Should a non-technical founder of a growing business take the time to learn to code?

I recently started a marketing consulting company, and boy, is it growing. I am in a position where I am going to start scaling. I get frustrated because some of my clients need technical things done that I can't do. I am exceptional on the business/client development/marketing/results side, and I am maxed out, working 16 hour days to support the growth I'm dealing with. Is it a waste of time for me to learn to code, or will learning this skill still add value?


No. You're too busy doing what it sounds like you are already very competent at. I think that if you work closely with great engineering talent, you will increase your overall product sensibilities.

I think that the "learn to code" movement has become over marketed and is starting to take a "7 minute abs" absurdity. While I have no doubt that it's producing people who are able to have some understanding of the languages, it's not the same as being an experienced problem-solver.

Furthermore, given the rapidly changing nature of things, maintaining a competency in programming requires a constant learning cycle, one that will inevitably compete with your core competencies.

Also, your reputation might suffer if instead of sourcing as you currently do, you take on these initiatives and execute at a lower degree of quality.

Answered 10 years ago

No, focus on what you do well and do it. Find, recruit, grow a team that can support and cover the knowledge gaps, especially if you are already stretched thin. Do not reinvent the wheel.

Answered 10 years ago

Clients respect a well thought out "I would not be the best resource for you on that issue" especially if you know someone who you can refer. Even better if you can hire or sub-contract additional talent to augment yours and oversee the quality of the work. Then you are still delivering. But don't learn to code. As others have said - you will deliver a product below the level of quality you currently deliver in the areas you are great at.

Answered 10 years ago

I disagree. Familiarity with programming and other IT topics is a huge advantage in the 21st century, no matter what your role is.

Lack of direct experience will hamper many aspects of anyone's professional career -- more and more as the years tick past. Strategic decisions will go awry. Tasks will be outsourced to the wrong people. We won't really know what to look for when hiring. And evaluating performance will be next to impossible. Most importantly, we won't know what questions to ask; and IT-specific problems will seem to come out of nowhere.

It's impossible to be conversant in all programming languages or stay abreast of all technological developments. That's even true for the CTOs.

Busy as we are, I'd suggest allotting some of your spare time to learn the fundamentals of coding, as well as other IT topics that impinge on what you do.

Yes, it will eat up some hours. No, you won't be able to do the work yourself. But it will help you talk to the folks you need and understand a little bit of what they're saying.

Answered 10 years ago

Adding to the "no" votes. One of the keys being you said it's a marketing *consulting* company.

Answered 10 years ago

If learning a new language gets you excited the yes. Otherwise, heck no!

Answered 10 years ago

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