There are certain types of knowledge that it pays off to be able to go into a classroom and hear an expert talk about — as well as walk you through the projects necessary to put knowledge into action.
You can teach yourself to do most things, but these classes will make your life as a founder a lot easier.
- Public speaking: The benefit of a good public speaking class is that they make you talk in front of people over and over and over again. If you’ve got any sort of stage fright, it’s crucial to get practice with low stakes (unlike the first time you talk to investors). And even if you’re comfortable getting up in front of a group and giving a pitch, there are always new presentation techniques to learn.
- Intellectual property law: Even the basics of copyright and trademark law are confusing and regularly changing, so having a guide to the topic is a must. A full semester won’t make you an expert, but it will get you a lot further along, especially with case law, than studying on your own will.
- Project management: Just about every approach to project management has its own set of classes to help you get the most use out of techniques and tools. Luckily, many of these classes are short, letting you start implementing what you’ve learned after a few days.
- Writing: No, not writing code — you need to learn to put together paragraphs as well as you can put together programs. There’s no way to get better at writing than getting feedback that shows you to improve. Think of an instructor grading your writing as getting a code review that will help you fix things.
You probably don’t need a degree in any of these subjects. But taking a class or two — perhaps from the local community college or adult education center — can make you a better founder in just a semester.
Image by Flickr user Keith Ellwood