Reading about Businesses is NOT the Same as Doing

This will be a short post.

Ever find yourself reading a lot of blog posts, books, and Top 10 How To… lists about business? I found myself in the same position years ago, and although what you read often sounds irrefutably correct, it often diverges from reality.

This is because of a super simple principle: seeing is not the same as doing.

In business, everything is variable. Different industries have different paces (e.g. EdTech businesses often face immensely long decision-making cycles), customer needs, and products.

You can’t simply take a macro strategy that works for a retail business and plop it on top of your fast-moving tech startup.

What you read will often not make these distinctions, and that can be a serious blindspot for those who think they know exactly what they need to do when starting a business.

So what’s the solution?

Narrow your sources of information and act.

That’s right. No special rules, crazy tricks, or secret lairs involved. Find people who’ve done it before in similar situations, track them down, and blast them with questions. Once you’ve got an idea of what you’re looking for, go and do it.

How has this affected me? I started out reading the typical magazine articles on Forbes and Inc., and though they were entertaining and seemingly useful, they didn’t provide the in-depth information I needed to actually apply it in my own life.

Several years later, through running my website, I’ve interviewed dozens of CEOs in the exact industries that fascinate me (and many others), gathered niche information, and found an avenue to apply it.

I now run my own company, and it is nothing like what I see in the magazines. It’s grueling. Product development cycles move slower than I expected. There are many times when I spend hours refining parts of the pitch or the sales email. But luckily, I accept that mistakes are part of the process, and I’ve built a playbook of strategies from companies in the education industry who went through the exact same problems as me.

And I can definitely thank my hands-on learning for that.