Are we living in a start-up age?

22nd November 2016 Small Business Workplace Training

Digital media at TAFE Queensland

With this in mind, we begin to wonder – what does it mean to be a small business or a new venture in the start-up age?

What Is A Start-up?

In 2013, Forbes attempted to define the ‘start-up’ - an effort that resulted in a small army of business experts bandying about a multitude of terms and explanations. Now in 2016, what this term means has not become any clearer.

As David Jackson of investor group Sydney Angels put it, “the start-up itself is typically the brainchild of two co-founders, one who is a tech expert, and the other with skills in sales and marketing, and its success usually relies on their ability to successfully attain large-scale funding early on."

In other words, it’s the new era term for a ‘unique’ new business, with a particular focus on the ‘new’ and the ‘innovative’, attracting or relying upon external funding rather than self-funding. This means that while a start-up is a new and initially small business, not every new business will be seen as a start-up.

What About Disruptors?

Taking this notion one step further, we get ‘disruptors’ – to disrupt is “to destroy, usually temporarily, the normal continuance or unity of.”

In other words, disruptors are those start-ups who due to their business model, service offering or ethos actively challenge the long held dynamics of an industry. This is your Uber, Deliveroo and airbnb – who have become the references or alternate terms for anyone attempting to shake up the market.

Unlike the straightforward start-up though, it is possible for an existing business (small or large) to become a disruptor. As stated by Wired, the disruption ethos acts as a springboard for innovation and invention. If you have the time, brain trust and the capital, you can shake up your industry in your own way – whether that is with a new product or a revolutionary service. The number one thing to consider is how technology will help you achieve change.

What Does This All Mean For An Existing Business?

This essentially boils down to is a concerted focus on the ‘new’. As much as consumers want old fashioned service values and tried and tested products, they strive for something newer, and smarter; something that thing that truly makes their life better.

The same goes for the current run of private and public sector grants – most of which are now focused on fuelling innovation and outstanding start-ups. This doesn’t mean the funding for the classic small business model no longer exists, it just means those providing the capital are far more eager to give to the ‘game changers’.

In short, this mostly means that to stay relevant and competitive, you need to be regularly considering how you can change up your products, service delivery, branding and communication in a way that is both natural and forward-thinking.

What About New Businesses?

For new ventures, this new landscape presents a wealth of added opportunity. From the likes of Start-upAus to the aforementioned grants, there is no shortage of funding, guidance and networking for those seeking to establish an inspired new business concept.

The primary challenge or hurdle for you is to craft that unique business proposition that in its delivery or branding taps into the search for the new. If you can then pitch this to investors and business groups and gain traction, you have yourself a start-up.

Does it matter if you’re not a start up?

Not every business out there will be built around technology, and by the same token not every enterprise needs to redefine business for their industry. Mitel tells us that those who deliver a consistent and engaging customer experience are still in high demand. This can mean that, good, old-fashioned service devoid of digital touches can win you business and long-term loyalty.

Consider the ‘artisanal’ and ‘craft’ business movement, as reported by The Economist, which reinforces this notion. There are consumers out there who, beyond the want of quality service, are seeking goods made by well-trained professionals, like in the ‘good old days’.

So does it matter that you’re not a tech giant in the making? In a word, no.  The start-up sector is an exciting space to be in, and one that is pushing business to interesting new places – but it is not the entirety of the SME world domestically or internationally.

Wanting to know how to reinvigorate your business model or how to generate a great start-up idea? Our hands on workshops and experienced mentors are here to help you and your business move forward and stand out in today’s market.

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