One of the most asked questions in forums by budding entrepreneurs is “how can I learn to code?”
On the surface, this seems like a valid question when a young company is bootstrapping their business and doesn’t have the funds to hire a developer.
However, the underlying premises of asking this question could mean the downfall of the company itself.
The fallacy of this decisions is that a product is NOT a business, and time taken away from answering the more significant business questions is a bad move in an early stage startup.
Let’s look at the top reason 5 Things that an entrepreneur should do INSTEAD of learn how to code.
The technology and website is just one part of your business. Along with building the technology, you also have to consider things like:
- Who is your ideal market?
- How do you plan on reaching that market?
- What are the main pain points of your potential customers?
- Are they searching for a solution?
- How will what you offer to alleviate their pain?
- How will you supply the product/service that you provide?
- And so much more.
These critical business questions are so important to figure out that the entrepreneur should not waste their mental capital to learn the complexity of a programming language.
So instead of learning to code, you should:
- Write a compelling 15-30 elevator pitch
- Do market research on your competitors
- Figure out your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
- Figure out your market size
- Determine what relationship you need to make your business flourish
Instead of sitting behind a computer isolated from the world you should be doing the exact opposite. Talking to everyone and anyone about your fledgling business and practicing your elevator pitch.
Your goal is to get as much feedback as possible so you can thoroughly understand if your idea provides value, and be able to change your pitch based on the input that you are receiving. You are trying to flush out objections and language that will help you convey the value to the marketplace.
Many people are worried about giving too much away and having someone steal your idea. In reality, everyone has a ‘million dollar idea,’ but very few people have the discipline to make his or her dream a reality. So the chances that someone else is going to hear your idea and have a strong enough motivation to try to ‘steal’ it from you is doubtful.
So get out there and talk to potential customers, create surveys, ask questions on forums and facebook groups. Get as much feedback as possible.
After gathering a sufficient amount of feedback from your potential customers and partners, its time to refine your messaging and create a way for people to sign-up for your offer even before you build it.
Although this seems a little backward, asking people to buy it before the product exists happens all the time. Just look at Kickstarter and other CrowdFunding sites. Many of these companies take money from ‘backers’ and deliver product years later ( sometimes never ). So it is a proven model and one that will validate that people are willing to buy what you plan to build.
Many landing page creators will allow you to make an ‘opt-in’ page where prospective customers can leave their email address to get notified of the product update and release dates.
The more people you have on this product launch list, the more leverage you have to build teams and bring on investors.
Did you want to learn to code? Why when you can now get someone to join your team who already knows how to do it.
With your new found elevator pitch, customer feedback, and prelaunch customer list, you now have the compelling story you can tell to prospective team members ( including a developer ).
However, don’t stop at a developer, look at your overall business plan and determine what kind of skills you need to pull it off. Do you need a salesperson, a social media marketer, an accountant?
Determine whom you need and when you need them and sell them on your vision backed with the evidence to get them excited and want to join your team.
Now that you are armed with a vision, market validation, and a team to execute your vision you are ready to raise the capital you need to make your dream a reality.
While it is entirely possible to work on your business part-time and grow it slowly, there is also something to be said about time-to-market. Raising outside capital can help you accelerate that timeline and get your product to market quicker.
Investors in startups take calculated risks when deciding to invest their money in a young company. The more risks you can mitigate by having evidence to support your projections the more likely they are to invest.
While not every company needs, nor wants, to bring on outside investors, it is always preferable to have structured your startup in a way that you have the option.
So while budding entrepreneurs feel the “need” to learn to code, they should set their sights on the bigger picture of starting a business. The technology is an essential piece of that puzzle, but not as important as understanding your customers, value proposition, and building a company that team members and investors want to be involved.