Monday, 25 February 2013 04:30

Entrepreneurship | Checklist for Start-Ups

Entrepreneurship // February 24, 2013

If you’ve decided to try your hand at running a start-up, you’re brave. It takes a lot of guts to make a go of it on your own. But you’re not alone. Over seven million people make the leap and start their own business each year. That’s a lot of new businesses!

One of the fastest growing sectors of new companies are tech start-ups, where we’re seeing more and more women in charge. While the numbers right now aren‘t great – currently fewer than five percent of tech start-ups are run by women – that number is climbing rapidly.

If you’re a woman thinking of becoming one of these pioneering tech bosses, kudos to you! But that doesn’t mean you can go out there without knowing what needs to be done. Once you decide to get into entrepreneurship, you need to assemble a Start-Up Checklist.

What’s the Start-up Checklist?

It’s every minor thing a woman must do if she is thinking of starting her own company. It’s easy to remember the Big Stuff: get an idea, get an office, get a loan. (Well, maybe not so easy. )

But what about the intangibles that aren’t required by law? Those are the ones  that entrepreneurs sadly overlook quite often. And it’s easy to do because you don’t often read about them.

Unless they’re on your checklist!

So what are these things that need to go on this list?

1. Decide what entity is best for you.

One of the most important decisions an entity can make is deciding how their company will be structured. Will you be an LLC? A corporation? Perhaps a partnership? Whichever one you pick, it will have serious consequences, both for how your business runs and how it is taxed.

Once it’s decided, then you need to draw up your governing document. For an LLC, this is called an OA. For a corporation, it’s called your bylaws. They’re essentially the laws of your company. And they are a necessity if you want to protect yourself.

Picking the best structure for your needs can be the difference between glory and ignominy. Once you organize, you need to get everything down in writing. Especially from your employees.

2. Get an NDA.

A non-disclosure agreement, colloquially known as an NDA, is possibly the most overlooked document that every start-up needs and so few have. It can save your company from losing what is often its most important aspects: that is, its ideas.

An NDA assures that employees can’t spill the beans concerning trade secrets and other sensitive information. But more than just making sure everyone keeps their trap shut, NDAs ensure that in the event that your intellectual property does get out there, you can be compensated for the damages. Otherwise, you might be left with a super unique, money making idea that everyone else has now too.

3. Draw up and employee handbook.

Employee handbooks don’t just tell employees what the policy  is for replacing the yogurt in the company fridge. Employee handbooks act as a way of ensuring there is zero confusion over what employees are allowed to do and what they are not. It clears the air concerning the rules and regulations in the business. And this can be invaluable if an employee ever sues you.

4. Draft an agreement for independent contractors.

The shift to using independent contractors is a trend that’s been sweeping the tech world for some time now. But the line between an employee and an independent contractor is often a thin one indeed. It’s not uncommon for workers classified as independent contractors to sue for the rights normally given to employees. If you haven’t had a worker sign something detailing what the arrangement is, you could be on the hook for providing all the perks to a contractor that an employee gets.

If you haven’t noticed, a lot of these tasks are in place to protect an entrepreneur from going into the courtroom. It’s because that’s the one thing start-ups never dream could happen but often does: legal trouble. Protecting yourself starts with getting it in writing. Of course there are a million things that a new entrepreneur needs to do before they reach success. But this checklist should help you have a smoother ride on the way there.

Published in Entrepreneurship