What are the immediate steps I should take when starting to bootstrap a new startup with a friend?


I just read through some of the other questions found on here regarding early steps to take when starting a new biz with a partner, but couldn't quite find what I was looking for. I've decided to team up with a friend of mine and build a subscription-based web app. We're still working out the idea and the design and plan for execution, but we have already decided that we're each going to have an equal 50/50 stake in the equity. I trust and love this guy immensely, but for our own piece of mind and security, what are some immediate AND inexpensive steps we should take before we go any further with the creation of our business?

Thanks so much in advance for your wisdom!

Partner Partnerships

asked Aug 17 '11 at 10:57
319 points

2 Answers


Generate lists of concerns and topics to discuss and set a time to cover as much as you can. You consider this a bootstrapped project, but as soon as any money comes in, someone is going to want to spend it. Make sure you plan that before euphoria sets.

Determine your roles. You want the company to be 50/50 but if one of you has an area of expertise, maybe their opinion should hold a little more weight in that area. Decide this ahead of time.

Once you know your role, you can make a commitment to how much time and energy each of you can contribute. Decide this ahead of time.

This process shouldn't drag on too long. If it does, maybe it wasn't meant to be. You don't want to get caught up in working on every detail if it's going to hold the project back. Not doing it kills more startups than anything.

answered Aug 17 '11 at 23:25
Jeff O
6,179 points


Building a little on Jeff's answer, I'll summarize what I've learned over the last year (in order of importance):

  • Communications are critical; above all else, make sure you can ALWAYS be on the same page. Time is scarce, there's a lot to do, and you don't want to duplicate effort, waste time, or see stuff fall between the cracks.
  • Create some sort of agreement on what each of your responsibilities are, how to agree on larger decisions (and what constitutes a big decision), and how you will handle revenue. The revenue part should be rough guidelines on how much profit to take, when, and whether you use some sort of ratio to compensate one of you over the other (if applicable)
  • Define a timeframe where you agree to stick to this agreement without (major) change - it's all there, black and white, and (like #1) you'll be on the same page and can worry about other stuff. An agreement ain't much use if one of you wants to change it all the time.
  • Get some help for legal and accounting stuff - unless you're a pro at either of these, it's just something you won't be able to handle. This is NECESSARY investment. It's not a ton of work, but you'll need to get some paperwork done to be able to get a company bank account and such, and make sure you're following IRS rules.

Getting this far together should give you a good idea of whether you should go forward as a team. A vision and idea for a product is important, but you can and will probably change or evolve these over time. At least having completed the steps above, you can go forward confident that you have a solid foundation on which to build your company and can focus on creating a compelling product.

answered Aug 17 '11 at 23:53
Craig Saboe
423 points

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