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Ask Slashdot: As a Programmer/Geek, Should I Learn Business?

Soulskill posted 1 year,15 days | from the i-recommend-buying-low-and-selling-high dept.

Businesses 167

An anonymous reader writes "During my career I've always been focused on learning new technologies and trending programming languages. I've made good money at it, but I'm not sure what the next step is. I don't want to do this for the rest of my life. I'm not sure how to find a good way to transition from programmer to somebody with more responsibility. Should I learn business? It it more important to focus on personal networking? Do I step into the quagmire of marketing? I'm not sure what goals I should set, because I don't know what goals are realistic. Running my own business seems like something I'd like to do, but I'm unsure how to get from here to there. I'd appreciate advice from any fellow geeks who are making (or have made) that change."

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short answer (5, Insightful)

OutOnARock (935713) | 1 year,15 days | (#45147609)


Re:short answer (5, Insightful)

gander666 (723553) | 1 year,15 days | (#45147679)

Slightly longer answer:

The things that probably baffle you about the leadership where you are at, the decisions that seem to make no sense, and the troglodytes that seem to have power will make more sense to you after learning a bit about business.

As someone with a physics degree, who does marketing and product management, I self taught myself a lot of what is needed to function in these spheres. It isn't hard, but it will seem alien. It doesn't require more than a modicum of common sense (once you learn to not sneer at it) and the ability to do basic arithmetic. I occasionally break out a PDE to model a pricing structure, and am met with amazement (particularly when it turns out to accurately model the true system response). But I am a geek like that.

Re:short answer (5, Funny)

fair_n_hite_451 (712393) | 1 year,15 days | (#45147937)

Slightly longer answer:


Re: short answer (1)

Eugriped3z (1549589) | 1 year,14 days | (#45148693)

Alternative short answer: No... not unless you can find an alternative to what passes for biznez in Corporus Decaetum Internationalis. Learn something useful like environmental economics and find a way to fund a startup based on cooperative systems theory.

Re:short answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45147999)

I am a lowly tech-level employee in a large corporation who has hustled, cajoled, manipulated, schemed, and otherwise got his way...and not only did I get an abusive boss demoted, but I won the highest award on my company, despite my lack of education, because I bust my ass and stick up for the little-guy, and am not afraid of fighting back because I don't have a family to support and there is no way after all the documentation I collected and shoved in their face that they'd let me go with anything less than unemployment dole.

And I'll tell you this - if you don't know instinctually and through experience how to apply business knowledge, you're a lot like that clueless 18 year-old kid who thinks they'll be able to read minds after studying psychology. It doesn't work that way, and I've seen nepotist MBAs go down spectacularly, in fact as a result of my actions. It turns out that ten years' experience composing pagelong Slashdot trolls has a real-world use after all!

Sure, get an MBA if you want an instant 10K pay raise, if its worth it to you...but don't think for a fucking second that studying business alone magically makes you good at business. There's a reason why the garbage man is the most intelligent character on Dilbert.

-- Ethanol-fueled

Business is an instinctive art (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | 1 year,15 days | (#45148533)

And I'll tell you this - if you don't know instinctually and through experience how to apply business knowledge, you're a lot like that clueless 18 year-old kid who thinks they'll be able to read minds after studying psychology.

When people tell me that they are going to LEARN business I look at them with funny expression.

Business can't be learn.

Sure, some skills you can pick up here and there, but the main part of BUSINESS is still largely based on instinct.

No one can tell you when the price will go up, or if the commodity will crash.

No one can explain to you why (before launch) a product gonna sell like hot cakes.

Sure, there are a lot of after-the-effect pundits, doing their 20/20 hindsight analysis, but those are essentially useless.

What is really needed in Business, after all, is the keen sense of knowing what will happen in the future, something that Steve Jobs possessed and many others were sorely lacking.

That is why, without Mr. Jobs, Apple came out with that ridiculous "Apple Newton", and with Steve on the helm, they had their iPhone and iPad.

As a geek who went to business school ... (5, Informative)

perpenso (1613749) | 1 year,15 days | (#45148087)

After decades of software development I went to business school. Some take aways.

(1) Business school is probably not what you think. The bankers, ceos, etc making the headline news for various nefarious reasons are not practicing what they were taught in business school. They are very much like the software engineer who is taught how to write well designed maintainable and reliable code and then writes complete crap once they enter industry. You can teach people how to do the right thing but there is no guarantee they will follow through, this is true in both engineering and business. In business school you will be taught to plan for the long term, to treat your business partners well, to treat you employees well, to treat your customers well, to be socially responsible, to be ethical, etc. In other words things leading to long term company success.

(2) An MBA program is probably not what you think. An MBA program is not about accounting and financials, that is just once topic covered. An MBA program is an overview of the complete organization and its lifecycle: Entrepreneurship, strategy, product development, marketing, accounting/finance, operations, information technology, organizational behavior (people), economics, etc. You will learn to look at things from the perspective of each of these specialties. The point of doing so is not to make you an expert in any of them. You will not become an expert, however you will learn enough to understand their perspectives and to therefore be able to effectively communicate and perhaps be more persuasive in your arguments with them. You don't have to stop being an engineer. You just become an engineer with a broader perspective and more likely to persuade ceos, accountants and people in marketing.

(3) Your classmates will probably not be what you expect. Most people in an MBA program are not coming from an accounting/finance background. They actually represent a minority. About 1/3 of my class consisted of people coming from engineering and scientific backgrounds. You will have an incredibly wide set of skills and viewpoints among your classmates.

(4) You get what you reward. There is a common theme that occurs in many classes, strategy, accounting, product development, information technology, operations, etc. Many failures can be traced back to having the wrong incentives. Basically people give you the behavior you incentivize, that you reward. Not what you ask for, not even what everyone agree is good or the right thing to do. There are many lessons to be learned in business school but it is amazing how often and in how many unrelated areas this one single problem arises.

Re:As a geek who went to business school ... (1)

SlashdotOgre (739181) | 1 year,14 days | (#45148851)

This is the most accurate description of a MBA program that I have ever read on Slashdot. I am in a similar situation (I work in IT and am currently studying at Berkeley in the Evening & Weekend MBA program, my undergrad was in EE), and my experience mimics your post. The most popular undergraduate field for my class was engineering at 40% followed by Business/Econ at 24%. We have a myriad of backgrounds from medical doctors to restaurants, and virtually everyone I have met means well and isn't trying to screw society to make a buck. Core courses (basically GEs) covered everything from microeconomics to corporate strategy to ethics.

