Opinion

Why entrepreneurs need to change their mindset on building skills

7 min read

25 March 2015

Realising the opportunities that new technologies provide, Jules Coleman left her management consultancy career after teaching herself to code in just six weeks – now, as the co-founder of digital cleaning marketplace Hassle.com, she calls on entrepreneurs to be ready for change.

In the UK today 1.8 million people –  six per cent of workers – are employed in roles that did not exist 25 years ago.

According to the statistics from PWC, this figure rises to 10% when applied to the London workforce.

The constant and rapid developments in technology and the impact this has on society means we can expect these changes to continue.

Inevitably, this evolutionary process has major repercussions for businesses and how they recruit, train and retain staff and workers will have to be much more flexible when it comes to how they approach their careers and learn new skills. 

Shifting sands of opportunity

Whilst many may find the shifting landscape in jobs and skills disconcerting, I prefer to see it as a great opportunity. For individuals or companies who want to explore new ways of doing things – or even new things to do – there has never been a better time to seize the day. 

The abundance of free software, ever cheapening hardware and the access to free knowledge and ideas allows any person or group with determination to experiment.

Prior to co-founding Hassle.com I had seven successful years working in management consultancy. Itching for a new challenge and excited by the increasing digitalisation of our work and personal lives, I decided to change career tack.

I spent six weeks with my face buried in a paperback copy of Michael Hartl’s ‘Ruby on Rails’ and taught myself to code in my spare time. This gave me the springboard to quit my job in the City and sow the seeds of what was to become Hassle.com. 

Even just a couple of years before such a move would have been unthinkable, but changes in technology gave me the inspiration and opportunity to reinvent myself. 

Despite the dearth of women in tech, my gender did not hold me back when forming the company as I had demonstrated that I had the desire to do what was needed (and in many quarters got extra kudos for the manner in which I obtained them).

Continue reading on the next page to find out why you need to be ready for the change that’s coming.

Change is coming… Be ready

Even for those not focused on actively pursuing revolutionary change, change is unavoidable. There is no sector untouched by technological advancements and the result is a combination of entirely new job roles and a major reworking of existing ones. 

The businesses that will succeed in the future will be those led by managers who make training and upskilling as fundamental a part of their business strategy as they do marketing, sales or budgeting. It must become a deeply ingrained mantra. 

Leaders have to allocate more resources than ever before to keeping an eye on the technology that will help them remain relevant and facilitate the training of staff accordingly. Similarly, recruitment must prioritise quickly sourcing the talent that can plug the gaps that exist in a firm’s skill set. 

Whilst the above may seem no different to recruitment today, the key is the change in mindset needed. The rapid pace of digital evolution means upskilling will be needed every couple of years or even months, as opposed to every couple of decades. 

At Hassle.com we place little store on someone having followed the traditional education path of school, college and university. With coders we look at the practical skills they possess and don’t care whether they are self-taught or formally educated. Skills alone are what matter.

Indeed, we often look to see what people have done with these skills outside the workforce. Perhaps they volunteer to code for charity by helping to build a website or maybe they spend a lot of time exchanging ideas with other coders or join in with hackathons. Such things are good indicators that their skill set is constantly being honed and they are always keen to learn. 

Ensuring people are highly skilled when joining you (in practice and not just in theory) will be a major advantage. Some experts predict that young people entering the workforce can expect to have anything up to 20 jobs before retiring. As a result there will be less time to onboard them than ever, so making sure you sign up those actively brushing up on their skills will help you stay ahead of the game. 

The skill of learning

Success is increasingly tied into agility, rather than budgets and large workforces. The ability to adapt to new practices and new technology quickly will need to be in the DNA of all businesses. 

Learning a particular set of core skills at a young age and relying on them for the rest of a career is unlikely to be enough for most professions and entrepreneurs must remember this in everything they do from hiring, to planning to their own personal development. 

For the leader of the future, the skill of learning will become one of the most critical skills of all.

Jules Coleman is the CPO and co-founder of Hassle.com. A key figurehead in her native Ireland’s tech scene – and named in the Irish Independent’s ‘30 Under 30 Shaping Ireland’s Future’ list – Coleman believes in taking a hands-on, direct approach to life and business.