Every Day is a School Day for the Online Entrepreneur

The hilarious thing about most professionals in the online world is that we’re all making it up as we go along. Whether you’re a developer, a CEO, or a VC, you most likely learned everything you know on the job. Traditional schools don’t teach Ruby On Rails or how to develop iPad apps, and they definitely don’t teach the process of raising funds, working efficiently from home, and managing employees over Skype.

We’re all self taught. The best among us have spent the most time outside of traditional schools teaching ourselves (see the story of Bill Gates in Outliers). Following Moore’s Law, our industry’s capabilities double every two years, so online entrepreneurs have to read voraciously, review our skills, and take on new skills in a way that even doctors and lawyers don’t have to.viagra générique

Learning is Work

We can create a culture of learning by reading at work. Reading is essentially leveraging other peoples’ experiences, so let employees sit back and read relevant articles while at work. Let them peruse blogs. Make some books mandatory. We should encourage everyone around us – our vendors, employees, stakeholders – to share relevant books and articles with us. Reward readers and beware of non-readers. For example, I recently interviewed but did not hire a financial planner who couldn’t list a single blog, journal, or even book informing his investment strategy. The Wall Street Journal and CNN.com don’t cut it.

Stop Being Pretentious

My classmates from Wesleyan seem to only read fiction, while my classmates from Carnegie Mellon preferred non-fiction, and definitely nothing longer than 20 pages. All are shameless snobs about their preferences. We’re all probably better off reading a healthy mix of both, and we’re most rewarded when we read books that are outside our comfort zone.

Have the Right Tools

Here are some resources for ongoing learning for the online entrepreneur:

• Kindle or other E-reader. Not the iPad… too heavy to take everywhere.
Anki, an intelligent flash card software. Useful for committing facts to memory, like important concepts relevant to your business.
Khan Academy.org. A great place for videos on banking, math, science, etc.
Google Reader. Set it up to follow at least 10 blogs relevant to your industry.

If you know of other helpful tools, please let me know!