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The single most important skill to learn as an entrepreneur? Learn to develop software.

Stashed in: Founders, Zuck!, Marc Andreessen, Startup Lessons, @sarahcuda, Learn to program.

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I re-read Sarah Lacy's software is eating all the jobs too and I'm jumping on the bandwagon that says if you as a non-technical entrepreneur want to learn one new skill that will make your startup much more likely to succeed, the skill you should learn is how to code. Writes Sarah:

What that means is software jobs are not the zero sum game we anticipated back in the early 2000s when many companies were sending them overseas. Instead, they’ve expanded exponentially as more industries have become fundamentally about virtual delivery.

Software engineering is about understanding the tradeoffs between money, time, and quality. It's about understanding the consequences of architecture decisions. It's about thinking through the bottlenecks of scalability.

Engineers as the lifeblood of startups are developing the change we seek in the world.

If you cannot speak the language, how can you understand what change is possible?

I believe that understanding the tradeoffs in software engineering is more important than knowing how to manage people, knowing how to navigate finance, or knowing how to operate efficiently.

What do Zuck, Andreessen, Bezos, Omidyar, Larry and Sergey, and Gates all have in common? They all at one point in their lives developed software and they fundamentally understand the tradeoffs in software development.

See also: Software companies are poised to take over large swathes of the economy.

So, where would you suggest one start?

1) Get a mentor. If you don't know anyone who can be a mentor, find one who has similar interests by messaging people on with similar interests.

2) Teach yourself. Places to learn programming online are plentiful.

3) Don't give up. Everyone hits roadblocks. Learning a skill takes time, and like any good skill sometimes learning requires struggling. You will get through this. All of the best programmers are self-taught. And most of the others, too. It's a skill you learn alone, but ask questions if you get stuck. Engineers in general want to help novices learn.

Is it really the case that all the best programmers are self-taught? I am just wondering, because I wonder if there are any other disciplines where those who are the best in their field are those who pick it up on their own?

Your question made me step back, search the Web, and read a bunch.

I read several different sources and there's no conclusive evidence that the best programmers are self-taught...

Stack Overflow:


Java Forums:

Self-taught programmers vs school-educated ones:

It takes practice:

Mind you, Sarah Lacy said just two months ago that building a company is just as hard as it's ever been.

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