***Note that this blog post is aimed at entrepreneurs! Not for people who just love code and want to make cool stuff!***
“Should I learn to code?!”
That’s the question entrepreneurs often ask themselves when they are thinking of creating an app. My opinion is this: If you are thinking of starting a business and you do not already know how to code, then do not waste time learning how to code.
This is the journey you will take as a non-coder if you decided to learn to code:
- Become a top level programmer (10,000 hours). Nothing less will do nowadays as you can’t get away with broken insecure code like you could in the 90’s or early 2000’s. If you’ve got less experience than this then you should only be aiming to make a MVP to validate your hypothesis.
- Create your app (another few thousand hours).
- Whoops, no one is even using your app! Spend more time trying to get some users.
- Some people use your app – now you realise that there are a ton of bugs to fix (another few thousand hours of work).
- You haven’t validated your assumptions with your MVP, you haven’t hit product market fit, you haven’t spent time to create the right connections.
- Your business dies and you end up getting a job as a developer. Congratulations! You now have a job!
This is the journey an entrepreneur takes:
- Outsource development of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) – should cost no more than £10,000 and can be as cheap as £5,000. (Some of the millionaire entrepreneurs I know outsource two or three projects at a time).
- Build connections and get agreements / contracts in place so that your MVP can be validated.
- MVP proves your hypothesis and now you have data to back up your assumptions. If this is the case then go on to the next step. If not, then try again.
- You go and sell more of your app and people pay up front so you can hire a team and develop the full product with their money.
- Congratulations! You’ve created a business that is printing money for you!
Now to the finer points.
If you are building a technology company (for example the next Apple or Google) then you sure as hell better be a top level programming genius. If you’re not then why would you even think about entering into this space?
Another point is that anyone who is dealing with any kind of code should know the basics. I am not saying do not learn any code. All I am saying is that you should not learn to code with the mindset that you will be able to build your full product and make a business around it. However, you should know enough to communicate with developers and know how things work.
To give an analogy, lets’ say you started and then went on to running a hospital. Say a doctor came to you and said: “This patient has a MI and he needs to get up to CCU right now for a PCI.”, then you better know what this means. If you don’t then you’re incompetent and it’s likely your hospital would fail.
In the same vein, if you don’t know the basics of how code works, what languages your app has been developed in and why and you can’t even go into your app and change a few simple things around then you should be scared. It doesn’t take long to learn these things!
One last thing! Remember that all you need to start a business are these three people:
- Someone to sell it = CEO (Chief Executive Officer)
- Someone to make it = CTO (Chief Technical Officer)
- Someone to collect it = CFO (Chief Financial Officer)
If you’re not the CTO it really doesn’t mean you can’t be successful.
Like I’ve said in my previous blog posts, most of the millionaire entrepreneurs I know who have apps don’t know how to code.