What is a Startup, Anyway? Not What It Used to Be, That’s For Sure

In the 1990’s and early 2000’s startups were believed to be smaller versions of large corporations. To have the same jobs, titles, knowledge domain areas and processes.

The understanding was that a startup did the same thing as a large company—just at a different scale. If there was a sales department in a large corporation, a startup should have one as well.

This understanding changed dramatically in 2004 when Steve Blank, Silicon Valley serial-entrepreneur and academic, launched his book 4 Steps to the Epiphany. Blank’s work caused a paradigm shift, changing our collective understanding of what entrepreneurship is, and more than anything else, establishing that “startups are not small versions of large corporations.” 

According to Blank, “one of the things startups have lacked is a definition of who they were. For years we’ve treated startups like they are just smaller versions of a large company. However, we now know that a startup is a temporary organization designed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model. If your business model is unknown – that is just a set of untested hypotheses – you are a startup searching for a repeatable business model. Once your business model (market, customers, features, channels, pricing, Get/Keep/Grow strategy, etc.) is known, you will be executing it. Search versus execution is what differentiates a new venture from an existing business unit.” 

To fully understand the difference between a startup, a small business, and an enterprise, check out social platform Yconic’s report on startups, which tackles the antomy of a startup in impressive detail.