Overall I'd recommend anyone who criticizes MBAs to try and reserve judgment until you have a chance to go sit in on a class at a good school. I believe that you will be surprised at what it's like, who you meet, and you might even change your opinion.

Re:As a geek who went to business school ... (4, Insightful)

ErichTheRed (39327) | 1 year,14 days | (#45148907)

I have a serious question. Maybe I've been working for dysfunctional organizations too much, but I've noticed a different MBA pattern.

How do you explain the hordes of McKinsey/Accenture/pwc/BCG/Bain "consultants" who walk into a business and proclaim to the execs that they have all the answers? Usually, these consultants are in their late 20s, got their MBA right after their undergrad years, never worked anything more complex than a retail job, and are immediately hired to dispense advice. I've also seen that the MBA gives new grads at least a manager job starting out, often never having worked in the field the company is in. That "MBAs can manage anything" mindset is a killer in technical job roles, and has led to me working on some miserable projects. Of course, there are exceptions, but why does the MBA automatically qualify someone as a manager any more than a paper technical certification conveys proficiency with a product?

If MBAs really aren't taught "bad management skills," what is it that corrupts them and causes the disastrous short term thinking epidemic in companies these days?

Re:As a geek who went to business school ... (5, Insightful)

ranton (36917) | 1 year,14 days | (#45149055)

what is it that corrupts them and causes the disastrous short term thinking epidemic in companies these days?

As the parent mentioned, they are immediately given incentives that reward short term thinking. If they don't grasp for short term solutions, they don't reach a VP position by the time they are 40. It is an endemic condition found throughout our entire economic system.

Re:As a geek who went to business school ... (1)

khallow (566160) | 1 year,14 days | (#45149089)

How do you explain the hordes of McKinsey/Accenture/pwc/BCG/Bain "consultants" who walk into a business and proclaim to the execs that they have all the answers?

Conflict of interest. They have a product to sell.

Re:As a geek who went to business school ... (5, Insightful)

sydneyfong (410107) | 1 year,14 days | (#45149179)

How do you explain the hordes of McKinsey/Accenture/pwc/BCG/Bain "consultants" who walk into a business and proclaim to the execs that they have all the answers?

Some people believe in magic(k). So you find overqualified (on paper) people to pretend to be magicians and sell them snake oil and pixie dust.

"MBAs can manage anything" mindset is a killer in technical job roles

I'd wager that in many non-technical, "commoditized" industries, this is actually true. If your job is to trade oranges, you're not going to set up a multimillion dollar R&D facility to make better oranges. Instead, you just try to source the cheapest oranges, and market it as if they were premium products and pocket the difference. Everyone knows what an orange looks like, and how to deal with them, so you just fire the expensive employees and hire a bunch of unskilled workers at minimum wage. Any on-the-job skill required would be picked up in a week by those workers -- there's nothing complicated about oranges.

That's how the vast majority of businesses are done. When the CEO of the oranges trading company jumps to a textile company making commodity (non-designer) clothes, it's pretty much the same thing. Sell off the factory, buy cheap stuff from China, put your brand on it and market it like crazy. Then they wonder why people look at them funny when they move to a tech company and their first act is to sell off the billion dollar R&D facility and fire all the employees working there. Just get a team in India to do that programming stuff, right?

That being said, while you can laugh at the ignorance of most of the MBAs, technically oriented people (eg. slashdotters) are often just as clueless when it comes to the business side. That's why it's really hard to find a right CEO or exec for a tech company -- they have to know both worlds really well.

Re:As a geek who went to business school ... (1)

Anonymous Meoward (665631) | 1 year,14 days | (#45149001)

Excellent response! I found my MBA program to be a very engaging - and challenging may I add. I managed to engage with all sorts of people from various professions, many very technical.

In short, I gained a perspective that otherwise never would have attained on my own. I recommend it highly.

One caveat: In my finance and operations courses (where geeks tend to gravitate), my professors were a bit impatient with me when I would ask questions that probed too deeply into the subject matter. (Not so accounting however.) The mindset in B-school is a bit different. You're not being asked to know exactly how something works, but how you can apply it in the real world. It's the difference between knowing how to rip apart an engine, and knowing how to drive an F1 racer.

And it's also a MASSIVE networking opportunity. Know and befriend your classmates and professors, and understand that everyone there will want to help you succeed, as you do them.

Re:short answer (4, Insightful)

trout007 (975317) | 1 year,15 days | (#45148157)

It is always helpful to know how what you do affects the companies profits. When I worked in the private sector that was the question I would ask my boss at review time. It is a good check to see if your boss knows what they are doing. It's simple to ask "how does my performance affect our bottom line?" What can I do in the next performance review period to help this company make more money?" "How do we measure this?" "Can I get a reward based on these measurements?"

I have never worked for a boss that could answer these questions. I assume someone somewhere could have. But at least I knew then it was a dead end job with this guy in charge.

Re:short answer (1)

dbIII (701233) | 1 year,14 days | (#45149041)

will make more sense to you after learning a bit about business

At which point you need to resist the urge to cry when you find out that some of those people you've forgiven for their lack of any technical grasp due to a supposition that they are good at business turn out to be crap at that too. Nepotism is a curse on many workplaces.

Re:short answer (1)

MijaDeus (304400) | 1 year,15 days | (#45147701)


Hey I was gonna say that!

Re:short answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45147875)

If the subject matter doesn't bore you to death.

Re:short answer (4, Insightful)

todrules (882424) | 1 year,15 days | (#45148365)

If you're a real geek, the answer is always yes when it comes to learning new things. It doesn't matter what it is.

Re:short answer (1)

Spazmania (174582) | 1 year,14 days | (#45148963)

Yes! You absolutely should learn business!

Not so you can do it yourself: by now you know what work you like to do. Why rob yourself of what makes you happy?

Learn so you can understand the folks you work with for whom the business side is their source of joy. They'll notice. And enough of them will repay the favor to expand your opportunities to do the work *you* enjoy.

Longer Answer (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45147647)

No; if you have to ask, you're too stupid to learn it.

Could one of us Slashdotters please (1)

Macchendra (2919537) | 1 year,15 days | (#45147649)

write a script (not even worth real code) to replace MBAs once and for all?

Re:Could one of us Slashdotters please (2)

egcagrac0 (1410377) | 1 year,15 days | (#45147911)

Halfway: Buzzword Bingo []

Tech Management? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45147663)

Are you looking to climb the ladder on the tech side or completely move to something non-tech like marketing, sales, HR, etc.?

