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GOLD! Learning to Program is STUPID! (or SMART?!)

csalvato

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I actually disagree with many items on your list. Th ones that have lasting power (very few) were not marketing plays at all.

The ones that were a flash in the pan (such as the pet rock) made a few million and petered out into nothingness ... those are the true examples of products that are pure marketing plays.

Pet rock
Snuggie
Bioflex

Compare any bullshit exercise machine you see on late night infomercials to the Peloton product: That’s the difference between marketing and product.

50 Shades of Gray was much more than a marketing play. It’s definitively the most captivating erotica book of all time - despite what haters say.
 

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Late Bloomer

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It's fine that we disagree. Right solution at right time, sold the right way vs. flash in the pan fad: that might be an interesting forum topic of its own, separate from discussion of software.

We both do see that there are some offers virtually everyone would consider to be a marketing fad, yet they made millionaires, such as the Pet Rock. I personally would not turn down a chance to put a million dollars for writing a fun little booklet, and doing some fun advertising hype for it.

I've not read the Twilight books or seen the films. But from reviews and excerpts, I can't find a single positive or worthy thing anyone has said about them, as literature or cinema. Except that the film seems to have shots that are in focus.

I'm not into BDSM myself. Friends who are, have forwarded articles from sex therapists who think that 50 Shades set back public attitudes about sex. As it's not my shade of kink, I'm not informed enough to have an opinion there.

In what way do 8-track tapes, the Atari 2600, and the loudness wars, not technically really suck? 8-tracks and the 2600 were instantly thrown away when better technology was available to consumers. The loudness wars helped drive consumers away from the music industry.
 

Radek G

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I have a bigger programming project in mind that requires to know HTML, CSS, C++ or PHP.
I thinking about getting the prototyp by my own and start getting feedback for the service.
On the other side, if I read a post like this, I think about spending a grand for a developer who create this for me.
But MJ always speaks about CONTROL. And If you don't create this on your own you LOSE Control !!!
 

Late Bloomer

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I have a bigger programming project in mind that requires to know HTML, CSS, C++ or PHP.
I thinking about getting the prototyp by my own and start getting feedback for the service.
On the other side, if I read a post like this, I think about spending a grand for a developer who create this for me.
But MJ always speaks about CONTROL. And If you don't create this on your own you LOSE Control !!!
If your venture might be a money-maker, a thousand dollars to build the prototype will pay off. If it won't be a money-maker, a thousand dollars to discover that will save you from throwing good money after bad. If you don't already know how to use HTML and CSS for the front end, and PHP and SQL and server setup for the back end, and why C++ isn't relevant for your prototype, I recommend you pay a developer to build your prototype right now.

Learning to program can save you from having to pay someone else, in the same way learning to fly can let you be your own pilot. But the time to learn isn't while you're already up in the air. When your contractor delivers your prototype, look through their code. Decide for yourself if it looks interesting and possible, for you, to learn how it works and how to expand on it.
 

christancho

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Hi!
I would say that for a non-technical person, it might be hard to learn to code... it's not only the syntax, it's the: context, servers, firewalls, networks, databases and... the bugs. It's a lot to learn.

In my case, as a software engineer, I did ezhustle.com with what I knew, and I trained myself for some parts I didn't. Now on beta stage I'm building a team to keep what I built while pivot my focus into marketing and promotion, maybe not the best use of my time according to the books, but, I have a lot of sweat equity there and ready to grow.

Finally, coding is not for everybody, outsourcing it is a gamble even if you have the money to afford it...

Cheers
Christian
 

MatthewPL

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Everybody talking about outsourcing programming to someone else...
What if I have an idea but I don't have money for developer and knowledge to do it on my own?
I'm living in Europe and developers are one of the highest paid profession so with my salary I can't afford one. Any advice?
 

DamienDee

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In my experience, learning to be 'barely okay' at coding and web development was the key.

And it sure as heck didn't take me 1000 hours of my time to achieve.

The reasons I say 'barely okay', is that few things are more painful than trying to design something when you don't know how it's built, and what is and isn't possible -

Think Architecture. The knowledge divide between architects and builders is one of the most common reasons that big construction projects balloon out in both time and cost.

The same pain and frustration happens when working on a program, or app, or website.

You have a notion in your head that you convey to a developer - He quotes you $10,000 - But you don't realise you could achieve a 90% as good outcome with a solution that would cost you only $1,000 with the same developer, because you just have no idea how the internals work.

