By Colin Timmis, Country Manager, South Africa, Xero
Technology is no longer something that belongs to the future, it’s here right now. Every day brings with it new technology developments that continue to transform our lives in extraordinary ways. Who’d have thought we’d one day be able tell a robot to turn our lights on, get a package delivered by a drone or be transported into a war zone via a virtual reality headset. It’s no different amongst the small business community. In a hugely competitive environment, new technologies help entrepreneurs keep their rivals at bay.
However, to stay three steps ahead, small business owners need to do more than simply employ digital tools. Before they do anything, they’ve got to ensure that everyone has got the right digital skills and if not put steps in place to improve digital literacy. This culture of learning will only enhance innovation and equip everyone with the ambition to grow as well as giving their businesses a real competitive advantage.
Coding is one such skill. Nowadays, coding is not just for developers, but anyone can learn the skills required to do things like build a web page. This knowledge can give your small business a significant boost in the long-run when it comes to giving your business the best chance of success!
Here are three ways small business owners can benefit from learning how to code.
Save money by completing work in-house
With basic coding knowledge, you’ll be able to complete certain tasks within the business, such as making changes to your company website. You’ll save a lot of valuable time and money by not having to outsource things like this to an external programmer.
You don’t need to know how to build an entire website yourself. Basic coding knowledge simply means that you’ll have the autonomy and ability to handle some of the routine IT tasks and basic maintenance without fuss.
Understand your business’ tech infrastructure
Instead of relying on others to ‘translate’ the tech aspects of your business for you – and often not fully understanding their explanations – wouldn’t it be great to actually understand how the technology that sits behind your business functions? Basic coding knowledge can give you much more control over your infrastructure.
By learning to code you’ll be able to look at the back-end of your app or website and understand how it works. This will enable you to properly evaluate your tech’s effectiveness, and perhaps even identify areas for improvement and come up with new solutions.
Enjoy intellectual, networking and financial rewards
Coding is a technical skill that requires a lot of critical thinking. We’re often told about the importance of continuous education and challenging our brain. Well, learning to code does just that. It broadens your mind and develops critical thinking skills that will benefit you and your business – and bring much reward.
To demonstrate this, and drive innovation, Xero has launched a virtual hackathon that enables South African entrepreneurs to compete with developers. With a basic knowledge of coding, you could take part to develop an app that will sit on the Xero ecosystem. Not only is it a superb networking opportunity – there’s some generous prize money too. To see if you’ve got what it takes, head over to the Xero Developer page here.
You can do it
Learning to code can seem like a difficult task, but entrepreneurs shouldn’t be intimidated. You’ve already proven your bravery, just by starting your own business. There are a few different ways to learn. You can choose an online course, like the ones offered by the Microsoft Virtual Academy. These courses consist of pre-recorded videos which means that you can take them whenever is most convenient, allowing you to move at your own pace.
If you prefer a more hands-on approach, you can get in touch with a teaching organisation like WeThinkCode or CodeSpace. Whichever way you choose to learn, get started as soon as you can. Your coding education is an important next step in your small business’ growth trajectory.