So, you want to start a company? Fantastic!

It’s a fulfilling and exciting journey, one full of hard work, long hours, and vast creative capacity. But in terms of first steps, how do you start a business in Seattle, Washington?

First, define the problem you’re setting out to solve and the solution you are going to provide; the what and the why. It’s helpful here to also include the people who have this problem. You should be able to form the answers to these two questions in two different ways: 1) an elevator pitch, which is a short, concise statement that sums up the answers to the question above, and 2) a two-page answer that borders on the depth of a business plan. This is the core of your business.

Second, take the write-up of your what and why and see who is doing things similar to it in the marketplace. Research and understanding outside of your own anecdotal context are vital and will save you from a host of early dead ends. Learn from others wherever possible because it is much cheaper than remaking old mistakes.

Third, find your team. While solopreneurs are awesome, they too have a network of people who help them navigate the startup waters and provide encouragement when—not if, but when—the going gets tough. Who does your idea need in order to get it to the finish line? A note of caution here: if you are serious about this idea, don’t hold it close to you. Let it grow, let it meet other people, let others fall in love with it, too. Ideas that aren’t disseminated die swiftly.

Fourth: EXECUTE. With the raw materials described above, you’re ready to execute. We’ll explore a different facet of execution in each of the next four posts: Grow, Focus, Structure, Manage.

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