How would you define a start up?

I’m guessing that a lot of people would say it’s a small company, or a company just getting started, or even that it’s a young tech company. I think the term startup has been a bit popularized by the technology community. Along with that is a bit of a misconception about what a start up really is.

I recently stumbled upon a great article by Steve Blank called Why Companies Are Not Startups in which he discusses why large companies have trouble adopting and embracing innovation. The key reason he gives is that large companies are inherently different than a startup in terms of their goals and structure. As a result, the environment of a company is not necessarily conducive to innovation. 

In the article, he gives a really great definition of a startup and a company, he writes:

We know that a startup is a temporary organization designed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model. The corollary for an enterprise is: 

A company is a permanent organization designed to execute a repeatable and scalable business model.

I’ve read this article a few times and the biggest thing that stands out to me is the definition of a startup.

How many people in a startup today could answer the question “what is your business model”? How many people in a startup today could explain how their role impacts their startups search for a business model?

Earlier in my career, I know there were definitely times when I didn’t know that answer!

I thought the definition was really worth sharing. And hopefully it will make you see things through a different lens if you work at a startup or are considering doing a startup.

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