So you’ve got this great idea… but it’s a web app, or software, or mobile phone app, and too bad, because you’re not a programmer. You’ve never even opened a real text editor before. But…It’s going to change the world! It’s a big idea! Why won’t anyone help me build it!? It’s going to be the next Google or Facebook or Twitter… or… maybe not. But you don’t know how to code. You need a programmer. You search endlessly for someone to help you, to build it for you. Because you’re so awesome, and those programmers have all the time in the world, of course! The search is difficult and never-ending. You ask yourself the same question we here at Two Non Techies asked ourselves:
How do you know when to throw in the towel?
How do you know when you have to seriously consider building this product yourself?
The short (and simple, obvious) answer is: Now! Or, if you want to put it another way: When you’ve been looking for someone else to do it for a very long time with no luck. (For us that magic number was a whopping 2.5 years- well almost.) It took us a very long time to realize two things:
Maybe we should do this ourselves.
It’s POSSIBLE to do this ourselves.
You know what? Both of those things are important realizations. At first, we had to realize this wasn’t happening any other way. But we didn’t know how to even start. Programming seemed so hard! How can we possibly learn it? That turned out to be a complete misconception, of course.
And usually there is a darn good reason for not being able to find someone. You’ve been blessed with a wonderful innovative idea! Curse the muses for not knowing you can’t program! But wait- maybe they knew. Maybe, just maybe- you were meant to learn to program. (Did ya ever think about it that way?)
We need specialized knowledge when approaching an idea.
I remember a few years ago when I found the book “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill, I read something that hit me hard (in a good way, and this was before the damn tech startup idea came into our lives) In the book, Hill talks about the pathway of the industrialists and entrepreneurs of his time (our great industrial age), and he mentions several examples of entrepreneurs – Chrysler and Edison come to mind- who “did it themselves”.
Chrysler was not a car engineer, but he spent all his life savings on a “car,” while friends and relatives called him crazy. Then he proceeded to take it apart and put it back together countless times- until he knew exactly how it worked. He’s self-taught in his field of expertise.
Thomas Edison was also completely self-taught.
Hill calls this “specialized knowledge.” He says- when you know the possibilities of creating wealth for yourself, you will begin to get ideas- that are worth very much. He says- then you must seize the moment by gaining that “specialized knowledge” that you need in order to create it, or “give birth to your idea.”
What about delegating? Shouldn’t good leaders delegate?
Yes! Of course. Hill also talks about entrepreneurs who realize the power of leveraging the best minds – surrounding themselves with a mastermind group- and not doing everything themselves.
He talks about Ford, who with no formal education, found himself in courtroom trial where he was tested in his education. Ford finally got tired of the prosecutor’s questioning and mentioned that with the press of a button he could summon someone who can tell him everything he needed to know about a particular topic, so why would he waste his time learning it all?
What can we learn from this example? That we must work together in teams and we must hire (as startup leaders) the best people, the best teammates who are great at what they do and most of the time- better than us!
Don’t these two above concepts contradict the other?
Well, the answer is, Not really.
Let me explain. It’s like that song- “there’s a time for everything…”
Although both instances are completely true and completely necessary for the startup- don’t get confused about when you need to apply each instance. For a very early stage startup (in your mom’s house or garage or college dorm room) you need to apply the first rule about specialized knowledge in most cases.
Yes, there are plenty very good cases of startups that employed the early stage mastermind group and where non-technical co-founders successfully found or started out with an amazing programming buddy or found that “soul mate” co-founder. These examples will be talked about in depth in another post. It’s OK to try and go down that route. It might have been the main path in the past.
But times are-a-changin’.
Suddenly, there are way more startup ideas and early stage startups and non-technical co-founders running around than there are programmers available. And this makes it much more difficult (nearly impossible in some cases) to find your perfect fit.
You see, finding a co-founder for a startup is a fine art.
You cannot just say “you’re perfect because you know how to program!” You need to fit together like puzzle pieces. If you have that relationship with a programmer or have built one- good for you! But stop trying to find this romance through a dating service for co-founders. (I’ve been to those.)
