Starting your Startup

Starting your Startup

I'm not a lawyer and some of these steps may differ for your state.

Team Communication

Before you start the incorporation process you should get with your team and decide what tools you will use to communicate. We decided to go with Slack because our team was already familiar with it and it is free. We also bought a domain and set up a Google Apps account which is $5/month/user for hosted email, docs, calendar, and more. In addition, Hangouts works perfectly for our weekly "standup" meetings.

Incorporation

We made the decision to incorporate in the state of Florida for convenience and cost. Delaware seems favorable to larger businesses but, keep in mind that you will need to pay for an agent in the state of Delaware and the incorporation costs might be higher than your state. If you are set on incorporating in Delaware considering using Clerky which helps you with all the paperwork and provides agent service. In Florida, incorporating was as simple as paying $70 and filling out an online form with the business name, address, and officers/directors. Keep in mind if you need to change any of the filing information you will have to file again and pay a fee.

A few days later we got an email notifying us our corporation was approved. The next step was to get an EIN from the IRS which is instantly given to you after filling out a 5-minute online form.

Your corporation will need a many different legal forms in order to issue stock and operate the business. Luckily the Cooley law firm provides a free incorporation package that can be personalized online. The package was designed for Delaware so you'll need to consult a lawyer to make any changes necessary for your state.

Licenses

In Gainesville, we had to register with the city and notify them that we're starting a business within the city limits. Your country might require you register with them also. Florida requires that you register for a license as well so make sure you're prepared for a lot of applications and waiting as all the local/state governments recognize and scrutinize your existence.

If you're going to be purchasing or leasing office space (see the next section) make sure you check to see if your city requires you obtain a zoning permit. It should be a free form you fill out that validates the place you're working is commercial and supports your type of business. It took us only an hour to get our permit approved.

Working Space

We were fortunate to find a great deal on an office in downtown Gainesville. It has enough room for our team and includes furniture and utilities. Business-class utilities usually come with a multi-year contract period and cost a lot compared to their residential counterparts. Make sure you check local incubators and startups for space, especially if your team is small.

If you cannot find an affordable office, there's no harm in working out of a founder's house. You'll get the benefit of cheap Internet, already installed utilities, furniture and most importantly, a fridge.

We registered a P.O. Box. for all domain registrations and for anything that required a semi-permanent address. Getting a small box should be around $5/month and gives you a permanent "home" for your mail (and spam).

On top of rent, which by the way, is taxed, you might need business insurance for your office and property. Hartford provides liability insurance and is quick to sign up online and get approved. That will insure you against claims that arise from visitors visiting your office and your employees visiting other businesses. They also offer Errors & Omissions policies if you're contracting. Definitely check any local insurance companies as well since their quotes might be cheaper and provide better coverage though this wasn't the case for us.

Cap Table

When it comes time to issue initial shares make sure to consult the advice from some investors and lawyers. Generally speaking, you should set the par value to almost 0 and leave enough unissued for your first investor or two. Once you've decided on your initial cap table use a service like eShares (paid) or Capshare (free) to organize and track your stock issuance.

Thanks for reading and leave any suggestions or comments below.

James Hartig

James Hartig

Previously a Software Engineer at Grooveshark, James is writing backend code in Go for Admiral. He loves playing video games and laser tag in his free time.

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