Blog Friday Q&A

Friday Q&A: Tips for Non-Technical Founders

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Every Friday, we’re answering your questions about business, startups, customer success and more.

Happy Friday!

This week’s question comes from Pablo, who asks:

To answer the question of “do I ever feel out of control?”: sure.

I feel out of control all the time.

But it doesn’t really have anything to do with being a non-technical founder.

It has to do with the reality of building a business, and that no matter who you are, you can’t control everything.

When I want something to happen, I do everything that I can to make it so. And for big-picture things, I’m usually able to persevere until it does.

But on a day-to-day level, there are lots of things that, despite my best efforts, are out of my control:

There are thousands of things that aren’t in my control, and yes, sometimes I do feel the weight of that. But so do a lot of founders.

On the topic of being non-technical, it can certainly be a challenge, but it’s more of a perception challenge than a practical one.

In the early days, I had more than one potential advisor, investor and partner turn me away because they didn’t think a non-technical founder could build a SaaS business without a technologist on the founding team.

That perception issue threw some obstacles our way, but from a practical standpoint, I don’t think it’s made much of a difference.

Every founder has their own strengths and weaknesses, and your most important job is to leverage your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses by hiring people who are better than you.

I’m good at product management and sales, so I’ve leveraged those as my core strengths throughout our journey.

I’m not technical, and I’m not a marketer, and I’m not a designer, so I’ve hired people who are better than me at those things and gave those responsibilities to them.

I hope that’s helpful context, though I know that doesn’t directly address the spirit of the question, which seems to be a request for tips for non-technical co-founders. For that, I hope you’ll check out this post I wrote about eight things that every non-technical founder should know how to do.

Read the post for details, but in short, non-technical founders should get very good at:

  1. Research and validation
  2. Building visuals to convey their ideas
  3. Giving bulletproof feedback
  4. Pre-selling
  5. Selling
  6. Cheerleading
  7. Knowing the tools of the trade
  8. Doing “everything else”

You can also check out this story of what I did to get the first version of our product built when I couldn’t find a technical co-founder.

How about you? I’d love to hear your tips for non-technical founders in the comments!

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About the Author

Alex Turnbull is the CEO & Founder of Groove (simple helpdesk software for small businesses) who loves to build startups and surf.

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