Entrepreneurship is on the rise. The pandemic led to a startup boom in the United States, with applications for new businesses increasing by 24%. Then, The Great Resignation accelerated the trend, with applications increasing 55% from 2019 levels in 2021.
If you’re thinking about jumping on the entrepreneurship train, learning to code might not be the first thing that comes to mind. After all, computer science isn’t typically found in a business school curriculum.
However, aspiring entrepreneurs should consider learning to code for a few reasons. Learning to code can help you launch your business faster, make better technology decisions, improve your creative problem solving skills, and better understand how your business operates.
Seize entrepreneurial opportunities faster by learning to code
Learning to code can help you identify areas of business opportunity. Almost every industry needs more and better technology solutions today, and there is a lot of money to be made by providing them. If you understand software, you’ll more easily recognize areas ripe for technical optimization or disruption in the industries you have experience with.
Take celebrity actress and model Lyndsey Scott, for example. As a model, she had unique insight into the needs of her peers. Thanks to her computer science education, she was able to build an app called iPort that ended up being used by other actors, writers, directors and even architects to create professional portfolios.
Even if you already know what business you want to start, almost every business today is a digital business. Customers increasingly want to engage with you online, whether that’s booking services, making appointments or purchasing goods. A strong digital presence can also help you build your brand, drive awareness of your products and provide valuable insights about your customers and their needs.
If you know how to code, you can start building the digital aspects of your business, like websites and apps, right away. If your business is an app or a website, you can get to the minimum viable product stage quickly without hiring another developer. This will enable you to more easily woo investors, and get up and running at a low cost. Once you start earning revenue, you can scale and bring on more developers to focus on these aspects while you continue to run the business.
Make better technology buying decisions
In the digital economy, your business will likely need to invest in technology to keep operations running. For example, depending on the nature of your business, you might need to invest in a point-of-sale (POS) system, a customer relationship management (CRM) platform, or inventory management software. If your product is software or another digital product, you’ll likely need to buy cloud storage and application performance management tools.
Knowing how to write software yourself means you have a better understanding of how different technologies work, and how they might benefit your business. You are also more likely to know how to assess the technical requirements of different systems and determine whether they are a good fit.
Overall, coding skills equip you with the knowledge you need to make better-informed technology buying decisions for your company. This can give you a leg up in the early stages of your business, as you won’t need to invest as much in hiring an IT team or consultants until you scale.
Improve your analytical problem solving skills
Software engineering forces your brain to think in a structured, systematic way—ultimately making you better at thinking through solutions to complex problems. Becoming a more effective problem solver can make you more creative and innovative, which means you will be better positioned to come up with new ideas to take your business to the next level. You might even be faster to spot new problems that can be solved in different industries, unlocking your next great business idea.
For example, General Assembly alumni Boon Jun founded a company that specializes in creating augmented reality effects for brand activations in 2020. As the pandemic shuttered in-person activations, this was the exact solution many brands needed at the time to engage with their customers. As a creative himself, Jun was able to recognize that consumers were becoming bored of static images and standard video content, so he made a bet on AR as the future of digital marketing.
Additionally, when you learn to code, you’ll undoubtedly encounter bugs and issues that you are forced to figure out how to solve. How does this help you as a business owner? As an entrepreneur, you will also inevitably find problems and issues with your business. Perhaps you are getting consistent critical feedback from customers, are struggling to retain staff, or getting a lot of product returns. If you have a coder’s mindset, you’ll be more adept at spotting these issues faster so you can resolve them quickly.
Better understand what’s going in your business
As your business scales, as the CEO, you are likely to become more and more siloed from your IT and development teams. Knowing how to code can help you more easily understand your technology team’s challenges and capabilities, mitigating the risks associated with a disconnect. While it’s important that you focus on the big picture, not understanding how your technology works and its limitations can lead to unrealistic expectations and deadlines, which can ultimately mean a poor experience for your customers (e.g., when something is shipped before it’s truly ready).
Jun experienced this firsthand after graduating from General Assembly. “The machine learning knowledge I gained from GA helped me to understand how AR machine learning model works, which helped me manage my clients’ expectations around AR effect performance,” he said.
Even tennis star Serena Williams invested time into learning to code so she could better understand the inner workings of her fashion business. “Coding is really important to me, especially because my fashion business is all online,” she told Teen Vogue. Williams was committed to understanding the digital part of her business as much as she understood the fashion side.
Get started by learning to code
While coding might not be taught at business school, there are plenty of resources available for people who want to learn, including online courses, bootcamps and even free tutorials.
By learning how to code, you can differentiate yourself as an entrepreneur with investors and get a leg up on less technically savvy competition. Plus, learning how to code will be much less time-intensive than getting a degree. Many people learn to code as quickly as weeks or several months.
Ready to take a deep dive into coding to help transform your next big idea? Sign up for our next info session to learn more.