‘Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere’, says a Chinese proverb. While it is important to keep learning, it is equally important to know what to learn. This article is a part of a larger concept that I am developing. But sharing this part might be worthwhile.
A few days back, I was talking to a friend who was planning to start a restaurant. He was developing his own website using one of the DIY website builders. He did not have a background in website development. After a couple of weeks, I checked with him about the progress and he mentioned to me that he was struggling to cope and this was delaying the launch of the store. When I offered to help, he politely declined and asked “If I take your help, when will I learn?”. I don’t give unsolicited advice, so I just smiled and nodded.
This is exactly what used to happen to me. I thought I was so talented and hard working that I can learn accounting, designing, writing and production, all by myself. This would make me independent and can run the business single-handedly, without having to depend upon specialists. This soon bit me in the back. Personally, I made some progress in all areas, but as a company my output was below expectations. Worse still, I managed to keep myself so busy that I worked 14 hours a day, for several days, without making any progress on the core of my business – marketing.
When you engage yourself in any task which does not form the core of your business, you are wasting an opportunity to grow. Of course, you should keep learning, but the learning has to be selective. You should focus on learning only that skill which is going to be hugely beneficial for your business in the long run. Is website creation and maintenance going to be at the core of your business after 2 years? Yes? Sure, go ahead and learn it. If not, hire a specialist.
I know specialists are expensive and it is tempting to learn and do it all by yourself. I know exactly what thoughts run through your mind as an entrepreneur of a bootstrapped business when you think about hiring a specialist. There are ways to get a specialist to work with you, other than paying them a hefty fee. I will write about how you can get specialists to work with you, in my subsequent blog.
Staying away from ‘learning’ is how I create intellectual bandwidth. In other words, deciding what to ‘learn’ and working with experts for everything else proved to be the turning point.