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Ilona Codes for Foundsiders

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Is Coding Skill Useful to Product Makers?

I bet you have watched a lot of interviews and TED talks of successful entrepreneurs. The things they emphasized the most is what lead to their success—their passion and will.

Lots of time, they had an idea they were passionate about, then they were persistent through multiple failures.

And still, the majority of them have no idea about coding at all.

That's because there are many different qualities that you need to build and run a business. And coding is not a must-have for that.

What most important is, you need some amount of vision and planning skills—the vision of where you want to go and how to get there.

For example, you can take inspiration from Elon Musk, the businessman who is working in space, automobile, and solar industry at this time.

He learned it all on his own with the help of books. He learned it to understand and create the things he wanted.


In fact, keeping an eye on your product progress and being able to take control of all the stages of your startup, knowing the programming basics is very helpful.

Luckily, I pursued a degree in computer science, and since the last three years have worked as a software engineer before transitioning to a digital product maker and an entrepreneur.

No MBA as you can see 🤷‍♀️

So far, I met and talked to many aspiring entrepreneurs in Berlin who specialized in industry areas far away from IT, and later became co-founders of IT-startups.

And the pattern I have noticed is this: if they have a great idea, but limited experience, social status, wealth, they are smart enough to learn software development, because:

New Knowledge

The more you know, the better leader you are.

Additional knowledge is always a great plus on your entrepreneurial journey.

Alternative ways

When you create your future digital product in your mind, you imagine it in a certain way.

Then you explain your idea to software developers as accessibly as you can. Still, when it comes to the results, you figure out that the concept has been implemented differently.

To avoid this situation, you can code it on your own—even a basic prototype to visualize your idea more precisely to software developers.

Speak the "same" language

What if software developers built the first product MVP differently, because of miscommunication?

What if you didn't know how to explain your idea clearly?

If you only started your startup, in the beginning, you supposed to do and manage lots of things on your own. And that includes the role of a product manager too, who communicates the business requirements to the developer team.

Hence, if you know and understand software engineering principles, then you will be on the same page and speak the same language as them. That is so important for building your product.

In general, it's a better way to communicate with software engineers.

Dev Team support

Now your team is small, may consist of only you, solopreneur, or perhaps 3-4 people. So resources are scarce.

Often, the developer or developer team is on tight deadlines.

If you can code, you will be able to take care of general tech issues without needing to bother developers.

Sharpening your thinking skills

Another advantage you will gain from learning to code, that you will improve your critical thinking.

Because coding teaches breaking down the project into the smallest parts, objects, and control flows.

And this ability helps in analyzing your digital product in smaller pieces for effective and practical problem-solving.


As a product maker, your role is to overcome obstacles most efficiently and effectively to reach the goal you set at the start.

If you believe the next hurdle toward that goal can be overcome by learning how to code, you should be doing that.

The dark side of it is that when you get into programming, the number of your ideas will decrease dramatically, just because you will understand how hard it is to implement a lot of things quickly and on time.

Absolutely, you can learn to program. This can make you more aware of how to implement software products and be more empathetic to people who will help you to build it. And will help you to test the market before sinking significant resources, efforts, time, and money.

Good luck on your journey. You are going to love it.

I am curious, what is your opinion about the pros and cons of learning programming for entrepreneurs? Is it a waste of time or a useful skill for the founders of early-stage start-ups?

Please leave a comment or contact me on Twitter if you want to discuss this topic.

Make your best life,

Photos by Ann H and Ahmed Moustafa from Pexels

Top comments (2)

timothep profile image
Tim Bourguignon 🇪🇺🇫🇷🇩🇪

Hi Ilona, I agree with you. Having programming skills is nice to have, but not necessary. Far more important in my opinion, is the ability to find a way to create a solution. That can be coding it yourself, but also using the tools you already know or finding the right people to surround you with. Every path to a quick MVP and the validation of an idea is good!

xanderyzwich profile image
Corey McCarty

I'd say that architecture is the more important bit.knowing that you need a server,a mobile app and a database are helpful to understanding what can be done.