Why your start-up reminds me of my wedding - guest post by Stephen Hart of Medici Legal
I recently went back to the venue where my wife and I got married. In a moment of reflection, it occurred to me that there were some striking similarities between organising a wedding and starting up a business.
Marriage is the forming of a new partnership – a joint venture with aspirational goals and shared values. The wedding ceremony is the launch of this partnership and how you choose to tell your story informs the preparations and decisions you make beforehand, even if the Best Man has other ideas. Launching a new business is the same. Work out the story you want to tell to people but be more than an elevator pitch – be a storyteller.
Like an invitation, your website may be a first impression of the story you are trying to tell, but don’t confuse the look and the feel with your story. A firm like Web Foundry can help ensure your brand supports you in telling your story.
For us, staying within a reasonable budget was important factor. I thought Champagne was going to be a must have, but I was willing to settle for a lovely Cremant d’Alsace as that meant we could put a bottle of port or whisky onto each table. We weren’t too bothered about an expensive cake, but I really wanted proper coffee rather then the normal stewed drain water.
The point here is that there is only a finite budget (or at least a limit to the return on investment). So, identify those areas where you do want to make an impression and those where you can make do.
One of the things that was always very important to us was the experience of those attending our wedding. Many of us will have been to similar events where the focus was very much on the happy couple. It is, after all, their day. However, if you have ever spent a thirsty hour (or more) standing in a graveyard with hungry children, while the bride and groom have thousands of photos taken you may understand what I am alluding to.
So, however much you are your business – your business is not about you. Nor is it about your shareholders (for this you can substitute parents / parents in law) who may have their own views on how things should be done. Make sure you put your customers first as they deliver the revenue that will make or break your business.
Our wedding vows recognised that there will be rich times and poor and one of the core components of the ceremony is understanding the commitments you are making to each. In the same way, so is getting a shareholders’ agreement in place. It sets out what each party may expect from the start. Having said that, a shareholders’ agreement does look more like a pre-nup with much more talk about divorce… Nevertheless, this is one of the most important parts of setting up your business.
Amongst the whole day, from the ceremony to the canapes; to the dinner and the dancing, there was also just a tiny legal bit – signing the paperwork to actually get married – but that was actually the only thing that mattered. In a start up, the legal documentation may not seem like a priority but it will almost certainly prove to be a key factor in the long run. Set your business off on the right footing and get your core legal documentation drafted up early, then you can enjoy celebrating your business and delivering your story.