How do you organize your ideas and actions when starting something up?


I'm curious about how you guys organize your ideas for starting up a new business. I have a bunch of ideas that I never tried to implement, basically because I just don't know from where I could start. I'm not afraid to fail, and I do agree that trying and failing always gives us lessons.

The closest topics I've seen about this subject are THIS, THIS, and also THIS. They're really valuable, discussing about the startup itself and providing - valuable - advices; however, I haven't seen any comment telling / suggesting how to organize the idea (i.e. kick the idea off).

Useful information:

Target: my ideas are related to web-based developments.

Team: There are two fellows as partners (they have knowledge in web / mobile development), and there's also a colleague responsible for the art. We'll do our code at home. No hire / rental costs.

Is my idea viable? : I believe a MVP is not applicable to my 'first experience' idea, because (as far as I've googled) there's nothing like this around there. Besides, as it's an experience to be done on my spare time, I don't mind if my first startup turns out to be terrible.

So, I'd like to discuss about:

  • What are the next steps right after having the idea? Do you write down documents to define what you want? Do you decide now technology-related questions?
  • Do you organize the application workflow using any specific tool? Basic UML schemas?
  • How do you store your ideas? I've seen comments about mails, plain text documents...
  • For programmers, have you tried to right after have the idea, sit on the computer and start programming? How was the experience?

Hope these are not too many questions for a single topic.

My apologies if tech-startups aren't supposed to be here. Please let me know how to move it to the proper forum, if that's the case.


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asked Feb 24 '11 at 14:07
Tiago Cardoso
202 points
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3 Answers


Short answer: Don't organize, just go.

Longer answer: I like the basic workflow described in Getting Things Done :

  • If you can do it in under 5 minutes, do it.
  • Does it require action? If so, but you don't have time for that right now? Schedule it.
  • Needs action but you can't do it? Delegate it.
  • It doesn't need your action? Shelve it (or File it).
  • It's not important? Trash it.

That's a great framework for making decisions in the now.

Just start with something. Need to incorporate? Get that out of the way. Need to divide up shares and get a lawyer to draft an operating agreement? Find one, schedule a meeting, and see what happens. Are your partners still with you? Schedule a one hour meeting - that means you have to plan what you're going to say, and what you're going to walk away with. Now you and your partners have tasks. Break those down, schedule things if you have to.

Where you're trying to get to is a balance between being somewhat in control of the direction your project is heading, but also being somewhat out of control as the momentum builds and pushes it into what needs to happen.

If it's a bad idea, there will be little to no momentum. If it's a good idea, there will be slightly more momentum you feel you can handle. Just go with it - stop trying to plan for everything.

answered Feb 24 '11 at 14:56
230 points
  • liked your answer, thanks! I've added this book into my wish list, it's quite well rated. My main concern about start doing it right away is regarding rework... not sure how 'organized' the ideas need to be before code them. – Tiago Cardoso 13 years ago
  • Just don't fall into the common procrastination trap of a need to "get all your ducks in a row" - have the work define how you organize things, not the other way around. – Emptyset 13 years ago


It depends if you're a developer or a designer and what your role is within your own startup. If you're going it alone, you're passionate about your idea, then you've most likely already scoped it out in your head or jotted in down.

Just go for it. Start coding something right away, you don't need a plan really, just do it and tweak along the way. The beautiful part of a startup is you're not expected to be perfect right away, build something and then worry about schemas and other organisational things later on.

Be overly organised in the beginning can be very harmful to your idea. You're too busy working out the stuff in advance that will most likely change and waste time better spent developing.

So here is how I would do it;

  1. Get together with your other developers and designers and have a weekend long coding marathon. Try and get as much done as humanly possible in that one weekend, then during your spare time tweak parts of the site.
  2. Set up a landing page and start collecting interest from people. That way when you're ready to launch, you have people you can shout to about your idea.
  3. Start working out the vision for the startup, now you have a rough product and kind of know you guys can work together as a team and build something.

This is just what I believe. Other people have their own ways of doing things, forming and running a startup is very subjective.

answered Feb 24 '11 at 14:55
Digital Sea
1,613 points
  • Good walkthrough! A few steps, but already a lot of tasks involved to start up, thanks! – Tiago Cardoso 13 years ago


Find a partner. Contrary to what others have suggested, I would do this before knocking something together. Photographers are rarely the best editors of their own work and entrepreneurs often benefit greatly from challenging but constructive dialogs with partners early on.

My sense is that you should seek out a competent sparring partner to discuss your ideas with. If you find someone you can trust who has complementary skills and experience to your own, you will have a very productive discussion about defining the key value proposition, how you would take it to market and the relative priority of next steps should be. This person may or may not become your long-term partner in the venture, but this process will help you determine whether this project is something you want to throw yourself into and what you will be looking for in an ideal partner.

answered Feb 24 '11 at 20:43
871 points
  • I have some folks with same passion for create things from scratch, but with same doubts. Thanks! – Tiago Cardoso 13 years ago
  • I am suggesting that you find someone who has a completely different background and set of skills. It would be surprising if they have exactly the same perspective on the project as you. – Zippy 13 years ago

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