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  • You Should Learn to Code

    Many readers of this blog are great businesspeople.  Entrepreneurs who started from scratch and built something profitable, and successful professionals that are integral cogs in their company’s machine.

    We’re masters of social media.  Blogging.  SEO (get me some links!), paid traffic, promoting ourselves online and off.

    But I’m willing to wager big that few of us know how to code.

    Code = program = be a developer.

    And it’s funny, because all of us depend on coders one way or another in our business lives.

    This is a big deal

    Recently, Andy Young from the UK published an article called: Coding For Success.  I think it’s the most important article I’ve read in a year.  Everyone should read it and take note.

    Plain and simple.  You should learn to code.

    Young takes aim at common misconceptions about the nature and difficulty of coding, while also deftly describing the macro state of technology, the skills of our workforce, and the economic needs of the future.

    In short, too many of us think that learning to code is hard and boring and not worth doing.  “Ah, have the nerds take care of it.”  I’ve shared that sentiment for a decade.  But there are numerous reasons we can’t keep thinking like that.

    Coding isn’t just for nerds and techies

    First, programming isn’t just for nerds.  Technology is so ingrained in our daily lives that leaving just to the nerds is incredibly stupid on our part.  As a business owner, you expose yourself to needless vulnerabilities.

    How?  Do you know how to fix your lead management system if it goes down?  I know I don’t.  At the mortgage company I was CMO at, that system is our lifeblood.  It’s maintained by 8 or so people.  In a company of 750.

    For so many of us our websites are our business.  If SuretyBonds.com goes down, or the lead form breaks, I ain’t making money for awhile.  Not cool.  If I knew how to fix it, that’d make me sleep a little better at night.

    I’m sure you’ve got a similar situation.  I know problems for a web-based business can come from external sources (power goes out, server goes down, hackers).  But we should be empowering ourselves more by learning to code.

    Teaching our children to code, ’cause it gets you a job

    Looking at the bigger picture, Young very quickly states that we should teach all of our children to code.  This is 2012.  Software runs everything.  Learning to code should be like learning to read and write.  That’s interesting right?

    The ability to code will get you a job.  That’s a fact, and that’s just today.  10 years from now, when 12 year olds are entering the workforce, it might not just be a leg-up on other job candidates.  It might be a requirement to be in the job market.

    I’ve implored friends and employees to learn to code.  “If you can program, you’ll always have a job working for me making good money.”  Few, if any, have followed through.  I’m still trying to hire coders.  Every week.

    The easiest path to code excellence – self taught

    One thing that’s cool about learning to code is you don’t have to go to college to do it.  Save the online degree this time around.  Just click away from this article and start.

    You already have a website.  Go mess with WordPress.  Create a custom plugin.  Take some lessons on Codecademy or setup something easy on if this then that (both mentioned in Young’s article).

    Don’t buy a book.  Don’t enroll at the community college.  Seriously.  Just get an FTP client and start at the beginning.  Your 2014 self is going to love you.

    The ability to code will improve your life

    To come full circle, if today you’d consider yourself that social media savant, or the expert in creating info products to sell on your blog, remember the day when you knew nothing about it?  I’m sure it’s been a fun and wild ride getting to where you are today.

    It’s not too late to learn how to code (great article from Jean Hsu).  And learning to code will be no different.  So long as you get past the preconceptions about its “nerdiness” and come around to how unbelievably useful it is to be able to code.

    Find easy wins in the early days.  You can make the computer take in 3 numbers and spit out their cube?  In a big purple font?  Hell yes!

    Soon you’ll be better at managing your website, protecting your business, marketing yourself as a job candidate, and enriching the lives of your children.  Win, win, win, win.

    Author:

    Nathaniel Broughton is a veteran internet entrepreneur and investor.  Dating to 2002, he has helped produce 3 Inc 500 award-winning companies.  Nathaniel owns Growth Partner Capital, a venture fund that provides SEO consulting, premium link building and online reputation management services.  He is also owner of SuretyBonds.com, a nationwide bonding agency.   Previously he served as CMO of VAMortgageCenter.com, a $65 million nationwide mortgage bank which acquired his marketing firm Plus1 Marketing in 2008.   A resident of San Diego, Nathaniel often writes from his experience as an investor, marketer, and advocate of “networking like Paris Hilton parties – Nonstop”.  Follow him on Twitter – @natebro.

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