By Rob Percival
In June 2016, Fast Company published an article about ‘Why Coding Is Still The Most Important Job Skill Of The Future’. The research firm Burning Glass found that jobs requiring coding skills pay, on average, $22,000 more, and that half of all jobs with salaries over $58,000 require some coding skills. And for entrepreneurs and business owners, the benefits are even greater.
But why should a non-technical founder of a small business want to learn to code? Surely it would be more effective to pay developers, and focus on working with the key skills and strengths you already have? Well actually there are some pretty compelling reasons why you should invest some time in developing your coding skills:
Communicating with technical people
Regardless of your current fluency with technology, it is likely that fairly regularly you need to communicate with technical people about things that you don’t entirely understand. Whether it is trying to get some content added to the company website, getting some software installed on your computer or removing the tweet you accidentally posted on the company account, greater technical knowledge can make every aspect of those conversations much more straightforward.
As a business owner, this becomes all the more critical. Whether you are speaking with an employee or working with an outside firm, if you don’t have a grasp of the technology it is very easy to end up with a final product that is far from what you envisioned. It is even more likely that you will pay over the odds, as you will be entering negotiations without a clear idea of what is involved in creating what you need. A little understanding of the nuts and bolts that make a website or app tick goes a long way.
Becoming more efficient
Almost all roles today require a fair bit of time working with a computer. You likely have to do a range of similar tasks each day, including working with email, creating and managing documents, and searching the web. Almost all of these tasks can be made more efficient with a strong knowledge of how the software and operating system you are using works. A little knowledge of coding allows you to automate away much of the repetitive chores, freeing you up to do what you do best – running your business.
All the minutes wasted because you don’t know how to fix a problem on your computer, or because you doing something the long way round, quickly add up. If investing 15 hours learning the basics of software saved you an hour a day, would that be worth it? If you can pass those skills on to your employees, what extra cost savings could you create?
Our current primary computing device, the smartphone, has only been around in its current form for 10 years. Who knows what devices we will be using 5, 10, or 20 years from now? Understanding the fundamentals of how computers work will allow you to make the most of new devices and software before your competitors, make the most of new technology and keep your company competitive.
It is no secret that the rapid development of technology has brought about huge change in every sector, and the businesses that have taken advantage of this have benefited substantially. If you are not aware of the basics of how software works, you will likely miss opportunities that could help scale and grow your business.
Become a technical co-founder
‘Technical cofounders’, ie. people who want to start a business, and have coding skills, are so highly in demand that whole websites have been dedicated to the task, and the search phrase ‘find a technical co-founder’ has 3.2 million results on Google.
Technical founders can build whole businesses single-handedly, and can add more value to any businesses they co-found. They also have the ability to throw together websites and apps quickly to test customer demand and validate ideas. Whatever your next business venture might be, and whatever your broader life goals, building a broad base of coding skills will get you there faster.
Rob Percival, pictured above, has taught more than 500,000 people to code via his online course on Udemy. His new book Confident Coding: Master the fundamentals of code and supercharge your career is out now, published by Kogan Page, priced £14.99.