Christian Gap Year for Entrepreneurs

Cable Car by the Fray is one of my all-time favorite songs. Guess how many views the music video has on YouTube?

I won’t leave you hanging. As of today, July 9, 2021, it has 68 million views. WOW.

Something that fascinates me about content, media, and music is that time often correlates with its impact or worth. Consider how many views Cable Car had on YouTube 11 years ago when the song was released? And then, consider what that progression of views looked like every year after. Each day, more and more people are listening to the song. Based on this, I think we can objectively argue that the value Cable Car provides increases with every passing year.

When it comes to assets like these, we want to create them as soon as we can because of how they produce more value and money with time. To make this example more clear, I'm currently in the process of publishing a book. So many people have told said, "You're only 24, why don't you wait to write a book?" I, on the other hand, would argue that by publishing my book at 24 instead of 50, I have 26 additional years where that book can make an impact and hopefully present some financial return as well.

I would also argue knowledge and wisdom operate in a similar way. No, we will not retain every piece of knowledge we pick up forever, especially pure memorization of facts (I know I’ve already forgotten most things I learned in high school history class). However, the sooner you learn a new skill, methodology, or tool, the longer you have over the course of your life to capitalize on it.

For example, if you listen to podcasts, attend work shops, and spend some time dissecting quality content in order to improve your writing skills, there’s no better time to do this than today because every piece of content you write from here on out will bear the effects of what you learned. And as you continue to practice and learn, that will even compound over time.

We can look at a smaller scale, a more practical example. Imagine that you’re writing a 80 thousand word novel. If it takes you on average an hour and fifteen minutes to write one thousand words, it would most likely take you 100 hours to complete over the course of a month. And if you’re an average writer (let's make a numeric measure and rate your writing level at a C), you’re going to put in 100 hours and complete an average of a C level on your first draft.

However, if you start the writing process by listening to some podcasts and collect tips on how to increase your skillset, you might be able to decrease the time you spend writing. For example, you might complete the manuscript in 95 hours instead of 100. Or, you will probably increase the quality of your novel. You might increase its quality to a C+ or B- because you’ve been picking up new skills along the way. If you decided to sharpen your skills after you are 40 thousand words in, then only the second half of your novel will feel the consequences of what you learned.

All of this to say, the third ingredient to the entrepreneurial journey is learning! Rumor has it that most successful CEOs read on average a book a week. Learning enhances your output and opens your mind to new strategies. In our definition of learning, we will include reading, resources, seeking out mentorship, and discovering new tools.

Mentorship

In Global U, we often talk about the “stupid tax.” Imagine that you’re creating a B2B business. You’ve spend a week scraping e-mail addresses from Google. Then, after ranting about all the medial tasks you need to do with a friend over lunch, they introduce Hunter.io to you, a tool that automatically can scrape email addresses. This will cut your research time in half. By talking to others in your field, you can learn from their mistakes. You won’t be able to avoid all problems in your business, but if someone else already paid the price of a mistake, a simple conversation can prevent you from doing the same thing. It can save you a lot of time, money, and heartache.

Reading and resources

There are dozens of resources out there to help learn your market, find new business tips, and understand how the world is changing. Our generation has an advantage unlike any before us. Content is continually becoming more and more available. And, an insane amount of it is free. You can even find college lectures and talks online from prestigious universities. Take advantage of that. Most non-fiction authors will have a lot of their content posted as blogs on their website as well.

Discovering new tools

There are dozens of tools, especially digital tools, that can really speed up manual tasks. Some examples of helpful tools would be Fiverr, ScoreCloud, or CopyAI. Specifically, AI is changing the game and I anticipate all sorts of helpful automation to come out over the next decade. But, where do you find these hidden gems? Ask your mentors for resources. Reach out to friends, especially ones that are in the same industry as you. Look around online and then ask people for recommendation in Facebook groups and networks!

If your schedule is typically packed, like my own, you’ll need to be intentional about carving out time for this. Block off space on your calendar. You can also get creative. If you have a longer commute to work, maybe listen to podcasts or audio books in the car. Bring a book with you if you have an appointment where you’ll be waiting a considerable amount of time. If you are working on a team, get them involved too! Have a book club or create a place where you can communicate helpful tips to each other.

On the flip side, some people are naturally predisposed to spend a lot of time learning. The danger here if you are starting a business is that you may be tempted to keep that knowledge in your head and not apply it to your business. Additionally, a lot of perfectionists might fear they need to be an expert on the subject before they produce anything. If you identify as an enneagram 5, my guess is that your default ingredient is learning as well.

You might have graduated already, but the learning never stops. So, ask yourself, do you need to spend more or less time learning new things?