Elena Krasnoperova gave a fantastic briefing this morning in Palo Alto on seven learning hacks she has developed from bootstrapping two startups. Here is the handout she provided as a summary of her remarks.

Seven Learning Hacks for Bootstrappers

Elena Krasnoperova – Founder, SimplyCircle and Calroo

Step 1: Make time for learning new skills – your startup’s success depends on it

Hacks:

  • Block time off on your calendar – e.g., Fridays 2-5 pm is learning time
  • Sign up for live classes or seminars as a forcing function
  • Leverage your “dead time”: waiting, commute, boredom, etc.

Step 2: Figure out your preferred learning style, as that will determine your learning medium

3 questions to ask yourself:

  • Verbal or visual? (Books & blog posts vs infographics, video & webinars)
  • Reading or listening? (Books & blog posts vs podcasts, videos & live lectures)
  • Learn individually or in a group? (Read, listen or watch on your own vs. take a class / seminar)

 

Step 3: Master the basics – start by reading (or listening to) these 3 books:

The Lean Startup by Eric Reis
Traction by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares
Lean Analytics by Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz
Step 4: Figure out what skills you need to acquire next that will be most helpful to your startup

3 questions to ask yourself:

What stage is your startup at?
What are your business goals?
Where are your most critical knowledge gaps, given the above 2 things?
Step 5: A1 – Acquire the knowledge (in your preferred learning style)

Hacks:

  • If you like to read:
    • Start by Googling what you want to learn: e.g., “best copywriting blogs”.
    • Look at the top results, read/list/watch them, then see whom they reference, and read that
    • On Amazon: search books by topic -> sort by popularity / reviews -> skim reviews -> download free Kindle sample -> buy Kindle book -> buy paper book for reference
  • If you like to watch videos, search on YouTube, or add “video” or “webinar” to your Google search
  • Try adding “checklist”, “cheat sheet” or “template” to your Google search

Step 6. A2 – Absorb the knowledge

Hacks:

  • Take notes – handwritten / typed, screenshots, email summaries, highlighting on Kindle, Evernote, etc.
  • Create a reference library in whatever format is most useful for you – physical (books, binders with printouts, handwritten notebooks), or digital (PDFs, Evernote, emails, bookmark web pages, etc.)
  • Create a swipe file with the best real-life examples of a given topic (e.g., emails that prompted you to open them or click on them, direct mail pieces that caught your attention, etc.)

Step 7. A3 – Apply the knowledge – “Just do it!”

Hacks:

  • Do “homework” or “action plans” that many materials designed for entrepreneurs include
  • MOST IMPORTANT: Do a real project to solve a real problem for your startup
    • Reference the best cheat sheets, templates or checklists that you found for that topic
    • Consult your swipe file and your reference library
  • If needed, dig in deeper into the area and learn more in-depth content / skills