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is Coding/Programming considered a barrier to entry?

KPL

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Hi guys,

I've literally just finished reading MJ's book and i'm still coming to terms with some of the concepts and changing my state of mind. It's actually been quite a shift mentally for me.

Anyway, I have some computer/technical background and can code at probably an intermediate level in a variety of web languages. So obviously, at some stage I will consider doing an SAAS startup based on a few ideas.

Given that MJ suggests applying the CENTS concept to businesses i'm just wondering if the actual cost or process of coding is considered a significant enough barrier to entry given that there are stacks of computer people doing startups at the moment.

Any insight for a complete newbie would be much appreciated.

Cheers!
 
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MB2

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Looking from the perspective from the reality,the process,I would say yes it is a barrier to enter.Let's say you start to learn programming and while doing that you build apps/softwares that solve problems and ones which improve your coding skills,that's a process,in which process you learn programming and entrepreneurship,killing to birds with one stone while making little profit and adding value to fellow human

Given that you are intermediate at programming,you could right way start solving problems.Coming back to your question again,"is programming an entry barrier", Yes it is an entry barrier because most people either have to learn it or hire someone.But that alone wouldn't be a huge entry barrier.Knowing the problem more than anyone else is an entry barrier.All the tid bits in a solution that helps people is an entry barrier.More you know the solution more you can solve the problem better than anyone else.

General rule of thumb about this entry barrier is if it is easy don't do it.If it is hard and takes your sweat to make it hapeen go for it.According to MJ either you have to be in a field that has high entry barrier or the path to enter into the field should be a tough ride.

ALl the best for the rest
 

MJ DeMarco

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Yes it is a barrier to entry.

And in the early stages of development/launch, it gives you better control if you have the skill.

You can react quicker to opportunities, vs having to call up the outsourced programmer, or relay the info to a freelancer, or an employee.

But the skill of coding as an entry barrier has weakened over the years.
 
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ZF Lee

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But the skill of coding as an entry barrier has weakened over the years.
What entry barrier has strengthened over the years, then? Answering phones? ;)
 

KPL

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Thank you to everyone for answering this question!

I've still got lots to learn and consider but I definitely feel i'm on the right track being here!

:)
 

BD64

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Any difficult or hard to replicate skill can be considered a barrier to entry. Either you put in the hard work or dole out the large sum of cash. Both things the majority of other people won't/can't do.
 
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Late Bloomer

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HARD coding is a substantial barrier to entry.
EASY coding is not.

Write the code for a new statistical algorithm that identifies price inefficiencies in global bond markets, enabling a Wall Street firm to make an extra billion in profits this year: HUGE barrier to entry.

Write the code for a Wordpress plugin in that make cute kitty cats pop up if a thread is flagged as "fun" by enough users: TRIVIAL barrier to entry.
 

HelpAndProsper

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HARD coding is a substantial barrier to entry.
EASY coding is not.

Write the code for a new statistical algorithm that identifies price inefficiencies in global bond markets, enabling a Wall Street firm to make an extra billion in profits this year: HUGE barrier to entry.

Write the code for a Wordpress plugin in that make cute kitty cats pop up if a thread is flagged as "fun" by enough users: TRIVIAL barrier to entry.

I would argue even this is a significant barrier to entry. Why? Because coding is difficult for most people to learn.

I have worked very hard at it and still do every day....

I'm at a point now where I'm a WP developer with enough JS knowledge to create some interactive web apps and write simple algorithms.

95% of my friends would NEVER have the patience or interest to learn coding....Most people do not have what it takes to become a developer.

Even very successful developers have thought about "quitting" along the way because they thought they sucked.....It's a very common story.

That's my two cents.....and I'm sticking to it....:)
 
D

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Really the barrier to entry is more about what you do with it than coding itself. Any driven, competent person can take the time to learn python / C++ / ruby / etc. But when you develop something proprietary with it's own algorithms, workflows, branding, financial processor, strategic partnerships / promoters...that's your differentiation.
 
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GoGetter24

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But the skill of coding as an entry barrier has weakened over the years.
I'd argue it's actually strengthened. I remember a time when all I needed to know to tweak one of my websites was some simple stuff like HTML. Nowadays there's an explosion of web languages and *shudder* "frameworks".

