How can I learn entrepreneur business skills?
March 12, 2012 10:22 AM   Subscribe

I've got the technical skills and the product idea, but I know nothing about the business side of doing a startup. How can I learn and do?

So I've got the itch to do a startup business. I have the product idea and most of the technical skills, and I know some really smart people able to fill in the blanks technically. What I lack is the associated business and legal knowledge required of a founder, such as how and where to incorporate, how to do taxes and bookkeeping, trademarks, and stuff like that. I see this business starting out as a single-person (me) effort, and if I can get a toe-hold in my market, eventually getting some outside investment and hiring staff. So I guess I need to start with "Here's what a corporation is" and then, hopefully, eventually moving on to "Here's how to do VC funding so that you don't get screwed."

Can you recommend any books, classes, or similar?
posted by LastOfHisKind to Work & Money (5 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Chuck Eesley at Stanford is starting an online class in entrepreneurship. More info here. Maybe it has what you're looking for.

There is also General Assembly's new offering along similar lines.

A lot of what you're asking about--incorporation, financing, legal and accounting stuff--can be readily learned by networking with experts in those areas. One way to do this is to go to local startup events and just meet people.
posted by dfriedman at 10:37 AM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Are you in the US or the UK? If the latter, I have quite a few resources on my blog that might help you including links to the relevant tax authorities etc. Send me a memail if you'd like more info (this is not an ad, the stuff on my blog is all just to help fellow small businesses - it might be useful even if you're in the US in terms of what not to do, etc.!)
posted by LyzzyBee at 11:05 AM on March 12, 2012

Response by poster: Ah, sorry for the lack of detail. I'm in the US. Texas, specifically.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 11:32 AM on March 12, 2012

What town in Texas?

I used to work for an industry association, and ran a program aimed at providing resources for technology entrepreneurs, including facilitating mentoring. Later, I worked with government to develop a program aimed at facilitating entrepreneurship, and eventually worked for a government agency that did the same.

So, my guess is that there will be programs and organizations in your community that can help you. Be careful of fee-for-service, unless you are already generating revenue, or unless you have secured angel investment.

Typically, though, startups need to bootstrap, or rely on friends and family for financing, the reason being that if you can't sell friends and family on your idea, it's not a great product.

However, you have said you need help on the business side, so approaching a local org is your best bet. Don't worry too much about divulging intellectual property - ideas are a dime a dozen. Worry instead about whether or not the helping org or a mentor is a good fit, if they share your values, and if they can behave ethically.

Here are some Texas organizations that appear to provide relatively valuable resources to entrepreneurs:
posted by KokuRyu at 12:15 PM on March 12, 2012

Oops, screwed up the links.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:15 PM on March 12, 2012

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