Being self-taught: the key to every entrepreneur's success

Being able to learn on one's own and carving out a previously unexplored career path are quite similar skills.

Being self-taught: the key to every entrepreneur's success

In many cases, entrepreneurs and self-learners are the same person. Being able to learn on one's own and carving out a previously unexplored career path are quite similar skills. In both cases you are taking the reins of personal progress and often one feeds into the other. Therefore, if you have in mind starting a new business, it is very important that you know that you will be constantly facing different learning processes, and that you must reach these on your own.

But what does being self-taught entail and why should it be a priority in your development as an entrepreneur?

Two people working, and discussing about a presentation with code on a screen.
Student showing code on a tv.
Photo by Mr. Bochelly / Unsplash

Let's start with the basics. In an ideal situation, people have a controlled and supervised education until about the age of 18. This gives us basic tools such as reading comprehension, writing, analysis, logic and math skills, critical thinking, and yes... that "the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell".

After this controlled environment, the paths begin to diverge. Some, knowing that they want to be entrepreneurs from the beginning, decide to take a formal education specialized in business or related fields. Others take formal learning paths different from the world of entrepreneurship. And some others —either for financial reasons or because it's simply not in their plans— immediately start working; many begin to work for others, and a lucky few are able to focus on their own business.

All of these ways are valid and there is valuable learning in all of them. By having a formal education in the area of interest, one learns from those who have already gone down the path one wishes to take. By studying other areas, one can bring intersectionality and new perspectives. By working and being in the field, you gain experiential learning and real-life lessons.

And when you are starting a business, a new stage of learning begins. Everyone should keep this in mind: those who graduated with honors from a prestigious university with a degree in business administration, as well as those who never went through an institution of higher education. As mentioned above, entrepreneurship means carving out a previously unexplored path, and therefore, it is necessary to be in constant development.

It is important to keep in mind that this learning process never stops, because the world doesn't stop either —even less so if yours is an online business. So the first thing you must have is resistance: it took you some work and it cost you, but you learned how to advertise on Google and social networks? Here, have the algorithms change every couple of months! Every day a new advancement in technology and a new competitor will make your job more challenging, so be aware of how your industry is operating and persist in your intention to learn.

Just as it is important to persist, it is also important to know how to adapt. With the way technology advances, what is good and useful today may not be so tomorrow. This not only implies learning new things, but also unlearning habits that may be detrimental to your business (even when they were previously very positive). Adaptability is also the skill that will allow you to iterate and mutate your business to its best possible version, and that will take you down unexpected and enriching learning paths.

All these new paths that are presented to you will be useless if you do not have a constant curiosity within you. Entrepreneurship and self-pedagogy are very similar precisely because they are born out of the same motivation: curiosity, experimentation, movement. It is crucial that first and foremost you keep a curious eye open to new possibilities. Curiosity will allow you to persist when you stagnate or fail. Curiosity will allow you to adapt when you find yourself at a dead end.

And how to feed curiosity? Through necessity, through problems, through crashes. If you are not innately curious, the need to survive or progress must be that motivation to seek and discover new scenarios.

At HelloGuru, for example, much of our team is self-taught in one way or another. When working with No-Code, many of us have to work our way through discovering how far we can go with one tool or another. As we create courses on them in Spanish, we have to carve our own path and learn along the way. And that is done by startups and mega corporations alike. Learning and seeking new paths will always be a constant in the world of entrepreneurship.

And you, what have you learned along the way?

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