I know, I know... it's markup, not code. But you know what I mean.

Still Looking for Techie to Do Your Work For You? Not me.

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:

  1. Maybe we should do this ourselves.

  2. 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.

You’re handicapped.

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.

So will you join us?

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Jesicka Labud

Jesicka is a writer, Co-Founder of Tipabl, world-traveler, and loving wife. Her two cats follow her wherever she goes in the world! She's put on hold her past life as a project manager and architect in order to pursue of dream of living life on her own terms while learning how to program.

16 thoughts on “Still Looking for Techie to Do Your Work For You? Not me.

  1. lucy

    Hi Jesicka! Great post – it’s so inspiring hearing you talk about coding so passionately. I’m very much a non-techie and constantly coming up against the feeling of ‘this isn’t for me / this isn’t what I do’ when it comes to the techie side of my business……… love this: “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.” ?” – I need to take another look, some techie skill I can easily learn isn’t going to stop me! 🙂

    1. Jesicka Labud Post author

      Hey Lucy! Thanks for stopping by! I know that feeling you describe: it’s not for me… It’s a form of resistance and yes, it’s worth a try, to go ahead and learn some new skill. I’m glad you enjoyed the article. Programming is easier than you might imagine if you just get over the first obstacle of learning something completely new! Good luck!

  2. Melissa

    Jesicka I think you guys are so cool! I love that you’re just going for it. I took a coding course on the weekend just because I want to learn. I also want to build an app for my company. I’m definitely not a techie by any means, but I know I can learn and I want to learn. I just need to work on my patience ;/

    1. Jesicka Labud Post author

      Melissa, hey there! You’re right- patience with yourself and forgiveness is key. It’s not always a straightforward learning curve with programming especially. You need to really stick it out until it comes more natural to you. Props to you for taking on courses! I am sure you’ll be building your own app in no time. Let me know of your progress and feel free to contact me if you need any guidance.

  3. Nicole @theWardrobeCode

    Hi Jesicka – you’re so fired up about this! That’s awesome! You’re right, specialized knowledge is very important when diving into something like a startup. It’s difficult to lead others when you can’t really talk about the nuts and bolts of the business.

    1. Jesicka Labud Post author

      Nicole, specialized knowledge is what it’s about dude! When I read that book I didn’t know how it applied to me until I realized my big ideas were all in tech! Now where to begin? Yeah- you need to talk the talk when leading others. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. erica

    Every post of yours I read blows my mind at how passionate you are about coding! It’s bloody contagious! Here I am, a non-techie with barely enough hours in the day to keep afloat in a sane manner, asking myself, how the hell do you find time for it? It’s awesome and amazing!
    I really enjoyed you speaking about the rush of adrenaline and the creativity coding sparks within you… I can agree with this, for when I put together the first couple of lines of coding for my website tweaks, and successfully edited the HTML (after a few site crashes, of course) I tingled all over and considered doing backflips (if only I had the ability to do so… but as you say, this too, could be learned). Hah! There you have it. Everything can be learned. So why not coding… and backflips? How cool are those references to Edison, Ford and Chrysler? Cool cats I tells ya.

    1. Jesicka Labud Post author

      Hey Erica! Your words are sooo kind! I am so happy to have rubbed off my passion about coding to you. It’s my goal here on this blog. Yahoo! I’ve yet to learn backflips (looks so scary!) but that’s what I thought about coding too. Yeah- those “cool cats” as you’ve called them- Edison, Ford… Chrysler– they were definitely non-techies in their fields and decided to do something about it! I was so inspired by their stories. Glad you were too.

  5. Michaela Cristallo

    I love your energy Jesicka! It’s really inspiring. What you say about there being more people with ideas that proficient programmers keen to work on startups is so true but you’re right it doesn’t need to stop you! Instead of endlessly searching for a perfect match while you remain technically ‘handicapped’ why not get out there? I think you’re going to inspire a whole new generation of non techies to do just that and make it happen!

    Loved the stories from Think and Grow Rich too. We look at successful people and say ‘I wish I could do that’ but we often don’t consider all the hard work behind it. Success doesn’t come easily for anyone, those who are successful are so because they worked at it!

    1. Jesicka Labud Post author

      Hey Michaela! Great to see you here! Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts. I really do hope to inspire many more non-techies to take the route of learning and doing it themselves. You’re right about success- you can’t let a few road blocks stop you. If need be, you need to get the skills yourself, and you have to work hard. If learning coding is too hard for someone, it’s the mindset that needs to change more than anything. I can’t imagine taking a car apart and putting it back together is easy either! Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Natalie Stickel

    Thank you for the kick in the butt, Jesicka! I started dabbling in coding and found it really rewarding; I just want to learn more and more, first to apply it to designing my website exactly the way I want it, then to develop products and apps eventually. I’ll be keeping an eye out on your site for more info…

  7. Tracey Pedersen

    Hi Jesicka – what an interesting post. I can’t imagine being THAT excited over coding. That’s what happens when you discover something you love I guess! I love, love, love the picture in this post too. It made me laugh and laugh!

  8. Susan Sontra

    I really enjoyed reading this post. As someone who is VERY non-techie and struggles to even understand basic HTML code, I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to feel about coding. Even though I have some doubts, you have given me permission to disarm myself against the idea of learning coding. I may not make the jump into coding overnight however your enthusiasm here as opened up that the possibility that I CAN do it if I need to.
    Thank you.

  9. Tremaine

    Oh, that was good. Not only because I’ve been considering jumping into the tech world (I have a few ideas for apps I want to bring to life) but because your passion and oomph for tech just oozes out of each and every word in this piece! I love your reasoning behind being ‘handicapped’, great point! The tech world is already infiltrating everyday life. Seriously, if i didn’t already think that somewhere inside me there may be a techie (I’m convinced she’s very, very deep inside and does not want to come out), reading this would definitely have convinced me!

  10. Michael Knouse

    Great article Jesicka! I spent 14 years working for technology and software companies and the highest paid/most in-demand people in that industry are the ones who have a deep working knowledge of software and the ability to communicate the benefits of the technology to non-techies. I spent the last 5 years of my career diving deeper into the technology so that I could understand it and help others by bridging the technology gap. Thank you for this insightful article that also covers the ‘delegation’ argument. Having a deeper understanding of technology allowed me to establish myself as a respected expert in my industry. I think the same can be said for anyone that has the desire to embrace technology and at least learn the basics. Well done!


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