I recently watched Jiro Dreams Of Sushi, where the sushi master is world renowned and has worked his entire life at mastering his craft. Like a professional athlete who has worked their whole life toward perfecting their skills, I have no issue with how much he charges for a piece of tuna or the size of Ray Rice’s contract.
We live in such a quick fix society that many aspiring entrepreneurs leave the corporate rat race without ever really developing the skills that they need. They think okay, I can start blogging or selling this stuff online and get money. If he did it… then I can. That in itself couldn’t be further from the truth. Expert-ism and skills take years to develop and perfect. One of the other problems is that what skills are you really developing in your current position? It might be one or two… but is it something that you really want to do?
While I have a lot of different skills, I don’t consider myself to be an expert in many of them yet. Am I good at SEO? Can I crank out some WordPress websites? Hell yes. But there are people way better than I am. What’s different is that I am dedicated to learning more and perfecting my abilities. I’ll be attending Affiliate Summit West in January and talking at DigSouth in April. I am blogging here, a few other places and maybe one day I’ll become an expert.
What is my skillset?
I can see opportunities in the market and create assets to capitalize on them. Right now with the web based product that I’m building all of the design work, coding, etc are being outsourced. I’m working with different people to get it put together. I have the idea, business plan and will make it happen. I’m a do-er.
With WhiteRaverRafting our backend is managed by WP Engine and the theme is built using Headway. WP Engine provides a fully managed wordpress hosting environment that’s completely scalable. I don’t think about the technical stuff, I just do. Some of the writers who have joined are way better than I am. Now the website operates without my input and if I took a week off, there would still be posts on the blog and new facebook likes. Building the team in such a way allows me to work on what I’m good at. This includes things like signing deals with festivals, networking for the brand and spending time on other projects.
I became a do-er from my time building GiftCardRescue into a multi-million dollar company. At 20 I didn’t really know the magnitude of what I was doing, but it’s something that I’ve been able to fully realize in time. We were lean, scrappy and put up a fight against companies that had a couple million in the bank. My mentor Kwame is incredibly intelligent, but he’s not a coder or designer.
How to Get Experience & Develop Your Skillset
You don’t know what you’re good or bad at, until you actually do it. Click to tweet
If you’re intelligent enough to read a book or take a course and start your own online business… that’s awesome. For the rest of us average minded folk, we need to get the experience first. So whether you’re interested in entrepreneurship or being the best f’n accountant on the planet, you need to get your start somewhere. It’s going to take years to develop the right skills set. I used to think after leaving GiftCardRescue that I would be able to launch a company and be successful no problem. Hardly. But after building a brand with WRR, I know what needs to be done.
Do as many internships as possible – While you’re young you should do as many interships as possible. Do sales, marketing, accounting, social media whatever it is. This experience will shape the rest of your career.
Read & listen – I try and read one book every two weeks on different topics. Some fiction other non-fiction about marketing, finance or other business concepts. I follow a hundred or so blogs of different experts and listen to about ten podcasts. I’m fully engaged in the industry.
Be curious – When I hear something new or think of something that I can apply to my life, I get excited. I’m like a little kid when I figure out a hack for wordpress, pricing strategy or business development. I love learning.
How did they make it? – Look at the experts and examine how they made their wealth. What lifestyle choices did they make? How did they get the capital or knowledge to start? You can often model parts of your life and routine off of them.
Entry level position in relevant industry – You might be able to find a job that pays more doing something you hate or you can start on the bottom doing something that you want. Are you trying to start an online art store? Get hired in a gallery and go from there.
Apply directly with influencers or entrepreneurs – There’s nothing like someone who takes the initiative to make something happen. If I want something, I do it. If you want a job with Tim Ferris, go apply. If he rejects you move on.
Get started but don’t quit your day job – For WRR, I just started it. I never quit my day job and still work a regular full time job. I’m sitting in a coffee shop on Saturday afternoon writing this post. Having steady income is important and I’m not ready to give that up just yet.
- Mark Cuban on Success and Motivation
- 5 Principles for Becoming an Expert
- Data Mining: The Ultimate Guide to Niche Analysis
- Right now I’m reading The Signal and The Noise. It’s about predictions and why “the experts” are often wrong. The first section covered the recession from an angle that I had never considered before. Incredible read.
- If you’re interested in becoming an intern and learning from me, shoot me an email. Make sure you include your relevant experience and why you want to learn.
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