Stop Making These Mistakes If You Are a Non-Technical Tech Founder

Stop Making These Mistakes If You Are a Non-Technical Tech Founder 1

It seems like nowadays, whether you are a programmer, doctor or economist, you can and most probably will start your own tech company. It may sound surprising that non-technical founders could run a tech startup yet, contrary to common belief, building a tech product can be more art than science. Still, non-technical founders make a lot of mistakes that could be avoided.

Here are some of the most common ones:

Projecting yourself onto the target audience

Just because you noticed a need and delivered a solution to it, doesn’t mean you are the target audience. It’s difficult to extract yourself from this trap, but not impossible. Define your product’s audience by doing the following:

– Paint a detailed picture of your customers: Who are they? What’s their job? What industry are they in? What is their salary? The more questions you ask, the better. This way you will have a much clearer image of who is going to buy your product.

– Get in touch with your prospective customers: meet with them in person, get feedback on specific features of the product, figure out their expectations. If you have an app, watch them using it. What is intuitive and what confuses them? Keep an open mind: don’t just try to validate your own thoughts, but watch and listen without prejudice.

– Identify your client’s needs and from there you can identify your opportunities to help them. What is driving them? What’s their goal? How are they trying to achieve that goal? Find the answers to these questions so that you make a product they need and that will help them reach their goals.

Having a single point of failure when it comes to tech

If you are non-tech founder you’d think that hiring one great developer is an easy way to reach your goal with little effort: you save on costs, the results meet your expectations, but at the end of the day it’s pretty risky for the well-being of the company and team to have all your eggs in one basket.

Here is why: using only one developer means they will have to deal with a multitude of different tasks, excessive tiredness and the chance of burn out. While the project can start with a lot of energy and enthusiasm, relying on only one developer can come back like a boomerang because your developer’s job performance will over time suffer a drastic decrease.

Don’t take your developer for granted and find ways to motivate them beyond just paying a salary. Giving them equity in your company is one of them. This way you’re both invested in the success of the product and their motivation improves. You could also hire a second developer, if you can afford it, to speed up your development, enhance team spirit and insure against being left uncovered.

Another way to deal with this problem is to start working with an external agency/partners to build your tech. This way you will access a larger range of skills and always have a backup if one of the developers chooses to leave the project. More than that, they could bring new ideas and fresh perspectives to your product.


If you are the founder of any kind of business you are most probably a workaholic. This also translates into micromanaging your team in everything they do. It comes naturally because you are the one that set a strategy and you have a very clear view of the product.

Trying to control everything makes your team frustrated, they feel like you don’t trust them and as if they’re not doing a great job. Moreso, micromanaging can be frustrating for you also as it takes a lot of time and much needed creative energy that could be used for more important tasks that you are best at.

Micromanaging and perfectionism are common afflictions for people that ‘parent’ a product. However, while trying to do everything burnout is a real threat and as a founder you are the most important asset to your business. You have to learn to deploy yourself effectively and efficiently so as to avoid this.

You hired the best people that you could and there’s a reason why you chose them. Learn to trust them and delegate tasks. Giving more freedom to your team, will help them grow and their ideas and contributions will help the company’s success. Lead with a light hand, impart knowledge where useful, avoid being controlling, and most importantly lead by example.

Not knowing your competition

Not knowing your competition could mean the end of your business. You don’t know what’s out there so you run the risk of reinventing the wheel or making already tried mistakes. Competition can be a great source of inspiration on how you can innovate and improve just by looking at how users respond to similar products, what they like about them and what they don’t.

Before building a product do your research first. Who’s the best in your market? What are they best at? Where can they improve? What’s their price point? How do they communicate? Answer these questions and make a plan to see how you can improve on each point.

Also, the competition can teach you a lot of things on how to price your products. Analyzing the market gives you a clearer image on how much to ask for your product according to what value it offers. Think about it: if you price too high for a mediocre product no one will buy it, if you price too little for a good product you will lose money.

Knowing your competition is key to building the right thing and can be a great source of inspiration. Feel free to get inspired by the parts they are doing best, improve them and learn from their mistakes. However, don’t always be a follower; where possible be an inventor.

Only focusing on building the product

One of the most common mistakes non-tech founders make is not focusing enough on getting their product out there. You should spend 50% of your time on product and 50% on traction. Not paying enough attention to user acquisition and marketing can lead to a great product that no one’s going to buy.

It’s not uncommon for founders to be very close to reaching product market fit and not even realise it. This happens when they work in a vacuum and don’t interact with their prospective clients. As a founder you have to make sure you have a critical mass of users to give you relevant feedback and identify when you reach product market fit.

Building the product and promoting it should be done at the same time. It helps you better understand what your customers want/need and you can make the changes on the way. Find ways to bring your product into the light by making a good marketing strategy. Promote your product, validate it with your customers on every step and it will become exactly what they need.

Failing to strike the right balance between skill and ambition

When starting a Tech company, many founders think that hiring experienced employees would hurry the process of building a product and will make a flawless one. But in most cases hiring senior people comes with responsibilities — you need to pay them more, you have to give them room to grow — as they may experience loss of motivation if not appropriately challenged.

Good hires are generally a function of three variables: ability, motivation and cultural fit. While experienced hires have a high ability, more junior people could be more motivated by stretching goals. Desire to grow could often make up in a junior hire what they lack in experience.

The common wisdom on hiring people also indicates that there are generally two types of people: compulsive finishers and ones that feel more comfortable with a constant “work in progress” status. For your most deadline sensitive tasks, like tech lead, you will want to hire a “finisher” as they will make sure to deliver when is needed.

Even if you are non-tech founder in a tech world, you can achieve great things. Don’t lose confidence, try to avoid these mistakes and your leadership will be greatly improved.

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