I just got this question from a student watching one of our webinars:
Are there any disadvantages of not coding my startup ideas myself?
I answered back with a question of my own:
What’s one of the biggest differentiator between successful and failed startup ideas?
My answer: How well you execute on your initial idea.
If you’re hiring an outside developer to build your idea, you simply can’t move fast enough. Imagine that you launch your V1 and users ask you to add a critical feature that you didn’t think about.
What are you going to do?
Since you don’t know how to code, you don’t have many choices. You probably have to contact your initial developer again and ask to be slotted into her availability in the next week. If everything goes great, your users probably see their additional feature in two weeks or so. In the startup universe, two weeks are an eternity.
If you could code, that new feature would be built immediately. A first version would be tested by your friends after a few hours and the final version shipped live the next day. That’s the speed you should aim for with your startup idea.
Compare those two scenarios and you can see a clear winner. Within a single month, the person who can code iterated and improved the product at least 10 times. The person who can not code, probably still waits to hear back from his hired developer.
In other words, knowing how to code enables you to keep your feedback-iteration loops very short and helps you build a great product in the early stages.
But the advantage of being a technical founder doesn’t stop here.
If you’re looking down the line, knowing how to code will be extremely important when hiring a world class team. That’s because you can evaluate technical team members yourself and avoid the “we paid this developer for 3 months and he produced nothing” loop that so many early stage startup ideas get caught in.