The Small Business Administration defines a small business as an independently owned entity built for profit and is not dominant in its industry. Startups, on the other hand, are temporary organizations created to search for a repeatable and scalable business model as defined by entrepreneur, author and investor, Steve Blank.
Based on numerous conversations with small business owners interested in building a technology startup, I found that entrepreneurs are mostly intrigued by the scalability and repeatability aspects of a startup that are not feasible under the small business model. In other words, I observed that most small business owners who want to start a startup are looking to build a venture that reaches and serves thousands of customers without necessarily needing hundreds of employees.
A successful small business owner recently told me that 80% of his business expenses are overhead costs that average $450,000 per month. He emailed, “I would rather run a $1 million business with 80% margin than generate $10 million in revenue and only keep $800 thousand.”
While simple projections can make sense, building a startup is one of those battles where “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face,” says Mike Tyson. However, just like any business, there are right and wrong ways to start it and there are many strategies by which an entrepreneur can mitigate risk of failure and increase certainty in the path to market and growth.
Here are two important lessons about startups followed by how to start a startup especially if you are currently running a growing small business or have developed expertise in a particular industry.