I've had good results in getting opportunities to manage and lead tech teams because I have spent a good bit of time pursuing business goals. The goals themselves have not been successful but being someone who would take on the responsibility of making a business work gives you a good start in conversations about moving up the ladder on the tech side.

Re:Tech Management? (3, Insightful)

Irishman (9604) | 1 year,15 days | (#45147755)

Even without wanting to move to a non-tech area or become management, understanding the business side of things gives insight into how/why decisions get made. It can also allow you to make calls as to which features you will implement when faced with a limited budget or other item not related to the technology. I have found it allows me to make better decisions based on pragmatic reasons and fight the fights that are really important, rather than wasting time on something that is technically not overly important but to a business person is apparently critical.

Take care to not let the business-think take over your mind though, you may wake screaming from the cognitive dissonance that seems to be a requirement for senior business people to operate.

Re:Tech Management? (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | 1 year,15 days | (#45148017)

Plus it helps with communications. Customers and end users are not used to framing their requirements in a technical fashion.

On the other hand I am not sure you should study “business” – that covers a pretty wide range of activities. Figure out what you want to do. Running a team is one thing, marketing is another.

Lastly, if you go for a MBA find a good night school that requires their students to work full time. The “full time” might seem to be an odd requirement but it means your fellow students will be your peers - mid career professionals. Less theory in a vacuum and more practical applications of theory in the real world.

Re:Tech Management? (5, Insightful)

Lennie (16154) | 1 year,15 days | (#45148211)

Most businesses are doing it wrong.

Instead of moving smart people from being productive to management-type functions and get payed more, they should pay the more productive people more.

As Gabe Newell from Valve puts it: Management is a skill, not a career path.

Sure (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45147671)

.. If you enjoy losing your soul.

Brush up on the art of backstabbing, lying through your teeth, fake smiles, and keeping up appearances and you'll be successful in business.

Oh, you just want to deal in local business? Don't want to get tangled up in the politics of a large national or multinational and want to stay in your local community? Well then the above goes double. (Triple if you're involved in local politics)

Re:Sure (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | 1 year,15 days | (#45147795)

Brush up on the art of backstabbing, lying through your teeth, fake smiles, and keeping up appearances and you'll be successful in business.

Keeping Up Appearances [] may not be as much help as you suggest, especially if your family doesn't cooperate.

Re:Sure (1)

grcumb (781340) | 1 year,15 days | (#45148299)

.. If you enjoy losing your soul.

Brush up on the art of backstabbing, lying through your teeth, fake smiles, and keeping up appearances and you'll be successful in business.

The fact that you've been modded Flamebait for offering an honest, unvarnished (and embittered) opinion is, ironically, the strongest supporting evidence you could have asked for.

It's hard for some of us to come to terms with a world where much of what we do and say isn't dictated by deterministic, defined and empirically measurable phenomena. It takes a great deal of effort and learning to begin to understand what motivates people, how to deal with the vagaries and, importantly, how to get money from them.

But nothing I've seen convinces me that business school is a better place than any other to learn these things. Assuming you're a smart, agile-minded person with a modicum of dedication, most MBA programs won't challenge you in any serious way. So if you're willing to devote a year or two to really coming to grips with the world around you, I'd recommend working overseas, as far from home as you can reasonably go. It will pull you so far out of your frame that you'll see humans and their motivations in a different light. Learning how money comes from these insights is a pretty straightforward thing once you've got that.

What is your goal? (2)

techno-vampire (666512) | 1 year,15 days | (#45147677)

What is it that you really want to be? Do you want to be a businessman? (or woman, but then, this is Slashdot after all) If so, by all means study business. Do you want to be a project manager, or do some other type of management? If so, study that. Until you know what you want to do with the rest of your life, nobody can tell you what to study, and once you do, you won't need to ask.

Re:What is your goal? (3, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | 1 year,15 days | (#45147899)

Every person not working for a wage is a business person, and needs to understand taxes, business law, accounting, and ethics.

If you want to earn a way, there's nothing wrong with that, but many people are in small business, freelance, do projects as freelancers, and never see a W2/W4. And you'll need to know what a 1099 is, how to do accounting and why and when, and so forth.

It ought to be mandatory. Being a programmer is a discipline and business is how the world works. You need to know both.

Re:What is your goal? (0)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | 1 year,15 days | (#45148191)

and ethics.

Ethics are important. Most MBA programs include courses on ethics. Most popular, is the course titled, "Ethics . . . and How to Avoid Them"

Re:What is your goal? (1)

mysidia (191772) | 1 year,15 days | (#45148245)

any people are in small business, freelance, do projects as freelancers, and never see a W2/W4. And you'll need to know what a 1099 is, how to do accounting and why and when, and so forth.

Yes, but many people want to outsource these functions, so they don't have to deal with them.

If you can outsource these tasks to be handled by less technically advanced folks: Why should you have to deal with all these issues, instead of doing what you love --- designing and implementing great software?

Spending all that time on business issues, would detract from the quality of the code!

Re:What is your goal? (2)

postbigbang (761081) | 1 year,14 days | (#45148897)

You're in denial. While you weren't watching, bad things happened to you and around you. Better to know than remain "blissfully ignorant". Rockstar coders get their clocked cleaned, often by moves that result in hideous taxes.

Re:What is your goal? (1)

mysidia (191772) | 1 year,14 days | (#45149103)

Rockstar coders get their clocked cleaned, often by moves that result in hideous taxes.

What's that supposed to mean?

Taxes are what you hire accountants and tax attorneys to help you deal with.

Re:What is your goal? (2)

postbigbang (761081) | 1 year,14 days | (#45149129)

Keep thinking like a rockstar. Lots of them end up broke at death. Why? Because they thought they were too cool to audit what's going on, and paid a lot of attorneys fees, interest, penalties, and otherwise left it to someone else, instead of being responsible for themselves, which ultimately, we all are, and personally.

You plan in advance about taxes, assets, and how they move back and forth, and affect you. Unless you're a gamer or an embedded systems coder, you have to deal with the real world, and not fantasy. Business education, even the mild stuff, gives you a heads up about who's about throw you a curve, and how the rest of the world must treat real world transactions.

You can pay lots to other people to do your work and get good value. But you have to have sufficient background to know you're not getting hideously overcharged, or are turning your finances and assets into crap.