I Benefit from this all the time - My 'barely okay' coding/developing knowledge allows me to clearly convey all my needs to professional coders in a language they understand 100% - I know precisely when they're tryign to rip me off, or are dragging their feet - I know how to give them work-arounds when things are proving to be difficult to solve, and I can see an alternate way to get to the same result I need.

THEN, when there are minor mistakes made, my 'barely okay', is almost always good enough to quickly fix it up myself without having to wait around for them.

Learning to be 'barely okay' with coding (and then subsequently web development) was probably the best few weeks of work I've ever invested in myself. It has saved me untold money and stress. I get all the benefits of outsourcing the skill, and suffer very few of the drawbacks
 

christancho

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Now, this is balance. Certainly we do not have to be experts (which on software development takes years to achieve) but rather, be able to narrow down an issue with a developer, be able to design a 'good enough' architecture, and, be able to measure the level of effort in order to avoid being ripped off.
 

CaioSakai

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I have a bigger programming project in mind that requires to know HTML, CSS, C++ or PHP.
I thinking about getting the prototyp by my own and start getting feedback for the service.
On the other side, if I read a post like this, I think about spending a grand for a developer who create this for me.
But MJ always speaks about CONTROL. And If you don't create this on your own you LOSE Control !!!
I get the control point here. I think we can't be the executor of all steps and the middle ground of having a basic knowledge to be able to discuss with a hired programmer is interesting to avoid simple mistakes.

But looking into a out of box view, without knowledge about programming, can help in two ways:
  • Reframing an opportunity without prejudice from the people with the common knowledge and challenge usual limits and conventions as well.
  • Also, a programmer colleague could help you through the basics that you need to deal with a hired programmer AND keep control in your side.
One other point, if the core of your business is not directly related to coding maybe it's better invest time in expanding that field of knowledge (excluding marketing and copy knowledge everyone is talking also. That in my opinion should be baseline for every entrepreneur)
 

Ashish Kulkarni

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I am a software developer. And I write code.

However, any software project has many components.

It starts with a business idea. You need to have a well defined idea with a good market and a good route to market first. Do your market research first.

Next, you have Business Analysts who will understand business requirements, question them, enhance them, fill any holes and then translate them into something software developers can use.

Next, you will have Scrum Masters who will take these requirements and then ensure that every 2 weeks or so, something of value is created, tested and demonstrated to you.

You get to view your idea coming together in front of your eyes and change requirements early - if you want. You can also get users to test and provide feedback early.

You can use this early feedback to enhance your product - or kill it - early.

Developers and testers are at the bottom of this list.

Just because you know how to code does not mean you know everything these days.

You need analytics built into the software so that you can measure what users are doing on your software in realtime.

You need support staff. You need good hosting.

All in all, you don't need to code. You just need to have a really good idea. And you then need to be able to hire the right people.

In my case, because I can code, I will look at people who can complement my skills.

Hope this gives some insight and helps.
 

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bytecode

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As someone who can code but doesn't do it professionally, I think that most people probably underestimate the scale and complexity a well coded product is, whether that's a website or application. I certainly did (and do frequently). Like Ashish Kulkarni said, there are tons of non-coding essentials to a good website. So just because you can create a website doesn't mean that it will function well. Plus you'll need to spend a lot of time testing on dozens of browsers and devices…

Learning the basics of coding I believe could be very helpful, especially in terms of logical thinking. However, hiring someone will almost always get the job done faster, easier, and cheaper when you factor in the time you save. Plus knowing a few of the basics can help with communication (though it can be easy to "know it all").

All in all, I'd say that unless you already know how to code and can code really well, it's not worth the time or effort learning detailed code.
 

Rabby

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This discussion is funny. Why is there a dichotomy between learning code and learning to write copy? We have to make a choice between those two, really?

Why learn any skill at all if you can supposedly hire experts to do everything for you when you know nothing about it? It's because (1) having some competence in a skill gives you the ability to evaluate the ability of others; (2) it strengthens your understanding of what is possible through the exercise of that skill; and (3) it gives you the ability to make your own prototypes/proofs before handing the project to the technicians.

One of my early hustles was freelance copywriting, so I know what good copy can do. Later, I had some projects I wanted to do for iOS, but guess what? There weren't a lot of iOS programmers with expertise in physics and AI. So, did I hire several programmers, a physicist and a behavioral psychologist? No, because sometimes when you're interested in making a new thing, or proving an idea, it's more practical to do it yourself.
 
