Are you jumping into coding way too soon?
Think of the first time you’ve thought of a tech app idea…
Did you immediately think you need to find someone to build it?
Well, if you did…you’re not the only one.
In this video, I will share with you why jumping into coding your apps and software projects too early is one of the biggest and costliest mistakes you can make.
Nelly, I have an amazing idea for an app, where can I find a developer?
This is a question that I get from non-technical startup founders almost on a daily basis.
One of the biggest and most expensive mistakes that I see entrepreneurs make is wanting to hire a developer to start writing code…way too soon.
In the 10-step development process that I use and teach, writing code is actually step number 8!
Which means that there are 7… steps… to take… before even a line of code is written.
Doing these 7 steps will make writing the code so much more efficient, so much easier for the developer and if you do these 7 steps, well then, you will also save a ton of time and a ton of money.
Before I go through what the 7 steps you need to execute before writing code, first I’d like to share the philosophy behind each of the 10 steps.
I’m a big proponent of the lean and agile way of building products because the will allow you to execute faster in an iterative fashion.
The mantra and the philosophy behind my 10-step process is LEARN EARLY, LEARN OFTEN, and LEARN CHEAP.
For startups, especially early stage ones, learning quickly is really really important because the faster you learn something, the faster you will learn if you're headed in the right direction. You don't want to spend a ton of time and money going in the wrong direction.
7 Steps You Need to Execute Before Writing Code
STEP 1: VALIDATE
The first step is to Validate and refine your idea. Most non-technical founders think that building the technology is the hardest thing…but in fact, identifying a problem big enough with a customer base that is willing to pay to solve that problem is the hardest thing.
You can have the best technology but if no one is interested in buying or using it, then you don’t have a business.
Most people build the product and then try to find a market for it. Idea validation flips that thinking and tells us to find the problem first, and build a product that will directly solve that problem.
And if you are able to find a problem big enough, you will have a much easier time getting users to not only use your product but also to pay for it.
Validation will help you learn key details and insights about your product, the industry and the customer segment, without which, you would built so much more functionality than necessary and ultimately waste a TON of money re-coding later because you would eventually learn these insights but only AFTER the product is built.
I personally validate not only brand new product ideas… every new feature for an existing product goes through this step. It’s crucial and will inform every decision for the rest of the product development steps that I’ll be talking about.
STEP 2: PROTOTYPE
Once you validate the idea you’ll need to refine the solution by first building an interactive prototype of the solution. And then you’ll refine the solution by getting feedback from potential customers.
Prototyping simply means building a realistic looking and an interactive version of your solution without actually writing code. Just guessing what solution will resonate with your customers will always result in re-writing code.
Coding is expensive, re-coding is even more expensive.
As a non-technical person, you can learn how to build prototypes without writing a line of code…and they will be very realistic…meaning, you can load them on your phone or tablet and allow your potential customers to interact with the application as though it was real.
Every entrepreneur that I taught VALIDATION & PROTOTYPING skills to, found it very empowering because these two skills will give you the freedom to independently test your own ideas without having to engage with a developer!
Again, don’t build anything until you refine the idea and the solution. You'll waste your time and money if you jump straight into coding because you’ll end up building a lot of unnecessary features and functionalities that customers won’t end up using…resulting in a lot of wasted development
STEPS 3-7: PLAN AND PREPARE FOR DEVELOPMENT
Once you have a refined your idea and solution, you are ready to define, build, and deploy your solution.
Steps 3-7 is where you will define your MVP and plan and prepare for development
By definition an MVP is the smallest number of features that you can launch with that will still provide value to your customers.
But simply reducing the number of features that you launch with from 20 to 4 is not enough.
Let me show you why…
Have you ever wondered how the same project can be estimated to cost $10K and $50K and both estimates could be completely legitimate?
That’s because the details of what and how you build something matter a lot.
If you know how to define, estimate and budget projects properly and understand what affect the cost of development, you can strategically choose what and how to build, based on your time and cost constraints.
This includes picking the right tools and technologies for building the MVP and it doesn’t mean custom building everything!
Using development cost reducing strategies one of my students was able to reduce the cost of her MVP from $50K to $15K and cut the development time from 4 months to 2!
STEPS 8-9: CODE & DEPLOY
And finally, in step number 8 and 9, ding…ding…ding…this is where your developers will start writing code and you or your product manager will manage the development team to build and deploy your MVP….based on all of the things you’ve planned and defined in the first 7 steps.
If you are patient, and you complete the previous 7 steps this is the easy part.
Here you should use an Agile Project Management process…this will allow you to get working code from developers in at most two weeks. Imagine that! Working code every two weeks. The beauty of agile project management is seeing the mistakes earlier and course correcting sooner.
Keep in mind that there are MANY different flavors of agile and many companies will claim that they do it well, but when you look under the hood, it’s a different story…and I looked under the hood of some of the most popular agencies in NYC and I’ve even worked with some of them to improve their “Agile Processes”.
STEP 10: ANALYZE & REFINE
And finally Step 10 is to set up analytics so instead of guessing, you can use data to make product improvement decisions.
So, don’t make the mistake of jumping into coding too early.
Validate your idea and the solution, define your MVP based on your time and cost constraints, manage the developers effectively, and iterate to success.