Four reasons why startups should never stop learning

No surprise here – the world is changing fast. This is especially true in the startup world, where competition is increasing as timelines shrink.

That’s why it’s more important than ever to be on top of your game. Or better yet, on top of several games at once. Yes, today’s most-successful entrepreneurs have multiple skills beyond their “core competencies.”

It’s no longer enough to be a programming whiz who leads a startup. You also have to have graphic design chops and a working knowledge of the financial books. Ditto for the “big idea” person who dreams up the next world changer. As well as being that marketing genius, you also need to know your way around a NDA document and the difference between Ruby and Ruby on Rails.

Hence it’s no wonder those in startups are following in the path of the freelancers they often hire, and freshening up their skills and learning new ones. This includes taking classes and courses to broaden knowledge. Again, taking a cue from freelancers who understand the importance of staying sharp, you’ll find a plethora of learning opportunities available at online marketplaces like Elance (many available for free).

Here’s food for thought on why you need to enroll in an online video class or two:

1. Better understanding of your projects

It’s impossible to successfully manage a project when you only grasp certain parts of the job. A case in point is a mobile app. If you’re not a technical whiz, how can you make informed decisions about whether to focus on Java or Cocoa. By taking a quick online class on mobile design and development, you’ll see mistakes before they happen.

2. Better understanding of your workers

Being a great team leader is being an understanding team leader. When you’re asking a freelancer to code your new landing page or design a new logo by end of day, you’re not understanding the amount of work behind that project. A quick class or two will do wonders for grasping the intricacies (and help you build a great relationship with team members).

3. Help your team advance their careers

As your startup gets larger and larger, you’ll have bigger and bigger shoes to fill. By sharpening your talents and learning new skills you’ll have the knowledge to understand what it takes for others to flourish in major roles. You’ll also know what’s on the horizon for your business, as well as for the industry as a whole.

4. Advance your own career

Judging by the number of business books in your reading queue, you know that knowledge gives you an edge over others. As your startup grows and thrives, and you look for more opportunities to satisfy your personal and professional growth, multiple skills will play a major part in your success. Whether you’re starting another startup or sitting on a board, rounding out your know-how is only going to help you.

Keep in mind that this continuous learning doesn’t have to be time consuming nor expensive. There’s no need for a 6 month sabbatical, second mortgage on the home, and graduate level classes at Stanford. Again, at Elance or at other online marketplaces, you’ll find many courses you can tackle on your free time at a very low cost. There’s a good reason why the best freelancers continue to evolve and grow, and by borrowing from their playbook, you’ll continue as a game-changer for years to come.

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