That’s like saying find your soul mate on match.com: YES there are beautiful love stories that come out of these things, and people who have met their other half. However, it’s not because of match.com as much as because that’s their particular story and it was meant to be.
Don’t get me wrong- I’ve tried this method too. I went to meetups and startup weekends and co-founders lab meetings (what else can I do in 2 years with an idea I can’t implement) and had my little speed dating conversations. “Sooo….. do you program? Can you build this for me?”
Do you know why so many startups fail? First reason is because of disagreement in the team. It’s like a married couple trying to raise an infant together. It’s a sensitive situation. You can’t force it.
If you’ve been looking for Mr./Ms. Right Programmer for a long time with no avail, I think the universe is trying to tell you something. Do it yourself.
It’s not as hard as you think, hacking together a prototype.
Hacking is not as hard as you think (at least hacking together a minimum viable product is not). There are very difficult languages out there but there are many accessible ones as well, and when you learn what a minimum viable product is, by golly, you will realize YOU CAN DO THIS YOURSELF.
Start thinking differently about this. Maybe it’s an opportunity to gain some specialized knowledge in a highly important and necessary field.
The other reason you should start coding.
The feeling I get inside when I am coding is unbearably exciting. I cannot describe to you in words the empowerment I feel when I am sitting there looking at some code in a text editor.
And to think, just a few years ago, I assumed I would hate it.
Even during my nerdy high school years, I had no interest in anything deeper with regards to the computer beyond my AOL addiction. I really didn’t want to get into it. I didn’t think it was creative. Now I am sitting in front of my text editor and I haven’t felt this much creative flow since my graduated from college studying artsy stuff. Wow. But more importantly than how it feels, it’s all about how it will change your life.
Yes, you heard me. It will completely change your life.
Remember what I was saying before about how ideas come to you for a reason? It’s like the universe nudging you and handing you the idea and saying “Here’s a good one. Thought YOU might want to handle this one…. what do you think?” Are you going to say: “No, universe, I don’t know how to code. It’s too hard. I’ll pass.” ?
Really ask yourself: Why do I want to get in the tech world? Why can’t you get an idea that’s more in line with your previous profession, and turn that into a startup? Why did the idea that came to me have to be related to tech in the first place? Why why why…
Is it for the money? Is it because of the world-changing possibilities and the international reach of a tech company? Is it because of the potential you just can’t deny as opposed to your original field of work?
Do you know why this question is hard to answer? Because somewhere deep inside you know that tech world will infiltrate into every profession. And if you dig even deeper, you will find that not knowing how to program or speak the language of the computer- is already and will probably only increase in- being a handicap.
Like a person in a wheelchair who cannot use stairs without the help of a ramp, or a blind person who needs assistance from a personal guide or dog, you’re handicapped trying to be a startup person with no coding ability. I know this article will make some people angry, but I don’t care. It’s a distinct feeling I’ve personally felt as a non-techie startup person.
This handicapped feeling only exists because you’re actively trying to get into the tech world. But soon, this tech world will infiltrate every aspect of life, and every day people will begin to feel handicapped from the ever increasing world of tech and applications. More and more, people are beginning to realize how empowering it is to learn how to code. Click to Tweet!
There are so many opportunities out there to teach yourself coding- through online education, free e-books, web hosted code challenges and more. So if you’re a non-techie now in this tech world, you should start thinking about change. If you’re a non-techie reading this blog, you’re in the right place. We’re here to show you how.
We want to start building a community of people who know how to hack, code, program through self taught means and not through traditional education.
Latest posts by Jesicka Labud (see all)
- 10 Common Misconceptions About Programming- Part II - September 25, 2013
- Still Looking for Techie to Do Your Work For You? Not me. - September 13, 2013
- 10 Common Misconceptions About Programming- Part I - September 9, 2013
- When You Feel Like Giving Up Most: Please Don’t. - August 19, 2013