Are you one of those people who think you need to be a coder or developer or a tech genius to run a successful tech startup?
In this video, I will dispel this myth and tell you two things you need to do as a non-technical entrepreneur to run a tech startup successfully.
There are a lot of entrepreneurs who want to build a tech-based business, whether it’s a mobile app, a cloud-based service or a social sharing platform or just extending your business with a technology component.
And most people think that you need to be technical to run a successful tech startup.
And I get it. When we think about tech startups we almost intuitively decide that the founders of these companies are tech gurus, coders, or hold Computer Science degrees….so, It’s Easy To Fall Into That Trap.
But let me ask you…is every founder who has run a successful tech startup technical?
No! StyleSeat, Dell, Tinder, AirBnB, Etsy, Groupon, LivingSocial, Fab, Gilt Group, LegalZoom, LinkedIn are all companies that were built by non-technical founders. In fact, Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn, studied philosophy in school!
I’m using these companies as examples because they are all well known, but there are thousands of other entrepreneurs that are out there who are running tech startups as non-technical founders.
And you could actually create a “never ending fear” or self-doubt or imposter syndrome, and it can create a lot of unnecessary stress if you hold on to the belief that non-technical founders can’t run a successful tech startup.
Don’t use your lack of technical skills as an excuse not to work on your startup idea or to give up on one if you’ve already started.
Don’t let fear and self-doubt be the obstacle stopping you from bringing your idea to life … if you have the right mindset and skillset you can be equally successful as the technical founders.
If you want to build an app, your goal shouldn’t be to learn how to code it…your goal is to learn how to build the right team and implement the right processes to execute your idea and bring it to market as fast as possible, so you don’t miss the market opportunity.
What non-technical founders need to know to run a successful tech startup
The number one thing non-technical entrepreneurs need to be is tech-literate
This means that you’ll need to learn some fundamental technical concepts. what some of the jargon means, understand the best technical processes and know how to easily identify when things are going wrong.
None of that takes a computer science degree... you don’t have to know how to code...you don’t have to become a developer at all.
As a non-technical person you should be able to rely on your tech people to make technology and software recommendations… that’s their field of expertise.
"If you’re tech-literate, you’ll be able to fully participate in the conversation. You’ll be able to understand the why’s and how’s of the recommendations that are being made,
and you’ll know that you’re able to make the best choices.
As an entrepreneur, you don’t want to feel like it feels when you go to the mechanic when you know nothing about cars…you’ll believe everything they tell you…you know, “yep, sure, fix it”. “it’ll cost how much? Oh, sure, that sounds fair”.
Quite a few past TechSpeak graduates ended up firing their CTOs and developers after the training because they realized that their tech gurus were not guiding them in the right direction.
The only way to know that your tech gurus are guiding you in the right direction is to become tech-literate!
When you know the "fundamental tech concepts", you can better communicate and understand developers. You’ll be able to ask the right questions and understand why certain technical decisions are being made…you will be able to fully participate in the discussions and not just blindly trust your tech people.
You will need to learn the tech landscape, programming languages, databases, API integrations, and how things fit together… but, you don’t need to know how to code them.
You also must know all the parts that make up your app and how to access them: the code, the server, the logins, and all of the services that your apps use.
I teach tech literacy to a lot of non-technical entrepreneurs and
I see an almost instant transformation in entrepreneurs once they become more technically literate and see how all the pieces fit together…the confidence that exudes from them is so inspiring and uplifting.
This confidence will not only help you communicate better with your technical team and reduce miscommunications, it will also help you attract better technical hires because you will now understand them and their needs better.
It will help you attract investors and maybe even open up opportunities for you.
One of the past TechSpeak attendees was able to get into an accelerator without a technical co-founder, which was a requirement….all because she was able to confidently express how she was going to work with a technical team and execute her vision.
Another past TechSpeak attendee went from ZERO knowledge of software development to WINNER of Startup Weekend in 1 week! Knowing how to communicate the idea and the vision, he was able to convince other technical people to join him on the journey.
You will also be able to see the world through a different lens…make connections that you otherwise would have missed. Being tech-literate will open up a whole new world to you.
The second ingredient to running a successful startup as a non-technical founder
Once you’re technically literate, then must educate yourself on the latest and most efficient processes that should be used to manage developers.
Do you want to use the lean startup principles?
Do you want to implement Agile methodologies?
What kind of a culture do you want to implement?
The answers to these questions will determine how well your team will meet your expectations and how well they will execute.
Establishing a good development process will help you manage your developers efficiently, even as a non-techy.
Don’t rely on developers to come up with a process. Most developers are not managers and hate process or might not be familiar with the latest methodologies that you want or should be using.
Most developers just want to code. They don’t want process, they don’t like process, they don’t know process…it’s just code, code, code…that’s what they are trained to do.
Your job as a leader of your company, will be to constantly learn and evolve and optimize all of the processes in your business…and not just the technical ones.
Every improvement in your process and team communications will have a great impact on your company's efficiency, speed, and bottom line.
To summarize…your job as the non-technical founder is not to learn how to code but to decide on processes, set goals, set priorities, and motivate the team.
And that’s a valuable and necessary skillset for your startup to be successful!