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How to build a tech startup as a non-technical person

When we talk about tech startups we almost intuitively decide that the founders of these companies are tech gurus and definitely hold a degree in Computer Science. But why to take this as an absolute rule, when there are people which have broken the cliché and are proud owners of successful tech startups even though they don’t have strong or any technical knowledge.

There is a lot you can do to build a technical startup, even though you are not a technical person. Don’t use your lack of technical skills as an excuse not to start working on your startup idea. Don’t let fear and self-doubt be the driving powers for your startup venture, because only the right mindset can lead you to success.

Well, we often witness the opposite situations – tech founders seek co-founders for their startups who will complement their non-technical skills. There are many things a non-tech person can do in order to build strong tech oriented startup. Technology is the future, so everybody, especially entrepreneurs, should embrace it.

Facts are facts. Most of the successful tech startups are built by people who know how to code. But what happens when you have this one great idea and you really, really believe in it, but you lack the confidence to proceed with the execution because you don’t feel prepared for it. What should you do now?

There isn’t just one answer to this question, but there are definitely some things which you can do to succeed. The most important one of these things is to start from the beginning.

Plan

Building a company requires hard work, dedication and a lot of time. It may take years before you will be able to put this company on its feet and a little more to make it stand out. Arm yourself with patience. Even though the idea is great, the execution is everything and successful execution of an idea is built on the foundations of a good plan.

Give yourself enough time to create detailed action plan for your startup. Why do you need to spend that much time on planning? Because by planning you are more likely to see the clear picture of your situation and to understand better what your weaknesses and strengths are. Take your time to research the market, to calculate the odds and to understand the potential of your startup. Now, as you will be delegating a huge amount of the work to other people, the people with the actual technical skills, you should be able to know how to create a good requirements plan and a list with specific instructions of your expectations and demands on the execution process.

Research

Evaluate your options and find out what you are able to achieve with your current knowledge and expertise. Explore all the existing tools and invest in building a prototype for your startup and reach out to potential users in order to receive validation from them. Understand your customers now and build according to their expectations and needs. You can be one step ahead from everyone else just by doing the right research and spend the sufficient amount of time for that. Do your best and try everything that you can and you will be surprised by how much you are able to achieve by yourself with the skills you have.

Learn

The fact that you don’t have any technical skill is a problem if you are not willing to learn about it. If you refuse to face the need of gaining at least simple knowledge about how the things work, you are more likely to fail. This can be a proof of the lack of flexibility in your actions and we all know how important flexibility is for successful entrepreneurs.

You have some options when it comes to overcoming the lack of tech skills by filling the gap with hiring a good coder or finding tech co-founder for your company. Both ways require you to have some tech knowledge, so you will be able to understand the work process, to be part of it and to still manage to control the most important decisions in the company.

Be ready to learn and find the time for it. Your failure or success is in your own hands. If you believe enough in your idea, you should be ready to work hard for the execution of it.

Work, work, work

Give 100% of yourself to build the strong foundations of your company. Search for possibilities all around you. It is not necessarily to look for a co-founder right away. In the beginning it is a one man show and you must be ready to take the pressure, to make the excitement work for you, not against you and to gain the strength which you need to move to the next step. Work on the things which are very important but still you are able to do, the things which you are able to create without making huge investments and without extreme coding knowledge. Work hard and be the best version of yourself.

Be cautious

Often entrepreneurs get very excited of their ideas and forget that every idea needs a lot of time to become reality, so they start trusting the wrong people, the first people who actually have interest in their startup, and forget that they need to trust not the first, but the right ones. Not every coder is a good coder, so be careful who you hire. Not every good coder can be great co-founder. Give yourself the time to build a team, to invest in this team and then upgrade.

Present your startup

Even though you are not the tech guru at the company, you are the face of the startup. Work on everything else that you need to know in order to impress the potential investors. Be the businessman if not the tech man in the startup. Explore your options, know your company, learn how to present it and work on the improving of your skills – learn to negotiate, to do great presentations, to be confident public speaker. Investors tend to invest in teams and as a leader of your team you are the person responsible for the future success of the company.

Investors are not willing to give you their time and money unless they see something serious coming on the way. They rare invest in just ideas, because (again!) the execution of the ideas is what matters. Be ready to give them more than they need in the most impressive way and you will be successful. Don’t give up after the first “NO!” you hear. Believe in your startup and others will do too.

Lead

As a non-technical person creating a tech business, you should find your place in your company. Know what you are good at and make your position strong, step on a strong stone and never let the team forget that you are the heart and soul of this business. Make sure that you lead your technical team even though you are not a tech person. To lead someone you should speak their language which again brings us to the key of the situation – learn the basics of the work to achieve smooth communication and to be able to do your job as a leader.

Do everything which you could possibly do yourself, search for the right people to work with, stand strong on the ground, don’t lose your passion and you are more likely to succeed even if you lack technical skills.

─ December 22, 2014