Aspiring Entrepreneurs – Stop Buying Courses and Do This Instead

Too many aspiring entrepreneurs waste their precious time and money on online courses. Let me share a personal story to explain and what new entrepreneur should do instead of buying courses.

My friend Mark told me he wants to start a side-hustle business, but hasn’t made significant progress. Recently, I asked him how his business was coming along and what he told me was discouraging.

Mark said he was very distracted. He wasn’t able to make a profit from his idea. After diving deeper about his lack of focus, I discovered he bought 32 online courses in 2015. The most expensive one was $1200, but the majority were priced around $50. His yearly “education” cost totaled around $2,000.

The sad truth was Mark failed to complete 30 out of 32 courses.

Mark isn’t alone. Around 10% of course buyers end up finishing a course, according to one study by Infinia.

Here are 3 misguided reasons aspiring entrepreneurs tell themselves to buy a course:

1 – I believe *this* course will make me successful

2 – I don’t know enough about [insert subject here], so I need to learn more before I take action (Imposter Syndrome)

3 – I need to add this skill to my business, plus there’s a 90% off deal, so I better buy it now

One of these beliefs will blind the aspiring entrepreneur, like Mark, to believe that a course will provide the “ultimate roadmap towards success.”

Rather than educate yourself with a passive learning model (ie watch videos of instructor talking), I suggest a different approach to your education.

Robert Green, in his book Mastery, describes the way every renown creator (from Albert Einstein to Henry Ford to Leonardo Da Vinci) grows into a master of a craft. The way to mastery involves an apprenticeship, which involves thousands of hours honing the craft. Green describes the best way to grow is by practicing the craft as the master does, rather than by reading textbooks or passively learning in the lecture hall (the lowest form of learning).

Never believe you must “master” a subject with a course before taking action. Every master starts as an apprentice. Every apprentice’s first creation never looks perfect, but by mimicking a master over time her creations begin to look more like her master’s.

If you believe you must first “master” a subject by learning from a course before taking action, then you will bog yourself down with unnecessary information and waste valuable time.

Learning is vital for the continued success of every entrepreneur. But how can one manage the need for self-development and simultaneously hustle her way to success?


I propose this way of learning:

Action-Based Learning (ABL)

I define ABL as educating oneself with necessary information to complete an active task or improve a required skill.

The key to ABL is identifying a task or skill as “active” or “required” for a project you currently work on.

Rather than learning things you believe “I’ll use this course one day”, ABL ensures you only learn things that are absolutely necessary in order to complete a task.

An entrepreneur who uses ABL asks herself questions before buying a course like,

  • “Will I see an immediate turn on investment if I buy this course?”
  • “Do I need to learn this material, or can one of my employees learn this skill?”
  • “Would learning this skill improve on what I’m already doing?”

Let’s use our aspiring entrepreneur Mark to explain how to use ABL.

Mark wants his website visitors to become customers. He heard on a podcast that the “best way” to do that is to create an email list. He proceeds to create an email opt-in form on the website, complete with an “ethical bribe” (lead magnet). However, Mark becomes discouraged to see after 3 months his autoresponder email series has not made a single customer.

He begins to research online how to create an autoresponder series that converts subscribers into customers. He finds no shortage of websites that offer free info, along with pitches to costly courses. He’s wary of the courses (some cheap and some expensive).

Mark has three choices

  • Buy a course
  • Learn as much as he can from free info
  • Hire a consultant/coach to improve his skill or do the work themselves

Mark decides to implement the free suggestions into his email autoresponder. After another 3 months, he’ll decide what he needs to change and if he needs more education.

Mark put ABL into action. Before using ABL, when Mark realized he needed an email list, he would have immediately searched for cheap courses to teach how to create an autoresponder email series. Mark used ABL by understanding that he first must take action, rather than learn material first.

When you buy a course before taking action, you submit to Imposter Syndrome. You believe that the course will make you less of an imposter and more of professional.

Take action and learn as you go. You’ll save yourself time and money.


About the Author Alex Barker