Does one man startup require signing any legal documents?


Ok, let say. I have created a web based application, registered a domain name, and hosted it on the Internet. Can I say it's a one man startup?

If not, then: What will it be if I just host my app on the Internet (not signing any legal documents)?

Any advantages or disadvantages?

Website Micro Startup Legal Documents Web App

asked Apr 16 '12 at 17:25
6 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll
  • In what country are you? – Dnbrv 12 years ago
  • I'm from a developing country where the business registration process is complex. If it's possible, I don't want to through all those process. (Sorry, I couldn't tell you about my country name for some reasons) – Anon 12 years ago
  • Can you define that country? I mean, i did businesses in many parts of the world (poland the last years, US many years ago, greece many years agom, albania short after the fall of communism) and it never took me more than a week to sort out paperwork ;) – Net Tecture 12 years ago

4 Answers


I have created a web based application, registered a domain name, and
hosted it on the Internet. Can I say it's a one man startup?

No, it is a dude with a website, not a business so not a startup.

Do you have a busines license? Registered as a business?

If not - it is not a startup. It may be a startup in foundation, but you can not write an invoice as business.

The moment you register as a business - it is a startup.

What will it be if I just host my app on the Internet (not signing any
legal documents)?

In most cases: An illegal business. Same like opening a restaurant without proper paperwork.

Any advantages or disadvantages?

Well, except the fines the government may hit you with?

You should get a business license, by whatever means that is done in your jurisdiction, if you ever want to write an invoice.

answered Apr 16 '12 at 22:30
Net Tecture
11 points
  • yes, you are totally right. Thank you. – Anon 12 years ago
  • I think I will host my web app(beta) as a normal website, and then if there is any investors interested in it, I will register my company. What do you think? – Anon 12 years ago
  • Maybe, maybe not. Doable for a blog or something - not doable for an online shop because you can not write invoices. Depends totally on what the website does. If it is feasible, this is doable. – Net Tecture 12 years ago
  • It's a free web application, so it doable, right? – Anon 12 years ago
  • Possibly - otoh some juristidciotns still may require you to follow some regulations, at least in the information you publish. But yes, free web app is a lot more doable. – Net Tecture 12 years ago


I think its not important how you call it... but look at this definition: Can you see yourself there?

Basically I would say everything which has the intention to make "business" and just has started to try out its service or research the market is a start up. The term is very unclear for me and badly defined.

If you are just hosting for "fun", call yourself a webmaster. If you do a market research and think about how you can make some money with your app, call your self a startup. The term is not tied to any legal documents.

answered Apr 16 '12 at 18:05
3,590 points


In addition to what Christian said above, the answer is:


The reason is, if you ever might have to take money, or hire someone, you're going to really want that.

Do note that this isn't legal advice, just common sense based upon issues that I've seen.

answered Apr 16 '12 at 20:48
247 points


Startup is a usefully ambiguous term, spanning everything from back bedroom side projects to teams spending tens of millions. It has no legal definition - if anything it's just a mindset.

So by all means be a startup without a legal entity other than yourself!

However, when you start offering services to customers, especially if they're paying you, you may want to think about how you both protect yourself and reassure them. Most web businesses at least need some kind of Terms and Conditions statement - you can find off-the-peg sources, hire a lawyer or take a controlled risk by researching similar offerings and being your own lawyer.

And in the success case, sooner or later you're likely to want the protection of limited liability, in case it all goes pear-shaped - or in case you want to take in investment.

Even five years ago I felt very uneasy about offering services without most or all of this foundation in place. But in today's environment, with fast development and deployment, and just about every tricky thing you can imagine being available through an API out there in the wide and wonderful world, some of the best startups seem to be starting out as 'fun and value' personal projects with minimum clutter.

answered Apr 16 '12 at 23:40
Jeremy Parsons
5,197 points
  • Actually at least in most of europe he is not a startup without legal entity but may be an unlicensed business which the finance divisions of the government REALLY love. See, all the fines when they find out he runs a business without registration. REALLY nice. And the fun when a case order comes (shut down NOW until you sort out the paperwork). – Net Tecture 12 years ago
  • I guess just about every carries the implicit warning, "this may not be allowed in your jurisdiction." Clearly there's a significant step between offering a service (say) and charging for a service. Some countries still put very heavy restrictions on the latter, probably to the detriment of gross national startup products. – Jeremy Parsons 12 years ago
  • Ah, no - it is also for common sense. If you are registered you ahve no problem claiming backs sales tax etc. and you can hold yourself out as business whoever yout talk to. Many companies do not deal with end users. The restriction is less how ignorant peopele run illegal businesses, but how long it takes to be legal. I rarely spent significant money on that - and never used more than a day or two of my time to get registration done whenter I needed. This includes a number of former communist countries. – Net Tecture 12 years ago
  • Thank you very much for your useful information. In my case, it's a free web application, so it should be ok to run it for a few months or a year, right? If things go well, then I will register the company. – Anon 12 years ago

Your Answer

  • Bold
  • Italic
  • • Bullets
  • 1. Numbers
  • Quote
Not the answer you're looking for? Ask your own question or browse other questions in these topics:

Website Micro Startup Legal Documents Web App