Thursday, August 21, 2014

The First Steps to Get Your Business off the Ground

This blog is about sharing & implementing brilliant ideas in the software space. So, you have a brilliant idea… you go to validate it. And now you know exactly what to do from the product/idea implementation standpoint. You may even have some potential customers cheering you on at the end of the rainbow. What are the next steps? This post will touch on some of the initial logistics you can take care of while you're working on your vision. Depending on your unique situation, there may be more decisions to make and action items to work on. Nearly every single one of them will warrant in-depth research as well as being subjected to the decision making process. Upcoming posts will overview additional steps & dive deeper into the details of actual activities.

Put a Name on It
Come up with a name for the product and the company. It's not critical, but since you're building a baby… might as well give it a name. Going through this exercise will also help you arrive at a clear understanding of what it is you are about to build. A product? A service? Is the name extensible? Is it suitable for your target audience? "Churpsies" could work great for the end-user consumer base, but you might need something more dignified-sounding for the corporate audience. Seek out your potential company name online to make sure there's nothing similar out there already. Apart from causing confusion, using a name that already exists could easily land you with a lawsuit… And, while you're at it, a search through the trademark database could provide some useful information for moving forward.

Secure a Domain Name
This step is similar to picking a name (see above). There are scores of domain name registries., Network Solutions, and are three of the most popular. If your desired domain name with the top level extension ".com" such as is already taken, it's sometimes possible to purchase that domain name in the secondary market. However, prices can run pretty high. Alternatively, you could get creative with extensions like .es, .is, .us, and many others. Find out more here.

Register the Company
To formally create a company you might need to register it with the IRS and with the state and local revenue agencies where the company will be incorporated. Depending on your objectives it makes sense to carefully access the decision on the state of incorporation and type of incorporation (LLC, S-Corp, C-Corp, etc). It is best to consult your lawyer and/or accountant/financial adviser for their recommendations before making the final decision. As with finding the right doctor for your newborn, these key professionals will help you bring your business into the world. Shop around; ask for referrals and recommendations to find people you're comfortable with on a personal as well as a professional level. Services like make it easy to navigate the basic steps involved in registration but are no substitute for professional advise.

Take Care of the Legal Paperwork
If you're joining forces with one or more co-founders, a shareholders' agreement is a must. To continue with the family analogy, it is the pre-nuptial agreement and the marriage contract in one. Ideally, questions about who is responsible for what, and how much effort they will put in, and what to do if/when things go wrong should be addressed before you actually run into those issues. With that in mind, it makes sense to get this step out of the way sooner rather than later. Other legal paperwork may include a non-compete agreement, a stock purchase agreement and other documents based on your specific circumstances.

It's Not Over Yet!
Next, you may want to contemplate getting an email account, finding a hosting provider, registering a business address/mailbox, designing a logo/website, thinking about business insurance, opening a bank account, and... Whether you are setting up a daycare center or building a cloud software product, getting your company off the ground can take a number of steps. Find the process that works best for you, your location, and your specific situation. In the course of your activities, every step of the way, never stop your quest for the like-minded individuals who can help you realize your vision.

Ah, brilliant ideas! Ready to realize yours?

Rachel & the team

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