Wade Foster is the co-founder at Snapier – winner of Startup Weekend Columbia, MO. Snapier provides a simple drag-and-drop interface to automatically sync data between any two web applications. Follow Wade on Twitter – @WadeFoster.
Startup Weekend is over and you’ve just completed one of the most exhausting weekends of your life. You’ve met talented people, turned an idea into a product, and set a plan forward for a company. You’re full of excitement and ready to say so long to your boss and co-found a company with your team members.
Before you get too far ahead of yourself, here are seven frequently forgotten questions to ask yourself after Startup Weekend to help you decide how to move your idea forward.
1. Can your team handle difficult discussions?
If your team is really going to move forward after the weekend the first thing you need to determine is if you can have tough conversations with each other.
If you can’t effectively argue with each other, settle decisions together, and have those difficult discussions then you aren’t ready to start a company together.
The metaphor that starting a business together is a lot like getting married is true. Just because you’ve had one date doesn’t mean it’s time to get hitched.
2. Are you continuing on with the idea?
If you think you can have the hard discussions with your team, then you can decide whether the idea should move past the weekend.
You’ll need to decide if the idea is something you are really passionate about. Is it something you could work on for a several years or is it a passing hobby?
Either is fine, just make sure you’re up front and honest to yourself and to your teammates.
3. Can you work with your team members?
A lot of times a Startup Weekend team is a hodge podge group of people that haven’t met before.
You need to figure out if the team you worked with during the weekend is really the team that should move forward.
You want to pay attention to your team members resourcefulness, abilities, personality, and a host of other qualities to determine if they are the type of people you could found a company with.
4. Who owns the company and how is it structured?
If you’ve decided to move forward, then you’ll have to decide how to structure the company. Many times an LLC is the easiest path forward, though you’ll want to get some legal advice before you sign anything.
Use your resources. Ask your personal contacts about their experiences and ask any of the mentors available to you during the weekend what they would recommend.
You’ll also need to decide who has ownership in the company. This really comes down to what the team agrees upon. Some of the main variables we considered at Snapier were skill sets, amount of money put into the business, and amount of hours put into the company.
5. Full-time or Part-time?
One of the biggest decisions to make going into the startup is what the level of effort will be. Some team members may be financially stable enough to jump in full time right away. For others it might be a part time, nights and weekends gig for awhile.
If you decide to go full-time you’ll be able to go move much quicker, but you’ll also force yourself to start generating revenue quicker since you are no longer bringing in a salary.
If you decide to go part-time you have the advantage of being able to support yourself financially, but you’ll also have less time to devote to your startup. Do you have the discipline to come home from work every day and put in four or five hours on your startup?
An option for some founders is to sit on the fence. If your employer will let you cut back hours and still maintain employment, you might be able to put more hours into your startup, but still be pulling in a sufficient salary to pay the bills.
6. Funded or Bootstrapped?
Another big question to make sure you and your co-founders are on the same page about is funding.
These days it’s not too difficult to bootstrap a company and keep expenses down. This makes going without funding a viable option.
If you decide to bootstrap, you and your co-founders will be funding the venture on your own. This allows you to keep 100% of the ownership and maintain strategic control and vision for the company. Bootstrapping also allows you to focus all of your efforts on the business rather than spending a significant amount of time seeking funding.
If you decide to seek funding you’ll be spending a lot of time pitching to investors and may or may not actually land funding. If you’re fortunate enough to obtain funding, you’ll be able to execute on your vision faster. You might be able to hire an employee or two, up the marketing budget, and have more flexibility.
The downside to funding is that it forces you to give up ownership shares of the company and you’ll also have to answer to people who aren’t your customers.
7. What happens when things go wrong?
Once you have answered these questions you’ll need to draft a simple operating agreement that collectively decides how the co-founders will make decisions.
This is one of the most important things to do up front. It will be much easier to make unbiased decisions now about how to handle disagreements since there isn’t a business yet rather than in the future when something goes wrong.
The last thing you want to happen is be two or three years down the road and have a disagreement among the co-founders occur with no operating agreement in place that details how to handle it.
Move the Business Ahead
Congrats! You’ve tackled the boring but important questions most people forget after Startup Weekend.
Now you’ll be able to confidently move ahead with the more fun parts of your business like finding users, building a product, and creating a company.