Kind of like the way men used to be able to do work on their car engine with nothing more than a jack and a wrench. Nowadays, good luck. Your car has more computer stuff running it than the space shuttle.
 

MJ DeMarco

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Any difficult or hard to replicate skill can be considered a barrier to entry. Either you put in the hard work or dole out the large sum of cash. Both things the majority of other people won't/can't do.

Yup! Very true!

I'd argue it's actually strengthened.

Good point. Didn't think about it like that, but there's some truth to it. Modifying an HTML website was simple beans, now one doesn't know if its Rails, Angular, React, or Andy Fife. The difference is that all of those technologies are learnable with the wide variety of courses and trainings.
 

Bhanu

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Personally I think coding as barrier to entry has weakened over the years. I am from India can say that coders here are dime a dozen and ready to work on your site/app at a very low price .(Keeping Indian currency and Dollar value in mind).
However knowledge of coding is still a plus as it gives you better control .
My personal suggestion would be to go ahead and DO what you are planning to.
If the idea you have have fulfill criteria of CENTS then you are good to go .
 

HelpAndProsper

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Personally I think coding as barrier to entry has weakened over the years. I am from India can say that coders here are dime a dozen and ready to work on your site/app at a very low price .(Keeping Indian currency and Dollar value in mind).
However knowledge of coding is still a plus as it gives you better control .
My personal suggestion would be to go ahead and DO what you are planning to.
If the idea you have have fulfill criteria of CENTS then you are good to go .

and most of those coders do AWFUL work.....They are cheap for a reason.

They are a dime a dozen because they're crappy...

If coding is so easy and everyone can do it, why is it so freakin' hard to find competent developers that can do an A+ job?
 

Bhanu

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and most of those coders do AWFUL work.....They are cheap for a reason.

They are a dime a dozen because they're crappy...

If coding is so easy and everyone can do it, why is it so freakin' hard to find competent developers that can do an A+ job?

I agree. My point was entry barrier to coding has weakened.
 
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barman

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I think "barrier" matters most in how you "talent stack" (see Scott Adams 'How to Fail and Still Win Big') your coding skills. Sometimes it is a massive barrier, while other times it is no barrier at all.

It really depends on what exactly you want to do with this skill. Are you going to do everything yourself (which sounds like a job) or are you going to outsource and work with other people?

This is my argument for it not being a barrier to entry.

Creating an agency where you're building stuff for clients? Do you have an idea you want to build that wouldn't require too much money or time that you can outsource?

A long time ago I started a web design agency and I didn't know shit about coding. I could put up Wordpress site and customize the HTML and CSS to look like the mockups I sold to client, but that's not coding. Didn't matter though because those simple sites were roughly 70% of my client base.

When it came to more complex problems (custom content management systems and shopping carts - long before Shopify was a thing), then I outsourced all of that to some online buddies and friends from college. Those relationships worked out just fine.

Is being able to review and fix someones code a huge time saver? Absolutely! If you can hunt down a bug yourself and fix it quickly, then yeah its definitely quicker then reporting it to your coder and waiting for them to get around to it.

More importantly, if you're outsourcing to someone you don't know (upwork, freelancer, and all that) then it sure as shit helps to have an eye for coding to know if who you've hired is competent and that you're going to work with them in the future.

But the amount of effort and time it takes to learn how to code, especially with the complexity of apps today, is probably not worth it unless you are getting some enjoyment out of it or it lines up with some of your other skills.

This is like me learning Chinese because I want to talk to the factory owners in China about building a product. Would it help? Yes! Is it worth the effort? Probably not, unless I combined it with some other use for the language (corny example but if talent stack "pick up artistry" to seduce a lot of Chinese women).

This is my argument for coding being a massive barrier to entry -

Imagine you're a pretty good coder but also have good copywriting skills, or you have a knack for discovering needs. That's a truly powerful talent stack.

The best example I can think of is Basecamp (@jasonfried and @dhh) A business executed well by two coders that solved a need without a dime of venture capital money that now makes millions a year and has for years.

They built a product to solve their own needs but there was a huge demand for it too from other businesses. They were not the world's best coders when they started their company! They were decent coders who became really good over years WHILE building their business.