Re:What is your goal? (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | 1 year,14 days | (#45149139)

I certainly studied computer science because I did NOT want to be a business person. I never once have ever had to do any accounting in an engineering job in 30 years (though in a summer manual job in college I had to). Similarly, I have never had to do taxes or law with regards to engineering (other than waiting for legal department to clear up some paperwork). I only have to deal with my personal taxes and personal legal issues and personal accounting. I'd only have to deal with that ugly stuff if I was running my own business (at which point I'd start sending out resumes so I could stop the nightmare of having my own business).

Now of course there's often cause to interact with the business side of things, as in cooperating with other groups like QA, manufacturing, customer support, regulations, shipping, and so forth. Most of all of that is common sense and some very basic research.

Re:What is your goal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,14 days | (#45148869)

Every person not working for a wage is a business person, and needs to understand taxes, business law, accounting, and ethics.

If you want to earn a way, there's nothing wrong with that, but many people are in small business, freelance, do projects as freelancers, and never see a W2/W4. And you'll need to know what a 1099 is, how to do accounting and why and when, and so forth.

It ought to be mandatory. Being a programmer is a discipline and business is how the world works. You need to know both.

Yeah, but everyone is also supposed to sign up with Toastmasters for public speaking practice, be proactive in meeting new people AND touching base with acquaintances from previous companies and from college, spend more time with their families, get an hour of cardiovascular exercise each day, four strength training sessions each week, twenty minutes of stretching, taking proactive care of their houses, cars, bicycles, pets (if any), and financial savings, spend thirty minutes at the beginning of each day getting organized and making lists (this one was obviously recommended by someone who naturally wakes up around 6 AM), read good fiction, travel and learn foreign languages like Mandarin Chinese, get personally involved in working with the community and people in need, etc.

And still manage to hold down a professional job and do at least some of things you want to do (would do without any prompting).

Look people, the advice is well meaning but there are only so many hours in a day.

Re:What is your goal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45148071)

This. There are no automatically correct answers, it all depends on priorities. The person asking the question should make a list of all their career goals and then pick 1-3 to optimize around. All others become nice to haves. If the decision on what to learn next doesn't shake out from that, then you can ask the question in a more directed fashion. "I'm a coder, should I learn business?" won't get you productive replies. "I'm a coder that wants to move into technical leadership and team management, what skills on the business side should I learn?" will get you much better ones. But they'll be different from, "I'm a coder who wants to start my own company, what skills should I focus on?", "I'm a coder who wants to move to technical recruiting, where should I focus my learning?" or "I'm a coder who wants to move into product management, what should I learn?"

All of those questions are subsets of the original question from the submitter and yet the answers to all of them will probably be wrong if they're not the question that the submitter really wants answered.

Re:What is your goal? (2)

InfiniteZero (587028) | 1 year,14 days | (#45148637)

Here's a secret: what you find interesting and exciting while you are 20 year old, and therefore "want to do with the rest of your life", may be vastly different 20 years later.

It's called personal growth, and the trick is to constantly reinvent yourself.

Tech Management? (1)

stcorbett (1712020) | 1 year,15 days | (#45147687)

Re-posting non-anonymously: Are you looking to climb the ladder on the tech side or completely move to something non-tech like marketing, sales, HR, etc.? I've had good results in getting opportunities to manage and lead tech teams because I have spent a good bit of time pursuing business goals. The goals themselves have not been successful but being someone who would take on the responsibility of making a business work gives you a good start in conversations about moving up the ladder on the tech side.

Absolutely! (2)

stox (131684) | 1 year,15 days | (#45147721)

If nothing else, it is an important part of a well rounded education. It will help you personally and professionally.

MOOC or Degree (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45148493)

You should absolutely learn this stuff, but the question is do you do it for free or get a degree and a network. I would recommend going 80-100K in debt; however, if you can get an employer to pay for it, I would recommend this: it's a nice part time program with plenty of resources to help you start your own business.

If you can get into a top tier business school, then paying full price makes sense, otherwise, go part time and don't pay more than 40K.

To some degree... (2)

Millennium (2451) | 1 year,15 days | (#45147725)

It's useful to know enough about these things that you can discuss the basics with the people you work with. That said, you do not need a degree in marketing to speak marketer, and you do not need an MBA to speak boss.

Re:To some degree... (2)

mysidia (191772) | 1 year,15 days | (#45148263)

That said, you do not need a degree in marketing to speak marketer, and you do not need an MBA to speak boss.

Personally; I think the main reason to get a MBA is to be able to effectively refute arguments made by clueless MBAs to $do_stupid_thing_X based on $short_term_focused_reason_Y, at the cost of $long_term_damage_of_nature_Z, Q, and R.

Re:To some degree... (1)

roeguard (1113267) | 1 year,14 days | (#45148695)

I wish I had mod points to boost this up. This is exactly why I went to B-school.

Re: To some degree... (1)

Eugriped3z (1549589) | 1 year,14 days | (#45148961)

It also means you need to know a little about nature as well, knowledge it's sometimes difficult to develop in a technology smitten world.

Which is the dependent variable, technology or nature? Which one can be perfected? If you can answer the last one, please don't study business.

Re:To some degree... (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | 1 year,14 days | (#45149147)

And as everyone here may have learned through experience, a manager of a group of programmers does not need to know the first thing about computers.

Yes! (4, Informative)

David Betz (2845597) | 1 year,15 days | (#45147735)

This is part of the modern fundamentals of the liberal arts: trivium, quadrivium, then everyone should also know how to physically use a computer (desktop/laptop and tablet variants), know how to make a document/make a spreadsheet/use the internet, know some HTML, know how to run a business, know how to do your taxes (without killing yourself), know when to contact an attorney (as important as 911 these days), and know how to change a tire. These are BASIC skills... and at this point you are smarter than a fifth grader!

Re:Yes! (2)

mysidia (191772) | 1 year,15 days | (#45148267)

know when to contact an attorney (as important as 911 these days)

Hm... perhaps you should just say to h**** with the business stuff, and start studying law, then.

Wouldn't it be better to be the attorney; then you would rarely need to contact one ?

Re:Yes! (2)

w_dragon (1802458) | 1 year,14 days | (#45148697)

A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.

Sure, why not (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45147749)

Do you enjoy development? Then get more involved in process. Get fluent in stuff like agile methodologies. Agile is slowly growing outside the development context.

Minor in business or get an MBA later (2)

bhlowe (1803290) | 1 year,15 days | (#45147751)

Sure, get a business minor and/or an MBA. Especially if you like the business side of things. I have a minor in business, and got a major in CS. I've been very happy with my education and run a small software business. Or you can teach yourself these things by just reading books and listening to lectures, but that is harder to "sell" on a resume unless you can back it up with job experience...

No! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45148055)

No MBA, yet! A MBA is NOT a ticket into management.

What the asker should try to do - if he's employed - is talk to his boss about his goal of getting into management.

Ask for supervidory/team lead type of duties. Take the initiaive and actually lead.

Then and only then, if a MBA is required to keep your job or not having one is holding your back, THEN get one - and if your employer pays for it, all the better.p/.The order is: get into managment and then get MBA if needed - and ONLY if it's needed to keep your job.

No brainer (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45147753)

Learn business. Understand it. Realize that you are swimming with sharks and learn to understand their behavior, or you will be eaten.

I'll answer this to the best of my ability (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45147761)

YES you FOOL!! The longer you second guess yourself the longer you won't be successful at it. Doubt and fear lead to nowhere and eventually nothing.

Work out where you want to go (3, Interesting)

powerspike (729889) | 1 year,15 days | (#45147773)

The first thing you need to do - is work out what you want to do.

Then you can start getting your skills together - and plans.

However in saying that, networking is always important, regardless if you want to start a business, or get into the higher rungs of management - no body is going to want your skills and services if they don't know about them.

If you want to start your own business, remember there is things like start up cash (you'll be running at a lose for a while - even a year or two if you don't have clients to start with), you'll need to be able to market your business to the right people

Are you going SaaS?
Are you creating software to sell in volume, or are you going to do custom work for every client?
Have chosen a vertical industry to go into?

Re:Work out where you want to go (2)

timeOday (582209) | 1 year,15 days | (#45148491)

"The first thing you need to do - is work out what you want to do."

Except you don't really know until you've tried it! Instead of diving in head first, I'd suggest seeking opportunities to wade in, being patient if necessary (up to a point). "I have a friend" (ahem) who took a temporary management position, and learned it was not for him. Granted, this leaves him with no clear career path, shaking up his expectations of the future. But at least he gained some perspective without burning any bridges.

Re:Work out where you want to go (1)

powerspike (729889) | 1 year,15 days | (#45148573)

I have been business for a while now, alot of people seem to take up the mantra "build it and they will come". It isn't like that at all. You need to network, let people know what you are doing, or willing to do, if you can't work out what to do to start with - people will start to ask you - as long as you keep networking. When that starts happening - you can start to work it out.

If you don't know your destination - you don't know how to get there - this is so true in business, if your going out on your own before you work out what you want to do - your going to go around in circles and never know how to contact - or what to build and just hope you'll get business, this is a plan for disaster.

if you like programming.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45147801)

Keep doing it. It seems like you are implying that you have moved up as high as you can as a programmer and therefore, you must move onto "business". I think this is a false assumption. Sometimes management can be a good move for some people, but for others it's not. You will have to play politics and do things you don't currently consider work. You might hate it. You also will not necessarily make more money doing it. I know of cases where a manager did not make as much as programmers that report to him/her. I'm not saying "business" is bad, but just go into it with both eyes open if that's your choice.

Sign up for Entrepreneurship 101 (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45147841)

I'm sitting in a free entrepreneurship lecture in Toronto, Ontario offered by MaRS Discovery District.
Available here:

I agree with others here: do it, you'll need it.

The course's lectures are free and archived, so there's no cost involved, just the time needed to watch and learn.

Re:Sign up for Entrepreneurship 101 (3, Interesting)

twilight30 (84644) | 1 year,15 days | (#45147857)

Sorry, I forgot to sign in.

I'm sitting in a free entrepreneurship lecture in Toronto, Ontario offered by MaRS Discovery District.
Available here: []

I agree with others here: do it, you'll need it.

The course's lectures are free and archived, so there's no cost involved, just the time needed to watch and learn.

business != MBA (0)

Pirulo (621010) | 1 year,15 days | (#45147847)

The model we have works fairly well for us. When we develop a product is either our product, or a product that somebody asked us to develop. If we find it worth it, we'll develop it charging money, and we'll keep a percentage of the company/product as well. We are learning business as we go and from a disparity of sources. But the bottom line is that good products have a marketing of their own as word of mouth is the best seller. I have a bias against college MBAs, you could just read the books and use your business as the field to apply.

Save Money! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45147871)

You don't need an MBA. if you're a programmer, just do the exact opposite of whatever you think the right solution is to a situation. That's how business people think!

For example, if you have a desire to pay people a decent wage, don't. Greedy business bastards don't. Second, if you think golden parachutes are wrong, be sure to get one.

Re:Save Money! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45148061)

Ummm.. If you are working for a greedy bastard that won't pay you, I STRONGLY suggest you find out what you should be paid, then either ask for a raise or failing that, find another job. DON'T keep working there for less than you should for a day longer than necessary.

Don't confuse Business and Marketing (1)

mexsudo (2905137) | 1 year,15 days | (#45147889)

Business can be learned, but like all things it is better to learn that in your pre-teen years and continues for a life time. Marketing is something you are born with... you can learn it but the innate talent (?) has to come first. Yes, learn business!!!

I did (1)

Mark of THE CITY (97325) | 1 year,15 days | (#45147917)

At UCSD, I majored in Computer Engineering and minored in Business Economics. This combines lower division economics, and upper division accounting. It does help me think of money and time's value to managers, and understand the jargon of the business world.

I really really hate to say this... (2)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | 1 year,15 days | (#45147933)

But yes you should get the bulk (or entirety) of what makes an MBA under your belt; just don't drink the kool-aid. I really don't like people who only have an MBA. But having a real skill plus an MBA is pretty powerful stuff. Quite simply I have seen a zillion people build awesome stuff (me included) and just not market it very well or at all. And then I have seen people with complete dog poo for a product market the product into being set for life. Guess which skillset the later had and the former didn't have? This is not just marketing but being able to communicate with those moneyed types such as investors and banks.

At the same time financial training is not a magic bullet. I have seen highly educated CFOs get completely hosed by well concocted financial set-ups.

As I said, don't drink the kool-aid. The worst symptom of a useless MBA is that they are able to manipulate reality through very convincing reports and excellent spread sheets. A recent example of this behavior would be the MS Windows phone OS. MS made every effort to make it look like it was gaining real traction; I even remember one article where they were breathlessly predicting that it would have over 50% of the smart phone market by about 2014. Even when sales were abysmal they started quoting numbers like units shipped or quoting the first day sales as a comparison to other phones.

