It happens all the time. You, or someone you know, has a great idea for an app, website, or a business that will need one or both of the above. This idea is useful, as yet non-existent and will actually make money. But you (or someone you know) has no idea how to make that idea into a reality, because your coding skills are non-existent. Instead you’ll have to spend money on a team of people to do it for you, and be left with little to launch and grow your idea thereafter.
Whether you’re already a successful entrepreneur or merely an average Joe having a lightbulb moment, you will need technical skills to ‘make it’. You don’t have to be an expert programmer and you don’t need to master web design, but you certainly need to understand some basic principles. Even if you don’t want to do it all yourself, you’ll need to be able to talk to the people who do it for you and understand what they say.
So, here are 5 coding-related skills that all successful entrepreneurs should have.
HTML and CSS
HTML and CSS is what makes websites exist. HTML is simple to use and easy to learn, and once you’ve mastered it you can absolutely add CSS to your arsenal too. Knowing both will give you the ability to create basic web pages and email newsletters. If you have no intention of settling for ‘basic’ and plan to work with a web designer, then it’s still useful to know this stuff. If there’s a minor change you want to make, you can jump in and do it yourself instead of wasting valuable dollars by making them complete simple edits for you. In any case, it’s guaranteed to make communicating with your designer much more efficient.
Writing Technical Specifications
This is not a hardcore coding skill per se but it’s something all good coders and entrepreneurs will be familiar with. A spec is a straightforward document outlining how a technical product or feature should function. Granted no technical skills are required to do this – a good grasp of English will do just fine – but you do need technical knowledge. And if you know how to write a technical spec properly, it will make everyone’s life so much easier – from your product manager to your content creators write down to you. There are best practices involved with how you communicate a product description to the person who’s going to build it (i.e your web developer or software engineer). Master them.
Big Data is becoming more and more mainstream for big companies and small start-ups alike. It allows you to gain a competitive advantage, understand your customer base in detail and make more informed business decisions. If you don’t understand it or know how to act on it, you’re basically operating blind. Learning how to analyse your data is vital for your business to have that edge and stay a step ahead of your competitors. It’s a specialised area of coding and not one of the easiest for beginners to pick up, but if your business has any kind of online component (and it should, or it’s already doomed), you’ll need at least a basic understanding of data analytics.
UI, UX and General Design
There are plenty of people out there who genuinely believe that re-designing a website is as simple as clicking and dragging the elements around the page, like you would with clipart. In fact it takes hours and hours of coding, and the smallest change can have a huge impact on your customer’s browsing experience. This is where UI (user interface) and UX (user experience) comes in. It can be difficult to see your precious website or app from the perspective of an everyday user when you’ve worked on it for so long, so it’s vital to have an understanding of how different layouts and functions can affect your customer base. And better yet, it’s useful to know how to fix it when it goes wrong.
Programmers are masters of logical thinking; it’s how their entire profession works. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, often tend towards creative thinking and business acumen. Developing your logical thinking skills not only makes it easier to work through tech problems on your project. It can also help you in any area of your entrepreneurial life by breaking down any obstacle into bite-size, sequential pieces and figuring out the solution step by step. That said, it’s much more likely to come in handy when you hit a big roadblock in your product’s development, and you need both patience, determination and – you guessed it – logical thinking – to figure it out.
There are plenty more coding skills that will help you on your way to success as an entrepreneur. But the above are definitely good starting points. Good luck!