We all have ideas. Sometimes we believe our ideas will disrupt an industry by becoming the foundation for a profitable business. And sometimes, some of us go all out to make a go of our ideas by taking the huge leap to execute them.

Unfortunately, not everyone has the means to start their business. For people with ideas for a tech startup, a real constraint might be a lack of technical skills. I mean: while it’s really easy to think about ways to solve common problems using tech, execution isn’t always a walk in the park, especially without the technical knowledge required to move the needle.

If you’re a non-technical person, don’t stress – this article provides you with 5 suggestions that you’d want to keep in mind when building a startup. They are:

1. Learn the Requisite Technical Skills

If you have enough time on your hands to learn some of what it takes to build at least a prototype or a minimum viable product, or you’re just passionate about picking up new skills while trying to turn your idea into a tangible product, then consider learning some technical skills. In most cases, you’ll need to learn how to code.

To be clear, learning how to code is no easy undertaking; it requires the right mix of passion, hard work and grit. More so, becoming an expert programmer requires a great deal of experience which is a function of both time and dedication. But look on the bright side: chances are high that you won’t need to become a super engineer but merely good enough to implement some of your product’s most fundamental, initial features.

Before delving into anything, ensure you’ll have enough time to expand on the cause and try to discover what you’ll need to learn and whether or not you’ll be willing to spare the required time and energy learning them, while keeping in mind the possibility that you aren’t the only one in the world with the same idea.

This article tells the story of how Instagram founder, Kevin Systrom, before building Instagram, spent his evenings learning how to code. Systrom adhered to the principle of “do the simple thing first” and got by major technical problems by watching YouTube videos. His story can be a source of inspiration for potential founders who are worried about not having the essential technical skills to get started with their businesses.

During the process of learning, keep in mind your ultimate goal which is to build a business, not to become a professional programmer. Again, you need just enough knowledge to get the first version of your product off the ground, after which you’ll need to hire professionals once you’re funded or have gained some traction.

2. Hire Professionals.

If you won’t be spoiled with enough time to learn the technical skills needed to build a product, I’ll advise you forget the idea of getting your hands dirty with code but rather hire professionals to do the job.

Before you hire professionals, however, you must be competent enough to make some technical decisions (for example, choosing whether to hire Python or Java developers depending on what you want to do). You’ll be required to have some basic knowledge of the vacuums that need to be filled and how to recognize the best candidate for a job. To get things right, you’ll also need to do a lot of research on similar businesses, how they started out and maneuvered their way through tough technical decisions.

Note: hiring professionals will require you to be buoyant enough to pay for their services. This may be a huge pain especially when you aren’t sure about your business’s chances of succeeding. To avoid this, consider the next point.

3. Recruit a Technical Co-Founder

Recruiting a technical co-founder (or even co-founders) helps in two major ways. First, you won’t be tied down by the need to learn technical skills, and this will enable you to launch a product quickly. Second, you won’t have to spend so much money on technical expertise at the outset – a co-founder will cost only a stake (equity) in the company (this is why some people term co-founders as “inexpensive employees”).

A good example of the above scenario is Snapchat. A non-technical person with expertise in product design, Evan Spiegel hired his friend, Bobby Murphy, to help in coding the first version of Snapchat. Today, estimates have it that while Spiegel holds 13% of the company, Murphy, a co-founder, has 11% stake in the business.

The Snapchat example is only one out of many that show how onboarding a technical co-founder can reduce time and monetary costs and quicken a product’s launch. There are many ways to go about finding a technical co-founder.

4. Be Grounded in Complementary Business Skills.

The initial success of a startup is a function of the skills, among other things, possessed by its founders. So, ask yourself these: since you aren’t technical enough, what else can you bring to the table? Why should a technical co-founder choose to work with you when she can work on something else or even refine your idea and build a business out of it by herself or with someone else?

At Apple, Steve Wozniak was initially the inventor whose works became Apple’s first products. Steve jobs, on the other hand, was the ‘business brain’ who possessed acumen in functions that excluded actually building the tech. Would Wozniak have trusted Jobs enough to partner with him in building a business if the latter lacked the skills to complement his? Probably not.

Many functions are needed to grow a startup. These include, but aren’t limited to, recruiting, sales, UI & UX design, marketing and finance. As a non-technical founder, it’s your duty to ensure that you’re competent enough to undertake some of these functions. Again, if you must attract competent people as co-founders or employees and grow your business, you’ll need to give them reasons to work with you.

5. Have an Eye For Technical Details and Be an Avid Innovator

Although Steve Jobs wasn’t an engineer, he had just enough knowledge to enable him understand how his company’s products worked. He used this knowledge alongside his great eye for design to push his team into building things that seemed genuinely difficult at the outset. He was an innovator.

As a non-technical founder, your spirit of innovation mustn’t die with your initial business idea. We live in a complex world and it takes more than a ground-breaking idea to grow a business. Failed ideas are, in fact, anything but novel. For example, at various world expos, prototypes of several ideas (which have included a computerized highway, disappearing kitchen appliances, an underwater hotel and an electric city) failed to come to fruition despite being considered as revolutionary. As an innovator, you must realize when an idea will be impossible to execute successfully and when to iterate so as to meet market demands or even pivot. You don’t have to be a techie to know when to make changes.


Building a business is not a walk in the park, and it can be frustrating to have a great a business idea without possessing the necessary skills to see it through. If you’ve got an idea that would likely disrupt the tech industry but aren’t technical enough to execute it, be sure to take cognizance of the ideas provided in this article.