Saturday, March 17, 2012

Resources for starting a new company

As I set off down the path towards starting a new company, I realize that there are a lot of things that I don't yet know how to do.  I have lots of questions:
  • Should I structure my company as a consulting company, or a product company?  Or both?
  • Is it just me, or do I involve others?  If I involve others, in what capacity?
  • What kind of business do I set up: Sole proprietorship? LLC? S-Corp?  C-Corp?  Anything in between?   When do I file the paperwork?
  • What legal considerations do I need to be aware of?
  • Do I need funding?  If so, what for?
  • Should I fund this myself (what's known as "bootstrapping", I've come to find out) or seek venture capital?
  • What's the difference between angel investors and and venture capitalists, and why would I seek out one over the other?
  • How do I find a designer to help me set up a marketing presence, like a logo, website, business cards, etc?
I've run my own consulting company before, but it seems different this time; bigger, more real. I've also worked in several startups, but never at the beginning of the venture when all of these decisions are being made.  So this is essentially all new to me.

Although I certainly don't have all the answers yet, here are a couple of the resources I've found that have been helpful so far:
  • YCombinator: A micro-financing / mentoring organization that helps a select group of startups develop a business model and seek funding.
  • SCORE: An entrepreneurial support organization with local chapters around the US.  They give  useful classes on topics related to starting a business.  I've taken "Be a Successful Consultant" and "Legal Issues for Small Business.  They also offer free consulting services that give you the opportunity to get feedback from seasoned entrepreneurs.  I intend to take them up on that as soon as I've narrowed down my list of questions. SCORE tends to be pretty generic in terms of the types of business it consults on, so it's not so great for questions specific to creating a technology-related startup.
  • SVForum: A more tech-focused advisory network, local to the Silicon Valley.  They sponsor panel-style discussions related to startup topics.  The panel is usually composed of seasoned tech entrepreneurs and VC investors.  I attended " New Venture Launch Fundamentals for 2012" and got a lot out of it.  This is also a great venue for networking and meeting people who are working on similar things.
  • The Founder Institute: A tech startup support organization that offers a complete curriculum for creating a startup.  They have chapters around the world.  I haven't started reviewing their curriculum yet but the topics look promising.
What other resources do you know of that help entrepreneurs?  What advice would you give to someone just in the midst of starting a new venture?

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