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Brewmacker

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I still don't understand why people here want to learn to code!

Spend that time learning to market and write sales copy. Spending 1000 hours to learn to code to spend 200 hours writing an app is STUPID.

Spend the 1000 hours learning to market and write copy, and you can use that skill for the life of the app, plus the life of the next app, and other peoples apps AND it makes you money. Writing code just means you have something, but it won't sell itself.

Here is how it will work if you learn to code:
1000 hours learning to code.
200 hours writing an app.
wait for a sale, wait some more, wait some more.
Spend 1000 hours learning to market and write copy.
sell some of your app
spend 150 hours fixing bugs and responding to support issues because your app is crap because it takes 5000 hours to really learn how to code.
get frustrated and yank your app because of the PITA factor and all the bad reviews of your app.


Learn to market and write copy:
1000 hours learning to market and write code, while that 1000 hours is going on, pay someone that has 10,000 hours of training on apps to write your app.
Start marketing your app immediately.
Sell lots of your app.
Pass any support issues to the developer
Sell lots more of your app.
Create 3 more apps and market the hell out of them
Go to the bank often to deposit checks.

Do you SEE the difference????

Hi @healthstatus,

Thanks for poking the hornets nest and generating a really interesting conversation. I had a very different point of view 45 minutes ago before reading through all the answers.

Coincidentally, I posted a response to someone this morning, who asked why I didn't plan to outsource the programming and that it wasn't 'fast lane'. The response is quoted below.

While I totally understand your point of view and agree with it in someways, I believe in the end this really comes down to personal choice. I unashamedly hold my hands up and declare that I am wet behind the ears when it comes to setting up a business or taking it to the online market and therefore I will not ignore your advice to focus on all the more important skills which you also list.

My personal intuition says (and this is further detailed below) know your business inside out and back to front. For programming this is no exception and yes its fun to learn but I would never think of taking it the programming further than a proven money prototype/MVP myself. As soon as cash starts coming in, that will be the last time I will ever program, as I will outsource it to the experts ASAP.
In the end I have gained an insight to how programming works and thereby better understand (at a minimum):
  • what can be expected based on programming limitations,
  • how to sift out the good programming agencies from the rubbish ones
  • Read a Resume/CV and understand who I am hiring
  • how to write and enforce company procedures and policies necessary to ensure the department/contractor always delivers to the companies expectations (necessary for unscription)
  • (importantly) how to manage and control any outsourced contracts to limit or account for overspend on bigger projects.
So although I see your reasoning, I am not prepared to leave this blind spot in the early days covered up. But I will definitely shift more of my focus on to the key areas you described.

Thanks again!



I agree, its not exactly 'fast lane', Yet. Let me try to explain why...

In my Design Management job (where I am currently working), I do not know or need to know every clever technical detail on a multi-million Euro technical design project.
In the past 10 years I have quickly been promoted from engineer, to senior engineer, to lead engineer and finally to design manager.
Only from travelling through this journey, now when I have a new project I simply 'know' how to get shit done. I know how to challenge a bid offer, set-up the schedule, map the process and dictate the type, number of and level of quality of documentation. When the project is running I can challenge the engineers on a technical level because I know what is possible, I can steer and when I need to, jump into the deign team an innovate and/or educate.

In my current position I don't even blink at a €3 million design budget. Why? Because I know my shit and I can mitigate these (foreseen and unforeseen) risks through experience and by planning for and asking for contingencies.

Getting an app designed by another party is not only very expensive for a newbie, but also carries significant Risk because I cannot map out the pitfalls in the full process. I will not go and spend a lot of money on an App only to have not learned anything of how it was built and essentially take a gamble with a lot my money on a first time venture that will inevitable flop (unless I am very lucky).

Please remember I am doing this for the first time and I am not expecting to make a successful business, it will most likely suck haha. When/if this project fails, it will not be a failure, but a success because of all the knowledge that I have gained from making mistakes throughout this first journey.
How do you think I will feel when I pay someone to do the job and it fails? Then I have acquired nothing and lost all my savings.

Instead please look at it this way. In 6-12 months (at a minimum) i hope to:

learn how to design, build and program my own bare-bones App and website (skills acquired)
learn how to get a trademark (skills acquired)
Release it on the market by myself (skills acquired)
Market the product myself (skills acquired)
Do door to door and sell the idea (skills acquired)
Figure out how to deal with tax authorites (skills aquired)
Dealing with regulatory authorities (Skills aquired)
plus much more... (skills acquired)

One year later and when my business idea fails or under performs. Then what?

