in Startups

I’m a young startup founder, what should I be learning?

I saw a question on Quora asking if other founders have taken online courses in order learn new skills.  Having a desire to learn is something I feel very strongly about in that it is a necessity for any founder.  I believe this could actually be applicable in anything if you want to succeed; in order to succeed you have to be willing to learn what you don’t yet know.

As a result I wrote an answer to the question but I thought I would post it here too .


If you are a first time entrepreneur: Have you taken online courses to learn skills you felt you needed to learn?

As a first time entrepreneur as Benjamin has mentioned below it is certainly necessary to have a ‘flair’ and a JFDI approach in some situations (Mark Suster has written a great post about JFDI on his blog BothSidesOfTheTable).  However, as a first time entrepreneur I also feel that having a level of humility and acknowledging areas that you could improve on is very important for a number of reasons:

1) You need to be able to understand all areas of the business to a certain level.
2) People will appreciate your willingness to learn and be more willing to help you if you are showing a desire to improve yourself.
3) If you are non-technical founder in a company that requires technological expertise then being able to communicate with developers or your technical co-founder is so important.
4) Starting a company is like an experiment.  You are going to learn a huge amount along the journey so embracing the need to learn from the outset is much better than struggling to get by until it becomes a problem.

In terms of resources for learning I have found the following to be useful:
1) Online courses from Udemy, Udacity, EduX, SkillShare, iTunesU, TreeHouse etc.
Stanford University also offer online courses via Venture-Labs which are great.
2) Classroom based courses at General Assembly.
3) Blogs by the likes of Mark Suster, Paul Graham, Joel Gascoine, Brad Feld, Eric Reis, Fred Wilson etc
4) Books – lots of books!
5) Any meetups, conferences, networking events you can attend.

Since I knew that I wanted to start a company almost exactly a year ago I have learned an awful lot and I have found a desire to learn that I have never had throughout my academic studies.  My co-founder and I acknowledged that we were both non-technical and did everything we could to make up the deficit on the areas where we are weak but also to strengthen our respective strong skills and whilst it has taken up time in the first instance I am in no doubt that it has been valuable and will pay dividends for us in the future.  Hope that helps.


It would be really interesting to hear what other founders have done to learn necessary skills when they are starting out so leave a comment; it would be great to chat.