You may be starting a new job or maybe you have been given a great deal more responsibility in your current role. Working at a startup is quite different to working for a large corporate organisation. You often have to learn on the job, teaching yourself and developing your skills independently. So, here I will share with you the best ways to teach yourself your job. Also how to self train and develop yourself further. If you work in a small business then formal training might not be available and if you work in a startup then you certainly have to teach yourself.
Ok, so it may sound fairly obvious, but many people shy away from questions in case they are deemed incapable. If you work in a startup/small business any good business leader will encourage it. I would say anytime is a good time to ask questions although my school teachers would certainly disagree. If you have been given a project and don’t understand something, or if you are unsure – ask away. If you don’t understand the direction of things – ask away. Maybe you don’t know how to do something – ask away. The worst case, and I have had these a few times, is the answer is ‘I don’t know, research it’. Which is fine, it just means that they currently don’t possess that knowledge either.
Google is your friend ( other search engines are available). Ask away- now when you ask try to be specific about what you want to know as that way you will get the best articles and sources of knowledge. So, for example, don’t ask “how do I measure performance on social? ” but instead “what are the key performance indicators on twitter that your audience is engaged with?”
Have a go – best way to teach yourself
Literally the first three months of my job was all about trial and error. It is the best way to learn. It’s better to fail early and learn what you did wrong then cruise by for months and learn lessons too late. So if this means you need to go back to your boss and say: look I am going to try this, that is ok. Say it may fail, but we need to find out what works, just explain that in order to learn what is needed. You will have to try a lot of things to discover what works.
If you are working in a startup/ small business they will understand it’s important to embrace risk early on. The bigger you grow the more difficult risk becomes. It can feel disheartening to try so many things and to see so little progress. However, trial and error suits if you need to teach yourself your job because there is no formal training. It’s the best way to test out the things you have read or watched or heard.
We have tried many campaigns that didn’t work, that I had put hours into but they taught us vital lessons. If you are worried about the amount of failure you will encounter then have an honest chat with your boss. Outline exactly what you want to try and what the possible outcomes could be. Then after your ‘tests’ sit down and discuss your learning. You can not be seen as damaging the business if your failed tests are providing the business with vital lessons for the future. Obviously, before you try something make sure you do a bit of research so you’re not just doing it off-the-fly.
The best way to get better at your job quicker is to be proactive in your desire to learn. So this could be a range of things, from doing your own research to attending events and taking courses. I was overwhelmed by the number of things I didn’t know and my team didn’t have the answers. My proactive approach led me to listening to relevant podcasts on the tube to work. I enrolled myself in a course on Hootsuite to teach myself more about social media marketing and I read a lot, around different areas.
Events are also a great thing to attend, you can network, learn more and get a fresh perspective on something you might be struggling with. I am often looking for free events to attend that are in London and are on topic areas related to my job. As you don’t have an official path of progression, it can be difficult to find training that will aid you in your development. Therefore, seek out courses you can take or events you can attend. Your boss will be pleased you are taking charge of your own development. Most of the time they will be happy to fund this depending on the need of the business and the relevance to your role.
Join communities in your field
Through joining a community you are going to learn a lot from each other and teach yourself a lot in the process. This could be direct helpful comments, relevant articles/ podcasts or courses. Some of the communities that I joined were looking at Facebook groups. I was also building up a base Twitter users who post relevant content regularly and realised that this was a great source of knowledge not only for our audience but also for myself. Depending on your role you might find that networking events and attending them regularly is a great way to discuss practices, tips and tricks.