I am going to be in a pretty damn good position to start a new project. With all the skills and knowledge achieved from Project 1 and consequently it will go sooooo much faster for Project 2. Maybe still not 'fast lane' then, but what about Project 10-15? or 20-25 when I can spit one project out per month? When I have enough knowledge to outsource and hire people?

So simply Madman, I am not in this to get 'rich quick' and believe me I am not here to get 'rich slow' either haha.
When I master this process through hard work and correction/adaptive actions caused by the many many mistakes I will inevitably make in the next few years, then I will have succeeded.



I am not sure if what is written is inline, or not, with the fastlane principles. Advice and opinions are most welcome if your experience tells you that i am headed on a doomed path.

Thanks in advance

B
 

csalvato

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I've posted on this back a few years ago, and since then, I have been working on becoming a fantastic software engineer for the past few years. (Software Engineering has been a long-time passion of mine, so this wasn't necessarily a money making play.) . I was also working on a distinctly non-technical company at the same time.

These experiences have refined my perspective on this question substantially. I can boil it down to key points/lessons that I find to be true:

If you're starting a tech company (where the value prop is a custom application of technology; e.g. Heroku or MyFitnessPal):
  1. Using technology to solve a problem is hard. It often takes longer than even the best engineers can estimate, and estimates in software are notoriously inaccurate and useless as Allen Holub explains in this video.
  2. If you intend for technology to be the cornerstone of your business from the outset, you should be (or have partnered with) a technical cofounder.
  3. If you are starting a tech company, and are not technical, and don't have a trusted technical co-founder, your probability of success is less than 1%. The engineers/dev shops you hire will waste your time and money (intentionally or unintentionally), and their time is not cheap, even when using overseas talent. You might get really lucky and find a great contractor, but the chances are very low.
  4. If you're going from 0 to 1, learning to code for this business is NECESSARY unless you have deep pockets and/or an incredible technology partner on your team right out of the gate. (Even with deep pockets, you will want to get immersed in code, unless you don't mind blowing through F*cktons of cash)
  5. If technology/engineering is not your strength and never will be, you need to find someone who lives and breathes engineering to be an integral part of your executive team IMMEDIATELY, even if you do learn to code.

If you're starting a company that may be able to use tech to streamline or take it to the next level in the future (e.g. StitchFix):

  1. Most of the real work that needs to get done can be done by people to start, with shitty spreadsheets.
  2. Get as far as you can without technology, but keep an eye open for that technical co-founder with the experience or wherewith-all to streamline business processes with technology.
  3. Know your limitations, and know when you shift away from manpower into computing power. This is the trickiest bit for businesses like these.
  4. You need to find a partner to work on this with you, because the business will die without a tech partner (i.e. CTO) who is competent that you can trust.
  5. Learning to code for this business is questionable. If you are drawn to it and want to understand the entire vertical landscape of your business, you should immerse yourself in programming fully; but it's probably not necessary...especially if you got to the point where you could afford engineering talent without knowing code yourself (since your value prop is not technology).
If you're starting a company that will use some technology, but won't be innovating in tech (e.g. physical product sales on Amazon):
  1. Your problems aren't in technology and coding. Your problems lie elsewhere (funding POs, inventory management, customs, dealing with suppliers, marketing, regulator burdens, etc.)
  2. Use cheap off the shelf solutions for your website and ecommerce software (BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Shopify, SquareSpace, Wordpress, etc.)
  3. Use the tools of the off the shelf software if you want to focus on SEO
  4. Learning to code to make your business website is stupid in this case. Hire someone else to manage your relatively simple website.
 
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csalvato

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One small addition to my post above: Learning to program and getting damned good at it has very high rewards right now, even if you're not an entrepreneur.

All the other skills of business are generally much lower paid as jobs, in the event things don't all click into place for you (which is a very common story).

For example, marketing professionals make 30-80k or so.
Salespeople make anywhere from 10-50k base (more like 30-40k) and will have to hustle for commissions.
Warehouse managers make something like 40-60k.

Most of the above roles require you to work in a physical location.

If you're an entry level software engineer, you're at 80k to start. With 3-5 years experience and an entrepreneurial spirit, you can be at $150k-$200k base salary. Much of this industry is going remote, so you can work from anywhere on your own schedule. I've had multiple people on my team work from Southeast Asia and Central/South America at various points.

