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How do I learn how-to start a bespoke software company?

I'm starting a bespoke software company, and I need some advice on what things I need to do to get it going.

I'm looking for a learning resource that will guide me though the process: a book, an online course, etc.

My TODO list (so far)

  1. Business plan (wip)
  2. Find customers (done)
  3. Find employees (just me so far)
  4. Form an LLC (or some other legal business entity)
  5. Make a website
    4.1 Write ad copy to get more customers
    4.2 Write ad copy to get more employees
    4.3 ????
  6. ????

Please reply with any of the following

  • learning resource recommendations
  • items to add to my TODO list
  • personal experiences that may help me avoid mistakes you wish you had avoided

My background

I have 20 years tech experience, mostly in the software engineering field.

I've designed and coded several apps (large and small) from the ground up. One of my apps was downloaded thousands of times and won an award from its community of users.

I'm great at communication with non-technical clients to help them understand their tech problems and how I can solve them.

But, my skills are lacking in the area of founding and running a business.

  1. 1

    Starting and running a business is something that comes best from experience. Learning to run a business comes mostly from running a business. However, there are some essential items you should start with first.

    Talk with and establish a relationship with a business attorney. You don't need one on retainer, but you do need one to help you make sure you know how best to handle various things that can come up.

    You can use companies like LegalZoom or other On-Demand legal sites - I have used them for various ventures, and they are a good starting point.
    Knowing and developing a relationship with a local lawyer and firm is still worth it long term.

    Get a CPA to help you form the right entity for you.

    Talk to an Insurance Broker to get general insurance and E&O insurance to cover the size projects you're going to take on. I know of numerous agency owners who had skipped this step to regret it later when they forgot something in an engineering spec that cost a client a large sum to correct and found themselves in legal suites.
    Skip a business plan unless your heading to a bank to get funds.

    Write a mission statement and vision statement to set you apart.

    DON'T BE A GENERALIST AGENCY, SPECIALIZE IN SOMETHING

    A great resource to start with would be Stripe Atlas: https://stripe.com/atlas

    There are a ton of other things you can do when starting a company, but a great and simple rule to follow is:

    Do only the next most significant thing on your list. Ask yourself what the next thing that will create the most value over time for my company is. Not important or urgent - but significant. Do only these things, delegate, or procrastinate on the rest.

    Also, don't ever hesitate to reach out for help to others - and lastly, find a mentor to help!

    Best of luck with your new venture - once you start a company, you probably won't go back to a W2 gig!

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