It may seem odd initially that someone who sells software development to businesses would encourage other entrepreneurs to learn one of the skills that AgilityFeat offers. Why would I want more people to learn to do what we can do for them for a fee? For starters, we’re not really in the software development business, we’re in the Results Improvement Business. No one pays for lines of useless code (or at least they shouldn’t). Companies hire AgilityFeat because of the value we add to their businesses, whether that’s UX or Design Consulting, Business Consulting and yes, lines of code. Secondly (and more on this later), entrepreneurs who can code make better clients. Lastly, I firmly believe the days of web-businesses succeeding without a founder who can code numbered.
There’s a difference between a founder who can code and a coding founder. The former has a basic understanding of coding principles, can read code to understand how it’s built and can “talk the talk”. The latter is rolling up their sleeves and writing lines of code for her/his product daily. The coding founder can build prototypes by themselves which lowers their cost of testing business ideas dramatically. Further it improves their ability to evaluate development talent which can make for a stronger team. However, it takes a great deal of time to learn to be a coding founder. Learning to be a coding founder may prevent you from growing your company because there simply are not enough hours in the day to talk to customers, work with your team, raise capital, manage the business and learn to code. So, based on the assumption that readers of this post are not already coding, I’m going to focus on the benefits of becoming a founder who can code.
The Obvious Benefits:
- Understanding how code works will build a stronger connection to development teams- The ability to understand the relative difficulty or simplicity of a request will make your conversations with developers better. Further you will be able to better spot your best performing developers. Ultimately, you will garner more respect from your development team by understanding the value of their work without solely relying on the opinions of others.
- You will be a better product manager- The ability to think about how your product works from a technical perspective will help you translate your vision and better said, you customer’s feedback into the product. Product conversations will focus less on “can we do this” or the dreaded “why can’t we do this” battles and more on “how can we test this” or “ how can we implement this”.
- You will be a better question asker- You will be able to contribute to discussions about platforms and technical implementations. While you should still trust those with more experience that yourself for technical questions, you will be more effective contributor to important technical discussions if you know how to code.
The Hidden Treasures
- You will be a better problem solver- Despite what conventional folklore says about building companies, not all successful entrepreneurs feel their way to success. As an entrepreneur, you will be faced with a myriad of decisions and they will not all require the same skill set to make successfully. Sometimes (and I’d argue much more often than not), good decisions depend on one’s ability to reason. Coding is a fantastic way to develop your logic muscles. And while the correct decisions may sometimes defy logic, at the very least, developing your ability to solve problems logically will give you another way to approach challenges.
- You will be a better communicator- In addition to improving your ability to communicate with developers, being able to code will help you communicate with business people who don’t know how to code. This will enable you to be an active participant in solving marketing or sales challenges related to your product. Since you will understand how your product is built, you can help others understand why something can or can’t be done, potentially alleviating unnecessary politics or finger pointing. .
- You will be a better innovator- By understanding how code works, you may find opportunities to evolve your product in ways you would have never imagined. You will be better positioned to ask “what ifs” instead of “why nots”.
The Devil in the Details
Learning to code is in many ways, like learning to speak a foreign language or get in shape. The best way to learn is to do it consistently. There are many free (CodeAcademy or Udacity) or low cost (Treehouse, Code School or Udemy) online tools out there. Like learning a language or getting in shape, your performance will grow with the amount of time you put into learning. Make coding part of your daily habits, do a little everyday. You don’t have to become an expert developer to dramatically improve the results you get as an entrepreneur by learning to code. Don’t make excuses. Start today. You may just find you like it!