When building their companies, most tech entrepreneurs recruit experienced web developers to help bring their visions to life. These freelance or full-time hires are tasked with delivering a smooth running app and/or site that can be profitably monetized.
Rather than seeking others to develop their ideas, founders would provide their startups with big benefits if they could rely upon their own fundamental coding skills. Why? Entrepreneurs who know how to code:
1. Save money in pre-launch development.
By building prototypes of their products, getting them up and running, and understanding the basics of how they work, tech business owners can test out the riskiest aspects before investing money in additional development. Once they’re ready to begin spending, they’ll have fewer and more specific development needs that experienced coding pros can then refine. The result will be a product that’s closer to being market-ready and that has been built at minimal cost.
2. Are more skilled in scoping out projects.
By understanding the development process, entrepreneurs will be able to make educated determinations of what’s a “must have” for their businesses as opposed to a “nice to have.” Entrepreneurs who possess this valuable knowledge can prioritize better, make more efficient architecture decisions, and intelligently push back on development projects that aren’t necessary. They’re also able to call BS on exorbitant development cost estimates. When a developer says that an assignment will take to months two deliver, code-savvy entrepreneurs could confidently say "actually, this would take me only one month to do, so for you, it should take about two weeks.”
3. Are superior managers.
Developers respect entrepreneurs who have a decent understanding of code and the coding process. Not only does this awareness allow founders to speak the language of -- and better bond with -- their tech teams, it also avoids costly confusion since they’re able to clearly and concisely communicate what needs to be done. Then developers can deliver it economically and efficiently.
An example of what can go wrong when tech business builders put their ideas into motion without having coding knowledge is the experience of former NFL cornerback Phillip Buchanon, who was drafted 17th overall in the 2002 draft and played for the Houston Texans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Detroit Lions and Washington Redskins.
After retiring in 2011, Buchanon had an idea for an app called Tappish, which allowed users to compare and share photos, audio and videos. He spent more than $150,000 on a development team to implement the concept. Soon after launch, Tappish tanked. In a June 2016 interview, Buchanon took the blame for the app failure. "It was just bad programmers, bad direction, bad on my part. I just wasn't ready. I didn't understand the game, and I really didn't know what I was doing. I was mad about how much money I spent."
Still eager to make his mark in the technology sector, Buchanon revamped his game plan and got the training he needed by enrolling in Ironhack, the Miami coding and web development bootcamp that I co-founded in 2015. Armed with a greater understanding of what’s behind the apps that we all use on our smart phones, Buchanon went on to successfully develop and launch two of them -- Vite Exclusive Events, a sort of Tinder for parties across the country, and New Money Bash, a Candy Crush-esque game that teaches financial literacy.
It’s understandable that aspiring tech business owners want to move quickly to bring their brainstorm to market by hiring experienced pros to make it happen. But the first rule of building a successful company is to be laser-focused on the bottom line, and spend as little as possible to see if your notion has promise. To follow this strategy, entrepreneurs should slow down, learn code, and craft their ideas from the ground up. The result will be a better idea that costs much less to develop and offers greater potential for faster profits.