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Richard Branson has built an empire around the phrase “Screw it, let’s do it.”
The multimillionaire says that, when presented with an opportunity, many people say “no” or “let me think about it” because they are “overcautious” or “suspicious” of new ideas — or they simply need time to think. Branson, on the other hand, is eager to dive in headfirst and figure out logistics later.
“What is worse,” Branson asks, “Making the occasional mistake or having a closed mind and missing opportunities?”
As most born entrepreneurs would agree, the benefits of trying new things far outweigh the risk of making a mistake.
Conceptual vs. applied learners
Whether he realizes it or not, Branson is describing a fundamental difference in the way people learn. People who “simply need time to think” are conceptual learners — that is, they approach knowledge from an intellectual vantage point. Conceptual learners are great readers, and they do well with hypothetical examples.
Branson, on the other hand, is the very personification of an applied learner. He learns by doing. An applied learner doesn’t hesitate to get her hands dirty; she’s less concerned with feasibility and analysis than she is with taking action. Applied learners jump off the cliff and build their wings mid-air.
It’s not surprising that applied learners make the best entrepreneurs. Like swimming, entrepreneurship is not primarily an intellectual endeavor. It requires a combination of determination and fearlessness. A skilled entrepreneur is eager to get in over her head and figure things out as she moves forward.
If you’re an applied learner, entrepreneurship could be a powerful tool for unleashing your inner potential.
How to determine learning styles
When you’re learning something of little practical value, do you find yourself bored? And when you learn about something exciting, do you have the urge to try it out immediately?
Bonus question: When Elvis sings, “A little less conversation, a little more action please,” do you feel like he’s speaking directly to you?
If you answered yes to all of these questions, you may be an applied learner. And if you haven’t considered launching an enterprise, you should.
It’s not an easy path, though. According to the Small Business Administration, abouthalf of all new businesses survive five years or more, and only about one-third survive 10 years or more. In the face of rapidly changing markets and technologies, an entrepreneur needs to make strategic decisions quickly and effectively.
Tenacity, flexibility and the ability to think on your feet are skills that can be explored in a classroom, but they’re only mastered through real-world application.
How to get started
If you feel ready to try your hand at entrepreneurship, there’s nothing stopping you. Develop your idea, then dive right in. As an applied learner, you’re already comfortable with learning through execution.
Here are some guidelines for leveraging your learning style into entrepreneurial growth:
- Put your baseline knowledge to use. If this is your first entrepreneurial endeavor, the learning curve will be steep no matter what. Therefore, familiarity with a particular industry — even if it’s just basic knowledge — can be a real asset. Choose a sector based on what you already know. A head start can go a long way.
- Treat everything as a learning experience. In launching a business, you’ll face a constant barrage of challenges, failures, and curveballs. It can overwhelm even the most seasoned entrepreneur. But remember this: Every fork in the road is a lesson. Even if you fail outright, you’ll have acquired new skills, knowledge, and networks. This makes you better prepared for whatever comes next.
- Find the right mentors. As an applied learner, the benefits of finding a mentor — someone with frontline experience — are tremendous. A good mentor is a coach, a guide, and a pillar of emotional support. He or she will hold you accountable, connect you with critical resources, and help expand your network. Keep yourself open to your mentor’s criticism and feedback. This relationship can accelerate your journey as an entrepreneur.
The adventure of entrepreneurship
Not every applied learner is a born entrepreneur. For some, the risks are too great. There’s little stability or job security in entrepreneurship.
But for people who choose to launch their own enterprises, the primary goal is rarely a stable lifestyle. Entrepreneurship is a chance to blaze your own trail and create something out of nothing. It’s a stimulating, fulfilling adventure.
If you’re even remotely interested in becoming an entrepreneur, go for it. The path may be challenging, but it’s filled with opportunities to learn and grow.
David Zheng is the co-founder and CEO of Klout Fire, a digital marketing agency that helps brands drive revenue by acquiring customers and establishing brand awareness through inbound marketing strategies.
In our new economy, many employees are rethinking retirement due to limited raises, drops in healthcare coverage, and wavering pensions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the labor force participation rate of workers 55 and up will continue to grow reaching 43 percent by 2018 and 22 percent for those 65 and over.
Additionally, The Sloan Center on Aging and Work at Boston College follows continued trends of older workers staying employed or re-entering the workforce even after retirement. Is it all financially driven? Not necessarily. For many, now that we’re living longer, we simply want to contribute longer. So for those rethinking retirement, consider the following strategies to stay in the game and in demand.
Polish your skills
It’s a slippery slope from fear to failure, so don’t let your discomfort with new technology send you packing. Social media, smart phones and Skype are here to stay, so time has come to get “techy.” In fact, learning something new is the best way to keep the brain sharp and honed for increased functioning. But with the trend for strategic cutbacks, don’t always rely on your employer to provide skill-based training. Take the initiative by attending seminars, workshops, conferences or by investing off the job time to polish your skill set through continued education. AARP Worksearch Foundation provides resources for people over 50 and older looking for work and for additional skill development training.
Embrace a multi-generational workforce
What a better way to stay current on technological trends then to buddy with the generation born online. Making an effort to understand and embrace younger generations is not only a great way to learn from their expertise but to demonstrate you’re a team player. Trainings abound on navigating generational distinctions in an effort to help professionals collaborate effectively. Be willing to considering new approaches and priorities from younger counterparts and recognize that seniority doesn’t always equal superiority. When in doubt about lingo or logistics don’t be afraid to ask questions. After all, they’re just as curious about you.
Take advantage of resources
Staying healthy and well-informed is that much easier when you take advantage of organizational resources. Most companies offer benefits including heath tests, wellness coaching, financial planning and fitness classes are free or low cost. Get up and actively pursue these perks while you’re working and beyond by taking steps now to establish a strategy for retirement. For instance, many of my clients on the exit track work with me to develop a retirement plan that includes a benefits analysis, wellness plan and an encore career development strategy. I highly recommend any employee over the age of 50 to start working on all of these facets and routinely tweak them as you get closer to leaving. The transition to a new job, retirement or even an encore career is easier and less daunting when you’re healthy and fit and have a plan for your future in place.
Avoid mentally checking out by staying in the game and you’ll see the mutually beneficial rewards of making a contribution. Mentoring younger co-workers is a great way to give and gain as older workers Savvy organizations that recognize that a lack of certain skills in younger workers can be found in their older counterparts and encourage this cross-generational imparting of wisdom. Additional ways to stay engaged might include spearheading “bucket list” projects that sometimes take flight easier when you’re affiliated with a company. Key-note speaking, formulating philanthropic partnerships, starting a foundation or even leading formalized training programs are embraced and sponsored by organizations. But probably the best way to stay engaged is to interact with others by joining groups or attending work-sponsored activities. Yes, who you know and who knows you helps keep you in demand, but more importantly having a continual sense of community is imperative for optimal well-being.
Kim Monaghan, PCC is a career coach, syndicated career columnist, resume writer and personal branding strategist who helps her clients cultivate career happiness www.KBMCoaching.com.
We often talk about the “future of work” as if it’s a destination; but the reality is that the future of work is already here. Technology’s impact on the remote and part-time workforce is transforming work culture right now. Are your managers prepared and ready to embrace this new work world? The “future of work” […]
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