Anyone that talks to me about an internet start-up idea always gets the same answer: teach yourself how to code and build a prototype. Let me tell you why.
I firmly believe that any internet start-up entrepreneur should know how to code to some level. Personally, I also think that it’s a fun and useful thing to do. There are however, several more objective reasons why coding is relevant for a CEO of an internet or app company:
1) Saves money:
In the beginning most of us don’t have the money to pay for expensive programmes to build a prototype, especially as it’s uncertain if there will ever be a return on this investment. Also good coders are expensive. So in the beginning it’s just cheaper to just code your very very first prototype yourself.
2) Saves time:
As you code yourself, you don’t have to spend time explaining what you would like to have built. Usually explaining what you want in this stage takes more time than teaching yourself how to code. Besides, when coding yourself, you can immediately adjust what you are building to feedback you receive from your environment or insights you get whilst seeing your project come to life. If you would be working with external programmers at this stage, all of this would take much more time.
3) You know your stuff better
Ever met the manager of a garage that didn’t know at least the basic principles of how a car works? I have yet to meet one. The same goes for internet entrepreneurs. If you don’t know how to code, you will have less sense of what goes on. If a customer gives you feedback or suggests a feature you will have less sense of how much time it would cost to develop whatever is being asked. Also you will have less feeling with engineers making it harder to manage them.
I do not pretend to be suitable for a job as a programmer. My skills are extremely basic, just enough to “whip stuff together”. I am also not saying you should be coding all the way through the life-cycle of a start-up. Personally I haven’t touched the core of our code for some time now. Our amazing CTO / Product hero and technical team have fully re-built our system and made it much faster, more efficient and more robust. So there comes a point where you will let go of coding but you will still understand the basics of your product. There comes a point where you will have to focus on the CEO role or the commercial side. That’s OK.
So now you know
I think that if you have an idea for an app, a website or any other software product, you should teach yourself how to code. There are plenty of reasons to teach yourself and no more excuses because there are so many resources out there that can help you. In the worst case your project will never take off. But even then, you will have taught yourself the valuable skill of coding that will beneficial for you, regardless of the future.