Do I Need to Learn How to Code to Create a Startup?

I had the opportunity to speak with a group of students as a favor to a professor I was friends with. One of the most asked questions was, “Do I need to learn how to code to create a startup?” 

As is the case with most similar questions, there is no set answer. Generally speaking, I’m usually on the “doesn’t hurt to know” side of things, but there are certainly downsides to knowing too much. Cramming in too much all at once may limit your way of thinking. I personally believe that coding will become more and more like what English is to us today. If someone has the determination and feels like they have a knack for it, it doesn’t hurt to learn the basics.

Just to clarify some terms before moving on, I’m assuming the student asking the question probably wasn’t asking about “coding”, but the entire process of creating a program, which we call “software development”. “Coding” is that act of writing codes in programming language at the “realization” stage of “software development”. It’s probably more accurate to refer to creating something for business purposes as “software development”.

Moving forward, I will use the term “development” as opposed to “coding”. Let’s incorporate this nomenclature change and switch up the question a bit.

“Do I need to learn development to create a startup?” What variables must we take into consideration before answering this question? Below are a few variables that we must consider.

[0] My Current Position

First and foremost, it’s important to properly assess my current situation. Do I have any prior coding and/or planning experiences in relation to development? My age, any time left to allot, energy to spare? Learning development requires a lot more time and effort than most people think.

[1] Interest in Development

Some individuals may be slightly curious about development, others may thoroughly enjoy it, while some may absolutely hate it.

[2] Aptitude for Development

Some people may have had zero interest in development but are quite skilled once they start learning. It’s important to know whether I have the aptitude and capabilities to learn development or not.

[3] Attracting and Persuading Other Developers

Even nowadays, developers are far and few between. There are still many opportunities out there, not to mention the relatively high salaries. But if one of my friends wants to partake in my business, and that friend is extremely talented at development? And that friend has other talented developer friends? Learning how to develop may not necessarily be required for you to launch your startup.

[4] The Type of Business I Want to Start

The first thing that comes to mind when we say startup is oftentimes related to software. Online to Offline, platforms, etc. But the world is filled with various, different types of business models. These different categories make up a significant portion of businesses. There are many different businesses opportunities in places like the restaurant industry or the distribution/logistics/transportation industry where you don’t need to know anything about development.

[5] Are There Different Paths That I Could Take Without Development?

This may very well be the highlight of today’s post where I share my know-how.

I personally am able to develop but try my best to not develop at all. This is because development can become an extremely costly endeavor. Coming up with a plan, coding, testing… Creating even the simplest function may cost thousands of dollars in terms of cost of labor. Making amendments and alterations to what has already been created is also extremely tedious.

Most importantly, it’s actually possible to create a wide array of software without going through development. There are many, many people that have businesses in the IT industry. Just about any software that you can imagine has probably already been created.

For example, when I was creating a survey service tailored specifically to YouTube, I utilized Google Forms to collect responses. I was able to collect tens of thousands of responses. I needed to be able to manage all of these responses, so I began to create small bits of software to help me with the task.

Once again, development is an extremely costly process, so it’s probably a better idea to verify the “demand” using little tricks like these before actually getting into development.

Hiring a skilled developer at a high salary after demonstrating the “demand” for the business and getting funding and/or reaching a certain level of profit is also a viable option. You also have a much higher chance of persuading potential investors with solid data over just slapping some plans on paper.

Whether or not you should learn development depends on a variety of factors such as the industry your business is in or the needs of your particular situation at the time. Try to focus on what your needs are at this moment. Redirect your efforts to whatever it is you are trying to accomplish, rather than blindly listening to other people.

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