5 Principles for Setting Up a Tech Startup Without Technical Experience

Non-techy tech startup founders may seem to be at a disadvantage but that’s not necessarily true. Here’s what you can do to improve your odds of success.

Entrepreneur using VR goggles at his tech startup

Startup success for nontechnical founders may sound more like a miss than a hit. Before you dismiss the possibility though, consider this: Walker Williams, Founder and CEO of Teespring, and Tim Westergren, Pandora Radio Founder and CEO, both have nontechnical backgrounds. Yet, they led two of the world’s biggest tech startup success stories.

How were they able to succeed without being technical experts? Here’s how they did it, and the same steps can help you if coding isn’t your claim to fame.

1. Be clear on what you’re trying to accomplish

Have in mind exactly what problem you want to solve for your target market. This will keep you focused and less likely to become distracted by passing trends in tech. Don’t waste time trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. Producing a product when there is no market need for it is one of the top reasons for startup failure.

2. No technical skills? No problem. Hire someone who has them (of course).

You’re trying to build your vision. You’re the brains of the operation. Fortunately, this means you know exactly what you would need in a technical co-founder. 

While on the hunt for your co-founder, here are some things to consider: 

  • Choose someone who believes in your idea as much as you do. 
  • It may be better to prioritize compatibility over technical skill. If your personalities don’t mesh, your startup could descend into chaos.

3. Utilize your strengths

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Instead of trying to improve your skills in areas in which you have no expertise, spend your time doing what you do best. Do you enjoy networking and sales? Focus on those. Do you excel at fundraising? Then do that. Using your strengths for the good of your business will make entrepreneurship more enjoyable for you. Not sure what your strengths are? A program like the CliftonStrengths assessment can help you zero in on your specific talents and help you optimize them.

4. Identify your management style and improve upon it

While you probably already have some entrepreneurial abilities, very few people are “born leaders.” But it’s your company; you’re responsible for making decisions that affect your whole business and its employees, so take the time to develop your entrepreneurial skills. Among other skills, learn how to manage people with different personalities and raise money, how to hire and train employees, and how to network with fellow entrepreneurs. These are vital traits you’ll need to grow your business.  

5. Develop resilience

Part of being a success in business is having the ability to bounce back from disappointments. Will your startup turn out to be a unicorn? If it does, fantastic! But even if it doesn’t, you’ll be in good company. Many founders of top companies fail several times before succeeding. The important thing is they learn from the past and try again. Focus on the wins and learn from the missteps and you will be more likely to go the distance.

It may be daunting to think about starting a business without technical experience, but don’t be deterred. Keep clearly in mind the problem your business will be solving for people, find the right technical co-founder, use your strengths and develop them, and stay positive even in the face of setbacks and you’ll have a great chance of becoming a nontechnical founder success story.

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