Nerdy Guy at Computer When you decide to start a business, you might feel overwhelmed with all the new things to learn – accounting, sales, collecting receivables, managing cash flow…it’s hard to be an expert in everything as a business owner. That’s why many small business owners choose to outsource their website development. It’s often easier to hire someone to set up a website and handle the digital “behind the scenes” work that needs to be done.

However, many entrepreneurs (and established business owners) might want to consider learning some new skills as computer programmers. As computers become ever more important in our daily life, knowing how to do computer coding is becoming ever more important as a business skill. Fortunately, it’s easier than ever before to learn these skills, with Code Year.

Code Year is a new introductory coding class offered by Codeacademy, a technology startup that teaches people how to do computer programming, for free. Code Year offers a year’s worth of weekly lessons. (I signed up for Code Year and so far it’s lots of fun!) The goal is to teach people to do JavaScript and other essential coding languages so they can develop their own websites, apps and games.

Coding is becoming just as important of a skill as reading and writing. If you want your business to succeed, and not have to depend on hiring programmers and outside experts, maybe you should add Code Year to your 2012 small business New Year’s resolutions.

What’s interesting about Code Year – and what can small business owners learn from free coding lessons?

  1. Technology is not just for “techies.” Everyone ought to know the basics of how computers work. They’re too important to our modern lives and our businesses.
  2. Coding skills help you manage projects (and people) better. When you hire a mechanic to fix your car, do you ever feel “in the dark” because you don’t know how your car really works? It’s the same idea with coding – if you don’t know anything about coding, you won’t know how to relate as well with the programmers and developers that you hire for your business. By learning some coding, you’ll have a basic framework to understand the work being done on your next website or app development project.
  3. Coding skills will help you think differently about problem-solving. As Farhad Manjoo writes in a Slate article about Code Year, learning to code has taught him to think “algorithmically:” “When faced with a new challenge—whether at work or around the house—I find myself breaking down the problem into smaller, discrete tasks that can be accomplished by simple, repeatable processes.”
  4. Entrepreneurs need to keep learning. Some of the best entrepreneurs are lifelong learners, constantly seeking new perspectives and skills, and finding ways to work these skills into their businesses. Every time you learn a new skill, whether or not it’s immediately applicable and “practical” for your business, you are expanding your mind and energizing your brain cells. Sometimes new skills help you get inspiration to refresh and refocus your “old” skills as well.

Whether you’re a technology early-adopter or a technophobe, why not take a simple step to improve your skills by signing up for Code Year? It’s free. There’s no risk. And you might just learn something new that will help your business in 2012 and beyond.