Are you a Startup Founder or a Small Business Entrepreneur?

If you find yourself struggling to work out where you’re going with your business or startup – and how – you could be suffering from a case of entrepreneurial mistaken identity. 

This mistaken identity conundrum occurs in two key scenarios:

  1. When a business owner thinks they’re a Startup Founder but they’re really behaving like a Small Business Entrepreneur
  2. When a business owner is behaving like a Small Business Entrepreneur when they really should be thinking and acting like a Startup Founder 

Every week, we talk to one who thinks they’re the other. 

Or one who doesn’t realise that they really should be the other. 

It can be very disorienting. 

The taxonomy of the situation matters. 

Being totally clear about which one you are dramatically increases your chances of success. 

This is because each scenario has different criteria for success, and if you’re operating with the wrong criteria, your chance of success is very low.

So, are you a Small Business Entrepreneur? Or, are you a Startup Founder? 

How to tell the difference.

A Small Business Entrepreneur:

▶ Is focused on setting up a new business, but not a new kind of business.

▶ Is based on proven business models that already exist and are used widely (think accounting, coaching, financial advice, hairdressing, plumbing, etc.).

▶ Focuses on local markets or online niches (not planning to scale globally in a serious way and become a big international company). 

A Startup Founder:

▶ Is also known as a “Tech Startup,” a “Startup Entrepreneur,” or an “Innovation Driven Enterprise (IDE) Entrepreneur.” 

▶ Is focused on setting up a new kind of business.

▶ Is based on a business model hypothesis, not a proven business model.

▶ The proposed business model is scalable (through technology, not people).

▶ Focuses on international/global markets (not restricted to a local market or an online niche).

▶ Needs to pursue Product-Market Fit to achieve the growth required to see a healthy return on invested capital (ROIC).

A case of mistaken identity can be extremely costly and it can stifle both small businesses and startups. 

There are business owners out there calling themselves a startup, but have no idea what the disruptive innovation journey entails (hint: there are four stages and 9 key milestones!).

They are not on that all-important pathway towards Product-Market Fit that they should be on if they really want to be a startup.

Then, there are business owners who have a great original or innovative idea but are trying to grow that idea as a Small Business Entrepreneur (struggling to fit within proven models).

Instead they should really be identifying as a Startup Founder and consciously going on the disruptive innovation journey toward Product-Market Fit. 

If this sounds familiar, don’t wait for the clarity to come to you on its own.

You’re much better off making a plan for where you want to get to from the beginning so you can reverse-engineer the necessary steps.

If you’re building a business but struggling with direction, and suspect you may be trying to build the wrong kind of business, our Startup Builder Strategy Sessions were created to give you the clarity you need. 

Fill out this short questionnaire to tell us about your situation, and we’ll get in touch to help you with your next steps.


Whenever you’re ready, here’s how we can help you.

If you’ve got a startup idea, or you’ve already embarked on your journey – you might be facing one or both of these situations.

  1. You’re struggling while going it alone. Worse, you’re wading in the muddy waters of some not-so-great advice.
  2. Perhaps you’re trying to raise capital for your startup and you’re hitting a dead end. Raising capital is a notoriously difficult thing to do. Globally, only 0.74% of startups manage to raise capital at Seed stage. Despite this, 16% of startups we’ve worked with were able to raise capital at Seed stage.

If you’re ready to step up and get the help you need, our Startup Builder™ program was created especially for you.

The Startup Builder™ process is specifically designed to take you all the way from idea to global success – in a way that’s simple, sustainable, and scalable.

If you’re ready to grow your revenue, profit, and social impact faster without wasting time and money on the wrong things at the wrong time, click here to request your Startup Builder™ Strategy Session.


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