10/03/2016 8:13 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST

Hey Entrepreneur, Are You Really Running A Start-Up?


Today, entrepreneurs are everywhere. Your cousin, his neighbour, his neighbour's brother-in-law and perhaps even yourself. You're all doing your own thing and are masters of your own destiny. You either work from your partner's home or that small office you rented just so you could legally register the company. You're the CEO, the accountant and even the recruiter; you set your own hours, and maybe work longer than you did at your corporate job. Rings a bell?

Well, all this might be true, and it makes you an entrepreneur. But it doesn't make your company a start-up!

Unless your enterprise (aka a small business or venture) is based on a novel idea that is somewhat original and comparatively innovative, it is not a start-up.

Let me explain. Unless your enterprise (aka a small business or venture) is based on a novel idea that is somewhat original and comparatively innovative, it is not a start-up. A start-up doesn't need to exist in a niche or be commercially viable, but it needs to be something unique, yet reasonably scalable. If this is the kind of organisation you run, congratulations! Drop me a line on Twitter (@soumikroy) and I'll come interview you. Else, you're just doing what every generation before you and their grandfather has done. You're taking calculated risks to earn a profit, using an established blueprint.

By now, I must've offended most entrepreneurs. So let's make nice.

As a small business owner, you're making a world of difference to everyone around you. When your efforts pay off, it not only makes you richer but also contributes to your country's coffers. When your firm grows, you create jobs that help fellow citizens pay for a roof over their head, put food on their table and buy education for their children. You also contribute to the national economic indicators in one way or another. Besides, you create competition in the market which drives down prices and forces improvements in quality.

Whether your firm is a start-up or a small business, you're doing well... but not knowing the difference is almost criminal.

Entrepreneurs are awesome. Whether your firm has the hallmarks of a start-up or it is a small business, you're doing well. One is not always better than the other, but not knowing the difference is almost criminal. You don't need anyone's permission to say you run a start-up while you're in the bar over the weekend. But during the work week, or at a conference or corporate event, you might want to reconsider how you introduce yourself. Running a printing press or a tiffin service is just as exciting as running a virtual fitness platform. Be precise, it will help you connect with the right people.

Connected commerce is today's mantra. Your firm has every opportunity to take on your rivals--regardless of their size or heritage. Not to mention, your small business might turn into a start-up if you perhaps tweak your value chain or eliminate wasteful business activities. If you're running a business that turns a profit at the end of the month after paying salaries to a handful of employees, chances are you already have good business sense. However, the only reason you should take a minute to understand what type of entity you run is because it will help you make better business decisions; you'll also then be able to decide if Prime Minister Modi's Start-Up India Movement gives you some advantage! Either way, let's raise a toast to all entrepreneurs and the good work they do! Cheers and good luck!

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