Consuming Knowledge

Consuming Knowledge

"An entrepreneur has no graduation date, they are always learning."


Entrepreneurship is, at it’s core, a constant journey of learning. Your ability to identify new things you need to learn, and to learn those things quickly and efficiently is vitally important to your success.

One of the most difficult things about being an entrepreneur is not actually learning new things, but instead trying to figure out what you need to learn. It’s not like school where you have a class syllabus you can follow. It’s more of a learn on demand situation. You do your best to prepare yourself for what you think is to come. But more often than not, your business will throw curve balls at you, and you will need to find solutions quickly. Which usually involves learning about things you never even heard of before.

As an example, when I first starting manufacturing goods in China I soon realized I would need to put together a contract with the Chinese supplier. Something that spelled out the terms of the manufacturing agreement in detail, and would offer some legal protection in the case the Chinese supplier ever backed out, or did not deliver the goods in a timely/accurate fashion. This was one of the many moments on my journey where I had to stop everything and quickly learn a new skill. In this case, it was how to draft a manufacturing contract with a supplier.

Of course, you can hire professionals for pretty much every aspect of your business. But when your business is small I am a firm believer in doing things yourself. I like this approach for 2 reasons. The first is that when you are small you likely do not have a lot of cash in the bank to fund yourself, so being as cash efficient as possible is very important. And 2, as the owner and CEO of your business I believe you should have a basic understanding of everything your business does. This has served me very well over the years. I have very rarely hired someone for a position that I did not know how to do personally. Which makes hiring a lot easier when the time comes, since you know exactly what tasks are required of your team, and what skills will compliment each task.

You may be thinking to yourself: ‘learning all aspects of a business is a lot of learning’. And you’re right, it is alot of learning. In the case of ecommerce it involves learning about product selection, manufacturing, freight forwarding, website design, marketing, warehousing, fulfillment, and the list goes on. But the thing is you do not have to be an expert in all of these things. You just need the baseline knowledge in each area, and know how every piece fits together in your overall supply chain.

What really helped me learn the ropes in my first 2 years of business was a combination of Youtube, audiobooks, and a few (carefully selected) paid courses. To this day I never get in my car and drive for more than 5 minutes without an audiobook about business going in the background. Or similarly, whenever I am in the kitchen doing dishes or making dinner I will always have an audiobook or podcast going in my airpods. Or if I’m on a train or plane ride I will always break out a laptop or book and start reading. Learning while you are traveling or doing repetitive tasks is one of the best ways I have found to get ahead and squeeze the most out of your week. My bet is that you could find an extra hour each day to dedicate to learning by using these methods, without taking any time away from your productive work time in front of a computer. So, definitely audiobooks and podcasts a try. I will also leave some of my podcast and book recommendations at the bottom of this section.

Another key thing I have learnt about knowledge retention is writing stuff down. When you write about what you learn it pushes you to understand the topic better. Write down what you learn as if you were explaining it to another person. This will help deepen your understanding of the material, and also bring to light any gaps in your knowledge. Writing everything down will often bring new connections and insights that you would of missed if you had just read and listened to something without trying to summarize and explain it to someone else.

One thing I often use while I am listening to audiobooks is the notepad feature on my phone. Whenever I am out listening to a podcast and hear great piece of advice I will write it down in my iphone, and later transfer that note to a computer word document. I have even gone as far as to purchase a Dictaphone for my car, so whenever I hear something important while driving I can quickly record and capture the idea for future reference.

Another important point to consider is that we as humans only hold on to about 10% of what we read. Most of the knowledge we consume goes in one ear and out the other. And while you could simply re-listen or re-read everything 10 times to fully grasp it, I find a better solution is to just jot down the important points as you learn them. Keeping a word document on your computer and writing down all the key takeaways from what you learn is a great way to cement that knowledge in your mind, plus give yourself a future reference for whenever you need it.

These are just some of the methods I use to help with my constant learning. Try them out for yourself! Also remember that everyone learns differently. The key takeaway is to constantly be learning and focusing on practical things that will help move the needle for your business. And not to get stuck in analysis paralysis. Learn the basics about something, and instead of spending 100 hours focused one particular topic, take some action and try implementing what you just learnt. Real world experience is almost always the best teacher. Attempt, fail, learn from your failure, repeat.

Here are my podcast and book recommendations related to starting an ecommerce business. Hope you enjoy!

Book recommendations:

  • Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
  • Radicals and Visionaries by Thaddeus Wawro
  • Permission Marketing by Seth Godin
  • Unleashing the Idea Vius by Seth Godin
  • Become a SuperLearner by Jonathan Levi
  • The Ultimate Sales Machine by Dave Carvajal
  • Invent It, Sell It, Bank It by Lori Grennier
  • Never Stop Learning by Bradley Staats
  • The Psychology of Selling by Brian Tracy
  • The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman
  • Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff
  • Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk
  • This Is Marketing by Grant Cordone
  • This Is Marketing by Seth Godin
  • Unfu*k Yourself by Gary John Bishop
  • How to Win at the Sport of Business by Mark Cuban
  • Relentless by Tom Grover
  • Chillpreneur by Denise Duffield-Thomas
  • iWoz by Steve Wozniak
  • Dotcom Secrets, Traffic Secrets and Expert Secrets by Russell Brunson
  • Email Marekting Demystified by Matthew Paulson
  • The Ultimate Sales Letter by Dan Kennedy
  • Launch by Jeff Walker
  • The Great Game of Business by Jack Stack and Bo Burlingham
  • The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
  • The 10% Entrepreneur by Patrick McGinnis
  • Purple Cow by Seth Goddin
  • The Unfair Advantage by Ash Ali and Hasan Kubba
  • The Art of Product Design by Hardi Meybaum
  • Scaling Up by Verne Harnish
  • Ca$hvertising by Eric Whitman
  • The Learn Startup by Eric Ries
  • Built to Sell by John Warrillow

Podcast recommendations:

  • Adspend
  • Chew On This
  • You’re Not Your ROAS
  • eCommerce Fuel Podcast
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