You have an idea, but no technical background

Congratulations! It's an exciting part of your life to feel entrepreneurial. You're either imagining how your idea will change an industry, the world, your wallet, or a combination of all those. Who wouldn't be excited!? But you have a problem, a big problem, you have little experience in technology, especially software development. You do know the power of technology: Facebook, Google, Amazon, just to name a few. You want in. Of course!

So what are your options?

  • Ask your 15 year old cousin (j/k)
  • Hire someone
  • Learn how to code
  • Use online tools

They all have their pros and cons so lets go through each of them.

Hire someone

Hiring someone could be the best and worst thing you could do. Let me explain. You could hire someone who will become your partner. That person will help guide you along the way of building your idea and make sure you're covering all your bases. They can give you options based on your needs especially if you have specific budget requirements. They also bring years of accumulated experience that you can benefit from. Now all this comes at a price and not everyone is fit to work with you on your idea.

Now for the bad part. Hiring someone could be the worst thing you do and not because it you shouldn't hire someone, but because of your own inexperience in hiring people who build out your ideas. I've heard plenty of horror stories of projects that have been delayed for countless months and had to be scratched completely. That's a huge opportunity cost for you if you have to start over. Imagine losing your investment plus starting all over. What a pain!

Learn How to Code

Many have embarked on the journey of learning how to code to create their own product. They may have purchased a couple of eBooks, online courses, maybe even actual physical books (wow), and study StackOverflow ferociously every day. Their hope is that they will get the product of their dreams out according to their vision.

I've seen many take this path and they make progress only to a certain point. It takes a lot of brain power to learn a new programming language, let alone learning how to build your own product from the bottom up. That's not all, apart from that you have to think about how to grow your product. You now have a business, not just a product.

I usually don't recommend learning how to code unless you have assistance or an extremely limited budget. Even then there are ways to get around those limitations without having to learn how to code. It's an opportunity cost. Should you learn how to code and waste time being frustrated because you can't figure out an error or build out a feature? Or should you be focusing on your customer's pains and building your business?

Now, if you happen to have some coding experience you may be ahead of the game by a little bit. For instance if you know enough PHP to be dangerous, you could use laracogs.com to quickly generate a lot of boilerplate code that you can customize to your needs. But be warned, it's not for the faint of heart.

Look ma! No code!

Not a lot of people know that there are tools out there that'll allow you to build an MVP with little to no code. Just to name a few: Zapier, Google Docs, Bubble, Podio, Zoho Creator, and Ionic Creator. Many get caught up with building products with the latest and greatest when their idea really isn't yet validated. Your idea isn't great until your customers tell you it's great and they show it with actions either by using your product or paying you money. The last thing you want is to spend half a year building something nobody wants (been there myself multiple times). Remember, 90% of startups fail. Which side of the fence do you want to be on?

Online tools of course have their limitations. Once you get to a point where you actually have people interested in your product you can and will outgrow those limitations. That's where it would be proper to do it the right way.

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