Small Business vs. Startup

When starting a new venture or running an existing business, with the immense amount of financial and personal investment that requires, semantics is the last thing one thinks about. Words like entrepreneur, business owner and CEO get thrown around pretty often, and with the rockstar allure that shows like Shark Tank have brought, their definitions are now practically common knowledge. The new buzzword, floating around the business world is startup, not to be confused with a small business … And so you don’t make that mistake, here is a breakdown!


Definition: A startup is an entrepreneurial venture which is typically a newly emerged, fast-growing business that aims to meet a marketplace need by developing or offering an innovative product, process or service.

Major Keys:

  • Rapid Growth
  • Passion
  • Innovation
  • Market disruption

Small business

Definition: The definition of a small business is an independently owned and operated company that is limited in size and in revenue depending on the industry.

Major Keys:

  • Profit
  • Existing
  • Longevity
  • Market share

Startup vs Small business

A small business can have products or services that have been around for millennia, creating for itself a space in the current market. Small business’ hope to grow quickly, but more important than growth is first revenue and then profit, versus a startup’s main priority being explosive and exponential growth. A startup would put a new spin on an old product or service, or better yet, create something brand new. Startups aren’t concerned with gaining market share, they are here to to turn the existing market on its head. As you can see, although startups and small business’ have similarities, there are some fundamental differences in structure and purpose.


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