This is a guest post by Nihal Parthasarathi,co-founder of CourseHorse.
Though I try not to make a habit of regretting things, one thing I do kick myself is for is not taking advantage of the time I had before I started my company.
There are so many skills that would be tremendously useful to have in my arsenal now. To save you the regret while you are waiting for the big idea, I’ve shared with you twelve easy to learn skills that will payoff in the future. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.
1. Using Photoshop / Illustrator
These are so unbelievably handy when it comes to any design work. You don’t need to be an expert – just keep an eye out for design work you appreciate to develop good taste
. If you can edit / adjust other people’s work, and eventually learn enough small edits to to not have to hire a designer, you’re in a great spot.
f there’s one skill to learn, it’s how to make your ideas as real as possible without actually coding them. Using Serena Prototype Composer
(my favorite), or iRise
, learn how to create something that looks and feels just like a website – then study usability testing and iterate on it until your users are achieving their (and your) goals without hesitation.
3. Understanding Google Analytics
Can’t say enough about how important this tool is. There’s so much you can do with it – study event tracking, search tracking, ecommerce, advanced segmentation and custom reports. Also, learn what you can’t
do with GA, so you can eventually fill those gaps with your own internal site usage tracking or other analytics tools
4. Understanding SAAS Tools
5. Online Advertising (Google / Facebook)
It’s worth playing around with both of these to understand how they work, even if you have nothing to actually advertise. Think of it like a game – how to systematically improve your ads and work towards paying less and less for the same amount of clickthrough/conversion. Also, if you’re playing with an idea, it’s a great way to test demand
If you’ve got time - learn a language
. “Even in a worst case where you never learn to code, you’ll be able to
communicate better with developers. Through learning you get to understand their challenges, and can begin to estimate effort & difficulty on your own, or at best get your prototype up off the ground before hiring the big guns. If I had a second chance, I’d have been a developer.
7. Using Social Media
Social media success blogs are a dime
, but implementing recommendations is a lot harder than they make it sound. The only way to really learn is by doing it yourself. Why not take up a cause and begin learning now what works and what doesn’t when trying to drive ‘likes’ or ‘follows’ or anything else?
8. Interacting with Online Communities
, Yelp Talk
, Hacker News
, Communities around Blogs
- these are all places you should be building social capital in starting right now. Doesn’t take much – let’s say one intelligent response to a post you feel passionately about every two weeks, and several upvotes of other people’s posts. Get involved now and when you need these communities, you’ll not only understand them, but they’ll embrace you as one of their own.
Creating content unceasingly is a very necessary skill
in startup land. Whether it is content for your newsletter, for press, or for your corporate blog - writing should come easily
, and you should have something important to say.
Learning how to quickly and skillfully offshore tasks is critical at getting anything done in life. Got a long, dull, repetitive task? Pay someone offshore
to do it for $5 and learn how to write job descriptions, interview candidates, read applications, and assign super unambiguous assignments. Then review performance, adjust, and try again.
11. Maintaining Relationships w/Journalists & Bloggers
It’s infinitely easier to befriend bloggers and journalists when you’re not pushing a product. As a fan, make a habit of writing to journalists frequently – if you like an article, write to them and thank them for it. Follow them on twitter – make yourself part of their following, and when you do need a leg up, they won’t hesitate.
Unsurprisingly, the more connections you have when you start your business the better. Ideally, by the time you start you’ve already met your technical (or business!) co-founder, you know some entrepreneurs and investors that are rooting you on, you know who you’d love to hire, and you’ve already formed relationships with the first set of people you’re going to reach out to for business development.
There’s no time like the present, so get yourself ready for that big idea!