With good business training you will learn to bend the market into accepting your awesome product. With the same training you might even fool the market into buying your worthless product. But with only technical training you should be prepared to be the only user of your awesome product.

Join a Start-Up (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45147949)

Start-ups provide exposure to many aspects of business (with more focus on results and less politics and backstabbing). Find your passion and follow it.

Programming IS Business (0)

MrKaos (858439) | 1 year,15 days | (#45147951)

If you don't understand Business, then you are a limited programmer. Programming taught me business and understanding business processes is how a programmer markets themselves to a business. If you aren't smart enough to understand business, you have no business in in IT.

Watch Ted.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45147959)

This might answer your question...

By working in business you learn business (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45147973)

If you work in a commercial software company you will notice that business is the business you are in (if your company is destined to stay in business for any length of time).

As you get more experience you will see bad decisions being made that cost money, and (hopefully) good decisions being made that make money and vastly improve efficiency and give a competetive advantage (Note : you will have to work for several companies to be able to evaluate this as comparing the good and bad needs perspective).

To evolve from programmer to businessman you need to fall out of love with your favourite "today's magic bullet" technologies to be able to settle on a money making approach that will beat the competition. Easy.

Except that you then need to stay ahead of the curve without heading down what hindsight will label a technological dead end. Good luck, you're asking the right questions so I hope you make it.

Pursue passion... (1)

RJFerret (1279530) | 1 year,15 days | (#45147981)

Business will help you no matter what you get in to. It's worthwhile, but if you don't care about it, you won't invest yourself in it and really appreciate it.

Sales/marketing takes more natural ability than book teaching in my experience. Here you REALLY have to have a desire for it, or you get burned out quickly and hate your job.

Starting your own business requires some level of knowledge of both, as well as finance/economics, or complementing your team with those knowledgeable/trustworthy where you lack.

So you have figured out what you are currently doing isn't your passion, now figure out what IS your passion. The only reason I was happy with the career I've had is because the day to day job I enjoyed, in all aspects of my career, including current. Explore other venues, talk to friends, see what excites you, then pursue what permits you to be involved in that.

(I've managed multiple businesses, owned a tiny company [short-lived], then worked for others in creative fields, now manage property investments and wear multiple hats, none of which required even my high school diploma, heh.)

The other trick is to find something fulfilling that capitalizes on skills you have in other ways. Also, ask friends what they see you possibly doing other than what you are doing. I encouraged a friend to become a childrens' librarian over a decade ago, she's been enjoying that work ever since. Another friend is in the process of transitioning his career to reselling/auctioning, totally up his alley.

PS: Networking is required/a given in all options, to various degrees, so it's not a separate consideration.

Priorities (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45147995)

The crucial skill you must learn as a manager, is to convince developers that managers have more responsibility than developers, when in fact they have far less.

Since yours apparently succeeded with you, you should be able to refer to your managers for specifically how they managed to convince you of the standard falsehood.

The manager deals only with the summary level, that is, about a hundredth to a thousandth of the conceptual detail you need to create a functional system, and need not ever actually do such a thing, or know the preconditions to even being able to do such a thing. Should anything go wrong, it will be you and your detailed, 1000-shifting-elements essential mental model that will bear the blame, not his 10-item, no-analysis-needed-or-done "business" model of the same system.

Really, I think you should consider this as much a moral decision as a financial one. The world needs engineers making real products by mentally-intensive means, not managers chatting idly about real products by effort-free means.

If there's one piece of advice I can suggest as forewarning after 20+ years, the greatest threat you can be presented with for your career and general well-being, is Responsibility Without Necessary Authority. Moving "up the corporate ladder" won't help you entirely avoid this dilemma, so whatever "level" you are at, understand this game.

Re:Priorities (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45148053)

You clearly have no idea what a manager does for a living. You're just another bitter, elitist who believes they know everything and thinks managers are just a bunch of idiots (while they are actually responsible for making sure there is money to pay your salary).

Re:Priorities (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45148125)

No, -by definition- I am there to be responsible for making sure there is money to pay -their- (the managers') salaries. That's why I was hired in the first place, that's how capitalism works. -By definition- I must make more than I cost, and both of us know where the value is being actually created.

I have dealt with managers at all levels, team leads to CEO's, and have been a manager myself. I know clearly the standard rap, am well beyond being convinced by it, and as I said, the decision of where one chooses to be and do as their core day-to-day activity is primarily a moral decision.

Paid to Program? Know Business or Accounting (1)

ndrw (205863) | 1 year,15 days | (#45148081)

Look, if you want to get paid to program, you're going to need to know something about the business or organization you work in. In a ton of cases, that means knowing some accounting, organizational structure, and the actual goals of the business. For anyone who can actually program, that should be too hard.

YES! Definitely yes! (2)

williamyf (227051) | 1 year,15 days | (#45148129)

I remember when I was a young engineer. I got promoted through the ranks quickly, and at some point faced the same quagmire as you. What I ended up doing was to take a program of marketing management. Two months, Friday all day and Sat mornings for a month and a half to get a taste of the discipline (I was exposed to economy and accounting at the University, 12 weeks each, and lots of reading on economy, administration, etc). After that brief and non compromising stint, I realized that there were more nuances to marketing than what could be anticipated, and that the whole "Business" field was VERY interesting to me. Therefore, I went and did a full time MBA.

If you are gonna learn on your own (which I do not recommend), try to read the classics, Kotler on marketing management, rice & trout for positioning, etc. No Wikipedia or "Business for dummies" for you.

If you are going to take (a) short course(s) on the subject, go to reputable schools (I did the Short stint at IESA, not high in the world rankings, but best in my country, and did my MBA at IE in Madrid), while there are no hard and fast guarantees, going to reputable institutions will raise the possibility of being exposed to great teachers. Try to go for classroom courses, is harder, but you will build your "networking thingie" much better.

There is no guarantee that doing an MBA will improve your situation. But it would be hell to sign up for an MBA and discovering that you HATE "Business", and ALSO it would also be a grave mistake to decide "What you want to do" without at least a glance of what this "Business" thing is all about.

CFA instead of MBA? (1)

DavidHumus (725117) | 1 year,15 days | (#45148161)

I work in areas of quantitive finance and have found the CFA charter to be very worthwhile. It briefly covers some of the subject matter of an MBA but is more oriented toward analysis which may be a good fit to a geek mind-set.

It's not an easy program - first, because it's largely self-study and second, because each of the three successive levels of the test has about a 50% pass rate. However, the self-study aspect also means it's far less expensive than most academic business degrees. Also, the rigorousness of the test makes it a highly-valued credential.

