Seventhman Blog

Should Entrepreneurs Learn How to Code?

"learn to code"Tech entrepreneurs have been asking themselves if they should learn how to code.. or if they should take an MBA instead.  While both are very different, they are both applicable in doing business.  If you will pause for a moment to think of the outcome you want to achieve, would you hire an MBA or a developer to build stuff for you on the Web?  Of course, you’ll go for someone who can code.  You need someone with the hard skill to build things for your startup and you can innovate from there on, that is, if you have coding skills to build that prototype and take it to the next level.  Which leads us to another question: Should you really learn how to code?

To Code or Not to Code

Last time, I wrote about how automating certain processes in your system will help you get more done for your business.  But, what if you can build these from scratch?  You’d be surprised that there are self-taught coders out there whose apps got them earning enough profit to make a living out of it.  Thanks to the proliferation of MOOCs (massive open online course) these days, one can learn how to code from online learning sites out there – for free or for a fee.  There’s Udemy, Codecademy, Udacity, Code School for a start.  I bet there are plenty more out there.  You may even ask if you should learn coding in your spare time or if you should get a formal degree.

“If You Want Something Done Right, Do It Yourself”

Many will argue that in technology, this is the No.1 rule.  How can you even know if your idea is executed right if you don’t know how things are done?  Thanks to new applications, it is easier to bring more functionality to your sites.  The truth is, if you want to produce a great product, you have to learn to write that code.  It’s like art; you need to know the skills of the craft to produce a masterpiece.  You might have been moved by this celebrity video from Code.org that advocates coding.. even the mayor of New York City is on the coding rush.  If you decide to learn how to code, you have to consider your time and budget for this.  After all, a successful startup needs a very strong product vision, a good user interface design and developer skills that can be achieved in and out of the classroom.

Why Do You Want to Learn to Code?

The case for learning how to code will all come down to how much time you are willing to spend to do so.  In reality, there’s really no right way of learning it and that a year of learning doesn’t mean you’ll come up with something that will solve your problems.  You need to find what motivates you first to learn this language or framework and once you have figured that out, you can start signing up for a class.  Still, you will spend valuable time.. I’m not really against the idea that everyone should learn how to code.  But this concept is setting up wrong expectations that coding is essential, like reading and writing.  Because coding is not just about creation of codes but coming up with solutions, you don’t simply learn something in 24 hours and get thousands of dollars out of it.  Like the rest of us, you have to spend years of perfecting that skill.

Realistic and Smarter Approach

It’s your choice whether to learn something new.  But pushing for everyone to learn coding is like saying we should all learn how to do our plumbing.. and so on.  It is much better to learn the basics of coding enough for you to understand what’s going on and leave the ability to write well to those who have encountered all the bugs and fixes in their years of dabbling with technology.  Let these specialists do the work for you so you can save that precious time and focus your energy in growing your business instead.

Bottom line: You don’t need to learn how to code.  BUT, you need to know when to call the experts.