Should I Learn Web Development?

By John Arnold

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

I have an idea of a particular kind of micro-blogging website which I think will be both beneficial to the world and also make a good profit. But I have to decide which path to take: Should I learn web development -- including front-end design, back-end coding -- and create the website myself or hire someone else to make the website for me? What factors should I consider? What are the costs? Is there another way?

Starting from scratch and learning how to code a website probably isn't the best way to get started if you're serious about building a profitable business at a scale large enough to be "beneficial to the world." Even if you could learn how to program a website in a short amount of time, your business needs more than a good programmer to be competitive in the technology marketplace.

If you have funding or if you're looking for funding, it's a common model to begin with a partnership between a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to handle the product management and a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to handle the rest of the business. Of course, funding affords you the opportunity to pay others to help you build your business.

Whether or not you have money to accelerate your progress, one or more people will need to own the following additional efforts to help make your business viable:

• Legal: You'll need a legal advisor to help you create the right business entity, navigate existing software patents, trademarks and intellectual property laws. You'll also need legal counsel to deal with issues of personal privacy and protecting personal information if you plan to have members who log in to your site.

• Marketing: You'll need to study your customers and their buying behaviors to make sure your technology fulfills a need and attracts a reachable audience. You'll also need to promote your business to acquire users.

• Sales and Business Development: You'll need to monetize your business and get people to buy whatever it is you're selling, such as advertising space or memberships.

• Finance: Someone will need to build and maintain your business financial model and see to it that your company pays all its taxes, complies with government regulations and maintains consistent cash flow for operations.

• Strategy: Know your market and your competition, and position your company to be a good choice among the other choices consumers have when considering your offering.

• Human Resources: Even if you're planning to be a one-owner company or solo-preneur for the long term, you're likely to need partners, contractors or employees at some point to have a business of any scale. Someone will need to manage your relationships, screen and interview potential partners or employees, and train people in your company culture and ideals.

• Customer Service: If you're planning to attract members or users, they will have questions, challenges and difficulties you'll need to manage.

• Advice: It's a good idea to form a board of directors to give you advice, keep you accountable to your goals and to help you make connections with the people and companies you need to be successful.

Related: How to Recruit a Great Programmer as a Partner 

John Arnold

Marketing consultant and author

John Arnold is a marketing strategist and author offering practical marketing tips and advice to B2B companies. Connect with him at 

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