When you start and manage your own business you will find yourself in a constant flux of learning. Theorists suggest that there are four stages of learning; once we become aware of how little we know we can then consciously acquire a new skill, then use that skill and finally we get to a point where we can perform new skills with little thought.
But in business it often seems that stages of learning are amplified with confusion and often highly uncomfortable. So, to help you move from novice to pro, nine entrepreneurs share their personal tips on how they overcome uncomfortable learning stages in business:
1. Persevere through the tough times.
“Most of business is [an] uncomfortable learning experience, even after the first lesson which you tend to repeat at least one more time. Keep your eye on the goal. You will have times you don’t even believe in your own business, but to persevere and continue forward. Talking with friends and relatives can be really helpful and [help to] clear your mind. This can also lead to new ways of thinking and create solutions.”
2. Acquire knowledge through reading.
“Every [entrepreneur] experiences the inevitable – growth and learning. As your business grows there will be periods where you’ll need to know a little about everything. Unfortunately, we can’t be skilled in everything we need to learn. The best advice is to read as much as you can on the subject from books to blogs and to be as ‘hands on’ as you can in the learning process. Some small business owners aren’t able to be involved in all aspects of their business. [If that's you] I encourage you to hire or outsource the parts of your business with a [lengthy] learning curve, but be sure to hire professionals who have experience in their field and that you can trust to help grow your business.”
3. Protect your downside.
“This may not be the most popular advice, but what we learned is to always protect our downside [limit your potential loss] — ‘go for broke’ and go ‘all in!’ Each stage [in business] has its unique challenges. Evaluate each challenge and measure the risk. Nearly all new startups will go out of business. Figure out a way to beat the statistics by protecting yourself from total loss.”
4. Iterate intelligently.
“Create an environment in which you can iterate quickly on your product or service. In software, we build imperfect alpha versions of product and features as fast as possible, release them to a group of early adopters, and learn what they like and don’t like. It is important to take those learnings, pour them back in to the product, and quickly turn around updates to keep learning. You need a culture and process for the build-learn-repeat cycle so you can get through the uncomfortable learning stages faster, and get to a point of comfort.”
5. Grit your teeth and move forward.
“When you face adversity in your business, moving through it often means just gritting your teeth and moving forward. Although you have to push ahead, you shouldn’t always do so alone. Never be afraid to reach out to others for experience, learning and help.”