There's also Tyler Otwell, who created the Laravel PHP framework to scratch his own itch because PHP was such a pain in the dick to work with. But he also scratched the itch of thousands of developers who now enjoyed working in php.

He was self-admittedly an average, self-taught coder who became a really good coder WHILE working on his framework, which he eventually leveraged into subscription products that probably make hundreds of thousands if not millions per year (Forge, Envoyer, etc)

Another example is Mike Taber, behind "Single Founder Handbook" I can't think of his business' names but he's also the founder of microconf.com, which is a conference for coders that build bootstrapped and profitable businesses from the get go, not "startups" that focus on raising capital.

The point I am trying to make here that it takes a long time to become a decent coder. It also takes a long time to go from decent coder to great coder.

Could your time be better spent learning other talents like copywriting? sales? It absolutely depends on your plan.

If you want to build websites for other businesses or build some one off random idea you had - outsource it. Learn copywriting and sales instead.

If you're somewhat familiar with coding and have an idea that you want to bootstrap that is out of your skill range currently? Then by all means learn to code better and build it.

If not knowing how to code if stopping you from being Unscripted , then you're probably doing it wrong.

Either find someone to outsource to, OR decide what you want to build and start learning to code to make it a reality.
 

HelpAndProsper

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I think "barrier" matters most in how you "talent stack" (see Scott Adams 'How to Fail and Still Win Big') your coding skills. Sometimes it is a massive barrier, while other times it is no barrier at all.

It really depends on what exactly you want to do with this skill. Are you going to do everything yourself (which sounds like a job) or are you going to outsource and work with other people?

This is my argument for it not being a barrier to entry.

Creating an agency where you're building stuff for clients? Do you have an idea you want to build that wouldn't require too much money or time that you can outsource?

A long time ago I started a web design agency and I didn't know sh*t about coding. I could put up Wordpress site and customize the HTML and CSS to look like the mockups I sold to client, but that's not coding. Didn't matter though because those simple sites were roughly 70% of my client base.

When it came to more complex problems (custom content management systems and shopping carts - long before Shopify was a thing), then I outsourced all of that to some online buddies and friends from college. Those relationships worked out just fine.

Is being able to review and fix someones code a huge time saver? Absolutely! If you can hunt down a bug yourself and fix it quickly, then yeah its definitely quicker then reporting it to your coder and waiting for them to get around to it.

More importantly, if you're outsourcing to someone you don't know (upwork, freelancer, and all that) then it sure as sh*t helps to have an eye for coding to know if who you've hired is competent and that you're going to work with them in the future.

But the amount of effort and time it takes to learn how to code, especially with the complexity of apps today, is probably not worth it unless you are getting some enjoyment out of it or it lines up with some of your other skills.

This is like me learning Chinese because I want to talk to the factory owners in China about building a product. Would it help? Yes! Is it worth the effort? Probably not, unless I combined it with some other use for the language (corny example but if talent stack "pick up artistry" to seduce a lot of Chinese women).

This is my argument for coding being a massive barrier to entry -

Imagine you're a pretty good coder but also have good copywriting skills, or you have a knack for discovering needs. That's a truly powerful talent stack.

The best example I can think of is Basecamp (@jasonfried and @dhh) A business executed well by two coders that solved a need without a dime of venture capital money that now makes millions a year and has for years.

They built a product to solve their own needs but there was a huge demand for it too from other businesses. They were not the world's best coders when they started their company! They were decent coders who became really good over years WHILE building their business.

There's also Tyler Otwell, who created the Laravel PHP framework to scratch his own itch because PHP was such a pain in the dick to work with. But he also scratched the itch of thousands of developers who now enjoyed working in php.

He was self-admittedly an average, self-taught coder who became a really good coder WHILE working on his framework, which he eventually leveraged into subscription products that probably make hundreds of thousands if not millions per year (Forge, Envoyer, etc)

Another example is Mike Taber, behind "Single Founder Handbook" I can't think of his business' names but he's also the founder of microconf.com, which is a conference for coders that build bootstrapped and profitable businesses from the get go, not "startups" that focus on raising capital.

