I promised in my previous post, “Are online courses good enough to change careers?”, that I will start a series of posts and help you build your own online training curriculum. I decided to call this Startupper Curriculum.
You don’t need to be a startupper though to enjoy the benefits of these posts. If you are about to acquire new skills on-line for your day job, or you are transitioning to an on-line career now, you may find these posts useful. I use the startup world as a guiding principle to structure the curriculum.
I am myself a startupper, or an on-line entrepreneur. I transitioned from a successful consulting career of 15 years into the web economy to try some of the ideas that I had during my consulting years. I spent 13 years at Accenture, the company that has one of the strongest training cultures in the world. Later on I worked at Wipro, one of the leading Indian tech consulting companies and I learnt the true meaning of working globally.
Today I see the whole world and the internet as one uniform economic playground with no limits or boundaries, anything and everything is possible, within reasonable limits, of course. I spent the last 3 years learning the ways of doing business on-line.
With over 100 on-line courses behind me, I decided to write about the thing that I am missing the most from online education: STRUCTURE.
Traditional higher education and corporate trainings are always structured and organized into a training plan, that’s often personalized towards certain specializations.
I found that on-line training sites are largely product (meaning course) focused, and students have to connect the dots themselves. You have to be able to create your own training plan.
My goal is to help you with this task.
Business vs. technical skills
We often think that startups are built around tech innovation. In many cases this is true. My company (Savalera) is built on a platform that acquires product data from the web and presents the products in a smart shop.
Even though this sounds very technical, reality is, that in a startupper journey, business and technical skills are equally important.
Whether you are about to do startup engineering, or you’re striving for a business role, my experience is that you can’t survive without understanding the aspects of your business. Even if you are a developer, technical knowledge only won’t take your too far in today’s world.
This is because on-line ventures are very extensive, fast and dynamic. Most often people will articulate their ideas on a high level. And you’ll work together with the idea owner to refine that idea with prototypes and pilots. This is the essence of the phenomenon called Agile.
I know a lot of technical folks who know what’s the most effective way of implementing a certain feature. In the startup world, however, tech people are expected to come up with inspiring alternatives for a visionary idea. This requires broad knowledge of technology enabled customer experiences.
Therefore I recommend that both business and tech oriented people look at all the courses and materials in the upcoming posts.
The Importance of Strategy
You may think that I’m trying to sell some bullshit mentioning strategy. This is not the case.
You gotta make sure, you know where you’re going and if you’re heading into the right direction. This is not about writing a mission and vision statement. (Although they are cool. Really.)
You gotta ask a few simple questions of yourself or your own company. This is important because you’re starting a long journey and you’ll have to go through a lot of difficulties and challenges. And you’ll have to reach success in the end. Otherwise you’ll have to give up your lifestyle.
Yeah, I’m not talking about money, fame or fortune, I’m talking about lifestyle. If you choose to work online or study online you’re choosing to join the new global, cosmopolitan lifestyle. Your life will never be the same, you’ll experience freedom and happiness that you can’t achieve in a 9 to 5 job.
Therefore I’ll start the journey with a short and practical post about asking the right questions before you start and I’ll give you a few inspirational sources, too.
Choose wisely and stick with your decision!
The first and most important thing on the business side of your startupper curriculum is to acquire the skills that will put your product or service in front of other people. This is called marketing. :)
The ability to connect to people, your customers, is a must on an online journey. It’s essential in a startup, it’s essential for freelancers and it’s even essential in traditional career building, just think about your personal brand on LinkedIn. These skills are the first to be acquired.
Marketing is a composition of various super important areas, like customer relations, market analysis, product fitment, advertising, social media, channel management, content curation, content creation, pricing, competitor analysis and so on.
In order to be a successful marketer you’ll need a system or framework that will help you stay organized. I’ll give you the right trainings in the right order to build these skills with online courses.
Another critical skill on your journey is financial planning and financial management. You gotta be able to plan and control your finances and know exactly the size of financial risk you’re taking.
Another important financial point is to understand investment options. You’d better know how you can involve investors in your business. It’s important to understand investments in the beginning. You have time to learn about IPOs and acquisitions later.
Best training I had in this area was my 15 years corporate career. I don’t have much experience with on-line courses in this filed, so feel free to suggest a good training. I will of course, explore new trainings here.
There are other skills a typical MBA would teach you. Skills around people and organization, ethics and leadership are also super important.
My experience is that you can learn these skills from a great mentor or coach. Soft skills related to people management are hard to teach in a classroom session, be it physical or virtual.
Another crucial area is legal. Find a good lawyer and consult her/him regularly and involve her/him in your big decisions.
Tech skill building can be daunting. Choosing a tech platform, programming language or academic discipline is not easy, because there are really way too many choices today.
Chances are that you’ll not find the right tech direction for yourself or your company immediately.
Therefore I think, it’s a good idea to go step by step and try different options before building deep, specialist skills or a large system.
I started building on various platforms, before I ended up working with PHP and the Fat-Free Framework. Right now I’m building data processing components in Python btw, so the evolution is continuos.
On top of this, there are various technologies you must be aware of with every platform or programming language when you’re working in the web world.
You’ll need all these things no matter what programming language or platform you choose. Learning a programming language is just the tip of the iceberg.
Learning a language alone, won’t give you the skills to survive. You gotta build solutions to get the experience.
There are fantastic courses out there that introduce languages. There are others that guide you through project assignments. You’ll find that it will become faster and faster to become productive in a new language after a while. Project assignments will help you learn the real magic of tech art.
I will write about the best tech trainings I found for the above areas, while I’m also a maker of tech trainings that are available on my site here.
This post was meant to give you an overview of what to expect from the Startupper Curriculum series. I will create an on-line training plan of the best trainings that I found on-line. I will also include some books that I found useful.
While this post does not give you any specific course references now, please expect the the future posts will be very factual.
The message in this post is that if you’re looking for a change in careers or if you’re about to start a business, you should consider both business and tech trainings online.
Hope to see you soon on takacsmark.com on your journey.