How to hire a programmer to make your ideas happen

There are many people out there with ideas for technology businesses, but have no technical skills. They need to hire developers to turn the ideas into reality. But how to do it? Derek Sivers offers his advice.

Do you have an idea for a website, online business, or application, but need a programmer to turn that idea into reality?

Many of my friends have been in the same position, so here’s my best advice, below.

How to hire a programmer to make your ideas happen

This article has two points I need to address.

The first thing that needs to be said is that ideas are worthless, and only execution value.. Scott Adams, of Dilbert fame, isn’t the only one to say this. The first time I heard it was from a Neil Gaiman blog post, but I can’t find the exact post at this time.

The point is that if you have an idea, but are unable to execute on it, then you should either learn how to execute the idea, or come up with a different idea that you are personally capable of executing. If you get some programmer to do the execution, then what value are you contributing? The programmer now holds all the cards, and you’ve got bupkiss.

And that leads directly to my best advice for getting a programmer to make your ideas happen. More important than anything else, you need some cold hard cash. If you want a talented programmer, you better bring a lot of it. We’re talking about many thousands.

You might trick some foolish or young programmers into doing work in exchange for equity, but almost anyone with talent or experience will have none of that. They know that your idea is worthless. Many other people have the same idea already. If they do the execution, they have all the equity. You have to buy it from them, not the other way around.

Remember, good programmers are really smart people. They have plenty ideas of their own they could be working on. If they’re going to take a huge risk on a new idea, why would they do it for your idea instead of their own?

Unless you find that really nice, or really naïve, programmer, you need to remove that risk. It’s your idea. You want to own it, even though you don’t contribute any value. You believe the idea will succeed. You want the programmer to do your bidding. Obviously, you have to pay the programmer in cash. No IOUs. No options. No equity. Only pieces of paper with pictures of dead presidents on them will suffice. Hand out enough of those, and you’ll have programmers lining up to execute whatever idea you have no matter how ridiculous.

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