Everyone says that startups are fast-paced, innovative and able to take bigger risks more quickly than large companies. But the reality is that too many startups are not prepared for the risk-taking and innovation that has to take place.
Just because a startup is small doesn’t guarantee that it’s agile or decisive.
The agility and decisiveness in a startup comes from its founders. The founders have to be ballsy, risk-taking, innovative and aggressive. If they’re not, they can very quickly find themselves running a “small company.” Small companies are fine, but they’re not startups.
A lot of people want to work at startups because they’re small. They believe that a startup has more camaraderie and less politics than a bigger company. They expect more innovation in a startup, and they expect their work to have more impact and meaning. And all of those things could be true but they’re not automatically true.
The truth is you can get a lot of the benefits described above in a small company that’s not a startup. The difference is that a startup is at a stage where it has to be more innovative, aggressive, soul-searching and decisive. If it’s not, then it’s not a real startup.
Founders: If you’re not decisive, aggressive, soul-searching and capable of pivoting and adjusting (sometimes drastically) then you’re not running a startup. You’re running a small company. That’s OK. Just don’t get the two confused.
Employees: If you’re not genuinely interested in pivoting, adjusting, taking risk, and sometimes flipping on your head with huge change, then you’re not really a startup employee. You’re a small business employee. That’s OK. Just don’t get the two confused.
Startups aren’t small companies. They have a lot of similarities, but they’re not the same. Understanding and executing on the differences is critical for startup success.