I've run three startups, and every time it felt more like stumbling around in the dark than confidently striding along a path. Most everyone I meet feels the same way.
It's worse the first time around of course. You read blogs and books, you take other business founders out to lunch, and you join entrepreneur support groups (I mean, meet-ups).
But still. There's like 1,000 things to do, none of which you've ever done before or even seen before, and certainly nothing any school has prepared you for. What about all that stuff?
Bob Walsh, author of several startup how-to books and the Micro-ISV blog and podcast, has all the answers
-- a combination web application, guidebook, and community for startup founders.
And better still, here at OnStartups we're giving away 10 scholarships, so you get all this love without paying a cent! Even if you don't get the scholarship, however, check it out.
Here's how StartupToDo works.
First, there's already 50 guides walking through every aspect of a business from deciding on a name to selecting a web host to Google AdWords to creating your elevator pitch, .... you name it.
Second, as you progress through those guides -- in any order you please -- you can watch your progress exactly like a burn-up chart for software development:
This makes it easy to ensure you're making steady progress on important areas of business while you tend to the obvious fires and daily chaos.
Third, the guides aren't static -- it's more like a Wiki + comment system so you can also learn from everyone else on StartupToDo who has gone through that guide. So it's a living, breathing lesson and checklist, not just some stale prose from 1994.
Fourth, there's amply opportunity to not just go through guides but to interact with other founders through things you've heard of (e.g. forums) and brand new things (e.g. "What do you think of my website" system). Now you're not just guessing by yourself -- you're part of a thriving, intelligent community of people just like you, helping each other get through the pain and thrill of running your own company.
Ever need help answering questions like these?
1. Which online service should I use for what?
Creating your online infrastructure - from Google Apps to finding the right service to monitor server uptime - there's a variety of online business services you need to put in place in order for your startup to succeed. StartupToDo.com
Guides turns finding the right services into tasks that take minutes, not hours and days.
2. Does my web site work? With their Site Reviews, you tap the power of the community to get quantitate and qualitative confidential feedback on how well your site explains your product, connects to the visitor and influences their decision making.
OK ok, so now you're convinced it's really useful -- and worth paying for -- but it's even sweeter if OnStartups treats you to an account, right?
We're going to give away free 6-month subscriptions to StartupDo.com (valued at $105). To be eligible, you need to do just three simple things:
1) Visit OnStartups on Facebook
2) Hit the "Like" button (needed, so you can post a comment)
3) Leave a practical tip or ask a question about starting up.
Or, if you'd rather use Twitter than Facebook:
1) Provide a practical tip or ask a question about starting up and append @onstartups to the end so we can see it.
We'll be giving out a free, 6-month subscription a day for the next 20 days.
So, lets see those comments and questions. Good luck!