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Let’s talk about the biggest tech company the world has ever seen, Apple. Its co-founder, Steve Jobs, had no technical skills before the company started. There is no concrete proof that he developed the required technical skills along the way either. However, the success of Apple can be attributed almost entirely to him. Steve Wozniak had the engineering prowess to make some of the technologies possible. Steve Jobs’s strategic and creative mindset propelled the company toward global dominance.
Apple’s startup story was set in the ’70s and ’80s. But the same remains obtainable in our world today. Non-technical founders are starting tech companies and driving them to success. Evan Sharp of Pinterest is one example. How did these non-Zuckerbergs take the plunge and navigate through the turbulent tides of technopreneurship?
Here’s how they took the right steps and what aspiring non-technical founders can do to replicate these steps.
First, figure out what you’re doing exactly
Are you just working on a fancy idea because it’s cool or solving a real problem? There are loads of early-stage startups that are building really fancy technologies that could transform the world. Sadly, many of them aren’t solving a real problem.
When you set out to start your own tech startup, with or without technical skills, it’s crucial to be clear on the problems that you are solving. That’s why businesses exist in the first place, isn’t it? Another thing to figure out is a long-term vision. As the business takes off, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with everything that’s happening. You can quickly get swept off course by tech waves. Therefore, develop a roadmap from the onset as well as an exit strategy to guide you. They serve as a sort of compass for navigating the high waters.
Identify and hire the right technical skills
You are obviously aware of your lack of technical skills but the vision is yours. The company is your child. And you can’t build it alone. One of the first things to consider doing is to find a technical co-founder. Having a co-founder doesn’t necessarily increase your chances of success. But it is good when building to have someone that’s as passionate as you and with the necessary skills that you lack. When Evan Sharp developed the Pinterest idea, he immediately sought out Ben Silbermann for his technical skills.
development, finding a co-founder is daunting. Picking a co-founder is somewhat like picking a marriage partner. So, technical experience may not be the number one quality to look out for. You ought to figure out how compatible you two are together. Their values, belief in the project and technology, understanding of the problem being solved and their personality. These are important because co-founders’ relationships can get really messy if they are not good fits. So, you may find yourself settling for a non-technical co-founder. And as long as you two can work around technical challenges, it’s far better than a toxic relationship.
It’s time to focus on your strengths
Your chance of success is higher when you focus on your strengths. Instead of spending valuable time tweaking your weaknesses that can only be mediocre at their best, use your strengths more often. Exercising your strengths during your entrepreneurship journey can increase your self-fulfillment and make your adventure more enjoyable.
A better understanding of self is needed to identify your strengths. I know it’s not a very simple task to look within and figure out what you can do almost naturally. You can use Gallup StrengthFinder to assess your strengths as well as those of your potential co-founder.
Improve your business savviness and managerial skills
There are several qualities that you need to succeed as an entrepreneur. Strong business acumen and the ability to manage people are some of the most important. Don’t ever forget that it’s your business. The decisions you make and the deals you negotiate are what will decide the fate of your company.
There are several management styles. Take a look and identify which one describes you best. There is no bad management style but there are styles that might not fit your type of business. Find one and be intentional about improving it.
While at it, you should learn to spot opportunities, negotiate, network with the right people and seek advice from more experienced entrepreneurs. These can help widen your perspective and consequently, make you more business savvy.
Make it a learning journey
I’ve spoken with young founders who believed that their first startup would be a unicorn. And when things didn’t work out as they imagined, they’d recoil and couldn’t pick up the courage to try again. That shouldn’t be you.
Almost every big player today has lost it all or failed at a venture or two. You have to resolve to learn from every failure and celebrate every success, no matter how little. That way, you will be actively working on being a better person. Entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint.
Starting off without technical experience can make it a tad difficult, but isn’t that the fun in it? If entrepreneurs wanted it easy, I bet there would be a shortage of jobs at convenience stores.
Don’t let the difficulties you. Set your course right by figuring out what problem you wish to solve. Find a co-founder, preferably one with the required technical experience. Things will be a lot easier if you do. But if you can’t seem to find a techie partner, there are several no-code apps to play around with.
Focus on your strengths and improve your business acumen and managerial skills. You just need to stay committed to the cause, learn and be ready to make drastic changes when necessary. Things are likely to work out just as they should.