3 Great Career Paths for Coders
Part 4: Make Millions (or Billions) by Learning to Code
For some people, working in an office isn’t very appealing, no matter how awesome that office is (see previous article: Part 3: Get a Great Job by Learning to Code). Having to answer to a boss isn’t as much fun as being your own boss; working for someone else isn’t always as fulfilling as working for yourself.
Learning to code isn’t just about being able to get a great job; it’s about being able to create things. When you can create digital things that are useful to people, that people are willing to pay for, and you can distribute them easily and cheaply through the Internet, you have the makings of a great business.
It’s no coincidence that a large proportion of the wealthiest, most influential, most world-changing entrepreneurs of our day and age – Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Ellison, and many many others – began their careers by learning how to code.
Elon Musk (shown here with President Barack Obama at the launch site of one of Musk’s rockets), began his career as a software developer, selling his first web software company (Zip2) for $341 million USD in 1999, and his second (PayPal) for $1.5 billion USD in 2002. He went on to use that money as seed capital to build huge, world-changing companies like Tesla Motors (high-end electric cars) and SpaceX (space travel).
Computers are becoming more and more important to our daily lives. With the advent of smartphones over the past decade or two, “a computer in every house” has become “a computer in every pocket.” The people who take the time to learn how to create software for these ever-more-ubiquitous machines are the ones who are really able to profit off of this incredible expansion of personal computing. That’s why so many of the world’s wealthiest people (including the world’s richest person: Bill Gates) are coders.
Entrepreneurs have long been able to make money off the backs of others. The stereotypical naïve entrepreneur of 2015 thinks that he can start a billion-dollar tech company with nothing more than a great app idea, a copy of The Secret, and a can-do attitude. While this is a nice dream, and it’s always good to believe in yourself, entrepreneurs of this type often find themselves running into brick walls.
If you yourself are not a great coder, then of course your first step in building your tech startup would be to find a great coder. The problem is, then: once you have found a great coder, why should he (or she) want to work with you? If you happen to have millions of dollars in seed capital, or you happen to be a sales/marketing/networking genius, then maybe you can provide some value to the coder. However, if you’re just a regular person with a great idea and a dream, you don’t offer much of value to a tech startup. Lots of people have great ideas. Bringing ideas into reality; now that’s a rare talent, and that’s where the value lies. That’s what coding allows you to do: to bring ideas into reality, with nothing but your mind, your fingertips, and a computer.
Now, imagine again the same scenario (in which you have a great idea for an app and want to build a billion-dollar tech company) except this time you know how to read and write code. Instead of being forced to try to find a great coder (when you really wouldn’t even know what that looks like), you can just build the thing yourself, and/or recruit fellow coders to join your project. Instead of trying to sell an idea (in a market already oversaturated with great ones of all kinds), you can actually create a salable product with your own hands. Instead of paying people to do the work for you and managing them as a “boss,” you can work with your team as a real leader. This is why investors tend to prefer startups with “technical founders” who are coders themselves; “Idea Guys” and “Entrepreneurs” are seen, for the most part, as dead weight. There’s a feeling in tech startups that “if you can’t code, what are you doing here?” So, if you have some great ideas for apps, or want to create the next multi-billion-dollar tech company, learning to read and write code is probably the best first step you can take right now.
You really can’t beat the career flexibility that learning to code can bring. From world-traveling digital nomads to comfortably salaried office-workers to world-leading tech entrepreneurs, coders have access to an unprecedented variety of lifestyles and career opportunities. When it comes to learning to code, only one question really remains: What kind of coder do you want to be?