The Argyle Company just wrapped up its first week at full strength. A few lessons learned over the past couple months as we've taken the first steps of a (hopefully!) long journey:
Find a partner. This past summer/fall, I spent a lot of time navel gazing in search of the right first steps toward a software start-up. I knew the market I wanted to enter and even had a general sense of the product I'd like to build. But I couldn't really articulate what I was thinking, let alone develop the product. (I'm a seller, not a coder.)
My then-prospective business partner Adam and I started getting together and stuff just started happening. The collaboration and accountability was like a shot in the arm after a period of wandering alone in the wilderness.
So - if you're looking to start something, I suggest that you start looking for the right co-founder as soon as you start getting the idea itch.
Don't delay the equity conversation. Adam and I had the equity/role/expectations conversation over a series of meetings a couple months ago. Awkward, but necessary...and also done pending some signatures on a handful forthcoming legal documents.
It would have been really easy to delay the conversation, but it also would have been a mistake. Ownership is a sticky issue that you need to get right at the start. Plus - it is just the first of many difficult questions that start-up founders will face. So you might as well just deal with it and move on to the next one.
Regarding roles, we used HubSpot as a model. Two founders - sales guy CEO and product guy CTO. Hopefully we'll have a fraction of the success that they've engineered.
Don't waste time with a business plan. Business school is all about business plans. The real world isn't. People don't read them and you don't have time to waste writing one. Instead of planning your business, I suggest that you just start building it.
That said, you should definitely start writing. I recommend that you:
- Write an executive summary that can brief prospective advisors, etc. on your company.
- Blog to articulate your market/problem/product thesis and to generate search engine juice.
- Set up a wiki to manage research, internal docs, etc. Way better than doc files.
Put yourself out there. Once you've refined your market/problem/solution thesis into an actionable nugget, start talking about it to anyone that will listen. You'll be amazed by how:
- You start to really believe in what you're doing.
- You get better at articulating your thesis.
- People are willing to help.