some code

What is a Non-Techie and Why Should We Care?

Non-Techie is our own version of Non-Technical, which is what the tech industry calls founders with no programming experience. A non-techie is as the word implies: somebody who doesn’t have what someone else – the techie – has. The term in this context refers to somebody who can’t code / program specifically.

It has nothing to do with your technical skills in general or your other skills revolving around a computer. If you can’t program in one of the major programming languages – hence not be able to hack together a prototype or build an app– you will be referred to as a non-techie.

That’s nothing bad in particular. It just means that in the world of Tech Start-ups you have a disadvantage which you have to make up for big time with the non-technical skills you do have.

We here at Two Non Techies are dedicated to making this “disadvantage” into an asset, actually.

There are many important roles that have to be executed in a tech business of course- there is plenty of room for Designers, Accountants, Lawyers, PR Managers, Sales Associates, Animators – you name it. All these backgrounds are fantastic but they all have the same problem. If you have any other background other than programming, meaning: if you weren’t crazy about programming in high school and neglected it in college or later in your life in general – you became a non-techie today.

It is common to refer to the actual techie as the nerd but I personally don’t think that’s a very accurate term – since everybody is a nerd about something.

I mean look at Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg, they were not necessarily social big shots – but they didn’t need to be to build highly influential products and become two of the richest people in the world.

They knew how to code.

If you’re still unsure about the power of the techies these days, I would urge you to get used to it soon and make some of them your friends. They control much of our experiences these days (in front of the computer, attached to the smartphone…), and they will continue to influence our every day lives increasingly more in the future. In fact, I would urge you to become one of them! Programming skill will (very soon in my opinion) become an essential skill for interacting with the world- and it will separate the population very clearly between the literate and the illiterate.

Listen to this guy:

“Program or be Programmed.” -Douglas Rushkoff

If you can’t build a website or smartphone app or computer game or tool for your laptop yourself, you always will need to go a find somebody who builds it for you, or buy it from someone who is selling it online or in the app store.

If you’re an entrepreneur, it is obviously a valid possibility to hire someone to get the job done for you. Great – but have you ever tried to find somebody to build your precious project for you with little or no money? It’s frustratingly difficult. Even if you are willing to pay a fortune, it will not be easy.

Programmers have enough to do they most likely don’t need you and your idea.

And even if you pay them- chances are that the actual outcome will be something else than you imagined. There may be no way for you to fix it yourself and you will be dependent on the developer to make changes or updates for you, and it will cost money.

Hiring a good developer is nice and important, because you want to have people who are exceptional and hopefully can program better than you.

But for a moment, try to imagine you don’t need to ask anybody at the beginning. You can build it yourself or hack it together quickly- and then later find people to help you finish it and polish it up. That’s a nice deal.

So if you’ve realized now that you are a non-techie you need to change that.

Go and learn how to code. (There are so many free online resources to do this.) It is not important that you become a programming genius – you don’t need to be. In fact there is nothing more powerful than learning programing while having another background like artist, architect, animator, or even sailor – first as your foundation. Now you can take your new skill and go ahead and create things people with only a tech background won’t even be able to imagine. You would have a distinct advantage!

That’s also a reason why there are these two terms- techie vs. non-techie. There is an increasing number of people who want to add programming to their skill set. It’s a daunting task and sometimes made difficult by the techie establishment (don’t tell them I said that)– but if you succeed – only the sky will be the limit for you.

I’m obviously a non-techie by the way I’m talking about this topic.Even I looked with skepticism at first at the techies with their nerdy behavior and unexplainable sense for weird humor – I now have a lot of respect for them.

For all you non-techies out there- do you want to stay a non-techie? And for you programmers out there- do you welcome us with open arms?

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Martin Labud

All around nice guy from Germany who is learning how to code, and raising two cats while traveling the globe. He is Co-founder of Tipabl, a social giving platform. Previously he worked as an Animator and Game Designer.

11 thoughts on “What is a Non-Techie and Why Should We Care?

