Founder’s Series: The Optimal Ratio of time allocated to Learning Vs Executing (Part 4 of 4)

In this last article of the 4-parts-series of articles, I will be exploring how the resources and opportunities available to you would affect your optimal ratio of time allocated to learning vs taking actions. 

3. The Resources and Opportunities Available to You

I believe that the optimal ratio of time devoted to learning vs taking actions would differ largely among Entrepreneurs due to the varying level of resources and opportunities available to every founder or organisation at any one point in time. 

The onus is on the Entrepreneur to conduct an internal Strengths and Weaknesses, and external Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis. This will enable the founder to have a clear picture of the current level of resources that the start-up has access to and the best opportunities available to pump up it’s resource vault.

Resources can be viewed as, and not limited to, Financial, Infrastructure, Knowledge, Time, Exclusive Rights or access to a market, Reputation, Strong Political will or alliances, and community or customers’ buy-in.  

When you have a large financial resource, you can use it to hire skilled people in your business or purchase a business outright to help tipped the balance of learning to executing ratio from 50:50 to 20:80. This may put you ahead in the race among your competitors as seen by Microsoft investment in OpenAI in 2019 which propelled it to the leading position of Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) Technology with the launch of the massively popular ChaptGPT in December 2022. This development has certainly made Microsoft’s competitors uneasy as Google followed closely to selectively release Bard in April 2023 in a much low fanfare, while Facebook announced that it would be holding off the development of Metaverse and pivoting to Generative AI as well.

If this sounds very much like a business case study that may not be very relatable to a small and medium business, I would like to share my personal struggles when trying to get started in my twenties.

With a small amount of savings, I had to decide if I should spend the money to hire a website developer, invest in shared or cloud hosting, purchase a black and white or coloured printer, and even investing in a 3-D printer. These are infrastructure investment and there are trade-off for each decision. 

Decisions Rationale Trade-off
Learned to code to customise the website Cheaper Took a much longer time to complete the website
Chose shared hosting Cheaper Very slow website, turn off visitors
Bought Black and White Printer Cheaper Less visually appealing designs but I can still colour them by hand.
Still holding off the investment of a 3-D printer Business is not profitable yet Not able to make new products faster but I can still make them by hand.

Learning to make these decisions took time too. My only regret in my twenties was not picking up these skills earlier in my teens. But it’s never too late.  My best advice is to always start small first so that the repercussions of any mistakes can be contained and you could easily pick up and start over again. It just takes more time to undo the effect of mistakes before the business can move forward to achieve its goals. 

Inspired by the adage, “The quality of your decisions determine the quality of your life.”, similarly, the quality of your decisions as the founder will determine the quality of the business.

Think enough and start doing. I wish you success in your business endeavour and do drop in here from time to time to share your experiences in the comments section below.

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