Every time you turn around these days it feels like the latest smart phone has been released or a social media platform has found a new, exciting way to integrate video. Even as this piece is being written, some of our team are working on improving our online accounting software.
There is now software available to do just about anything you could want software to do.
At the heart of this, the ability to code is being championed as the new literacy. So, as a small business owner, should learning how to write code be priority number one?
Perhaps the most relatable benefit to small business will be the ability to build and edit your own website, provided you learn the web development languages. Today, nearly every business has a website, no matter how simple it is. You can appreciate that it would be an advantage to be able to change the pricing on your website by yourself in a couple of minutes. The alternative would be to rely on and pay someone else to do it for you.
Coding improves your problem solving. Solving problems forms the basis for writing code. Software usually exists to do things that we don’t have the skills to do, or the time to do. In other words, at its most basic level, software solves problems for us as users. Learn how to code, in any language, and you will be better at solving problems not only for your business but in your day to day life too.
Learning how to code will mean you can develop or manipulate software for your business. You might code the next big social media platform and launch a completely new business venture. On the other hand, you might just learn enough to understand that certain parts of the software you’re already using in your business shouldn’t be messed around with. That can be pretty valuable too seeing as you might save yourself a few hours on the phone to support getting everything back to the way it was…if you get there at all.
Do these benefits really mean that knowing code is like knowing how to read and write? Here’s, a complicated question – how valuable is knowing how to read and write? Is writing valuable if you can’t think of anything to write? Would reading be worth adding to your skill set if no one in the history of the world had ever thought of anything worthy to write on a piece of paper?
Literacy is valuable because reading and writing are means of communicating and organising our thoughts and every single person has thoughts, not because making a mark on a page is a difficult feat.
Similarly with coding, why would you learn how to code applications if you weren’t able to think of project to build. Perhaps the word think is the wrong one, everyone can think of some software to develop with code. The humble calculator you find on your phone or desktop might be what you think to build.
However, would you be able to map out how that calculator will work in each eventuality of its use and how all of the different actions that a user can take will work together? That is computational thinking and you don’t need to know how to write lines of code to do something like that. Computational thinking is all about understanding how things work, and how they might not work the way they are supposed to.
If you can think computationally, learning how coding has just become what writing is to communicating thoughts, valuable as an extension of something else. Maybe coding isn’t exactly the new literacy then, and you shouldn’t be rushing off to dedicate your free time to learning different languages of code on a whim. What we will say though, is that coding is an extremely valuable skill and no one should ever be negative about anyone trying to better themselves. If you have a reason and use for it, and the time, it can be a great advantage for you as a business person.