If you want to open yourself up to lucrative business opportunities AND lucrative safety nets (jobs) with high pay and lots of flexibility, being great at code in 2019 is very valuable and attractive.
 

the_cipher

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I have a degree in Computer Science and work full time as a programmer (for now) and totally agree to this. I spend most of my free time building my brand and making youtube videos to build audience and connections (whom I'll potentially sell my products) Then I'll pay someone to write a legit code (I wouldn't be ripped off since I can code) that I would sell. But since my capital is small I'll do the maintenance of the product I'll sell since I have the skills to do it.
 

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As someone who worked as a front-end developer for years, I'd say it depends on what you want to build. Are you going to build a simple website to sell products or build applications? Even though I started out as a designer, I taught myself HTML, CSS, and some Javascript because I wanted to build websites that I designed. Programming, however, was a black box to me and I'm interested in all aspects in a product including writing, marketing (mostly done via writing), design and development. I jumped from field to field trying to figure out which one was right for me. I'm like a jack-of-all-trades which should come in handy if I decide to go the entrepreneurship route one day.

This year, I graduated from a reputable coding bootcamp so I also learned object-oriented programming and software engineering. The intense bootcamp was three months and we coded about 60 hours a week so I spent about 1000 hours learning and practicing coding. Now let me tell you, at the end of this bootcamp, we were barely able to write demo sized applications and they were full of bugs. There were instructors available to help us whenever we had a question. We built web applications and not phone apps, which would complicate things even worse. The programming languages used for web apps vs desktop apps vs android apps vs ios apps are all different.

Learning to program is very hard and it is not even suitable for a lot of people as it requires a different mindset. When building web applications and websites, there are other components besides coding such as databases and most importantly, security. As I said, I worked as a front-end developer but if I had a product in mind, I'd simply create a demo or a prototype then either team up with an enthusiastic software developer or hire one because there's no way I could handle programming, security, updates, design, marketing and writing all by myself. My motto is to do whatever I do best and leave the rest to a professional who knows what he/she is doing. Much less headache.

If you're interested in coding, by all means, you can use many sources such as freeCodeCamp or Udemy and learn it. Even if you don't develop anything by yourself, it would greatly help to communicate with your developer.
 
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Brewmacker

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As someone who worked as a front-end developer for years, I'd say it depends on what you want to build. Are you going to build a simple website to sell products or build applications? Even though I started out as a designer, I taught myself HTML, CSS, and some Javascript because I wanted to build websites that I designed. Programming, however, was a black box to me and I'm interested in all aspects in a product including writing, marketing (mostly done via writing), design and development. I jumped from field to field trying to figure out which one was right for me. I'm like a jack-of-all-trades which should come in handy if I decide to go the entrepreneurship route one day.

This year, I graduated from a reputable coding bootcamp so I also learned object-oriented programming and software engineering. The intense bootcamp was three months and we coded about 60 hours a week so I spent about 1000 hours learning and practicing coding. Now let me tell you, at the end of this bootcamp, we were barely able to write demo sized applications and they were full of bugs. There were instructors available to help us whenever we had a question. We built web applications and not phone apps, which would complicate things even worse. The programming languages used for web apps vs desktop apps vs android apps vs ios apps are all different.

Learning to program is very hard and it is not even suitable for a lot of people as it requires a different mindset. When building web applications and websites, there are other components besides coding such as databases and most importantly, security. As I said, I worked as a front-end developer but if I had a product in mind, I'd simply create a demo or a prototype then either team up with an enthusiastic software developer or hire one because there's no way I could handle programming, security, updates, design, marketing and writing all by myself. My motto is to do whatever I do best and leave the rest to a professional who knows what he/she is doing. Much less headache.

If you're interested in coding, by all means, you can use many sources such as freeCodeCamp or Udemy and learn it. Even if you don't develop anything by yourself, it would greatly help to communicate with your developer.

If you're interested in coding, by all means, you can use many sources such as freeCodeCamp or Udemy and learn it. Even if you don't develop anything by yourself, it would greatly help to communicate with your developer.
There you have it my friend. Hit the nail on the head. An understanding of what is complex and easy was a foreign concept to me a month ago. Now I know what to ask and what I will be paying for.

PS: consider another 9000 hours (10000 hour rule) of coding before you even come close to being fluent. Do not be demotivated by your bootcamp. You are only 10% on your journey ;)
 

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