The Essential Startup To Do List

This post is dedicated to a team of promising young entrepreneurs who asked me recently if they could all just “put some money in a bank account” to launch their startup.

I wanted to say ‘yes’ because I know how much other work they have to do to build a successful company. But instead I had to warn them that there were several essential elements of their corporate structure they had to get right now to maximize their probability of success.

This question comes up frequently, so I started a list to help other entrepreneurs ensure they don’t miss one of the essential structural components.

As soon as I started typing out the first draft of the list, I realized I was trapped. I’ve been part of several dozen startups and invested in a couple of dozen more. I’ve seen many startup structural errors that cost entrepreneurs much, or all, of their investment. I often talk with other angel investors about promising young companies that would be fundable if it weren’t for the structural problems. So I am supposed to know better.

I realized that if the list I assembled wasn’t complete, and as a result a company got started with a structural flaw, I would feel terrible. So I worked hard to ensure the list was comprehensive.

One part of the trap was that the list kept growing and growing. I kept thinking to myself, “This can’t really be necessary this early” but then remembered previous examples that proved that wrong. I spoke to a couple of other startup veterans and they added more points to the list.

Now this list of the essential startup action items has over 50 items. It was so long that it was actually discouraging. That was the other part of the trap. If you write it all down, it does look pretty daunting.

But at least now there is the start of a list that entrepreneurs can use to check their progress. I hope that it saves a few dozen young companies from making the easy-to-avoid fatal, or expensive, mistakes.

If you think of any additional essential startup action items, please post a comment or send me an email. I hope that in a year or so, the list will be complete (and still under a 100 items.)

This is the “Essential Startup To Do List“.