20 years with Microsoft, at various roles, including sales, marketing, business development. Coached and mentored more than 300 startups.
Here is a methodology that might help.
1. Understand that at some periods of the year there will be NO worklife balance. And that's ok. Try to minimize them and prepare for them.
2. What do you need these extra 10 hours per week for? Gym? Sleep? Family? Hobbies? Relaxation? Where would you start first?
3. Make a concrete plan on how to win back these 10 hours. Say No to some meetings. And learn to Say No in general, so that you make room for your Yes.
4. Create your boundaries and be accountable for them. E.g., no meetings or phonecalls after 18:00. No replies at emails during the weekends. Train others to respect them. Respect them yourself.
5. Work is also part of life. Work your way through feeling better at work.
A structured action plan for a social networking site could be:
A: Research The Idea and the Business Model
A1 - Create Mockups of your idea (e.g. using Balsamiq Mockup or other tools)
A2 - Use the Mockups and develop a questionnaire about your idea. Create a landing page.
A3 - Conduct 200 offline and online interviews to potential users, to get feedback on your idea. Show the mockups to offline users and send online users to the landing page. Use Mturk.com, AYTM, Pollfish and other services for cheap feedback on your idea.
B: Set-up A Team for the MVP
B1: Get a technical co-founder or two. You will need at least a couple of developers for your MVP (back-end/front-end and designer). If you cannot get a technical team together and you want to pay for your MVP, then get someone to write the technical specs for your project. Use these specs to recruit freelancers from elance/peopleperhour/odesk etc.
C: Build the MVP
C1: Do the project management for the MVP.
C2: Continue testing the marketing channels and driving early adopters in your landing page, so that you create an email list with your first X thousands of users.
D: Get Your First Users
D1: Use social media, paid ads, PR releases etc to drive traffic to your site.
E: Prepare for Next Steps
E1: Test the business model. Test conversions from visitors to members. Test analytics such as engagement time, times of visit per day etc.
E2: If you have found a way to grow every week you will probably need to raise some money. You have to prepare for pitching to investors and raising your first round.
Let me know if you need more help and good luck with your project!
You can use an online service called http://builtwith.com/. This can analyze the technology stack of any company and can also provide you with meaningful reports. It has a free and a paid version - you can also search by technology and find e.g. companies in US that are using Azure.
Let me know if I can be of more help -
Established businesses and/or indirect competitors will most probably not bother getting into a partnership with you, at least until you start having some traction and results. Many startups have the ambition that they will build great partnerships starting from day one and they often get dissapointed. No one is going to do the sales for you. You will have to prove your value first and then ask for permission for partnerships.
Having said that, should you have the luxury of getting a big partner on your side from the beginning and they are really committed in helping you, you have to estimate the ROI of their support to you. But that's a different discussion..