No matter the industry business relies technology, and that need will only become greater over time. Both blue collar and white collar jobs are being digitized, produced and made more scalable through the use of technology.
As a result, it is only natural to see an increase in the number of entrepreneurs looking to build a tech-focused business. In many cases, these entrepreneurs lack the technical skills required to build the product or solution themselves.
While many investors prefer a technically based founding team, there is, however, no reason why a non-tech founder can’t start and scale a tech-based business. But if you have an idea that requires a skill set you don’t possess, where do you begin?
As someone who has been through the process, I have put together the following guide to help you know where to start.
Prove Your Value
Understand that there is a gap between the perceived value and actual value provided by both tech orientated and business orientated founders and early stage employees.
Many “business people” presume coding and developing software is a lot more straight forward and simple than it really is. They want things now and believe they are the most important cog in the wheel. Conversely, some developers also feel as if business people are an unwanted distraction. If they build an awesome looking product, it will sell itself, so what value is the business person on the team bringing on day one.
Neither of these statements or mindsets is true. If you are truly wanting to embark on this journey, then you need to recognize that each skill sets is equally as important as the other.
Validate The Idea
Software developers get pitched to join startups all the time. Sometimes for straight up equity, other times for a reduced salary. But why would they choose you? What have you done to show that your idea warrants attention?
As a non-technical founder, there is a whole host of things you can do before actually building your solution to prove that you have something of value. Approaching a developer and saying that you have spoken to x number of potential clients and identified these three pain points, or that you successfully pre-sold a license to the solution both show your ability to create value.
The developer is now much more likely to choose you and your idea, as your research and validation have increased the likelihood of commercial success. At the end of the day most developers who choose to work startups are also betting on which startup they think has the brightest future. If they choose the right one, they can fast forward their career and also benefit financially.
Understand The Basics
I know what it’s like to be an entrepreneur with a new idea. You just want to jump right in and start building and selling. But even though you are a non-technical founder, I highly recommend taking the time to understand the basics of software development.
Make Sure You Know What You Are Asking For
There is nothing worse than a non-tech focused founder trying to tell someone with a tech background the best way to build something. Admit that you don’t know what is best in this situation and seek out experienced people who can advise you.
If you can answer what technologies/languages your application should be coded in, or where it could be hosted, then you need to find someone you trust who can guide you through this process and make sure you select the developer that is right for you.
If you get stuck finding a friend or colleague with this experience there are a number of online solutions that help you test/check the proficiency of potential hires before you bring them onboard.
Be Actively Involved and Reduce Their Workload Where Possible
Just like all of us, developers hate doing boring and mundane tasks. They would much rather work on the creative and/or technically challenging aspect of their work. Creating simple landing pages or looking into potential solutions for this such as user onboard and event tracking is boring.
As a non-technical founder, these are all things that you can easily manage. Not only will this keep you actively involved in some tech aspects of the project but it also ensures you don’t waste valuable developer hours on things that don’t 100 percent require their input.
The Final Piece
The final piece of this entire puzzle is, of course, finding the technical talent you require to get your product or solution built. A number of options exist including finding a co-founder, hiring a contractor or going through an agency.
The one that suits you best will largely come down to your budget and experience in the field. If you don’t have a lot of capital, then finding a co-founder is probably your best bet. But be wary this takes time, and it’s best to found companies with people you know and trust. As a result, you should build your network now so that when an idea does strike you have existing relationships you can turn two.
Out of the other two solutions, my preference is to hire a contract developer so that you can own the relationship one-on-one. Agencies have their place, but unless you have deep pockets and a very clear vision and design for your product, additional changes and things you add that are out of scope can quickly add up.