3 reasons why every entrepreneur should understand coding and open source

- January 28, 2022 4 MIN READ
Faten Healy
GitHub's Faten Healy
Does every entrepreneur know the ins and outs of coding and open source? Probably not.

But should entrepreneurs build an awareness of the technologies that form the core of digital transformation? Without a doubt – and here’s why.

No matter what field you are in – it’s highly likely your business relies, or will soon rely, on software to advance innovation. Today, developers drive innovation within their enterprise, so understanding open source, the DevOps and DevSecOps process, and how developers like to work, even at a basic level, will help you to curate teams that drive innovation from the core.

Did you know that 99% of the world’s software uses at least some open source code? That’s because the most successful companies know that open source speeds digital transformation – regardless of industry. Everything from having a good ecommerce presence to building a customer-facing app relies on great technology and people.

So here are the three top rewards you could reap by increasing your knowledge of coding and open source. And if you want to supercharge these benefits, you could even learn to code yourself!

Boost collaboration and productivity

Entrepreneurs – and business leaders in general – have a lot to learn from developers. Software development teams have to work closely with other parts of the organisation (like operations and security) to be effective.

They often embrace DevSecOps, which involves integrating security into every step of the development process. This approach means teams can catch issues and vulnerabilities early on, fixing these as they code, delivering faster innovation.

Sure, technical expertise is a big part of the role but similar to DevOps, DevSecOps is about making all parties involved in the development lifecycle accountable. This way of working is underpinned by productive interaction between people.

Entrepreneurs who understand this will be better equipped to break down siloed ways of working across their business, boosting cross team collaboration and information sharing.

Problem solving is also as central to successful coding as it is to success in business. While entrepreneurs may start out alone, eventually they have to work with external parties or internal teams to solve a vast array of problems.

Mastering these soft skills will allow them to have more successful working relationships that will benefit their business in the long run.

Accelerate innovation

More and more, products and services are going digital. This change has been fast-tracked by the pandemic in Australia, and a certain calibre of digital experience is now the status quo. Australia’s technology ecosystem is growing rapidly, with exports of virtual goods and physical products enabled by digital technologies expected to grow to $19 billion by 2030.

Why is open source so important in this context? Open source allows many different people from all over the world to contribute to a single project – and more brain power means more ideas are brought to the table. Voilà – faster digital innovation.

Businesses large and small have realised that the same culture that drives faster innovation in the open source community also drives faster innovation inside the organisation. Innersourcing refers to this improved way of working.

Using best practices from open source projects, innersourcing is the process of creating reusable code to be shared within the boundaries of your organisation’s firewall. This invites more ideas and fosters a culture of innovation, without barriers, by equipping developers with the freedom to be creative.

It also helps teams improve code quality and speeds up the pace of innovation.

While all business leaders need to understand the disruptive potential of open source, this should go hand in hand with creating a more productive work environment for developers too.

To become a digital company, every organisation must build a culture that empowers developers to collaborate and achieve more. Developers at the top of their game want to be at the cutting edge of driving technology change.

So gaining an understanding of coding and open source workflows allows entrepreneurs to better connect with their own developer teams, understand how they like to work and help them work better. And a highly functioning developer team is the best way to drive fast innovation for your business.

Scale securely, at pace

The startups of today are short on time, but need to grow rapidly to secure funding. Open source can help them scale at pace, allowing them to ‘stand on the shoulders of giants’ by building on what has been built already. The open source community is centred on the premise that code should be available for anyone to download and modify. This means that developers can incorporate their peers’ insights into their own work, streamlining the development process.

This can help entrepreneurs fast-track business plans and outpace competition that may be building products and services from the ground up.

With more people inspecting code for errors and inconsistencies, the software being built on open source also becomes more secure and reliable. Vulnerabilities are discovered and fixed continuously throughout the entire development process.

This is important for smaller businesses that may not have large budgets for costly add-on security products or services, as it means security becomes ‘built in’.

Taking the time to learn the fundamentals of coding will help set you and your business apart. So much of what we do is now centred around shaping digital experiences, and in the current state of the world, this is only set to grow.

Understanding and adopting open source best practices, will help drive fast and secure innovation for your business. With it, the opportunities are endless.


  • Faten Healy is Senior Solutions Engineer at GitHub
2024 Startup Daily Best in Tech Awards - nominations open