The point I am trying to make here that it takes a long time to become a decent coder. It also takes a long time to go from decent coder to great coder.

Could your time be better spent learning other talents like copywriting? sales? It absolutely depends on your plan.

If you want to build websites for other businesses or build some one off random idea you had - outsource it. Learn copywriting and sales instead.

If you're somewhat familiar with coding and have an idea that you want to bootstrap that is out of your skill range currently? Then by all means learn to code better and build it.

If not knowing how to code if stopping you from being Unscripted , then you're probably doing it wrong.

Either find someone to outsource to, OR decide what you want to build and start learning to code to make it a reality.

Good points, I can say that since learning JS recently(with a lot of hard work), it has opened a ton of doors as far as me "testing" some ideas online to see if they work. Now, I can build a web app in a niche/market to see if there is any traction. In the past, I could throw up a content WP site like everyone else in the world, which makes it much harder to differentiate yourself.

I agree, there are no shortcuts. To become a developer, it will take time to re-wire your brain and integrate all the new practice. I personally enjoy it even though it's probably given me a few early gray hairs.....
 

Late Bloomer

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But the amount of effort and time it takes to learn how to code, especially with the complexity of apps today, is probably not worth it unless you are getting some enjoyment out of it or it lines up with some of your other skills.

This is like me learning Chinese because I want to talk to the factory owners in China about building a product. Would it help? Yes! Is it worth the effort? Probably not, unless I combined it with some other use for the language

Perfect summary and example! I think this applies to any business skill.
 
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The-J

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HARD coding is a substantial barrier to entry.
EASY coding is not.

Write the code for a new statistical algorithm that identifies price inefficiencies in global bond markets, enabling a Wall Street firm to make an extra billion in profits this year: HUGE barrier to entry.

Write the code for a Wordpress plugin in that make cute kitty cats pop up if a thread is flagged as "fun" by enough users: TRIVIAL barrier to entry.

Rep+++

Similar skillset. Very big difference. It's hard to explain the difference, except that you can't just hire an Indian coder ($10/hr) or a Stanford undergrad compsci kid ($120k/yr) to build that algorithm for you. If either were smart enough to do it, they would be doing it on their own.
 

AustinS28

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I’m an employed full stack software engineer.

I do know a lot of technologies and they’re easier to learn the more you code and work with different languages and frameworks.

My current teams backend is built on Python/Django and my intial experience was with Ruby on Rails although I prefer Python.

Just know that there is a lot more than coding up a few algorithms to make a fully fledged application. I continue to learn everyday and the senior engineers still continue to learn everyday and encounter problems.

You gotta really love it because most of your time will be spent learning and debugging.

It’s tough to get an entry level dev job. There is a lot of talent and a lot of job openings, but I feel like most places don’t want entry level people.

Learning to code and becoming an engineer was the best choice of my life. Both from an economic standpoint and the fact that while you’re working you’re basically being paid to learn and become a better engineer. That skill set will only open up more doors and the workings of successful business ventures down the line.
 

LittleWolfie

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and most of those coders do AWFUL work.....They are cheap for a reason.

They are a dime a dozen because they're crappy...

If coding is so easy and everyone can do it, why is it so freakin' hard to find competent developers that can do an A+ job?

It isn't. Toptotal,Google,Facebook,etc manage fine. It's hard to find developers that can do an A+ job at the wages being offered. If there in demand pay more money. Becuase if you can't find people, and your not raising wages that's just whining. If companies can't afford to raise wages to the price A+ devs can demand. That's the market saying they are not adding enough value. Tale action,pay money or learn to be A+
 
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LittleWolfie

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Rep+++

Similar skillset. Very big difference. It's hard to explain the difference, except that you can't just hire an Indian coder ($10/hr) or a Stanford undergrad compsci kid ($120k/yr) to build that algorithm for you. If either were smart enough to do it, they would be doing it on their own.

Of course , you can always take the canonical option. That kid may have written it but not be able to sell it. So you take it and you sell it,ability to make product and ability to sell product are not the same skills. Hello Ubuntu and Debian.

There's loads of open source software out there that anyone with sales ability could pick up and sell. Or they could do a licensing deal with the dev.
 

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