You can find out more at the site of the CFA Institute: [] .

Re:CFA instead of MBA? (1)

sydneyfong (410107) | 1 year,14 days | (#45149215)

I thought that in order to qualify you had to have some years of experience in a financially related industry?

I know the exams are f[r]ee for all though.

Go all in (1)

TheloniousToady (3343045) | 1 year,15 days | (#45148189)

I think it's best to go "all in" - or not go in at all. If you want to get an MBA or other business education, make a commitment to it. However, most technical managers I know have no real business education and they do just fine in The Big Corporation. So a business education is helpful but not necessary.

Likewise, if you want to start your own business, go all in. I've operated a part-time home software business for the last 15 years which has been modestly successful. However, since I do 100% of everything myself, it ultimately can't grow beyond a certain level without more commitment of time and energy than I can give to it. I don't regret the way it's worked out, but it has never allowed me to quit my day job - as I had originally hoped.

An "all in" approach to starting a business would be to quit your day job, then sink or swim. A business education might be helpful, but if you're good at learning new skills, you don't need to get a degree for that. There's plenty you can learn through self study - and also from the school of hard knocks. In my case, I had to learn lots of little skills of both a technical and business nature, including various software skills, web site design/administration, software publishing, marketing, and basic business skills in accounting, taxes, and legal. For example, whenever I do a contract, I write it myself and then pay a lawyer to check it over and spruce it up.

I honestly don't think there's any degree that covers all that. OTOH, if you're more serious about your business than I am, you'd probably pay people to do most of that stuff for you. In fact, the highly successful entrepreneurs of the world recognize that they can't do 100% of everything and are adept at finding people to do it for them. And they go all in.

Yes, to an extent (4, Insightful)

jwthompson2 (749521) | 1 year,15 days | (#45148213)

The answer depends on where you want your career to go. But, regardless I would say that all programmers should invest the time to understand the business they work for so that they can best serve the interests of their employer. This is different from getting an MBA or studying business in the general sense. Programmers need to understand the problems that their company deals with, otherwise they're not going to see the best solutions.

As an example I currently work for a company that manufactures packaged food products. As the lead developer it is part of my job to understand how the business operates; from how our inventory is managed, to how our customers pay us, to how our shipping personnel process incoming and outgoing items. Understanding this and talking to people in all these areas allows me to spot inefficiencies and address problems, sometimes before others realize they are a big deal. That means I can help put technology to work in a way that makes our business more efficient, which leads to better profits and happy bosses and better compensation for myself and those I work with.

Unless all you ever want to be is a low-rung developer, or if you don't have any desire to stay with the company you're with long-term; then it always makes sense to get to know your business, and it will make you a more valuable employee.

Business Needs More People That Understand Tech... (1)

mcwop (31034) | 1 year,15 days | (#45148253)

and how it is applied. I am in business and got my programming certs in Java and VB. It has helped me immensely, becuase too many business people don't understand the complexities of tech and see it as a panacea for everything.

my answer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45148255)

Yes learn business - the same way you learned to walk and learned to ride a bicycle. By doing it firsthand. Not by paying a school.

I know several (10) successful people who make anywhere from $10k a week to $100k a month if not more. Most of them don't even have college degrees.

Suggested biz books: (1)

capaslash (941889) | 1 year,15 days | (#45148287)

1) "How to Get Rich," by Felix Dennis 2) "Screw it, Let's do it," by Richard Branson

do NOT start your own business now. Project mngmnt (2)

raymorris (2726007) | 1 year,15 days | (#45148301)

Absolutely do NOT start your own business at this point. The first few years of starting a business typically means working 60 hours doing alot of business management and adminsistration. Unless you have a passion for either a) tax forms or b) working until 2AM because the buck stops with you, starting and running a business probably isn't your optimal choice. That's especially true if you'd have any employees. There's a lot of crap involved in being an employer. Without employees, you still have to run the company, so while you're doing the quarterly taxes, who is serving the customers?

Check into project management. There are certifications available. After a few years of managing projects, you'll have some clue if you'd want to manage a company and how to manage a company.

PS - I've run businesses my whole life (3, Insightful)

raymorris (2726007) | 1 year,15 days | (#45148353)

BTW, the comment above is from someone who has run businesses my entire life, helped several other people start businesses, and whose clients and mostly small businesses. I just sold one of my companies, which is the second time I've sold a business. Now I have one left (Clonebox). So it's not that I'm saying starting and running a business is a bad thing - it's just not right for YOU right NOW.

When I was about eight years old I put an ad in the newspaper selling replacement window screens. I'd go to your home or business (on my bicycle) and make custom fit window screens. I have a passion for starting new businesses, and don't mind working until 2AM doing that. I also enjoy running them, being the "buck stops here" guy, even though that means the buck stops with me at 2AM, I'm the one who has to get up and drive 90 miles to the datacenter or whatever. From what you've said, you really don't know if you have any interest in business. In that case, starting one would be like getting married without ever going on a date.

Other Departments (1)

loom_weaver (527816) | 1 year,15 days | (#45148337)

Absolutely yes and at least become familiar with other departments at your company. It will really make you appreciate the roles that sales, marketing, technical support, product management, professional services, accounting, legal, etc. play.

As for myself I transitioned from pure development into professional services (customer-facing post-sales installation, training, integrations, trouble-shooting). As much as I liked development I'm finding I'm really good at this role even though I consider myself an introvert. This group works really close with sales and technical support and I've learned a lot about those departments.

Benefits include: travel to exotic places, exposure to many companies (good networking opportunity), short-term projects with rapid closure, more time and brain energy to pursue personal projects, and very importantly: I'm no longer part of a cost-center i.e. when billable I'm making the company money! It offers some protection against off-shoring.

Drawbacks include: travel, no social life, and I miss hard-core development.

I realize that this may not be the path you intend to become an entrepreneur but relaying my experience for the benefit of others.

Learn the language (1)

WoodstockJeff (568111) | 1 year,15 days | (#45148357)

Learning how business works should be a high school basic class. If you are involved with programming beyond the "here's a spec, write code to match it" level, being able to communicate with users in their own terms will make your life SO much easier!

As others have pointed out, it will help you with the "big picture".

If you're writing software to be used by businesses, understanding what is important to them affects what you develop. It is easy for someone to write a detailed specification of what someone THINKS they want. It is easy to write software to match that spec. But, how do you deal with the aftermath of finding out what was really being asked? "Why are we generating a daily report on information that is only available on a weekly basis?" "Why are we generating a weekly report, when the data changes by the hour?" Without a background in business, those questions would not occur to you.

