The First Ten Seconds: 7 Steps Every New Venture Should Take Immediately

You just spent the day at a hackathon (or in your basement) and you came up with an idea for a venture that gets you and (ideally) your team totally excited.

Now what?

Not too long ago it would have been hard or expensive to take the next step. Now it’s easy and free (or at least zero-risk). Here’s what I recommend:

The first 8 Things You Should do RIGHT NOW

1. Put up a placeholder website.

Whether your idea is an online tech business or not, virtually all of the early tasks of getting your idea off the ground will take place on the internet. You need a place to centralize your thinking and social relationships. I recommend LaunchRock (some of their out-of-the-box templates will blow your mind), but website hosting companies like BlueHost can get you started for almost nothing.

PRO TIP

A single page will do (I call this a “slate”) – don’t worry (yet) about putting up much else. (By the way – you don’t need a domain name yet. But if you get one you can point it at your slate site. That’s why you should do this first.)

2. Get a domain.

If you haven’t done this already, do it now. Domains are cheap. The good ones are already taken, so you may have to be clever to find one you can get. Start with NameMesh or Panabee if you need ideas, or work with your hosting company to reserve one.

PRO TIP

Don’t wait for the perfect domain name. Reserve one that’s close and move forward. Think of it as a working title and resign yourself to the fact that it will almost certainly change – probably tomorrow.

3. Start a group collaboration site.

While face-to-face is a far more efficient channel for this early stage lets be honest: you’ll be working remotely a lot of the time. Plus you’ll need a place to store all your work. There are plenty of great collaboration services out there that are free or low-cost. Slack and Basecamp are excellent choices.

4. Set up email addresses for your team.

The next phase of your company will involve a LOT of social interaction. Doing this as your company makes a significant difference than doing it individually – it signals that you’re serious (even if you’re not). Do this through your hosting company, or, better, through Google Apps.

PRO TIP

Include hello@yourdomain.com, contact@yourdomain.com, and admin@yourdomain.com as soon as possible, and set up those addresses to route inbound messages to one or several members of your team. Check with your hosting company for details on how to do this.

5. Design a logo.

Like email addresses, having a decent logo makes you seem serious. Get it cheap from Fiverr ($5!) and be 100% confident you’ll throw it away if things go any further.

6. Start keeping track of expenses

Odds are the members of your team will each be spending small money over the next few weeks. You’ll need a way to keep track: a shared Google Sheet will do the trick. Don’t think about it too hard.

7. Write it all down.

Articulating the details of your venture is a big topic that I cover elsewhere. But it’s critical to get those ideas out of your heads and onto a document you can share and keep track of. A Google Doc is the obvious and best solution, but choose something your team is comfortable with.

PRO TIPS
  • Use a SINGLE email address to sign up for third party services – DO NOT use one of your individual email addresses if you can help it.
  • Use a Google doc to centralize credential information (like user names and passwords) for the accounts you do sign up for. Be disciplined about this – every time you or your team sign up for something, add it to the Google doc. It will absolutely save you consternation along the way.

All this should take you less than an hour and cost you less than $20 (okay maybe a bit more, but if things go nowhere you can get your money back for most of it). If the idea goes NO further, you haven’t lost much at all. If it does, it’s the best $20 you ever spent.

Michael Sattler

With a career spent in founding and technical leadership roles with new and enterprise-level organizations, Michael Sattler is a veteran in technology strategy, operations, and product management. He’s spent decades in B2B and B2C SaaS product development, software and application design, engineering operations, new venture creation, and innovation practices.

He has scaled and managed technical teams from 2-50+ across three continents, led large-scale cross-functional program management, and founded or co-founded six companies.