a network of the region’s successful business and community leaders to give back, supporting the launch of the next Hudson Valley visionaries. We sat down with fund managers Chad Gomes, Johnny LeHane and Paul Hakim as they shared insights into their investment process, what they look for in both group members and startups, and

Read more >

The Right Startup Advisors Are As Valuable As Money

If you are a new entrepreneur, or entering a new business area, it’s always worth your time to assemble an Advisory Board of two or three executives who have travelled that road before. You need them before you need funding, and if you select the wrong people, or use them incorrectly, no amount of money will likely save your startup.

Read more >

How do I get in touch with investors/funds with just an idea and no product?

There are many wonderful ideas, and they are not necessarily easy to come up with. So congratulations on having thought of one!

However…

“Having value” and “Being fundable” are two completely different things. What the more experienced responders here are saying is completely accurate: while a good idea is usually a necessary ingredient for the formation of a good company, it is

Read more >

Is there an incubator for aspiring Angel Investors or VCs?

No, but there are several sets of courses on angel investing that can provide a good base from which to start. The most comprehensive and best known is the Power of Angel Investing seminar series developed by the Angel Resource Institute (formerly known as the Angel Capital Education Foundation, and prior to that part of the Angel Capital Association). It

Read more >

Comments