I find it that the biggest reason most non-technical people fail to go into the software business is because they are intimidated by technology.
There’s no reason why non-technical founders cannot build and manage app businesses. I’ve built five technology companies in the last decade and a half, as a non-technical founder – two consulting and three product businesses.
At my current software consulting business Arkenea, we work with non-technical founders all the time. I’ve observed that the biggest barrier to their success is how efficiently they manage app developers during and after the development of their mobile app.
You don’t need to learn to code in order to build a mobile app business. And you don’t need to burn your fingers before you learn to manage app developers the right way.
Based on my personal experience in hiring in-house and external teams several times over, and the experience my clients have gone through by burning their fingers, here are the things you should know before you venture out as the founder of a mobile app business.
Seek Assistance While Hiring
If there’s one thing that should get your maximum focus, make that hiring the right people – whether it is in-house or outsourced developers.
Bad developers make bad software. And that’s the end of your mobile app business. And most entrepreneurs blame their tech team on the poor quality of the product. But, if they hired the right developers in the first place, those non-technical founders could invest their time in marketing or sales.
Whether you’re hiring an in-house or outsourced team, seek assistance. It’s tougher to hire a developer to join you if you don’t speak their language – you gain no respect and you can’t tell their level of skills.
Look into your network and get introduced to a senior technical person who could help you choose the right developers once you’ve shortlisted.
If hiring an outsourced team, whet them by their portfolio – download their recent most apps and check for design, user experience and whether the apps function well without lags or bugs. Then, ask for their three most recent customer references.
If the outsourced team engages in a meaningful discussion about your app idea and its category and offer suggestions to make it better, they’re more likely to help you build a better app.
Your App Is Only As Good As The Brief
If you expect your developers to deliver a fantastic app, you’ve got to give them an equally good brief.
Detailing of your app idea via mockups or preparing a detailed requirements brief not only helps your developers understand your expectations well, but it also helps to bring clarity to your own thoughts.
Give as detailed a brief as you can illustrate, as you don’t want your developers to draw any assumptions while developing your mobile app. Take that extra time creating a workflow, mockups or wireframes with a description of your app idea before you engage with a developer.
Before the actual development begins, insist your developer creates a detailed functional specifications document to go further in depth into every workflow and functionality of your app.
You can download a sample with few pages of a functional specifications document we created at Arkenea. This will give you an idea of the level of detailing you must have for your app before the development begins.
Learn About Technology, Don’t Learn To Code
A lot of non-technical founders make the mistake of learning to code. While it certainly does no harm, and can only benefit in understanding technology better, but it does no good in the process of building a mobile app.
The reason is that the developers that would be creating your app have several years in learning to code plus several years of experience in real world building applications that have live users.
Spend some time learning about the different technology stacks at the backend, database options, web services, hosting solutions and front-end technologies rather than learning to code. You will be better informed, make better technology choices and can engage effectively with your developers.
Don’t overcompensate for lack of technical know-how
Developers don’t like someone shadowing them and micro-managing during the development phase, especially when it comes from someone that doesn’t understand coding.
Non-technical founders tend to overcompensate their lack of technical know-how by micro-managing development projects. Don’t be that person – as a founder of the business, there are many other areas that require your expertise and attention.
For instance, you need to prepare a marketing strategy and implementation plan for pre-launch, launch and post-launch of your app. You need to start building an audience, whether it is an email list or via Facebook group. You could be starting to build partnerships while the development is ongoing.
Keep a keen eye on the progress of the app development and play an active role in evaluating the build at each stage, continue to provide feedback and test for quality. But, don’t expect a code push and build to check every day or each week during the development process.
Development takes time and oftentimes, there isn’t much to showcase as progress that you can evaluate in terms of a build on the phone.
As a non-technical founder of several technology businesses, my advice to you is not to feel challenged because you don’t have technical knowledge or skill sets. There are many aspects of running a technology business that are equally or more valuable. Focus on those skills that you have which can make your business stand out and let developers do their job.
This article was written by Rahul Varshneya from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.