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Being Tech Challenged in a Tech Savvy Industry

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Sophie Kovic is a southern hemisphere friend of mine, and one of the nicest people you could meet. She’s also a gangster photo appreneur. The fact that she lives in one of the most beautiful places in Australia doesn’t make me at all jealous! :) She is a specialist in photo apps and has had great success with them in the app store.

When Elaine asked me to do a guest post, I had no idea what to write. I thought about what I could bring to the table for her readers and it struck me that the one thing Elaine and I do not have in common is technical expertise.

As someone from a non-tech background, I got into apps from the ‘outsource everything’ mindset. This has left me in the strange situation of owning a software company with little actual understanding of coding or software internals. It’s not something I normally talk about as a lot of the people in the industry look down on this type of operation. In fact, when Stephanie and I were attending an app conference in San Francisco recently, a fellow appreneur asked us which language we program in. I have to admit we looked at each other quizzically and replied, “Is X-code a language?”

I have no idea how to upload a binary, and I don’t have X-code installed on my mac. I don’t know what an SDK looks like. But you know what? That’s ok, because my company does fine and we are making good money. I am free to look at the broader picture and not get bogged down doing things that can be outsourced. In fact, due to my selective blindness on the subject, I can’t get caught up in the small stuff.

And so for any of Elaine’s readers who may feel overwhelmed by her technical smarts and feel like they can’t or just don’t want to learn it all, it’s OK, it can be done by purely outsourcing everything. It’s just a choice you make. Most people would call my limited coding knowledge a disadvantage, but in a way I believe it helps me stay focused on working ‘on’ the business, instead of ‘in’ the business.

Learning to focus on the bigger picture, and freeing time up for more learning has been one of the things we have been striving for at Applause.

We have a small team run primarily in the Philippines, a project manager to keep them on track, and another manager here in Australia. There are also two of us, Stephanie and I, both running the company. Even with all this, we still feel we get bogged down in minutiae.

We try to be as productive with our time as possible by focusing on our top priority for the day each day, instead of all those little seemingly urgent tasks. We believe that the less we actually have to do each day, the more productive we can be. So we read articles online, check up on what our app buddies around the world are up to, and continue to market research to make sure we are staying current with our ideas.

We outsource as much as we can, which now includes creating detailed files, manuals and tutorials for our employees, so they can learn directly from that, which frees up time that would otherwise been spent training.

As time goes by we are learning more and more but overall we know there is so much out there and we will never be able to learn it all. But we do know how precious time is. It’s something to never take for granted.

So for those of you out there who are inspired to make apps but feel your technical IQ is holding you back, don’t worry. Everything is figure-outable and what isn’t can be outsourced!

Great insights Sophie, thank you. Outsourcing is the biggest, most important thing you have to do if you want to 1) grow your business and 2) become a business owner with ‘free time’, rather than someone working in your business 24/7. Thanks Sophie!

What do you think? Are you tech savvy? Do you think its important to be tech savvy in this industry?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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Elaine Heney is an online entrepreneur, triple #1 best selling author and international keynote speaker. Elaine is an Amazon FBA ecommerce advisor, investor, Hollywood movie producer, online business consultant and CEO of Chocolate Lab Cashflow. Elaine has also published over 300 mobile apps across Amazon, Apple & Google, and enjoyed over 20 million app downloads and over 50 #1 apps worldwide.

{ 7 comments… add one }

  • Romain February 19, 2014, 7:30 pm

    Thank you ladies, thank you for sharing your experience with us.
    This is helping me a lot as I am about to start my own business too, and this article gives me hope! I’m in the apple industry too, but distributing accessories to protect those ipads and iphones, which means i have no technical background. I started an online course to learn xcode, enrolled in another one about reskinning and downloaded an ebook about objective-c…there is so much to do, so much to learn and as you said, not enough time to focus/learn on everything. Add a full time job to that and 3hours + in trains and buses everyday to get a good picture of my life right now!! To answer your question, i think you need a minimum of tech knowledge about what is required to build apps, but as you said, no need to get too much into it as other people can do it better and quicker. Your skill is all about doing business, not apps.

  • Atish February 19, 2014, 7:37 pm

    A very inspiring article!! I’ve recently conceptualized an app idea and know NOTHING about coding. I’ve stayed up several nights with the dark thought of being “Tech Challenged” looming over my head. I have a background in Finance and while outsourcing was always my objective, I constantly thought I would be on the back foot. Your analogy of being focused working “on” the business v/s “in” the business makes a lot of sense. Thank You for sharing this!!!

  • MO February 20, 2014, 2:31 am

    Great job, Sophie!

  • Brian Ma February 20, 2014, 5:16 am

    Thanks for the share, I totally agree with outsourcing jobs which are outside your core competency. I have an AWESOME art team (Angela’s App Service) which does all my graphics and I simply replace the new assets when they arrive. Since then, I don’t juggle Skype meetings with both my old programmer and designer and have found my management has gone way down. That is worth a lot of money to me. I have much more time to focus on market research and do other important things like jumping on a trampoline. =) However, I would add that learning the basics of xCode has helped maintain control of my business. I know how to basics things like uploading my own apps, updating keywords, replacing ad ids etc. and I believe these are great things to know to remain agile and quick without managing too many people to get those things done.

  • Elaine Heney February 28, 2014, 8:48 pm

    Sophie ROCKS!!

  • Saci Magree August 22, 2014, 12:40 am

    Great insider tips!

  • Daniel October 14, 2014, 5:24 am

    Elaine – picked up both your books on Amazon and I highly recommend them to anyone serious about app development. Awesome stuff.

    Sophie – I have enough experience with outsourcing to know that having a project manager is a huge asset but haven’t taken that leap yet myself. How did you find your project manager and how did you screen potential candidates?

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