Startup advice: When do you stop calling yourself a startup ? 4

This section tech-startup founder and innovator, J.M. Daniel highlights a key distinction between startups and small-business.

Starting your own business is a leap into the unknown. You give up a consistent paycheck and great career prospects to solve a problem. In the process of starting my own business and researching how to make it work, I found myself drowning in the startup community – a thriving culture with roots based in Silicon Valley.

The perpetual “how to be a successful startup” question falsely implies that you need to raise money, have a flashy office, have cool toys, have important investors on speed dial, all to be a successful business. What became clear after a few months is that the startup community is great for entertainment and mild research, but can actually be a distraction when you are more accurately a small business and need to act as one to survive.

Daniel, DroneJunkie


“Startup” sounds cool, but call yourself a “small business” as soon as possible

A great way to escape the cycle of startup fever is to stop calling yourself a startup and more appropriately refer to yourself a small business; doing so has three major benefits

  1. Calling yourself a small business releases the pressure and strings attached to being labelled a “startup”. Having less pressure on chasing unrealistic goals allows you to focus on small business challenges like lead generation, operations, product and client retention.
  2. It is critical to be evaluated as a small business idea rather than a startup idea. Venture capitalists are always looking for “billion dollar” products and ideas, and hence their search criteria filter ideas on the probability of it being acquired or going public. By using that grading scale, VCs may give you flawed feedback or inconsistent advice. Calling yourself a small business may save your idea. While your idea may not turn out to be the next Facebook, it might be an incredibly lucrative small or regional business for you and your family.
  3. Instead of researching incubator firms to give you a crash course in startup do’s and don’ts, you should focus on calling clients and prospects. By engaging with prospective clients, you will build a network that can work in your favor. These relationships with local business can generate greater income. This is especially true of ideas that can leverage a local community presence and network.

A small business idea can just start as an office in the basement and not necessarily in an incubator or startup warehouse. The idea doesn’t have to change just because you call yourself a “small business” and not a startup. Your product can stay the same, and your goal can be undeterred. By calling yourself a “small business,” you will be focused on the basics of business and not work to fill your office with cool toys, or employees you can’t afford to please.

Bottomline: A shift from “Startup” to “Small Business” is not just a change in title.  It is a shift in mindset. You will still have a long way to go before you can call yourself a successful small business. But letting go of the fad startup label will clear the air, and actually helps you get started.

The author, J.M. Daniel is the founder of , a O’fallon/ St Louis, Missouri based drone video marketing company that specializes in aerial footage and promotional video tours. Daniel thinks of his venture as an innovative “small business”

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