Entrepreneur and consultant, management guru, idea guy, world traveler, coffee and wine connoisseur.
Congrats on spotting an opportunity and taking steps to pursue it!
First, I suggest knowing exactly what you don't know, so that you can find the right advisor, and make the best use of their time once you connect. SCORE can be a great local resource. EOnetwork.org has local chapters with members that may be of assistance. Meetup.com has lots of entrepreneurial/real estate groups. LinkedIn.com can help you use your social network to find people with the right expertise. Gust.com or Angel.co may help you find an angel investor.
Let me know if you'd like to chat about how to go about it!
It depends on the product or service that you're offering. The best way to prove a concept is to take orders. Trycelery.com is a great tool for taking pre-orders online without charging customers until the product is ready.
Otherwise, go where your customers are, talk to them, and identify the need that would make them hand over money on the spot.
I suggest dividing your services into transactional services (like hosting, updates, or design work) and consultative or strategic services (like consulting and marketing campaign development).
Transactional services can be project, hourly, or retainer based (i.e. $5,000 for a new website, $75/hr for ongoing design needs, or $200/mo for updates). Consultative services are better on retainer (i.e. $500-1000/mo to advise on the best keywords, review copy, and report success).
From a business perspective, the more clients you can fit into a monthly package, the more efficient you'll be. Let me know if I can help in any way!
If design and logistics will be central to your business' long-term success, it will make an investor more comfortable to know that those key players have some skin in the game. But, finding a co-founder quickly just to satisfy investors doesn't mean you'll choose the right person, which is more important.
What about finding the employees you intend to hire after funding, and beginning to build a team now? If investment options are limited, work with the accelerator to craft a decision that satisfies you both. If you believe investors will be more abundant, pay to finish the design yourselves, launch on Kickstarter, and then weigh your options again later.