Overcoming the “Technical Learning Curve”
By Derek Gehl
Here is just one example of an extremely common question that arrives in my inbox on a daily basis…
“WHAT IF YOU DO NOT KNOW YOUR WAY AROUND A COMPUTER?
What if that is why you are sitting with $1,000 worth of products and cannot use them because you just do not understand the technical stuff and do not find any material or help on the subject… and it just takes so long to teach yourself that you just give UP?
Wouldn’t it be great if someone would write a step-by-step manual for newbies telling them what to do and how to do it AND translating everything that their webmaster is talking about!”
Does this sound familiar?
If you are new to computers, the learning curve involved in starting an online business can seem insurmountable. On top of trying to figure out all the business and marketing stuff, you’re also faced with technical challenges around every corner.
So if you are a complete newbie with very little computer experience — but are desperately eager to start a business on the Internet — where do you begin?
Here is a step-by-step action plan that will give you the technical knowledge you need to get your business up and running as quickly as possible:
Step #1: Assess and build your general computer skills!
If you are reading this newsletter, it’s probably safe to assume you have basic computer skills and know how to use common programs (such as Microsoft Word and Internet Explorer), send email, and navigate to different files on your computer.
If you are not comfortable with these basic tasks, then you need to brush up on these skills — and the easiest way to do that is pick up the following books:
- PCs For Dummies (Or Mac for Dummies)
- Windows for Dummies (Or Mac OS X for Dummies)
Don’t take the ‘Dummies’ theme personally 🙂 — these are great books that will teach you the fundamentals, so you can spend less time banging your head against your keyboard and more time building your business.
Best of all, they can typically be purchased for less than $20 each on Amazon.com!
Alternatively, you can also take an “Introduction to Computers” course at your local community college.
Either way, you need to acquire these basic computer skills.
The good news is, it shouldn’t take you long to learn them. If you spend an hour a day reading one of the books mentioned above, you’ll be able to acquire a solid foundation of skills in just a couple of weeks.
Step #2: Assess and build your general Internet skills!
Once you’re comfortable with your basic computer skills, it’s time to move on to your Internet skills. You need to know your way around the Web if you want to build a successful online business!
This doesn’t mean you need to know the technical details of how the Internet works. (For example, you’re not going to fail if you don’t know what the initials “http” means!)
But you should understand the basic principles of how websites work and how they fit into the big picture of the Internet.
The best way to figure this out is to buy the book “Internet for Dummies.” It’ll give you the fundamental knowledge you need to proceed to the next step.
Step #3: Build a Basic Website!
Some people will say you don’t need to know anything about building websites in order to have a successful business on the Internet. All you have to do is hire web designers to do it for you. (If you’re able to afford it.)
Personally, I don’t subscribe to this theory.
I believe it’s important for you to have at least some basic understanding of how to design and set up your own website. These skills will give you a significant advantage when communicating with the designers you hire to build your site for you in the future.
(And obviously, these skills are even more important if you decide to design and build your website yourself!)
If you choose to get someone else to build your site — and don’t have any web design skills of your own — then you’re totally at the mercy of your designers whenever you want to make little changes on your website in the future.
Every time you want to change your salescopy… or your images… or your price point… you’ll need to get THEM to do it. But if you know how to make the changes yourself, then you’ll be able to save yourself both time AND money.
Now, you could learn basic web design skills from a book like “Web Design for Dummies.”
However, since the skills you need for building a good website are more technical than the others we’ve covered, I suggest you look into taking a web design course at a local college. It’ll help you fast-track the learning curve and bring you up to speed much faster than simply reading a book would.
Most community colleges offer web design courses take place one or two evenings a week over the period of a month or two. If you can afford to take a course like this, I strongly recommend it. It’ll give you the knowledge you need to be a truly savvy website builder.
Step #4: Get your business started!
Now you’re ready to start building your business on the Internet!
Fortunately, for this step I can give you a complete step-by-step manual that will walk you through all the steps of starting and growing a successful business on the Internet, building on the technical skills you developed in the previous steps.
So my parting comments would be this… Starting a business on the Internet without any technical skills is a daunting task. But like most challenges in life, if you break it down into bite-size goals and conquer them one at a time with a combination of patience and perseverance, you will be surprised at how quickly you progress.
All the best!