  1. Khrystle

    Learning to code is indeed an amazing skill set to have. I have been able to make my own website and adjust the font just because I know the coding to do so. I am by far no expert, but knowing enough is good. I learned how to code from Team Treehouse and I am also a member of The resources out there are endless indeed! I agree – as an entrepreneur being able to fix your own website, make little changes, do things with images is huge! Also, it is a great money saver and if anyone else is impatient like me the changes can happen ASAP! Thank you for validating my belief on the importance of learning coding!

  2. Paul

    Hi Martin, having done some basic level programming at college I learnt at a young age the importance of learning how machines operate. I have not pursued a career in programming although have developed the ability to learn how to use advance software and develop websites. Being technically minded is certainly a strength to help build a business. If we are able to stay aware of the developments of technology it always gives an advantage for staying ahead of the game. I love building my blog right now and to date have not allowed anyone to take part in its creation process (which is cool). I first started creating mini games on the ZX81 and Spectrum 16k. I don’t know if you can recall these (early home computers that were made in the early 80s). Thank you for reminding us : )

  3. Susan

    Hi Martin, I am a non-techie and content to stay that way. You see, when I went to college, the computers were teletype terminals and we had to dial up a phone number, wait for the weird tones that indicated a connection, then set the handset of the telephone into the cradle on the teletype. Then we could run small programs in Basic. Things have changed!

    Now that I have built a couple WordPress sites, I am starting to get pretty good at the basics of blogs and websites. There are times when I do wish I knew how to change the code a bit, and there are times when I have managed to change things successfully. But mostly I am happy to consult with someone when I need small tweaks, and pay if I need to. I am really enjoying your blog and your adventures in learning.

  4. Amy Scott

    I guess I’d say there are different levels of non-techie… I would consider myself a non-techie, yet I know enough CSS and html to fix stuff on my website (or go look it up and understand what I’m reading). I certainly couldn’t build an app, though, and I’m OK with that, because my husband’s the techie one around here (and is actually taking an Android course right now!). 🙂

  5. Wendy

    I welcome you with open arms!!! (any good techie should!)

    And I totally see what you’re saying about making your own stuff so you know it’ll turn out right and to save money! Totally true!

    I struggle with that portion myself though because okay – so I want my part of everything to be my business, or do I want my part of everything to be programming it??? It’s highly conflicting for an-already-existing-techie.

    Many of my business ideas relate back to doing techie things – so I guess the question is, do you want your business to be tech related and to do that work, or is your business related to other offerings and therefore needs you to be on the other end??

  6. Renee

    I’m definitely a non-techie. I agree with you though that being able to program is/will be a necessary skill to have. You have great initiative….. onward, charge!

  7. Michaela Cristallo

    I’m definitely a non-techie but I know just enough of the basics to get by on my own website (HTML only, not CSS!). Learning how to code does interest me but I’m not in any rush, one day in the future I may dive into it but for now I am quite happy with where I’m at. It’s awesome you have taught yourself though, there are so many wonderful resources online!

  8. Jo

    I think there are shades of grey… 🙂 I’m responsible for maintaining our WordPress blog in the company, yet I cannot build apps the way my brother does – which is the core skill in our company. I guess I should become more proficient here, but what if you have a techie by your side? I’m constantly debating with myself between focusing on my strengths vs. making myself more independent by learning how to code… debate still unresolved…

  9. Paula

    Hey there, thanks for this. OK coding. Hmm not sure if its top of my agenda right now, I did try to have a go but stopped. My brain is definitely not wired that way for sure, but I have taught myself lots of things so there is no reason why I cant! It would be quicker for someone else though – definitely!

  10. Debra Rock-Evans

    Guys! I love your site and really identify with it and what you’re trying to do. I too am starting out in learning how to develop websites and I find I easily get scared into thinking maybe I should just collaborate with someone who can do it better than me. But you’re so right! It’s empowering to learn a specialised skill and create something from scratch with code. I’m yet to get that amazing creative feeling/buzz that Jesicka described, so I guess I just need to keep at it and I’ll have my a-ha moment.


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