Marc Randolph, co-founder of Netflix with Reed Hastings, has some simple advice for those looking to develop new business skills: Skip the books and classes. “Don’t read a book,” Randolph, 62. “Don’t take an online course.”
Instead, “if you really want to learn [business] skills, figure out a way that you can actively practice them by doing them,” says Randolph, who served as Netflix’s first CEO. For example, when you need to ask a friend or family member for a favor, try to sell them on it. That takes the same skills as pitching a business to a top VC, Randoph says.
“You have to think in advance. What are my real selling points? What have they seen before. How are they are going to react?”
Randolph himself didn’t know anything about the video rental business or movie industry when he co-founded Netflix in 1997, and neither did Reed. Though each had started businesses before, with Netflix, they simply had an idea and pursued it. (Other business ideas they tossed around included selling personalized shampoo or customized baseball bats.)
“I want people to know that I wasn’t doing anything special, that anyone could have done something like this,” Randolph previously told CNBC Make It. Randolph says aspiring entrepreneurs won’t even find answers in his own book, “That Will Never Work.”
“It’s like saying if you want to be a player in Major League Baseball, just read a good book,” he says. “No, you get out there and start hitting. Do it. Get someone to throw you pitches in your backyard. “That’s how you get better at these things.” Randolph previously told Make It that he sees “too many” entrepreneurs who get stuck trying to piece everything together with the perfect business plan or the perfect pitch.