Monday, 21 August 2017

What’s in a startup ?

I’m asked a lot to define what a startup business might be. Some only see it as a small or sometimes medium sized business that begins with absolutely nothing at all. Many see startup businesses as companies that have only one or two owners from the outset. Others don’t use the fact that a business is small as any defining characteristic for a startup. If a company hasn’t been around for long then it can be a startup, even if it was crowdfunded to the tune of several million and has scores or even hundreds of employees. So the question needs to be asked - What’s in a startup ?


Basic level startup business

On the first level, for me, should be the fact that the business is innovative. A new shop that sells items that are exactly the same as others (and sells them in the same way) doesn’t fit my own personal definition of a startup business. On the first level of what’s in a startup comes innovation -
·         A startup might produce a product or service that nobody else in the world does.
·         A startup might find a new way to do business.
·         A startup might see an opportunity that the rest of the market has missed (Airbnb is a great example of this)
There might not be a dictionary definition of startup business, but in my world this is the first answer to the question ‘What’s in a startup ?’

Then what happens?

Being innovative isn’t everything, though. The startup business should also look to grow. This means that they are not content with what they are able to achieve immediately. They look at opening up new markets, seeking new opportunities and engaging new customers. What’s in a startup looks very different when you think about how they will be received by customers in the future – near and far.


If you are a startup owner then consider what you look like now (the business that is) before determining what you want to look like in a few years’ time. A typical question in an interview is where do you seeyourself in 5 years’ time? The startup owner has to consider this and build a plan that will take them there.

What’s in a startup ?

After this, there are so many parameters that can change in the definition of a startup business. This takes into account –
·         Distinct categories of business – any business can be a startup
·         Different technologies – a startup doesn’t have to be tech-reliant
·         Different people involved – the view that startups are only for the young is misguided
Opportunities abound with startup business and can go from a small idea to something far more revolutionary. If you are a startup owner then you will know instinctively where you want to develop. You will know the strengths and weaknesses of your business and have an idea of how to build on these. I’d love to hear from you. Let me know in the comments what a startup means to you and if you agree with my definition.

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