Software people are often isolated from the people who use software by a common language, to borrow an old line. Learning about business, even without going to get a degree, will help you understand when words don't mean what you think they mean.

Probably (1)

mendax (114116) | 1 year,14 days | (#45148659)

When I was a lonely undergrad and not studying for my degree in what they now call MIS because I was too busy writing code the department chair of all people gave me a great piece of advice that I have never forgotten and it has paid off on at least one occasion. He told me the being a coder is all well and good but the people who really get the jobs are those who can code AND are competent in some other area as well.

One job I got in the late 90's with a library software vendor was specifically because I knew the true evil that lurks in the way libraries use computers thanks to a masters degree in library science I obtained. I knew the terminology and actually knew something about cataloging and automated library systems having done it in grad school using their products. The fact that I knew Java at a time when not many people did all helped as well.

The job have now is, ironically, the one I've always wanted but didn't get after getting my BS because I didn't specialize at first. However, I have a lot of experience in the Java world, something they don't have, and I had to take a big pay cut (it's the government) in order to do this work without a lot of experience in the corporate world.

Everybody should (1)

gspec (2710477) | 1 year,14 days | (#45148663)

learn how business works. The level of learning depends on your interest. Do you really want to start your own business? Or you just don't want to do technical stuffs anymore. Just want to share: I don't want to own a business because I grew up poor and now I am very afraid of losing money and back to being broke. So I fall in the latter category. After more than 10 years doing the grunt works, I understand enough the big picture of my industry to make reasonable decisions and to lead a small group of people to complete projects. I'm just waiting for the right opportunity right now to move up to management.

Hire a boss (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,14 days | (#45148769)

When I started a business, I hired someone to handle the business side of things while I handled the technical. Not that I didn't understand business, but I understood that my talent was tech. I could do a lot more of what brought in the cash if I hired someone else to do all the non-technical stuff. She was officially my boss, but I owned the business. The business also looked a lot more professional by having more than one person and a division of talents and responsibilities.

It worked really great for a while. She was great with building the business, handling clients, accounting, payroll, etc. Unfortunately, she was embezzling. So I had to fire my boss.

did that, but hire 0 or 3+ being an employer sucks (1)

raymorris (2726007) | 1 year,14 days | (#45149043)

I did something similar. That worked pretty well except it made me an EMPLOYER. It takes a lot of extra work to be an employer in the US, if you want to do it legally. The fed, state, county, and city all want a piece of you.

I just sold my business that had two employees. From now on, I won't hire anyone until I'm ready to hire at least three.

I htink you should (1)

ErichTheRed (39327) | 1 year,14 days | (#45148831)

Especially if your company's paying, you should do it. If nothing else, it might give you perspective. I have a pretty broad background, but don't have an MBA. I'm not sure if it would help me or not but I'm never against learning something new.

That said, what is your reason for wanting to be in management, or "something more responsible?" I've been repeatedly asked to make this transition, given that I'm getting older, and so far I've been able to avoid it. Not that I mind responsibility -- I have technical authority over a very complex product at work. The reason why I don't want to go there is that I don't want to work with the equivalent of preschoolers and their people problems all day long. I would much rather be solving problems. To top it all off, if you're in a big organization, lower-to-middle management is always the first to get at least one level knocked out of the hierarchy at the first sign of trouble.

Also, consider the fact that management is not a technical job. You will never do anything remotely technical again -- which is one of the reasons I'm avoiding it. Your job will be to delegate tasks to your staff, something I've never been comfortable with, and you have to hope and pray they get it right. You'll spend your entire day in meetings, crafting emails and fighting your way through an organization of people. It is problem solving, but a very different kind. and not everyone is good at it.

In short, know this before you leap out of your technical job. I was offered and accepted a management job a few years ago, found out I sucked at it, and had to quit because the company I worked for refused to demote me back to somewhere I could be useful.

"Learn" business? (1)

russotto (537200) | 1 year,14 days | (#45148975)

The actual "learning" part that goes in a classroom is nothing, no problem. The hard part is the personal interaction part. And if you can't do that naturally, no program is going to teach it to you, and you won't succeed in business.

Short answer: (1)

Narcocide (102829) | 1 year,14 days | (#45148993)

Learn to suppress your gag reflex.

Basics (1)

PPH (736903) | 1 year,14 days | (#45149015)

Some business basics should probably be a high school graduation requirement. One way or another, people are going to have to deal with or become a business. Understanding the basics of loans, billing, contracts, employee laws, etc. would be good for both sides.

Sad stories: When I worked for a major local engineering/manufacturing firm, I ran across engineers that had no idea what the Dow Jones Industrial Average was (including one guy who had several hundred K$ in stock). When they enrolled me in a management training class, one of the 'get to know you' exercises was to name one of your heros. I put down Warren Buffett. The instructor (an MBA grad) thought he was a country/folk singer.

Predators and Prey... (1)

Nodsnarb (2851527) | 1 year,14 days | (#45149077)

Having studied finance (eg business) I would say definitely not... Now if you'd also like to sign this contract I sent you assigning me all rights and incomes from your intellectual property that would be swell. It'll benefit both us , pinkie promise, I swear...

No (3, Interesting)

Miamicanes (730264) | 1 year,14 days | (#45149093)

> Should I learn business? It it more important to focus on personal networking?

No, and it doesn't matter. Statistically, if you're good at programming and love it, you'll probably be miserable focusing on business, and even MORE miserable trying to force yourself to personally network. If you're miserable, you'll never succeed. Network enough to find someone who won't fuck you over too badly who genuinely ENJOYS the business end, and stick with programming. Come up with something cool, and let THEM worry about finding a way to make it profitable, so you can buy a cool loft somewhere, take a few decent vacations to places you enjoy, and have enough money in the bank after the IPO to let you spend the rest of your life writing quirky open-source software for your own personal gratification.

Learn enough about business to sense when you're getting screwed over, but don't try to BE the one who actually RUNS the business. Been there, done it, swore to at least 3 major deities I'll never do it again. And fortunately, I was young enough to be mostly judgment-proof. If you're a programmer, having to spend most of your time being a bill-collector, salesperson, or worse will demoralize more than anything you've ever done in your life. If you study ANY area of business, study the basics of IP law so you can turn your hobbies into a personal patent portfolio, then go shopping for someone to finance your future fun.

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