If there’s one piece of advice that I could share with you during my journey as an entrepreneur it’s that you need to take the time and energy to learn how to code. This is something I've been working hard at over the past year. If you haven’t started, you should take the time to do so immediately. You won’t regret that decision because it will make you, and your startup, stronger and more productive for the following six reasons.
1. Your startup will save time and money.
Even if you understand some basic coding techniques you can save your startup some expenses. Instead of paying, and waiting, for a programmer to fix a bug on your website, change the font in your email body or even do some major troubleshooting on your product, you can do those tasks on your own.
As an added bonus, being able to fix your own issues could help you better understand your product instead of having someone else explain it to you.
2. You'll train your brain to solve problems.
Learning to code will sharpen your problem solving abilities, and not just for technical matters. Bill Gates has said, “Learning to write programs stretches your mind, and helps you think better, creates a way of thinking about things that I think is helpful in all domains.”
Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh also agrees by saying “I think everyone should get a little exposure to computer science because it really forces you to think in a slightly different way, and it’s a skill that you can apply in life in general, whether you end up in computer science or not.” Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer even switched from pre-med at Stanford to computer science because she wanted to study something that would make her “think critically, and become a great problem-solver.”
3. You'll be able to quickly test ideas.
It's worth repeating, money and time are both limited with startups. If you haven't figured that out, I'm sure you'll figure it out soon. One way to have more of both these precious resources is being able, yourself, to test ideas that you have as your startup goes from business plan to an actual business. Instead of wasting your time and money hiring a programmer to test a new idea, you can program it yourself.
If the idea doesn’t pan out, at least you didn’t spend too much coming to that conclusion.
4. You'll know what are realistic timelines.
As your startup continues to grow, you’ll most likely start assigning tasks to other people either in-house or through outsourcing. If you are familiar with programming then you’ll be able to understand when deadlines should be completed - as opposed to having a programmer pull your leg and keep pushing back the deadline. Remember, time is money. If you have a coder who is late on a project, you’re missing out on a golden opportunity to get your product out to market.
5. You'll be more attractive to investors and top talent.
It’s common for accelerator programs or investors to ask if you or a co-founder are familiar with coding. Paul Graham, co-founder of the Y Combinator, gives two reasons why programming matters to investors. First, you can handle a problem on your own if need be. Second, founders who don't know coding have a tougher time hiring the best tech talent. The really good programmers typically don’t want to implement “the vision of a business guy.”
The truth is coders gravitate towards other coders. As Ben Parr, a former editor at Mashable, stated on CNET, "You have to code, not because you need to be good at it, but because technical employees are far more likely to follow a founder with technical experience."
Even knowing the basics shows the top coders you need to hire that you took the time to learn tech skills, which will help you earn their respect and persuade them to join your team.
Are you ready to start learning how to code? Check out these 12 sites that I've personally used to code for free.