#1 Habit for the 21st Century Entrepreneur

A running theme through my writing is that for most entrepreneurs starting their business in the 21st century, money is no longer needed to make an enterprise a success.

Capital is not a barrier for any individual who is determined to start “something”. What you do need though, is the right set of skills.

When I began I had neither and what held me back was focusing energy on making money rather than developing the actual ability to make money.

Different business models demand different skills of course, but whatever niche you’re in, success will depend on your ability to pilot your ship more skillfully than your competitors. You need to know your craft, utilising all of the tools available to you to gain a winning edge.

How do you develop these skills?

With the repeated habit of self education.

The internet provides information in abundance. This presents its own challenges of course as we sift through the rubbish to find what we need, but the fact remains — We can learn almost any skill and find any answer on line, usually for free.

One of the things that frustrates me the most is being asked questions by friends that should have been directed at their keyboard. I’m too polite to say “let me Google that for you” and instead, just look on Google for them.

The availability of knowledge today is unprecedented. Smart phones are one of the key weapons an entrepreneur has in their arsenal, something previous generations of business men and women would be very envious of indeed.

The key though is how we use the technology to drive us towards our goals. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve heard people talk about closing their Facebook page because “it’s just so easy to waste time”. The potential value of the internet is related directly to how we harness it. Many people use the net to entertain themselves and procrastinate. Others use it to make a lot of money. For the 21st century entrepreneur it must be used properly, as a tool to get the answers we need to push past the obstacles in our way.

Let’s take an easy example.

When you start your enterprise you will probably need a website. If you don’t have enough of a budget to hire a developer, you can teach yourself. I suspect anyone can learn to customise a Wordpress theme to their needs by educating themselves on the technology in less than 30 days. There are too many videos and step by step guides to count, not to mention the cheap courses on platforms like Udemy. During this focused phase of self education you might learn about another solution like Shopify and decide actually, this is more suitable for the business. The crucial point is that you took it upon yourself to learn. You had a problem, which was solved by educating yourself. You now have a new skill.

The same is true for designing your product packaging, setting up your payroll software or creating an email marketing campaign.

There is a never ending amount of things to learn, but by taking this approach every time you hit a block in your path, year after year, you will become a powerful entrepreneurial force. A highly skilled individual that has the confidence to venture out of your comfort zone, try new things and start more complex projects.

The ability and willingness to educate yourself every time you meet a challenge is the most important habit for any entrepreneur. It’s not getting up early, delegating or marketing — It is the repeated habit of self education.

You want to do something, but don’t know how? Teach yourself, then execute. Found another problem around the next corner? Research a solution. Every time you hit an obstacle, your first thought should be — I need to learn a new skill.

Before you ask for help, teach yourself.

Develop the habit of self education and nothing can stand in the way between you and your success.


David Black is an author and location independent entrepreneur (digital nomad) living in Thailand. He is the producer of the popular YouTube channel “Digital Nomad X” and in his first book, the “21st Century Emperor”, he shares the inspiring story of how he left the corporate world in London and started on the path to securing genuine financial and location independence. You can learn more about his ideas on business and freedom on the Digital Nomad X blog.

Originally published at Digital Nomad in Thailand.