Weasel Word Wednesday #16 – startup

An increasing number of people starting a business these days call their new trading entity a ‘startup’ rather than a ‘small business’. To me it harks back to the bad old dotcom days of dodgy operators with vapourware (there’s another cliche from that era). Back then it mostly referred to new small businesses in the technology sector, but now it seems anyone in any industry with a new small enterprise in its early development phase is a ‘startup’. I am wondering whether they think it makes them sound cool and interesting, or more likely to attract external investment? Just pretending to be Steve Jobs back in his garage days? Or has the term ‘small business’ lost favour?

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3 responses to “Weasel Word Wednesday #16 – startup

  1. I think “startup” is different from “small business” simply because there’s a culture and mythology that goes with a startup. The idea that you won’t be a small business for too long but instead will morph into a multi-billion-dollar global success story. That you will pass through the stages of angel investor, venture capital investment and ultimately stock market float.

    I’ve written about this at length previously.

  2. I think you’re right – it’s all about attitude and intention.

  3. The terms “startup” and “entrepreneur” can both get bent as far as I’m concerned. Yes, people only use these because they want to sound cool. There is no other reason. Although frequently people say “oh no, a startup is such and such and a small business is this and that, and an entrepreneur has x, y and z qualities where as a business person is so and so” it’s just total bullshit.

    There are successful and unsuccessful businesses and people. This fad of calling yourself an “entrepreneur” and running a “startup” is no different from wanting to wear brand name clothing instead of generic stuff from Target. It’s a meaningless image projection that does nothing to make your business more profitable, or yourself a better business person.

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