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If You Want Your Own Tech Company, Forget an MBA—and Learn to Code Instead

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By Freeman Murray Quartz February 5, 2015

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The best way to participate in the internet and mobile revolution is by learning to code. The future is written in software. You can write it or be programmed by it. As a proficient software developer, you can implement your own ideas, or you can help other people implement theirs.

And the best part is that you can learn coding for free. You just need sustained effort.

Here is what I recommend for aspiring software entrepreneurs.

Year 1 | Study

Start with codecademy.com, which is an online interactive platform that offers free coding classes. Take the HTML/CSS class and build yourself a free website on neocities.com, a hosting service. Then take the Javascript class for at least two weeks. While you’re taking these classes explore what programmers and entrepreneurs in the world are up to. Visit news.ycombinator.com and producthunt.com to get a sense for where the tech industry is headed.

After two weeks on Codecademy, you’ll want to select a particular “stack” or group of technologies you can use to implement an application. Android, JavaScript and Ruby are good choices. Take one week to explore different stacks. Do “Hello, world!” type tutorials in different languages. At the end of a week, pick a stack and stick to it for a minimum of three months.

Once you have a stack selected, create a learning path for yourself, which includes online classes and small projects you can do to pick up different skills. This is where the real work begins. Look at mysliderule.com for inspiration. Create a GitHub account and set a goal for yourself to have a significant project that you have written up on GitHub in three months.

Every three months create a new learning path for yourself. Emphasise small open source projects that use different technologies. While you continue your studies, explore online freelancing websites that can help you make money like odesk.comguru.com and CodersClan.com.

Year 2 | CodeForIndia

Use your newly gained technical skills for social good. Work for NGOs and develop technology solutions for them. Look for projects with technical mentors or reach out to the local technology community for mentors who can review your work and provide feedback.

Year 3 | Join a startup

Spend at least one year working for the best startup you can find. Surround yourself with great people. These are the people who will form the base of your professional network for the rest of your career.

Year 4 | Startup

At this point you should have technical skills, an understanding of problems that exist in the world and how people currently deal with them, a work ethic, and the beginnings of a professional network. Recruit a few friends and start playing with ideas. Look at what new technologies enable and apply them to old problems.

There you have it. In just four years, you can be a software professional with your own business and a long career ahead of you.

Commit to the path. It is not fast. It is difficult. It is going to take six months to one year before you’re able to make any money from it. You will frequently be frustrated. Be patient. Be humble but persistent in asking for help online. Be generous and help other people when you can. Think about it like going to college, but instead of a degree, you get an online business that will pay the rent.

(Image via scyther5/Shutterstock.com)

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