Will learning to code make you a better entrepreneur?

Over two decades ago, Steve Jobs proclaimed “everyone should learn how to program a computer, because it teaches you how to think.” Many coders credit learning to code with shaping their thought processes, as well as improving their communication skills. And, of course, it will aid any entrepreneurs in the technological side of their business.

So, in order to be successful as an entrepreneur, should all students of the Global Entrepreneurship Program at emlyon business school consider learning to code?

Learning to code helps you to be an effective project manager

By all accounts, learning to code is not easy. The main skill required is computational thinking, described as “breaking down tasks into a logical sequence of smaller steps, discarding unnecessary elements, diagnosing errors and inventing new approaches when the first inevitably fails”. This is evidently a beneficial mindset for an entrepreneur to acquire: viewing every project as a step-by-step task and with a problem-solving attitude.

Mohit Shrivastava, graduate of the Global Entrepreneurship Program and founder of SQUARE – Town Square LLP says that the trial-and-error nature of coding has enhanced his business skills in other areas: “solving errors in code teaches you to establish definite truths, eliminate distractions, establish cause-effect relationships and figure out the root cause of the problem. Personally, after over three years of fixing errors in my code, I find it remarkably easier to ‘dig inside’ a problem, figure out the exact cause and propose the simplest effective solution. This is an invaluable skill for any entrepreneur”.

Learning to code helps you compete in today’s digital world

For young companies, it makes sense to avoid outsourcing (and paying for) technical skills if possible. Founders who know how to code will be used to the trial-fail approach of tech innovation, and be able to automate time-consuming and repetitive tasks. Knowing how to code – even only the basics – also allows you to communicate effectively with and understand technical employees or freelancers who eventually come on board. Being involved in the tech side of things means entrepreneurs can make sure their prototype is viable and scalable before proceeding, and they can jump in and assist in a practical way if necessary.

Entrepreneur Joelle Goldman  reveals why she learned to code: “From a practical side, the ability to contribute in a deeper way to what my partner and I are working on right now has a real impact on our progress. Especially since we’re a small 2-person team. We need to (and want to) move quickly. The more we can both produce, the faster we can get to where we’re going.” Founded in 2013, her company, Churn Buster monitors failed payments and retains customers with intelligent email campaigns.

Learning to code helps you in a global environment

Learning to code opens you up the international community, as coding is a globally recognised – and required – ‘language’. Harshit Tripathi, founder of tasko.co and Global Entrepreneurship Program graduate agrees that learning to code is very similar to learning a new language, with its own grammar and syntax. He says: “You start small and write smaller programs and with time and practice you get better and better.”

However, like learning a new language, learning to code can be frustrating. But this also leads to being able to manage that frustration and the discovery that there is often more than one route to an answer. One coder describes a first attempt at ‘translating’ a command into code: “it was futile to transcribe it literally, or sentence by sentence – learning a new language is a new way of thinking, seeing things, and conceptualizing your environment. It is adopting a new point of view on the world.”

 

Increasingly, coding is becoming a prerequisite; not only for entrepreneurs but for anyone embarking on a career. As Joelle recounts, coding is an important – and empowering – skill to develop “allowing you act on ideas whenever inspiration strikes, and to execute your own visions”.

 

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