How Continuous Learning Saves My Business and Entrepreneurial Journey

written by Ivan Widjaya on March 23, 2013 in Personal Development with 8 comments

I am always intrigued in the philosophy of Kaizen or continuous improvement. Specifically, I embrace continuous learning. Lucky me – doing so has saved me from the consequences of my failure in franchising – and has led me to an exciting and lucrative world of online business. Read on.

kaizen

When thinking about failure, the first thing that jumps out of your mind is all bad; gloom and doom; hopelessness and lose of hope. But if you asked me, I will always be enthusiastic in sharing my story about my big failure in franchising. Why?

Because failing has pushed my back behind a wall; I have a family to support, and giving up is not an option. I have to find a way to support my family. Since my franchising woes, I learn that the only way to find success is to befriend failure.

Indeed, I embrace failure – that’s why I always prepare for the worst – not that I am pessimistic, but I realize that my business has 90% chance of failure based on a popular statistic; with 10% success rate, it’s best to take the opportunity to work hard and keep on learning as new learning opportunities come along the way.

Learn – so you can survive

Did you know how I survive my turbulent times during the collapse of my brick-and-mortar business? I make money online.

I remember that when I am starting out, I was building an e-commerce site selling dropshipping products. It costs me some money – below $100 – to build the site and everything. I know nothing about e-commerce. I knew a thing or two about PHP/MYSQL, but online business knowledge? Zero, zip, zilch, nada.

I learn everything from zero: How to use Joomla! (the e-commerce site was built using Joomla! CMS) How to create content for marketing; how to set up an online store with Paypal integration; how to build reputation; how to price a dropshipped products, and so on.

In a couple of months, I became an “expert” in building e-commerce site. But I was really bad at selling. Did you know my sales figure? $50. From one sale only. It’s a failure.

Of course, that’s not the only failure: I fail dozens more times, and I finally discovered a goldmine at that time: Web directories. I once own dozens of directories that are making money handsomely – enough to cover our monthly living expenses – and help us recover from the franchising failure.

I also involved in buying and selling websites – I make some money – not much, but enough to get the ball rolling. I hang around online marketplaces and webmaster’s forums to understand the trends. What niches are booming? What sites are becoming obsolete? What a particular site is priced at? What determine a site’s pricing? How to analyze everything from traffic stats to sales figures – all in all to avoid me from getting scammed (I got ripped off a couple times, but there are lessons in those.)

I sold web hosting services; I offer web design services; I offer link building services; I offer online promotion services; I sell ebooks; I sell affiliate products. I virtually do so many things during my 5 years of webpreneurship – many failed, but some do find success.

Then I dwell into blogging. I am not a blogger, but I love share ideas; so I just do it – build my first blog. A fail. A second one – another fail. I then strike gold with a business blog sharing what I know about running a small business, as well as journeying into the online world.

Then things turn nasty – Google rolled out series of its algorithm updates, causing my business to stumble. But I learn so many things about SEO. Inbound Marketing. Online Reputation Management. Branding. Everything I need to learn in order to rebound from the slump.

As you can see, my journey consists of trying things out and learn along the way, and yes – I learn more as I fail; so, failure is good!

Today, I support my family entirely from my online income. And yes, the idea behind making money online itself is very simple. If you get the golden key to online business success, it’s doable for everyone.

The big secret to success

Seriously, when someone ask me “if making money online is that simple, why people don’t do it?” I went blank for a moment; c’mon – you know better than that: Yes, the concept is very simple – but success is only for those who are willing to pay the price, and do the right thing at the right time.

The price to pay, as well as the golden key to success? Continuous learning. None other.

Continuous learning is a simple concept: You are continuously improving yourself by upgrading your skills and increasing your knowledge. Continuous learning skills are required to adapt to changes in work and life. Again, it’s a lifelong endeavour that can offer you unlimited opportunities in life – so stop limiting yourself – break the barrier!

keep on learning
Image credit: Miss Laid Plot

How to embrace continuous learning

From my entrepreneurial journey as a case study, here are some tips on how to embrace continuous learning.

1. Ready to learn with the right mindset

Take my advice: If you want to make your entrepreneurial journey into the online world a pleasant one, be sure you are open-minded and ready to learn more; be sure you are ready to learn from others and put what you learn into practice. It’s simple, yet challenging to do – you do need the right mindset to make it work.

You need to embrace the fact that what you are learning right now might not yield you in term of successful business; most of the times, failures are great learning tools – but you obviously need to accept the fact that failures are part of your entrepreneurial journey. Again, it’s all about mindset.

2. There is no shortcut – unless you create that shortcut yourself

Sure, you’ll always get these offers or something similar: “Make $5,000 a day while you sleep…” “I make $36,823 per month being a beach bum…” “just adopt the system with no knowledge required, and you will get $6,727 in the next three days.”

Most of such offers are scams; but what those marketers claim can hold true if you have the key: A working system. If you own the system, you find success.

And did you know what is required to build a working system? Yes, you are required to invest your time and often your money in educating yourself the basics of everything you want to learn. You also need to be a strong self learner; you need to embrace the fact that without knowledge, you can’t just go far.

To tell you the truth, I am yet to discover a system allowing me to replicate success while minimising failure. But I do have a working system consisting of “gears” that make my business machine works. With that being said, you should do the following…

3. Build an ecosystem that supports your learning endeavour

Mentors to guide me… online tools to automate things – or at least, speed things up; online tools allowing me to work on the go with any devices (cloud working rocks!)… virtual assistants who help me with my time consuming works… freelancers who help me with top-notch services at a fraction of price paid by big biz… online influencers and evangelists who help spreading the words about my business websites… a lawyer to help me out – just in case… the list can go on and on, but the bottom line, this rather smallish and unstructured business ecosystem of mine has saved my entrepreneurial journey – and my family well-being.

So, just like any businesses running like a well-oiled machine, you should start with a strong team, set of tools and a system that manage their relationships.

Takeaway

Just like entrepreneurship, learning is a lifelong endeavour. You can’t just “retire” from entrepreneurship; you can’t just stop learning, as well. That’s why many still start a business at their 70s; that’s why many still go to college at their 60′s.

You can’t separate entrepreneurship with learning – both are inseparable.

Your business may fail, but your knowledge never fail you; one way or another, what you know will eventually bring you a fortune – just make sure you are ready when the opportunity arises!