By Nelly Yusupova

If you’re a non-techie hiring a techie to help with your business, you may feel like the person is speaking a different language and you’re not totally sure you are on “the same page.” Here’s some advice from the CTO of Webgrrls International and the Founder of Techspeak for Entrepreneurs.

When I speak to entrepreneurs, I often feel like a “tech doctor” listening to horror stories about their tech people and tech projects getting out of control. I have spoken to thousands of entrepreneurs in my workshops and seminars at conferences across the country.

Here are 5 common mistakes that non-tech entrepreneurs make:

  1. Not use lean startup principles. Build-Measure-Learn (…that’s the mantra of the lean startup movement. Most entrepreneurs spend a lot of time and money building features before validating whether or not that feature is actually solving a real customer problem.  By adding this step in your development process, you can ensure that you don’t waste valuable development time and money and make your customers happy.
  2. Not knowing how to wireframe. Many mistakes happen because entrepreneurs can’t clearly explain exactly what they want to build.  By learning to wireframe the details of what you want developed before starting the development of your web or mobile applications, you will be able to eliminate the guessing game and get exactly what you envisioned. You can draw wireframe layouts using PowerPoint or more sophisticated tools like Balsamiq ( or Omnigraffle ( and if you need help, you can hire a user experience designer to help you with this process.
  3. Not managing the project properly. Poor project management is the cause of many project failures.  Often, entrepreneurs let their developer go off to do the development and check in every few weeks or so…and later, when the website is not how you envisioned it and is full of bugs, you have to go back and fix it or even start over.  Lean about agile project management techniques and implement them in your company.
  4. Not questioning tech people. Most non-tech entrepreneurs treat developers like “Gods” who know it all.  In fact, most developers recommend technologies that they know, and not necessarily what’s best for the business. Ask your developers to explain why they are picking a specific solution and if there are alternatives. By creating a culture of learning, you will foster innovation within your company.
  5. Not knowing web basics. What does a server do? What are the different types of databases? What is an API? Knowing the tech jargon will allow you to stay a part of the conversation with your development team instead of being rendered to the sidelines.

Nelly Yusupova is the CTO of Webgrrls International and the Founder of Techspeak for Entrepreneurs, a 2 day intensive workshop for non-techie entrepreneurs. For more than a decade, she has built and maintained all the technology at Webgrrls and developed tech strategies for many companies to help them grow. Want to learn more? Please join her on September 20-21 for the TechSpeak for Entrepreneurs event to get the necessary tech knowledge to become more confident about starting and running your company.